Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen.
Breakups are rarely clean. There’s always a last-ditch effort or a heartfelt plea that creates confusion and moments of self-doubt. Is breaking up the right choice? That confusion and doubt is even more compounded when you’re ending a relationship with a co-worker and that co-worker suggests you pretend to get married as part of a vigilante ruse. I mean, we’ve all been there, right?
After a brief hiatus, Arrow returns with “Broken Hearts,” an episode that examines the fallout of Felicity’s decision at the end of “Taken” to break off her engagement with Oliver. At the outset, Felicity puts on a brave face. She has a manic energy about her as she makes moving arrangements and discusses her breakup to-do list with Oliver. It’s not cold or heartless but a very realistic way someone as analytical as Felicity would cope. She’s determined to move forward and to keep things professional between her and Oliver. She makes very clear that she expects to stay a part of Team Arrow. “Forever and always,” Oliver says in a way that would make even Malcolm Merlyn’s heart melt. Oh boy, Felicity. Oliver is not going to make this easy for you.
Arrow loves a good parallel, so while Oliver and Felicity navigate their post-breakup status, psycho stalker Cupid (a.k.a Carrie Cutter) arrives in town to wreak havoc on newly married couples. And by havoc I mean killing. Where her previous M.O. had been an obsessive love, this time Cupid is bitter and borderline nihilistic. The reason for her new morose outlook on love is that her “Arrow” died (i.e., the Roy death fake-out from “Broken Arrow”), as did her quasi-crush Deadshot.
Team Arrow learns early on that Cupid has returned, and Thea makes the connection that Cupid is attacking celebrity couples — the ones famous enough to have their own portmanteau nickname like, say, Olicity. When Team Arrow head out to protect the next targeted couple, the Green Arrow thwarts Cupid’s attempt to harm the couple by shooting one of his rope arrows at her. But he’s unable to keep her tied down (oh, the symbolism!), and Cupid breaks free. (The fact that Cupid doesn’t think that the Green Arrow is the same Arrow from before is a bit silly. I mean, she was his stalker and had clippings of him all over her apartment. Of all people, she would have memorized that jawline. But Cupid does have a few screws loose, and Amy Gumenick’s performance is charming enough that I give this logic leap a pass.)
While Team Arrow tries to get a handle on Cupid, Laurel tries to keep Damien Darhk behind bars. I legitimately forgot that Laurel was a DA, and I’m pretty sure she did, too, because she appears at a bail hearing for the most dangerous man in the city without being able to cite any shred of evidence. And to top it off, Thea and Felicity are the ones who point out to Laurel that she should use Team Arrow as witnesses because of that one time Darhk kidnapped them and tried to kill them. That’s right. Former shoplifting truant Thea has a better legal instinct than Laurel.
Laurel takes their advice and puts Dig on the stand. But Darhk’s lawyer challenges Dig’s credibility when he reveals that Dig and Thea were involved in a big drug buy together. Dig, of course, can’t reveal that it was part of their vigilante work. Seeing Laurel in a bind, Quentin offers to testify about his secret work for Darhk, even if it means Quentin ends up in jail. Quentin, ever the police captain, wants to see Darhk behind bars no matter what. After some initial resistance, Laurel later puts her father on the stand. As Quentin publicly confesses to helping Darhk, you can sense Quentin’s relief at coming clean. Paul Blackthorne played this scene nicely, but besides his testimony, I thought the court scenes really dragged the episode down. They felt low-energy, which isn’t a bad thing per se, but there wasn’t enough excitement and action in the remainder of the episode to counterbalance it. (And I know Arrow can do courtroom scenes well. Moira Queen’s trial in season two stayed compelling for a number of episodes.)
Meanwhile, Felicity is at the lair trying to track Cupid. She examines fibers found in a glove Cupid left behind at a scene and surmises that Cupid’s hideout is located at a long-term storage facility for wedding gowns. Team Arrow investigates, and, sure enough, at the facility Cupid has a crazy vision board that is full of newspaper clippings of celebrity engagements. Not surprisingly, one of those clippings is an announcement for Oliver and Felicity’s engagement. This leads Oliver to a so-crazy-it-just-might-work idea: He and Felicity should get married to bait Cupid.
Felicity balks at the suggestion, but Thea and Dig are onboard. Thea wants to leak the news of a secret wedding as a way to tip off Cupid. There’s even a venue available: Oliver confesses that he’s been too heartbroken to cancel the venue for Oliver and Felicity’s planned nuptials. (The crack in Oliver’s voice as he explains this doesn’t make me want to cry or anything. It’s just my allergies.) Felicity, who’s become increasingly defensive and cutting over the episode, is not moved by Oliver’s confession, but she’s willing to go through the awkward exercise to help the team.
