Managing Plot and Subplot

I watched three TV episodes this week about teams of good guys battling a mastermind who communicated with minions using ear coms. Two of them aired in the past week, the other is several years old, but the basic plot was the same: bring down the mastermind. The difference was in the way the stories used their subplots, and it was a big difference.

(Important Note: This is NOT a writing technique, it’s a critical approach. Don’t do this for your own stories, it’ll make you insane.)

Last Call

“The Last Call” from Person of Interest.

The main plot is an extortion attempt on a 911 operator to get her to delete a 911 call that could convict someone of murder; the PoI team (Finch, Reese, and Shaw) work against the clock (it’s a time lock plot) to find first the child being held hostage and then the mastermind talking to the operator on her headset.
The first and only subplot is the team’s fourth member, Fusco, back on the job after his triumph in helping to bring down a huge police corruption ring, now being badgered by everybody who wants his opinion because he is The Man in the department. (If you’ve been watching this show from the pilot in which Fusco was a corrupt cop intending to execute Reese, you know how fantastic this subplot is. That’s character arc. Also, Fusco is the best.)

Here’s the plot/subplot breakdown (click to expand):

PoI-Plot-Diagram

Each square represents one minute of screen time. In this case, The main plot starts at the beginning of the show with the kidnapping of a child, then there’s a cut to two minutes of Fusco being badgered by other detectives for help with their cases, including one newly promoted guy who asks for help on a murder. Then more main plot, followed by a minute of Fusco helping the rookie interview people in the murder, probably setting up his new partnership. (His last partner was the fifth member of the team, gunned down in the street last season; RIP Carter, we miss you.) Then back to the main case, with the son of a bitch on the phone blowing up a parking garage and threatening to do the kid next.

But when the plot goes back to Fusco’s subplot, the two stories connect, Finch asks Fusco for help, which he gives only to discover that his murder investigation is the crime the mastermind on the phone has been hired to cover up. (Note to writers: Don’t do this. A massive coincidence this late in the game is not good. PoI plots are usually much tighter than this.) So at this point, roughly the midpoint/point of no return, the two plots merge into one so that the subplot is no longer interrupting the main plot, it IS the main plot, which is the sole focus of the show until the kid is rescued. Then three minutes of denouement, one for Fusco back in the squad room with the rookie, and two for the mastermind to call Finch and tell him he’s gunning for him now.

The strength of this plot is its focus. There’s a time lock on a kidnapping, a child’s life at stake, so a lot of stuff about Fusco adjusting to life in the squad room without Carter would have killed the tension (Fusco does not chat about his feelings). Instead, Fusco is investigating a murder until halfway through when he’s part of the team again, and then it’s all main-plot-with-Fusco until the last two minutes.

And that’s another good thing about this plot; once the kid is rescued, it’s over. The writers gave the viewers three minutes of sigh space at the end (and in this show, a lot of the time you don’t even get that), one minute of Fusco back in the squad room and two minutes of resolution plus set up for a multi-arc antagonist. It’s tight, elegant plotting.

But some stories like emotional subplots, and that’s good, too. The next plot has a caper main plot and a character growth subplot, and still keeps the story tight.

“The Juror #6 Job” from Leverage.

The main plot is an attempt at jury-rigging by a criminally ambitious investor who is feeding the defense attorney instructions through an ear com and watching the trial through hidden cameras; the Leverage team (Nate, Sophie, Hardison, Eliot, and Parker) work first to get the company owner to settle and end the trial, and when the investor blocks that move, they work to steal the verdict.
The first and only subplot is trying to move team member Parker from “totally nuts” to “capable of faking sanity.”

Here’s the plot/subplot diagram:

Leverage-Plot-Diagram

The first minute shows a man dying from using an energy pill, setting up the litigation in the main plot. The next minute is the subplot, the team coming back from a job furious with Parker because she took risks not agreed on by the team. Just as they’re telling her she has to work well with people, she opens the mail sent to her alias, Alice White, and finds out she has jury duty. Nate, the leader, says she has to go because she has to learn to work with people, setting up the Parker-learning-to-fake-being-a-sane-person subplot.

But the joke’s on Nate because Parker spots the cameras and the ear cams and tells the team they have to do something or a widow is going to get swindled out of her case. For the rest of the episode, the Parker subplot is inextricably part of the main plot because her attempts to learn to connect with people are her job in the con. The plot only pulls out three one-minute scenes to focus on Parker’s growth curve: One scene in the first half where she fails miserably at convincing Eliot to trade his apple for her orange, one scene at the halfway point when another woman she’s been spending jury time with tells her a secret and then says, “You’re the nicest one here,” and one moment of despair at the crisis point when she says, “I can’t do this.” All three of those short scenes connect directly to the main plot because the success of the con depends on Parker being able to connect to everybody in the jury room. When they win the trial, the plot gives the viewer one minute of denouement for Hardison and the last minute for Parker, who opens her mail and gets an invitation to lunch from her buddy in the jury room; she’s connected. It’s a great example of integrating plot and subplot so that the viewer sees the entire story from the beginning as one plot.

And then there’s our last example.

620-x-338-Canary-Felicity-Smoak1

“Time of Death” from Arrow

The main plot is about the Arrow team (Oliver, Diggle, Felicity, and Sara) taking on the Clock King, a computer expert trying to steal money for his sick sister.
The first subplot (listed in the order encountered) is about the tension in the Arrow cave as Felicity feels unneeded.
The second subplot is the island story which this week is about Sin, so it’s the island/Sin subplot.
The third subplot is the tension in the Queen family since Oliver severed connections with his mother without telling his sister.
The fourth subplot is the tension in the Lance family between Laurel and Sara, and between Quentin and Dinah, and between Quentin and Laurel . . .
(Note: These are not all the subplots in the series, just in this episode.)

If that list didn’t pinpoint the problem with this episode, look at the diagram:

Arrow-Plot-Diagram

The main action plot is the Clock King vs the Arrow Team. The first subplot integrates with that plot after the first act because a lot of the trauma that Felicity faces after that is because the Clock King invades the bat cave. If they’d stopped there, they’d have had an integrated plot and subplot like the plots we’ve already looked at. But this show wants to be more, so they’ve added three character dynamic subplots: one with backstory on the island to explain how Sara became a Big Sister to Sin, one dealing with the schism between Oliver and his mother, and one dealing with the ongoing cat fight that is the Lance family.

If I were writing this show, those last three subplots would be gone. Why? Because a forty-two minute story should devote the majority of its story real estate to the main plot. How much of that forty-two minutes was about the Clock King? Including the Arrow Cave subplot which merges with it, nineteen minutes or forty-five percent of it. Less than half. Another fifteen minutes or thirty-five percent were spent on the three family dynamic subplots. Where’s the last eight minutes? Denouement. Twenty percent of the story is spent after the climax.

There’s no way that distribution can deliver a focused story. The three relationship subplots have no bearing on the Clock King main plot and the Arrow Cave trauma subplot; if they weren’t in this story, the main plot would still make perfect sense. The thing Arrow does best is tell action stories; the best part of this episode was the riveting stuff with the Clock King and the excellent fight scenes. Even the annoying Felicity-feels-wounded subplot integrated beautifully with the main plot; it passed the test of a good subplot because the main plot would be less without it.

Imagine if the story had given those fifteen extra subplot minutes to that main plot, not to mention the extra seven minutes from the endless denouement (you’d still need the minute of Arrow cave denouement to finish the story). Or fine, you want a character subplot. PICK ONE. The island stuff bores me to tears, Sin is doing just fine in the story without any history, and if I never see the Lances have dinner again, it’s too soon, so I’d go with the Queens because I’d only have to give up four minutes to the entire subplot, I love watching Moira snarl, “This is my house,” and ohmygod at the end it’s Slade. And then I’d integrate the Queens’ drama-trauma into the main plot as some kind of complication so that it couldn’t be dropped from the plot without damaging the story.

Here’s the plot diagram with just the two subplots, Arrow cave and Queens:

Arrow-Revised

That’s still less focused than the first two examples, but Arrow is kind of a messy show anyway, which is part of its charm. I’d give the Queens’ subplot one more minute, something that on a second viewing sets up what Moira is doing with Slade while complicating the main plot because I don’t think it’s a good idea to just drop a subplot for the back half of the story, but otherwise, even with the second subplot, that’s a pretty tight story.

Your main plot is the structure that holds the story together, the plot that all the subplots hang from. The more story real estate the main plot holds, the stronger your structure is and the more time you have to develop it, which means it can be richer in detail and event, reversal and escalation. Its subplots should have an effect on it: echo it, reverse it, complicate it, above all serve it. That kind of integration means that when you add your subplots, you’re not interrupting your main plot to tell a different story, you’re supporting that story, and that makes both the main plot and the subplots stronger.

Bottom line: If you take too much real estate away from your crunchy main plot, you’re diluting all that crunch, and that makes for soggy, confused storytelling.

Edited to add:
Here are the three plot diagrams together to help the comparison:

Plot-Comparisons

197 thoughts on “Managing Plot and Subplot

  1. Holey moley! This is brilliant. Can I use this in my class when discussing plot structure with students?! I love seeing this scientific breakdown of a narrative arc. I know that creativity can’t always be quantified in objective, empirically verifiable ways. (If you saw the last The Crazy Ones episode, where they pitted science vs art in creating an ad, they talked about that, hilariously) Some things work that shouldn’t (salted caramel – who’d have thought that would be so great?) and others seem like they should be a sure thing but somehow fail (*coughAgentsofShieldcough*)

    But, your graphical analysis is a great visual representation of why this week’s ep of Arrow was ‘soggy, confused storytelling’. I always tell my students ‘less is more’. Having one well developed, rounded character in one setting, with one main event going on, can be far more effective than a cast of 1000s with 100 subplots, unless you are writing a massive, on-going epic like Game of Thrones, where you have time to develop a multitude of characters and plotlines. The audience or reader needs time to engage fully with the people and events, even in this attention deficit prone age. Trying to be emotionally or intellectually connected with so many different things is impossible, as it all comes across as shallow or unrealistic. If they had cut out the Sin angle, or the Lance dinner, it would have been an improvement, though the character assassination that went on throughout the episode seems hard to fix at this point. (The kisses I could certainly have had edited out! But that’s less a narrative irritation than an emotional response to seeing characters I like be insensitive jerks, tbh!)

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    1. Sure you can use it.

      This isn’t about creativity, though, this is about taking the story that creativity has given you and delivering it coherently to the reader. With the extra minutes from cutting the island and the Lances, the Arrow writers could have given Oliver and Sara more screen time to show the passion in their relationship. They could have added another scene sequence to the Clock King battle showing Oliver and Sara in action, which is where they’re both at their best. There could have been more Diggle to ground the whole thing. When I looked at this, I realized that the show runners hadn’t been lying when they said first that the episode was Laurel-centric and then that it was Felicity-centric, because look at the blue and purple in that diagram. Huge amounts of plot. The problem is that it should have been Clock-King-centric.

      So this is analyzing to see if the creative part has been cleaned up. Person of Interest took two plots and merged them into one plot at the halfway point. (That’s a good way to plot a romance with an outside antagonist, BTW. Have the first love interest and the second love interest fighting the same antagonist in different plots and then joining forces, merging the plots and solidifying the relationship.) Leverage almost always merges its subplot from the beginning because it’s always running a split-second caper. I think a comic-book-soap-opera like Arrow is always going to be messy, but it shouldn’t be incoherent, so take all the great subplots this show can run and ration them to two per forty minutes (that’s three plots), and you’ll still have the whole everythings-blowing-up feeling, but you’ll get a coherent story.

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      1. Yes, I agree with you that all the creativity in the world won’t make up for a messy structure to a story. A writer could have a great and original idea, and it won’t work if the underlying skeleton of the story is not strong and doesn’t hold together. Having Sara and Felicity working together to deal with Tockman could have also been about the tension sub-plot. Well, I suppose it was, in a way, but distractions like the jacket comment, or the Sin thing, etc, etc, just muddied the waters. Your diagram shows it was focused a lot on Felicity and Laurel, but it didn’t feel like that. The minor issues were what stuck in my mind and the villain definitely felt like an add on, when he should have been front and centre. The sum of the parts certainly didn’t add up to a coherent episode! And a lot of the parts were just too annoying to allow me to focus on the scenes that mattered. Just a hot mess all round, narratively and emotionally unsatisfactory.

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      2. Honestly, I am wondering if they perhaps had something go wrong. This happens. You shoot something and it doesn’t work or gets ruined – like a big fight scene. Then you throw something in or shoot scenes from the available set up because you have run out of time. The comparing scars seemed so contrived, as if it was on a list of things to do and they said, okay we can shoot that right now. They do not seem to have a particularly broad set of places to film. I’ve worked on a TV show and we had this happen. Fans were excited to see the Clock King. His lack of airtime must have bothered some people.

        I have been thinking about Laurel in reference to a comment someone made on another of your posts. The comment was that the family dinner made them all seem stuck in the past. Maybe that was deliberate. Maybe now Laurel has been released. Not sure it will make up for how unlikeable Laurel has become as a character. It seems partly the acting. The actress doesn’t seem to change her tone or animate her face ever. Sometimes her lips barely move. And Laurel has come across to me as too bitter, to an annoying extent. Bitchy is fine, but bitter is annoying. Like you said, the screen goes cold. The fault of the writers most certainly the majority of the time. Some of what she had to say to have Oliver reveal things in Season 1 were just painful. (Thinking of two scenes in his bedroom.)

        Also, after reading through your posts and comments, I’d have to agree that the backstory has killed her and I realize that seeing she has not grown much in all those years bugs me. It made little sense that she was mad at Oliver after 5 entire years, so terse with him. She went to law school and was running a respected legal aid office. She had a life, even if her mother left and her father was a drunk and her sister was dead. Still you nailed it with her lack of vulnerability. But have they intentionally made her so stiff? Can’t be because then he swoops her up with zero chemistry between them and the epic love story remaining unbelievable. In any case, I see the last episode as her turning point with the scene at AA making that clear. My questions to you (and may go towards your “backstory” questions for your future post) are: can the character recover with the audience? Do writers deliberately do what they have done to Laurel? Or was it really a mistake and they are scrambling? Have you seen this work?

