Arrow S4:E9 ‘Dark Waters’ Review

Arrow -- "Dark Waters" -- Image AR409B_0320b.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Neal McDonough as Damien Darhk and Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen -- Photo: Diyah Pera/ The CW -- © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Fans have had over three seasons to watch these characters grow and develop, change and become something truly special. Just look at how Thea, Diggle, Felicity, and even Oliver have grown! “Arrow” is the show that kick started the golden age of DC television we are currently living in, and when all is said and done, it might be considered one of the if not the preeminent super hero show of all time. That is why I’m so concerned that this week’s episode of “Arrow,” the midseason finale, was such a giant let down.

And I was run-ning!
And I was run-ning!

This season, “Arrow” has done many things right. Damien Darhk is a palpable threat, many other heroes have been successfully brought into DCTV via way of “Arrow” and the action has been fun and intense. I like Oliver and Felicity together and the series now has a sort of lightness that sets it apart from other seasons. Or it did, because this episode in question went out of its way to be dark and edgy and worse off all, had huge gaps of logic that made the plotting of the show seem haphazard and rushed.

Where to begin? How about that the fact that the episode went out of its way to remind viewers about Felicity’s Jewish heritage by making a number of Hanukah jokes. Admittedly, they were funny; the humor on this show very rarely falls flat but after about forty minutes of being reminded of Felicity’s heritage- SHE GETS STUFFED INTO A GAS CHANMBER. I mean, can you be more sledge hammer obvious? Yeah, Dark is evil, we get it. He has some kind of plan going on involving Starling City’s algae or some such fuffery, but to give a speech about Nazis while gassing a Jew when he has magical powers and a legion of armed HIVE minions. It’s just all excessive. In fact, the whole episode was excessive and shoddily done.

Felicity has seen better days.
Felicity has seen better days.

We never had a suitable explanation to why Darhk is so obsessed with Oliver Queen. I’m sure there is a reason and after three seasons I even trust that the reason will be a good one, but so far it seems like manufactured conflict; just a way to bring Queen and Darhk together. Remember how logical and personal Oliver’s issues with Slade and Ra’s Al Ghul were? This is just an ill thought out villain played by a great actor with admittedly cool powers. But there was never a reason why Oliver is so important to this guy so every threat just seems artificial.

Really all that this episode accomplished was putting Felicity in danger, making the most well developed and likable character on the show into a helpless liability. We have covered this ground before with all of Oliver’s friend and family. They are in danger because of Oliver, yeah, we get it. Gassing Oliver’s Jewish fiancé in front of him…that’s a bit on the nose don’t you think? (And yes guys, “Homeland” did the gas thing better). To be fair, Felicity was locked in that gas chamber with Diggle and Thea so the show really didn’t mean to be horrifically racially insensitive; I think it was all just a slap dash attempt at ill conceived drama. And admittedly, when Laurel, Quentin Lance, and Malcolm Merlyn made the last minute save it was very cool (I love the Canary Cry), but things didn’t end there.

There's a squad for you!
There’s a squad for you!

The day was saved and the moment we have been teased all season took place. Oliver proposed to Felicity very publicly and there was cheering, applause, and tears and the whole thing was spoiled because it was glaringly obvious that the show was about to do something stupid. On their way back from a Christmas tree lighting and proposal, Queen’s limo was attacked by HIVE. Now, keep in my mind, this was after Darhk attacked a community clean up Queen attended. This was after Darhk had kidnapped everyone Oliver cared about except that maid from the pilot episode – this was after Oliver almost had to watch Felicity get gassed to death. Does he use a cadre of armed guards or have any of his SUPER HERO friends guard the limo…no! He just drives through town, at night, with no security because the plot needs him to. The limo is attacked and Felicity is riddled with bullets. Is she dead? Probably not but we will probably have to deal with coma Felicity and vengeful guilty Oliver and this isn’t where the series should be going.

Oliver and Felicity share a moment.
Oliver and Felicity share a moment.

Felicity should not be a tool used to hurt the main character. She should not be a girl hostage or Ms. Victim; she should be the vital, humorous, strong, professional, multi-faceted character that fans have grown to love. Does her gender or her status as a fan favorite make Felicity immune from harm? Of course not! But if you are going to take the extreme step of having her get so horrifically injured, MINUTES AFTER SHE IS ENGAGED, dammit, you have to earn that through logic and storytelling, and this episode did none of that.

It was almost an hour of Felicity getting exposed to death with Oliver unable to save her. It made everyone seem weak, stupid, and helpless, and for what? To make Darhk a bigger big bad? It makes no sense, it defies character logic and some of Oliver’s choices just make him seem like a dribbling idiot. These kinds of episodes unravel all the good this show has done over three seasons and I hate to say it, when it comes to the core cast of “Arrow,” it seemed like the show is now going through the motions. Whenever any other DC heroes have arrived on “Arrow,” the Hawks, Atom, and the Flash, the show does a very good job with them but I’m afraid that the core cast of “Arrow” (the cast that begun it all) is suffering because of story burn out. As far as the main plot goes there is just nothing here. If putting Felicity in constant danger and forcing characters to act dumb is the direction the show is going I fear for the future.

There was some stuff to like, the relationship between Felicity’s mother and Quentin Lance, the evolution as Malcolm Merlyn as a pseudo-ally, but everything else just seemed forced and at times downright insulting to characters fans have taken ownership of. The whole episode seemed like a cartoon of Oliver trying to protect Felicity after she innocently wandered onto a construction site only to see her get riddled with bullets just for drama’s sake. She deserves a better, or at least she deserves a more coherent and logical fate.

“Arrow” you have failed this season.

1 star


    I quite disagree with this review. I must rate Arrow, S4E9 Dark Waters as 4.25 stars out of 5.00. It was that good in my view! Yes, the reference to Felicity’s Jewish heritage and then attempting to gas her to death was overkill and I’m quite sure will stir up bad feelings in some. And yes, you have a situation in shows in this day and age where the writers will have the characters do the dumbest of things because the plot demands them to in order to advance certain storylines and objectives. Case in point, riding in an unprotected limo only hours after being kidnapped and almost killed. Not smart at all. But there was plenty to like from last night’s Arrow. Great action sequences, Malcolm Merlyn playing a major role in the nights events, which was much appreciated, and of course Diggle had a couple of powerful scenes with his brother Andy. That I did not expect, but they were good scenes. But of course Malcolm Merlyn and Damien Darkh stole the show, with Darkh being the quintessential villain and Merlyn being the X factor that allowed Team Arrow to survive their encounters with Darhk. The Flashback cliffhanger with Oliver being caught with the woman he was supposed to have long killed makes for good drama with viewers wanting to know what happens next. Although the show had some weaknesses, I think those weaknesses were masked pretty well to give a solid 40 plus minutes of entertaining Arrow fun. This was a good mid season fall finale to end on, and I look forward to next year’s episodes of ARROW!!!

  2. I sent a complaint to the CW about this episode. While not a 1 star episode, the lack of cultural sensitivity was astounding. Imagine almost any other ethnicity, religion, skin color utilized in such a fashion in an entertainment venue. The outcry would have been tremendous. The juxtaposition of Felicity’s Judaism with the Nazi reference and later the gas chamber must have been intentional which makes it all sickening. Or, worse yet, if unintentional, then the stupidity is breathtaking. I remain an Arrow fan and do like the grittier feel to the show, generally, but this was beyond the pale.

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