Well, it’s finally here. The episode that Arrow has been steadily (and, when I say steadily, I mean occasionally checking in with the thought of William to ensure that we haven’t forgotten about him, along with frequent foreshadowing to an Olicity spat) building to since the crossover back in December. And it is not good.
Much like the last episode I previewed (Sins of the Father), Taken has a real amount of potential: The potential to deliver a strong hour, to provide a new and hard-hitting story about Oliver’s first real test as a father, to show that Arrow is capable of tiptoeing the line of going full soap opera without actually crossing it.
We get a solid amount of the second thing. That’s about it.
Frankly, coming into this episode, Arrow had already almost certainly shot itself in the foot by using this pathetic reasoning for Oliver’s dire secret-keeping skills to come back into play, and by making the whole thing worse by having him maintain this secret even as three people – including his sister (who supposedly hates lying and deceit, a problem that I wrote a lot about in last week’s review) and a supervillain – know it anyway.
So there’s that. But Taken doesn’t even attempt to dig itself out of the hole Arrow placed itself in. And if it did, it’s not noticeable. Aside from the occasional brief foray into Oliver having to deal with the fact that his son has been kidnapped, this hour does little other than turn things into full on soap opera. The final scene, which unfortunately follows the highlight of the episode, seems more appropriate for a substandard episode of Eastenders than Arrow and still has both myself and Cory seething with rage.
In the search for William, Oliver enlists the assistance of Mari McCabe, aka Vixen, and unlike John Constantine’s appearance back in Haunted, this is not good. As a character, she’s fine. In fact, she is one of the best things about this weak hour. But it is her abilities that really limit her potential. Season four has been unafraid to delve into the supernatural and the bizarre, but Vixen’s powers are downright dumb, more suited to an episode of Power Rangers than Arrow. And yet, it’s still less strange than the flashabck
For a big episode that should really be a strong hour both within the context of the episode itself, but also in terms of setting up the final eight episodes of the season, Taken really fails. My view of what to expect from those episodes is not at all what I thought it would be, and what that outlook has become is certainly not a good thing.
Some teaser quotes:
1. “I never thought I’d say this, but huh?”
2. “You are my only concern.”
3. “I’m amazed there isn’t an army of little Olivers running around out there.”
4. “Crazy world we live in, huh?”
5. “Who even makes that kind of ultimatum?”
Tune in and watch Taken on Wednesday 6th April at 8pm on Sky 1. Then, check back to the site after the episode for Cory’s review, along with our podcast, which features a lot of very angry ranting.