Arrow – Season 4 Episode 10

Jan 21, 2016 | Posted by in TV

“Blood Debts”

Arrow begins 2016 by picking up where it left off in 2015 with Felicity being in a critical condition after being hit by some gunfire.

The episode begins by reminding viewers of the future scene from back in “Green Arrow” with the clear intention of suggesting to viewers that Felicity will die from her wounds and Oliver will swear vengeance on the man responsible. It has been clear to me for a while that Felicity won’t be meeting her end anytime soon but this scene confirms it. It was so awkwardly placed that it couldn’t be anything more than a red herring. Of course she is ruled out for certain at the end of the episode but I’ll get to that.


Diggle crosses a line

In terms of the consequences of the attack, the show handles these quite well. Arrow has always been about Oliver Queen reclaiming his humanity and learning how to be a hero. This has evolved over the years to be more symbolic in a similar way to Batman. He fights criminals and stands up for those who can’t help themselves while taking ownership for the safety of his city. People must be sick of all the Batman comparisons I make but it continues to be relevant.

This season has shown Oliver closer to reclaiming his lost humanity than ever before. He has gotten used to abiding by a stricter moral code than when he started his career as a vigilante, he has learned to place his trust in allies to help him get the job done and he is in a stable, happy relationship that is largely really healthy for him. His outlook on life has changed and as such he’s a lot lighter as a character and generally more pleasant.

Felicity’s condition is the first true test of how much of his humanity has been reclaimed and it causes him to relapse into old habits. He makes no excuse and no apologies about the fact that he’s out for blood and has fixed his target right on Damien Darhk’s head. It’s a reaction that is easy to understand and makes sense for Oliver’s character as he has never been very good at sitting on the sidelines. When action can be taken he will take action, that’s the sort of guy he is and always has been.

The interesting thing about his vendetta is that it’s not a true reversal. He has always been eager to stop Darhk but now he is committed to killing him. Attacking Felicity has proven to him that Darhk is far too dangerous to be left alive. It’s a similar situation to his conflict with Ra’s Al Ghul last season. It was clear that Ra’s Al Ghul wouldn’t stop until everything dear to Oliver was taken from him and the same applies to Darhk. Removing him completely is arguably the only way to stop that as there is likely no prison that can hold him.


Anarky knows how to set a trap

Oliver’s difficulty is that finding Darhk is next to impossible since the Ghosts make sure that they die rather than talk. Whether their resolve is down to Dahk’s magical influence or if they are just that loyal makes no difference, the point is that Oliver can wail on them until doomsday and never find out a thing so the episode needs to offer something else up for Oliver to focus on.

This is where Anarky’s return comes in. I found it interesting that his most prominent relationship is with Thea. His twisted mind has made him become obsessed with her after she set him on fire. He apparently sees this as some kind of transcendent experience and thinks that he owes that to Thea. It’s very strange and unsettling to watch but actually really works at establishing Anarky as a memorable antagonist. He isn’t all that similar to his comic book counterpart which makes me wonder why they didn’t just create a character. I imagine it has something to do with wanting to use the iconic Anarky symbol. The character established is well played by Alexander Calvert. I hope that he comes back more as there are signs of depth here that shouldn’t be left unresolved.

As an antagonist Anarky works really well as he is intelligent and unhinged so created difficulties for Team Arrow. There is mention of him finding a tracking device placed on him and the motion sensor guns were a nice touch. Combine that with his acrobatic fighting skills and we have a recurring villain who can actually challenge Oliver physically. This is definitely something the show needs more of and this episode proves that he’s a capable distraction from Darhk for a little while.

Oliver’s confrontation with Darhk is short lived but it seems as if he manages to hold his own better than ever. His rage might be motivating him to try harder in some way but the past has shown that Oliver gets sloppy when he’s distracted but that doesn’t stack up. On one level I like that Darhk offered him a few weeks of respite in return for saving his family as it shows how honourable he is and that he has his own code that he abides by but on another level it just feels like posturing to delay the final conflict further. The mutual respect angle could have been made more prominent and it might have felt a little less contrived.


