Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 4, Episode 15 - Taken

For a summary of the episode guide layout & categories, click here.


When Damien Darhk kidnaps his son, Oliver will turn to another old friend - the animal-empowered Vixen - for help. But even if Oliver can save William, can he save his relationship with Felicity when she finds out he's been hiding his son from her? Meanwhile, Thea confronts Malcolm on his recent activities and her suspicions that he was involved with William's kidnapping.

In the flashbacks, Oliver confronts the hostile spirits protecting the magical artifact Reiter seeks.


The Taken movie franchise (title and plot of father trying to rescue family), Green Arrow: Year One (the flashback sequences on Lian Yu), the Green Arrow comics of Elliot S! Maggin (the plot of Oliver Queen running for mayor and various corrupt forces working against him), the original story of Aladdin (Reiter's story of a hidden place only one chosen of the gods may enter to retrieve a magic item is reminiscent of the cave holding the lamp), Gail Simone's New 52 run on Batgirl (the implant Curtis develops is similar to what was used to enable Barbara Gordon to walk again in the comics)Gail Simone's Birds of Prey (the scenes of Felicity's physical therapy) and The CW Seed Vixen animated series.


Felicity rightly calls Oliver out for his stupidity in ever agreeing to Samantha's bargain - probably the biggest contrivance for artificial drama in the show's history. She even points out, when Oliver tries to defend Samantha's horrible request by pointing out that William's kidnapping is exactly the sort of thing Samantha was afraid would happen, that keeping the secret from her did jack and squat to protect William.

The CGI of Ollie grappling onto the roof of Darhk's skyscraper may be the worst effect the show has ever seen.

While I applaud the writers trying to give Laurel something to do for once besides take up space in the action scenes, Laurel having a breakdown in her father's office and whining about Oliver cheating on her years ago seems incredibly petty.  So does Laurel's refusing to take Samantha's apology for sleeping with Oliver and saying that Ollie is the one who should apologize... in front of Oliver and Felicity.


Megalyn Echikunwoke gives a fine performance as Vixen, playing the character with the same cool confidence she displayed in the animated series. Hopefully this won't be the last we'll see of her in the live action DCTVU.

Willa Holland does a phenomenal job selling the scene and holding her own against John Barrowman in the scene when Thea finally tells off Malcolm.

Stephen Amell absolutely nails Oliver's speech to William at the end.


The first scene in which we see Vixen chasing down the criminals is well-shot and paced.

The special effects used to create the animal effects for Vixen are quite good and look like they came straight from the comics.

The final sequence, in which Felicity finds herself able to walk and then literally walks out on Oliver is a powerful one and well directed.


In the original comics, Mari McCabe was part of a small African tribe and inherented The Tantu Totem from her mother. She later immigrated to America, where she became a fashion model, fought crime as The Vixen and was recruited into the new Justice League, led by Aquaman and based in Detroit.

Vixen first appeared in an animated series on The CW Seed which officially ties into the DCTV Universe. The Arrow, The Flash, Vibe and Felicity Smoak all made appearances in the series' first season.  Oliver refers to this, saying that he and Vixen had "an animated encounter last year".

The DCTVU version of Vixen was orphaned and sent to America, where she was raised in Detroit by her foster parents Chuck and Patty. She's an aspiring fashion designer, rather than a model.

The DCTVU version of Vixen has the same powers as her counter-book counterpart, being able to access the Ashe - life force or power - of the animal kingdom, allowing her to replicate the abilities of any animal.  She does this using a magical necklace called The Tantu Totem, made by the African trickster god Anansi for a warrior named Tantu.

Darhk identifies Mari's necklace as being from the M'Changa province and says he saw the artifact once before.  In the comics and the animated series, the M'Changa province of the fictional African country of Zambesi is where Vixen was born.

Mari said that she called a friend named Dr. Macalester regarding Darhk's totem.  This is the name of the college professor in the Vixen animated series who told her of the legends of the Tantu Totem.


The Tantu Totem works by allowing Vixen to magically channel the Ashe or spirit of any animal and utilize their special abilities. This includes the strength of a gorilla, the speed of a cheetah, the flying powers of an eagle and the tracking abilities of a bloodhound.

Vixen's contact, Dr. Macalester, identifies Darhk's idol as a Kushu Idol - very rare and powerful, but its power requires a constant connection to one of the Earth's ley lines. Vixen describes the ley lines as magical wi-fi and the idol as the internet connection.

