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In what is the first episode in recent memory to not feature Prometheus as the central plot, “Dangerous Liaisons” does a well enough job to keep things interesting, fast-paced, and relevant. Yes, everything that happened was ultimately a result of Adrian Chase and the manhunt that’s been ordered against him. But, that gave Felicity and her long building arc with the sketchy Helix group a chance to flourish and show why it’s been in the making for so long. All in all, a good episode of Arrow.
Helix was first introduced in Episode 11 of this season and has become an increasingly important factor with each passing episode. This was smart. It started off as something small that most of us thought might last for the next episode, maybe two. Instead we got to see Felicity continue to fall deeper and deeper into this dark rabbit hole that ultimately made tonight’s face-off believable and earned. The benefits of a long build up don’t end there. What makes this episode work is how much we’ve seen Helix do in the past. They were there to help Felicity free Diggle from prison. Just last episode they helped unmask Prometheus to the world. Knowing that made watching the heist to retrieve their founder from the hands of ARGUS seem like something they would actually do.
The slow burn of the Helix storyline also gave us a better look into why Felicity is choosing these morally gray decisions. Admittedly, I’m not totally convinced that Felicity would abandon her own team to get to the same goal, but I can see why she may have hit her breaking point. She’s dealt with the death of Laurel, the nuking of Havenrock, and, more recently, the death of Billy by the hands of Prometheus. Those are not small incidents you can sweep under the rug. Had something happened that affected her personally in just the past few episodes, then I could believe this a little more.
Another great aspect woven throughout the central plot was that determining who is in the right and who is in the wrong was not as clear as it has been in the past. Now that Felicity is away from the “good guys,” it’s easy to assume that she has switched to the dark side. That’s why making ARGUS a questionable entity, as it should be, was the right move. Felicity sides with Helix while Team Arrow aligns with ARGUS. Who is in the right? I want television to challenge me without having to spoon-feed the narrative through black and white circumstances. This also builds suspense. Ultimately, it looks like Oliver was right this time around as the final scene presumably shows that the tracker needed to locate Adrian was a sham. And Felicity? Stop plugging unknown pieces of tech into the bunker!
This was the big Oliver versus Felicity confrontation that we’ve been expecting to happen. We finally got to see them truly go head to head where tensions were high and trust was broken. The little trust they had, I suppose. It’s so refreshing to see this kind of development in their relationship. Last year we went through an entire season of romantic drama that gave me little hope that their love life can work out, and I mean that in the show itself and more importantly as compelling character arcs. If the writers are looking to reestablish that relationship, this is the way to do it.
Oh yeah, there was another story running alongside the big showdown between Helix and ARGUS. It was established earlier that Rene has a daughter that he does not have full custody over and for some odd reason it was included with everything else going on with the main cast. In the story itself, it makes sense. Adrian has been outed as Prometheus and the family members affected by his reign of terror want justice, including a man whose wife was murdered. This is a good connection to make with Rene’s situation, but everything happening here felt a bit too out of place with everything else going on. It’s especially strange when you realize that this week didn’t feature a single flashback, making the inclusion of this one side story a puzzling move.
Felicity took the spotlight this time and put a nice bow on her most recent arc. The doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s over, but we got a good conclusion to all the build up in her teaming up with Helix. Four more episodes to go!