Arrow S04E16 “Broken Hearts” REVIEW

Arrow S04E16: “Broken Hearts” REVIEW

Broken Hearts

stars 3

Airing in the UK on Sky One, Weds 8pm
Writers: Rebecca Bellotto, Nolan Dunbar
Director: John Showalter

 

Essential plot points:

  • Cupid, having been released by ARGUS, threatens a young couple who are tied up, then shoots them both with arrows through the heart after making them declare their love for each other, repeating Deadshot’s words that, “Love is a bullet to the brain”.

1 (4)

  • Damien Darhk’s lawyer tries to have the case against him thrown out, claiming he’s not Darhk but Kenneth Bender from Markovia instead. \
  • Laurel has to prove his evil identity for the case to continue.
  • Felicity is moving her stuff out of Oliver’s apartment. Things are, it’s safe to say, awkward between them. Felicity expects to still be a part of Team Arrow, however.
  • Patrolling the city proves quiet for the team, as HIVE appears to have gone to ground following Darhk’s arrest. Felicity lets slip about the break-up, and Diggle looks to give Oliver some advice before Lance calls. SCPD has found the bodies of the young couple killed by Cupid: a pair of tabloid celebrities.

7 (5)

  • Diggle testifies in the court hearing how Darhk kidnapped him, Thea and Felicity at the campaign party the previous year. However, Damien’s defence attorney reveals proof Thea and Diggle bought thousands of dollars worth of drugs (from the sting operation in “Beyond Redemption” earlier this season), casting doubt on his testimony. Lance volunteers to go on the stand and expose himself to testify against Darhk.
  • Felicity tracks Cupid after she kidnaps another celebrity couple. Oliver, Diggle and Thea give chase, rescuing the couple from a limo, but Cupid manages to escape. Oliver manages to grab an item of fabric from her outfit.

14 (5)

  • They track her former base to a wedding dress warehouse, where her lair reveals future celebrity couple targets, including Oliver and Felicity.
  • Oliver believes they should offer themselves up as a target and fake a wedding between himself and Felicity to draw Cupid out. Felicity’s not convinced but the team convince her, reluctantly, to do it.
  • Lance testifies in court how he passed information onto HIVE and Darhk after Damien threatened Laurel’s life, including what lead to the city leadership being killed.
  • Thea and Diggle stage a trap as Oliver and Felicity put on a wedding ceremony. Oliver uses the ceremony to tell Felicity how sorry he is and promises never to lie to her again. But before she can reply, Cupid interrupts and shoots him with an arrow.
  • Thankfully he’s wearing body armour under his tux, and Felicity tells Cupid about how lucky she is to have been in love, seeing it as a blessing rather than a bullet. The team overpower Cupid, and she’s led off by police.
  • Darhk is denied bail and sent to jail until his trial. Lance, however, is suspended pending an internal affairs investigation over his conduct.
  • Felicity returns to the lair to collect her belongings. She tells Oliver she loves him but can’t be around him any more, and leaves Team Arrow.

22 (2)

  • Darhk arrives in his prison cell. As the door is closed, he reveals a ring he has kept hidden in his mouth, before putting it on, and smiling…
  • In flashbacks to Lian Yu, Reiter reveals the idol he’s been looking for is powered by energy from people as they die. Oliver and Taiana overpower him and steal the object in a bid to prevent him shooting the slaves and hide out in the tunnels. Reiter warns there’s only one way out – through him and his men – but after sending two goons in after them, Oliver overpowers them and steals their guns.

 

Review:

After a run of good episodes, Arrow shifts down a gear into what basically feels like a treading water before we go into the big push for the finale. The problem is that we go into that state with three key plots ongoing: HIVE’s big plans for Star City; Oliver and Felicity’s relationship; and the flashbacks to Lian Yu.

Anyone looking for any kind of advancement from these storylines after this episode will feel sorely disappointed. By the end of “Broken Hearts”, we’re no further forward at all. This is the televisual equivalent of being put into a holding pattern above Prestwick Airport for an hour.

