Season 4 of The CW’s Arrow has had its highs and lows. Here is Part 2 of the breakdown of what worked, didn’t, and needs to happen next after the events of “Taken.”
What Didn’t Work: Season 4 hasn’t been by any means perfect, and the biggest problem by far has been the baby mama drama. Oliver’s lie has been hanging over all the happy moments since Episode 8, and Oliver’s character has been damaged since he revealed that he’s been actively deceiving everybody by visiting the little Chekhov’s gun fruit of his loins. The baby mama drama now being over is certainly a good thing, but it didn’t get any better in its resolution.
Oliver didn’t catch nearly enough flak for getting everybody into the mess of Damien Darhk kidnapping his secret kid. There were obviously more important things going on than anybody taking a break to pile on Oliver, but nobody aside from Felicity seemed all that critical of him. Samantha was only really upset about Oliver’s failures to get William back. Oliver needed to be held accountable, and he wasn’t.
Diggle usually gives wonderful advice, but his suggestion that Oliver take an active role in William’s life was terribly shortsighted. Even if Oliver moved in with Samantha and William and followed them around like a bodyguard, association with him would endanger both of them. Little Sara has Digg, Lyla, and a distinct lack of supervillains with grudges against her family. William has a target on his back just because Oliver is his biological father. Diggle isn’t an unintelligent man, and he ought to have known that Oliver needed to distance himself rather than make his attachment to William public.
As unflattering as “Taken” was for Digg, Oliver came off worse. He didn’t talk to Felicity about any of his troubles throughout the episode. While closing himself off was unfortunately in-character, the lack of communication was unpleasant to watch. He told Felicity to her face that he’d already gotten input from Digg without so much as broaching the subject with her of what he should do. The episode did need to set up the breakup, but there were less insulting ways to do it.
Oliver wasn’t helped by the fact that he never apologized to Felicity. Even a slightly backhanded “I’m sorry that I had to lie to you” would have been better than flat-out avoiding having a real conversation with her for the entire hour. He didn’t have to sell it as genuine, but he did need to say something to apologize. The show may be set on the idea that Oliver had no choice but to side with Samantha and lie to Felicity, but Oliver did still lie, and he should have said that he was sorry.
Oliver telling Felicity that he was working with Samantha in the hopes that she would someday allow Felicity to be a part of William’s life was one of the grosser post-Ollie things that Oliver has said. Given that there had been nothing on screen to show that Oliver’s words were true, they rang of Oliver saying whatever he could to maybe avoid their relationship falling apart. Even if Arrow had not failed on showing as well as telling, Oliver deciding that Felicity should be a part of William’s life is unfair to her. He volunteered her for stepmom duties without talking to her.
Oliver is a better man than he’s been written recently, and the show hasn’t been as much fun when the hero hasn’t been somebody to root for. Arrow went too far in prioritizing the baby mama plot over Oliver’s characterization, and Season 4 has suffered for it. Hopefully, his development will be back on track now that the baby mama drama is over.
The timeline in “Taken” was nonsensical. According to Samantha, she knew that Oliver had something to do with William’s disappearance, yet she waited two days before contacting him. Considering that the entire fiasco hinged on Samantha’s insistence that she didn’t know what kind of person Oliver is, he should have been the first person that she called. For all she knew, he could have taken William himself. Barry Allen actually had to tell her to reach out.
Of course, Barry knowing that William had been taken and not picking up the phone to tell Oliver was ridiculous. Arrow never should have included the lines about Barry talking to Samantha. The dialogue could have easily been cut without making Samantha look worse and tarnishing the lead of a different show.
Did Oliver actually have to go to Detroit to recruit Vixen? His son being kidnapped by a supervillain who frequently changes plans in Star City meant that Oliver should have been on the homefront rather than traveling. Even if Detroit for some reason doesn’t have phones in the Flarrow-verse, Oliver could have asked Barry to retrieve Vixen. Barry already knew William had been taken, he already knew Vixen, and the lines of dialogue that said that he hadn’t called Oliver could have been instead written to say that Barry had raced over to Detroit.
The final scene should have been one of the biggest of the season to this point. Oliver had sent off his son, Olicity was breaking up, and Felicity was regaining the ability to walk. This scene being rushed rather than mined for all of the emotional beats possible is mind-boggling. There was no chance to really feel what was happening because everything was happening far too quickly. Felicity actually standing up and walking out was laughable when it should have been poignant, and Oliver not so much as reaching out to give her a hand felt lazy. The episode was checking off boxes rather than allowing moments time to breathe, and it didn’t work.
For perhaps the first time ever, Stephen Amell has made it into the “What didn’t work” portion of these reviews. To his credit, his performance in the final scene in which he said goodbye to William and was then too drained to react to Felicity was masterful…but it wasn’t earned by everything that had happened before. Amell didn’t bring the urgency to Oliver that was necessary to justify his emotional exhaustion. For most of the episode, he seemed more inconvenienced and irritated by the kidnapping than particularly invested. Shouting “My son!” a few times isn’t enough to sell urgency, and so what should have been a great scene at the end fell flat. It just didn’t match everything that came before in the episode.
How did Laurel actually know Mari? The two never met during the Vixen animated series.
It’s something of a shame that Mari was the person to destroy the totem and rob Damien Darhk of his magic. She made sense as the character to do it, but Darhk has committed so many heinous acts against Oliver and Team Arrow that Oliver should have had a bigger role in taking him down.
Arrow airs on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. EST on The CW. For a look at what worked in “Taken,” check out ‘Arrow’ S04E15: What worked in ‘Taken.’ Stay tuned to Examiner for a breakdown of what needs to happen next.