The midseason finale of Arrow’s fourth season left viewers to worry for weeks on end about the well-being of one Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards). To be fair, that apprehension has been around since the beginning of this season when the premiere revealed that someone close to Oliver (Stephen Amell) would, in fact, die. At this point in the season, we still don’t know who’s in the ground, but by the end of this midseason premiere episode at least we know who’s not in it. (If you voted in the “Who’s in the Grave?” poll, it’s probably time to rethink your vote.)
The cold open of “Blood Debts” occurs four months from now at the very familiar gravesite, set in the exact same scene in which Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) showed up in the Season 4 premiere. However, it’s an extended version in which Oliver addresses his responsibility to end things, to kill Damien Darhk. This moment is completed in the episode’s closing stinger scene, so we’ll get to that by the end of the recap since it opens up a lot of room for new questions. For now, let’s go back in time to Ollie’s Island Adventure.
When last we left Oliver and Taiana, they had just discovered a veritable treasure trove of maps submerged in a shipwreck, but had also been discovered in turn by Conklin. Tonight’s flashback sequence sees the suspicious soldier herding Oliver and Taiana back towards camp where he hands over the maps and reveals to Baron Reiter that Oliver is a traitor. Conklin gets to take his aggressions out on Oliver with a few cracks of the whip, but when Ollie’s protective tattoo flares up, Reiter sees it. The orb he’s holding glows in response, which also gets Reiter’s attention. Oliver uses the distraction to draw Conklin’s gun and threatens to kill himself with it unless Reiter agrees to Oliver’s offer to help him find whatever he’s looking for in exchange for Taiana’s safety. He does, despite Conklin’s protest. Now imprisoned together, Taiana patches up Oliver’s wounds, but she not-so-subtly reminds us that Oliver also killed her brother. They presumably eat fish biscuits to pass the time until we get to see them again.
Now for the main storyline of tonight’s episode. There’s quite a bit going on here. The main arc for the remainder of this season is likely Team Arrow’s pursuit of Damien Darhk, but don’t expect to get that done in just a few episodes. Tonight’s portion of that pursuit centers on the return of the villainous Lonnie Machin, aka Anarky (Alexander Calvert), who’s just as eager to take down Darhk as Oliver is. However, this guy is the very definition of a loose cannon, so Oliver also spends his time beating up Ghosts in the hope that he’ll get some intel on Darhk. When that fails, he resorts to setting Anarky free (after capturing him once already) in order to lead him to the elusive supervillain.