Arrow “Broken Hearts” Review (Season 4, Episode 16)

Love to faults is always blind; always is to joy inclined. Lawless, winged, and unconfined, and breaks all chains from every mind. William Blake makes a very profound statement with that poem. Yes. Being in love is one of the most liberating, wonderful experiences we can have in our lives. However, the ying to that yang is that love can also cause us to experience some of the deepest pain we can ever imagine. Love can sometimes blind us to the truth, and leave us seeing what we wish to be true instead of what is actually true.

The primary purpose of this week’s Arrow was to deal with Oliver and Felicity’s relationship, and oh man was it awkward. When we last saw Olicity, Felicity found out that Oliver had lied to her about his son, so she left him. I felt then that Felicity did the right thing walking away from Oliver. I still feel that way, but my reasons for it have changed a little bit. Let’s start with Oliver. He seems to be allergic to telling the truth. Even when he has no legitimate reason to lie, he still refuses to be honest with the people he claims to love. His reason for lying to them is always a variation on the theme of him trying to protect them, but I’ve said before, that’s not a legitimate enough reason to never tell them the truth. It’s like his default is to lie to people and then, when they inevitably find out the truth, he gives them the puppy eyes and begs for their forgiveness. He promises never to lie to them again. He gets forgiven. Then another situation comes up where he feels he’s got to lie to protect them. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. That’s pretty much been the story of his relationship with Felicity. It’s not that Oliver doesn’t love her. I absolutely believe that he loves her. The problem is that Oliver doesn’t seem to understand that loving someone doesn’t give you the right to make decisions for them. And that’s pretty much what Oliver’s refusal to be honest with people means. By refusing to give people all the information so they can make an informed decision for themselves, Oliver is effectively making all kinds of decisions for other people that he has no right to make. That was the basis of Feliicty’s anger when she found out about William. It might sound like I’m blaming Oliver for the implosion of his relationship with Felicity, and to a certain degree, I am. It doesn’t make sense for Oliver to expect Felicity to marry him when he can’t seem to tell her the truth or respect her enough to make decisions for herself. That being said, Oliver isn’t solely to blame.

One of the first things I learned when I entered the dating scene back in the dark ages, is that people are who they are. There may be some growth and maturing that occurs over time, but for the most part, what you see is what you get. You should never hook up with someone with the idea that you’ll be able to change them because you’re just setting yourself up for failure. When Oliver met Felicity, he was damaged goods. I mean, the first words he spoke to her were a lie. Granted, he was attempting to maintain his secret identity at the time, so I kind of don’t really count that one. Due to the nature of what he was doing, it was absolutely necessary for him to keep the circle of people who knew about his extracurricular activities to a minimum. Not just for their protection, but for his own. But after he brought Felicity into the fold, there was no reason for him to keep lying to her. About anything. She’s proven over and over again that she’s capable of taking care of herself, and she’s saved Oliver’s life more times than I can count. Basically, Oliver’s justification that he’s trying to protect her is weak at best. That being said, Oliver is the same guy now as he was when Felicity met him. He may not kill people as often anymore, but he hasn’t fundamentally changed since the day Felicity met him. He’s still closed off emotionally. He still lies. So Felicity leaving him at this point because he’s a Liar McLiarson is kind of weak. Maybe this is supposed to show that she’s finally realized that she can’t change him. But why would she go into a relationship trying to change the other person anyway? That’s not how love works. You don’t get a chance to keep the parts you like and ditch the rest. It’s all or nothing. So yeah, if Felicity can’t accept the fact that Oliver’s default setting is to lie, then she shouldn’t marry him. Because like I said, either you’re in or you’re out. There is no in between.

One of the other lessons we can learn from this episode is that office romances are never a good idea. Even if your office happens to be a super secret superhero base. Just don’t date your co-workers. It never ends well, and trying to work together after the breakup is seriously awkward. Watching Felicity deliver jab after jab at Oliver, and Oliver just taking it while walking around looking like a kicked puppy was just painful. Felicity is still entirely too emotionally raw to try and maintain a professional relationship with Oliver right now, and Oliver is still giving her the puppy eyes in the hope that she’ll forgive him and take him back. They both need some time and space to figure out their situation. They can’t do that if they have to keep pushing their feelings to the side to get the job done. So it was right for Felicity to walk away from Team Arrow for the moment. I don’t think she should stay gone forever though because she is too essential. Team Arrow has come to rely on her a great deal, and her absence will make their job harder. Not that they won’t be able to get it done, but it’ll just take them longer to do what they need to do.

All in all, this episode was ok. Cupid was sufficiently crazy, but no more so than she was the first time we saw her. I will say it kind of struck me as odd that Lila wouldn’t tell them that Waller had let Cupid out of ARGUS prison though. Seems like she should realize they might want to know that kind of information. Lance finally got a chance to redeem himself for the mistakes he made with Darhk. I’m sure there will be repercussions, but there usually are when you do the right thing. Like I said, mostly this episode was about Oliver and Felicity trying to move forward. I have to admit, as much as I want Olicity to be a thing, I feel like Arrow has sacrificed a lot of really interesting storylines to bring Olicity to the forefront. I haven’t cared about a villain since Team Arrow took down Slade Wilson back in season two because they haven’t spent very much time developing a good villain. Even though Damien Darhk is one of the most dangerous adversaries Team Arrow has faced, he’s pretty much taken a backseat to the more soap opera-esque elements of the show. In a larger sense, Arrow has been having story problems since last season, mostly because its been serving as the springboard for The CW’s other DC universe shows. Arrow needs to spend some time figuring out how to get back to its roots. The first season was so compelling because Oliver’s journey was compelling. The second season was so compelling because Slade Wilson had such intimate knowledge of Oliver’s weaknesses and played on each and every one. Since last season, though, Arrow can’t seem to figure out whether it wants to be a sappy, soap opera or a superhero fantasy story. Episodes like this one, while not horrible, seem out of place in a story that’s supposed to be about a vigilante attempting to restore his home to its former greatness.