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        1. People love a redemption story, so I think it can work depending on what they do with the character. Trying to put her in a relationship with Oliver again would just send her back to that hellish back story. If they moved her on to something new, something where she looks at the cold hell her life was before and decides to remake herself, that can be tremendously appealing. And if it’s something that uses that coldness within her, joining Birds of Prey, for example, as an avenger, that could work well. The actress was terrific as a demon on Supernatural, I think she could play any strong, cold, determined powerful woman. I’ve never been a Laurel fan, but I loved the scene she did with Quentin when she said, “Bring them here for dinner.” That had real warmth because the writers released her from anger; she loves her father and she wants to give him every change to get her mother back. It was just a lovely, lovely scene and they were both so good. Plus she has the fact that Oliver and her sister are being incredibly insensitive; that’s going to put a lot of women on her side.

          I read an interview with Robert Knepper, the Clock King actor, who said he shot all of his scenes in a day, so they never intended to give him much screen time, which I think is insane because that’s the main plot and he was brilliant. I loved the idea that it was him vs. Felicity, they could have done so much more with that. And the scar scene is so common, it’s a trope, and it was in there to push Felicity into defensive mode. I don’t think it was just stuck in there, it’s too much motivation for that subplot. I think they just have massive structure and character problems, not because the characters aren’t great, they are, but because they keep shooting them in the knees to make the plots work. The Oliver who apologized to Felicity is not the Oliver who told Laurel that he had family problems that were worse than hers.

          I’d really love it if Laurel came back stronger than ever and left Oliver and Sara in the dust.

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  2. This is awesome. I love the plot diagrams. I have never seen PoI, do they have a seasonal arc? I know Leverage doesn’t. Arrow tries to, but those writers are trying to tell too many stories to manage well. I bring this up to ask how a season arc can weave into an episode plot.

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    1. Person of Interest and Leverage both have seasonal arcs. PoI does cliffhangers; Leverage does complete arcs but leaves the team safe but broken at the end so the teaser is how they’ll re-form.

      If you think of a season-long arc as a novel, then the episodes are acts within the novel, each having a complete arc on its own, but its climax/resolution becomes a turning point that throws the show into its next episode/act. A lot of the time the season arc plays as a subplot to the episode main plot until close to the end when the main plots become part of the season arc.

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  3. At some point could you discuss what’s necessary in a love scene. Not the sex or the love showing up on the page. But what needs to be happening between the characters beyond the obvious? If all scenes need conflict, how does that fit with love scenes? I’m probably asking this in the wrong place.

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    1. That’s a big question, but I can give you some generalities.
      Remember that conflict means “struggle” not “screaming at each other.” All scenes in a love story will be struggles because the two lovers are working out the relationship. Once they’ve worked out the relationship, the struggle is over and so it the story, unless the main plot is the lovers against a common antagonist.
      So you look at your love scenes as the struggle to form a relationship. The things that cause joy and pain, the two emotions that open people up to vulnerability, making it possible for them to fall in love. Each move in the love scene plot moves the characters through the physical and emotional steps to mature love. (That’s a book in itself.)

      So what’s necessary in a love scene? A struggle (can be very quiet and civil) between two people who are drawn to each other and are trying to cope with that fact while protecting themselves. As they get to know each other better, they become more trusting and more vulnerable, so as the romance plot arcs, the characters are stripped of their protection and become open and vulnerable. So what’s necessary is that move toward great vulnerability, once scene at a time.

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      1. I need to think more in terms of struggle than conflict. Thank you. And for some reason it seems almost a contradiction that if you trust more, you are more vulnerable. I know it’s true, though. The more you trust someone, the more they can hurt you if they do betray you or walk away from you.

        It seems the most difficult part of the romance portion of the book is the one near the end when some secret or other woman explodes onto the page. That is the scene in novels that so often seems contrived to me. Too often the woman walks in to find the hero in a compromising position, or learns some secret he’s been keeping from her, and she is too quick to believe the worst…that kind of thing. Here they’ve been struggling for trust all through the novel, and suddenly it’s destroyed, no questions asked. That is the biggest test for me in writing the romance. It seems that’s where romance novels that fail, fail. (You know, what can shake things up at the end without relying on the ridiculous.) The arc of the romance is more difficult than the arc of the suspense plot. The romance’s biggest villain is the weakness living inside the hero or heroine that makes them doubt they’re lovable, it seems to me.

        People don’t give romances enough credit.

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        1. I think you can make the Big Misunderstanding work if you undermine it. She catches him with another woman, he says, “I can explain,” and she says, “I believe you. I love you and I trust you.” That shows the relationship is solid and they move on leaving the Big Misunderstanding gnashing its teeth in the undergrowth. I hate Big Misunderstandings, but if you set one up to knock it down right away, it works.

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          1. Oh, I love that! Thanks. Sometimes I think craft is more fun than writing. I look forward to the day you sell your NF on writing. I followed your class with Bob and it was outstanding.

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          2. My biggest pet peeve in a story’s romance is when they turn the misunderstanding between them into the Big Misunderstanding keeping them apart the whole time when, if they’d simply had a 5 minute conversation, they could have cleared it up.

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        2. Savvy, I think, too, that the Big Moment in some books doesn’t feel like it ties directly to the main “problem”/conflict of the book so the big misunderstanding the breaks the couple up (before they finally get back together in the end) feels contrived.

          I remember reading a book where the hero and heroine were drawn together with a hot chemistry. He was a self-made guy who built businesses up (only in town temporarily), so there was no such thing as bad publicity. She was a woman up for a promotion where any publicity could damage your image/rep & cost you your job and potential business.

          Every situation in the book was about challenging his resistance to putting down roots and her concern about damaging her image, thus putting that promotion at risk. Their sex scenes always included risk (aka spontaneous, poorly chosen locations lol) and served to tie him more emotionally to her (those roots again) while pushing her closer and closer to the line where, if caught, could damage her image & risk that promotion.

          The story used a guy who, if I remember the plot correctly, wanted that promotion too, so he set about uncovering their affair and essentially publishing (what would have been private) sex pictures of them to the internet. This sparked a breakup. The hero used it as an excuse to step back away from his real feelings for her & run (keeping his life temporary and root-free while telling himself it was for the best and to protect her) and the heroine broke up with him because she kept telling herself the job was what she’s worked hard for, what would make her happy, etc., etc., and it was the “rooted thing” compared to putting all her goals on the line for a guy who could/would flit town for the next project.

          In the end they both realize love is worth the risk. She realizes she can’t live her life trying to live up to an impossible image or to please other people. Meanwhile the hero is realizing that challenges, opportunity, fun, etc., still exist even if you stay in the same place, accepting that he wanted a home with the heroine, etc. Of course the bad guy is thwarted. The girl still gets the job. The hero finds a business/partnership he likes to help him stay in one place. Couple reunites.

          But all the conflicts — both characters internal struggles and their external struggles — daisy-chained together from start to finish with one thing (the sex pictures leaking out) exploding a situation where all the struggles (internal and external) were affected, forcing the characters to confront that Worst Case Scenario and make them decide to either stay the same and lose love or take the risk and change, thus choosing the Love/relationship over what they thought they wanted & believed in the beginning.

          I think if a storyteller can come up with a Big Moment that naturally brings all those struggles (internal/external) together and explodes, forcing both characters to confront all those struggles, that really helps avoid the story feeling contrived.

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          1. Yes, this makes a lot of sense. That’s why so many stories seem a bit lame. It’s like the Big Moment is borrowed from other stories and just stuck in there. It’s also what makes romances so hard. To make the novel really work the story plot and the romance plot need to be tightly connected in some way. I agree. Good analysis.

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  4. Wow the comparisons on number of Plot/Subplots per show is quite amazing. Leverage had a great balance. I’ve never seen POI so I can’t chime in on that. Arrow… They burn through story so fast and keep things moving (usually) so well but this season has been so packed I’m starting to feel like I never get to settle in any of the subplots long enough to feel invested in many of them. The show takes a lot of pride in the level of action and in their ability to keep all the balls in the air at one time but I’m cautiously eying the juggler at this point cause some of those balls look a little wobbly.

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    1. I wanted to go back and look at one of the plots in the middle of season one when they first hit their stride to see if those were balanced better, but at this point, I’m not sure it’s worth the effort. I think it’s just not my kind of show any more.

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      1. I hate when good shows go bad. I’m really, really hoping this was just a weird fluke of what the….?! Because season 1 had a few of those and season 2 has held really well until that What The!? moment Oliver and Sara hooked up. Now it’s weird. So I’m hoping this is just a weirdness I can blame on crazy moon phases and the next ep will shake things back in to place. *fingers crossed*

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        1. I just read that in the Suicide Squad episode, Ollie pushes Sara away….here’s hoping he pushes her under a oncoming train. I’ve vowed to give them until the end of the season to fix this mess; I hope I can hold on.

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          1. How many episodes are left? There’s a limit to how unhappy a TV show can make me before it’s better for both of us if we break up.

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          2. I just read that in the Suicide Squad episode, Ollie pushes Sara away….
            – Paula

            Paula, see that’s why this whole thing on Arrow makes zero sense to me. Oliver gives this big speech about how he can’t be with anyone because of the life he leads, then turns around bangs Sara, brings her into his life, and now, at the first sign of real danger, he’s pushing her away because his life… isn’t… safe. Um. Yeah. It just feels like this dizzying circle of WTF? because we remember what he said but apparently nobody else does, including Oliver. LOL.

            I fully expect Sarah to charge in anyway, get hurt (I wonder if they’re angling her toward Oracle territory so Laurel can take over at the Black Canary and the Huntress rounds it out), supply Oliver with more Man-Pain so he can get darker, more brooding, and give him reason to vow, yet again, that his life is too dangerous to be with anyone every again ala Batman.

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          3. It’s plot-driven character. If they want the story to go there, they have to shove Oliver there, even if it violates his character. And at this point, they’ve broken his character so many times, I’m not sure who he is any more. The guy who apologized to Felicity and said, “Barry’s gonna wake up,” that guy was flawed but not hypocritical. He may have lost his temper but he didn’t make big, self-pitying speeches.

            Maybe it’s not Oliver. Maybe it’s a double and the real Oliver is tied up somewhere. I think that’s the plot of the next Muppet movie, but it would work here, too. I want the old Oliver back.

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          4. You know, at this point, whenever I read about teasers from the producers, I picture Lucy with that football . . .

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        2. We just finished 14, so I believe there are 9 more episodes. Season 1 had 23 episodes and I believe Season 2 has the same. Episode 15 is The Promise (75% island focused they say). 16 is Suicide Squad/Diggle focused. 17 is Birds of Prey (so I assume Sara/Huntress/whatever focused). 18 is titled “Deathstroke.”

          And I agree. I’m very intolerant of shows these days. I don’t like to “hate watch” as people call it. Once I’m done with a show, I’m just done. I dropped TVD cold turkey after suffering through a horribly boring season and I stopped watching The Originals for some reason too. I just think I decided I didn’t care about anybody enough to keep watching.

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          1. You know, if they actually focused those episodes on those things, that would be great. But if they’re going to do another mosaic like this last one, hit-and-running over several unconnected subplots and shortchanging Diggle or Deathstroke, or whatever, then it’s not worth it. This one was supposed to be the Laurel episode. Then it was supposed to be the Felicity episode. Then they got a great antagonist like the Clock King and gave him maybe ten minutes of screen time, and I ended up loathing all of it in spite of the fact that the Clock King stuff was really good. ARGH. I have enough things I’m struggling with in real life, I need storytelling that makes sense. I loved these characters so much, too. Damn it.

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          2. Yeah, last season of TVD just made me lose enjoyment of the show. I liked one episode all year. I hate the Silas plotline. Mopey Elena and Jerkass Elena were not plotlines I enjoyed. I just didn’t want to come back. As for The Originals, I can’t take Klaus being a mouth-foaming rabid dog all the time (except for the Caroline exception) who will never ever die, so fuck that show. I love Elijah and like Rebecca, but I can’t watch a show where Klaus is the star, period.

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          3. Episode 19 is called “Red Lights” as in STOP THE MADNESS as the fans like to say. :))

            The was just revealed by Manu Bennet (Slade) at a convention he is at.

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          4. Yeah, last season of TVD just made me lose enjoyment of the show. I liked one episode all year.
            – Jennifer

            I spent the entire season being bored as they looked for the cure. TVD used to blaze ahead and pull some stunning twists and shockers and that’s what I loved about it. So when they slogged the show down and spun in circles for an entire year with the cure, the cure, gotta find the cue, who is going to get the cure (which I figured out right away), do you want the cure? Do I want the cure, who would I give the cure too. Did you hear about the cure? RME. I just stopped caring.

            Part of me knew it was because they’d decided to spin off The Originals so they were slowing things down, pulling the Originals out of the show, steering a new course because that’s a big change considering how much the Original vamps had taken over TVD (another thing I resented as a viewer despite actually liking the Original characters which is one of the reasons I’m leery of Arrow doing the same thing by cramming too many more characters into an already filled to the brim cast). But it didn’t matter in the end because I just stopped caring. So when Stefan came face to face with Silas and they pushed him into the water ala Angel (eyeroll here) I was done. My friends kept trying to lure me back but I was just done.

            Originals now lacks human heart. Klaus is just a spittle-rage foaming guy with no humanity, something Caroline brought to his character. And the rest just didn’t interest me enough. It’s too much Shakespearean drama for power and submission/dominance for the sake of control and I have no interest in that.

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        3. I’ve been thinking about this since reading the post in a different thread (Antagonists? or Time of Death?) about how American TV shows are written. Seems like the show runner bears the most responsibility. And I had wondered if the fact three of the Arrow exec producers are off concentrating on launching “Flash” the reason for the sudden mess. That whoever was left behind doesn’t quite have a handle on the plan. But if the entire season had already been broken down at the very beginning then maybe this really IS the plan. And that disturbs me.

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          1. I’m wondering about that myself Kate. Arrow has 3 Exec. Prod. who are the showrunners. 2 of them are concentrating on the Flash launch,- Greg B. and Andrew K, leaving the 3rd (Marc G.) to handle Arrow. But I do think that there was a definite plan in place before they left. That’s why I was wondering how far in advance are these scripts written? I mean was Ep. 13 written before the other 2 left to focus on Flash? Or was Marc G. solely in charge at that point? I watch another show and there was an interview with the head writer of that show and she said that basically, the writers sit down at the beginning of each season and they map out a character arc for each character to happen over the season. It’s just an outline- as in -ep. 1 Character A is in this place. Over the season ,thing 1, thing2 thing 3 must occur for this character to that by final episode Character A has grown and is now in another place. But this is a bare bones outline and the execution in the scripts happens as the different writers write each episode. I wonder if Arrow has a similar process or is it completely different?
            I looked at some of the fan boards and I was surprised to see some concern expressed there about Marc G. being left in charge of Arrow while the other 2 were doing Flash. Also, fans were curious as to why Marc G. was not a part of the Flash team since he has done several shows with the other 2 in the past other than Arrow.

