This Arrow review contains spoilers.
Arrow Season 7 Episode 13
Arrow’s take on horror, the family drama-centric “Star City Slayer,” showed how deflating it can be when none of the surprises are surprising, and the writing was counting on shock to do all the heavy lifting. This episode was packed with reveals, but they’re only exciting if you didn’t already guess them, which most of the internet did. To sum up: Felicity is pregnant, presumably with the kid who turns out to be Mia Smoak, who is looking for her very much alive mother in the flash forwards. Connor Hawke is in fact John Diggle’s rarely seen son, JJ. Curtis is sent packing to DC to use his genius for humanitarian causes.
Sadly, this episode never really delivered on the horror, either. It’s too bad – back in the day, the Dawson’s Creek Halloween episodes were genuinely scary, so don’t tell me the CW is incapable. Stanley’s broad overacting took away what truly made him a creepy character, his slight air of creepiness and his ability to fool Oliver into trusting him. Someone as unhinged as Stanley was in this episode seems unlikely to be able to fool anyone with the manipulative, steely reserve we saw from Stanley in Slabside. His abusive father does put a rather fine point on the “bad dads” theme of tonight’s episode. While Oliver definitely reaped what he sewed from a parenting standpoint, that doesn’t put him an actual abuser.
Captain Singh’s brief appearance was welcome and realistic, the kind of small crossover that I hope we’ll keep seeing more of. It makes the Arrowverse feel like a real, lived-in world. Dinah teaching Zoe to fight felt similarly natural and adds to both the present and the future stories. I’m seriously concerned, though, about Dinah’s canary cry – that throat laceration didn’t kill her, but I bet it’s setting up Earth 2 Laurel to take up the Black Canary mantle. I hope I’m wrong on that.
Will’s grandparents coming to take him away from Oliver is one of the most logical things to happen on this show in a while. Oliver’s a convicted felon who was absent for most of Will’s life, and Will is in near-constant danger whenever he’s near Oliver. Their reappearance now begs the question: why didn’t Oliver and Felicity send Will to his grandparents before?
Beyond the obvious, Oliver and Felicity have been totally oblivious to Will’s feelings. Oliver even has the nerve to make Will’s legitimate needs about his own feelings when they fight, focusing on how Will’s response make him feel bad. The fact is that Oliver hasn’t been putting his son first, something that male characters typically get away with on TV (see also: Diggle’s AWOL kid). It makes for a better show to punt most kids off screen, but it also means Oliver is genuinely a bad parent.
Hopefully, sending Will off to Central City will tighten things up narratively. On the plus side, Oliver finally asked Will what he wanted and figured out that this whole “keeping your kid safe” thing isn’t about him. But I can already tell that in future crossovers, Oliver and felicity will just pop over to Central City and inevitably ignore that William lives there too, because this show too often has the memory of a goldfish.
Unfortunately, Curtis was another casualty of how bloated the show has been in general. He’s had little to do since the end of last season, so it’s not a huge surprise. I’m just glad they didn’t kill him off, instead lampshading the “black guy dies first” horror movie trope. While Curtis and Rene didn’t get a proper goodbye, Rene putting his hand over his heart to say goodbye said a lot more than words could, and will certainly keep shippers happy for a bit.
Curtis gave Felicity sole ownership of Helix, which feels redundant since she already behaved like it was solely hers, when she got around to working there at all. Remember that time Felicity spent their VC money for Oliver (which is totes fraud) and never told Curtis? Mostly this feels like an inevitable step toward building the dystopian future of the flash-forwards. Narratively, it at least makes sense that Curtis would need to be not around for Felicity to get into the kind of immoral trouble the flash forwards have insinuated.
Over in flashforward land, it’s good to see a fight in the old lair again, even if it’s looking more like a rainforest café. I love that Felicity gave her kid her own last name, but I doubt they’ll allow it to be for the obvious reason like the fact that she carried her and gave birth to her – it’s probably something to do with how unsafe Star City becomes, for vigilantes in particular. I’m still hoping for some kind of explanation that makes Rene’s enormous turn toward cold-heartedness make sense. Perhaps Curtis’s absence makes it easier for him to stray morally, too.
Arrow has long had trouble with its two timelines. So far I’ve been intrigued by the future, but this episode shows how, in many ways, it can be like the writing shooting itself in the foot to have so many reveals – like Curtis’s absence – already given away. In the early seasons, it worked best when the stories paralleled each other and added more emotional impact by being layered together. While the theme of parents was strong here, it didn’t add much in either direction two tell these two stories at the same time.