Arrow Season 4 Episode 21 – TV Review
You thought Felicity was bad enough when she was trying to hog the blame spotlight for Laurel’s death.
Well, get ready for her to legitimately have tens of thousands of deaths on her hands.
I don’t think we’re ready for that level of Felicity-pandering.
Brace. Your. Selves.
TL;DR Felicity and her dad manage to stop all but one of the nukes launched by HIVE; Felicity stops it from hitting a big city, but it obliterates a smaller town, instead; Brick is back to go on a Damien-mandated fetch quest; the flashbacks show the tail end of the slave uprising; Thea battles Anarky within HIVE’s ark.
It’s a returning character fiesta.
The major plot this week sees HIVE not dilly-dallying with their nuclear genocide plan and setting all the nukes in the world in motion. Naturally, it’s up to a few friends in a basement in a fictional US city to stop them. Felicity realises they’ll need her father, the Calculator, to deal with Rubicon’s code; and so does Damien, who recruits a jailbroken Brick to also track him down. The Super Friends eventually get their hands on him, but then also have to waste time breaking into Palmer Tech to steal a computer processor. Because Felicity gets fired this episode for utterly neglecting her job. What’s this, Arrow? A dose of reality? By their powers combined, they manage to stave off all the nukes except for one, which is headed to Monument Point (a city, I guess?). Felicity’s only move is to veer it off course, but it has to hit somewhere, so it explodes into a town of several tens of thousands. Oh, dear. Meanwhile, Malcolm comes to Thea in the ark for some help dealing with Anarky, who has snuck down there to kill Damien. Finding Damien is too hard, though, so Anarky instead sabotages the ark’s air filtration system. Thea can’t let all the innocent, albeit brainwashed, people die, so agrees to help Malcolm. Then Anarky gets pissed off at her, they fight, and he kills (?) Alex. Meanwhile in flashbacks, Oliver and OSG face off against Black Boss, but OSG ends up somehow imbued with the idol’s magic. And in an utterly insane subplot to include at this stage in the game, Donna finds out Quentin is planning to sign an affidavit claiming he didn’t know Laurel was the Black Canary in exchange for getting his job back. She cannot stand to be with another man who lies about anything, so guilts him into declaring he did know, was proud, and now likely won’t ever work again.
So she can’t handle a lying boyfriend, but she’s down with an unemployed one? She really is white trash.
I wanted to like this episode. And a lot of it I do. You know I’m a sucker for some continuity wanking, so having three returning characters is pretty fab.
But then, as has become the endlessly running gag of Arrow, it all circles back to Felicity.
The world is on the brink of nuclear holocaust. Who will save it? Will it be the Green Arrow, our lead and title character?
No. It’s quirky IT girl. Every time.
The final frontier is to make Felicity combat-capable. And she’s inching worryingly close to that, what with her van driving these past two episodes.
Felicity: The Black Canary is going to happen. Believe it.
Why I hate this episode:
A nuclear attack on an American city is way too big to just kind of chuck in there. Look at how much smaller scale terrorist attacks have shaped our world and generation. A nuke on US soil should be the kind of event that would change the very world of the Arrow-verse. But given these shows’ slavishness to the status quo, I don’t feel confident that will happen. It’s irresponsible writing.
And, of course, it’s all about Felicity. Oliver kind of just stands around, and attempts to fill his required screentime by over-acrobatically kicking goons. It’s embarrassing.
But Felicity, for once, isn’t responsible for the most embarrassing part of the episode. That would be her mother, Donna, with her toweringly selfish demands of Quentin to tell the truth. I would have thought all the inner circle knowing the truth, and Oliver’s exposure of Laurel as the Black Canary at her funeral, would be enough for our characters and the world at large to be satisfied with her legacy. So a fib on a piece of paperwork to get Quentin his job back should be excusable, right? Wrong! That Smoak smug selfishness is evidently hereditary.
And Quentin fucking folds, too. I mean, what does Donna do to earn money, again? Can she support both of them?
The heist at Palmer Tech is infuriating. Felicity can’t get the processor because the board has fired her and forbid her from being in the building. So the Super Friends, plus Calculator, have to engage in a stupidly elaborate theft. But the episode mentions that the processor is in Afrojack’s lab. Afrojack is a friend of the Super Friends, yes? And would want to save the world, yes? Just ask him, you idiots. Jesus.
A point is made about how Damien will absorb (and he does at the end of the episode) the lives lost in the nuke explosion. But Damien is holed up in the nexus chamber under Star City’s city hall. Monument Point is far away enough from Star City to be a metropolis of several million people. So Damien can absorb deaths, even if he isn’t in close proximity to them? Why not just absorb every normal death from around the world, then? Thousands of people die every day. And if it has to be a death he caused himself, how does the idol know that? Because although Damien caused the nuke to launch, Felicity is the one who made it touch down in Havenrock. Everything about this magic has been bullshit. It’s almost like they didn’t have twenty-two or more episodes to flesh it out.
Malcolm is cool with the Genesis plan as long as Thea is safe. Fucking eye roll.
Oh, and Oliver bitches at Diggle for lying to Lyla that Andy’s death was Diggle reacting in self-defence. Because Oliver knows firsthand how lying makes you responsible for a ruined relationship. You know, when he omitted William from Felicity, and then didn’t conference with her about how best to protect him, and she was so mad that she was left out of something that didn’t even involve her that she literally got up out of her wheelchair and walked away? Thanks for the reminder, Arrow.
But it’s not all bad:
I’m shocked to say it, but thank God for Thea’s subplot. Malcolm’s idiocy aside, it was surprising to see her not just being a shackled Damsel in Distress. She’s actually allowed to be put to work in stopping Anarky. Not to protect HIVE’s interests, but simply to ensure the thousands of brainwashed people in the ark don’t die from suffocation (herself included).
And it turns out Alex is the Damsel in Distress, as Anarky sets out to hurt him following Thea’s attack. And Thea’s reaction was difficult to read, but I think Anarky killed him? Now that’s some anguish I can get behind.
Thea’s fight with Anarky leans on the over-choreographed side, but it wasn’t anywhere near as ridiculous as Oliver’s flurry of flip kicks this episode. Score one for Thea. Who knew?
The deserted, flaming slave camp in the flashbacks makes for a pretty cool boss arena. Which is appropriate, because Black Boss isn’t dead and faces off with Oliver. OSG swoops in for a rescue, which is nice.
But when running away with the idol, she suddenly becomes possessed by the magic, which explains that frame of her with glowing eyes from Oliver’s dark past last episode.
Calculator may be a supervillain, but he needs a world to do his supervillainy in, so is sensible in submitting to the Super Friends’ request to stop the nukes. He also relishes some father/daughter time with Felicity. Which she does not. So that makes me happy.
Lyla is pretty badass when she orders around the ARGUS troops. And she does some sharpshooting herself, too.
Felicity bemoans how anybody could be capricious enough to create a nuclear control program. Lyla says it was Amanda. Naturally.
Oh, and Anarky’s relationship with Thea is kinda sweet. He tells her he’s concerned that she always seems to be at the whims of people around her, and would rather she control her own destiny. He also calls her “mother” (because she created him), so that’s hot.