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      2. The comment nesting is starting to confuse me, hopefully this lands in the right place.

        About Arrow’s earlier episodes and balancing subplots: I don’t remember if they did it better in season one, but I think they certainly did it better in the first half of this season. Maybe not always, but I think “Keep You Enemies Closer” was really well balanced.

        Main plot: Diggle getting Lyla out of the Russian prison w/ Oliver and Felicity as backup.
        First subplot: Oliver and Isabel (and Felicity?), which complicates the main plot because Isabel’s presence makes it more difficult for Oliver to help with the prison break.
        Second subplot: Moira’s lawyer getting Thea to break up with Roy. Aside from being a ridiculous idea to begin with, I also thought it was unnecessary. They were back together by the end of the episode, and it never had any impact on Moira’s (also ridiculous) trial. I guess there was supposed to be mother/daughter bonding here?

        So, one very good main plot that was Diggle-centric, touched on long-running stories by bringing Deadshot back into play and introducing HIVE, and still works as a self-contained, single episode plot, plus two subplots, one of which complicated the main plot. Why couldn’t they have just kept doing them like this?

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        1. I think I agree about the first part of this season. Things were (it’s earlier here and my brain is fuzzy) pretty cohesive. It’s only felt like a sharp turn into Confusionville for me about 2 episodes back with that stupid 30 second sex ending. Since then it’s been a slide into Huh? territory for me. I’ve been waiting for something to make sense and all that happened was an hour of character stuff that made no sense. I think, maybe, it’s easier to overlook when the rest of the episode feels more cohesive/balanced but in the last episode’s case *everything* felt weird. Kind of funny, really, when you consider the villain in it was all about precision. LOL.

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          1. I definitely agree the first part of S2 up to the winter break was more cohesive. Ep. 7 kept subplots down as well. There was the main plot of Team Arrow fighting Count Vertigo, subplot 1 of Moira’s trial, subplot 2 of island stuff. And there was tight control over Ep. 8 & 9 because they were introducing Barry Allen.

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        2. Forgot about the island subplot in that one, so I guess that would make three. I’m sure it was there, I just can’t remember what the hell happened. Which probably means that was unnecessary, too. Although, if it involved Oliver’s Russian mob friend, it may have been semi-related.

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  5. I think the POI plot was really impressive. Clean. Damn near perfect, as far as I’m concerned. I miss Carter, too. I liked the magic taking place between her and Reese. And the respect.

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    1. That team really understands respect because they all earned it. When I realized that Fusco was getting all of that attention because he’d helped Carter bring down HR, and I remembered in the first episode when he had Reese cuffed in the back seat and was taking him out into New Jersey to kill him . . . THAT’s character arc. And Shaw making jokes about Finch not wanting her answering a 911 call. Just Shaw making a joke. I’m also impressed with the palpable sense of loss that still haunts that team. They didn’t just pull up their socks and move on. They’re damaged. It’s really great characterization.

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      1. I think CBS excels in great character development. I mentioned Elementary before but it’s a great example. Their plots don’t necessarily blow me away each week but the partnership between Holmes and Watson is done so well. They have a terrific level of respect, caring and understanding. The characters are just well done. Holmes relationship with Adler is really complex there with no easy answers.

        I think one of my favorite examples of that are from one particular episode called On the Line from Season 2. All the sites break this convo into two quotables but I’m pretty sure they fit together into one conversation, at least that’s my memory of it.

        Sherlock: I’ve given further consideration to your rebuke regarding my capacity for niceness.

        Watson: I didn’t mean it as a rebuke. I was trying to have a conversation.

        Sherlock: Either way. You have a point. There is unquestionably a certain social utility to being polite. To maintaining an awareness of other people’s sensitivities. To exhibiting all the traits that might commonly be grouped under the heading nice.

        Watson: I think you’ll be surprised how easy it is to earn that designation.

        Sherlock: No. I am not a nice man. It’s important that you understand that. It’s going to save you a great deal of time and effort. There is not a warmer, kinder me waiting to be coaxed out into the light. I am acerbic. I can be cruel. It’s who I am. Right to the bottom. I’m neither proud of this, nor ashamed of it. It simply is. And in my work, my nature has been an advantage far more often than it has been a hindrance. I’m not gonna change.

        Watson: You’re not the same person I met a year and a half ago. You’re–

        Sherlock: Good to you? Yeah. For the most part. I consider you to be… exceptional. So I make an exceptional effort to accommodate you. But you must accept that, for as long as you choose to be in my life, there will occasionally be fallout from my behavior. That must be a part of our understanding.

        Watson: No one can accept something like that forever.

        Sherlock: To thine own self, Watson

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          1. I think that’s why I keep coming back to the show. The mysteries aren’t always interesting (or fast moving and dear lord the one ep from season 1 with the blizzard was like paint drying) but when they give the characters room to move and talk and Sherlock/Holmes are doing their partner stuff, or Holmes is allowed to philosophize… the show just grabs me. They did some interesting stuff with Sherlock and a serial killer this season (1 ep) and another with Sherlock/Bell that covered a few episodes that was good. But it’s that Sherlock/Watson thing that keeps pulling me in. You expect him to act and treat her one way as he’s training her to be a detective but they really surprise you with how it goes down.

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          2. Oh one thing about Elementary that reminds me of Arrow is that the writers fiddled a bit with Holmes’ character from in those first episode or two, just like they did Oliver. It was interesting to see that when I went back and rewatched that first season.

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          3. I want to like Elementary, but every time I try an episode, I start zoning out within the first fifteen minutes. I don’t know why, I feel bad about it, but there it is.

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          4. Me, too, but I’m going to try again. There are too many smart people telling me it’s good for me not to give it another shot. Especially since i think I’m going to have an Arrow-sized hole in my viewing schedule shortly.

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          5. I want to like Elementary, but every time I try an episode, I start zoning out within the first fifteen minutes. I don’t know why, I feel bad about it, but there it is.
            – Jennifer

            Yeah, it’s weird. Either the episode’s mystery clicks for me or it doesn’t. Some are really good. The Adler stuff turned out great in season 1. Season 2 is hinting at a arcing mystery with Mycroft’s return. The one episode where Sherlock’s drug dealer returns because his daughter’s been kidnapped had such good acting and the confrontation scene was really amazing. I’m seldom impressed by acting by I thought the Sherlock actor (Johnny Lee Miller?) did a terrific job. But yeah, it’s that partnership that grabs me and I find so entertaining. Some of the dialogue is darned witty or thought provoking and when they get philosophical… I’m a sucker for that. LOL.

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          6. Since there is jack on tv tonight I started rewatching Elementary to see when I felt like the Holmes/Watson partnership started to really click for me. I seem to remember it being around the time they actually become detective partners but I’m surprised that I’m about 5 episodes in and that hasn’t happened yet. I can see why this didn’t click with people at the beginning. I mean, it’s okay, but it was that moment when things got interesting for me. It was a nice arc to get to that point, especially for Watson who was caught between guilt and people constantly telling her she’s not a detective and this wasn’t good for her, but I wonder if maybe it took too long (for viewers) for them to get there? But then I think maybe I wouldn’t have liked it as much if they did rush it. Hmmm.

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          7. I keep hearing people say that Person of Interest wasn’t that great until toward the end of the first season, but I loved it from the beginning. I think sometimes a story is just yours and you’ll stick with it when others bail.

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          8. I think I’m around episode 7 now (Leviathan) and I think the Holmes/Watson relationship is hitting the part where it began to transform and become one of my favorite parts of the show. She keeps reminding him she’s leaving soon and he keeps learning more about her and becoming more impressed. They just had one of my favorite exchanges after he meets her family for brunch.

            Holmes: They’re nice people, your family, but they are at their core, conventional. You make an effort to appear conventional, but I know, Watson, that you share my love for all that is bizarre and outside the humdrum routine of ordinary life. Your family will never understand this, so I gave them something they would understand.

            I think from that episode forward lots changed between them because they were on a deadline. They either admitted they didn’t want to stop working together or she moved on to another client & he let her go. It reminded me of a couple more coming exchanges between them, particularly when they’re hunting down a serial killer, sitting on a bench staking out a park at night, and Holmes talks about her (to her). He’s so ridiculously complimentary of her in so many different moments. It’s so unexpected and nice and yeah… I think Leviathan is the episode I really started feeling that turn in their relationship.

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        1. I love that scene. Really all their scenes. I came at Elementary after having seen Sherlock, and that set a high bar. And while the mysteries of each episode aren’t always as well-done as the British version, they’re still good, especially when you consider they’re dealing with a different format (22 forty minute episodes vs. 3 ninety min. episodes). My favorite thing about it, though, has been the characterization. They have been so conscientious about developing the partnership/friendship between Sherlock and Watson and setting her up as his equal. Not to mention what they did with Moriarty. That was fantastic.

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          1. Also, no cliffhanger in the first season finale. I love the Elementary writers for that alone.

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        2. Yeah, that’s the scene that’s stuck in my head from any of the episodes I’ve seen.

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      2. Amazing character arc for Fusco. I was bawling in that episode they had Fusco tied to a chair being tortured, fully believing they were going to kill him off. I couldn’t believe I cared that much for a character who, like you said, was going to kill Reese in the first ep. The show really sold me on his redemption.

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        1. I know. And that phone call from Shaw while he was tied to the chair, and him thanking her over and over . . . I’m tearing up thinking about it. Followed by “It’s a good thing you broke my thumbs.” He was almost comic relief for awhile, but my god these last episodes. “The Devil’s” Share was some of the best TV I’ve ever seen, that moment at the end when he’s with Simmons. And his flashback to the therapist; that was just chilling. They’ve done incredible things with that character, making him funny and dangerous at the same time. I love that show so much. There’s a show that’s changed up every season, too, really upped its game and become something completely new each year. Brilliant writing. I think they’re heading for something big with the second machine out there. That’s another thing, that’s the first time I’ve ever seen Camryn Manheim be a murderous bitch. And Amy Acker doing lethal crazy. Sarah Shahi. The women on that show are absolutely feral. In a good way.

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          1. There was one episode this season where Joss, Shaw and Zoe went undercover and I really enjoyed seeing them be the smart, confident and beautiful women that they are and just click. Shaw doesn’t have a lot of social skills but she bonded with Joss over weapons while Zoe was the amused (NOT patronizing) fixer (I wish they’d would bring her back). At the end of the episode, they were all chilling at a bar, while Reese patiently waited outside to “walk” Zoe home.

            I know the personalities are different, but this is what I would like to see with the women of Arrow.

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          2. I loved that. When Carter oohed over Shaw’s gun and Shaw said, “You can borrow it any time,” it was so great. And Reese had given Zoe the pink taser. And I loved it that Reese waited outside while they did the girl thing in bar. And Shaw had Bear, too, didn’t she? That was lovely.

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  6. Can these diagrams be sent to someone important please? So that they could send Laurel and Sara to Central City to reconnect with each other, and mom, and start over, you know, the usual stuff 🙂

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    1. Nobody at Arrow is going to be interested in any of this, really. I don’t write for TV, I write novels, and much more than that, they don’t need anybody giving them suggestions since I’m fairly sure they have a plan. Plus, a lot of people are very happy with the show as it is. Why would they mess with success?

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      1. When people stop watching in droves, they might appreciate it in hindsight. There’s something scary about the phrase, “they have a plan” when one of the episodes looks like the rainbow you graphed here.
        It reminds me of a class I’m teaching. I had a plan, but couldn’t find the material to make it work, so I made it another plan that’s a lot more up in the air, so now every week I’m flying by the seat of my pants. I far prefer having a plan that works to having a plan that goes haywire on me. Maybe it’s just a personal aversion to feeling out of control. Yeah. That’s definitely it.

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          1. I think certain things rubbed people the wrong way quite a bit in that last episode. Is it enough to make them tune out? I don’t know. But I do think that if Oliver continues down a path where he loses sympathy with viewers it definitely will impact viewership. I don’t think they’ll know “why” necessarily, but I do think they’ll start to draw away. Of course look at TVD. It’s been on, what? 5 seasons at this point? A lot of people are upset with that show and its constant triangle mess and yet they’re still watching. So you just never know. But Arrow, to me, is a different type of show. TVD you knew going in was going to be that soapy back and forth (one woman torn between 2 guys). Everybody knows I’m no fan of the Oliver/Laurel storyline but with the last ep I watched Oliver the entire hour thinking: What’s wrong with you? You are being such a jerk. I couldn’t have been the only one and while I might be able to overlook it for a episode, if it continued on for multiple episodes without him being called on it? My viewership will be in danger. If I can’t invest in the hero’s journey there’d be no point.

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          2. I don’t trust my own viewing reaction because I’m so obsessed with story, especially with character, that when it starts to go wrong, and writers start to make excuses, I get testy. I really loved this show, and then they did THIS? kind of thing. So I think for me, it was the double whammy of Oliver behaving like a jerk when he never had before and Sara being so patronizing to Felicity, which was annoying, coupled with the incoherent plot and waste of the Clock King.

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  7. Oh, I love that! Thanks. Sometimes I think craft is more fun than writing. I look forward to the day you sell your NF on writing. I followed your class with Bob and it was outstanding.
    –Oops, pressed submit early. Are you writing a non-fiction book on writing?

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      1. I’m planning a book on writing. Whether it gets done or not . . .

        –MADE. MY. WEEK. (I am rooting for you to get it done. In the meantime, there is this blog!)

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        1. It would be a big book. The first half would be writing story in general and the second half would be writing romance. At least that’s the plan. I have pieces of it all over my hard drive and a bunch more stuck in different places on the net, so it’s planning, organization, rewriting . . . it’ll be awhile.

