‘Arrow’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 4, Episode 6: ‘Lost Souls’
It’s past time for another installment of Pointed Commentary, the feature where grizzled Arrow watcher Matt D. Wilson and newcomer Chris Haley dig into the details of Team Arrow cleaning up the filthy, crime-ridden streets of Star City.
The latestepisode, 'Lost Souls', focuses on what happened to a character everyone assumed was dead, but in something of a theme this season, turns out to be alive all along. Plus: Sara’s still working through some stuff, a relationship hangs in the balance and the best guest star on the show, Felicity’s mom, comes back to town! Antonio Negret directed the episode, which was written by Emilio Ortega Aldrich and Beth Scwhartz.
Matt: Welp, Ray Palmer is alive and kicking. I feel that his story is everyone’s story: Work on an Iron Man-like suit in hopes of shrinking it. Succeed, but in the process cause an explosion that makes everyone think you’re dead. Then send a highly encrypted distress call to your ex-girlfriend who has moved on completely. Have that call intercepted by a supervillain who kidnaps you and puts you in a glass cube on his desk. Tale as old as time.
Chris: Truly. I mean, how many times are we going to have to see this same old story play out over and over again in countless shows, movies, comics, online newsletters, etc.?
I guess I should just get out of the way that this may have been the most upset I’ve ever been watching a TV show. Hopefully you’ll be able to help me sort out how much of it was the show’s fault, and how much of it was the hole in my roof, but as our chat logs would back up, I absolutely hated this episode. I wanted to hurt it as much as it hurt me. I wanted to punch it to death as though I’d just gotten back from the Lazarus Pit and nothing else will satiate my bloodlust.
Also, Superman (Returns) was in this episode.
Matt: Viewing this through my normal haze of bitterness, but not anything worse than that, I didn’t hate this episode, but I didn’t love it, either. It was kind of the definition of an average Arrow episode. Some fun moments (a lot of which I attribute to the actors), some real head-scratching moments, flashbacks that went basically nowhere, some action moments, murders.
Chris: That’s kind of a problem too, because this really seems like it should be a “big deal” episode because of what happens or is set up in it… but it really doesn’t come across that way.
Matt: It all feels pretty low stakes. There’s no real risk. Damien Darhk has kidnapped Ray Palmer (hey, remember that time he said kidnapping was a no-no for supervillains?) presumably to tap the secrets of his Atom suit, but it’s explained right away that there’s nothing he can get from it because Ray is tiny. So he’s really just holding Ray for leverage against Team Arrow.
Chris: Does Darhk even know that Ray is connected with them though? Also, how hard is it going to be to figure out that Felicity is involved with Team Arrow now? Which would also mean, how hard is it going to be for Darhk to figure out who everyone on Team Arrow really is?
Matt: It seems like he already knows. He intercepted Ray’s highly-encrypted (turns out the encryption didn’t help him much) distress call and then photobombed Ray during his conversation with Felicity, with this knowing look on his face like he knew exactly what he was doing. Like I said last week, Darhk is the writers’ explanation for everything this season. Whenever there’s a question, Darhk did it.
Chris: It seems like he’d have to be really stupid to not know what’s going on with that whole crew. This show is frustrating and this episode in particular frustrated me in ways that seem like they wouldn’t even be fun to discuss.
Matt: Well, let’s test that theory. What was a big sticking point for you?
Chris: Haha, yeah, I mean, we’ve got to talk about something. Okay, here’s a question that’s been in the back of my mind that this episode really brought into sharp focus for me: What in the blue hell does Ollie see in Felicity? I’ve got a little bit of expanding on this I’d like to do, but I’m curious what your immediate answer will be first.
Matt: I’m intrigued by the question, because my question would be the opposite: Why does Felicity feel drawn to Ollie, aside from plot necessity? And, you know, apart from the fact that they’re both very attractive people. The love triangle between her, Ollie and Ray comes back full force this episode, and while she’s drawn to her old feelings for him, she ultimately chooses Ollie and kisses him upside-down in this really weird, awkward Spider-Man kiss.
