Less than 5 – Skip it, 6 – OK, 7 – Good, 8 – Great, 9 – Phenomenal, 10 – You owe it to yourself to watch this episode!
After almost losing the love of his life to ruthless HIVE thugs, Oliver goes on a vendetta reminiscent of his earliest days as the Arrow. Embracing the direness of the situation, Blood Debts ends up being one of the best episodes of the season and a great start to the back half of the season. And for all of you Felicity doomsayers…
Well before we get into that, let’s start from the beginning. Picking up immediately where the midseason finale ended, Oliver is now running around Star City mercilessly beating HIVE henchman in a desperate attempt to learn Dahrk’s whereabouts. It’s great seeing Oliver return to a more ruthless Arrow and creates emotional stakes as well as the very real ones involving Felicity. Stephen Amell deftly handles the mix of angry avenger and collected defender the scenes call for.
Peppered throughout the action are instances of quiet revolving around the still clinging to life Felicity. She didn’t die in the attack but she was left with irreparable spine damage. Unwilling to face her in such a vulnerable state, Oliver throws himself into the quest to find Dahrk, even resorting to questionable tactics. Namely, freeing Anarky.
Every fight scene consisted of the typical choreography one would expect of an Arrow episode, fast, fluid and kinetic. Throwing Anarky back into the mix made things all the more fun and resulted in a pairing I never thought I wanted, Thea and Anarky. His twisted mind somehow thinks that Thea’s attempt on his life was a blessing and now he has a psychotic crush of sorts on her. Their back and forth throughout the episode was creepy yet captivating. It also shed a lot of light on How Thea has been handling her bloodlust. I still think having her become a Dexter type character would have been an awesome idea but Willa Holland portrays the inner struggle with enough passion that I can live with the direction they chose. Though I am not a huge fan of having her hook up with the lawyer dude… he’s not a vigilante, screw him.
Also excelling in the acting department are the rest of Team Arrow. Diggle has a number of powerful scenes involving his brother that have me thinking that, one day, Andy could actually turn it around. Having Dig go from beating his brother to playing cards with the guy is a hard emotional sell within an hour, but the writing and performance made it al believable.
As for Felicity herself, Emily Bett Rickards spends most of her time in a hospital bed but she still manages to retain her classic charm, just more sickly. Her scenes with Amell were some of the best of the season and continue to prove that, despite her inability to do field work, Felicity is the strongest woman on the show.
Laurel, on the other hand, was Laurel. She didn’t necessarily do anything wrong this week (though that scream gets to me) but her past mistakes are brought up once again. She was put in a position to try and teach Oliver a lesson, yet she mas made so many poor decisions in the past everyone just throws one of them back in her face and she instantly loses her credibility. But, once again, she managed to keep her presence to a minimum this week, which is a good thing.
Dahrk only makes his presence felt at the tail end of the episode but once again he proves himself the better of Oliver. Every single time the two go at it Dahrk wins handedly. At this point I can’t help but wonder what Team Arrow could possibly do to win. Dahrk’s strength is a lot subtler than Zoom from The Flash but the aura of his power is just as intense. We don’t get any more information as to the sinister cornfield from the midseason finale but we do get some insight into his family life. His wife and daughter are in on his plan, which has me wondering, do they also have powers? Throwing in a mother and child villain team-up would cause all sorts of psychological issues for the team as well as upping the risk factor if they ever get into a fight.
Having Dahrk let Oliver go after their fight also went a long way in providing the villain with a sense of humanity. He isn’t just a bloodthirsty murderer out to destroy any who oppose him, he has honor and respects those that provide him a service. What his larger machinations comprise of still remain a mystery but after listening to his conversation with his wife, I get the funny feeling that Dahrk may not be the one in charge of this undertaking. We’ll see how things pan out.
Lastly, the final scene of Blood Debts brings us back to the graveyard. Only this time, Felicity is there. This should put a stop to all of those “Felicity is dead” theorists (which I was) and opens up the floor to a number of new theories. Donna Smoak is a possibility, given her daughters reaction. Then again, it could also be any member of Team Arrow. My money is on Laurel or Captain Lance, but considering I thought Felicity was a goner, my word is far from gospel.
Oh, the flashback sequences are still completely superfluous. They lack direction and continue to run in circles.
Providing an excellent start to the back half of the season and a plethora of strong emotional beats, Blood Debts furthers the main season mystery while giving fans a ton more to guess on.
Overall, Blood Debts gets an 8/10.
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