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REVIEW: Arrow 4×18 “Eleven-Fifty-Nine”

I mean I know this episode was good and all, hell it was better than all of the back half of season four put together, Yet, somehow I am just sad, not over the death or anything reasonable, it just manages to feel like everything went out with a whimper rather than a bang. I mean, shouldn’t it be more exciting and devastating to watch a fun character die? We shouldn’t just feel an “oh well” moment that literally adds to the series list of “oh well” moments. That is why “Eleven-Fifty-Nine” just doesn’t make the standard, especially in comparison to other, more dynamic episodes we have seen before. I mean the death doesn’t even feel real or natural in comparison to other events taking place on the show. It feels forced and out of place in comparison to what Arrow used to be. Like many fans, I feel like this is the nail in the coffin moving forward with the show.

So let’s start off with the death: Laurel died. But it doesn’t really feel like she died or even made a noble sacrifice. I appreciated Katie Cassidy’s performance throughout the episode as she really wrestled with the choice to become the DA under Ruve’s corrupt administration and to give up being Black Canary. Watching her interact with her dad in the diner or talk to Oliver about exactly what she views her mission being with the team moving forward. Except that is when the wheels fall off, as her death is not a noble sacrifice but rather a statement by Darhk that he keeps his promises. This especially undercuts her speech to Oliver about making her own decisions and wanting to leave her mark on the team. Wouldn’t a better mark be stepping in the way of Darhk or at least getting in a good final shot at him? A weak overall ending for a character who actually managed to grow out of being one of the most annoying.

The aspect that managed to work just well enough was watching Thea actually have a real fallout with Merlyn as Merlyn shows no mercy to his daughter on many different levels. John Barrowman does a great job of showing Merlyn’s annoyance with Thea as he is not so much angry with his daughter as he is supremely disappointed in the choices she has made to go against him. Watching Merlyn take down Thea and show her that as long as she has a heart she will never be as strong as him is a good motivator for Thea to possibly kill off Merlyn and prove that her only family is Oliver. I also appreciated just how angry Thea is about what Merlyn has been up to, and for her to be as proactive as aiming to hunt him down speaks volumes about what could possibly happen with these characters moving forward.

I also especially liked what was going on with Diggle and Andy until it all fell apart and just managed to flounder in its own wreckage. After everything that Diggle has gone through with Andy, for him to not even question that Andy could possibly be relapsing under Darhk’s control was kinda dumb. Especially when Oliver literally had evidence that Andy was up to something shady, Diggle was the one who was all gung-ho about bringing Andy to justice. Now for him to be so blind just feels very out of character for him in so many different ways. Luckily, Diggle still manages to be a solid character in the end and will blame himself for letting all of this happen. Some minor progression, but progression all the same. 

That brings me to the final topic of the night, where do we go from here? I mean is this show even really Arrow anymore? Because it feels like it’s adrift without purpose, and this death was meant to give us one. The thing that confuses me is that this death seems to only keep things moving in the short term. Oliver will go on a murder rampage, then a “let me redefine who I actually am as a person” journey in the wake of this tragedy.

The show had such a solid and committed vision in the first two years, but the past season and a half we have all been spinning our wheels and that feels like a slight to all of the people who have watched this show since the beginning. I mean, we were delivered a man with a purpose and a mission, but that is all seemingly gone now. I need to know where the hell we are going because my faith in Arrow has been completely shot through the chest this season (pun intended). It’s reached the point where I don’t even know why we’re watching it anymore. The Flash has a soul, Legends of Tomorrow has a soul, Arrow feels as if it has finally lost the one it used to have and isn’t willing to search for it at all.

Overall, a decent enough episode that just failed to land that final emotional punch.

Final Grade: B

+Good overall team drama

+Solid enough action

+Thea/Merlyn scenes

-Laurel’s death lacked the punch it deserved

-Diggle and Andy drama

-Where do we go from here?

Extra Thoughts

-So now that Roy and Laurel are out of the picture, Oliver is the only member of Team Arrow left from the comics.

-Great we have another mystery involving what Laurel said to Ollie before she conveniently seized up. Secrets everyone. Apparently this will have an impact on Season 5.

-You know that isn’t how having hands work Arrow? You aren’t Legends of Tomorrow and can just hand them out all willy nilly (pun intended).

About the author

Scott Swartz