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‘Arrow’ Review: “Taken”

Nora Dominick ‘17/ Emertainment Monthly Co-Executive Stage Editor

Arrow continued its streak of emotional episodes this week as Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Team Arrow try to rescue William (Jack Moore), Oliver’s son, after he’s kidnapped by Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough). Last week fans watched as Darhk and his team attempted to take out Quentin (Paul Blackthorne) while Donna Smoak (Charlotte Ross) planned the best engagement party ever. The latest episode of Arrow entitled “Taken” delivered some emotional moments as well as some action heavy sequences.

This season, Arrow has been doing an excellent job at balancing action with emotion and this episode may have been its best balancing act to date. A lot of this is thanks to the phenomenal acting between Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards. The duo have created one of the best partnerships both on and off screen. This week’s episode, although centered on finding William, focused heavily on Oliver and Felicity’s relationship and their future together. The opening scene of the episode deals with Felicity going to physical therapy after receiving the medical implant from Curtis (Echo Kellum). This small scene where Felicity attempts to walk with Oliver right by her side leaves a lasting impact on fans. Rickards flourishes in these small scenes. She has fleshed Felicity into a female character that isn’t afraid to show her vulnerable side and this scene proves it. Rickards and Amell continue to astound especially in the following scene where Felicity tells Oliver, “I wanted to be able to walk down the aisle on our wedding day.” Of course, “Olicity’s” happiness doesn’t last long when Damien Darhk shows up.

Neal McDonough in the Arrow episode "Taken." Photo Credit: Bettina Strauss/The CW
Neal McDonough in the Arrow episode “Taken.” Photo Credit: Bettina Strauss/The CW

Last week’s episode of Arrow ended with Damien Darhk kidnapping William and bringing him to Star City. Neal McDonough continues to be a phenomenal addition to the Arrow cast. He consistently delivers stellar performances and has created an Arrow villain that fans hate to love. McDonough has the ability to make fans laugh with Damien and fear him in the same breathe and it’s truly remarkable. When he approaches Oliver and Felicity and trades quips involving Felicity’s accident, fans know this can’t end well. McDonough’s scenes always have a level of comedy mixed with tension that only he can achieve. Darhk doesn’t hesitate to knock the happiness right out of Olicity’s sails when he tells Oliver he has William. “Who’s William?” The two words fans dreaded hearing from Felicity Smoak. In one moment, Darhk knocks Oliver and Felicity’s future off course and sets this Arrow episode into motion. Also cue the exact monologue Felicity said to Oliver in the first timeline during the The Flash/Arrow crossover and you have a heartbreaking Olicity scene from start to finish.

When Samantha (Anna Hopkins) arrives in Star City to find William, Oliver promptly tells her that he’s the Green Arrow and will do everything in his power to find him. Team Arrow has exhausted most of its efforts to take down Darhk, but this time Oliver isn’t messing around. He calls in Vixen/Mari (Megalyn “E.K” Echikunwoke) to help save his son.

Megalyn E.K. and Stephen Amell in the Arrow episode "Taken" Photo Credit: Bettina Strauss/The CW
Megalyn E.K. and Stephen Amell in the Arrow episode “Taken” Photo Credit: Bettina Strauss/The CW

“How about I kick your ass like a woman instead!” Vixen roars into Arrow this week and it’s a guest starring role for the ages. Vixen/Mari first appeared in CW Seeds animated series Vixen in 2015 and now E.K is bringing her to life on Arrow. Right from the start Vixen is seen as a strong, powerful, female comic character. E.K astounds in Arrow this week and blends perfectly into the ensemble dynamic. As of now, Vixen is only slated to appear in this episode of Arrow, however fans are already clamoring for her return. She is one character that should make frequent appearances on Arrow and every other DC comic TV show. E.K brings a little extra girl power to Arrow as Team Arrow looks to bring down Damien Darhk once and for all.

“Crazy world we live in, huh? Metahumans. Magic. Oliver Queen a father.” Fans knew that once Oliver’s secret about his son came to light, Diggle (David Ramsey) would have a motivational speech prepared and boy, did he deliver. “I know where Sara is every night. She sees my face every single day. I’m there for her and she knows and I know that I will never let anything bad happen to her.” David Ramsey as Diggle brings a level of heart to Arrow that no other character can accomplish. Every time Oliver is in a tough situation, Diggle is there with some words of encouragement for his “brother.” Amell and Ramsey always bring their A-game in scenes opposite each other and this small moment is no exception. Oliver would never make a big life decision without Diggle’s approval and this moment shows how much he respects Diggle’s opinion. The duo have come a long way in terms of acting and character development and the fact that these small scenes leave a lasting impact is astounding.

