Arrow: Taken

vixen

Vixen comes to Star City

If you’re going to do an action piece about a kidnapping, what else would you call it these days but “Taken”? We saw William, Oliver’s son, had been kidnapped by Damian Darhk, last episode. Well, nothing good is going to come of that, and a lot bad happens this episode. As I’ve said before, while Arrow has its faults, it is not afraid to change up the status quo. 

Felicity forces herself through the first session of physical therapy after Curtis’ chip was put in her spine. The results aren’t optimal, but we do learn a lot about Curtis and his husband, Paul. There’s also a mention of Curtis training for the Olympics, possibly another nod to the Mr. Terrific character he’s based on from the comics.

After the session, Oliver and Felicity have a nice moment in the parking garage which is interrupted by the obnoxiously slow clapping Damian. He’s come to deliver his ultimatum about William. Oliver will get his son back when he drops out of the mayoral race. This is also, unfortunately, when Felicity finds out about William to start with. Yep, keeping that secret was a great idea, Oliver.

Back at the lair, Felicity is in a seething rage, which is understandable given the circumstances. She tells Oliver that he’s the only person on the planet who considers the truth complicated. Oliver tells her about Samantha’s requirement for him seeing William, but she brushes this aside. The rest of the team shows up, and things get even worse as Felicity learns that Thea, Barry, and even Malcolm knew about William.

Alex, Oliver’s campaign manager, calls, telling Oliver that a very upset Samantha is in his office. Oliver makes the really questionable choice to bring Samantha to the lair and tell her everything. NOW he’s not keeping secrets? Does he realize it’s not just his identity anymore, but Thea, Laurel, Felicity, and John, too? They strategize, and home in on the idea that they need magic to counter magic. Points to the writers, they at least mention Constantine in passing, but he’s unavailable. He is, in fact, in Hell. Literally. It would have been great to see him again, but their next choice is a pretty good one, too: Vixen.

In Detroit, Vixen takes out a group of thugs with her powers from the Tantu Totem. It’s a great action sequence, which shows how her powers work without a lot of boring explanation. The effects they use for her drawing on the animal spirits are gorgeous. This may be my favorite Arrow interpretation of a comic book character so far. Mari McCabe, as Vixen is actually named, agrees to help, and comes back to Star. She’s impressed by the lair (“I’ve got to get one of these”) and meets the team and Samantha. Using William’s favorite toy (a Flash figure, to Mari’s amusement), Vixen can trace him by her powers.

There’s a lot of slamming on Oliver this episode, and he doesn’t actually deserve it at present. Captain Lance isn’t so much surprised to find out Oliver has a son, more that there aren’t more of them. Malcolm is mad at Oliver for not letting him keep the League of Assassins, even at the risk of Thea’s life. Samantha at least confirms to Felicity that she made him keep William secret. Of course, since Samantha got pregnant during an affair while Oliver was supposed to be with Laurel, I’m not sure where Samantha’s sense of moral superiority is coming from.

Green Arrow and Vixen manage to find Damian, but after he’s moved William. From the way Damian is talking, he somehow doesn’t know that Oliver is Green Arrow. What, Malcolm told Damian about William but not the masked vigilante career? That makes no sense. The heroes still can’t overcome Damian’s magic, but the fight ends in a standstill.

Regrouping at the lair, the team compares notes. Vixen mentions that everyone she knows of who has magic powers like hers gets them from something like her totem (makes me wonder about spell-casters like Zatanna or Dr. Fate in this world). Captain Lance mentions seeing an idol at Damian’s hideout. They link the idol to ley lines, and eventually work out where Damian must be hiding, in time for round two. But, bowing to Damian’s moved up timetable, Oliver drops out of the race and endorses Ruve Adams, Darhk’s wife.

This one is a huge fight, with all of Team Arrow plus Vixen. I’m surprised they didn’t give Samantha a costume at the rate they’re going lately. Most of the fight was good, although Speedy pulls off an impossible, hanging off the back of a motorcycle upside down trick shot that frankly would require superhuman powers of her own. There’s a big confrontation between Green Arrow, Vixen, and Damian after Vixen steals the idol. Darhk’s powers fade, and Green Arrow finally beats the hell out of him, something I’ve been wanting to see for a long time.

So, all’s well that ends well? Not really. Heeding advice from Vixen, Oliver encourages Samantha to take William and disappear, so that not even he knows where they are. Felicity, now that the crisis is over, tells Oliver they need to talk, but that’s not exactly what happens. Thea also tells Malcolm off, after learning he was the one who grabbed William for Darhk. Oliver leaves a video message for William explaining his choices, but with the request that Samantha not show it to him until he turns eighteen. It’s not looking great for Oliver at the end of this episode.

Flashback Theater, still trapped on that damn island, is about Reiter getting access to whatever he’s been looking for all this time. They get the tunnel open, but there’s a mystical guardian with the usual test about who gets in. Maybe we’ll eventually find out what Reiter’s been after and get off Lian Yu finally.

What I liked: Vixen. Everything about her. She was well cast, the effects were great, and the actress did a great job (if you haven’t seen the Vixen animated series on CW Seed, go check it out, it’s great, and Arrow and Flash guest star). Damian’s story seems to be over finally. Thea’s confrontations with Malcolm were great and long overdue. The Constantine mention was nice, but I wish he’d been able to show up.

What I didn’t: Samantha. Everything about her. She’s an annoying plot complication that didn’t need to be here at all. Felicity’s choice at the end. I get it, but I don’t like it. How does Damian not know Oliver is Green Arrow? Flashback Theater seems irrelevant more and more as we go.

I’ll give this one a 3.5 out of 5, and much of that is Vixen. I hope she comes back, here, on Flash, or Legends of Tomorrow. At least Oliver has a few weeks to sulk before the show comes back.

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