This Arrow review contains spoilers.
Arrow Season 4, Episode 17
Welcome to the Arrowepisode that has never met a bee pun it found superfluous. “Beacon of Hope” (or should I say “Bee-con of Hope”?) was actually a lot of fun, proving that Arrowcan be just as light-hearted and energetic as its superhero counterpart The Flash.(Which has itself gotten darker in its second season.) Sure, the episode was a little too excited about having its characters say “beacon of hope” as many times as possible. (I suspect a drinking game…) And, yes, Brie Larvan is no less campy or more relatable of a villain than when we met her on The Flash. But that didn’t stop “Beacon of Hope” from being an enjoyable hour of superhero television.
In so many ways, this episode belonged to Felicity — not because the other characters didn’t get to do anything or have arcs of their own, but because it took place within her world and, ultimately, the tone was defined by her character. This episode was bright, funny, and full of pop culture references (so many pop culture references) because Felicity is bright, funny, and full of pop culture references. The action took place within the walls of Palmer Tech because that is Felicity’s world — now more than ever. It pitted Curtis, a supporting character partially defined by his relationship to Felicity, against Brie, a character first presented on The Flash as a villainous counterpoint to Ms. Smoak.
This (say it with me, everyone) beacon of light that Felicity has always brought to the show is cast over the rest of the action and the characters. (Except for the flashbacks. Because not even the megawatt power of Felicity’s goodness can reach the dark, cold abyss that is the flashback storyline where all stories go to meet their terrible, uninteresting, forgettable ends.) But where was I? Oh, yes: This episode was imbued with joy, even in its darkest moments. And, sure, Arrowwould not be Arrowif every episode was this light and funny, but Star City really needs an episode like this one every once in a while.
But enough gushing about the tonal lightness of this episode, there were actual plot developments, too. Arguably the biggest one? Curtis’ introduction to the Arrow Cave — excuse me, The Bunker. With Felicity officially off Team Arrow (for now), the gang is down a tech-savvy member and Curtis certainly fits the bill. As Diggle put it: “Looks like we have ourselves a taller, more dude-like version of Felicity.” Obviously, no one can replace Felicity, but Curtis would be a new, fun face in the bunker, something Team Arrow hasn’t really had in a while. Curtis told his husband at the end of the episode that he realized he belongs at home, but will he be able to ignore the siren call of superhero-ing? We’ll see…
While we’re on the subject, will Felicity be able to stay away from Team Arrow? She seemed 100 percent cool with her decision to leave Team Arrow by the end of this episode, discussing the transition with Thea in an all-too-rare example of the two of them just hanging out, being friends. “I was never in it for that,” Felicity tells Thea, when Speedy wonders if Felicity misses the adrenaline rush of being a superhero. “Not ever. I wanted to make a difference. Be a part of that beacon of hope you speak of.”
From where I’m standing, this is 100 percent in character with the Felicity Smoak we know. She originally joined Team Arrow not to be a superhero, but to help Oliver find the then-missing Walter. (Speaking of which, where is Walter? Maybe it’s time to launch another search party…) Though Team Arrow has given Felicity’s life some purpose, it isn’t the only place she has the power to make a difference. She is the CEO of a ginormous company with tons of resources.
Arrowonce utilized Queen Consolidated — both as a setting and a symbol — to suggest that there might be more ways than just vigilanting to make a difference in this world. (Especially when you’re part of the one percent.) With Felicity’s commitment to “make Palmer Tech the beacon of hope,” it’s nice to see the show potentially returning to that way of thinking — not only because it is a real-world way to affect change, but because the inclusion of Palmer Tech lends Arrowa cohesion of setting it has been sorely missing since seasons 1 and 2.
A sense of setting, in general, was perhaps the greatest strength of tonight’s episode. By keeping the action basically within Palmer Tech, we had limits and a context to the world that helped us understand the logic of the drama, even if the logic inherent in Oliver punching a man made of robot bees — or Felicity somehow electrocuting said bee man into non-existence — made absolutely zero sense. Sure, Brie Larven’s threat to kill the board of directors one by one would have been more emotionally effective if we actually knew anyone of board of directors (sorry, Phil), but we do have an emotional connection to the Queen Consolidated building. We spent a lot of time there in season 1, and even more time there in the glorious days of season 2.
Elsewhere in the episode, we hung out with Damien Darhk as he spent time in jail, abandoned by all of his H.I.V.E. friends. (Moral of the story: Don’t kill your co-workers. Your remaining co-workers won’t like it and will not invite you to any of the office parties where there will be cake.) Luckily (for Team Villain, at least), Darhk has an “ace in the hole” and that ace is Andy Diggle. (Yes, the ace is probably a cold, unfeeling reference to the fact that Older Diggle taught Younger Diggle everything he knows about cards… Way harsh, Younger Diggle.)
