TV Recap: Arrow, “Beacon of Hope”

arrow_season4_posterWhen convict and tech genius Brie Larvan (Emily Kinney) breaks out of prison, she comes to Palmer Tech demanding Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) turn over the chip that allowed her to walk again.

Last week, I complimented Arrow for taking one of its worst characters (Amy Gumenick’s Cupid) and made her useful and interesting. I thought that was a sign that the writers had learned their lesson, but it turns out they were just saving those mistakes for Felicity’s nemesis, Brie Larvan.

The character originally appeared as a villain on The Flash‘s first season and while she was pretty awful there, she fit the show’s tone. Here, however, her goofiness proved once again that Flash can’t be grafted onto Arrow. Barry Allen’s (Grant Gustin) world is simply too fun-loving and comic book-y to mesh with the dark, self-serious world of Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell). That was painfully true here. Emily Kinney is no Emily Bett Rickards and every single bee pun Brie said stung (see how stupid this is?!). Even Echo Kellum barely got away with it and this episode was like a Curtis charm offensive.

Still, despite my problems with Brie (who should stay in that coma forever), this was not a terrible episode. In fact, some great stuff happened. Even though the writers didn’t learn their lesson about trying to bring cartoonish villains onto this show, they did continue last week’s growth by ensuring the guest villain created the opportunity for strong emotional beats for the regular characters. Namely, Oliver and Felicity.

The fact that they were separated for almost the entire episode was probably torture for shippers, but it made the moments where they interacted that much more meaningful. That look on Felicity’s face when Oliver got stung? Magic. However, keeping them separate also allowed for a great examination into their differences. As Felicity said at the end, she was never really like her superhero teammates. She didn’t need violence to fill some gaping hole in her soul. She just wanted to help people. Running Palmer Tech allows her to do that without the lying and the violence to which she has always objected. Despite what young, sweet, short-sighted Thea (Willa Holland) thinks, what Team Arrow does is a drop in the bucket. They are a band-aid on a wound that will always reopen. Felicity, through her work, can and has already begun to change the world for the better. Not even Oliver could begrudge her that—even if he wants her back.

While Oliver’s growth in this episode may not have been as substantial, it was still significant. Surprisingly, the agent of that change was Laurel (Katie Cassidy). She and Oliver never worked as a romantic pairing–that’s why Olicity even exists–but they are really something as partners and friends. Laurel knows what it’s like to be romantically disappointed by Oliver, so she is uniquely qualified to give him advice on his behavior before and after the break-up. It is beyond satisfying to see someone other than Felicity tell Oliver that blaming the vigilante life is a cop out. His lies and his emotional distance ruined his relationship, not the Green Arrow. Maybe when he stops looking at being a superhero as a burden, actually has fun with it, The Flash‘s silliness and optimism won’t feel like naïveté when put into Arrow.

Arrow Death Watch
Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne): 90%
Again, I hate that this is probably true, but I don’t see a way around it. At least this will do great stuff for Laurel and help continue making this her best season ever.

John Diggle (David Ramsey): 40%
I swear, I go back and forth on this. Nothing about this week’s episode justifies the jump in his ranking, but the promo for next week has me concerned. Hopefully it’s the other Diggle brother instead. That storyline is a DUD.

Curtis becoming Team Arrow’s new tech wiz: 100%
Despite how fun he was this episode, I’m glad this isn’t happening. Replacing Felicity so quickly, especially before the team has really had a chance to feel that loss, would have undercut her decision to leave. It’s going to be exciting to watch the team try to function without their their brain. God, they are so screwed.

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.