Arrow: Taken recap S4.E15

After a very eventful episode of The Flash last night and steady improvement since the winter break, I had high expectations tonight and they weren’t let down.

For one of the first times since the start of the series, Oliver found himself surrounded by a tight-knit inner circle of family and friends yet never feeling more alone as his past sins returned to haunt him in a major way. Things went downhill quickly after Felicity got her biochip implant, but didn’t miraculously start walking again. Before Oliver can finish giving her a pep-talk, Damien Darhk calmly interrupts.

At this point, it’s hard to believe Darhk doesn’t know Oliver and Green Arrow are the same person. Instead, I’m assuming he’s holding that card close until the perfect opportunity. Darhk taunted Oliver and Felicity with a delicious nastiness that has continued to make Neal McDonough such a fun villain this season. Darhk revealed he’s got William in custody and gives Oliver a 24-hour deadline to end his mayoral candidacy.

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With William missing, Oliver’s baby mama Samantha arrives frantic about his whereabouts. Since his ‘trust the former playboy bachelor you knew’ spiel wasn’t working out too hot, Oliver reveals his secret to Samantha and introduces her to Team Arrow. If Felicity’s stares were any colder, Cisco might need to check Star City for the Earth-1 Killer Frost. Samantha immediately deepens the already massive hole Oliver is in by apologizing to Laurel for hooking up with Oliver. It really felt like pile on Oliver day, but he did have this coming.

Instead of doing the same old, confront Darhk and barely escape with their lives, Felicity suggests they come up with another strategy to counter Darhk’s ability prompting Oliver to contact his new Detroit-based ally Mari McCabe aka Vixen (Megalyn Echikunwoke).

arrow - taken review - team arrow_3Beyond Oliver’s quip that he and Mari’s previous encounter was ‘animated,’ I was thrilled Arrow retained the continuity of the CW Vixen animated web series and avoided a drawn out origin/introduction sequence. Vixen made for a spectacular addition to the CW DCTV universe with her animal ability powers getting top notch effect treatment. And the costume translated well to the show as well. The week is starting to fill up on CW, but I definitely wouldn’t be opposed to seeing Vixen play a larger role in the live action universe. Maybe as a season 2 addition to Legends of Tomorrow?

In this last string of episodes the writers have finally started giving Team Arrow more of a willingness to have different solutions to issues. It’s been long overdue and it’s aiding the character dynamic tremendously. This time, Oliver got advice from both sides of his predicament. Diggle emphatically suggested Oliver make William a larger part of his life and be more than a father in name only. Vixen countered by saying her birth parents made the ultimate sacrifice in leaving her so she could have a childhood. Again, there isn’t necessarily a right/wrong answer, which makes Oliver’s decision all the more fascinating.

Despite Vixen’s help, Darhk still has no problem handling Team Arrow and forces Oliver to announce he’s forfeiting the race immediately. I haven’t been the biggest fan of the Oliver Queen: Mayor subplot, but it was still tough seeing Oliver have no choice but to quit. The heroes typically find a way to win right before this point so this was a crippling blow to Oliver’s already battered self esteem.

But before William continues to be used as a pawn, Vixen theorizes Darhk has a totem similar to the one she uses. Lance confirms as much as the new objective is to distract Darhk long enough for Vixen to nab his totem. For a show called Arrow, they’re rarely used before the extended martial arts battle so I appreciated Director Gregory Smith putting some emphasis on the archery aspects of Green Arrow and Speedy’s repertoire. Speedy’s backwards arrow trick was pretty sweet.

It was immensely satisfying seeing the ever-present smug expression vanish from Darhk’s face when he realized he’d lost his powers. And for all his bravado, he was just another guy for Arrow to take down. I’m glad to see the show making the special guest stars like Constantine and Vixen’s appearances really mean something beyond a way to get more DC characters on air. This definitely seemed like a task the base Team Arrow couldn’t have accomplished without some help and The Flash probably wouldn’t have been able to shatter Darhk’s totem either.

arrow - taken review - vixen facing darhk_1That does beg the question of what now? Darhk is in prison with his significant edge over Green Arrow destroyed. Thea confronts Merlyn about giving William up to HIVE. Rather than play evasive, know-it-all dad, Merlyn snaps at Thea for continuing to be so ungrateful for his efforts to keep her safe. Does Merlyn once again take the reins as the season’s main villain?

Tonight’s final scene would have had a lot more impact if we hadn’t seen Felicity need space/leave Oliver multiple times over the last two seasons. Oliver made a recording for William explaining why he was absent from his life in a message intended for his 18th birthday. Felicity comes in and is again frustrated that Oliver won’t make her a genuine part of his life.

That’s a crutch that should only be used for major moments like this where Felicity rightfully questions why Oliver considers the truth a burden in their relationship. Felicity actually regaining the use of her legs so she could literally walk off was a little obvious though. I’ve been burned before, but this would mark a sensible end to Olicity. Now if only the writers will actually let the play out like they teased with the Flash/Arrow crossover.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Vixen made a dazzling debut as Green Arrow earned a major victory as Oliver Queen’s life took some serious damage resulting in another great episode.

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