This is more like it. With a fun villain of the week, and a much better focus on character and humor, this was a marked improvement over some of the more frustrating episodes recently.
I don't have a lot to say about the Bug-Eyed Bandit, except that she's one of the few minor enemies in Arrow's rogues gallery that can truly present a seemingly unstoppable threat. Her super robot bees are a cool concept, and the way they were utilized in this episode was fairly well done. Especially the new human form drone that kicked the crap out of Thea and Oliver. Of course it was Felicity that beat it, using ingenuity over brawn.
Felicity's absence from the team could have been an issue, or it would have been if Curtis hadn't literally stumbled into the Arrowcave. Curtis is a perfectly fine replacement for Felicity's duties as Team Arrow tech guru, and he definitively fulfills the one-liner quota for the position. But it was way too easy to bring him into the fold. That being said, I really did enjoy all of Curtis's references, and how wide-eyed and enthusiastic he was about learning the identity of Oliver, Laurel, and even Diggle.
Unfortunately, having Curtis step in also simplifies Felicity's choice to quit the team. Now that there is a viable replacement for her, the need for her to come back is less relevant. So Felicity can continue her path down character assassination lane. I guess it was her turn, since pretty much every other member of the team has walked down it, too. I suppose I don't really have a problem with what she is trying to do (using Palmer Tech to help people), except that it smacks of hypocrisy and an inability to see the bigger picture. Perhaps I'm being unfair. As a viewer, we can be objective, because we often have information the characters don't.
I'm not sure why Donna was in this episode, since her role seemed to be to act as a kind of block forcing Thea and Felicity to dance around pronouns and come up with very thin lies. It also prevented the Felicity and Thea from having an honest conversation about the breakup. Thea has a semi-unique point of view, since she discovered Oliver's life and told him to keep that secret from Felicity. I doubt at this point it would change Felicity's mind about the whole thing, but it does feel like an unspoken truth that should have been important.
One of the show's strengths (and this goes for The Flash as well) is the returning villains. It helps create more of a world for the series. We don't have a lot of establishing shots of the city, so locations are kind of nebulous. What gives the show stability is our characters, a few primary locations like the Arrowcave, and our reoccurring villains. Although that stability is usually established by the big bad, the smaller one-shot bad guys are important too (although in real life, prisons don't tend to have revolving doors).
Which is part of the reason why I pretty much loved every scene with Damien Darhk in the prison. It was probably just right as far as content goes, but I did want to see a bit more of him in jail, sans magic. He's oddly compelling, and I should probably credit that all to Neal McDonough, who is always a solid actor. Turns out Malcolm has already seized control of H.I.V.E. (in a totally unsurprising grab for power), and has roped in Andy to betray his brother again (also unsurprising). It was nice to see Murmur make a cameo as the villain trying to take out Darhk.
In the further incremental adventures of Oliver in Purgatory, we got a fight between Oliver and Reiter (the most boring super villain ever), and a lot of exposition about power. It seems one life is enough juice to power Reiter for a few hours. That gives me the impression he will be kind of like a soul vampire, with a constant need to kill more to maintain his power. Other than that, not much more on the Island front.
I really liked that four way sparring match at the beginning, even though Oliver was being a dick.
Okay, mentioning the title of the episode in the dialogue is a little too on the nose, especially the five times that I counted. Maybe a drinking game can be made from this episode?
While I did end up quoting several bee related puns below, it was almost too much.
Is it just me, or were there some Laurel/Oliver relationship vibes being hinted at?
No major teases for the forthcoming death, except for the fact that Donna is being featured way more than usual. So just from an appearance standpoint, I'm guessing it is either her or Quentin.
Diggle: "It looks like we have ourselves a taller, more dude-like version of Felicity."
Thea: "It's shocking you know who Voldemort is."
Oliver: "Well, I'm not immune to pop culture. I've read a few of the Harry Potter books."
Diggle: "Really? I was gonna bet Thea that you just saw the movies."
Oliver: "There were movies?"
Felicity: "What can I help you with, mom?"
Donna: "Well, my beautiful baby girl, I am here to rescue you after the... B-R-E-A-C-K-U-P."
Malcolm: "Something to do with hocus pocus, and killing fellow members when you get miffed."
Oliver: "You know, between Merlyn, Slade Wilson, and Ra's Al Ghul, I thought that I'd be a little tougher than this by now."
Curtis: "Holy Frak!"
Quentin: "So can anybody just walk in here?"
Darhk: "W-Wow, I'm sorry I just gotta know; did you sew that in yourself, or do you have some kind of lip sewing guy?"
Quentin: "That is an army of robotic bees. Yeah, that's my life now."
Donna: "They just got their butts kicked by that--that, that Bee Man."
Felicity: "This is why we leave the nicknames to Cisco."
Felicity: "Inside joke."
Curtis: "It's not working."
Laurel: "You did it while we were at Palmer Tech."
Curtis: "The drone has evolved and adapted since then, the damn things are like the Borg."
Donna: "You don't open up to me, hun. I have to force your feelings out of you sometimes, like, like a pistachio."
Felicity: "Lay down, Bee-yotch! Heh heh. Too on the nose?"
While light on drama, the action, one-liners, and puns were thick and fast. In other words, this was a lot of fun.
3 out of 4 Bee puns
J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.