Arrow – Blood Debts review S4, Ep. 10

For most of this mid season return, we got a back to black version of Green Arrow threatening crooks and not caring if they killed themselves like it was old school season 1. The return — even if temporarily — of the less restrained version of Arrow was a bright spot in an otherwise inconsistent episode indicative of the roller coaster that has been Season 4.

Considering Felicity was clinging for dear life through multiple surgeries thanks to an assassination attempt from Damien Darhk, Arrow’s attitude was perfectly understandable. Leaving Thea, Laurel and Diggle to sit at Felicity’s bedside won’t exactly win Oliver any Fiance of the Year awards though. It was more than a little frustrating that Team Arrow, including Felicity, were more or less accepting of Oliver’s need to take Darhk down instead of being camped out at Felicity’s bedside. At least Donna Smoak questioned his absence.

arrow-blood-debts-anarkyDespite Oliver’s erratic behavior, the scenes with Felicity were well done as they learned she’s now paralyzed. The Arrow show runners have never been shy about liberally borrowing from the Batman cannon for storyline material so Felicity’s evolution to the Arrow version of Oracle seems less shocking and more a natural progression to her character. Anyone else catch Emily Bett Rickard’s noticeably shorter hair to fully capture the Oracle look? While some of the homages have been a bit on the nose, I’m OK with this change for Felicity as this should lead to a storyline focused solely on her and her struggles to still be a valued member of Team Arrow. Not a lot to worry about though since her computer hacking hands weren’t impacted.

Arrow was going to have to wait in line to get a shot at Darhk as Lonnie Machin aka Anarky returned to get payback on Darhk and the rest of HIVE after his failed assignment with them. And this time, Anarky has his swank transparent mask and more comic accurate red attire. Anarky remained a formidable foe and one that actually merited all four members of Team Arrow to bring in. The fight scenes again delivered martial arts goodness, but against an opponent capable of countering his moves, it seems like Arrow would be better suited using his arrows to gain the upper hand.

arrow-blood-debts-diggle-black-canaryThea viewed Machin as a reminder of her wilder Lazarus Pit loose cannon days, but the episode tried to establish this deep hatred Thea has for a villain she disfigured and it wasn’t clicking. I appreciate the effort to give Thea a subplot, but I’m still not invested in her barely developed relationship with Oliver’s campaign manager. Of all the characters most impacted by Roy being written off the show, Thea wins that easily.

Diggle and Andy’s subplot took a … curious shift that didn’t make a lot of sense. Admittedly, Diggle’s beat down of his uncooperative brother felt oddly  satisfying since Andy’s sneering was becoming tiresome. But it seemed very far fetched that after a conversation with Lyla about appealing to Andy as his brother, Diggle began pleading with him and actually getting some worthwhile intel on Darhk. The only problem was Diggle started off doing that so Andy’s sudden willingness to cooperate came out of nowhere. And while cute, their final segment of playing a card game likewise felt off.

Blood DebtsCharacter logic was all over the place tonight. Team Arrow helped capture Anarky, but as Oliver began interrogating him for a lead on Darhk’s location, Laurel calls in his location so the police can bring him in. Oliver wasn’t feeling that plan so he sprung Anarky and placed a tracker on him. While Anarky found the tracker, Andy’s info led Team Arrow to the Darhk household where Anarky had Mrs. Darhk and their daughter bound.

Darhk arrives just in time to re-establish his full dominance over Arrow in a fight thanks to his telekinetic abilities, but for the sake of good form, allows him to leave upon learning Arrow helped save his family.

We learned Mrs. Darhk isn’t oblivious to her husband’s schemes and chided him for not killing Arrow when he had the chance. Why she considers Arrow a threat is a better question. The Darhk/Arrow showdowns have felt like they’ve been on a loop since the first encounter and Oliver’s refusal to at least switch up his tactics instead of launching arrows and hoping for the best seems silly. #NeedNewPlan

Blood DebtsOn the island front, Conklin exposes Oliver’s treachery to Baron Reiter, who’s now down with Conklin taking care of him. Opting for standard villain move when having the hero at a severe disadvantage, Conklin decides instead of killing Oliver, he’ll give him a few lashes with a whip.

For some reason, that causes the incantation Constantine placed on Oliver’s abdomen to light up and giving Reiter a reason to keep him alive. I’m thinking both Reiter and Conklin will regret that decision. At least the island flashback has some much needed direction now.

Since the odds were so low, the episode ends with the reveal that Felicity is waiting on Oliver in the limo after the funeral service. She agrees with Oliver’s earlier statement to Barry that they have to kill him.The big question though is how they’re going to manage that since in literally every confrontation, Darhk comes thatclose from killing Oliver. Clearly, the second half of the season is going to have to introduce some MacGuffin so Oliver can even the odds and actually go through with his murderous plans.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Character behavior was very shaky this week and the writers need to keep Arrow far away from Darhk until he has a better attack strategy.

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