Spoilers ahead for “Taken,” the latest episode of The CW’s Arrow!
For an episode seemingly built around the live-action introduction of Vixen (which rocked, by the way), “Taken” pulled no punches in regard to the major story arcs of the season.
The short(ish) version: Oliver asks his pal Vixen (from the CW Seed online animated series) to come to Star City and help them take on Damien Darhk, since she also draws her power from magic. Darhk is holding Oliver’s secret son William hostage, and that big secrets gets blown out of the water in the opening scene. Needless to say, Felicity ain’t too happy to have been left in the dark, especially after she realizes half their enemies (and Barry!) already know.
But calling in Vixen proved to be a smart move, and she helps the team figure out where Damien Darhk gets his power — some weird, head-shaped totem. So she uses her animal powers to bust in and steal it, then shatter it, leaving Darhk (seemingly) powerless. Oliver’s kid is saved, and Darhk is in jail.
But once the dust settles, Felicity gives Oliver back her engagement ring then (literally!?) walks out of the room, as the high-tech implant developed by Curtis to help her regain the use of her legs. From wanting to walk down the aisle, to walking out on the engagement. Ouch.
Oliver's secret finally catches up to him, and he learned nothing from time travel
Oh, Oliver. All year, you just knew this was eventually going to completely blow up in his face. And boy, did it. Darhk, who still hasn’t figured out Oliver and the Arrow are the same guy (seriously, just look at the jawline, bro), busts in on Oliver and Felicity as they leave her physical therapy to announce the kidnapping — designed to coerce Oliver to drop out of the mayoral race.
Felicity is obviously hurt, but buries those emotions long enough to get through the rescue mission and save William (while taking Darhk down in the process). But, when the dust settles, she tells Oliver she can’t be with him if he can’t trust her with the biggest secrets in his life. Which, yeah, that’s a fair point. Having a kid isn’t the problem — it’s keeping it a secret all this time from his fiancee.
This leads Felicity to give back the ring (which, as keen-eyed fans will note, she is not wearing in the flash forward) and call off the engagement. Oliver is obviously between a rock and a hard place, and you can really understand why he made the decision he did — and also why it still hurt Felicity enough to do this. Unlike most of the show’s typical manufactured controversy, this one really hits home in a real way. Kudos.
Here’s how Felicity herself, Emily Bett Rickards, explained the decision in an interview with Entertainment Weekly:
“It hits her so hard, and she feels like she’s been blindsided. That only ignites the taking off of the ring. There have been so many big life changes for her recently, especially because she can’t use her legs. That on top of your partner keeping a big secret from you, there’s just so much going on for her that once she hears that, she just needs space and time, and discards of the promise that’s been wrapped around her finger.”
It’s also worth noting: This exact thing happened in the alt-future that Barry prevented in the crossover a while back, and he even warned Oliver it would happen. As we’ve seen before, the universe wants to get back to the status quo — and it seems a massive fight over Oliver’s secret child is essentially destined to (at least temporarily) break these two up. Seriously, Oliver. You literally got another chance to do this, and you made the exact same mistake. Ugh. Some superheroes will never learn.
Vixen is pretty great
Bringing this character over from animation to live action was a semi-risky move, but it worked out wonderfully. The Arrow universe has gone deep enough into the magic realm to actually pull this off, and Megalyn E.K. did a bang up job of bringing her to life. The effects worked well enough, and E.K. fit in effortlessly with the rest of the cast. Considering they leave her on a very open note, you’d have to think they might bring her back into the fold again at some point. Or, you know, she could always pop up on Legends of Tomorrow.
The flashback story finally gets interesting
The flashback stories have been hit and miss this year, but we finally got some momentum on the Big Island Mystery, and how it ties back to the tattoo that Constantine gave Oliver all those years back. We’re on the verge of getting answers, and we’re actually fairly curious to see where that huge, hidden cavern leads.
Malcolm Merlyn is the worst, and Darhk is off the board(?!)
Malcolm. We already know he’s the one who gave up Oliver’s son to Darhk (and was apparently the one who did the actual kidnapping), but he then goes on to lie about it to Thea’s face, then try to half-heartedly defend it once he’s busted. Up to this point, they’ve always played this character with enough ambiguity to give John Barrowman something to work with. But, if he doesn’t get back into the grey area, or go full-on evil soon, they need to just write him off. Barrowman is great; just give him something to do.
Which, judging by the fact that Darhk is seemingly powerless and in jail now, it would seem this season could be in need of a new big bad to bring it all to a head. Could Malcolm have been manipulating all these circumstances in the wake of his downfall from the League of Assassins, just to take control of Darhk’s organization? It’s certainly possible, and the creative team has already teased they’d be doing something a bit different with the back half of the season. Could Malcolm fill Darhk’s shoes, or will Darhk be back to causing trouble a few weeks down the line?
Oliver gives up his son
There’s no right answer for Oliver in this situation, and he makes the decision to let his son grow up without him, in the hopes it’ll keep him safe. It seems Vixen’s advice stuck with him more than Diggle’s, though it’ll be interesting to see if the relocation actually works. Hey, there’s gotta be somebody in that mystery grave.
Latest odds on the mystery grave
Now this is really getting interesting. With William and his mother seemingly relocated to parts unknown, it would seem the odds that one of them winds up in the mystery grave has dropped. This story seems to be done, and it’d be a bit cliche to pull out another kidnapping just a few episodes later. So, lower them down the dead pool (at least for now). That leaves Felicity’s mother, who is still a top contender (why else give her a more prominent role this season, if not to set up some heartbreak? Plus, this show loves to kill parents). Capt. Lance is also an option, along with even odds on just about everyone else in the supporting cast. All we know for certain is that Felicity is alive.
Line of the night: “We had an...animated adventure.” -Oliver. Heehee.
The action: Was it just me, or did the action scenes seem a bit clunky this week? Something with the choreography felt sloppy, which is rare, since this show typically brings the A-game. Maybe they blew the budget on Vixen’s effects?
Huge throwaway line: Constantine gets a shout out! Apparently, ol’ John is literally in hell at the moment, hopefully taking out some baddies (and not just there because he earned the trip). The show might be long gone, but it’s nice to know Matt Ryan’s alter ego is still out there protecting us from the things that go bump in the night.
What’s next? A break for a few weeks, sadly, as the next new episode isn’t set to air until March 23. But, it’ll bring the aftermath of Darhk’s downfall, Olicity’s break-up, and (perhaps) Malcolm Merlyn stepping into the power vacuum.
Looking a bit further down the line, producer Marc Guggenheim has teased that (despite the break-up) we might still get to see an Olicity wedding at some point this year. Need proof?