Dangerous Liaisons - Arrow Review

Arrow, you have failed this hacker.

Last night, as Arrow returned from a month-long hiatus, and after much hype, so hype yes, a bunch of lines were crossed and the result was kind of a snoozefest. Not to mention that Felicity finally gets a chance to "shine" as the focal character, and what we get is... kind of really disappointing.

Spoilers beyond the fold

Oh man, in the weeks leading up to the airing of "Dangerous Liaisons," the hype was real. If you don't normally keep track of this sort of thing and just show up to watch the episodes as they air, you might have missed the many interviews that Wendy Mericle and other people involved with Arrow had as they made the rounds discussing the dark path Felicity Smoak would be taking. And of course, how Oliver would have to confront her, and be there for her.

Not gonna lie: I fell for the hype hook line and sinker. I was so excited about Felicity getting a decent and cool story, although considering how little time the show spent exploring her motivations to go on this journey, I should have known better. Don't get me wrong, this season has been a startling about-face after the train wreck that was season four. But all I ever wanted this season was for Felicity to have a solid story that didn't involve her romantic relationship with Oliver. There's been this thing in the back of my mind throughout that has asked why Felicity went and did the things that she's done. I mean sure, Prometheus set up her boy toy to be killed by her former fiance. And Prometheus has done a lot of damage to her teammates. But Felicity didn't seem to spend a great deal of time grieving the dead boyfriend, or the betrayal of Artemis, and she didn't even seem all that broken up by how Prometheus has been playing Oliver like a cheap fiddle this WHOLE time.

Oliver: "Please don't do the thing."
Felicity: "But you would do the thing. That's why I fell in love with you."
Oliver: "Yeah , I know it's hypocritical, but don't plz."
Felicity: "Fite me."
This episode in a nutshell 
In fact, it kind of seems like the real reason Helix was so attractive to her was because a) Alena kind of hero-worshipped her, and b) Helix was providing Felicity with a means to feel useful to Team Arrow with all the information they were getting. Which, frankly, seems like some weaksauce reasoning to "cross lines" like hack the DHS and a myriad of other illegal activities, ultimately leading to Team Arrow getting caught up in making ARGUS look like fools in this episode. I mean, I get the need to feel useful, but it could have been done better than this.

But if lazy motivational and nebulous writing is the eyeroll-worthy part of Felicity's storyline this season, then the most egregious sin is probably the fact that the culmination of this entire thread came down to "Dangerous Liaisons" being nothing short of boring. We were lead to believe she would be going down a super dark path, and that she would "need" Oliver. And perhaps the latter might still play out in the remaining four episodes, because this one literally ends with a bang.

I'm not going to recap "Dangerous Liaisons" in great detail. The important thing to know is that Helix uses Felicity to obtain two security keys from ARGUS, which they need in order to release a super hacker that ARGUS has been keeping locked up. There's a good deal of espionage and shadow play, despite the fact that Alena and Felicity are two of the most goofy black ops agents ever (and they are quite adorable together, no foolin', although I never trusted that Alena girl. Couldn't trust her on The Magicians either).

Don't laugh. We're srz bizness hackz0rz, ok?

Oliver asks Felicity not to go through with the thing, but she does the thing anyway. And the thing is to rescue the inexplicably faceless hacker from ARGUS' shipping crate (sidenote: good lord, Lyla, even STAR Labs has more humane imprisonment-without-due-process facilities. An empty shipping crate that they sit in the dark in, tied to a chair? The hell? What is wrong with you? Even Lian Yu would have been better). Team Arrow tries to stop the thing from going down, but ultimately fail and Helix gets away with the super hacker. Sure, Felicity helped Helix do it, but she didn't do anything worse than fake-threaten Oliver. Nobody but a bunch of Helix-hired thugs died during the operation. And at the end, Helix cuts Felicity loose, because her connection to "Team Arrow is a liability" (IMO now that they have the super hacker, they don't need her anymore. Kind of a dick move). Helix did give Felicity a thing that was supposed to help her track Adrian Chase down, but the episode ends with the thing exploding in her and Oliver's face, so we'll see where this goes next week. Prediction: Helix will be next season's big bad.

If you ask me, the only person crossing inexplicably terrible lines in this story was Lyla, and her and Diggle arguing about it were ten times more compelling than anything Felicity and Oliver were doing. Bonus points for Diggle accusing her of becoming Amanda Waller lite. Although four episodes before the end of the season seems like the wrong time to introduce a new plotline for Diggle (his marriage may be ending over Lyla's ARGUS work). If you're thinking Diggle is a hypocrite, you're right, but he, like Oliver, was willing to admit that and to suggest that he knows the cost of going dark.

All in all, a mediocre return after a long hiatus, and an especially mediocre end for Felicity's Helix plotline. I desperately want her to have epic character development, and this simply wasn't it. If the previews for next week are any indication, we've circled all the way back around to Felicity and Oliver becoming romantically involved again. Don't get me wrong, I am an Ollicity shipper myself, plus I was really really angry by the ridiculous way the writers ended their relationship last season. At the very least Ollicity fans deserved some closure, if not outright making things right again. But I am not satisfied by the path Felicity has taken to get back to Oliver. She's had a whole season to grow as a person, and yet I feel like the opportunity for her story was kind of squandered.

One thing "Dangerous Liaisons" did do right was the side plot involving Quentin and Rene. Okay, when the heck did these two characters become so awesomely entrenched in each other's lives? Rene helped Quentin out earlier in the season, and last night, Lance returns the favor by butting into Wild Dog's business and forcing him to confront his daughter Zoe. All of their scenes together were a spot of genuine beauty in an otherwise mediocre showing.

How did this guy become the glue that holds this show together?

In case you missed the news recentlyArrow has upgraded Rick Gonzalez (Wild Dog) and Juliana Harkavy (Black Canary) to season 6 regulars. This is in addition to the news that Katie Cassidy is also back as Black Siren. I am okay with all of these things, but especially Juliana Harkavy, because Black Canary is fabulous and she's being criminally underused right now!


Arrow airs on Wednesdays at 8/7c on the CW.

Ivonne Martin is a writer, gamer, and avid consumer of all things geek—and is probably entirely too verbose for her own good.