Arrow season 4 episode 16 review: Broken Hearts

Cupid makes her Arrow return to convince Olicity that love is death. She is only partially successful — just like this episode...

This review contains spoilers.

4.16 Broken Hearts

You may have heard otherwise, but love actually doesn’t mean never having to say you’re sorry. In fact, it generally means the opposite; it means constantly having to say you’re sorry… and meaning it. It means honest communication, being vulnerable, and admitting you were wrong — unfortunately for our favorite green protagonist, those are three things Oliver Queen has never been particularly good at.  

This episode of Arrow was all about the awkward aftermath of Olicity’s breakup and, though Oliver might not have had a particularly good time watching Felicity let go of him, it actually wasn’t quite as painful to watch as I thought it would be. Though Oliver didn’t once tell Felicity he was sorry for lying to her about the existence of his son, the show (ultimately) didn’t forgive him for it, either. Which is good because I haven’t let him off the hook for yet as a viewer. Have you?

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There were points during this episode when I thought Arrow was going to go another way with its central theme and hold up a version of true love that asks us so little of its participants. In a moment of plot-controlling-character, Diggle told Oliver that Felicity would come around, implying that Oliver shouldn’t make any effort to try to understand how Felicity was feeling. (When, really, we know that Diggle would both a) hold Oliver to a higher standard and b) have Felicity’s back.)

Later, when Oliver and Felicity are fake-getting married in an attempt to draw out Cupid, Oliver uses the opportunity to declare his undying love for the hacker genius. Oliver’s vows were beautiful and Stephen Amell nailed their delivery, but the entire set-up felt emotionally manipulative — both for Felicity (because they were in the middle of a mission) and the audience. Once again, though, Oliver was explaining what he needed and wanted rather than listening to what Felicity is worried about. Oliver never once addresses Felicity’s concerns that Oliver will continue to keep important things from her in any real way, other than to pinky-swear that he won’t — which he has done before. At this point, Oliver, actions speak louder than words.

“You really know how to make a girl believe in love again,” Cupid tells Felicity after the latter delivers a speech about what loving Oliver has meant to her, but Arrow is going to have to try harder if it’s going to convince its viewers. I am still totally on board the Olicity train, but I’m not sure how the show is going to reconcile this very real concern that Felicity has and, after season 3, I’m worried that it won’t try to. I’m worried that the show will just wait the requisite amount of time (roughly until season finale season, let’s say), then bring Oliver and Felicity back together because true love, with a pinch of life-or-death-stakes thrown in for good measure. But like Felicity, I demand more of my love stories. Time to step up, Arrow.

Broken Hearts was a very nostalgic episode in lots of ways. Structurally, it was reminiscent of State V. Queen, one of season two’s best episodes. This time, instead of Moira Queen on trial, we have Damien Darhk faced with his dark deeds. We have Detective Lance on the stand explaining, like Moira, the extents he went to in order to protect his child. Can I just say? I am here for all of Arrow‘s courtroom episodes.

State V. Queen was also a very important Olicity episode. It saw Vertigo kidnap Felicity and hold her at drug-point. It was the first time Oliver broke his no-killing rule post-Tommy’s death. He did it for Felicity. “There was no choice to make.” It was an unpredictably romantic time. As much as I liked this episode within the context of season four, I can’t help but lament the loss of unpredictability, organic character development, and sense of stake that season two excelled at.

Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Taken, here.

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