Dialogue Triumphs

Felicity: We have extremely powerful friends. You do not know who you're messing with!
Darhk: If it makes you happy, the messing ends today. I tried to bring you into the fold, Mr. Queen. I tried to kidnap your nearest and dearest. I tried to kill you but none of that took.
Oliver: Well, like she said, you don't know who you're messing with.
Darhk: I suspect that is true. But as they say - or should - the fourth time is the charm.
(Oliver's phone begins to ring.)
Darhk: Go ahead. Take a look. I'll wait.
(Ollie looks at his phone.  He sees a video of William playing in front of a fireplace.)
Darhk: William thinks that I'm friends with his mother. Funny. (chuckles) Anywho, 6 o'clock on Friday you're going to hold a press conference and drop out of the mayoral race. Oh, that's 6 PM by the way. I will be at home watching you from my brand new television.
(Darhk gets in his car and is driven off.)
Felicity: What did he show you on your phone? Who's William?
Ollie: He's my son.

Felicity: God, Oliver are you the only person on Earth who considers the truth complicated!

Oliver: The boy Darhk has - William? He's my son.
(Diggle and Laurel look stunned.)
Felicity: Yeah, I just found out too. Apparently the only two people that knew about William were Oliver and Darhk.
Thea: (quietly) Actually, I found out, too... um....
(Felicity glares at Thea)
Laurel (quickly, trying to change the subject) Um, what's our next plan?
Felicity: William lives in Central City, right?
Oliver: Yep.
Felicity: I will call Barry. See what CCPD can do. Is it okay that I tell Barry that William's your-
(Oliver shifts uncomfortably. Felicity just stares at him.)
Felicity: Barry knew too?
Oliver: (to Thea, trying not to look at Felicity) Let's get in touch with Malcolm. He has an ax to grind after what happened to The League. (turning back to Felicity) And um... Malcolm knows as well.
Felicity: (coldly) Maybe it would be easier to list the people who don't know about your son.

Thug: Come on out! Face us like a man!
Vixen: I've got a better idea. How about I kick your ass like a woman instead?

Thea: Did you tell Darhk about Ollie's son?
Malcolm: Do you really think I'd do something like that?
Thea: Just answer the question!
Merlyn: No. No, I won't. Because you should know me better than to ask me the question.
Thea: I know you all too well.

Vixen: You're doing everything you possibly can. You can't beat yourself up about it.
Oliver: Well, you don't know me very well, do you?

Vixen: I heard what you told Felicity about keeping him close. Owl ears. Uh, I never knew my real parents. I grew up in foster home, and my whole life, I wondered, "Who am I? Where did I come from? Why didn't my real parents want me?"
Oliver: A boy should know who his father is.
Vixen: He should. And he will.  But knowing what William's going through right now, I realize that I wasn't ready for the answers. Learning about my heritage, my powers, the evil my mother fled our homeland to protect me from? No child should have to carry that burden. I mean, look around you. Oliver. The best gift you can give him is his childhood. Keep him as far away from your world for as long as possible.

(Laurel is about to use the Canary Cry when Darhk begins strangling her... and Speedy and Green Arrow as the same time.)
Darhk: I'm sorry. I can't hear you with your throats closing up like that.

Vixen: Have you thought anymore about what I said?
Oliver: I--I just got him back.
Vixen: Let me just say for all the frustrations I have about my real parents giving me up, I am so grateful I was raised in a situation where that was my biggest issue in life. Best things my parents ever gave me was that freedom. That and this totem, that makes me a total badass.
Oliver: You don't need a totem for that.
Vixen: You're damn right I don't.

Merlyn: I heard you found the boy. You can't believe how relieved I am -
Thea: Cut the crap!
Merlyn: Excuse me?
Thea: I know it was you. You took him out of spite!
Merlyn: For us. You have to believe me I did it for us!
Thea: You, you purposely... you put him in danger. How... you know what? I'm not doing this anymore. This song-and-dance where you come over to my apartment and you whisper your lies, it is over!
Merlyn: Thea! I did it to protect us!
Thea: Shut up. How could you possibly think that there was an us to protect? You know, sometimes, I lay awake at night? And I wonder what Robert would think about our relationship. He raised me. He loved me. And I threw that all away the moment I became your daughter.
Merlyn: Yes. Yes, you did, and it was your choice.
Thea: And I wish I never did.
Merlyn: Don't you dare speak to me like that! You would be dead ten times over if not for me! I taught you how to fight, how to be strong! I turned you from a delicate, spoiled brat into a warrior! And all I've ever gotten from you in return is your venomous spite!
Thea: For a very good reason!
Merlyn: You have no idea what you are up against! You are incapable of seeing the bigger picture! But I can! And I would rather you hate me and be alive than love me and be dead!

