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TV RECAP: ‘Arrow’ – S4E10 – “Blood Debts”

Since Arrow signed off for a month-and-a-half holiday hiatus, there’s been a persistent, dangling rumor that fans have been desperate to have addressed: can Thea make it work with her brother’s campaign manager Johnny Handsome? Of course, that’s not what has our interest. It’s that grave. That grave! The one that the Arrow writers are using to poke our spoiler-filled anxiety. Who is in that grave is a question we don’t get answered tonight, but we do find out who isn’t in the grave, and that’s progress because it’s the most frequently mentioned candidate for the coffin that we learn is alive and well in four months.

Yes, Felicity lives, both in the present and in the future. For those of you that supposed that Felicity’s gun shot wounds would result in her having injuries similar to the comic book Oracle, take a gold star out of petty cash because the numerous bullet wounds she received rendered her paralyzed. Whether or not they’ll go all the way and call her Oracle when she gets back behind the computers of the Arrow-cave is another subject all together. For now, Felicity’s alive, and it won’t be Felicity whom Oliver and Barry will be mourning because Felicity will be waiting for Oliver in the back of the car at the cemetery.

My own limited detective abilities still tell me that Thea or Darhk’s family are the likely candidates for this melodramatically foreshadowed death. In fact, I’ll narrow down the suspect list to Darhk’s young daughter because we learn this week that Mrs. Darhk is just as ruthless and in the loop about Project Genesis as her husband. It may be casually cruel to kill a kid, but there’s a distinct melancholy to the death that makes you think it is no ordinary loss. Thea’s death would have a similar effect seeing as how she’s the sole surviving member of Oliver’s family.

There was another question I thought of this week, who is the killer of the person in that grave? The inference from the beginning of the season was that Darhk is the killer, but one couldn’t help but notice the over use of the pronouns in conversation, no one was using any proper names for the responsible party or parties. If it was Darhk, why doesn’t Oliver or Felicity just say “Darhk”? However, if the person that Oliver has to take down is not Darhk, it would make the more sense that the writers are playing coy in the flash-forward. Is Baron Reiter due to make a future appearance, perhaps as a member of H.I.V.E.?

The pendulum doom hanging over the unnamed character and their unnamed attacker played second fiddle to the story of the week featuring the return of Lonnie Machin, who has now full embraced his super-villain identity of Anarchy. Like Oliver this week, Anarchy had a serious vendetta against Darhk and he was willing to go to any extreme to pay it off. Where as Oliver definitely had some conflict about going out for blood (“Just one” he tells Lance when the Captain remarks, “Back to dumping bodies”), Anarchy has absolutely no problem killing Ghosts, or even women and children if it means getting to Darhk.

The writers let Oliver walk an incredibly thin line, and it worked for the most part. He and Team Arrow tracked down Anarchy, and then Oliver cut him loose to go after Darhk with the instruction to make him pay. I guess it’s not murder if you let a villain do the dirty work, right? Laurel disagrees, and chastises Oliver for letting a murderer back on the street, but Oliver pays her back by pointing out that Black Canary did the same thing when she brought her sister back from the dead. Kind of vicious considering that Laurel was ignorant of the end results of putting her long dead sister in the Lazarus Pit; she ignored everyone that said it was a bad idea.

The other member of Team Arrow that was burned by the Lazarus Pit also had some drama this week. Thea came clean to Laurel that her brief encounter with Darhk relieved her of her blood lust in a way killing perverts or League of Assassins members could only do briefly, but in the midst of all the action this week, Thea started getting a taste again. The timing was perfect since Anarchy was the recipient of some that rage in the past, and in meeting Speedy again Anarchy wasn’t angry but thankful. Weird that a guy would thank the girl that nearly burned him to death, but this is the CW, and you don’t horribly char a pretty face, so the burns weren’t so bad.

Thea’s struggles with wanting to kill seem to come and go as the plot suits them, so hopefully what we have here is a sign that Thea’s getting it all under control. It’s also strange that Team Arrow called upon a Constantine-led exorcism to fix Sara, but no one, not even Thea herself, thought to ask him about fixing her too. Luckily, she seems to have fixed herself, which makes her feel normal enough to want to suck face and share a bottle of wine with Johnny Handsome. She was able to stop herself from killing Anarchy, even if it meant he got away, and that makes Thea happy, which usually means that Malcolm Merlyn’s around the corner with some bad news cued up.

Speaking of bad news, Damien Darhk has a family. It would have been nice if the episode had played up that particular revelation a little more because how often to megalomaniac villains have a wife and daughter? You don’t see a lot of Bond villains looking at their watch and hoping that the laser’s going to hurry up and finish dicing up 007 so that they can get home for dinner. Of course, there’s a very good reason why a proactive villain wouldn’t have a family: it makes them vulnerable.

Interesting that Darhk was willing to give Green Arrow a reprieve for saving his wife and daughter from Anarchy while Mrs. Darhk casually suggested that her husband should have used the occasion to finish off the green-hooded thorn in their side. It’s safe to say that as much as we’ve seen Damien be the heavy, the most ruthless and committed of Arrow’s Big Bads, he has a seriously exploitable flaw in that he genuinely cares about his family. In regard to them, bad form or no, he has some shred of humanity. How is that going to come into play in future episodes, and might Oliver’s vendetta be quelled knowing that Darhk is someone’s daddy?

But it wasn’t all bad or ambiguous news this week. The Diggle brothers made some kind of peace after John, at Lyla’s instance, tried to reach Andy by not being his jailer, or his superior officer, or whatever, but by being his brother. In the end, a hardy card game between brothers, despite the jail bars, makes one hope that family can make amends no matter what they put each other through. And that raises another concern: if Oliver and Felicity are sitting in the back of a car alone after a funeral, both looking distraught and determined to bring justice to the one responsible for a disarming death, here’s the obvious question: Where’s Diggle in all this?

Category: reviews, TV

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