Oliver Queen is Jack Bauer in “Monument Point!”
“Monument Point” seems to be pretty by the numbers on the surface. Damien Darhk has activated Rubicon, and Team Arrow has twenty-four hours to prevent complete nuclear annihilation (no pressure.) Felicity needs some help, so who better than her recently liberated criminal father Noah Kuttler aka DC Comics’ Calculator (guest star Tom Amandes.)
I had trouble with this one at first, but on some repeat viewings I sort of warmed up to it. I can’t really say that works in the episode’s favor though, because it took me a few laps to finally come around to understanding the story’s intentions. As much as I want to give a thumbs up to Arrow for this one, I still have to take off a point for the episode being in such a damn hurry. All the stories of this one are great, but put together they’re a real mess. Lonnie Machin aka DC Comics’ Anarky (guest star Alexander Calvert.) attacks the ark and Thea is forced to team up with Malcolm to save Damien Darhk’s flock, Felicity and Noah are forced to work together to rob Palmer Tech (who just fired Felicity,) and Oliver tries to encourage John to tell Lyla the truth about Andy’s death. There’s also a side story that sees Lance confronting a lie he can tell to save his job, but will also cause him to lose respect from Donna. It’s not really enough to be a story of its own but I’ve gotta say in a sea of laser focused and duty filled characters, Donna Smoak (guest star Charlotte Ross) commands a variety of emotions that are easy to identify with. Not to mention the fact that she does it with charisma that is rare on Arrow nowadays. Any one of these works on their own, but together they’re just kind of exhausting. Being pulled from emotional context to emotional context doesn’t entertain me, it’s just agitating. This is the reason there are narrative devices like comic relief. “Monument Point” refuses to break up its tension; and as a result, two major devastating story points are moved on from before they’ve even had time to marinate. While one was just fine, the other one made me feel incredibly cheated. By the end of the episode (and the big reveal that spurred the episode’s title is revealed.) I was incredibly intrigued and even moved, but before those feelings settled in any significant way, the scene had changed and I was right back to the tension.
Final Word: “Monument Point” was tiring. The usual Arrow gripes are there of course; bad set direction, inorganic reactions from extras, and intensely boring and barely relevant flashbacks. But even without all that, it’s too cluttered and far too tense. I realize that there’s a ticking clock, but it wasn’t just the whole nuclear annihilation that was tense. Instead of using the side stories to break up the action, it was just used to ramp it up. I had a hard time being entertained, because at no point was “Monument Point” anything more than agitating. By the time the episode reached its best part (a part that will forever change the character of Felicity) it was too high up to come down. What should have been the emotional climax was then chewed up and spit out for a cliffhanger.
“Monument Point” gets a 7.0/10. The story is important, and it’s not even that bad, it just couldn’t pick an idea and stick to it if its life depended on it.