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  8. (I am rooting for you to get it done. In the meantime, there is this blog!) – Sara

    Ditto the above

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  9. >>I looked at some of the fan boards and I was surprised to see some concern expressed there about Marc G. being left in charge of Arrow while the other 2 were doing Flash. <<

    Teslin, I laughed the other day when I came across a number of tweets basically asking when Andrew Kreisberg was coming back to "Arrow." We may be looking at the same boards because I've seen those concerns expressed as well. I can't say I'm thoroughly familiar with Guggenheim's work, but early on I know he put off a lot of fans who'd asked what happened to Raisa, the Russian maid who'd appeared only in the pilot. He said she's in jail for shoplifting, or something like that. It was just such a thoughtless response regarding a character that many really liked (early fics included her a lot). He also seems to have a reputation among fans — justified or not, I'm not sure — of being a cheerleader for Laurel. So I get why some are concerned he's running the show.

    Oh, and you're right. There are only 3 exec producers. For some reason I was counting Geoff Johns, who did go with Berlanti and Kreisberg to work on "Flash."

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    1. Ha ha! I saw that tweet about Andrew coming back! Hooray! And yes, when MG has Tweeted about the show i.e. pats on backs etc, it has usually been directed to KC and SA. That was early in the S2 — don’t know about recent tweets though. Although I did see that he acknowledged Felicity trending during episode 13 and I thought that was surprising.

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    2. That could be the disconnect. Also, all three EPs worked on Brothers & Sisters, which I watched for awhile. They lost me when they decided to make the long lost sister not be the sister because she had great chemistry with the youngest brother and they wanted them as a couple. They re-work the story to fit, and I couldn’t buy it. AND it creeped me out to see them together as a couple when they had been siblings a few episodes before. Sadly, I think Arrow might be going down this same path.

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      1. Paula, I watched Brothers and Sisters for awhile, and then read about that Jump the Shark moment with the two youngest “siblings.” What a mess! But then, when the whole Olicity thing blew up, I thought: “Oh good, Greg Berlanti is on this show, and while what happened on Brothers and Sisters might have been awful, it could work if they dump canon and just go with Oliver-Felicity.” And, I think if it were just Greg Berlanti who was running the show, there might actually be more of a clear romance contract between Oliver-Felicity. The problem, I think, is that Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg are both comic book writers–Andrew Kreisberg wrote the Green Arrow and Black Canary series. So, when looking at how the romance in Arrow is all over the place, I think this has something to do with having different show runners who may have wildly different ideas about who Oliver should end up with. If it were just Greg Berlanti, I think Olicity would be going full-steam ahead, because he does follow the chemistry (even when the plot completely falls apart in the process, as in Brothers and Sisters…but going in a different direction from the pilot would have worked in Arrow’s favor, in my opinion). But because his partners are both comic book writers…

        They’re going in three different directions, so maybe the reason the romance contract isn’t established is because the show runners themselves are all gunning for different love interests. It is just such a huge mess at this point. I have to completely erase the last two episodes from my memory if I am ever going to root for Oliver-Felicity again…right now, I’m on the anyone-but-Oliver-for-Felicity team (and I have always been on the anyone-but-the-Lance-sisters-for-Oliver team…but I agree, Jenny, now I just think he should be celibate).

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        1. In regards to what Paula said: WHHHHAAAAATTT? Are you serious? Oh my goodness, I too am glad I never saw that series.

          On to what Sara said: I see what you’re saying about GB, because he was also part of Dawson’s Creek. That was another show that started down one path, Dawson and Joey and then when chemistry said something else they diverted to Joey and Pacey. I couldn’t have been more surprised! So maybe there’s hope as I think even with the three, I get the impression that GB is the Top Dog (I hope).

          I just don’t trust that MG, lawyer after all, and yes, very much for BC/KC. This is what I just fail to comprehend — the sister drama. WHY, after this MESS of a story line — going back and forth between two sisters — would ANYONE still want Oliver and Laurel together? For me it has always been lack of chemistry, but also the fact THAT HE CHEATED ON HER. How does going back to a guy after he has slept with your sister in the past AND the present make you look like a STRONG CHARACTER? And yet you still see people ADAMANT that they will be together. Is this REALLY just because of the comics? Please don’t take this as bashing, because that is not the intent. I am just trying to understand if I am missing something truly, because this is the first show I have ever encountered anything like this. In the past with triangles, I have like, okay whatever happens, happens. Am I more sensitive to this because I have sisters? LOL I’m glad AK is coming back though! Anybody ask about GB? 🙂

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          1. One thing to remember when talking about behind the scenes stuff: There are people back there, not mindless story analysts like me. They go to work every day with Stephen Amell and Katie Cassidy, they made promises to real people standing in front of them, people they probably like, people they share a viciously cut-throat business with, and therefore probably people they want to help and protect. Katie Cassidy is the second lead on Arrow. They showed her the scripts, the story arc, they gave her second billing. While they are obviously aware of fan reactions and critical reactions, they’re also people. If they’re protecting Cassidy by keeping Laurel close to the center of the story, that says a lot about them as people in a rough industry. We react to the characters on the screen as real people; they know the real people who pretending to be the characters.
            So they may be trying to reboot the show to fix the mistakes that sank Cassidy. I don’t blame the actress for Laurel; she put on the screen what they put on the page, and they really shafted the character with what they put on the page. So kudos to them for seeing the problem and trying to fix it. The real discussion here is, for us, is what the different fixes are, which one they’re pursuing, and if it’s going to work. (Not if it’s the right fix; that’s subjective; all that matters is, will this fix work?)
            They’re giving Laurel a clean slate, which is smart. She’s been through hell, she’s forgiven her sister, she’s broken with Oliver because he was a self-centered jerk to her in that hallway scene (at least, I hope she’s broken with him because any smart woman would dump that guy), she’s going to AA with her dad, the best relationship she has (her sister betrayed her, the man she loved condemned her for having perfectly legitimate emotional reactions, her mother deserted her when her sister died), she’s in a great place to start over. Depending on where she goes next, I could easily root for Laurel.
            Oliver, however, has some ‘splaining to do.

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          2. Thanks Jenny! I guess I was speaking more from the audience perspective really about the crazy storyline, but I had it tied in there with MG, my bad. I understand the behind the scenes loyalties, and would never question that, that’s reality, and one that I am glad is not mine LOL I don’t envy them, especially in these situations. 🙂 My only problem with KC has been her lack of chemistry with some of the cast, but that’s in her control.

            Part of my problem with the whole Lance sister storyline (apart from the obvious) is that in the process of doing all of this, they have messed up the character of Oliver. Was this intended? To me, it reinforces my belief that anything Lance sister related means we get an Oliver we don’t really like. LOL

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          3. Claire Rose wrote “To me, it reinforces my belief that anything Lance sister related means we get an Oliver we don’t really like”

            I think that’s the big problem, although Oliver was also a jerk disowning his mother for lying when he’s living a lie. Oliver as the hero, fighting evil, is pretty good, Oliver with Diggle and Felicity, also pretty good; Oliver feeling he’s better than Laurel or Moira? Yeah, he’s a jerk.

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          4. Claire, having been a soap watcher for years I’ve discovered something weird about triangles. I’ll add a disclaimer here that the whole sisters thing disgusts me. Ick. Ew. Ick. that’s like fighting over a guy you’ve slept with when the other woman is your mom. I just… ew. I don’t think I’d want to be with a guy who, to put it delicately, has dipped his wick in any relative of mine, let alone my sister. Ew. Ew, ew, ew! Shudder! Ew!

            I’ll give everybody a moment to wash their brains out with bleach. LOL.

            Okay, but anyway, triangles and soap operas. I long ago discovered that I hate and loathe triangles that involve Girl-Guy-Girl. Maybe it’s because I’m female and think a woman should have more self-respect than to be chasing after a guy who can’t make up his mind if he wants you or not. But when the story is Guy-Girl-Guy, I’m more okay with it. I don’t like triangles, period, but when it’s 2 guys chasing the same woman, I can generally take it better. Is that because, on some level, it’s ego-stroking for a woman to feel two hot guys want her? Could be. Or maybe it’s because I get why a woman would be torn between, say, the hot bad boy with the heart of gold and the steady, truer, nicer Nice Guy. One offers hot and heavy and dangerous love while the other offers a warmer, softer, “safer” stabilizing type love. I’m sure the same could be said from the guy’s POV (the wild girl vs the girl next door) but since I’m a girl I find it easier to relate to the Guy-Guy-Girl triangle.

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    3. Hopefully the return of Andrew K. will be a good thing , Kate- although I guess we won’t see it until Ep.19? I’m not sure how these things work. Not surprised about Marc G. twitter posts -from what I’ve seen posted on fan boards he doesn’t think before he tweets if you know what I mean. Claire Rose, I’m not surprised he acknowledged Felicity for Ep.13. Unless he’s been living under a rock, he has to know about the huge Felicity/Olicity fanbase and he knew what was coming at the end would upset many of those fans. I noticed as soon as the ep. ended he posted the “you’ll always be my girl” tweet obviously meant to placate them. I don’t think they were expecting the “non shippers” if you will to have the WTH reaction though.

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      1. For me the triangle depends on the show – and the original contract as well as the set up. For example, Vampire Diaries doesn’t bother me. For one, they set it up over multiple episodes. For two, they are VAMPIRES….anything goes.

        Soaps are the same way. Most of the time I don’t care because I expect it. What bothers me there is the mother/daughter/dude…..(Alex/Sam/Sonny for example)….sometimes like in the case of that GH story, they rewrote the story and caused the triangle after the fact. That bothers me less than the current Ava/Kiki/Morgan, which is grosser than the brothers with one girl – Michael/Kiki/Morgan that came before. While I don’t like either one, neither makes me want to quit Generah Hospital because that’s how the show works.

        Arrow is different because I expect it to be about the action – and maybe one relationship. The sister triangle just doesn’t work for me on this show. In fact, it gets in the way of the story for me.

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  10. This was another interesting post, Jenny. I especially liked the visual diagrams. I’m learning a lot from your posts and everyone’s comments. I hadn’t realized how choppy things were with Arrow and I can see why I felt so little excitement with this episode-it had too many subplots that weren’t connected. I totally agree with you the Sin/Sara subplot was totally unnecessary-I actually resented it. I kept thinking-why are we wasting time with this boring thing? I want to get back to more Clock King.

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    1. I agree. The visual diagrams really highlighted what a mess the last episode of Arrow was, and how awesome Leverage is in comparison.

      I watched the Adoption episode from Season 1 last night, and loved it (Haagen Dazs!) Parker is so kick-a$$ awesome. When she beat up the bad guy (in the latter scene–not the one with the fork), I thought, “She’d make an awesome Black Canary.” Also, “We’re more than a team.”

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    2. The Clock King was excellent. That plot really needed three beats: the theft of the device, another theft, and then the showdown at the bank. It just felt truncated as it was. I think that’s one of the reasons I was so fed up. They chopped up a really good story there.

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    3. Arrow prides itself on cramming so much story into one episode and it does make it thrilling and keep things fast paced. It’s something I’ve actually complimented them for in earlier episodes. But season two seems so big and so packed and has so much going on I wonder if maybe they bit off a little more than they could chew. The show is still so young and new and I keep telling myself it’s almost like an experiment. This beds too small. This one’s too big. Maybe season 3 will be “Just right.”

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      1. I remember liking the episode before this (until the end) but feeling as if they’d had about three endings. They must have had another really long denouement stretch again. It may have been that I liked the pieces of that one. I thought the Nyssa stuff was terrific.

        I’m really going to have to go back and look at the plot breakdowns to see if they changed how they tell the stories or if I just don’t like the stories they’re telling now.

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        1. Just going off my own instincts and how I remember previous episodes? I’m going to go with they’re telling it differently. LOL. Watch, I’ll be totally wrong, but I’ll be curious to see what you find, Jenny.

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  11. Hey, Jenny, remember in a previous post when you were saying Arrow needs to choose a lane: either Laurel or Felicity, but not both, OR add a new love interest which would probably tank the show. I forget which Arrow post that was in (I think it was in the comments section) but I remembered it tonight. When I first read it, I thought, “Exactly!” So now, I’m sitting here, thinking: I can’t believe they went with Plan C. I really cannot. believe. they. went. with. PLAN C.

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    1. Honestly, I don’t think they have. I don’t think they have a plan unless it’s Laurel and this is all complication.
      I thought they were going with Felicity because there was a lot of foreshadowing there and it was not platonic on either side. But it was just foreshadowing, nothing spoken, and they’ve undercut that with all the platonic stuff in the last ep with that patronizing, “You’ll always be my girl, Felicity,” which didn’t just friend zone her, it infantilized her. Now she’s his little sister. I don’t buy Sara as a long term love interest because they haven’t set it up; the whole Sara relationship feels like a patch. My guess is, she either leaves to become part of Birds of Prey (because since they got the Flash spin-off, I’m betting they’re talking with the studio about a Birds of Prey spinoff so they can do cross-overs) or she gets killed because if there’s one thing Oliver Queen needs more of, it’s angst. That would free him up to start a new relationship with Laurel, that toxic sister thing put to rest since Laurel forgave Sara and then Sara died or whatever.
      I don’t see Sara as the long game because they would have milked the courtship part. These guys love the will he or won’t he stuff.

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  12. I don’t know how I feel about Laurel still being in the running for the love interest. Then again, I can’t stand Sara. You know what they really need to fix this mess? Malcolm Merlyn. I’m ready to ditch Oliver, have Slade threaten Thea, and have Malcolm Merlyn save the day. The more I think about it, the more exciting a match between The Dark Archer and Deathstroke sounds.

    There’s a lot of fan fiction out there putting Bruce Wayne or Dick Grayson with Felicity. I am now fascinated with fan fiction since it came up in a previous blog post. I never really knew there was such a passionate community out there with regards to this. Apparently, there’s fan fiction for just about every television, book, and movie out there. It blew my mind.

    I have a technical question: you recommended against doing this for your own stories…I would think that creating a diagram to map out your plots and subplots would help. Did you mean don’t do the analysis, don’t do the visual diagram, or both? I feel like the visual diagram would actually be extremely helpful.

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    1. It really depends on how story comes to you, there’s no one way to do it. My old writing partner, Bob Mayer, uses spreadsheets to plan his books before he writes them. I have to write them and then use analytical tools to organize. So if doing the outlines or diagrams first helps, go for it. I just wanted to make sure people knew that I wasn’t saying, “Do this to figure out your novel” because it would shut down creativity for a lot of writers.

      I do a lot of analytical things once I have a large chunk of my story done. I’ve never done a minute-by-minute analysis for obvious reasons, but I always check my act counts to make sure the acts are getting shorter.