Katie Cassidy and Anna Hopkins in the Arrow episode "Taken." Photo Credit: Bettina Strauss/The CW
Katie Cassidy and Anna Hopkins in the Arrow episode “Taken.” Photo Credit: Bettina Strauss/The CW

Katie Cassidy is by far one of the most under appreciated actresses on Arrow. This could be attributed to Laurel’s past relationship to Oliver, but Cassidy never receives the credit she so clearly deserves. With Samantha in town looking for William, old wounds are opened in terms of Oliver cheating on Laurel with Samantha. In an emotional moment, Laurel breaks down to Quentin over Oliver’s discretions. It was extremely refreshing to see Laurel have an emotional response to her relationship with Oliver. Although the pairing was frowned upon by a majority of the Arrow fandom, calling back to the past adds an extra layer to this scene. Cassidy shines in this moment and it may be one of her best acted scenes to date. She continues to be an underutilized force on Arrow and seems to be caught in the past mistakes of her character. Cassidy will hopefully receive her own new, refreshing storyline and stop being dragged down by the sins of the past.  

One of the biggest action sequences in Arrow this week dealt with Green Arrow and Vixen fighting Damien Darhk. The stunt team continues to pack a punch week after week and adding Vixen’s powers made this scene even more enjoyable. The trio deliver one of the best action scenes of the night as the intensity between Green Arrow and Darhk escalates. Best stunt of the sequence? Darhk pushing Green Arrow out a window and Vixen saving the day. Of course this scene has its repercussions: Vixen loses the location of William.

Stephen Amell, Megalyn E.K. and David Ramsey in the Arrow episode "Taken." Photo Credit: Bettina Strauss/The CW
Stephen Amell, Megalyn E.K. and David Ramsey in the Arrow episode “Taken.” Photo Credit: Bettina Strauss/The CW

It’s safe to say that this episode of Arrow was one of Stephen Amell’s brightest. Each scene he partakes in shines brighter than the last. Oliver’s character development has undergone some significant changes this season and Amell has grown with his character. With William still missing, Darhk insists that William will be returned safe if Oliver ends his mayoral campaign and fully supports his opponent, Ruvé Adams (Janet Kidder). Oliver decides to abide by his wishes and end his campaign in order to protect his son. This shows Oliver’s character transformation since the season 1 Oliver who only thought of himself.

Throughout the latest episode of Arrow, Oliver gets advice from various characters regarding his relationship with his son. One of the standout moment comes between Oliver and Mari. Amell and E.K instantly click on screen. Oliver tells Mari about the cause of Felicity’s injuries and the fact that he’s afraid William will always be in danger. Mari tells Oliver of her own past and how the best thing her real parents gave her was a chance at a real childhood. This scene perfectly incorporates Vixen’s storyline into the Arrow plot without it being very obvious. “Keep him [William] away from your world as long as possible.” Amell and E.K deliver this emotional scene as Oliver considers keeping William closer or pushing him further away.

Katie Cassidy, Anna Hopkins and Emily Bett Rickards in the Arrow episode "Taken." Photo Credit: Bettina Strauss/The CW
Katie Cassidy, Anna Hopkins and Emily Bett Rickards in the Arrow episode “Taken.” Photo Credit: Bettina Strauss/The CW

The second biggest action sequence of Arrow this week comes when Team Arrow along with Vixen attack Damien Darhk’s compound. After discovering that Darhk’s mystical powers are linked to a totem, Team Arrow charges in ready to take his powers out once and for all. Willa Holland has held some of the best stunt moments in the last few episode of Arrow and that continues with this episode. In an epic moment, Speedy rides on the back of Black Canary’s motorcycle, bends over backwards and takes out two members of Darhk’s team. The very definition of epic. Holland and Cassidy continue to work very well beside each other in these large action sequences. In the end, Vixen swipes the totem and proceeds to smash it until Darhk’s powers are neutralized. For the first time this season, Team Arrow comes out victorious and Damien Darhk is taken away in handcuffs.