Anarky changed by a cleansing fire

Thea’s encounter with Anarky forces her to bring up her bloodlust again and confess the events that led to it being made better. It’s unclear if this is temporary or not but her exposition mostly serves as a reminder of what happened rather than actually moving things forward. The only thing that’s changed is that Laurel knows about it now but that’s not really worth the time it took repeating the information. There’s also a continuation of Thea’s boring developing on/off again relationship with Alex. They lack chemistry and he’s about as dull as dishwater so I’d rather do without it entirely.

Laurel’s characterisation is all over the place at the moment. Having her call the police because she objects to Oliver keeping Anarky prisoner for his own needs makes absolutely no sense. She says nothing about keeping Andy Diggle locked up but objects to this? Bearing in mind this is the woman who kept Sara chained up after resurrecting her then keeping it secret when she escaped. She has shown no real remorse for those actions and is hardly in a position to judge Oliver. The situation with Sara is even brought up here but it all seems to be an attempt to have someone on Oliver’s team object to his actions for the sake of having it.

Diggle has an attempted arc this week but it fades so far into the background that it doesn’t quite get the attention it deserves. The fact that he resorts to physically beating his brother for information shows a desperation as well as a desire to back Oliver up any way he can. His loyalty to Felicity is also in there and Andy does represent the only tie Diggle has to the situation and the only opportunity he has to do some good.

The fact that he regrets doing it is really in character for Diggle as he isn’t a violent person and doesn’t inflict pain on others unless he feels that he has to. It was a rare moment of emotional vulnerability for him and he feels that he went too far. Given the pressure everyone is under it completely makes sense. I liked seeing him try to get through to his brother by treating him like his brother, I wonder if this will turn into them repairing their relationship in some way.


Mutual respect

Felicity’s situation is strangely downplayed in the context of the episode. It is the driving force of Oliver’s actions but her involvement in the story is fairly minimal. Oliver is the protagonist of this show so focusing it all on him is fine but given Felicity’s prominence I expected more. Don’t get me wrong I’m glad there wasn’t as it would have gotten far too melodramatic with cheesy romantic dialogue so having Oliver separated from her while he kicks ass is for the better I’d say.

It doesn’t look good for Felicity. She’ll live but it appears that she will never walk again. The episode doesn’t draw too much attention to this or make it a big issue which makes sense as it won’t have sunk in yet. Also, this is a world where metahumans exist so I think she will be healed in some way before too long. Before that happens there is plenty of opportunity to test their relationship and show her trying to get used to her new reality.

Oliver and Felicity only share a handful of scenes together which works as it gives each of them more impact. It’s a nice touch to have her understand why Oliver isn’t by her side as to her mind finding Darhk is more important. Not everyone sees it that way and the fact is that Oliver is scared to see her like that. The scene where he reaffirms his commitment to her by letting her know that he still intends to marry her was really nicely done and helps to show why they work as a couple. I suspect this will test them in the coming episodes but for now he is determined to be with her.


Felicity, you’re not dead…also not walking and not engaged

The extension of the future scene at the end of the episode definitely ruled Felicity out of being the occupant of the grave. She is sitting down in that scene which might mean that she can’t walk or it could mean that she simply stayed in the car. It’s deliberately vague that’s for sure. One thing I did notice is that Felicity isn’t wearing her engagement ring which leads me to think that the argument they had about Oliver’s son in the deleted timeline will possibly end their relationship. This also leads me to think that Oliver’s son could be the one who was killed. That would be pretty dark for this show to have a child murdered but Barry’s presence would make sense considering his involvement in the discovery. The fact that it took up a large portion of the crossover episodes also suggests that it could be something that is revisited since it did affect both characters in both shows. It could also be Samantha but William would definitely have more impact.