The only real explanation for why she chooses Ollie is that Ray’s got to go off and be on Legends of Tomorrow instead of this show. Ray seems so much better for her --- he’s nice to her, unlike Ollie, who told her she failed that omelette back in the premiere --- and so much better suited to her. That kind of soured the whole episode for me, though the whole thing with Felicity’s mom telling her that she’s making a mistake if she gives up on Ollie made it almost work. I love Felicity’s mom.
I’m curious why you had the opposite question.
Chris: I told you this wouldn’t be fun to discuss. I also liked Felicity’s mom for what it’s worth, even if her showing up forces me to once again ask this show, “What kind of show do you want to be exactly?”
I know that there are people out there who are fans of Felicity. I also know there are people who like her being in a relationship with Ollie. I know this. But I can’t quite figure out why. They don’t seem to even particularly like each other, even though I think I’ve read commenters say that their relationship grew out of the actors’ chemistry together in earlier seasons… but what chemistry? No one seems to like anyone on this show.
Also, I think this episode really made me notice (even more than I had in the past) just what the limits of this cast’s acting abilities are. This all coming into such sharp focus in this episode is probably that the writers and director (and producers and whoever else) have failed the cast more than it is actually their fault, but this show is bad and it should feel bad.
Matt: It’s hard to say, because this episode had some acting moments I really liked, like Superman (Returns) Brandon Routh getting really excited about the acronym HIVE, asking, “Like SPECTRE?” In that moment, he felt like a real person. I feel like it may have been an ad-lib. There’s a pretty good Darhk moment like that, too, right at the end, where he says he knows about science, but still finds it boring. I laughed aloud.
And I liked the meeting between Felicity’s mom and Captain Lance at the end, even though it made no sense at all for Lance, an alcoholic who has had relapses, to be hanging out at a bar. That’s nothing but plot convenience. Still, the two actors made it really charming. So it’s not all bad. But then again, I’m talking about people who are (mostly) not in the main cast.
Chris: Yeah, I’ll agree with enjoying all those moments and will add that I still enjoyed Mr. Terrific and Dig. See, it’s not all complaining. Now, let me get back to complaining.
Matt: That is your right.
Chris: Why does Sara wear a blond wig over her blond hair when she’s out as Black Canary #1? Correction: An awful blond wig.
Matt: So she’s...blonder? I really don’t know.
Speaking of Sara, it’s well documented that she’s my favorite, but this plot they’ve got going on for her is the absolute pits. (Get it? Because of the pit she went in to come back to life.) Not only is it the same thing they did with Thea this very season, it’s also a complete change in her character. She never had an issue killing a dude if she needed to. She was in the League of Assassins. I know I give this show a hard time for making Ollie murder so many people, but it fit with her character to do it when it was necessary. He’s supposed to be a hero; she’s an anti-hero. Now it’s a problem. I just want some consistency. This is just an excuse to shuffle her off the show.
Chris: She didn’t seem to have a problem with killing people when she was shooting them with a gun. Or do they use “stun” bullets on this show? Why is she even using a gun in the first place? Isn’t Black Canary supposed to be good at fighting instead of just running around with a gun? I get that Dig is from the military and doesn’t have any powers, so he has a gun, but why does Wig Canary?
Matt: No idea, especially since she had a staff she used to fight people in previous seasons.
Also, did you notice that Ollie absolutely shot a dude in the back with an arrow this episode, and the dude fell to the ground like a bag of dirt? I... don’t think he’s getting up. A “stun” arrow does more than stun when it punctures your lungs.
Chris: Yeah, it’s just called “an arrow” then.
This is awkward to bring up, but it bothered me so much I think I have to at least mention it. Understand that I enjoy cleavage as much as the next person who enjoys cleavage the exact same amount as me, but every fight scene with Blond Wig Canary… all I could think about was, “Can we get her a t-shirt to wear over her costume or zip her jacket up or something?” because she seemed dangerously close to spilling out of her funeral corset that she’s still wearing.