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    2. They have to save Oliver. Without him the show has no center. They just have to stop kneecapping his character and start to redeem him. Oliver yelling at Felicity was a jerk, but that was understandable, nobody’s perfect and he was worried/scared which is a bad place for him to be, probably gives him island flashbacks (I mean bad ones, not the ones he has in general). The key is, he fixed it at the end of the episode. It made him human, vulnerable, even lovable. The things they’re having him do now, he’s not fixing. They may intend to have him fix things later down the road, but by then it’s going to be too late for easy fixes. And since I don’t think they realize that what he’s doing has been harmful to the character, I’m not expecting any fixes at all. Mostly they have to stop changing character to fit whatever plot they’ve decided to follow. Character determines plot. Plot can arc character, but you can’t just change a character to make the plot work without damaging the character.

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      1. I think that’s my issue when the reasoning is given that “well Oliver is xyz in the comics so you have to understand….” As someone who doesn’t know the comics, has no plans on reading the comics, and believes that a viewer shouldn’t have to know anything about the comics in order to understand/follow what’s on the TV screen, I feel like “motivating” his tv character behavior via the comic book character behavior is kind… Hm. I’m going to say this badly but I can’t think of another way to phrase it… It feels like a “cheat”. Everything I – as a viewer – need to know to understand Oliver as Oliver Queen TV Character needs to be on that screen or it doesn’t exist in the Story World the Arrow Writers are building for me. So if the writers have Oliver do something on the screen that gets justified with “well in the comics…” the viewer in me gets impatient. If having a kernel of that knowledge then is important, and the show doesn’t want me to make assumptions/draw conclusions on my own about why that TV thing happened, then they need to put that kernel on the screen. Otherwise I will make that assumption or draw that conclusion and then, by the time the writers get around to explaining it, I wind up more confused. LOL.

        I got Oliver Queen Pre Boat. Childish, selfish, playboyish, etc. But the narrative the show built Post Boat was Oliver had changed. He was about revenge and atonement, both for his father’s deeds and his own. I got that Oliver was a flawed character Pre Boat, and you could argue that it takes time to change, etc, etc, etc., but Oliver had – as I am told by the show – 5 years of Hell to undergo those changes. He returned a changed man.

        I can understand him having a hard time working with others, having anger issues, used to being in charge, making decisions, taking actions, etc and having a hard time remembering he’s part of a team, having difficulties fitting back in to “modern life” vs “island isolation”, etc. But the writers really wrote Season 1 to show that, while Oliver might not always think about other people first, he wasn’t that Pre Boat selfish jackass. He wasn’t the type to run around with sisters anymore. He understood the follies of his shallow partying life-style. The tortures he went through made him grow up. Losing Tommy added to all of that.

        Season 1 (well, minus how that whole stupid Oliver/Laurel/Tommy thing went down) and Season 2 did a terrific job showing those changes. Oliver has his flaws but being Pre Boat Oliver wasn’t one of them. Then we hit the end of Heir to the Demon where they took Oliver and threw him, as someone so smartly pointed out in a previous reply, all the way back to 6 years ago where it feels like Oliver’s learned completely nothing.

        Now he’s Pre Boat Oliver and for absolutely no reason given on the screen. That’s not giving the character flaws, that’s making him a muddled mess that I just don’t understand. I mean that as a reader/viewer. I don’t *understand* this character anymore so now it feels like nothing – storywise – makes sense to me. I spent most of Time of Death being confused. Not because I couldn’t follow the plot but because it made no sense to me given the information the show’s given me in 37 episodes prior to this.

        Before this I could have easily predicted how Oliver would behave from episode to episode on his journey toward being the Green Arrow hero. But now I’m all Huh? I don’t get…. And I really fear, Jenny, that you’re right. It’s all about having a plot you want to do and then cramming the characters in – regardless of how they were characterized before – just to make that plot work. I can overlook something like that in a movie (where it’s more an action plot than a character plot) but for a series with 24 episodes in a year? Where we’re not even through year 2 yet? I don’t know. It’d be like every week is a reboot of the characters and I think that would bug me. I know I harp on TVD and it’s soapy writing but if it’s one thing I can say for it, it’s that the characters were really consistently written from season to season.

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        1. I am not going onto the fan boards or social media so I have no idea what’s happening out there. Are we the only ones noticing that Oliver has become Pre-Boat Oliver?

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          1. I avoid a lot of them too so I only see what floats around on Twitter, some facebook stuff, and the occasional bloggy feed. It’s super mixed. People either loved or hated elements. I’ve seen some comments on reviews criticizing the entire episode (mostly the writing). Nobody’s really commenting much on the Oliver/Sara thing (except maybe a so Arrow is with the Black Canary now just like the comics thing), which makes me think people either don’t care or don’t know what to say. So it’s Love or Hate but really, it seems, like a lot of silence. It feels like things really quieted down after Heir to the Demon. Maybe it’s just me?

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          2. Okay I got curious so I actually went looking. I skimmed through Arrow stuff on Twitter and yeah. People noticed the Oliver thing (I see a few he’s a jerk/pig/idiot comments) and a lot of dislike for the sisters/Oliver aspect. One interesting sentiment was “Oliver continues to be my least like character”. Lots of Wow Oliver/Sara are being stupid here. Ouch. A few “It’s hard to watch a show where you hate the main character” type tweets, leading to sentiments of “I’m done with this show.”

            So yeah, there are definitely other people who noticed.

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          3. Wow. Are there enough of those that they’re not just the minority who always dislikes something? As a writer, I know there are always going to be people who just don’t like what I’ve done. You accept that and move on unless there are a lot of people who pinpoint the same things. Then I’ve screwed up.

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          4. “Wow. Are there enough of those that they’re not just the minority who always dislikes something?”
            – Jenny

            I don’t know. I have seen the conversations pop up in a lot of places recently though. I’m seeing a lot more dissatisfaction with Oliver as a character (he’s a jerk, he’s being stupid, etc) that I think I have since the show first started. I think people will hang in there to see what keeps happening but I don’t know… will they hang in there? For how long? I guess the only way to know is the ratings?

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          5. The ratings don’t reflect anybody who watches it streaming, and they don’t reflect people’s reactions very quickly. I don’t think one episode can tank the series, but it’ll be interesting to see where it goes next.

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        2. Julie – if you can, watch the 100th episode of TVD. The show is pretty terrible this season, but that episode is wonderful — and it’s a great treat for those who watched the first 3 seasons. I loved it – and it’s the only thing I’ve loved this season. The Katherine Drinking Game alone makes it great.

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      2. So, not being a fiction writer, I am trying to understand, in depth, all the new terms I have encountered in this blog. I’d love to go deeper into this kneecapping-a-character-to-move-plot issue. I understand how it’s making the story/characterization weaker in Arrow, but do you (or anyone) have any other examples of other characters and stories where this happens, whether in movies, television, or books? I’m fascinated by this.

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          1. This is why I love TV Tropes:

            Took a Level in Jerkass
            When a character grows into a jerkass over time (sometimes not much of it at all). Can be due to flanderization, a Face-Heel Turn, or just another regular albeit unfortunate case of Character Development. While a Jerk Ass growing into a Jerk with a Heart of Gold is a common phenomenon, especially in dramas, a reversal, resulting in this trope, is also common, especially in comedies.
            This can also cause tropes like What the Hell, Hero?, though whether if the character changes for the better after that is well Depending on the Writer. If the transition is shown as a flashback regarding a known jerk/villain, it may be a Start of Darkness. See also Took a Level in Badass, Took a Level in Dumbass, Cynicism Catalyst and Jumping Off the Slippery Slope. When a character has this temporary for the sake of the plot, the Jerkass Ball is present. The Counter Trope to Took a Level in Kindness. Contrast Bitch in Sheep’s Clothing, who was always a jerk. A character taking his/her level in jerkassitude was genuinely nice.

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          2. What a fun website. I somehow forked over into a topic called Moral Dissonance (the result of having a hero who has a double standard and no one notices) and I think that happened for me in the last episode, though I have to be fair and acknowledge that Moira did call Oliver on it with the whole party/her house exchange, but I don’t know if I’d consider that “enough” given the episode.

            But what a fun site. I could get lost in this thing forever.

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        1. I was a big fan of the ABC show, ‘Castle’. But, in the last two seasons, the showrunner has, time and again, sacrificed the characters to the God of Plot. As long as he gets his angst, or comic relief, he seems to be ok with not only throwing out any development his characters have gone through over the last 5 or 6 years, but even makes them act totally out of character at times. I have given up, even though I love Nathan Fillion, as it’s hard to stay invested in protagonists who seem like different people from week to week. They often appear weak, or like their own, nastier or more stupid twin. It’s exhausting and frustrating to watch. So I don’t. Gray’s A also did the same thing, as well as being soapier than any daytime tv show.

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          1. Yeah I stopped watching Castle a few seasons ago. I was never a regular watcher but once they threw in that nonsense about Kate joining the feds just to throw in angst for the couple, I was done-done. I think shows that make it beyond the 7th season (in some cases Season 5) start to suffer from plot driven instead of character driven just because they’re moved beyond the shelf-life of the story. I’m sure Castle will get renewed for another but I’m betting it’ll be it’s last. The show creator already announced working on a new project… re-imagining Philip Marlow for modern day. Soon as I read that, I thought, “Oh, Castle’s done.”

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  13. Okay, so the main plot here is the Clock King, trying to save his sister by robbing banks.

    And the second subplot is Laurel, trying to reconnect with a sister who has injured her. (I know I have it listed fourth up there in the diagram because that’s when it happened in the story, but it should have been the second on introduced, after the Felicity/Arrow Cave subplot, because it gets the third most plot real estate.)

    And the thing that connects them is Oliver.

    I can’t see any relationships in those plots. The sister thing is right there. The Clock King has a line about his sister right before Felicity blows his cellphone. Then there’s the Sara/Sin subplot.

    Wouldn’t it have made more story sense to keep Oliver out of that dinner (which makes him seem like pre-boat Oliver in his insensitivity), and use Sara to link those three plots since she’s in all of them? The Clock King is trying to save his sister, Sara saved Sin, surely there was some way to extend that to Laurel and Sara. And yet, there’s nothing there that connects any of them.

    The real problem with this episode isn’t just that there are two many plots, it’s that aside from the Felicity/Arrow Cave plot, none of them affect or echo the main plot, so they take real estate from the main plot without giving anything back, the way Fusco’s new identity in the squad merges with the PoI main plot and strengthens it, the way Parker’s character arc subplot is part of the main plot, inextricable from it. Those other subplots in Arrow might as well be commercial breaks; they’re that disruptive.

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    1. That’s a good point, Jenny. There’s no mirroring of theme in the subplots. Lately it’s felt like, because Arrow is focusing on other character and giving them centric episodes they don’t know what to do with Oliver, so they leave him hanging around the fringes or doing smaller stories that would have fit better in other episodes. I’ve seen comments that since the break the show feels different (construction wise, writing wise, etc) and it really does. It’s so weird.

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  14. Hi,

    Sorry i’m changing the subject and i’m totaly extrapolating here.

    But this episode made me think about the Ted Kord hints (there’s a least 3 references at him since season 1) so i looked who he’s in the DC Universe…

    What i find make me wonder if this character could be Felicity’s father. He’s a genius, brilliant computer technicien, spy and super hero !
    Bottom line, he was involve with Oracle (Barbara Gordon), i’m pretty sur it could be tempting for writers.
    Two strong characters with personalities and abilities, well educated and somehow not so much able to be close to a child.

    I don’t remember who ask “why the MIT girl (whith so much skills) and up as a IT girl into a company”. Maybe she’s hidding and keep a low profile in daylight. In that case it could be “easier” for Slade to try to corrupt her.

    What do you think ?

    http://www.comicvine.com/ted-kord/4005-2054/

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    1. It’s totally possible. I think Felicity’s parents will be people from the DC Universe. I wouldn’t be surprised if her mother is the bad one, and her father is the good one either — and that her dad didn’t just leave.

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  15. Stuck at home on a snow day, I decided to watch “Time of Death” again. I still didn’t like it, but my hatred was less intense this time around.

    After a second viewing, I think this episode was just a bridge to other things. I hated the whole island sequence this time (and I usually actually like those), but I see why they did beyond the whole Sin thing, which was stupid. They needed to get some supplies to Oliver, Slade & Sara so they can storm the freighter. I think the whole crash was intended to get the supplies to them – and they decided to throw in the Sin story thinking it would be a nice tie. To me it was really a contrived coincidence.

    I hated the dinner just as much, but I did pay more attention to the set up this time. Oliver didn’t want to go; he told Sara it was a bad idea, but then Felicity goaded him to going with the “what exactly do you think you can do to help here” line. We know that Oliver is self centered and doesn’t notice much (remember Felicity giving him the dressing down about not noticing Digg & Carly’s breakup?), but he did know it was a bad idea. He just let himself be goaded by Felicity and coerced by Sara. Stupid? Yes. Mean spirited? No.

    While there’s no getting around his being a hypocrite, I also thought his speech to Laurel was she needed to hear. The problem was that the speech was in the wrong place of the story. If he had told Laurel all of that before hooking up with her sister again and crashing a family dinner in her home, I wouldn’t have thought it so bad, but given the timing, it was terrible. I think he needed to say those things to her, and she needed to hear them, but I think the time and the place of the scene made it much less effective than it could have been.

    I just can’t like Sara. (I want to stick to writing, but I do think part of my problem with Sara is how the actress delivers her lines.) I think the writers are trying to make it so that Sara and Felicity can be friends. I also think it’s weird that the writers chose to make Sara notice that Felicity was uncomfortable with her butting into the team, but she didn’t make any allowances for the sister that she hurt with her actions. I hated Laurel’s apology even more this time around, and it bothered me even more that Sara couldn’t be bothered to say she was sorry too. Her response was “I’ve missed you.” Really? She couldn’t even say “Thank you for forgiving me. I know I don’t deserve it” or something along those lines.

    I think they were trying to line everything up for the next few episodes. I am no longer buying any of their hype, so we’ll see if the next episode is any good. I think that the next episode is going to show the break between Oliver and Slade. Then I think the Suicide Squad and the Birds of Prey episodes are going to set up one side of the upcoming fight. Isabel is back on the Deathstroke episode, and I am convinced that she is the HIVE Mistress. That’s alot of story to pull together before the last four episodes.

