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 after the events of “Code of Silence.”
What Didn’t Work: Arrow does not have the budget for stunts to look as polished as they would on bigger networks, so the focus should be on doing smaller scale well rather than spreading resources too thin for a larger scale. The Oliver-centric stunts of earlier seasons were remarkable for the skill and athleticism of the hero; the weekly melees are too busy to feel particularly special.
If Quentin was going to lie to Donna, he could have done more of a stretching of the truth instead of a complete fabrication. He’s a police captain in a city overrun with criminals; he could have told Donna that he was in danger for professional reasons even if he didn’t want to mention H.I.V.E. or Damien Darhk.
Oliver baiting Ruvé to her face by dropping comments about what he learned as Green Arrow but had no reason to know as Oliver Queen was silly. Puns aren’t worth characters being foolish on a show like Arrow.
The episode needlessly tried to cram far too much into one day. According to the news broadcast that Felicity was watching in the loft, the engagement party was happening on the same night as the debate. There’s no reason why Donna, Felicity, or Oliver would have scheduled the soiree on that particular night.
The slow cooker joke wasn’t funny enough to make up for the fact that Laura Hoffman already gave Oliver and Felicity a slow cooker, as established back in the season premiere in a conversation referenced in this episode. Get your facts straight, Arrow, or the jokes will be laughable for the wrong reasons.
The reveal that Curtis developed a piece of tech to allow Felicity to walk again was touching and well-acted, but the moment quickly became much more about Oliver’s gratitude and Curtis’ destiny to become Mr. Terrific than about Felicity receiving the news that she won’t be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. There would have been greater poignancy to the reveal overall if Felicity had spent more than a few episodes struggling with her new circumstances.
Warning: if you’re a fan of the handling of the baby mama drama and what it’s done to the show, you may want to skip the rest of the review.
There was potential in the story of Oliver discovering that he has a child. The man is emotionally healthier than he was in earlier seasons, but this twist could have explored his struggles not to default to his earlier tendencies when he faces difficult circumstances. The problem with how the story has been handled is that Oliver concealing his son despite having more and more reasons for confessing is not being written as organic regression. It’s contrivance.
Oliver has been demonstrating an appallingly cavalier and self-centered attitude toward the secret. He may tell himself that he’s doing what’s best for William by abiding by Samantha’s terms, but he should have been on the phone with Samantha the identical second that Malcolm Merlyn revealed that he knew about William. He should have cut his losses and told the rest of Team Arrow what was going on and done everything in his power to hide the Claytons from his enemies.
Oliver spent three seasons going to almost obscene lengths to protect those whom he considers family; Oliver ignoring the very real danger to his child and his child’s mother is contrived to the point of straining all credulity. He’s meant to behave in accordance with his role as the hero of the story. When Damien Darhk behaves in accordance with his role as supervillain toward William and Samantha, the fault and responsibility will be Oliver’s.
Even if Oliver didn’t know that a vengeful villain knows the identity of his child, Thea finding out the truth and agreeing to keep the secret should be proof that Felicity is capable of doing the same. The secret is out, and Felicity is going to find out. He has to know that she’ll find out eventually. Letting her learn the truth only because a supervillain kidnapped his secret son is dreadful.
Thea validating Oliver’s lie feels contrary to her established character, and her argument that Samantha’s demand is reasonable because of the danger that Oliver brings to the dynamic due to his nighttime activities doesn’t make sense. Samantha doesn’t know that Oliver is the Green Arrow, and the danger that Thea mentions should be a reason for Oliver to stay away. Furthermore, Samantha may have known Oliver back when he was a philandering waste of space with terrible hair, but he’s running for mayor and engaged to a CEO.
Also: can characters please stop holding Oliver solely accountable for Samantha’s pregnancy? It takes two people to make a baby. He may have been a philandering waste of space with terrible hair, but Samantha chose to sleep with him and have his child.
The points-of-view from different characters about shades of truth might have been compelling if they were not blatantly in service of this baby mama drama plot. All of the speeches about dishonesty came from a place of contrivance rather than characterization.
The Oliver/Felicity romance in the second half of Season 4 was tarnished from the moment that Oliver mentioned his trips back and forth to Central City, but “Code of Silence” went too far in building the relationship up for the fall. Donna’s comment that Oliver is going to be “the best daddy in the whole world when that time comes” was so grossly unnecessary. Felicity’s nervously happy response that shows that she is counting on a family as well as a future with Oliver turns Oliver’s deceit into something that is deeply heartbreaking in a way that is not fun to watch.
The person that the handling of the baby mama drama is turning the hero of the show into is not one to root for right now, and the romance that has been one of the most effective signs of his growth has become a tragedy time bomb that needs to go off ASAP if the relationship is going to be believably salvaged any time soon.
The conversation between Oliver and Thea feels like it was designed to turn Oliver into a more sympathetic party, but he actually comes across worse than before. Oliver feeling guilty on the eve of his engagement party but doing nothing about it means that he is actively choosing to excuse his behavior rather than being oblivious to his misdeeds, and that reflects poorly on him. Oliver is a grown man, and he should know better than to make a major life decision based on a 20-year old telling him what he needed to hear to continue taking the path of least resistance.
Arrow airs on Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. EST on The CW. Be sure to stay tuned to Examiner for a look at what needs to happen next.