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Arrow - Taken & Broken Hearts - Review

I’m combining two reviews here because I was so ticked at the end of the first that I wanted to give the next episode the chance to sort it out. I am so over the tired trope of will they, won’t they, almost together, torn apart. I thought better of Arrow. I really thought that they were going to actually move on and let the central couple be happy within their relationship while still being tortured by outside events. Instead, in “Broken Hearts,” the writers turn Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) into a shrill, sniping b*****. It does both the show and the character a disservice. Perhaps the writers and showrunners haven’t taken notice of Castle’s tanking ratings over the trash they are pulling with Becket and Castle. I stopped watching Grey’s Anatomy early on because the Derek/Meredith relationship was a never ending roller coaster, stuck in a seemingly endless loop. Castle is on probation. I hope I’m not forced to stop watching Arrow for the same reason.

Arrow “Taken” was directed by Gregory Smith with a story by Marc Guggenheim and the teleplay written by the team of Keto Shimizu and Brian Ford Sullivan. The episode features the introduction of Vixen played by Megalyn Echikunwoke. I did love Oliver’s (Stephen Amell) explanation that he knows Vixen/Mari from an “animated” encounter last year. Vixen is an animated series on the CW Seed – their streaming service – and the show is executive produced by Berlanti, Guggenheim, and Kreisberg. In fact, the Arrow, the Flash, and Cisco Ramone all appeared on the animated show.

The episode revolves around Darhk (Neal McDonough) using a kidnapped William (Jack Moore) to blackmail Oliver into conceding the mayoral race to his wife. Of course, this means that Felicity finds out about William in the worst possible way. Even when Samantha (Anna Hopkins) explains that she forced Oliver to keep the secret, Felicity refuses to relent. Felicity is particularly upset because Barry (Grant Gustin) and Thea (Willa Holland) did know.

Fatherhood is a theme that runs throughout the episode. Diggle (John Ramsey) explains to Oliver that he understands why Oliver kept William a secret but that he copes by keeping Sara close to him. That’s how you keep your kids safe. Laurel (Katie Cassidy) is also affected by the revelation about Samantha, who apologizes to Laurel. Laurel tells her that it was a long time ago, but it’s Oliver who should have been honest with her. Quentin (Paul Blackthorne) isn’t surprised that playboy Oliver had a child, but he is also there to comfort an upset Laurel who confides in him that it still does bother her.

Thea and Malcolm (John Barrowman) continue to have a very rocky father/daughter relationship. She is angry with him for not simply giving up to save her life and is not very sympathetic that he lost his hand. I’m really hoping they find someone who can make him a fake one that’s as good as Coulson’s on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. because the stump is just bad!

The two share a very powerful scene, and I really do love Barrowman and Holland together. Thea is beyond angry after finding out that it was Malcolm who actually kidnapped William. Malcolm maintains that he did it to protect them. But Thea says she’s done and wishes she’d never picked him. But then, you can’t pick your family, can you? Robert may have raised her, but she will always have Malcolm’s DNA. Malcolm tells her that he turned her into a warrior from a spoiled brat – he’s not wrong. He also tells her that he’d rather she hate him and live than love him and be dead. I’m always so conflicted about Malcolm! Which is, no doubt, because I find it hard to hate John Barrowman…

When Felicity points out that they need to fight Darhk’s magic with magic of their own, Oliver goes to Detroit to bring back Vixen. She too uses a totem, but hers harnesses the animal kingdom – if you’re a Harry Potter fan, it’s impossible not to see this as a Patronus… In the end, despite some truly terrible flying special effects, the team with Vixen’s help is able to destroy Darhk’s totem and Oliver finally gets to beat Darhk up.

In the flashbacks, Conklin (Ryan Robbins) briefly appears as a reanimated corpse, which Reiter (Jimmy Akingbola) attributes to primordial energy. After Oliver’s tattoo glows, Conklin declares him worthy to pass and then smokes out. Reiter sends Oliver and Taiana (Elysia Rotaru) into the cave. I have to say that I’m finding the flashbacks particularly unengaging this season. I’m not seeing a really through line to the main plot and I’m just not connecting with these characters in the same way. It also isn’t helpful that Oliver is seen wearing the same shirt in the present and the past, and as much as the wigs were dreadful, sporting exactly the same hair also doesn’t transport me back.

The episode does end with two powerful scenes. Oliver leaves a video message for an 18 year old William to receive, explaining why he’s sent William and Samantha away. He is giving up his own desire to be a father to give William a normal childhood – good advice he received from Mira.

