Nora Dominick ‘17/ Emertainment Monthly Co-Executive Stage Editor
Arrow got back to basics this week with an episode that was very reminiscent of earlier seasons. Last week, Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) decided it was best to leave Team Arrow following her breakup with Oliver (Stephen Amell). The latest episode “Beacon of Hope” gives Arrow’s guest stars a chance to shine and develop their characters even more.
Arrow has proven to be more concerned with relationships in recent episodes. Oliver and Felicity’s budding romance has been the main plot of most of season four. This is not necessarily a bad thing, however this week’s episode got back to basics and gave fans an episode very reminiscent of earlier seasons. Similar to episodes in season one and two, this week featured a fun, one-episode villain and it was perfectly executed. Emily Kinney joins Arrow as Brie Larvan, a master hacker who controls her own swarm of robotic bees. Brie Larvan was first presented in an episode of The Flash last season entitled “All Star Team Up.” In the episode, Brie battled Felicity in a hack battle that ended in Brie beings sent to prison. This time Brie is back and has a certain bone to pick with Felicity Smoak.
Emily Kinney, who is mostly known for her work as the beloved Beth Greene on The Walking Dead, triumphs in her first episode on Arrow. Since her appearance on The Flash, fans have been clamoring for Kinney to reprise her role. Brie Larvan is the re-imagination of a classic DC villain, Bertram Larvan. This amazing gender-bending role has allowed Kinney to shine and find her first major role post The Walking Dead. Kinney plays the role with a healthy combination of anger and heart. It’s hard to not fall in love with this villainous character. She transposes her Flash character perfectly into the world of Arrow and it was nice to see a somewhat campy villain in Star City. With Brie out of prison, she arrives at Palmer Technology to steal the microchip implanted in Felicity’s spine. This sets up an Arrow episode that is jam packed with bee puns, classic movie inspired lines and enough fighting to hold fans over until next week.
Coming off her breakup with Oliver, it was refreshing to see Felicity stand on her own once again. Yes, “Olicity” is a staple relationship on Arrow, but it was great to see both characters act independently this week. Rickards makes the transition from being part of “Olicity” to just “Felicity” seamless. Her work continues to be the highlight of most episodes and seeing her work alongside Kinney, Willa Holland and Charlotte Ross this week is a real treat. With Thea, Felicity and Donna trapped inside Palmer Tech by Brie Larvan, the trio deliver some of the best performances of the night.
Charlotte Ross continues to defy expectations as Donna Smoak. She adds layer after layer to her character and this week she adds “resident comedian” to her resumé. Mama Smoak shows up in this episode of Arrow in the only way fans would expect her to: she wants to chat about her daughter’s breakup with Oliver. Of course things don’t go as planned for Donna when she is thrust into another life or death situation. “These assaults are weekly, this is ridiculous,” Ross adds to the comedic tone of Arrow this week. Between her taking off her heels to her hiding behind a wet floor sign, Ross busts out her comedic chops and it’s a side to her fans hope to see more of.
Kinney and Ross may have some shining moments, however it’s Echo Kellum as Curtis Holt that steals the episode. After being sent home from Palmer Tech by Felicity, Curtis is on the outside when Brie Larvan locks down the building with her killer bees. In order to save Felicity, Curtis decides to track down the Green Arrow. Kellum defies expectations and make Curtis one of the most lovable characters. As Curtis traces Green Arrow’s cellphone to Oliver’s old campaign office, he is quickly transported down into the Arrow Bunker. It’s safe to say that Curtis has the most adorable entrance ever as he unknowingly walks in on Team Arrow devising a plan to save Felicity, Thea and Donna. Kellum has become the breakout star of season four of Arrow and this episode further proved his star power.
“Did I mention how cool this is?” Curtis is the character that all Arrow fans would be if they stumbled into the Arrow bunker. His fan-boy persona works as great juxtaposition opposite Oliver’s post-breakup mood. Kellum and Amell have rarely shared scenes together, but this episode is their time to shine. In fact, Kellum fits in perfectly to the Team Arrow dynamic. Between his enthusiasm over meeting Black Canary (Katie Cassidy) to his exchanges with Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne), Curtis is the fun loving, recurring character fans have wanted and Arrow has needed.
Brie Larvan proves to be a bigger threat than originally anticipated and Curtis can’t out hack her the first time around. In a quick moment, Oliver is stung by one of Brie’s bees. Arrow then dives into a moment reminiscent of the season one episode “The Odyssey,” where Felicity helps Oliver after he’s shot and finds out about him being The Arrow. In the latest episode, Oliver’s life hangs in the balance and Curtis must figure out how to save him. It appears to be a rite of passage for new members of Team Arrow to help save Oliver’s life. Curtis swiftly helps stop the bees that are multiplying within Oliver and saves his life. Once again, Kellum thrives opposite the other actors and further solidifies his place on Arrow. His quirky personality allow him to stand out opposite the other characters and it’s refreshing to have a character with a positive outlook on life.
This episode of also has some key moments between Amell and Cassidy. The duo have not shared very many scenes together, so it was a nice change to see them together. Although Laurel and Oliver aren’t together romantically on the show, the duo remain very good friends. Amell and Cassidy have done an excellent job at transitioning from a romantic pairing to a great friendship and this episode of Arrow showcases this. After Oliver yells at Curtis for taking the Green Arrow’s responsibilities lightly, Laurel steps in to talk her friend down. Of course she knows he isn’t actually angry with Curtis but he’s really upset over Felicity. Amell and Cassidy create a beautiful heart-to-heart moment and it’s nice to see Arrow playing into this side of their relationship. Laurel leaves Oliver with the best advice she can give when she says, “You are a beacon of hope to people, try to use some of that hope for yourself.”
To lead off the final showdown, Brie learns that Felicity is the hacker that landed her in prison. Arrow always does a great job at humanizing the villains it presents and that is exactly what happens with Brie Larvan. Right before Green Arrow swoops in to save the day, fans learn that Brie needs the chip in Felicity’s spine because she has a tumor on her spine that will leave her paralyzed. Kinney does an incredible job at adding these small, human moments for Brie and it was great to see her have this final moment opposite Rickards and Holland.
By episode’s end, Green Arrow swoops in to save the day but it turns out Felicity is the one who was meant to save the day. In an epic battle, Felicity ends up stopping Larvan and saving her from shooting Oliver and Thea. Having Felicity have an arch enemy like Brie Larvan adds to her character and truly brings her into the superhero fold. Kinney and Rickards create a perfect hero-villain combo and here’s hoping Kinney shows up in another episode of Arrow.
Fans have been clamoring for Thea and Felicity to have a scene together and this episode of Arrow delivered. After defeating Brie Larvan, the duo have a moment to finally chat about Felicity leaving the team. Holland and Rickards have never really shared a scene together and it was refreshing to have the duo work together on this week. Thea tries to get to the root of why Felicity will not come back to the team. In a perfect heart-to-heart moment, Felicity tells Thea that she was never in it for the rush of saving people, she wanted to make a difference. Holland and Rickards have a beautiful bond on Arrow and fans hope this scene is the start of many more for the two young actresses.
Arrow delivers an episode that will transport fans back to season one and two of the hit DC show. Kinney is an enjoyable villain, Kellum steals the show and Arrow seems to have found its groove. Although the relationships on Arrow are important, this one-off villain episode exemplifies every aspect that makes this show great.