    After watching this one again, I am convinced that Sara is not staying around. She’ll either be dead or seriously injured before the end of this season. I think they are going to stick with Laurel becoming Black Canary, but I don’t know that she will be his great love. I do think they relegated Felicity to little sister territory in the episode, and I’m okay with that because she deserves so much better. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see them switch lanes again and move her back to leading lady.

    The only reason I can think that Oliver continues to lie to Thea about her father is that he hated Merlyn, and he thinks Merlyn is dead. I suspect he thinks that no good can come of it, so why tell her. I think Oliver is just like his mother, and that’s part of why he has such a hard time with her. When it comes to family, it’s often the ones that you are most like who make you the craziest. I think Oliver is taking out the guilt he feels for keeping his secrets out of his mother because she’s a convenient target.

    The problem, however, is Oliver needs to have some redeeming moments soon, or no one is going to care about the protagonist of the show. I can only guess that they plan to give him more angst (killing/injuring Sara) to jump to another level. I can’t, however, figure out how they plan to make that worth.

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    1. “…Oliver needs to have some redeeming moments soon, or no one is going to care about the protagonist of the show. I can only guess that they plan to give him more angst (killing/injuring Sara) to jump to another level. I can’t, however, figure out how they plan to make that worth.”
      – Paula

      Paula, if Arrow has turned to plot-driven story vs. character driven, do they really need to make it worth anything? It will just “be.” I wonder if is why they did this. If it’s a “We need Oliver to be severely traumatized by killing/injuring XYZ. So why would he feel that way? Oh! Hey! He would be if they were together and etc etc etc. Where can we pencil that in?” LOL. Now that’s going to be something to keep an eye on as the episodes move toward the finale.

      You mentioned watching General Hospital, Paula, so you might get this parallel. Oliver Queen is starting to remind me of Jason Morgan. The soap constantly wrote Jason (a mob hit man) steadfast in his “my life is too dangerous. I can’t be with anybody!” to the point it was just ridiculous.

      Eventually it became a problem because how could you ever hook him up with any woman in a believable way, let alone allow let him want to start a family? And so every relationship, every woman, even his own kid, eventually became a photo he added to a box in his front hall closet that fans mockingly called Jason Morgan’s Box Of Pain.

      It feels like Oliver’s headed down the same path, all the way down to the (interview created) idea that as long as the woman can handle danger, it’s suddenly okay for Oliver to emotionally invest (RME). So now I’m eying Arrow thinking, “Break out the Bedazzler and an old shoe box, cause Oliver’s needs a sparkly bling box of pain of his own!”

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      1. Good parallel, Julie! Jason made me crazy with that nonsense. Then Sam can along and could take care of herself until she couldn’t, but then she could, but then she couldn’t. And now he’s supposedly in a cryogentic state, so Robin can throw her life away to run and save him. What? Why do I watch this stuff?

        I think you are right that’s where they are going with Oliver, but still I hope against hope it will suddenly make sense. They have lost all sense of character and are just on plot driven mode, but yet I want it to turn good again because we know there’s no such thing as “I can be with her because she can take care of herself.” I really think they are going to put Sara in a wheelchair and make her Oracle….and I think we all know Oliver won’t stick with someone who has a handicap. Can we get a good man for Felicity stat?

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        1. Actually, Oliver is the kind of guy who would stick with somebody BECAUSE she has a handicap, which is almost worse. He has a savior complex which usually works out well for the story, but it also gives you that “can’t be with anybody I care about” nonsense.

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          1. Yep. Which is why, I’m sure, they’ll ship her off until they want to do another Birds of Prey themed episode or, if rumors are true that they’re looking to revive that series (which I really doubt but what do I know), move her there, or they’ll have her break it off with him (Box of Pain material).

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          2. Sara in Oliver’s Box of Pain is inevitable, I think, because they’re not even pretending to build that as a romance. I don’t think they’d revive the old series, I think they’d reboot it as part of the Arrow universe and then spin it off, which could be a lot of fun. They’ve already got the Huntress. If they used Sara’s Black Canary as a replacement for Catwoman, they’d just have to find an Oracle. The actress who plays Sara is great in action scenes, not so much in talking scenes, so you’d really want to keep her on her feet. Plus she didn’t understand what Felicity said at the end of the last episode, and I did, and I’m a moron about computers, so I don’t see her as Oracle. Of course, I don’t see a lot of things that turn up in Arrow lately, so ignore that.

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          3. I just saw the promo pix for the Suicide Squad, and Diggle’s in them. I realize that’s probably just for the one episode, but if there’s a place in Birds of Prey for Felicity as Oracle and for Diggle in the Suicide Squad . . . They wouldn’t do that, would they?

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          4. And the people in the io9 comments went there. One of them pointed out that Diggle is tragically wasted in Arrow right now, and giving him the lead in a Suicide Squad show would be a Good Thing. That would make the Arrow Three Oliver, Felicity, and Roy. I love Diggle in the Arrow cave, but he’s been stuck with one sentence scenes for way too long. If a character in a book was that interesting and that well-developed and not used at all, I’d be suspecting he’d been planted for a spin-off.

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          5. I realize that’s probably just for the one episode, but if there’s a place in Birds of Prey for Felicity as Oracle and for Diggle in the Suicide Squad . . . They wouldn’t do that, would they?
            – Jenny

            I don’t think they will. I don’t know that either would be strong enough in concept to be anything but sort of a returning sub-team thing on Arrow. I mean, my God, how many comic book shows can you spin off at a time? I think, already, between all the networks, there’s at least a dozen comic book/superhero shows being prepped for pilots. It’s ridiculous. I also worry that it’ll glut the market so much that the lives of the good shows will be considerably lessened due to oversaturation. At some point nobody is going to even want to look at another comic book shows. But whatever. Networks don’t ask me those things. 😉

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          6. The Diggle thing I might be able to see but I don’t know… can the Suicide Squad carry a show on its own? I don’t know that I’m that interested in it to tune in every week. Granted, that’s just me. LOL. There’s obviously an audience for it and I agree… Diggle has been grossly underused at this point but I never felt he was that ingrained in Season 1 either.

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          7. Deadshot and Bronze Tiger are both interesting characters, Deadshot in particular because we’ve seen more of him. I think Shrapnel has possibilities because the actor can play nice guy evil well; the Arrow episode really didn’t showcase that. They’re a little short on female badasses, but then Arrow as a series has focused on male antagonists except for the Huntress. And Moira. Put Moira in charge of the Suicide Squad and I’m there.

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        2. Oh geez now Jason’s alive? I haven’t watched in quite awhile. I think I stopped even before they killed him off. But yeah, totally seeing parallels between Jason/Oliver and the romance builds.

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          1. Well, I don’t know that he is really alive because we haven’t actually seen him. Victor Cassidine is apparently now the head of the WSB, and he told Robin that he needed her to save Helena and Stavros, who are in a cryogenic state. When she said, “And why would I do that?” Victor showed her something we didn’t see – I guess a photo of Jason, saying that he was being kept with them and saving them meant she could save him. SO they are telling everyone that she is leaving to help AIDS victims in Africa, but she is really going off with Victor Cassadine to wake them all up. I repeat – why do I watch this stuff? 🙂

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  16. I’m fairly certain they will be keeping Felicity as the main love interest, largely because of the PR. Granted, PR folks mostly push stuff that they think will get viewers to tune in, but that said, PR departments rarely push romances they know for certain aren’t going anywhere. And Oliver/Felicity continues to be the main romance they push.

    No, I fear that Oliver/Sara were hooked up to accomplish something else with the plot, which annoys me because the Sara of the first few episodes of this season deserved better than to be used as a plot device.

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    1. Chris, I agree. I liked Sara, Part One. Sara, Part Two, is like a different character. In the beginning, she was a deeper, richer character. Then, she came back and fell under the spell of Oliver’s magical penis. If they were going down the romance road, why not have them hook up in Part One? Why wait until it makes no sense unless the plot is driving the characters rather than the characters driving the plot?

      I lost all interest in Sara when she pushed her way into Team Arrow and began acting entitled. And I have never been a Laurel fan, but Laurel doesn’t deserve the treatment Sara dishes out; yet, we are apparently supposed to like Sara.

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      1. Paula, I’m laughing out loud to your reference to Oliver’s “magical penis” because I was just thinking of it as not so magical.

        I finally got around to watching this episode and I absolutely despised it for all of the reasons many have already articulated.

        Julie, Carissa on the TV Fanatic Arrow panel also called Oliver on his self-righeousness and hypocrisy, so not all reviewers are apologists for this latest iteration of Oliver Queen.

        By the way, I love the idea of Ted Kord being Felicity’s father. I also don’t believe either parent has to be evil to be interesting.

        Still won’t be watching Arrow live; rather days after the fact. They’ve lost my trust, so I’m not willing to give them real-time viewership.

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        1. Anna, I read the Round Table review earlier today and saw that. That’s what I love about the round tables. They have, what? 4 people? presented with the same group of questions, give their answers, and examine a bunch of aspects. I like that they all bring something different to the table and often they don’t agree. It challenges how I see the show, makes me think about things from a different perspective, and gives me something new to go into the next episode thinking about. The feedback on this episode is a perfect representation, imo, of the mixed bag reaction from everyone. You either loved it or you hated it. There seemed to be no real middle ground.

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        2. Oliver’s Magical Penis: Just Say No. We should make t-shirts. Have community outreach programs to all the heroines of the DC Universe that could potentially be on the show. Hold interventions for all afflicted currently on Arrow.

          Really though, Oliver should come with a warning label. “Do not sleep with me; the sex will be fantastic but will, somehow, someway, ruin your life.”

          Could the writers hear our cry and just disable Oliver for awhile? Make him celibate. Break the damn thing and put it in a cast ala Schmidt from New Girl. Muzzle him for heaven’s sake.

          I’m not bitter about Oliver’s character derailment. Nope. Not at all.

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  17. Thanks for the TV Tropes link…and the warning…which I should have heeded…but alas, two hours later…

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  18. Like Julie, I went on a comment board: TVline. I check them out once in awhile because their comments section IS moderated and they encourage people to talk about smart TV, and the discussion on here is almost as engaging and respectful as conversations I’ve had here in Argh. So, for those who are interested about other responses to the direction Arrow is going, the same concerns DO show up here. You’ll have to scan for the Arrow comments though…it’s a mixed bag because other fans from other shows can post, but the majority of fans who posted on Arrow really seem to have an issue with the Lance sisters drama and Oliver’s characterization lately:

    http://tvline.com/2014/03/03/greys-anatomy-april-jackson-tv-romance-2014/

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    1. I like TVLine — that is one where I have left comments in that past. I went this morning and added my 2 cents. I don’t want to see this show tank. 🙂

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  19. Since we’re speaking of plot and plot construction, I thought I’d point out that I think there’s a whopping plot hole with the whole Sin storyline in the 2×14 Time of Death episode on Arrow.

    If I’m not mistaken, Sara says that she stayed away from Starling City until the earthquake, and only returned to check on her family. Yet when she’s first introduced, Sin is introduced as well, and they appear to have known each other for some time. How does that all fit in together? (I won’t even go into the mind-boggling coincidence that the guy who wrecked off the coast of China has a daughter who just happens to be in Starling City. Seriously?)

    I’m of the opinion the whole Sin deal was only included to try to make Sara more sympathetic. This would seem to be the proof.

    Am I missing something or is this really as much of a hole as I think?

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    1. Hmmm. Elizabeth, that’s a good point. I wasn’t paying attention to the island stuff much. Did the dad say Sin was in Starling or just to find/tell his daughter? Cause, yeah, I got the impression that Sara/Sin had been traveling around together. And see, this is why I don’t want Felicity’s parents to be Ivo or Slade or anybody else connected with that island (unless her mom is the woman with the mystery legs because she wasn’t really ‘there’) because it’s starting to feel ridiculous that all these people keep coincidentally overlapping 1/2 way around the world and all tie back to one city this way.

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      1. I caught that too. I also thought that Sin had said something about how her parents had wished she was never born, and then it turns out her dad carries this picture of her, and it doesn’t fit with what she told Sara, so it does look like the backstory there changed, kindof the same way it seemed to with Felicity. Romance and back story related to parents: not Arrow’s strong suit.

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      2. No, he didn’t say that she was in Starling City – but given the fact that she was friends with Roy, and it seemed that she’d known him a while, the timeline didn’t quite seem to fit.

        Also, I’m wondering just what kind of care Sara *could* have done for Sin. After all, when Sin was trying to find her friend who was taken by the Blood brotherhood, she said he didn’t have much ‘but he always let her crash there’. That seemed to indicate a certain degree of homelessness. Also, if Sara couldn’t be allowed to have a relationship with her family for fear of what the League would do, why is she allowed to have some kind of a relationship with an orphan?

        Maybe I’m being too nitty, but it’s just not jelling. I’m just getting a LOT of retcon feel here, and not liking it at all.

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        1. Oh, and while I’m on the nit train…

          …so we’re supposed to believe he and Sara have this wonderful history. First, if they’ve got such a wonderful history, why would he say he had five years in which “nothing good” happened? Wouldn’t Sara be something good? For that fact, wouldn’t Shado, no matter how it turned out?

          Bah. Inconsistency, thy name is Arrow. And comic writers. The main reason I could never get into comics was the retcons. Doesn’t bother my husband at all, but drives me bananas.

          Here’s hoping we see improvement. Crossing fingers and toes.

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        2. The Black Canary is a big sister figure to Sin in the comics, too, although that story is not the same as this. I think in that one, the Canary met Sin when she was training in something like the League of Assassins, and Sin was a little girl who was also training. That would have worked better than dropping a dad on the island. The Arrow writers have been using names but not stories from the Arrow comic universe, sometimes for the better but I think this time for the worse.

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        3. Elizabeth, Sin wasn’t friends with Roy. They met shortly after Roy became Arrow’s eyes and ears. Remember, he lifted some champagne from Verdant and took them to a guy to sell (for money and info on Canary). That guy directed him to Sin. He questioned her, she ran, he chassed her to the clock tower where he got biffed by Canary (remember that excellent line “not my face!” when she hit him in his lovely mug). They became friends after that.

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    2. At the age of 12 years old, Sin was probably adopted by her “folks” like she call them, not parents.

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    3. Sara’s entrance into the story was saving Sin, I think. And Sin knew her. So Sara must have been back in Starling City. You’re right. Big plot hole.