There is no denying that Rickards and Amell have terrific chemistry, so they both deliver terrific performances in the final scene as Felicity returns the ring, telling Oliver that she needs space. Marriage for her is all about inclusion and she’s not wrong. Felicity gets up and walks out – Paul really is a terrific physiotherapist!

“Broken Hearts” was directed by John Showalter and was written by the team of Rebecca Bellotto and Nolan Dunbar. Both Bellotto and Dunbar have very sparse IMDb pages and this is the first writing credit for both. Is it possible that the executive producers are just spread too thin now and are letting their oldest success fend for itself? I was happy to see Amy Gumenick back as Cupid, but as already mentioned, the portrayal of Felicity in this episode often had my teeth on edge.

Cupid is devastated over the loss of Deadshot – after also having the Arrow killed (or so she thinks). She is killing couples because “love is a bullet to the brain – or an arrow to the heart.” Certainly, love makes you do stupid things and can be as painful as an arrow to the heart. I think Felicity may be the stupid one in this equation and Oliver the one in pain.

As the episode opens, Felicity is moving out of the loft. I think this apartment is now officially cursed. She is going to stay with the team – but of course, by the end of the episode, she’s decided that they don’t really need her and she’s leaving the team too. Really?

Felicity tells the team that she and Oliver have broken up and are no longer even living together. Diggle once again comes through and comforts Oliver, telling him that she’ll come around. Diggle and Thea both tell Oliver to make sure that he actually tells Felicity that he wants to get back together.

Naturally, Oliver and Felicity have to act as the bait to catch Cupid by staging a “secret” wedding that Thea leaks to the press. Can we console ourselves with how beautiful Felicity looked and how beautiful Oliver’s vows were? And then there’s the heartfelt plea that Felicity makes about love to Cupid, telling her that love is what gives her life meaning and that it’s worth living for. Unfortunately, Felicity tells Oliver later that she didn’t mean any of it. I don’t know about you, but this wasn’t the wedding I was picturing either – beautiful or not.

The other major storyline is Darhk’s trial. I thought the courtroom scenes were well done – better than a lot of other shows. Fitzmartin (Jason Schombing) does a good job with his motion to dismiss and his discrediting of the witnesses. Naturally, this forces Quentin to step up and confess his involvement. He does still have duress to fall back on, but are we once again going to see him demoted to beat cop?

I liked the scene at the end between Laurel and Quentin when she checks to make sure that they are still ok. Let’s at least keep their relationship on an even keel! Pike (Adrian Holmes) shows up to suspend Quentin and take his gun and badge. Of course, Quentin now has a huge target painted on him as the Judge (Nicole Oliver) points out he’s basically the entire case against Darhk.

At least the flashbacks in this episode seemed relevant as Reiter finds Darhk’s totem in the cave. It appears that it can harness the ability to bring people back to life and seems to be linked to the tattoo. Oliver and Taiana manage to steal the idol and get away, using it to later ambush Reiter’s men.

I wonder if this is going to tie into the graveyard scene that the show has been teasing us with – another character to be rescued from the jaws of death? Oliver does have the pieces of Darhk’s totem after all. The body language between Felicity and Oliver in that limo – with her as far from him as she can get – would seem to indicate that this break up is going to go on for a while.

I am curious about that final scene with Darhk. Where did he get that ring and how is it helping him to make the lights flicker? And won’t the guards notice that he’s suddenly wearing a ring? Not allowed after all…

There were a few highlights in the episode – mainly the action sequences. I loved Speedy jumping from the bike to the car only to get picked off by the car speeding into the building! Did anybody not wince when that happened? I’m also happy that Cupid lives to fight another day. I do wonder, however, about Oliver’s mayoral race – is he still out? Did I miss him re-entering the race? Did I miss any comment about this?

So not two of my favorite episodes. What did you think of them? What’s your take on the Olicity split? Does this all point toward Quentin’s days being numbered? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Please let's say goodbye to this version of Felicity asap!

About the Author - Lisa Macklem
I do interviews and write articles for the site in addition to reviewing a number of shows, including Supernatural, Arrow, Agents of Shield, Agent Carter, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, The X-Files, Defiance, Bitten, Killjoys, and a few others! I'm active on the Con scene when I have the time. When I'm not writing about television shows, I'm often writing about entertainment and media law in my capacity as a legal scholar. I also work in theatre when the opportunity arises. I'm an avid runner and rider, currently training in dressage.
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