Now, more than ever, superhero fandom feels divided as to whether these colorful characters should embrace a bit of camp charm, or brood through rain-soaked robot voice battles. That’s also admittedly proven an intentional divide between Arrow and The Flash, at least at first, given that Season 4 has aspired to such a brighter “Beacon of Hope” as tonight’s namesake. It’s a novel goal, and as Monday’s Supergirl-Flash crossover demonstrated, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of ridiculous fun, though I’d understand if some fans draw the line at robot bees. Or as Felicity put it, “Die Hard with bees.”

An office building hostage situation and a quick crawl through the vents are about as close as that comparison really goes, “Beacon of Hope” trading for the most part in too much back-and-forth to build much any tension, jumping between trips to the Arrow Cave bunker, and lighter moments like Felicity enduring her mother’s inquiries about Oliver in a crisis. It all mostly boiled down to either running from robot bees, facing a new complication of robot bees, or spouting tech jargon, as it may or may not have applied to robot bees.

On the technical end, “Broken Hearts” more or less guaranteed that Felicity would stay out of the bunker for the foreseeable future, and it understandably fell to “Beacon of Hope” to install Curtis as her replacement; the tech genius happily filling in the quips and pop culture references. Lucky for him, Curtis entered the picture at a time when the Green Arrow was a known hero, making the prospect far more exciting and adventurous than Felicity found aiding the efforts of a loner vigilante. It’s almost overdue of Curtis, in that I’d forgotten what he did, or didn’t know about Green Arrow in order to stumble upon the lair, but Echo Kellum was in fine form, from gleeful charm to acrobatic flips to escape that robot bee.

I may admittedly have an addiction to the phrase "robot bees."

So while Felicity’s immediate future with the team* remains a question mark, it certainly seems as if her absence will be pushing Oliver and Laurel closer together (he groaned, for minutes straight). It makes sense to bring Laurel closer to the foreground after last week’s courtroom battle, though it remains to be seen how well fandom will take to the two growing much further involved, especially after the early disastrous attempts. Tonight, at least, Oliver spiraled to think of saving the city without Felicity at his side, and someone other than Diggle needed to re-purpose Oliver’s struggle to stay in the light.

*I’m glad to see Arrow acknowledging the straight-up absurdity of Curtis curing paralysis without immediately mass-producing such an incredible innovation, though I’m not sure adding a similar dilemma to Brie Larvan’s tumor was necessary. If nothing else, the closing tag for the Christopher and Dana Reeve foundation might help explain the emphasis tonight.

Other outlying bits of business tonight saw a powerless Darhk making few friends in prison, particularity after Malcolm dropped by to reveal that H.I.V.E. would proceed with “Genesis” independent of their deposed leader. Of course, Neal McDonough made the most of these brief scenes as only he can, and it’s tough imagine how they might play into Andy Diggle’s apparent return to darkness, though given the “Ghosts” behavior has never properly been explained, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn Andy was under some kind of sleeper conditioning.

It seems less and less likely that Arrow will ever return to the dramatic heights of its first two seasons, and I’m less than convinced the new, Flash-influenced “fun” Arrow has proven everything producers hope, though taken on its own, “Beacon of Hope” isn’t worth the derision. It’s an excuse to embrace a bit of the ridiculous that comes from Oliver fighting a robot bee man (that Felicity inexplicably manages to destroy with a lamp, go Felicity?), and lay some groundwork all the while.

Also, there continued to be flashbacks this week. That is your update.

AND ANOTHER THING …

  • The villain’s entire M.O. was built on super-hacking, and she’s allowed to use a computer once a week? Come on.
  • There is precisely zero chance that Felicity has not made Oliver aware of the Harry Potter films. And considering The Flash’s Dementor references, were we filling a Warner Bros. quota?
  • I feel like we should perhaps have some sense of what Genesis is, by this point in the season.
  • “This is my life now.”
  • How did we have a bee-themed villain and H.I.V.E. in the same hour, entirely unrelated to one another?
  • Ten bucks Brie wakes up next season with the ability to control actual bees.
  • I’ll presume next week finally answers the grave mystery, based on the promo?

Arrow Season 4 will return April 6 with “11:59”, airing at 8:00 P.M. on The CW.

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