Is Oliver Queen fully capable of loving someone else? This is a question that we wonder after Wednesday night’s “Arrow” episode, and not just because of how he is a man in a mask. Barry Allen, for example, is someone who can probably have it both ways because he is a guy who is able to acknowledge more of the lightness in life. He’s less of a tortured soul, and doesn’t always feel the need to be at the forefront of every revenge plot.
We’re not sure that Oliver is fully capable of that after watching Wednesday night’s midseason premiere “Blood Debts.” While he cared about Felicity (who may never walk again) in his own way, the problem was that he wasn’t always showing it. Instead, others had to push him to be there at the hospital rather than going off on some revenge mission that he could have handled to the rest of the team. Maybe the intention here is to the show building blocks for how the engagement could someday end, given that the flash-forward at the end of the episode showed Felicity sans ring finger. If that’s the case, the episode makes more sense because Oliver comes across badly in how he handled his fiancee’s injuries.
Could this episode have worked if Laurel, Thea, and Diggle were off doing all of the fighting in the field? Sure, and we even think that had Colton Haynes returned early, he would’ve strapped on a costume and helped in a pinch. The real objective here was finding Damien Darhk and stopping him with this extra motivation in mind, and furthering the love / hate relationship with Anarky at the same time. We wish we saw that character more than we have, since it is the closest thing we have to a true Thea villain, and that presents to her more of a challenge. (Also, can’t the Black Canary have some more villains of her own?)
The action at the end of the episode was pretty awesome, and the high point once again was David Ramsey’s acting as he found a way to connect to his brother Andy on a personal level as a suggestion from his wife Lyla. Sometimes a lot of great sequences can compensate for the flaws, but in this case there were two that stood out and are ultimately rather hard to ignore.
1. Oliver not being with Felicity when she needed him, and Felicity / Donna not being as upset as they really should have been all things considered. We already know that the others are more than capable of taking on missions.
2. Damien giving Oliver a few weeks to more or less say goodbye to his family as a reward for saving his, which is show speak for “we don’t want to rush this story too much so we’re taking some time off.” Also, it’s good to know that Mrs. Darhk is aware of what is going on with her husband.
It’s odd that for the second straight year, an “Arrow” winter premiere is marred by some questionable decision-making. Last year, it was the writers letting Oliver off the hook to easily after falling off the side of a mountain; this time, it’s the other characters doing the same to him. Grade: C+.
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