NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of Arrow are present in this review
After all of the excitement with the big Zoom introduction on The Flash this week, Arrow felt a bit slow and uninteresting in comparison. Despite “Lost Souls” marking the long-awaited return of Brandon Routh’s Ray Palmer to The CW’s DC Television Universe, the episode nonetheless felt like the first true filler offering for Arrow’s otherwise superb Season Four so far, not to mention the latest DC Television Universe episode that feels like it’s entirely a means to continue laboriously laying the groundwork for next year’s large-scale ensemble series, Legends of Tomorrow.
Most of the episode involves Felicity finally managing to isolate the signal from Ray, who is indeed very much alive. Problem is, Ray is being held by Damien Darhk, who wants to exploit the technology in Ray’s A.T.O.M. Suit for some mysterious agenda. Fortunately, Ray also managed to shrink both himself and his suit after the explosion in the Palmer Technologies building that was believed to kill him during the Season Three finale back in May, so H.I.V.E. nor Darhk can currently get their hands on Ray’s valuable tech, at least for now.
Now that she knows Ray is alive and being held hostage, Felicity becomes obsessed with bringing him home, concerning both Oliver and Curtis. Oliver even calls Felicity’s mother to Star City to help remedy the situation, though it only seems to make things worse, as Felicity takes Oliver trying to intervene with her work as a way to leave Ray in danger, so that he doesn’t have to be a priority. Fortunately, as usual, Donna Smoak is great fun for the series, even if it’s Oliver that is considered a bigger problem by Felicity this week.
There’s another batch of flirting with the idea that Felicity is having second thoughts about her relationship with Oliver, in the wake of discovering that Ray is still alive, but it doesn’t really amount to much. Donna talks Felicity through her troubles, and eventually, she forgives Oliver, and that’s that. It felt like a pointless arc that just needed to fill a space in the episode’s thin script, which was a let-down. On the note of romance, Thea is also asked out by Oliver’s campaign manager, whom she initially rejects, but later agrees to a date with, saying that she wants to live a normal life. I’m getting the sense that the, “Normal life” schtick is just something that Arrow pulls out whenever it has nothing better to put in the story. It’s pretty old by this point.
Similarly, it felt like the episode had nothing to do for Sara Lance, now that she’s back, and cured of, well, most of her Lazarus Pit bloodlust. Her human soul is restored, though Sara now has a tendency to beat people half to death at random, which occurs for an unfortunate security guard when Team Arrow has to break into a Kord Industries warehouse to steal a tool that can help Curtis re-size Ray. Yes, apparently Arrow is officially no longer afraid to start teasing the presence of Ted Kord again, despite Warner Bros. apparently nixing any Blue Beetle material in the DC Television Universe originally, to reserve the character for the DC Extended Universe movies. Maybe that’s no longer the case, though I guess Kord still hasn’t appeared in the flesh yet, so for all we know, Kord Industries may just end up being a nameless rival to Palmer Technologies for the duration of the show.
Anyway, after Curtis manages to put together the magical re-sizing device that will restore Ray to normal, the group must then break into the abandoned building that Ray is being held in, which Damien Darhk and some of H.I.V.E. are currently operating out of. Go figure. Oliver is captured, and it initially looks like Darhk will find out who he really is, though Oliver manages to get the upper hand, briefly, before Darhk uses his magic to strangle him with the chains that were previously holding him. Oliver manages to get away however, when he throws a flashbang-like device, which somehow conveniently disables Darhk’s spell. It seemed like a whole lot of nothing, honestly. Fortunately, Thea, Laurel and Sara spearheaded a pretty badass action scene, where they take on a whole squad of H.I.V.E. soldiers, to compensate. The fact that Curtis came along for this op was pretty funny too, even if Felicity had to give Diggle a silly code name to disguise his identity, since he’s the one team member without a code name.
Things ended as unremarkably as they began, with Sara and Ray both deciding that they’re going to leave Star City, which was kind of infuriating. They just got back! I know that we have to get used to them being absent, since they’re going to be key players in Legends of Tomorrow next year, but surely, they could have spent at least a bit more time with Team Arrow in Star City. Moreover, why does Sara think that going to Central City will curb her bloodlust? It just felt like an excuse for the show to get rid of the future Legends, since there’s no room for them in upcoming episodes. Perhaps something will come of Captain Lance and Donna meeting each other though. Maybe.
Likewise, the flashbacks this week were equally uninteresting, and seemed to re-tread the same old ground. Oliver has to show Reiter into the secret chamber that Constantine dug through during last week’s episode flashbacks, and then Reiter’s underling says that Oliver is a traitor, but Reiter doesn’t seem to do anything about it, instead ordering the guy to shadow Oliver when they go dig for… Something, in a cove. The other soldier sics a prisoner on Oliver, who is forced to kill the man, after visiting the woman he hid away before, and, that’s literally it. The flashbacks didn’t seem to go anywhere this week. Likewise, despite the episode ending with Darhk revealing that he wanted Ray’s technology for some weird blueprint-type thing, the show didn’t clearly point out what this was supposed to be. Why did the episode end on this dramatic bit of nothing? Yes, Darhk obviously has a scheme, but this didn’t tell us anything useful, beyond Darhk having a scheme of some kind. Yeah, we got that much, Arrow!
Sadly, like I said, this all leads to “Lost Souls” feeling like a filler episode, and that’s a bummer. The episode did nothing but move a few more pieces into place for next year’s Legends of Tomorrow series, and it didn’t feel like there was any real sense of momentum with most of the personal relationships, with Darhk’s operation, or even with Oliver’s mayoral campaign. Hopefully, things move forward again next week, now that the show is done with its obligatory Legends of Tomorrow busywork.
- Donna Smoak being delightful as ever
- Curtis finally getting to join Team Arrow for a bit
- Good action, especially against the soldiers in the climax
- Ray and Sara already leaving is annoying
- Oliver/Felicity drama is pointless and tired
- Nothing worthwhile happens in the flashbacks