I’ll be honest I just don’t understand this episode on a purely strategic level. I mean in terms of returns from hiatus that was not the blowout of ramifications I was expecting. “Blood Debts” felt like it was fulfilling a contract rather than servicing the needs of the story and we have seen this mistake before, juts last year. I mean everyone is apparently super cool with Ollie’s rage and vendetta towards Darhk in the wake of what has happened but that really doesn’t explain the questionable decisions that take place involving the team. Everyone from Diggle, to Thea, to Lance just make decisions that in the grand scheme of things really don’t make sense and end up not working out in any way, shape, or form. In the end this truly didn’t even feel like an Arrow episode, but rather a show that didn’t quite know how to deal with the ramifications of it’s choices.
So let’s start with Oliver, who yes is not in the best frame of mind and is willing to resort to his old brutal ways in order to get results. However none of his ideas work over the course of the episode, to the point where it makes you wonder why the hell he even tried in the first place. Making Lance expose Darhk’s base, backfires because Anarky has already gotten there. Interrogate Anarky to try and learn about Darhk, no point as he was never a true blue member of HIVE. Letting Anarky go free to lead them to Darhk, nearly backfires due to the fact that Anarky manages to ditch the tracer. I mean if this episodes main purpose was to prove how astoundingly inefficient Oliver is without Felicity then it was mission accomplished, because damn this is one of the most ineffective Oliver’s we have ever seen. I mean Ollie is supposed to be confident and have a strong enough outline of a plan that no one is really in danger, yet he admits he is basically making this entire thing up as we go. That is so bizarrely out of character that I actually felt insulted.
Speaking of things that didn’t work, someone needs to explain to me why Anarky is not only a character on this show, but what he manages to add to the story. I mean in theory Anarky could’ve been a solid character if he wasn’t merely a deranged gun for hire. I mean Anarky is supposed to represent fighting the establishment and creating chaos to bring about something new, yet he has gone full on murder just because Darhk sold him out and didn’t let him join HIVE. That is beyond lame and uninspired, bordering on just plain weak. There were a ton of better ways to have planned out this episode from actually having Darhk be a presence in the story, to not having Ollie hunt at all and just deal with the emotional ramifications of what happened. Instead we had a shoehorned in villain that detracted from Ollie’s emotional growth and actually stunted it in a huge way the more I think about it.
The one area of the episode that managed to work just enough was all of the Felicity material. Sure, it is not super believable that she would have gone through all of those surgeries in the span of what felt like a day but seeing all of the characters react to her being injured added something to the story slightly. I especially liked Diggle beating the crap out of his brother as it helped to reaffirm just how much they mean to each other. I also liked that Laurel was super level headed and was thinking logically despite her friend being gunned down. It shows how much her character has grown over the past year that Laurel is right now one of the most competent members of the cast. Like she is nearing Joe West levels this week and that is saying something considering how poorly she was written just last year.
The one thing that is starting to really annoy me however is how much Ollie has been nerfed both physically and mentally. There is no reason that Oliver should be struggling to defeat Anarky, especially considering how many freakishly powerful people he has fought over the years. I mean Slade and Merlyn alone have significantly more training than Anarky and yet Oliver managed to take them down. Also how many times does Oliver need to see that violence is not the answer in becoming a symbol for the city. He is supposed to be better than this and yet he is constantly making the same mistakes over and over again. One time was reasonable, five times is just a refusal to learn from your mistakes.
Similarly the ending truly doesn’t make any sense as there is no reason for Darhk to call off his battle with the Green Arrow. Darhk minuscule sense of honor means nothing in the long run as we know they are going to fight and this truce is just a way for the writers to stall for time. There are better ways to spin the wheels and hopefully the writers realize that with the episodes moving forward.
Overall it was an uninspired return for Arrow.
Final Grade C
+Solid Felicity material
+Laurel being competent
-Oliver making every poor decision possible
-Anarky a super useless villain
-Oliver being nerfed once again
-Alright, I am sadly placing my money on Diggle in the grave. I don’t like and will be super bummed if it comes to pass, but at this point it seems inevitable
-I just want to say we need more Lyla, she is always great in whatever scenario we see
-Even Darhk’s wife said it was a super stupid idea to not kill Ollie. The crazy person understood basic story structure.