Warning: this review contains spoilers. You can find all of my Arrow reviews here.
For all of Season 4’s flaws, whether it’s the slow and somewhat disjointed middle third of the season or the overexposure of Olicity, Arrow still has been churning out strong individual episodes on a week to week basis. “Monument Point” is no exception, a very good episode with only a handful of flaws keeping it from truly soaring.
For the most part, “Monument Point” was just a fun episode with a lot going on. The first act had the Noah Kuttler rescue. The second act was a heist sequence with Team Arrow breaking into Palmer Tech. And the third was a hacking-heavy race against time to stop a nuclear theat. All the while fending off a team consisting of Season 3’s “best-of” villains like Brick and Murmur. It was fast-paced and exciting, kept lively with a few strong action scenes thanks to director Kevin Tancharoen (last seen on Agents of SHIELD).
Naturally there was a lot of technobabble and unrealistic hacking involved in “Monument Point”, but it’s a testament to how well-constructed the episode is that it never felt like a distraction or a crutch. It’s easy to insert random science and come up with magical solutions to problems, but even though “Monument Point” had very unrealistic technology, it kept the situation challenging and made sure none of it felt cheap. The heroes’ objectives were clear and the narrative was well-structured: “We need to rescue Noah to steal McGuffin A in order to hack McGuffin B.” It all worked smoothly.
The Calculator’s return was a welcome one, even though many viewers have knee-jerk reactions to anything Felicity-related by now. His intelligence, his relationship with his daughter, and his uncertain motivations make him a fresh addition to the show.
Less welcome was Felicity’s other parent, Donna. She’s actually a good character in very small doses, popping in from time to time to be inappropriate and funny. But she has been more of a recurring character lately and she quickly becomes too much. Moreover, it feels as though the writers are trying too hard to find excuses to include her. Her two-scene subplot with Lance was completely needless, incredibly detached from the narrative, and could have been cut out entirely without losing anything.
In fact, the time spent on those scenes could have been better used elsewhere—such as in the climax, when a nuclear bomb detonated, killing ten thousand people. On one hand, I applaud Arrow for raising the stakes this high. That is a major catastrophe and a huge loss for the good guys. It’s an event that should resonate all over and have major consequences.
Unfortunately, the biggest frustration I have with this episode was exactly that—a nuclear bomb went off, and it was handled in an incredibly rushed manner. This should have been a scene with incredible weight, especially since it was directly caused by Felicity. The buildup was there, but the actual detonation and aftermath were glossed over. That is a terrible mistake on the show’s part. I can only hope that future episodes successfully communicate just what a terrible thing had happened.
Elsewhere, Thea had an okay subplot in Genesis-land, facing off against Lonnie Machin (Anarky) who’s starting to develop a strange obsession with her. It was weird that all of Dahrk’s goons couldn’t take out this one guy, and I haven’t been able to decide Anarky and Thea’s dynamic works just yet, but it gave Thea something to do and brought Malcolm into a more active role. Oh, and Alex died. Which I didn’t care about at all since he was a very cardboard character, though it’s a bit upsetting that his death—also quick—got more of a reaction than the nuclear bomb did.
Oh, and the less said about the blink-and-you’ll-miss-them flashbacks, the better.
Ultimately, “Monument Point” is still a great episode that makes up for its admittedly glaring flaws by having a tightly paced, fun, and engrossing main narrative. I only hope that the destruction of Havenrock will be addressed in a major way soon. Between that and Dahrk leveling up his powers noticeably, Season 4’s last two episodes might just be a worthy climax.
Rating: 4/5 (Great)
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