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TV RECAP: ‘Arrow’ – S4E16 – “Broken Hearts”

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After a brief hiatus, Arrow was returned with a lesson that maybe if your show’s on a roll you shouldn’t yank it off the air for a month. Many of the winter episodes of Arrow showed a life and narrative flare that the series hasn’t seen since its season two heyday, in fact almost everything up to the silly and contrived reason for Oliver and Felicity’s break-up was pretty good. (Even the flashbacks!) But with the prospect of the unearned, and frankly torturous, prospect of watching the “Olicity” soap opera in full effect this week, all I can say is “Thank God for Cupid!”

When Amy Gumenick landed last season as former SCPD officer turned Arrow-obsessed serial killer Carrie Cutter AKA: Cupid, it was a bright spot in an otherwise unremarkable season, so when the episode opened with Cupid crooning Archie Bleyer’s classic “Won’t You Call Me Sweatheart?” to a tied up young couple surrounded by candlelit, the crazy was comforting. In short, Carrie is not taking the death of the last two boys she loved obsessionally – the “original Arrow” and Deadshot -well, and thanks to Amanda Waller’s dedication to being a woman of her word, it turns out that Cupid did here time in the Suicide Squad and was able to work off her debt to society. You know, like murderers do.

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Anyway, Cupid’s on a rampage, killing celebrity couples shortly after they’re married to make a statement, “Love is dead.” It’s not wholly original, and phonetically it doesn’t make a great deal of sense, but Cupid’s nuts so let’s just roll with it. And while we’re rolling with it, we’re just supposed to accept that Felicity is dumping Oliver because he’s not an honest guy, and that he always reverts back to “Island Oliver,” the version of himself that buries things, compartmentalizes, and is determined to go through tough times alone. Forget that fact that Felicity’s role has always been to call B.S. on Oliver when he gets that way, and drag him back kicking and screaming to group dynamic. Does she have a right to be pissed about Oliver withholding the existence of his son? Sure, but there’s a definite lack of compassion on Felicity’s side given that everyone told her that it wasn’t Oliver’s secret to keep in the first place.

In fact, there’s a definite lack of rationality in anything that Felicity did this week. Was it the fault of Emily Bett Rickards, or the fault of the script? Hard to say, but we open with Felicity packing up her stuff at the loft, and cracking wise about moving out and ending her engagement with Oliver, which is classic Felicity. Then later in the Arrow-Cave she’s snarky and bitter, which, who can blame her because her relationship is over, but still, it’s her fault! Okay, so sometimes break-ups aren’t rational, and if there’s one lesson that you take away from this episode, it’s that the end of Olicity is not rational.

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The storyline strained credulity as Cupid’s change in M.O. seemed like a way for the writers to torture Olicity fans by having the whole thing come to a climax at a fake wedding with Oliver and Felicity beautifully lit in a handsome tux and gorgeous gown, like the quintessential toppers on your typical wedding cake. Clearly, the crew was trying to troll fans with this one, and by and large it worked because even I thought for a minute there that hostage crises make the heart grow fonder. But nope, in the end Felicity quits not only her relationship with Oliver, but Team Arrow too, and I think we already know how long that will last. Bonus points to Rickards though for managing to hold Felicity’s poker face for so long as Stephen Amell read those obviously not-so-fake fake marriage vows of Oliver’s.

On the other hand we should perhaps be thankful for the Cupid storyline, and the Oliver/Felicity drama, because it didn’t let us dwell on the real distraction, that Laurel Lance isn’t a very good lawyer. She almost literally got up in court and said, “What do you mean you’re not going to throw Damien Darhk in jail without any evidence, judge?!” Now granted my knowledge of the law is culled from hours of watching Law & Order reruns, but I could have sworn that the way this works is you build the case, and then put the bad guy on trial. Heck, Laurel got to work backwards because typically you use the clues to find the identity of the bad guy, she knew who the bad guy was all along! Why wasn’t someone documenting this whole time?

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I’d like to think that someone on the Arrow writing staff was trying to make a meta-statment about the legal system in a superhero universe, but given the direction of the episode that might be reading a little too much into this. Still, it was interesting that the episode did frame the hazards of Team Arrow’s double-life, referring back to “Beyond Redemption” when the team was trying to lure out a group of corrupt cops. Of course, Diggle can’t say that he and “Speedy” were on a top secret op that may or may not involve costumed identities, but that almost seems like the kind of a good lawyer would thought of in advanced. But given the way that Laurel was leading Diggle with open ended questions and declarative statements… Well, let’s just say if you took one semester of pre-law you’re already a better prosecutor than our Ms. Lance.

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The entire courtroom drama is saved though by MVP Paul Blackthorne, who gives the proceedings real emotion and gravitas as Captain Lance falls on his sword and cops to some light treason in helping Damien Darkh and H.I.V.E., albeit unwittingly. Blackthorne gets to shine in these scenes were the Captain’s morals meets his realities, and he acts the heck out of that tried and true dramatic staple: the witness stand confessional. The silver medal for acting goes to Neal McDonough for chilling out in the courtroom and never saying a word, while still looking like everything’s going according to plan. The last time a DC villain looked this pleased to be going to prison, it was in The Dark Knight, and we all know how that turned out…

It’s hard to know where Arrow will go now, or it would be if it weren’t for the graveside flash-forward that we’re now, evidently, a mere four weeks away from. The mystery of it isn’t even bothersome anymore because it seems that for this week the writers had lost track of where they’re going with the story. The gang comes back from a patrol early on and note the quiet on the streets, the Ghosts have disappeared, and Darhk’s vast and complex network evil seems cool with him chillaxing in prison, making it seem like it suddenly occurred to someone in the writers room that they ran out of story and threw something with Cupid together instead. And if the people running Arrow have lost the thread of the plot, what hope is there for the rest of us?

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Category: reviews, TV

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