Based on his toothy smile and the fact that he was meeting Malcolm Merlyn under the cover of darkness (without even inviting one-handed Merlyn a seat in his limo — the true measure of villainy), Andy Diggle is one hundred percent evil… Or at least 78 percent evil. It’s hard to tell at this point, but he seems like a total Voldemort. Or at least a Peter Pettigrew.
This end-of-episode reveal felt like a classic Arrowseason 1 or 2 scene involving Moira Queen, which gave it some points in my book. However, the twist lost points for the fact that Arrowhas never done a good enough job characterizing Andy Diggle to make this turn particularly surprising. He was a dead, beloved brother to be visited in flashbacks. Then he was secretly alive, working for HIVE, with a terrible, terrible criminal past. Then, he was Team Arrow’s unlawful prisoner for a while, even though they would go whole episodes without mentioning that they had him locked up in a uncomfortable secret cell.
Finally, Andy helped John save Lyla, and Team Arrow decided to trust him again — even though the number of bad things he did outweighed the good thing he did roughly 5,782 to 1. (Yeah, I worked out a lot of official statistics for this review.) Furthermore, all we’ve really gotten to know of the Diggle bros relationship is that they like to play the aforementioned cards together and that John Diggle was kind of an overbearing big brother. I am all for having relatives and loved ones who are secretly evil. It’s one of Arrow’sgo-to moves — and, sometimes, it really pays off. This may be one of those times. But, for now, it’s not really packing the emotional punch it should be.
Meanwhile, on the island…
Yep, there are still flashbacks on this show. This week, Taiana straight-up tried to murder Reiter by shooting him a bunch of times in the chest. But it did not work because Reiter recently charged up by murdering someone else and stealing his life’s energy or some such nonsense. (Because: “There are primordial energies that flow through all things,” didn’t you know?)
Reiter took off to look for his idol that Oliver and Taiana stole and hid last episode, leaving Oliver and Taiana totally unsecured. They decide to use their newfound freedom to go and free the rest of the Lian Yu prisoners. But first? They have to kill all of the guards. Because what would the point of an Arrowflashback be if Oliver wasn’t murdering people all of the time?
From the quiver…
“I can’t let him work for the wife of the prince of darhnkness.” Thea is worried about her boyfriend. I might be, too, but — like Andy Diggle — he’s kind of a non-character at this point.
“I just heard that… from someone.” “Laurel, she’s not Voldemort.” But, if Felicity wanted to take over the world, let it be known that she could.
“I’m not immune to pop culture. I’ve read a few of the Harry Potter books.” “Really? I was going to bet Thea that you have just seen the movies.” “There were movies?”
“I don’t know what’s worse, that you just spelled out breakup, or that you spelled it wrong.” Donna Smoak returned this episode and her quips were a hundred percent on point.
“Something to do with hocus and pocus and killing fellow members when you get miffed.” Malcolm Merlyn’s not good with details.
“You’ll have to excuse my little friends. Their bee-havior can be a-pollen some of the time.” And so it begins…
“From now on, I’m buying flats.” I recognize this as a total empty promise from Donna Smoak, but it’s also not a bad instinct.
“Holy frak.” Curtis’ response to entering the bunker. Yep, he’s a total nerd.
“Did you sew that in yourself or do you have some kind of lip-sewing guy?” Damien Darhk, asking the important questions.
“The old-fashioned way: hacking.”
“That is an army of robotic bees. Yeah, that’s my life now.”
“Madness is a matter of perspective, Mr. Queen.”
“Tell me where you’ve hidden my idol, and I promise to kill you both quickly.” “We’ll pass.” What is this? A flashback making me laugh? I don’t know how to feel about this unexpected development.
“How do you know that bee’s name?” #FavoriteLine
“Too soon for bee puns?” “Let’s assume that it is.”
“Sorry, when I get nervous I make pop culture references.” Can Team Arrow please keep Curtis?
“Secret exit. Don’t you think you should have thought of that like 15 minutes ago?” Like before Donna had to take off her heels?
“OK, who wants to go on a secret elevator ride down to the panic room?”
“So why bees? Why not an obsession with flying squirrels?”
“Any puppies that you want to kick while you’re at it? Or bags of kittens that you want to throw down the river.”
“Oliver, life’s not fair. Whether you are in Star City or Ivy Town.” Laurel Lance was like the patron saint of honest, good old-fashioned advice in this episode, and I loved it.
“I had a wonderful speech about how I was going to kill your grandmother…” You just know Darhk practices his villain speeches in front of the mirror.
“Like they did in Independence Day… What, I can’t watch movies, too?”
“I’m in. I mean, I’m out. I mean, I have Internet.”
“It’s me: Curtis. In case you guys don’t recognize my voice yet.”
“Lay down, bee-yotch… Too on the nose?” This is the only bee pun I will recognize.
“You did good, Curtis, and I’m sorry if I made you feel differently.” “Thanks, GA. Is it OK if I call you GA?” No, Curtis, it is not OK if you call Oliver GA.