Arrow: Broken Hearts review S4, Ep. 16

Arrow has lost some of its mojo. At this point in the season that much is clear. Whether its simply other shows have caught up and surpassed it or Arrow lost its way is up for discussion, but little occurred in Broken Hearts to suggest it’s an easy fix.

Of all the comic book based shows, Arrow always fares the worst after a binge session of Daredevil. The escalated violence and darker tone is one thing, but there’s clearly elements of Daredevil that Arrow could just as easily adapt and re-establish its position at the forefront of the genre.

The core problem is the on and off again forced romantic drama with Oliver and Felicity. It’s the rare onscreen romantic pairing that hasn’t helped the characters or story lines. I’d argue both Oliver and Felicity are at their worst when they’re together.

arrow broken hearts review - quentin, oliver and thea_2Remember when Felicity was an awesome character? She was one half of Team Arrow with Diggle, spouted off charmingly inappropriate statements at the worst moments and didn’t have to be romantically linked to Oliver besides appreciating his workout routines? I fear the damage to her fun, endlessly likable character is irreparable even with this alleged most recent break.

Oliver lost his tail-kicking, brooding bada$$ vibe seemingly from the first moment he started declaring his love for Felicity. And the bulk of this season has seen him in happy-go-lucky smiling vigilante mode. Arrow has always been at its best when its main character isn’t so happy and content with his life. Season 4’s Oliver just doesn’t seem that motivated whether running for mayor, chasing after Damien Darhk or getting familiar with his son and it’s hard to blame him.

This week saw Oliver moping as Felicity was moving out of his apartment, but not the Arrow Cave as she still wanted to contribute to Team Arrow. The obvious bad idea quickly came to fruition as Felicity started throwing off snide verbal jabs Oliver’s way. This is why you don’t date anyone in the workplace even if it is a vigilante headquarters.

arrow broken hearts review -cupidCupid, one of the more fun recurring villains in the series, returned to wreck a little mayhem by killing recently married celebrity couples. Naturally, that forced Oliver and Felicity to stage a wedding and exchange ‘heartfelt’ vows just to draw her out. Had this occurred while things were all still rosy for Olicity this would have been a lot easier to bear, but it felt designed to make Felicity come around on her feelings to the detriment of the entire subplot.

It’s possible I may be more over Olicity than Felicity. Their frequent stop and starts have reduced one of the best characters on TV to a bawling, indecisive mess. The constant fast-forwards this season don’t have me all that optimistic that this split isn’t another temporary break.

Meanwhile, Laurel did her best Foggy Nelson impersonation for the pre-bond hearing for Damien Darhk. This was mostly significant for Quentin Lance’s damning testimony that helped keep Darhk imprisoned and torpedo his career with the police department.

Thanks to Quentin’s testimony, Darhk’s bond is denied. It comes with a consequence though as Quentin is on administrative leave while the case plays out. As usual, Paul Blackthorne delivered. The show writers have a knack for not sticking him with questionable dialogue more often than not so Quentin almost always comes off well even in shakier overall episodes.

arrow broken hearts review -laurel_1On flashback island, Baron Reiter showed Oliver a totem that lit up all cool and spooky like after Reiter killed one of his prisoners. Save that lone Constantine appearance absolutely nothing of any purpose or value has occurred with this season’s flashbacks. It’s probably time to shelve that gimmick as Arrow is so much more than reflecting Oliver’s life on the island compared to his current status as a rookie vigilante.

This episode wasn’t terrible, but it lacked that ‘I can’t wait until next week to see what happens next’ feeling that previous seasons had to spare. There’s a general lack of excitement all around and the show definitely needs a creative jolt to get back on target.

Rating: 6 out of 10