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  20. I just stumbled across this review of Arrow:
    http://www.tv.com/shows/arrow/community/post/team-arrow-what-to-do-1393440236/

    It pretty much says what we’ve been saying – too many people in the Arrow Cave. Roy and Sara are not welcome.

    I’ve also been reading the boards, and I’d say that roughly 2/3’s of the posters don’t like the Oliver/Sara “romance.” The other third either seem to like it or not care. Those that don’t like it mainly don’t like it because there was no build up and/or they don’t like Sara (or Laurel) because they see the Lance sisters as toxic to Oliver. They see Oliver’s hooking up with Sara again as tearing his character down, and don’t know where on earth the writers think they are going. Sound familiar?

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    1. Paula, skimming through your link, one of the comments touches on something I’ve been eying sideways for awhile now. It’s that, with every new character, every new hero, every new team member to Team Arrow, presents the real problem of being “better, bigger, badder” or just plan more interesting than Oliver/Arrow. Suddenly the show that’s about Oliver’s journey toward Hero begins to feel less about him and more about everybody else. I’ve had that concern for awhile now.

      Going hand in hand with that is the ever increasing amount of cast. I’ve seen comments about cut scenes from recent eps for the sake of time. All shows have that problem but I would love to see a totally whole, uncut episode of Arrow to see what the original vision is. Do they have great, solid uncut episodes that – because they’re trying to cram too much in and are running way over — become messy when they’re forced to actual cut back and contain it in the 45 minute format they actually have to work with? That would become a huge issue.

      There was a terrific observation in there that I think really pinpointed my problem with the recent turn of events. The poster said something like, they took a character (sara) meant to symbolize Oliver’s immaturity/worst parts of his character and not only brought her back but turned it into a relationship for him. I think that’s the most succinct way I’ve ever seen that put. Also, they observed that the more we learn about the island the less impressed they are about how Oliver managed to survive. A little too much looking behind the curtain dulling the magic of Oz kind of thing. That’s a very interesting comment to me.

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      1. Those are all excellent points.

        The first time I watched Life on Mars, I watched it on Hulu and wherever Hulu got their episodes from, they’d cut them. It was still an amazing show, but I wanted to see the whole think so I splurged on the DVDs, and I can tell you now, whoever cut those shows was an idiot. An idiot first of all for cutting them because they were written so tightly there was no fat, but then this genius decides to just cut a subplot, the romance plot, so most of the scene between Annie and Sam went. And since Annie was both a huge part of the mystery and the a strong motivation for Sam to stay, they gutted the heart of the show. So I don’t think it’s impossible that there were scenes that set up Oliver and Sara and some genius decided they weren’t necessary and cut them.

        But mostly, yes, Sara is a huge step backward, and yes, Diggle and Deadshot and Moira and Slade and even Felicity are much more complex and interesting at this point than Oliver. I get the idea that your protagonist is the strong center that everything else swirls around, but they’ve really let him go to play with too many subplots. I’m looking at You Again now and seeing all the different character arcs and subplot, and those have to be woven into the main plot somehow or cut. You can’t lose sight of that strong main plot because it holds everything together, and the protagonist is the character who drives that main plot.

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  21. Jenny, I was hoping to get your take on Reese and Shaw. I just watched the PoI ep with the Chinese gymnast again (can’t remember the title) and marveled at how well Shaw’s character has been integrated in the team. (And I choked up in the end when Reese placed the whiskey glass on the empty spot and filled it for Carter). Anyway, the show has two hitters with Reese and Shaw, and they are, on the surface, similar in their characterization: deadly loners, have trust issues, tragic past. And yet neither comes across as redundant.

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    1. I think they’re redundant in a lot of ways. They have the same job on the team: Hitter. They’re both emotionally distant; Shaw used to be the coldest but after Carter’s death, Reese lost all the progress he was making toward human being. They’re both weapons that Finch deploys. So in terms of the plot, we could lose one and the team would be intact. Fusco, on the other hand, is not redundant, and neither was Carter, which is why her loss is so devastating.

      But there are some differences, gender being the obvious one, but also that Reese is tied emotionally to Finch; they really are essential to each other at this point, while Shaw could decide to leave at any time. Finch needs her because she’s useful and because, I think, at some level he’s trying to save her; she was a number once, after all. Shaw stays because she’s doing good work with people she trusts, but I don’t think she connects with either Finch or Reese. Oddly enough, the people she has connected with are Fusco, the guy who said, “You know the only one who likes you is the dog,” and Root, who tortured her and then kidnapped her to do the Machine’s bidding. (Damn, THAT was a great episode. I loved that moment when Shaw and Reese walked by each other and said, “What are you doing here?” “Saving somebody.” “Know what you mean.” That’s not the quote, but I can’t find it right now. Must watch that again, that was wonderful. Plus Shaw has a deadpan sense of humor that Reese doesn’t have: “I always liked you Hersh. Even after you killed me.” And then Hersh gets doped up and asks if her new bosses are treating her well, so he liked her, too. Killing her was nothing personal. That’s a great character, largely due to Sarah Shahi, whom I will love forever because of Dani Reese on Life.
      So I think that might be a case of two really solid characters played by excellent actors in a show that often needs two hitters.
      The dynamic that fascinates me is Finch and Root. Root isn’t just Finch’s dark side, she’s the character he kept imprisoned in a library, which would be pretty much his idea of heaven, so the subtext stuff in that relationship is incredibly crunchy. She tortured him (there’s subtext for you, his evil impulses torturing him), then she took him on a journey that expanded his awareness of what was happening with the Machine, then she connected with his Machine at the same time Reese did and expanded the Machine Trust from just Finch to Finch, Reese and Root, which is that connection with Reese again. Then Finch stashed her safely in a mental hospital, until his Machine broke her out to save her and by extension Reese. Honestly, if the show put up a sign that said, “Jekyll and Hyde,” they couldn’t make it any more blatant. Or maybe “Ego and Id.” Which would explain why Shaw can relate more to Root than Finch even though Root tortured her and Finch saved her. She kind of likes the torture and she hates it that somebody saved her. I love the way that show does women characters. They’re all more ruthless and more dangerous than the men, and most of the men are killers.

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      1. I realized “redundant” wasn’t quite the word I wanted to use for Reese and Shaw, because as you pointed out they ARE redundant in a lot of ways. But yeah, their relationships with the other team members (I’m counting Root here because the Machine considers her part of the team) are so different I see them as distinctive characters. Anyway, how mindblowing was last night pulling so many different threads together?!?!

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        1. I hate back story. Hate with a passion. But that was incredible. They just pulled two and a half years of really complex, convoluted narrative into one starting place, and still made it an excellent story. I wouldn’t recommend starting the series there, but it stands on its own as a narrative.

          Everything really came from that one story. And it pushed the story forward into the next episode. That’s just brilliant, brilliant writing. Which is pretty much the whole series.

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      1. Another argument I see used is ‘Well… she’s the canary!” *sigh* I know that a lot of people know the comics but a lot of people watching Arrow don’t know the comics (and never will) so hearing that means nothing to viewers like me. I don’t want my pairs together because someone tells me that’s how it is. I want a pairing that interests me beyond the “Well… they kick bad guy ass together.” And then? Then what? We’re the emotional conflict? Where’s the character growth? Where’s the journey? If two characters know everything about each other and are pretty much who they are with no real detectable change/growth/learning ahead… what’s the point? Where does the couple go from here? Why should I care?

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        1. If it’s not on the page or screen, it’s not there.

          I’m trying to think, if I were writing a novel in front of people, which is pretty much what the show runners are doing, and I was getting the kind of feedback I just got from the comments on that link, I’d be seriously worried. There’s a real thread there of wanting the Bad Guy to kick the Hero’s ass, which I think is what happens when you do a really great, tough bad guy (albeit nuts) and turn your hero into a sanctimonious jerk. I don’t think it’s wanting Slade to win as much as it is wanting somebody to smack some sense into Oliver.

          Do you know when the other two show runners turned it over to the one who has it now? Because there really is a very clear break in the quality. The first half of the season was terrific.

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          1. Do you know when the other two show runners turned it over to the one who has it now?
            – Jenny

            That’s a good question. I should be able to figure that out, I think…

            Okay, if you go by tweets…

            November 27 – executive producer Kreisberg tweets he and Goeff Johns (I think he’s a writer?) are working on the Flash.

            November 27 – executive producer Guggenheim tweets they’re starting the first day of filming Episode 13: Heir to the Demon.

            December 12th – Guggenheim tweets that they’ve started shooting episode 14: Time of Death (12/11-12/20).

            December 30th – Kreisberg tweets he’s going to DC Comics to work on the Flash pilot

            February 25 – Goeff Jones tweets about having done a Flash table read

            February 28 – Kreisberg tweets that he’s not leaving Arrow and that he co-wrote episode 19. It sounds like, in conversation among multiple Arrow crew members at about this same time that they are still away “lending their talents” to working on Flash at this time.

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          2. Oh I should have added to the above…

            December 11 is Arrow’s mid season finale with episode 9: Three Ghosts. This is the last episode I see that credits Kreisberg as “story by” (along with Bertalini, who I believe is also off working on the pilot).

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          3. In the Batman movies, the villains saved the lame batman casting selections..almost. Can that happen here? And question for you, Jenny, on Oliver. How do you save him now? Any idea if he goes through this “sanctimonious jerk” phase in the comics? Can’t see that he would because the backstory is different. Really making me like Batman. He was on the monk side of romance. Wait, did I just answer the question I asked you? ha ha. Make him a monk, like you said in another post-comment stream.

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          4. Sure there are ways to turn him around. He could apologize to Laurel for being a sanctimonious jerk. That was really unattractive. Oh, and also apologize for showing up at dinner. Realizing he screwed up and apologizing fixes a lot. The problem is, I’m guessing the writers didn’t realize he’d come off that way. But I think viewers will forgive a lot if they go back to the Oliver-Diggle-Felicity in the bat cave stories, have Sara go someplace else, and focus on things like Slade and the election where their real story is. That’s the bread-and-butter for this show, and they’re burying it under unattractive emotional plots that have nothing to do with the main plots.

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    1. I’ve never been a fan of that argument with couples. That because they’re alike or have similiar experiences that makes a pair “perfect together.” If that was the case every single tv show out there would have Like/Like pairings. They don’t. They have opposites. Castle/Beckett. Booth/Bones. Maddie/David. Laura/Remington. Beauty/Beast. For me there’s just way more to play with and explore when characters appear to be so fundamentally different from each other that you just can’t figure out how or why they work. Granted, there are always exceptions (Intelligence’s Riley and Gabriel are a good example – she’s an ass kicker, he’s an ass kicker, but they actually make sense to me). Even Watson/Holmes (Elementary. But once you get under the surface differences of these opposites you find common core traits and values that make them fit together.

      I’ve already talked to a disgusting degree about the Arrow situation so I won’t repeat myself but the link ignores a ton of other story and character elements that point soundly in the opposite direction. I guess I just don’t get this grand “connection” people keep pointing to on the show because I don’t feel like the show has shown it whereas they actually did put other relationship building on the screen and let me watch those connections form for myself. Shrug.

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  22. I have a question: do you guys think the plan was for Sara to show up alive all along? Or was that part damage control to fulfill the canon love story? I’ve been wondering about this a lot: how much of current Arrow is part of the original plan, and how much is trying to fix what was broken in Season 1.

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    1. It’s hard to tell. They recast the actress from the pilot, but that happens a lot anyway. The show is so soapy I don’t see how they could have left her dead, especially since they think that toxic sisters back story is so great.

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    2. They’ve always said the whole canary thing was going to be an evolution and not in the way people expected (hinting, imo, that it would be a title passed from one person to another) so yeah, I think it was the plan.

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  23. The actress who plays Sara is great in action scenes, not so much in talking scenes, so you’d really want to keep her on her feet.

    –I pushed my aunt to watch Arrow because she loves the archery stuff on The Hunger Games, and she ADORES just about every TV geek girl out there, so I thought, “She’ll love Felicity and we can bond over the love for Felicity, Stephen Amell’s abs, and awesome archery stuff.” But, unfortunately, the first episode she tuned into was League of Assassins. Her response to Sara: “My kid could do better than that.” Her kid, my cousin, does school plays. She’s 13, and sadly, it’s a pretty spot-on assessment. So I’m with you: keep Caity Lotz doing her action sequences. It’s about the only time I’m willing to watch her (nothing against the actress who actually seems very warm).

    I really liked Sara until they turned her into Oliver’s love interest. I only started liking Laurel after they seemed to drop her as the One True Love. I wasn’t a big fan of pining Oliver in Season 1 (because the part of his character that loved Laurel was lost on me–I just didn’t understand why) and I loved him in Season 2 until he started sleeping with Sara and yelling at Laurel. The common thread in all this really are those two sisters. I think a relationship with Oliver drags both of them down, and vice versa. Also, there seems to be a lot of speculation that Felicity’s dad IS Ivo…after reading about Oliver’s Box of Pain, I have come to the sad conclusion that this is probably true: I mean, looking at the history of Arrow romances, it seems like the only way to keep Felicity in the running as a love interest is to give her and Oliver a whole lot of angst, and him gunning for her father (and possibly killing him) seems like just the thing that the writers/producers would label “romantic.” I really hope I’m wrong, but I have so little faith left in the writers at this point that I can’t get invested anymore in this part of the story.

    I saw the new promos for the next two episodes and I am PSYCHED for the Suicide Squad. I love Deadshot, and I will forever be a fan of anyone who was on Firefly, so Shrapnel has huge appeal for me. And, the BEST part, is Diggle, center stage. If Oliver wasn’t in that episode at all, I’d still be okay…and that’s really depressing, when you realize the reason you’re tuning into a show are the supporting characters, and no longer the lead.

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    1. There’s a lot of theories out there about who Felicity’s dad will be. The Ivo one for me is probably the most boring because I figure the guy’s dead by the end of this season. Even if he were to survive, he’s nuts. Clearly. He kidnapped and held people hostage to torment and torture. Why would Felicity care? I don’t see her torn between him and Oliver/Team Arrow if he suddenly showed back up, so I have a harder time figuring out what the point would be there. Now there are other theories as well like Slade is her dad or Tockman or Kord or (insert any of the newly announced men coming to the show here lol). Heck there are people who think her dad will be the League of Assissins guy or even Robert Queen (which, yeah, no).

