Arrow: Blood Debts

speedy

Speedy hunts Anarky

Arrow has been doing flashbacks almost every episode. Now, they do things a bit differently. The episode opens with a flash-forward, four months from now. Oliver stands over a fresh grave, looking very upset. Barry, also looking sad, turns up. Oliver vows “to kill him,” the “him” in question presumably being whoever is responsible for the grave. They carefully don’t show us the name on the marker.

Back to “now,” the episode does a series of cuts between Felicity’s surgery and Green Arrow tearing up the city. This is Oliver back to as savage as he was when the show first started and he’d just come back from Lian Yu. There are some brutal fights, and the Ghosts seem to have a recurring issue with electricity.

Donna, Felicity’s mother, gets more and more angry at Oliver as he fails to show up at the hospital. There are a few scenes of Felicity, who knows why Oliver isn’t showing up, and is very mature and accepting of it. That’s one foolish soap opera card they didn’t play, and I’m glad. They also did an amazing makeup job on Felicity- she looks like she should be on Walking Dead, not Arrow.

We’ve seen this before, they once again show that Felicity plays a vital role on Team Arrow. No one else is even close to her level of skill with computers. The team desperately tries to come up with a lead as to where Darhk might be. Diggle gets a lot more aggressive in his questioning of their captive, Diggle’s brother Andy, one of Darhk’s Ghosts.

The recurring theme of the episode is that Oliver’s out of control, and he seriously is. Then, Lonnie Machin comes back on the scene. The team crossed paths with him before, as a contract killer working for Darhk. Machin’s working for himself now, and has adopted the alias he uses in the comics as a Batman foe- Anarky. He’s going after Darhk, too, which makes everything a lot more complicated.

The team gets clues as to how far around the bend Machin has gone. It’s not just that he leaves his trademark Anarky symbol behind, it’s what he painted it with. He’s really getting disturbing. Team Arrow finally manages to catch him, and then it’s Oliver who’s getting disturbing. Laurel finally intervenes, and Green Arrow really crosses a line afterward.

Like Oliver needed anything to spur him on to acting crazy, they finally get a definitive diagnosis about Felicity’s injuries, and it’s not good. I won’t spoil it here, but I will say that Felicity’s resemblance to another DC character is a lot more pronounced now. This will be something that they don’t just patch up in a show or two.

They finally get a better clue about where to find Darhk, and the team takes off. How Anarky is getting all this intel about Darhk is never really explained. During a big fight with Green Arrow and Speedy, Anarky suddenly has a martial arts weapon called the three section staff. It’s a cool looking toy, and it makes for some nice visuals, but where Anarky got it isn’t really clear, nor is why he’s suddenly switching to those kind of weapons.

I’m happy that, despite everything else going on, Oliver and Felicity’s relationship seems to have survived. I could see several ways they could have torn it apart with all that’s going on. It’s nice to see the writers chose not to. They have a few good scenes of them together. Thea also made some progress with her dating Alex, Oliver’s campaign manager. The campaign itself seems to have taken a serious back seat to everything else going on, but that makes sense.

Mirroring the opening scene, the episode closes in the graveyard again. We get a clue about who died, or at least who didn’t die. Oliver is urged to go “kill the son of a bitch” by a surprising person. It gives me a few ideas about who might be in that grave, but again, spoilers.

This week’s Flashback Theater is even less connected to the main plot than usual. Oliver and Diana have been captured by Conklin and brought back to Reiter. Just when it seems that Reiter is going to finally let Conklin’s twisted madness loose on Oliver, something unexpected happens. I’ll give Reiter credit for a good line as he reins Conklin in: “Remember, there’s no part of my plan that requires you to be alive.” Oliver is spared for now.

What I liked: Oliver and Felicity stayed together, despite a severe blow. Donna’s being pissed at Oliver made sense, but so did Felicity’s acceptance. The scenes with Diggle and Andy were good. Thea’s wrestling with her bloodlust was also nicely done. The mystery of the grave scenes is a good puzzle to work on.

What I didn’t: Black Canary’s Canary Cry seems to be the most useless weapon around. Everyone shrugs it off quickly. Cisco better go back to the drawing board on that one. I understand Laurel’s choice to go against Oliver here, but it’s not going to help the team long term. I also think Green Arrow’s relationship with the Star City Police was seriously damaged tonight, no matter how understanding Captain Lance is. The more time passes, the less I see the need for the flashbacks.

It was an uneven episode. Not as rocky as Supergirl earlier this week, but not their best. I’ll give it a solid 3 out of 5.

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