Arrow: “Taken” Season 4 Episode 15 Review

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“Taken” was a very big episode of Arrow, to the point where it almost felt like a series finale. But then it also felt like the start of something entirely new, with the live-action introduction to Vixen, an awesome superhero that uses a magic necklace to channel the strength of the entire animal kingdom. As Arrow gets crazier, this season may just find the ground it needs to stand on to keep the show fresh.

Thanks to Malcolm, Darhk has Oliver’s son captive, and he’s threatening to kill him if Oliver doesn’t drop out of the mayoral race and endorse Darhk’s wife. Unable to fight Darhk’s powers, Oliver calls in a favor from Vixen. The most jarring thing about “Taken” by far was how ingrained in this universe Vixen already appears to be. She knows Oliver, Barry, and Laurel and has spoken with Felicity over the phone. I recognize that there’s an animated web series about her, but this introduction relied a lot on that, almost like a walking advertisement for it. But besides Vixen’s awkward introduction, her role here was very cool. As a hero given power through magic, she was actually able to find the root to Darhk’s power and destroy it. This also lead to some very satisfying punches thrown by Oliver once Darhk was powerless.

But the richest drama here was the long-awaited reveal to everyone else that Oliver in fact has a son. The Arrow of the past would have played up the melodrama, but “Taken” puts everyone in a surprisingly logical position about it. Only Laurel had an annoying reaction, but even that was kept private and was only one scene. Diggle’s reaction was perfect, speaking from the heart about fatherhood while not blaming Oliver for his secret. Felicity was, sadly, a very different story for all the right reasons. She tells him immediately she doesn’t care he has a son, but that the secret between two people hoping to be married was too big to ignore. Their final conversation was difficult as well, mostly because it was clear where it was going from the start. Felicity calls him out on his tendency to keep secrets and his lack of improvement. Stephen Amell’s delivery of “I’m trying” might’ve been the most sincere the actor has ever come across in a scene on this series. In a fit of anger, Felicity’s foot moves. She hobbles up, assuredly shocked, but sure that it doesn’t change anything, and walks out the door. And now, of course just as things are getting good, Arrow disappears from the airwaves for a month.

“Taken” was the type of climax we’ve been waiting for from Arrow since it resumed in the new year. There’s now a genuine wonder of what happens next. Will Darhk get his powers back? If not, will Malcolm take over for him as the person in H.I.V.E. determined to destroy Star City? Will Oliver and Felicity be okay? Who the hell dies?! Through some smart storytelling and genuinely shocking story beats, this was pretty easily one of the best episodes of the season. Grade: A-

Some Other Notes:

  • The effects surrounding Vixen’s powers were pretty cool. I’m excited to see more of her in the future.
  • You could hear the breakup coming when Oliver named all the people that weren’t Felicity, including Malcolm, who knew he had a son.
  • Thea’s backwards arrow-firing was kind of awesome. Then she hopped off the bike and nailed two guys at point-blank in like half a second. It’s rare we actually get to see the heroes actually be awesome, so these were some very welcome stunts. Man, what this show could do with a Daredevil-sized budget.
  • Malcolm appeared to go full villain by episode’s end. I think we’ve all been waiting for him to just crack the last two seasons. So let me deliver a proposition to the CW folks. End Arrow in season five with Malcolm is the big bad once more. You can keep the characters around on The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow as long as you like while still keeping the number of superhero shows we have to follow to three (assuming you’ve got another one down the pipeline). Proposition ended.

By Matt Dougherty

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