      I want a big (as Jenny always puts it) crunchy villain for Felicity’s dad and I want who her dad is to matter in terms of juicy plot and conflict. And since it seems like Season 3 is really going to fold that in… it needs to be somebody who matters not somebody we learn is her dad that makes us shrug and go, “So?”

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      1. I so hope you’re right, Julie. I feel the same. I wouldn’t care if it were Ivo, but I am resigned to Arrow not being the great show it was, and at this point, it’s easier to have low (or no) expectations.

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  24. The new three minute trailer for Arrow appears to cover at least the next three episodes, and it appears that there will be no Team Arrow. Lots and lots and lots and lots of Sara, a good amount of Roy, a bit of Digg with the Suicide Squad. The same voice over that Slade did in Three Ghosts but this time with different people. Felicity is in it less than Thea and Laurel, who are both barely in it. Watching did not excite me about the next few episodes. Just the opposite, it made me realize I might not make the end of the season.

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    1. I don’t think you can really go by promos. Characters haven’t been included in the past and then you watch the episode and they’re everywhere in them.

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      1. Julie, I know you are right, but my biggest problem is my reaction. Instead of “OMG! I can’t wait!” my response was more “Oh Good Grief, how much Sara & Ollie will I have stand before this is done?” The only thing in that whole trailer that brought me hope was Sara’s saying that she’s hard to kill. May that please be foreshadowing because I cannot watch this “relationship” much longer.

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      2. I agree, but io9 had one in their Morning Spoilers that’s ghastly. Felicity’s bitchy, there’s a HUGE, dumb coincidence as a plot move, and Sara really cannot act. That’s all in a one minute promo.

        Thank god The Blacklist and Person of Interest are still keeping up their games.

        ETA: I just read the character list for Penny Dreadful, something I wasn’t at all interested, and suddenly I am interested:

        Vanessa Ives (Eva Green): Poised, mysterious and utterly composed, Vanessa is a seductive and formidable beauty full of secrets and danger. She is keenly observant — clairvoyant even — as well as an expert medium. Her supernatural gifts are powerful and useful to those around her, particularly Sir Malcolm, but they are also a heavy burden. Her inner demons are very real to her and everyone around her, and they threaten to destroy her relationships, her sanity, and her very life.

        Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton): A hardened African explorer on a deeply personal quest, Sir Malcolm has nonetheless paid a heavy price for his exciting career. Although his stately home is filled with marvelous souvenirs of his travels, it is devoid of family and loved ones. With Vanessa’s help, he is determined to right the wrongs of his past, but his toughest journey lies ahead.

        Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett): A charming American who finds himself trapped in the darkest corners of Victorian London, Ethan’s charm and brash ways are catnip to the ladies. When Sir Malcolm enlists him to help in a personal quest, Ethan meets Brona Croft, a beautiful local with a mysterious past. But behind Ethan’s bright eyes lurk dark secrets. He is running from something, and his troubling past threatens to overtake him at every turn.

        Brona Croft (Billie Piper): Brona is a poor Irish immigrant to Victorian London trying to escape a dark and sordid past. The Gaelic meaning of her name is “sadness,” yet she remains lovely, spirited, and erotically alive. She forms a bond with Ethan Chandler, who will do anything for her.

        Sembene (Danny Sapani): Sembene is an African man with ritual face scarring who serves as Sir Malcolm’s sentry and confidant. He has an air of mystery about him and his heroic efforts will prove invaluable to Sir Malcolm in his personal quest.

        That sounds like it would be a blast to write.

        ETA: Well, hell, Penny Dreadful is on Showtime and I don’t have cable. Does Showtime stream their shows on Amazon? I can’t find it on there, and the show premieres next Tuesday.

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        1. Oh! I know what they’re talking about with Felicity. When she and Diggle come in with take out, there is phone right there and it’s ringing, yet neither Roy nor Sara are answering it. That would tick me off too! And Sara just kind of looks at her, like “huh?” And Sara acting? LOL Little to be desired there. I am looking forward to tonight because I want to see some of these balls start to “coming together”. Especially now with the Suicide Squad! I thought it was odd that in the middle of all that was happening with Slade they go off on the left turn with this group, but now that I know they are actually looking for Deathstroke? WOW! And Diggle? Can’t wait. Like Sara, I wish they would put Felicity on the team as well 🙂

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          1. io9 linked to the long trailer which is beautifully shot. This time when Slade says something about the people Oliver loves, they show Sara instead of Felicity, so that was interesting. The Suicide Squad looks phenomenal, and I love Diggle’s line: “What? Charles Manson and OJ weren’t available?” They still need to put Pounder in there as Waller, but otherwise, I would so be there for a Suicide Squad series, every actor in there established a presence in about two seconds. The Huntress looks great, too, back in action. The losers? Oliver, still not changing his expression; Felicity, saying “Be careful, John,” like every heroine in every 50’s western; and Sara, who still looks great in action but still sounds drugged when she speaks. I’m really, really, really hoping the Suicide Squad stuff is so phenomenal that they spin it off and take Diggle with them. I would really like to actually watch Diggle do things instead of standing to one side, making helpful comments. It’s such a waste of a good character and a good actor.

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  25. I would watch Diggle in the Suicide Squad. Actually, if they could just move Felicity and Diggle into the Suicide Squad…I think I could ship Felicity and Shrapnel (I love Sean Maher). Leave Roy, Sara, and Oliver on Arrow. I’d gladly replace Arrow with a show about a team of villains. It’s like Leverage…in the DC Universe. It could be really awesome.

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    1. Maybe not Shrapnel, he’s too close to Felicity’s personality. Now if she redeemed Deadshot . . . . If she and Diggle didn’t have such a father/daughter thing going, that would be great, but their relationship is so solid now, I wouldn’t change it. Or Bronze Tiger; he seemed to be a practical, non-crazy kind of guy who might be reclaimed from evil by the love of a Good IT Girl.

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  26. I think the promo is either, hopefully, a bluff to tease the viewers and she will be integral to the next few eps. Or, and sadly more likely, they are continuing their revisionist games and trying to pull back from the idea of Olicity. They teased that relationship in S1 and the first half of S2 a lot, to the point where it’s become the focus for a lot of fans, especially after the Slade voiceover showing Felicity as someone Oliver loves; a moment that made shippers sooooo happy! TPTB have run scared and are trying to pretend they never went down that path. Hence, they show Sara and almost no Felicity.

    Sorry, pretending that hungry lion charging at you isn’t there by sticking your fingers in your ears, closing your eyes and going ‘la, la, la’, doesn’t mean you won’t get chomped! They sold us on the idea of an eventual potential relationship between F and O, and now we’re supposed to get behind the notion of Sara and O as a great romance, by them pretending we imagined the whole Olicity thing? Nope. Bad story telling, poor characterisation and that romance contract isn’t worth the paper the script was written on!

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  27. “especially after the Slade voiceover showing Felicity as someone Oliver loves; a moment that made shippers sooooo happy! ”

    My theory regarding that VO. The end of episode 9 gave the audience Slade’s point of view — showing Felicity. Oliver now knows Slade is alive and Somewhere in the promo Slade reminds Oliver of his promise. Could the VO represent Oliver’s POV? He thinks Felicity is safe from being associated with with him as just his EA, therefore he doesn’t need to worry about her. Based on the articles floating around today, this is going to be a revealing episode and I think Felicity could actually be in far worse a position.

    As I typed the above, this lasted came out from Newsarama:

    Team ARROW Has to Come Together

    And speaking of Team Arrow, we’re going to see them in action here, despite a busy episode in both past and present for Slade and Ollie, the rest of the team does get some screentime, and some major foreshadowing moments of their own, especially if you watched that big 3-minute trailer for the next few episodes up above. Here are some individual teases:

    Roy Harper: More in danger of a mistake than any other member of the team – but shows strong loyalty here.

    ****——> Felicity: She may actually be the ace in the hole. <———*****

    Canary: She has a very surprising interaction with another castmember.

    Diggle: Looks like he’s about to meet an old friend or four.

    http://www.newsarama.com/20491-slade-secrets-setup-five-things-to-watch-for-in-arrow-the-promise.html

    Maybe there hope for the little Arrow that could? Tonight may answer that one!

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  28. Claire Rose, thanks for posting the link to the article. Is it very wrong that my favorite part was “Ultimately, there are many things in this episode that go very, very wrong for our heroes”? Now that I know Oliver’s getting some pain, I am way more interested. If Sara can get some, too, I’ll like it even better.

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  29. I found it interesting that every other person was shown: Sara, Roy, Quentin, Thea, Moira & Laurel. Felicity is left completely out. Either they are saying that Oliver does not care about Felicity (which I can believe since she is now his puppy when she was his partner just a few weeks back), OR Slade doesn’t think she’s important enough to be on his hit list.

    I personally think showing her in Three Ghosts was just for the fans and was not really part of the story.

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    1. I don’t think Arrow is trying to ever say Oliver doesn’t care about Felicity. That doesn’t make sense at all given this season and last, so nah.

      Jenny, did you notice in the preview for Suicide Squad there’s a chick with wild blonde hair in an ARGUS cell that looks a lot like Harley Quinn!?

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      1. No, I didn’t. Be still my heart. I love that woman.
        I was thinking that Arrow needed more female antagonists, but there’s a post on io9 talking about why there aren’t many comic book villains that are women that’s fairly interesting. Two of the big reasons are Real Men Aren’t Afraid of Girls and Real Men Don’t Hit Girls Even If They’re Evil.

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          1. Did you ever see Father Goose? It’s a wonderful romantic comedy from the sixties, with Cary Grant as the hero, playing against type. The heroine in that slaps him and he slaps her back and you think, “Go, Walter.” That was another PopD movie. All of a sudden, Pop D is in all of my answers. RomComs on the brain.

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          2. Father Goose! I love that movie. I have that on DVD. LOL. I’m such a classic movie junkie. Funny thing, I remember when, as a kid, watching that repeatedly because our local WGN affiliate aired it (over and over again) as part of it’s “Family Classics” program with Roy Leonard.

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  30. In Three Ghosts, when Slade says “I’m going to tear everything he cares about away from him,” the camera pans to Detective Lance. When he says, “Destroy those who choose to follow him,” Roy is shown. The final one is “Corrupt those he loves,” and it’s Felicity.

    Here’s the clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YB9EfqlB8oM

    In contrast, the new preview has the following: In “I’m going to tear everything he cares about away from him,” and this time it’s Sara. Under “Destroy those who choose to follow him,” it’s Roy and Diggle. And “corrupt those he loves,” it’s Thea, Moira, and Laurel.

    The reason I was always confused about showing Felicity the first time was because the first person was Lance, and that didn’t fit with “Tear everything he cares about away from him.” In fact, Roy is the only person shown at the same part of the monologue both times. I felt the same way: I hated all the focus on Sara. I would rather see a Suicide Squad spinoff than Flash at this point. I’m really excited about that episode…mostly because I am hoping Oliver isn’t in it much.

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  31. Last night I actually clapped with the guy in the cell called Sara the “blonde whore” and then tried to choke her. I squealed every time Slade threatened Oliver. While I would have prefered Diggle not get knocked out, I did love it that Slade out maneuvered Super Sara and her big plan. I’m thinking I probably shouldn’t be so excited that the Big Bad has Oliver in such cross hairs, but I have come to the point that I hate Oliver and Sara so much that I cheer anytime something goes wrong for them. I really, really hope Slade does kill Sara. How stupid is she to come into the mansion and rub it in Slade’s face that she and Oliver are a couple now? I guess she’s so used to being Super Sara that she thinks she is smarter than everyone else. I really, really hope Slade proves her wrong. And please, please, let Slade and Moira have a hot affair! I beg the writers for this! They have about a hundred times more chemistry than Sara and Ollie.

    Jenny, will you be reviewing this episode? I did like it much better than I expected to, but I think that’s because the story was much tighter than it has been in weeks. I’m pretty excited for the Suicide Squad. I can’t believe we have to wait two weeks.

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    1. Not a review, but I put up my reaction so there’d be a place to discuss it. Then I talked mostly about Person of Interest, which looking back on that now, is a big clue that I’m pretty much done here unless the Suicide Squad does a MASSIVE save.

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  32. Apparently Arrow went down 20% in the ratings for last night’s episode. This could be for a lot of reasons, of course, but it’s also possible that viewers are not happy with the Lance family drama.

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    1. Whoa. Twenty percent? That’s HUGE. Dear god if my book sales dropped twenty percent.
      And you know, this episode didn’t do them any favors if people were looking for story.

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  33. The ratings have been down since Heir to the Demon. It hit an all-time high for that episode, but I’m wondering if the end just turned off a huge number of viewers.

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    1. I liked that episode right up until the end. Huh.
      I put up an Arrow reaction post that says essentially, “The Suicide Squad better be fabulous or I’m out,” but if I didn’t already know about the Suicide Squad I’d be gone.

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  34. I just watched this episode of Person of Interest….it was as good as this episode of Arrow was bad. I have a new show! Thanks, Jenny!

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    1. Person of Interest really found its groove in the first season. I thought all the first season episodes were good, but the overall arc was really team-building and world-building with a complete story in each episode. And then in season two they nailed it, and this season has been phenomenal.

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  35. I didn’t want to post this under the Arrow-related posts because those always go over 300…and since there is no Leverage post yet that focuses exclusively on this episode, I thought this might be the best place to post.

    “Leverage established from the beginning, I think, that it was first a show about community and then a show about the cons. The two were inextricably linked, but if the focus had been on the cons, they wouldn’t have pursued Nate’s alcoholism at such depth and would instead have used it as a liability and a complication for the cons. Instead, even though Nate has a raging alcohol problem, it doesn’t affect his ability to run the cons. What it does have an impact on is the team, which is why they try to help him. The center of the story is the team, and the team is explored through the cons, not the other way around.”

    I’m watching The Snow Job episode and I see exactly what you mean now. It’s always interesting when you’re focused on one show (Arrow) and trying to analyze the story and the way it’s told, and then you switch to another show that does it so consistently well (Leverage). It also helps me to understand The Reader/Viewer Contract on a deeper level. All fascinating stuff. Thanks!

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    1. Shows like Leverage, Person of Interest, and Life on Mars have a remarkably tight core concept, and the show runners keep that as a touchstone. Those are three very different shows, but I bet if I diagrammed their plots, they’d all be very clean with the subplot integral to the main plot and that core concept. It’s what creates the authority on the page, or in these cases, the screen. It always seems so reductive, but it’s crucial.

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