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ARROW Review: Vixen Makes a Splash in “Taken”

By on February 25, 2016
Vixen

Pictured: Megalyn E.K. as Vixen -- Photo: Bettina Strauss/ The CW

By Justin Carter

I’ll be honest, I’m mostly interested in this week’s Arrow because of its special guest star, Vixen.

Late last year saw the release of her own animated series of shorts, and the large consensus was that she deserved more because of those insultingly short episodes. Much like Constantine’s appearance earlier this season, this is an episode where Vixen gets to do her thing, and she certainly isn’t disappointing.

Unlike the Hellblazer, Vixen is introduced fairly early in the episode to help the team track down Damian Darhk and rescue Oliver’s son William. The totem around her neck grants her abilities from different animals, and her connection to magic is useful when going up against a guy like Darhk. Megalyn Echikunwoke is having fun pulling off all of Mari McCabe’s crazy superpowers, and she fits in nicely with the core group. Some of her dialogue is a bit too clunky when talking about her backstory (no one could make “without my necklace, I’m just a fashion designer who lives with her foster dad” sound normal), but the effects used to show off her abilities are great and she looks like a credible presence in action scenes, so it’s a fair trade-off.

The only one who really seems to be matching Echikunwoke this episode is Neal McDonough, who can’t be praised enough as Damian Darhk at this point. He’s the most energetic villain the series has had, turning from funny to threatening at a moment’s notice. His line delivery is just perfect, such as when he just utters a deadpan “That just happened” when Vixen makes off with the source of his power. The question, now that she’s eliminated that source and rendered our villain for the season powerless, is what kind of threat he still poses aside from his cracking wit.

When I say I’m watching this episode mainly because of Vixen, I realize that may come off sounding a bit harsher than it should sound. There’s nothing really wrong with everything else going on, apart from any new data points to consider. Felicity is, of course, freaking out both actively and passively at Oliver keeping his son a secret from her. Laurel is, in a surprising moment, affected by knowledge of William, even though the show hasn’t paired the two together since way back in season one. Thea figures out that Malcolm gave up William’s identity and cuts ties with him, to which all I can say is “about time” And Diggle is Diggle, perfectly understanding of the situation that Oliver was in and giving the best fatherly advice that he can.

None of this is exactly surprising when you think about it. It certainly makes Felicity’s decision to call the wedding off frustrating, even more so when so when she up and literally starts walking out of the room at the episode’s end. It’s meant to be a big emotional moment that ties into her failed attempt to walk at the start of the episode, but it just feels too much like a soap opera and sort of took me out of things. And while there’s no rule about this, the whole “microchip in your spine” thing just kept having me think of Batgirl in the New 52 comics, which just goes to show how similar Felicity’s storyline this season feels and how pointless crippling her feels in the grand scheme of things.

This isn’t exactly a good couple of days for Oliver, and the show does a good job of giving him a hard choice in continuing to be a part of his son’s life or stay out of it. There’s no right argument to make here. while I’m not a parent, I do get that a child needs their father if that father is willing to be a part of their life. But, as Mari perfectly points out, a kid also just needs time to actually be a kid. I can’t say that I’m all too broken up by Oliver’s decision to let his kid live a normal life, because William’s existence overall hasn’t really had him so much as had people talk about him, but this is an alright send off for him and his mother.

I wouldn’t say that “Taken” is a big game-changer of an episode, but it certainly is a good amount of fun. The Vixen guest spot makes for some energetic action, and the way the show just casually de-powers its main villain will make the handful of final episodes pretty interesting. As for Oliver and Felicity, well … there’s no doubt they’re going to be walking down the aisle by season’s end, so I can’t say that their turmoil is particularly engaging. Of all the stuff going on, that will be the thread I’m least looking forward to returning to in March.

Additional Notes

  • “Mari and I met last year. We had an…animated encounter.” Cheesy, but I won’t lie that I laughed.
  • Is it bad that I was expecting an Oliver Queen twist on Liam Neeson’s phone call threat with this episode title?
  • If you want to see Vixen elsewhere, her solo series is on the CW Seed to watch for free. Outside of this universe, she was a recurring character in Justice League Unlimited.
  • “Love the chair, maybe switch to one with a motor.” Shouldn’t have laughed at that dig from Dahrk, but it really was funny.
  • I refuse to believe that William is Oliver’s son, if only because we haven’t seen him rub grease paint over his eyes and say “You have failed this city.”
  • Arrow comes back on March 23rd. See ya then!

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