Arrow Season 6 Episode 4 Review: Reversal

A Felicity-centric episode of Arrow reverses roles to great effect.

This Arrow review contains spoilers. 

Arrow Season 6 Episode 4

This Felicity-centric episode, directed by actor Gregory Smith (Everwood and Rookie Blue, among others), breathes some much-needed life back into this season of Arrow. This episode was a great reminder of why Emily Bett Rickards is so essential to the show’s chemistry, and why she deserves more storylines in her own right. The writers found a creative way to keep Oliver on the bench (or at least out of the hood) for one more week, while giving Felicity some of that much-needed screentime.

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It was nice to take a break from the William narrative, although he was mentioned several times. There’s a reason so many shows age children up, ignore them, or send them away indefinitely (looking at you, Orphan Black.) Considering that the parent is a man, it’s surprising they’ve been this dedicated to showing the child at all. As actors like Mindy Kaling have pointed out, male TV characters are rarely obligated to deal with children, so props to Arrow for trying, even if it is a little boring.

Black Canary, Helix, and Cayden James are back

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This week is a blast from the past: Helena, of the hacktivist group Helix, shows back up on Felicity’s doorstep. It turns out Cayden James (Michael Emerson of Lost and Person of Interest fame) is a bad guy after all (Felicity knows you said so) and Helena needs help taking him down. Helena’s reappearance is a welcome one, as is the prospect of a nerdier, gothier Felicity. The tension between the two women – both brilliant with designs of saving the world – works well, and they keep each other as honest as people with secret identities can be. I’ve always wondered where literally any of Felicity’s friends are, and I’m glad she’ll have one sticking around, particularly one outside of the team.

Speaking of the team, they track down the Black Canary in the background, in a C-plot that is mostly useless until it joins up with Felicity. The only worthwhile revelation here is that Curtis is taking on more Overwatch duties so that Felicity can have a life, but the price he pays for it is less time in the field, which he doesn’t seem too thrilled about. I bet this will continue to develop, especially with Felicity needing more time outside the lair and Curtis spending more time with her working on the startup, giving them even more opportunities to finally get on each other’s nerves.

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Yes, Felicity and Oliver are really back together

After years of Felicity putting Oliver and Team Arrow first, this was both fun and cathartic. Felicity Smoak is a hero in her own right, and this episode honored that fact. There were still some clunkers when it comes to dialogue – “I’m a hacktivist, not a monster!” comes to mind, as does any and all uses of the word “hacktivist” – but at this point that feels part and parcel of Arrow, so I’ll take what I can get.

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It seems like just about everyone in this episode was asking if the Olicity reunion is for real, from Curtis (he ships it) to that nice lady in the restaurant who plans to vote against the anti-vigilante referendum. Oliver’s answer is an increasingly exasperated yes. Exasperated because he barely gets to spend any time with Felicity, now that he’s no longer on Team Arrow. It was a lot of fun watching these two reverse roles: Oliver as the worried partner, always being left behind, and Felicity dashing off to save the world.

The most surprising thing was watching Oliver try to display some emotional intelligence when Felicity was struggling with the idea that she freed an evil murderous mastermind. The poor guy had to speak very slowly, but he eventually got the hang of it.

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One of the best parts of this episode, aside from Oliver grimacing every time he realized he had to take a step back, was Ollie filling in as Overwatch down in the bunker. It turns out that in addition to emotional maturity, inspirational speeches and knowing his left from his right are not Oliver’s strong suit.

And of course, Felicity finally asks the question we’ve all been wondering: can men really have it all? Or most specifically, how did Oliver manage to be the Green Arrow, the mayor, a boyfriend and a brother all at once? The answer, of course, is that at any given time was doing a crappy job at three of those things.

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This is just the beginning

It looks like Helena will be sticking around, and Felicity will have more Helix adventures – Helix Dynamics, that is.  Also sticking around? Black Canary, who the team both gains and then loses the ability to track geographically, and Cayden James, whose actual plan was more devious than originally imagined. It’s always good news to see an enigmatic villain in it for the long haul, although I’m wondering how many multi-episode antagonists this show can support at once. Between the FBI agent, Anatoli, Cayden James and the mystery person who outted Oliver as the Green Arrow, the Rogues’ Gallery this season is about as crowded as the bunker.

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Here’s hoping the lessons of this episode won’t be immediately erased, in particular Oliver learning to respect Felicity’s boundaries, and the writers learning that Felicity-centric storytelling is a good thing. It’s almost enough to make me forget that Thea Queen is in a coma for the foreseeable future. Almost. 

Rating:

4 out of 5