After five episodes that have ranged from dull to delightful, Arrow took the characters into unfamiliar territory both emotional and scientific in “Lost Souls” on Nov. 11. As always, there is good and bad alike to consider. So, here is a look at what worked and what didn’t after the sixth episode of Season 4 of Arrow.
What Worked: The Plot Of The Week was straightforward enough. It brought Ray Palmer back into the fold, which needed to happen sooner rather than later with upcoming spinoff Legends of Tomorrow set to premiere in 2016. The mission to rescue Ray didn’t feel particularly urgent from anybody aside from Felicity and her wandering ponytail, but it worked for “Lost Souls.” The melodrama of the episode was ultimately not Ray-centric and the unceremonious resizing of the character allowed his shrinking arc to be self-contained in “Lost Souls.”
The biggest successes of “Lost Souls,” however, did not come from the Plot Of The Week. What worked particularly well in this episode and what elevated it above much of Season 3 was the organic development of characters and relationships in conjunction with the plot rather than in service of it.
Most of the major relationships got some much-needed focus in “Lost Souls.” Laurel spent some time being with her sister instead of just about her sister, and Sara showing side effects of the Lazarus Pit while still being recognizable as the woman who died in the Season 3 premiere was welcome. Original Team Arrow managed to have an interaction that was both incredibly serious as they discussed how to rescue Ray but also pretty hilarious as Diggle played referee at the verbal tennis match between Cranky Felicity and Oliver. The relationship between Felicity and Ray was acknowledged without either character giving any indication of lingering romantic feelings. Felicity and Donna were wonderful as Donna helped Felicity to see past her own self-sabotage before it was too late.
And then, there was Oliver and Felicity.
Oliver and Felicity in “Lost Souls” were everything that a portrayal of an adult romance on television should be. Their interactions unearthed layers of their characters that have been buried under the happily-ever-after that carried them away from all of their complications to a status quo in which their pasts didn’t haunt them. “Lost Souls” sprung open the metaphorical closets that were positively bulging with baggage and forced Oliver and Felicity to wade through the wreckage to find each other again.
Oliver and Felicity were not wholly enjoyable in “Lost Souls.” She was ugly and awful and unfair to him, and he was far too obliging and upbeat to be anything but irritating to her in her state. They were a recipe for disaster from their first interaction in “Lost Souls,” but the conflict was necessary for progress on their relationship. There was never going to be a happily-ever-after for them that felt at all genuine if there was not an opposite extreme to the sunshine and butterflies and happy kisses broken by glowing smiles. The fight that terrified him and confused her was the best thing that could have happened, because they got over it. They got over it and made peace and then got busy on the bed that they share in the home that they made. The Loft o’ Love earned its name on the emotional and carnal fronts in “Lost Souls,” and it was wonderful.
The MVP for “Lost Souls” is split between two performers. Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards pulled positively phenomenal performances out of one another as Oliver and Felicity faced very real issues with their relationship. While each had impressive scenes with others – Amell with David Ramsey, Rickards with Charlotte Ross – they were exceptional together. They’ve expanded on the chemistry that sparked and sparkled them into the power couple of the series and they successfully portrayed a couple truly, madly, terrifyingly in love. The MVP goes to Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards together for “Lost Souls,” and they absolutely earned it.
Curtis Holt continues to be a delight, and Echo Kellum fits seamlessly into the cast. Neal McDonough is as menacing as ever as Damien Darhk, and the small beats of humor interspersed with the undiluted evil have already made him one of the greatest villains in the history of Arrow.
The action sequences in “Lost Souls” were better than they have been. Oliver finally got some big moments in the field in the present, and Stephen Amell bursting out of the water sans stunt man to kill a guy in the flashbacks certainly wasn’t too shabby The highlight of the action sequences did not come from Oliver, however. The highlight came from Sara.
Holy cow, was Sara ever back! Caity Lotz didn’t have much else to do in “Lost Souls” beyond getting in a workout in her leather bustier and mask, but she made the most of her stunts. Sara improvising to use an actual gun in the gunfight was electrifying, and sticking her alongside Laurel and Thea was a reminder of just how fantastic the original Canary was as the leading action lady of the series.
What Didn’t Work: It’s just a shame that the original Canary took off so soon. In fact, the handling of the Sara arc in “Lost Souls” was lazy and unimaginative. Even the action was somewhat tarnished by the fact that all of the other characters seemed to bellow “SARA!” at her whenever they were out in the field. Honestly, she pretty much had to kill the ghost. He totally knew her name.
Team Arrow 3.0 being out in full force worked for the climactic final fight, but everybody aside from Felicity hitting the streets for the Kord mission was overkill. It felt like a posse of masks for the sake of a posse of masks, and it took away from any sense of realism.
The flashbacks continue to meander. Ambiguously Accented Woman is still too much of a nonentity to not grate when she sucks up screen time, and Oliver is still far too nice for where he should be in his five years of hell. Oliver is delightful and mature and kind in the present now; the show can let him be dastardly in the flashbacks.
Arrow airs on Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. EST on The CW.