Arrow Season 4, Episode 6 “Lost Souls”
Written by Beth Schwartz & Emilio Ortega Aldrich
Directed by Antonio Negret
Airs Wednesdays at 8pm ET on The CW
As Arrow‘s increasingly become an exercise in jumping through narrative hoops, each episode has felt overcrowded, only able to have a scene or two stick out and display the same quality of depth we saw back in season two, when it really felt like the show was firing on all cylinders. “Lost Souls” continues this trend in many ways – but most disturbing, perhaps, is how it loses its main character in the midst of bringing Ray Palmer back, and sending Sara off on another adventure. And the more Arrow continues to hijack Oliver Queen to serve other priorities, the less effective its increasingly convoluted narrative is going to be.
The central conflict of “Lost Souls” is saving Ray Palmer from Damien Darhk, who somehow noticed a transmission of his while Felicity was off on vacation with Oliver, “losing herself” in him (something I still haven’t seen this show actually try to depict, being that she’s a freaking CEO and all-around boss) in the process. Ray’s return briefly throws a wrench into Oliver and Felicity’s romance, which makes room for multiple other romantic tanglings to be teased in the hour – right away, it became obvious “Lost Souls” was serving its lesser priorities as a soap opera on The CW network, instead of doubling down and focusing on whatever stories its trying to tell on Lian Yu (this week – Oliver breaks a guy’s neck! And then… nothing) and with Darhk, who wants to replicate Palmer’s technology because… well, he never really explains why, let’s just say its for Bad Guy Reasons.
From beginning to end, “Lost Souls” feels, well, lost: should it focus on Felicity’s sense of independence in her relationship, or her inability to convey her guilt over Ray to Oliver? Or is it Sara’s sudden murder-y streak the central story, where the other females of Team Arrow convince her she’s going to be ok, then unleash her to “find her new life” in the rest of the world (WHILE SHE’S STILL MURDERING PEOPLE – does anyone think Oliver would be cool with this?)? Or is “Lost Souls” about the larger conflict between Darhk and Oliver, and how full of holes this frightening antagonist is? After all, it takes all of an hour for Team Arrow to break into Darhk’s laboratory, kill a few dudes (or a lot; since when do the Canary women use guns they found on the floor?), and then escape, his magical skills limited here to dodging another arrow and briefly strangling Oliver.
Whatever the case may be, it’s not clear where “Lost Souls” wants to go, instead offering up a dozen stories that are either teasing something else, or go nowhere and feel completely random, like Donna Smoak reappearing in Star City so she can sleep with Quentin, which only furthers my theory he’s the guy in the box at the end of the season (this guy is way too embroiled in his role as an “asset” for Oliver right now, and it’s going to get him killed). “Lost Souls” is full of so many random turns (hey look, Curtis is a base jumper!) it’s nigh impossible for the episode (Thea’s totally solved her anger problem!) to double down on its emotional arc it wants to have with Felicity ‘regaining’ control of her identity, now that there are two men she cares about in her life again. It doesn’t even take the rare opportunity of having four powerful women in the same episode to do anything cool: Felicity gets an assisted base jump, while the Canaries are reduced to using guns, hardly the most badass way Arrow could’ve implemented this quartet into an otherwise perfunctory dot-connecting episode.
It’s been disappointing to watch Legends of Tomorrow swallow Arrow’s fourth season (and to a much, much smaller degree, The Flash‘s second season), but there’s no ignoring the awkward ways the writers have shoved all these stories together, drowning out anything we actually care about in Star City in the process. If this is how things will precede until January (it will until at least December, considering 4.08 is titled “Legends of Yesterday”), Arrow‘s in for a long, confusing, and utterly shallow season of storytelling, a talk-happy affair that only finds itself in the rare moments it sits back and quiets down for a bit.
- Two scenes I liked: Oliver and Diggle having a drink, and Felicity and Oliver talking at the end.
- Why would Oliver be jealous of Ray? “Lost Souls” never makes it clear – which is actually probably a good thing, since it makes absolutely no sense.
- Ok, so Sara’s “I need to leave” speech is better than Henry Allen’s on The Flash– but an enthusiastic fart would be better than the excuse we got for H. Allen’s absence.
- Oh, so there’s chemistry between Thea and the campaign manager because both characters said there was… I get how romance works now!
- don’t you think a good ol’ Canary Scream would help out with all those gunmen? It’s not like they were worried about getting caught at that point.
- The secret to defeating Darhk’s magic is apparently flash bangs – how dramatic!
- this week on Lian Yu Sucks: Oliver gets sent on a mission with the guy who hates him… and then Oliver has lunch with the local he’s hiding in a cave. Snore.