Easily the worst thing to happen for Arrow was Felicity’s promotion to lead character status. It’s been a hindrance all season as Felicity has become the center of practically everything. Oliver had a token subplot of running for mayor and Diggle had his arc with Andy, but Felicity has gotten the majority of the attention in Season 4. From getting shot, paralyzed and miraculously recovering; her engagement and overall roller coaster romance with Oliver to running Palmer Tech, Felicity hasn’t lacked for the spotlight.
It was never more evident than Lost in the Flood, this rocky year’s penultimate episode. This was time to start paying off all these long developing subplots. Arrow and Spartan scrambled to find Thea and stop HIVE while also dealing with Merlyn and Anarky. It was the other half of the episode, which focused on Felicity’s family issues that felt more like a segment ripped from a sitcom drama than the culmination of 21 episodes of build-up.
Clearly the writing team loves Felicity, but having her parents bicker while Team Felicity is trying to stop a nuclear missile strike undercut what should have been a very serious moment. Damien Darhk realized there’s another super hacker on the planet and gets Felicity’s ex, Cooper. Last week it was established that Felicity and Noah were the top two hackers so why Darhk thought the at best No. 3 hacker would be able to stop them was questionable. With Curtis helping Felicity it seemed a stretch that Cooper managed to give Team Felicity any trouble at all. Cooper does get the line of the night though telling Darhk that hacking isn’t as easy as waving your hand. Tell that to Felicity, Coop.
Curtis finding new meaningless things to geek out about — this time encountering super hacker Noah Cuttler and learning Felicity is his daughter — was grating. Had Felicity actually matured into a different kind of character having a character reminiscent of old Felicity in Curtis could work. Instead he’s doing her exact shtick with little distinction. In most episodes when Curtis isn’t mentioning his husband, he and Felicity’s dialogue would be interchangeable and that’s a disservice to both characters.
Just like her daughter, Donna Smoak has gone from charming, scene-enhancing supporting player to this irritating, emotionally manipulating character. A week after getting on Quentin for considering lying to keep his job and constantly trashing Noah, we learn Donna was lying all along — Noah never abandoned his family: Donna left him and took Felicity from her father. I’m convinced the writers are gauging the audience wrong as that scene ended with Noah leaving for fearing he’d disappoint Felicity again and Felicity appreciating Donna for looking out for her. Instead of calling her out for her hypocrisy.
It was a shame the Smoak Family Values took up so much time as Arrow and Diggle’s exploits in Tevat Noah was really compelling. Oliver and Diggle were searching for Thea, but quickly had to deal with a Ghosts assault squad.
This was a rare opportunity to see Team Arrow fight in the daylight. The Flight from Tevat Noah sequence was some of the best the show has ever done with Director Glen Winter taking advantage of Arrow’s archery skills in a way we don’t normally see.
Brainwashed Thea at this point of the season didn’t have the same impact it could have four or five episodes ago. Thea broke the HIVE compliance program just as quickly as she got put under, which made that whole sequence a weak payoff.
While Oliver and Diggle encountered a family who wasn’t under HIVE’s influence, they struggled coming up with a reason why the family shouldn’t trust in Darhk. Maybe because Darhk is a homicidal maniac who kills people with a big grin while he’s doing it and wants to wipe out most of humanity? I’m hoping this doesn’t inspire Oliver to out himself as the Green Arrow to inspire Star City to fight Darhk.
Anarky actually proved more effective than Team Arrow of stopping Darhk’s plan. He got into a battle with Thea that set off the Tevat Noah power core. Why that would be in such an easily accessible location where any stray shot could destroy the entire paradise is another question. Anarky struck another major blow by killing Ruve Adams. Ruve had no redeeming value so it seemed odd she got more of a heroic death than the satisfying demise one of the season’s principal villains deserved.
Tevat Noah blew up and Team Arrow escaped with Darhk’s daughter. For some reason, Merlyn is still loyal to Darhk despite losing his place on The Ark with its destruction. And assuming that at least a few more people, including Ruve, died at Tevat Noah why didn’t Darhk get a power boost?
This may be surprising, but the flashbacks were pretty worthless this week. In the snippets we got, Taiana is now influenced by the totem and just as impervious to harm as Baron Reiter after emerging unscathed from gunfire. And Reiter wasn’t dead after all as he is still coming for the totem. Mercifully this will come to an end next week.
Rating: 5.5 out of 10
Some great action sequences and eventful moments weren’t enough to make up for ill-timed Felicity family drama resulting in a weak set-up for the season finale.