Season 4 of The CW’s Arrow has had its highs and lows. Here is Part 2 of this week’s breakdown of what in particular worked, didn’t, and needs to happen next for Arrow after the events of midseason finale “Dark Waters.”
What Didn’t Work: A small thing that really didn’t work was that “Dark Waters” didn’t begin with Oliver opening his eyes in bed in the Loft o’ Love and then rolling over to tell Felicity about this crazy he dream he had where there were hawk people flying around and time travel and an illegitimate love child that he didn’t tell her about. Then they could have had a good laugh at how ridiculous that would be and get to reminding viewers just why the Loft o’ Love is known around these parts as the Loft o’ Love. “Dark Waters” erasing “Legends of Yesterday” really could have worked.
Oliver’s mournful comment following the shooting at the bay that there had been children present was soured by his lie to Felicity that there had been nothing to his distraction last week in Central City. At any other point in the series, Oliver being upset at the possibility of children being injured would speak well to his character. Following his decision to keep his surprise kid a secret, Oliver being upset is an unpleasant reminder of his deceit.
The shot of Laurel’s hand while wearing her Black Canary duds that showed her fingerless gloves and sparkly silver nail polish was regrettable. This was a great episode for Laurel as Black Canary; the reminder that she’s a vigilante who wears a mask to conceal her identity yet runs around wearing fingerless gloves and recognizable nail polish just made her look silly again. Come on, Arrow. You were so close.
Ambiguously Accented Woman continues to be so unremarkable in the flashbacks that she still does not warrant this reviewer looking up how to properly spell her name. Her primary purpose of late has been to provide a presence to allow Oliver to exposit aloud without any awful voiceovers, but really, the same purpose could have been served by a volleyball. Until this character distinguishes herself as something other than a whining drag on the already meandering flashbacks, she shall remain known as Ambiguously Accented Woman.
Then, there’s the gas chamber.
It’s important for a show such as Arrow in its fourth season to find ways to make the bad guys bigger and badder than ever before. Arrow fell short on making Ra’s al Ghul in Season 3 anything other than a superstitious crackpot who happened to have a fortress full of minions who believed enough in the power of his title to accept the prophecy nonsense. Damien Darhk in Season 4 needs to be truly, utterly, irredeemably despicable.
Arrow, however, does not face the same requirement, and forcing a Jewish character who had spent decent chunks of her time on screen in “Dark Waters” reminding viewers of her religion into a gas chamber on the fourth night of Hanukkah was so disrespectful and insensitive that it didn’t belong anywhere near an 8 p.m. series on The CW. There were plenty of ways for Damien Darhk to have done something awful to Felicity and Co. It didn’t have to be a gas chamber during Hanukkah.
Air could have been sucked out of the room. The walls could have started closing in. The floor could have collapsed them into a tank of ill-tempered sea bass. Arrow hasn’t been above lifting plot twists from film and television in the past; surely somebody on staff had a Netflix account to use for research over lunch. The big evil gesture of the midseason finale just didn’t have to be a gas chamber. Audiences are not so unintelligent that shows need to draw overt parallels between the villains and Nazis; Damien Darhk didn’t need a monologue about how the Nazis had the right idea or a method of execution ripped from a past not so long ago for viewers to get that he’s a bad guy. Badly done, Arrow. Badly done. Next time, at least throw up a warning at the beginning of the episode.
The final scene of the episode cut too soon. As tough as it was to see Felicity doing her best impression of a fresh corpse as Oliver tried to find a pulse next to the ruins of the triumphal engagement limo, there should have been a few more seconds of focus on Oliver’s reaction. “Dark Waters” ending the way that it did would be comparable to last year’s midseason finale “The Climb” ending right after Oliver was stabbed in the snow. Even taking away the clips of his life flashing before his eyes, Stephen Amell’s performance in the few seconds after he was run through with a sword made the episode much more heartbreaking. Big moments in big episodes need time to breathe, and a few more seconds following Oliver’s discovery of Felicity’s injury would have been perfect.
Arrow airs on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW. Stay tuned to Examiner for a look at what needs to happen next on Arrow after the events of “Dark Waters.” In the meantime, check out ‘Arrow’ S04E09: What worked in ‘Dark Waters’ and ‘Arrow S04E09: Romance done right in ‘Dark Waters.’