In one of the most adorable moments in Arrow history, William is reunited with Samantha. The cuteness however starts when Samantha hands William his favorite toy: The Flash. William quickly replies with, “I’m kind of over The Flash. I want a Green Arrow action figure.” Cue an adorable smile on Oliver Queen’s face and the faces of every Arrow fan. After William is returned safely, Vixen decides it’s time to get back to Detroit to protect her city. With some final words of wisdom for Oliver, Vixen departs just as quickly as she arrived. E.K is welcome to return to Arrow anytime, but a spin-off series involving Vixen might be the best next course for the powerful female character. 

Upon his safe return, William tells the police that Darhk wasn’t the one who took him. He says a man with one hand kidnapped him. This revelation leads to an impeccable scene between Holland and John Barrowman. The confrontation calls back to a previous episode where Malcolm chose his role as Ra’s al Ghul over Thea’s life. Holland goes toe-to-toe with Barrowman and it leads to one of the best scenes of the episode. Malcolm continues to win over Thea’s affection, only to lose it a few episodes later. This has fans speculating whether or not Malcolm is the “him” Oliver wants to kill in the flash forwards to the grave. Only future episodes will tell.

Stephen Amell in the Arrow episode "Taken." Photo Credit: Bettina Strauss/The CW
Stephen Amell in the Arrow episode “Taken.” Photo Credit: Bettina Strauss/The CW

Stephen Amell delivers one of his best performances to date. In the four years of Arrow, Oliver Queen has very rarely let his guard down, but that all changed in the latest episode. In an emotional, heartbreaking moment, Oliver is seen talking to his computer screen, recording a video message for William. Acting opposite the screen, Amell delivers each line with more heartbreak than the last. This is one of those rare moments where Rickards isn’t involved in the scene at all, Amell packs an emotional punch all by himself. In the message he tells William that he’s the Green Arrow and he sent him and his mother away for his own good, so he can have a proper childhood. With tears in his eyes, Amell gives one of his best performances to date. There’s no action involved, there isn’t even another scene partner, it’s simply Amell and the words on the page. “Goodbye son. Sure hope it’s not forever.” The Arrow fandom might have been crying for weeks over this one, but it’s the next scene that truly cripples the fandom.

“Marriage is about inclusion. It’s about leaning on your partner when things get complicated. I don’t think you know how to do that.” It’s the line that started a chain reaction that every Arrow fan wishes they could stop. After countless swoon worthy “Olicity” moments, the duo finally hit the giant iceberg awaiting them. Once Felicity found out about William, fans knew this wouldn’t end well, but this was definitely worse than expected. “I can’t do this.” In a heart crushing moment, Felicity Megan Smoak takes off her engagement ring, places it on the kitchen table and breaks the heart of Oliver Queen and millions of Arrow fans. Rickards and Amell astound in this scene and it’s one that will surely stand the test of time. It’s safe to say that Rickards is the breakthrough actor on Arrow and these intimate moments opposite Amell is when she truly leaves her mark. The mark of a great acting pair is when one actor can deliver lines that pack a punch while the other simply listens and reacts. This is what happens every time Amell and Rickards act opposite each other. Rickards packs the emotional punch, while Amell reacts.

If the ring moment wasn’t enough to send fans into a frenzy the next one surely did. In a jaw dropping moment, Felicity moves her legs, stand up out of her wheelchair and proceeds to walk out the door, leaving Oliver in the dust. In the beginning of the episode, she wanted to walk towards Oliver and down the aisle and now she has walked away from him and out the door. Rickards brings her A-game and further proves why she is the most beloved actress on Arrow. Amell astounds and Rickards triumphs and Arrow will never be the same. The only thing left on fans minds: how will Donna Smoak react?!

Arrow continues to pack an emotional punch week after week. Delivering a beautiful combination of action and drama, Arrow steps up its game. With Felicity and Oliver on the outs and Darhk in jail, Arrow will return in a new light in a couple of weeks. Cupid (Amy Gumenick) returns in the next episode of Arrow to truly make things a little more interesting.

Arrow returns with brand-new episodes on March 23rd at 8/7c on The CW

Overall Grade: A

Check out the trailer for the next episode entitled “Broken Hearts”:

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