According to comic books, television shows, novels and movies, the life of a hero is one that is full of trouble and in which the hero must make many personal sacrifices.
It’s a lesson that Oliver Queen/The Green Arrow (Stephen Amell) seemed to have learned four years (four seasons) ago (nine years if you count the years Oliver was presumed dead) when the CW’s “Arrow” premiered. He had consciously pushed his family and friends away when he originally set out to save his city. But, now that he has “become something more”, Oliver has become a hero who lets his loved ones in and includes them in his civilian and heroic lives.
But, in “Taken”, the 15th episode of the fourth season of “Arrow”, Oliver learned the heartbreaking lesson once again Wednesday night and it cost him more than he thought it would.
After learning that his fiancee’s, Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards), dream is to walk down the aisle to him on their wedding day, Oliver is told, in person, by Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) that Oliver’s son William (Jack Moore), who Oliver just recently found out about, is being held by Darhk, pending Oliver calling off his campaign for mayor of Star City.
Without a second thought, Oliver sets in motion his plan to drop out of the mayoral race and save his son. It’s a big sacrifice, one Oliver wouldn’t make when Darhk first approached him and even when Darhk threatened to kill Felicity, Oliver’s sister Thea (Willa Holland) and John Diggle (David Ramsey) in a gas chamber. Felicity was even paralyzed after being shot by Darhk’s men the night Oliver proposed and Oliver wouldn’t back down from his campaign.
But, when his 10-year-old son, who doesn’t know Oliver is his father or that he spends his nights as the Green Arrow, was taken, Oliver had to do everything he could to protect his son.
Why would he let his friends possible be in constant jeopardy, but not his son? Because those who fight along side of him choose to follow him. But his son is completely oblivious to who Oliver really is and isn’t old enough to make a stand next to his father.
With saving his son also comes the decision of what kind of relationship Oliver will have with him. Diggle tells Oliver that the best way to protect William is to keep him close. But Mari McCabe a.k.a. the superhero Vixen (Megalyn Echikunwoke), who grew up with foster parents and wondered about her biological parents, tells Oliver that the best thing he can do for his son is to let him go so that he can have a childhood.
So, Oliver decides to record a message, which his son will receive when he turns 18, which will tell William the truth about who Oliver is and why he made the decision to stay away from him. Again, it’s a hard choice, but one in which Oliver understands must be made.
In superhero stories, the heroes often makes decisions to work alone and to be alone in his or her civilian life because of fear that those close to them will be easy targets for their villains. Once in a while the hero breaks that vow, but they some come to regret it when their loved one is harmed.
But, what if the hero is the one who causes the pain to their loved one?
In hiding the fact that he had a son from Felicity, he lost her. It didn’t matter to Felicity that William’s mother, Samantha Clayton (Anna Hopkins), made Oliver promise that he would tell no one, especially Felicity, in order to have a relationship with his son. Felicity didn’t want to start a marriage built on secrets. And when Oliver decided to end his relationship with his son, Felicity became even more furious that Oliver did not include her in making the decision.
So, it was ironic that the woman who loved Oliver the most, whose dream was to stand up and walk down the aisle to start her new life with him, regained the use of her legs, just in time to walk away from Oliver and out of his life. What will happen to “Overwatch” (Felicity’s codename in Team Arrow) is still yet to be seen.
Oliver not only hurt Felicity and lost her respect, but he also broke the heart of his ex-girlfriend and fellow crime-fighter Laurel Lance/Black Canary (Kate Cassidy), who learned that William was the product of an affair Oliver had when he was with Laurel. Will Laurel and Oliver’s repaired relationship once again be shattered by this revelation?
Oliver has a hard road ahead of him and it will take some time for the women who love him to forgive him. So, villains should stay out of his way because Oliver is probably going to be letting out a lot of anger as the Green Arrow.
Other highlights of the show were Oliver mentioning that John Constantine (Matt Ryan) was literally in hell, Vixen sniffing William’s Flash toy and Vixen telling Oliver to not tell Barry Allen/the Flash (Grant Gustin) and that Oliver had an animated encounter last year with Vixen (which was a wink at the six-part animated CW Seed web-series called “Vixen” in which Oliver and Barry first met Vixen).
It’s so historic that Vixen made a relatively quick leap from animation to live-action television, not just because she was intended to be the first African female DC Comics superhero with her own series back in the 70s, but because she is the first female African DC Comics hero to be on live television and it happened to coincide with Black History Month.
While African and African American heroes are few and far between in the big two comic book companies (DC Comics and Marvel), comic book creators like the late great Dwayne McDuffie (Milestone Comics), “Living Single” actress Erika Alexander (“Concrete Park”), Greg Burnham (“Tuskegee Heirs”), Marcus Williams (“Tuskegee Heirs”), Robert Garrett (“Ajala”), “The Hunger Games” actress Amandla Stenberg (“Niobe”), Jamal Campbell (“The Immortal Nadia Greene”) are introducing new black superheroes to the world. It’s important for young black children to see heroes who represent them and who they can relate to.
Hopefully Vixen’s appearance on “Arrow” will lead to more appearances on that show and shows in its connected universe (“The Flash” and “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow”) and eventually, a show entitled “Vixen”, with the character as the main character. Echikunwoke is no stranger to playing strong characters with even stronger powers. She masterfully portrayed Isabelle Tyler, who possessed several supernatural abilities like telepathy, telekinesis, healing factor, control over others with abilities and precognition) in the hit USA Network science-fiction show, “The 4400”.
The “Taken” teleplay was written by Kento Shimizu and Brain Ford Sullivan from a story by executive producer Marc Guggenheim.
“Arrow” is is executive produced by Andrew Kreisberg and Greg Berlanti, will return on March 23. The show airs on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Central on the CW.