Matt: We’re edging toward funeral corset shaming, but it is very noticeable.
Chris: It also wouldn’t be as noticeable if everyone else’s gear didn’t seem so… protective? Everyone else’s costumes seem to favor protection and, I dunno, warmth, over titillation… I just.. I don’t know. It felt weird.
Matt: Yeah. I mean, her costume, if anything, is more demure than comics Black Canary’s, but if you’re going to go full comics with your costumes, you’ve got to be consistent with it. It’s either aesthetics (as it were) or function. That shows in Laurel’s Black Canary costume, which covers her completely and seems pretty well-designed from a function viewpoint (not that I care all that much about superhero costumes being “functional”).
Chris: I guess if I wasn’t so used to everyone else’s gear it wouldn’t have felt so out of place.
What else happened? We saw Mr. Terrific out in the field. I have no idea why Felicity had to be there as well other than to have her there for a face to face reunion with Ray. Again, this show does things that make absolutely no sense for the sake of… doing whatever they want?
Matt: Fair point. The Felicity/Mr. Terrific basejump was pretty hilarious, if unnecessary. There was some campaign stuff. Thea and the campaign consultant are making eyes at each other, which seems ill-advised, but that’s about all that’s happening there. Darhk has a weird magic-but-technological device he’s preparing to use, but that’s all we know. In the flashbacks, Baron Reiter is getting into some magic stuff, verging on him being a stereotype voodoo man.
Does that pretty much cover it?
Chris: Let me hit you with a few questions and comments lightning round style.
I don’t trust that campaign guy’s face. Just me?
Matt: I would not be surprised at all if he turned out to be a HIVE plant.
Chris: Has Laurel and Sara’s mom been on the show, or are they saving on the budget by having her be in Central City?
Matt: She’s shown up in a couple episodes, played by Alex Kingston, who does about as good a job hiding her English accent as Paul Blackthorne does.
Chris: My god they have such English names. Delightful. Alex Kingston seems like a good fit for Black Canary’s/Canaries’ mom, and since she’s an actual actress, I get them not being able to just get her back at a moment’s notice.
Where is Star City supposed to be? They said something about the West Coast this episode, and that really threw me for a loop.
Matt: Yeah, I guess it’s on the West Coast. What really gets me is its distance from Central City. I don’t know if it’s supposed to be far away from there or it’s the next town over. Back when there was an earthquake at the end of season one, the effects hit Iron Heights Penitentiary, which is supposed to be in Central.
Chris: Yeah, I guess I assumed Central City was more Middle America. You know, in the center.
Matt: The secret is that they’re both in Vancouver, so.
Chris: Hahaha. Let’s see, what else... does anyone drink “hot milk”? I’ve heard of warm milk before, but I’ve literally never heard of anyone preparing hot milk.
Matt: If I recall correctly (and I don't, I just made this up), “Hot Milk” was one of the buzzworthy bands of the mid-90s.
Chris: Oh, okay, so she’s saying she got that album Felicity used to like ready to play and the milk in her hand is just a coincidence.
Matt: Sure, let’s go with that.
Chris: They should hire us. Why is Ray trying to shrink on this show? I mean, I know because that’s what The Atom does in the comics, but on this show he’s made an Iron Man suit… you’re done already, dude, you don’t have to make it small.
Matt: I believe there was an explanation about how being small would help him do more intricate work on experiments he had planned. So he’s Tony Stark and Hank Pym combined.
Chris: Why do I hate Felicity so much?
Matt: That’s a question only you can answer in your heart. Maybe it’s so you can be a counterpoint to how much I dislike Ollie. He’s the worst.
And that’s that for this week’s recap. A real heart-warmer. We’ll be back next week to discuss yet another episode where someone who was dead turns out to be alive. We’re hitting X-Men levels of resurrections here, folks.