TV Recap: Arrow, “Taken”

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Taken Plot Summary:

After Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) kidnaps Oliver’s (Stephen Amell) son William (Jack Moore), he has to come clean to Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) and the rest of the team in order to save him.

If you read these recaps regularly (who are you and what have I done to deserve your love?) you know that I’ve been ready to hate this episode since the crossover. The set up for the illegitimate child storyline has been some of the show’s worst writing to date. That said, I liked a lot about this episode, specifically, the emotional fallout after the truth was revealed.

Felicity’s barely contained hostility and Oliver’s reticence to even look at her were fantastic, but perhaps my favorite reaction was Laurel’s (Katie Cassidy). The moment where she accepted Samantha’s apology for lying about sleeping with Oliver by saying it was his responsibility to tell her the truth was simple and brilliant. The closest her reactions came to melodrama was during her brief conversation with Quentin (Paul Blackthorne), but even that was handled well. Laurel may not love Oliver anymore, but seeing such irrefutable and hurtful proof of his infidelity, and seeing that it still affected both her and other people more than justifies her reaction. It was also a good reminder for Oliver of how hurtful his actions can be.

Unfortunately, pretty much every other person Oliver knows reinforced his bad behavior. Thea (Willa Holland) broke my heart last week, but it was even more upsetting to see Diggle (David Ramsey) give Oliver the same wrong advice. Granted, John’s reasoning made sense. He’s always been there for his daughter and his life is not the never-ending s–tstorm that Oliver’s is. The character is, historically, better at not letting Oliver off the hook, so it was jarring to see him do so here.

Shockingly, Vixen (Megalyn Echikunwoke) gave Oliver the best advice. The best thing for William really is for Oliver to step back and let him grow up away from danger. He should have done that from the beginning. Oliver constantly worries about sacrificing himself for his cause, but his choices with William have always been about his own issues. “A son should know his father,” says a man who has been trying to make up for his father’s misdeeds since he watched Robert Queen (Jamey Sheridan) shoot himself. It’s just bad writing that after four seasons of seeing every possible way of how not to parent, Oliver still made the wrong decision.

Speaking of bad writing, my biggest problem with this secret child storyline is that it’s fundamentally unfair to Felicity. By requiring Oliver to sacrifice fidelity in his romantic relationship for a chance to know his son, Felicity becomes an irrational villain for being anything but accepting and forgiving of his choice. It is a testament to Rickards’s abilities that Felicity didn’t come off that way in this episode. She walked (sorry) a very thin line between conveying the character’s deep sense of betrayal and being sympathetic to the fact that a boy’s life was in danger. And to its credit, when the show finally let Felicity speak, it let her leave Oliver for the right reasons. At the end of the day, it’s not really about the fact that Oliver lied. It’s that his default is to withhold emotionally from the one person with whom he should share everything.

“Marriage is about leaning on your partner when things get complicated,” Felicity told Oliver, “but I don’t think you know how to do that.” And she’s right. Oliver loves his secrets. Hell, he probably hasn’t told her everything that happened in the five years he was away. Oliver needs this space to grow, but so does Felicity. Letting her regain her mobility right before leaving Oliver may have been the most heavy-handed metaphor possible, but it doesn’t diminish how important her decision is. Felicity’s heroism has always been linked to Oliver’s, but now she gets to decide what she wants to do. And as someone who runs a company that–in the same quarter–released a perfect power source AND invented a device that can heal permanent nerve damage, she is set to change the world in a way some guy in a green hood never will. Arrow may be the origin story of the Green Arrow, but this season just might be the origin story of Felicity Smoak.

Arrow Death Watch

John Diggle: 50%

I hope this isn’t true, but at this point, I think he’s the best choice writing-wise.

Quentin Lance: 50%

This would be really devastating for a lot of the characters and forever change Team Arrow’s relationship with the SCPD. It’s a smart move, but how could they kill a man who made a joke about Oliver having a small army of illegitimate children?

Roy Harper (Colton Haynes): 10%

I just want this so much.

My fear that the remainder of this show would have to fit in scenes of William: 100%

Listen, just because I think the better writing choice in the first place would have shown Oliver openly trying to get to know his son while also exploring Felicity’s fears about their relationship doesn’t mean I’m sad we won’t get that now. William would have been a constant reminder of the second worst story choice the show has ever made. (The first is this year’s Lian-Yu plot.)

By day, Marisa Carpico stresses over America’s election system. By night, she becomes a pop culture obsessive. Whether it’s movies, TV or music, she watches and listens to it all so you don’t have to.