The flashbacks are still happening and still being underwhelming. I stand by my assertion that they have so little content that it is being painfully stretched out. We see Oliver’s tattoo glow and get the attention of Baron Reiter but that’s about it. It’s not really a compelling enough mystery to spend much time thinking about.


  • 7.5/10
    Blood Debts - 7.5/10


A solid return for this show that isn’t without its flaws but moves things forward in an interesting way.

The reminder of the future scene to hint that Felicity is the occupant of the grave to viewers was a painfully obvious red herring. It has been obvious that it won’t be her for some time but this scene pretty much confirms it.

Despite that the consequences of the attack are handled quite well. This show has always been about Oliver Queen reclaiming his humanity and learning how to be a hero. Felicity’s condition is the first true test of that and it causes him to relapse into old habits. He makes no excuse or apology for the fact that he is going to kill Damien Darhk. It’s a reaction that is easy to understand and makes sense for Oliver’s character.

Oliver’s vendetta isn’t a true reversal. It is made clear to him that Damien Darhk is too dangerous to be left alive. He came to the same conclusion with Ra’s Al Ghul as it is clear to them that they will not stop until they destroy everyone close to him.

Anarky’s return is an interesting one as his most prominent relationship is with Thea. He seems to think that her burning him was a transcendent experience and thinks that he owes that to Thea. It’s strange and unsettling but actually works really well. In general Anarky is a memorable antagonist but bears no resemblance to his comic book counterpart to the point that I wonder why they didn’t just create a new character.

As a threat to Team Arrow he is a capable one. He is intelligent enough to set traps and find tracking devices while being a real physical challenge to Oliver in combat. He is a solid distraction from Damien Darhk in a little while.

Oliver’s confrontation with Darhk is short lived and falls a little flat. One one level I like that Darhk has a code of honour that he sticks to by agreeing to leave Oliver alone for a while as gratitude for saving his family but on another it just seems to be delaying the conflict more. The mutual respect angle is fine but it should be more prominent.

Thea’s encounter with Anarky forces her to bring up the bloodlust again and confess it to Laurel. This does little more than remind the audience that this is a thing that might come back without actually progressing it. Her developing relationship with Alex is really boring as well so I could do without that.

Laurel is all over the place currently. Calling the cops because she doesn’t agree with Oliver keeping Anarky prisoner makes no sense considering she doesn’t object to keeping Andy prisoner. She is hardly in a position to judge given the way she handled the Sara situation not so long ago. This only exists to have someone on Oliver’s team disagree with him but it doesn’t work.

Diggle’s arc was promising but suffers from a lack of time to make it work as well as it should. Resorting to beating Andy for information is a big step for him but clearly motivated by his desire to be some help to Oliver as well as his loyalty to Felicity. The fact that he regrets it makes a lot of sense as well and I did like the attempt to get through to Andy by treating him like his brother. It could be the start of them repairing their relationship.

Felicity’s situation is strangely downplayed with her not being in the episode much. I’m glad that this doesn’t become melodramatic and the focus remains on the lead of the show. It makes the scenes between them count. I liked Oliver reaffirming his commitment to her by making it clear that he still wants to marry her. It’s a nice scene and shows how much they work as a couple. I don’t think Felicity’s inability to walk will be permanent at all but it might be interesting seeing this test their relationship and watch her get used to her new reality.

The extension of the future scene completely rules out Felicity as the occupant of the grave and is vague about whether she can walk or not. She isn’t wearing her engagement ring which suggests that something ends their relationship over the coming episodes. My theory is that the revelation about Oliver’s son splits them up and it is young William who is killed. We’ll see if that pans out.

We see more flashbacks but they’re pretty boring. Oliver’s tattoo glows and gets Baron Reiter’s attention but there’s not much more to say about that. It’s definitely a story that is thinly stretched.

User Review
3 (1 vote)