Cut to the faux wedding. Moira Queen would be rolling around in her grave if she saw these basic business-conference ballroom furnishings. He’s Oliver Queen! She’s the CEO of a major corporation! Surely, even on short notice, the couple could have found something a bit more aesthetically pleasing, or at least with less bejeweled privacy screens.
The wedding begins with just Oliver and Felicity and an officiant, who jumps right into the vow portion of the ceremony. Felicity tosses off a few cold and cynical statements, while Oliver uses the opportunity to throw an emotional Hail Mary pass. His vows are genuine, heartfelt, and delivered with enough sentiments like “the way you make me feel is the best part of my life” that Felicity’s post-breakup façade starts to crack. He slips the ring on her finger and vows never to lie to her again. But before she can respond, Cupid arrives and shoots Oliver with an arrow in the heart!
But this is not Oliver’s first day off the island, and he’s prepared with a Kevlar vest. He quickly gets up off the ground, but a Kevlar vest won’t protect him from the C4 charges Cupid has planted around the venue. Before she pushes the trigger, Cupid gives an acerbic speech about the pointless nature of love. Felicity uses that opportunity to convince Cupid that love is what makes life worth living and makes specific references to her and Oliver. In essence, her speech to Cupid acts as her vows to Oliver. She even throws Oliver a few lovey-dovey glances. But the moment is interrupted when Thea and Diggle come in to take out Cupid. After a brief fight, Cupid is detained.
Darhk is also detained. Quentin’s testimony swayed the judge, and so she’s ordered Darhk to jail until his trial. He’s taken back to his cell, and there, with a devious grin, he slips on his wedding ring. Is he missing Lady MacDarhk that much? Or do you think there’s a bit of magic in that ring?
While Darhk puts on his ring, Felicity once again returns Moira’s ring to Oliver. She gives a great speech to him in the lair about Oliver’s default to “Island Oliver,” and that she can’t trust that he won’t lie to her again. Oliver, almost in tears, begs her to give their relationship another chance. Oliver, for once in his vigilante life, is operating on emotion and optimism, while Felicity is keeping a practical, emotional distance. In a way, it’s like the inverse of season-three Olicity.
Emily Bett Rickards’s and Stephen Amell’s performances this episode were nuanced and powerful. Their scenes, for me, are what pushed this from a mediocre episode to one worth watching on a second viewing. Rickards, in particular, really nailed that kind of hazy, gray phase of a breakup. While some might see Felicity’s fluttering between love declarations and reconfirming her breakup as an inconsistency, I see it as realistic portrayal of someone coming to grips with the end of a long-term relationship. A breakup is never simple when you still love the other person. And Felicity makes clear she loves Oliver, but, more important, she loves and values herself outside of that relationship enough to step away.
The shot in “Taken” when Felicity puts the engagement ring on the table was pretty devastating. But nothing prepared me for this episode, which has the most heart-wrenching shot of season four so far, even surpassing Oliver holding Felicity’s lifeless body: Felicity removing her flash drive from the lair.
Felicity’s going to quit the team!
The magic idol in the cave sequence felt a bit Raiders of the Lost Arc–lite. The best I can say about the flashbacks is that at least Tiana and Ollie haven’t stuck their tongues down each other’s throats yet. YET.
- Loved the shot of Oliver watching Felicity walk into the venue. A great callback to the look he gives her in “The Dodger,” one of my favorite season-one episodes.
- I liked the choice to bring back a darker Cupid. It prevented her return from feeling too repetitive from previous episodes and gave her a bit more of an edge.
- The grimace leading up to Oliver’s “Hey … we need to get married.” Thumbs-up for pulling off Funny Oliver in a heartbreaking Olicity ep!
- Thea reacting to hearing that Cupid is attacking celebrity couple Alison and Robert: “Alibert!” Thea was kind of fun this episode. Willa Holland played her a little more loose and carefree.
- “Olicity” gets a shout-out in the news scrawl!
- Not too many remarkable stunts this episode, but I did enjoy Speedy’s wild limo ride and slam into that building.
- “But I’m already gone,” Felicity to Oliver, when he tells her he doesn’t want to let her go.
- With Felicity gone, I’m hoping they’ll bring Curtis into the mix.
- I’m pretty sure Oliver’s plan to win back Felicity is to look as casually dapper as possible.
- Cupid’s double arrow shot in the opening scene.
MISSING THE MARK
- I still find myself rewinding scenes too often because the audio is so muddled.
- The scene where Cupid first gets away from the Green Arrow was a bit convoluted. Not sure if it was the directing or the structure of the scene or the bride’s acting, but it didn’t quite click for me.
NUMBER OF SHIRTLESS STEPHEN AMELL SCENES: 0 (those suspenders, tho)
Come find me on Twitter and tell me what other vows Oliver should have made.