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Arrow S4.10: “Blood Debts” – Review!

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Arrow’s midseason finale left us on a bit of an unexpected cliffhanger as we remained unsure as to what would be the fate of Felicity Smoak after being attacked by Dhark in the limousine. It was a brutal ending to the episode that shocked viewers, but it was pretty clear that they weren’t going to kill off Felicity this early on in the series. Given the show’s habit for bringing characters back from the dead, it was only to be expected when Felicity was revealed to be alive, albeit  wounded, after her attack from Darhk. It also raises the question: who dies? Because the end flashfoward revealed Felicity’s fate as not being in the tombstone; so who does that leave now? Felicity wants Oliver to do whatever he can against Dhark so that must mean it’s her mother, right? Or Diggle? Certainly someone close to both of them.

Yep, Still not a fan of Diggle's helmet.

Yep, Still not a fan of Diggle’s helmet.

Time will tell, but for now, let’s look at Blood Debts. This was an episode that showcased a welcome return for the superhero series that had to contend with a busy week of premieres including the more entertaining Flash and Agent Carter, with Legends of Tomorrow debuting as well this week. Will Arrow get lost in the shuffle, especially as it isn’t quite at the level it was at Season 2? We’ll have to wait and see, but there was still a lot of solid points about this episode which kept up its strong form.

The show itself focused on Anarky’s return to the series and I was hoping that he would get more involvement here as his appearances on the series so far have been underwhelming, which is a shame given his storyline potential. He isn’t that close to his source material and doesn’t quite feel original, what with the Joker comparisons being pretty easy to make. He needs a lot of improvement before he can become as memorable as that character though, but it was good to see the entertaining fight sequences featuring the character with some great martial arts scenes. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to save the character. He’s not the only Joker-lite character that the show has given us so far (remember the first Count Vertigo?), but the writers can always improve the character even if he needs his own story arc first, rather than let it be overshadowed by HIVE.

Revenge is something that has been covered on Arrow before, so Blood Debts kind of felt like a retread as Oliver hunted for Darhk. This felt like Season 1 Oliver all over again, as he should have learned by now that keeping secrets never helps anyone on this show, and being a jerk towards his friends reduced pretty much all of the character development that the series had built up. Sure, he did have a valid reason for this with the attack on Felicity, but how many times do we have to see Oliver go down the same path over and over again? It was old before Season 1 finished.

Anarky and Thea came into an unlikely conflict this week in non-Oliver related matters as we got more time spent on Thea’s darker sides, which is something that again, the show has explored in the past. He kept trying to taunt Thea and drive her over the edge, with the final test that shows whether or not Thea can handle the pressure of the darkness brought about by the Lazarus Pit. She did get to deliver a few lines of forced exposition to Laurel in this episode, but aside from that this was a decent storyline, and allowed Thea to have some decent character development as a result.

Meanwhile, Diggle got some screentime this week as his plot was more interesting this week than his storylines have been in the past and his conflict with his brother Andy was brought into the focus in an effective way as he came to terms with Andy’s actions in Afghanistan. I think we’re getting a Diggle-centric episode next week (although I could be wrong), so it will be fun to see how the writers handle that approach, which will presumably happen without the Suicide Squad’s involvement. There’s a lot of potential here story-wise, but probably the most frustrating thing about this is that I’ve been saying this for a while about now. Aside from the end of Season 1, some parts of Season 2 and the start of Season 4 (as well as the Flash/Arrow crossover episodes), Arrow has never really delivered on the potential.

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see where this goes with the prospect of a definite death lies around the corner. It’s unlikely that Thea will die given that she’s already been brought back from death once, and there’s still a lot of unknowns here especially with the introduction of Darhk’s wife adding a new, twisted element into play.

What did you think of Arrow’s midseason finale? Did you enjoy Blood Debts returning or were you left underwhelmed? Let me know in the comments below and catch the next episode of Arrow, “A.W.O.L.”, next week at 8pm on the CW Network.

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