Arrow season 4 episode 10 review: Blood Debts

Arrow returns with an episode that hinges on whether you cared about that mid-season cliffhanger...

This review contains spoilers.

4.10 Blood Debts

So Felicity isn’t in the grave, which was obvious to anyone paying attention to dates, and we’re still no closer to finding out it’s true occupant. Our enjoyment of Blood Debts relied on how much we cared about that cliffhanger, and with the combination of obvious writer trickery to throw us off the scent over the break and an episode that was busy with several non-Felicity plotlines to set up and pay off, it’s hard to know how to feel about the outcome.

The attack in the mid-season finale has consequences, which is nice, but it’s again very unlikely that Felicity will actually remain paralysed for the rest of her time on the show. Sadly, primetime US dramas just aren’t there yet (but they’re free to prove me wrong) and I worry that this is just going to serve as an excuse to mess with ‘Olicity’ and for Oliver to go dark and broody again.

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The small glimpse we got of the Felicity at the end goes some way to easing my mind on that because, depending on who’s actually dead, it appears to be Felicity driving the revenge train in four months time. Again, that’s assuming that the writers have even decided on who they’re going to kill yet. Sadly, that’s not a given, and so I’m taking the clues we’ve been given so far with a pinch of salt.

Although we don’t ignore this part of the plot during the episode, it’s not the focus. Instead, we spend time on the return of Machin – the guy who Thea set alight a few weeks back – and it’s a better hour for it. Thea’s post-Lazarus Pit bloodlust has not been my favourite part of the season and, aside from her finally suiting up and joining the show’s inner circle of heroes, it’s been generally quite hard to connect to anything Thea has dealt with.

But a struggle against becoming a monster, infused more by who Thea is than by that one thing that happened to her, is something I could get behind. It helps that her storyline here is in no way influenced by Malcolm, because when he’s around there’s a tendency for it to become more cartoony than grounded in things that we know about the world and about Thea as a character. Having Thea turn dark would be an interesting way to go, and would have ramifications for pretty much everyone.

As Oliver – avoiding the hard realities of his fiancé being in hospital – and Thea struggle with inner demons, Diggle is still dealing with his brother’s betrayal. It becomes part of the main narrative here due to Andy’s convenient knowledge about Darhk, but so far the whole thing has been pleasingly Diggle-centric. We even get a scene with Lyla, and it’s just refreshing to see Diggle get any kind of solo story in an episode that doesn’t explicitly revolve around him.

Damien Darhk remains a very immediate threat, and the mirror is held up to Oliver again with that scene between Darhk and his wife. There is a husband and wife team on either side of this war, and that gives both parties a lot to lose. Felicity is the first casualty, and that automatically makes the battle far more personal than that between two shady politicians. And, if anything, Dhark’s wife appears to be the brains behind their ‘Genesis’ project.

This was a hard episode to come back to, with so much of the mid-season chatter based on what happened to Felicity and not on all the other balls Arrow is currently juggling. But a busy show is better than one that’s focused on just one storyline that’s not working (here’s looking at you, season 3). Blood Debts proves that, flashbacks and forwards aside, the show has a strong idea of what it’s doing this year.

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