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[TV Review] ‘Arrow’ 4.15 – “Taken”

Now that’s more like it!  If it hasn’t been clear in my past few episode reviews this season, the show had fallen into a bit of a slump after the mid-season premiere.  Nothing on the level of Season 3’s pitfalls, thankfully, but the series has been spinning its wheels a lot the past few weeks.  A wave of mediocrity had set in and I was worried that it might hold for the rest of the season.  For now, at least, it appears that I was worrying too much.

Last night’s episode was a much-needed shot of adrenaline and was fairly entertaining, if not also incredibly depressing.  This week saw the dastardly Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) kick his efforts up a notch by kidnapping Oliver’s son, William Clayton, after being told of his existence by Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman).  Malcolm was pissed about losing his position as Ra’s al Ghul and seeing Nyssa disband the League of Assassins, so he went back to his old slimy ways and joined HIVE.  At first it seemed more like an odd alliance, but more on that later.

After a cute exchange between Oliver and his teammates about being unable to bring John Constantine in to help, Oliver decides to contact another magic-powered hero that he has ties to: Vixen (Megalyn Echikunwoke).  Hailing out of Detroit, Vixen (aka Mari McCabe) can harness the power of any animal spirit she desire, courtesy of an amulet that has been passed down through her family for generations.  If she wants the ferocity of a panther, she can channel it.  The charging strength of a rhino?  She’s got it.  The soaring flight of a bird of prey?  Oh yeah, she can fly.  Megalyn is great in the role and it makes me hope that she can reprise it in live action form outside of her CW Seed animated series (a cute joke is made about that too) more often.  Perhaps as a Legends team member next season?  Here’s hoping.

Naturally all of this magic mumbo-jumbo confounds poor Diggle, who spend half this episode freaked out as much (if not more) than he was on “The Flash” this week.  Between flying magic heroes and mansharks (King Shark!), it’s just not Diggle’s week.  I think someone needs to take him out for a burger and let him relax for awhile.  Speaking of Diggle, sadly the new helmet hinted at in this week’s “Flash” has yet to arrive.  Perhaps in the next episode?

After a few failed attempts at retrieving William, they finally come up with a plan: destroy Darhk’s magical totem that he’s receiving his powers from.  One wonders why they haven’t done this about 10 episodes ago, since the information on it mostly comes from Quentin, but I’ll take it.  After all, it’s really the only sore spot I have with the writing this week.  Their plan is successful, Darhk is depowered and seemingly arrested, and William is returned home safe to his mother.

Yep, Samantha Clayton is obviously all over this episode as well, which kicks the drama up quite a bit.  Funnily enough, after some initial hysterics, Samantha isn’t all that judgmental anymore once Oliver reveals his secret superhero identity to her.  Instead, the disappointed and angry looks rightfully come from Felicity, who until now had no idea that Oliver had a kid.  If that wasn’t bad enough, finding out that Thea, Barry Allen, and Malcolm Merlyn knew before her is just the cherry on top.

This is where the depressing aspects start to come in, as Felicity ends her engagement with Oliver over the whole fiasco.  Even though they are great together, I cannot blame her one bit.  His lies and secrets keep piling on and you cannot run a relationship that way.  We’ve known this break was coming for awhile now, especially after glimpsing it pre-time travel earlier this season (yay, Barry!), so it shouldn’t come as a shock.  Instead, it further illustrates Oliver’s inability to change his ways and how that continues to damage his personal relationships week in and out.

This incident also causes Oliver’s to decide to stay out of William’s life.  It’s a decision that he and Samantha come to mutually, which is a step up from the “tell no one of William” edict earlier this season.  We get to see Oliver recording an incredibly heartbreaking message to his son, revealing that he is William’s father and that because he is Green Arrow, he fears for William’s safety.  The message states that it won’t be played for William until he is 18, but I have a sneaking suspicion William won’t be gone for long.  Regardless of whether or not that prediction pans out, it’s a bit of a soul-crushing scene if you are a parent and Amell sells ever minute of it.

Felicity’s decision to leave him comes right after, but at least leaves us with a moment of hope.  Not hope in her rekindling her romance in Oliver, but hope in the form of her literally getting up and walking out of the room.  It looks like Curtis Hall’s experimental biochip is working and Miss Smoak has regained the ability to walk!

Back to Darhk and Merlyn, the teaser for the next episode appears to reveal Darhk behind bars.  It also hints at Merlyn using this situation as a power play to take over HIVE operations in Star City.  I guess one criminal league is as good as the next and Merlyn has found his new home.  Now comes the real question: is Merlyn going to be the big bad for the rest of the season?  And if so, will Green Arrow end up having to team with Damien Darhk to take Merlyn and HIVE down?  The plot thickens, but since the show doesn’t return until March 23rd, we have a wait ahead of us.  That’s right, the dreaded CW spring break is upon us, at least in terms of new episodes of “Arrow” and “The Flash“.

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