That in itself wouldn’t necessarily be a problem, if they justified the lack of progression storyline wise with some meaty character material, but that’s not really there either. Oliver and Felicity get a moment amidst their fake marriage vows but ultimately the characters aren’t anywhere different or changed by what happens. Captain Lance, arguably, is the only person in the whole episode who is significantly impacted by the story, but while Paul Blackthorne gives a great performance, the ramifications of his suspension are presented in such a low key way it feels like nothing more than set-up.

15 (4)

It’s understandable. With 22 episodes over a season, and that key run coming up, occasionally the show has to take the foot off the gas a bit. As an exercise, the episode proves a useful one for two writing newcomers to the franchise, getting a chance to cut their teeth on a story with character beats but relatively low stakes.

At least there’s nothing particularly bad in the episode. Amell and Rickards are their usual reliably good selves, with the latter’s farewell to Oliver at the end being particularly well performed. The big-fight-in-a-warehouse is this time a small fight at a wedding reception, which at least feels different (and what would a wedding be without some kind of a skirmish?). And there’s no never-ending crowd of goons, as per the HIVE episodes.

But the episode just feels very lightweight, and disposable. It’s not even a progression from A to B so much as a motorway service station stop-off for the arc plot. It’s the televisual equivalent of Tebay: it’s nice to stop off and enjoy the scenery, but you’re not missing out if you miss it out.

5 (5)

 

The Good:

  • They’ve not mucked about with the opening logo too much this season, so it’s nice to see Cupid’s love-heart arrow replacing the traditional green arrowhead for this episode.

4 (4)

  • Felicity’s nerdy approach to packing the removals truck; entirely in character, not just in terms of planning but also the nervous energy she’s displaying in a difficult situation. Plus she’s absolutely right – it’s the best way to load a van.

 

The Bad:

3 (5)

  • Sure, Arrow’s an action series, and as such nobody necessarily wants to see lengthy courtroom scenes. But it’s interesting to compare series two of Daredevil, with a similar premise – legal team involved in the court case of villain they took down – with what we get here and see how, for all Daredevil has some wobbly legalities, it’s a new series of Crown Court in comparison to Arrow.

19 (4)

  • Cupid’s been an interesting character in the past, helped by Amy Gumenick’s brilliantly daft performance. But she’s completely wasted here, brought in to service what effectively feels like a B plot. She’s back in custody so hopefully they’ll bring the character back in future; handled correctly, she could easily be the Arrowverse’s Harley Quinn (since they can’t use the real one).
  • We’re not convinced by the increasingly snarky Felicity during the Arrow’s activities. She goes from super awkward to borderline bitchy in the space of a scene, which feels hugely out of character, especially given she’s directing everyone, not just Oliver.
  • Laurel’s argument for not putting Andy Diggle on the stand to testify against Darhk is that he’s been legally declared dead for five years. Um… Oliver, anyone?

 

And the Random:

  • Writers Nolan Dunbar and Rebecca Bellotto make their main Arrowverse bow with “Broken Hears”. Bellotto has worked as an assistant on Crisis and, oddly, American’s Funniest Home Videos (their version of You’ve Been Framed). Dunbar, meanwhile, is working on the new series of Vixen.
  • Director John Showalter is a familiar name in the Arrowverse,though, having worked on The Flash last year, along with Legends Of Tomorrow and the Bizarro episode of Supergirl this year. He also worked on Constantine and has a bunch of Supernatural episodes under his belt.
  • Olicity’s officially a thing. Ironically, just as Oliver and Felicity split up, we actually have the long-time fandom shipping term Olicity being used to describe the couple on-screen.
  • Thea’s comment about Cupid bringing a whole new meaning to “crazy ex-girlfriend” is an inside nod about host network The CW’s show of the same name. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a brilliant and very adult romantic comedy created by and starring Rachel Bloom, who was Hugo nominated (and robbed, frankly – bloody Steven Moffat) for her Youtube music video “F**k Me Ray Bradbury”. Go watch it.
  • Markovia, mentioned as Damien Darhk’s alter-ego’s home, exists in the DC comics universe: it pops up in Teen Titans and Detective Comics. In Arrow, it’s where the Suicide Squad is sent by Amanda Waller, and Deadshot’s former base of operations.

8 (5)

 

Review by Iain Hepburn. You can listen to his podcast at www.fromthesublime.com


Read our other Arrow season four reviews

 

 

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