Oliver: Hi, William. I hope you're well. And I hope you're safe. There's something that I-- I want to tell you. I wanted to tell you before, but... But this is better. I'm your father. Biologically, that is. And as far as really being your father goes... I haven't earned that yet. A father should be there for his child, every day no matter what, to make sure that they feel loved, that they feel safe. And a child should be able to rely on their father and go to him for-- for guidance and reassurance. I have failed to do that for you... And now I'm--I'm gonna tell you why. (pauses) I'm the Green Arrow, and my life is very dangerous, which is why... We decided to keep you out of it for all these years. What happened to you in Star City?  That was my fault. And I can't allow anything like that to happen ever again. That's why I've asked your mother to move you far away and to not tell anyone where she's taking you. Including me. It's also why I asked her to wait to show you this message... until after your 18th birthday. I wanted to give you a real childhood. I wanted to give you that gift. Goodbye, Son. I sure hope it's not forever.

Dialogue Disasters

Samantha: Look, Laurel. It was one time. And I knew that you and Oliver were together. But I was young. And stupid. And selfish. And I should have been honest with you.
Laurel: No. Oliver should have been.


Curtis' husband Paul  is a physical therapist.

Darhk refers to his attempts to recruit Oliver into HIVE (407), kill his family (409) and finally to kill Oliver himself (also 409).

Oliver tells Felicity, John and Laurel about the ultimatum he was given by Samantha Clayton in 408 that he would never see his son unless he promised to tell no one about him.

Barry Allen was the one who clued Samantha Clayton in on contacting Ollie regarding William's kidnapping.

Oliver reveals that he is The Green Arrow to Samantha Clayton.

Vixen uses William's favorite toy - an action figure of The Flash - to get his scent and track him.

Thea found out about Malcolm's hand being cut off in 413.

Quentin refers to the idol Darhk' gets his power from, which we saw in 401.

Oliver suspends his campaign and endorses Ruve Adams.

Darhl's totem is destroyed by Vixen and he is left without magic as a result. He is also arrested for Williams' kidnapping.

When the police question William, they discover that he was taken by a one-handed man - Merlyn.

When Samantha gives William back his Flash figure, he says he'd like to get a Green Arrow one instead.

Felicity is able to walk out of her and Oliver's apartment after removing her engagement ring.


Oliver goes to meet Vixen in person in Detroit, Michigan.

Untelevised Adventures

John Constantine is apparently in Hell, which is why Oliver can't call him for help.

Mari apparently met Laurel Lance as Black Canary at some point between this episode and the end of Season One of the animated series. She's also spoken to Felicity on the phone before.

Mari says she's gone against several people with magical powers and all of them had a totem like hers.

The Winick Factor

Nearly everyone takes Oliver to task for being an idiot and/or a bad father in this episode. Samantha blames Oliver completely for a situation that was caused, in part, by her draconian demands. Diggle doesn't say anything but seems to be judging Oliver for agreeing to keep his distance from his son, based on his speech about needing to be there for your child every day. And Laurel further cements her position as the worst person ever by saying that Ollie was wholly to blame for the tryst that resulted in William's conception when Samantha tries to apologize to her for sleeping with Ollie when he and Laurel were dating,  To make matters worse, she says this in front of Oliver and Felicity! You know it's bad when the only person who seems willing to lend Oliver a sympathetic ear in the whole episode is Vixen!

On that note, it really undercuts Oliver - and the rest of Team Arrow - that Vixen is the one to defeat Darhk instead of them. Granting that the season is not over yet, it still makes them look bad that some relatively new heroine was able to deal with the bad guy that has been running them ragged all season.

The Bottom Line

As an introduction to Vixen and a back-door pilot for a live-action solo series or commercial for Season Two of the animated series, it's pretty good. As an episode of Arrow, however, it stinks.

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