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Arrow Review: Luck or Destiny?

Written by  Published November 12, 2015 07:19
Welcome back to the weekly Arrow review, as we walk through the season together episode by episode. In the sixth episode of this – the fourth season – it seems Arrow has finally caught up to itself. What I mean by this is that after three seasons (two of which we weren’t sure if we were watching Batman or Green Arrow) and six episodes of a fourth the loose ends have wrapped, the characterization is complete and the team is defined and each member has a role and a function that is fully understood.

While it has been a fun ride to get to this epiphany and some experimentation with mixed results it was to be expected it also means that it is time once again to throw everything on its ear and get on with plot propulsion. Much like this week’s Flash the sixth episode is the turn for the season and begins to separate this chapter from the previous ones. In other words, transition is over.

So when Sara is back in costume and Ray Palmer is known to be alive where do they go from here. Did episode 6 fly true or did it get the wobbles and miss the mark. I break it down below.

So let’s get this monkey smoking….

<- <- SPOILERS AHEAD (you’ve been warned) -> ->

SYNOPSIS from TV.com

12233450 10204802515692871 843923703 n “Team Arrow launches an attempt to rescue a miniaturized Ray from Damien's stronghold. Meanwhile, Felicity begins to wonder if she's losing herself in her relationship with Oliver, and Donna arrives in Star City to pay her daughter a visit”

We also see in this episode that after Constantine’s visit last episode the entire team is more open to the realm of magic and supernatural ideas which of course reflect back to Oliver’s third stint on the island as a slaver’s guard. It is revealed that while there the island is indeed a portal for the supernatural and the drug trade merely a front for Oliver’s employers. Sara has a bloodlust from the pit she cannot resist and leaves Star City for Central City (too many Canaries for one town) and Detective Lance and Mama Smoak enjoy a quiet night over drinks and melancholy sentiment.

 

THE BREAKDOWN – Direction is Relative to Relation

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In columns past I have discussed the Arrow Template and how it has given us a slew of successful TV shows from DC Comics and the WB. In this particular case I am pleased to see more expansion to this template for success. The new principle that seems to be a growing hard and steady rule for the DC/WB brain trust. The rule?

DON’T BE AFRAID TO CHANGE THE TEMPLATE IF IT FAVORS THE STORY

This is finally demonstrated out in plain sight in episode six of season 4 but when examined it has been silently followed since the introduction of Deathstroke as the main baddie in Season 2. In fact, the Lazarus Pit arc that took Season 3 and part of this season is a direct result of this being in play. I can hear them in the writer’s room now, “Who cares if it is a Batman story look how cool it would be to be told here with Oliver instead!”

However, in this case it is a special instance because it works seamlessly and so much less clunky than any other application of the rule so far. This is why it stands out, because the characterization has been corrected and the tone for Oliver and Company is finally in a place that feels easy and comfortable to the viewer. There are rays of light protruding from the brooding gloom, there is communication where secrets once ruled and there is a feeling of teamwork and trust not felt since the first season in the opening origin episodes between Diggle and Oliver. We now see the healthier and more whole Oliver and Felicity replacing the secretive loner and the starry eyed geek who got her dream.

Thematically a new theme has begun on Arrow. It is the theme that resonates in every sentient being from time to time and the harbinger of this theme was given to us John and Lila renewed their love and stabilized their relationship. When Lila quit Argus.

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You see the new theme is direction. More specifically, it is about where direction comes from and when you can trust other sources versus self-rudder to safe destination. But to find direction one needs to be lost first and in the infancy of exploring the theme of direction (and most logically redemption) Arrow’s creative (writing, production, direction and cast alike) personnel has put all but Diggle in the weeds and used Diggle (as part of the formula) to ground and heal Oliver. The new theme has caused different cast members to be the core though. While Sara is so lost she needs to leave (and hopefully grace us on Flash before joining the Legends of Tomorrow cast as White Canary) Oliver and Felicity had to lose their way first. You see for this theme to be explored it will be necessary for those that already had identity issues (Felicity and Oliver) to resolve differently than before.

In the case of Oliver he resolves it with humor, patience and openness and Felicity throws a fit. Instruments for reconciliation though must now come from new spots. Instead of brother or friend John Diggle is now a father figure and example of normalcy to Oliver and the overbearing embarrassing affection Felicity has with her mom has now become a connection of sorts for intimacy and real world application Felicity never had before. This is a risky turn for the main characters as the formula of opposite tone has been successful.

To compensate the brooding and loss of direction has been passed to others. Ray is now alone in a world who thinks him dead and no girl Friday in Felicity. Curtis has a new world to process and his relationship with Felicity as scientific employer comrade is changing. Detective Lance has lost his girl a 3rd time and Laurel is once again the only Canary in Star City. Mama Smoak has to find a new role for herself now that Felicity has a man and both Lance and Ms. Smoak find comfort for each other which will propel the secrets, the darkness and the direction for everyone else. Thea has a new love interest because she is rudderless without Malcom to hate and Roy to love. Bloodlust and all.

Oh and it wasn’t Gangbuster or Guardian…the name is Spartan.

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THE VERDICT

In one episode the creative team for Arrow ended the loose ends, intensified the villainy of Darhk and set the table for the new theme. It is great feat to undertake and a miracle it was pulled off so well. Arrow is finally on track and expanding the formula now refined to grow and include more successful tendrils of the DCTVU. Arrow despite its past hits and misses is still the testing ground for all of the DC/WB shows and this turn worked superbly.

Tell the monkey to crush his butt…

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