Arrow Thursday: So Many Things To Fix

Time of Death

When my students do formal critiques of a story, they hit four points:
Who’s the protagonist? What’s his goal?
Who’s the antagonist? What’s his goal?
What must be kept in this story [because it’s so good]?
What must be fixed [in order for the story to work]?

So here’s my critique of the Arrow episode “Time of Death” followed by miscellaneous notes at the end. Warning: I really hated most of this, so you may just want to go play in the comments and ignore the post.

Who’s the protagonist? What’s his goal?
Oliver Queen. His goal is . . . uh, to stop the theft of a code-breaking device and some money and . . . uh, to throw a party for Sara? To tell off Laurel? He doesn’t have much focus or direction so it’s hard to tell.

Who’s the antagonist? What’s his goal?
The Clock King. His goal is to get money to save his sister. Although why he doesn’t just rob banks instead of stealing stuff he has to fence is beyond me. [As Dennis and several others pointed out, he steals the device so he can break into banks. Still not sure why he isn’t using his massive computer skills to just transfer money, especially since his sister is going to have to explain to the IRS where all this cash comes from if she deposits it anywhere, but still, I was wrong, he has a reason.) Still, great antagonist.

What Should Be Kept:
The Clock King: Great, smart antagonist set up as a doppelgänger for a member of the team. Huge possibilities there.
Diggle: Aside from the Scar Survey, still acting in character, smart, confident, strong, a much better leader than Oliver.

What Needs Work:

On-the-Nose Dialogue: “As you just said, Quentin, the guy who did this isn’t smart enough to have figured this out, so there must be somebody else behind it.” Or my favorite from the flashback: “Ivo killed Shado.” “Because I chose to save you.” Because they both didn’t already know that. Actually, just make that “Bad Dialogue” in general, especially that horrific scene in the bar where Laurel, in the grip of strong emotion, takes a metaphor and abuses it to the point of incoherence: “I was drowning because Oliver was my ‘ship and you sank it, and then I grabbed on to the anchor of alcohol and pills that dragged me down, but then a shark swam by, the shark of redemption, and I let that shark bring me here, water-logged and tooth-marked–I’d show you my scars but that would screw up the metaphor–and now here I am, covered in seaweed and shark spit, just a girl telling a sister that she loves her. Also I forgive you for being a skank.” Okay, that’s not what she said, but really, nobody in the grip of strong emotion uses an extended metaphor.

Cut This Scene: Too many scenes that don’t move the plot, any plot. I love Quentin, but we didn’t need a scene where his ex-wife tells him she’s not coming back; it’s there because his hope for a re-kindled marriage is what drives Laurel to throw the dinner party to which her sister, with an emotional tone-deafness that defies all logic (see Plot-Driven Character), brings Oliver, which causes the meltdown which sends Oliver to feel superior to Laurel and cut off their non-romance (see Unsympathetic Protagonist). Scenes like this take up real estate that could have been spent on the real story, which is the Arrow team vs the Clock King, and not all this emotional angst from people we just want to slap while we yell “Snap out of it!”

Contrived Problems: There is no reason for Oliver not to tell Thea the truth. There is no reason for Oliver not to tell Quentin he’s the Arrow. There is no reason for Oliver to go to the Lance family dinner. There is no reason for Felicity or the Clock King to be at the bank. Contrived Problems are story-killers because they lead to

Plot-Driven Characters (aka, “My character would be smarter than this but the writers need this scene to happen so I’m going to be an idiot here.”) In the case of this episode, pretty much everything everybody does.

Unsympathetic Protagonist. You know, they had a good character going in Oliver and they have just mutilated him. “I have loved you for half my life” except when I was doing your sister and helping you torpedo your relationship with the man who really loved you, and because my love is not real and unconditional I can now berate you for being cold to your sister while I’m lying to mine, and I’m also lying to you because your sister is lying to you about who she is but that’s okay because what we do is justified but what you do is not because . . . uh, I’m Oliver Queen.” You know what makes for a lousy hero? Lying, hypocritical, judgmental takedowns of the people the hero has injured and continues to injure.

Other notes:
Sure, Sara’s an equal because Diggle and Oliver would absolutely apologize to each other if one of them got hit. And then we get the Scar Survey Trope, done better in Lethal Weapon 3 and Leverage’s “The 2 Live Crew Job.” It’s okay to use a standard trope, you just have to use it better than it was done before. In both of those examples (and in most examples of this trope) it’s people showing off their scars as foreplay, but since there’s no Arrow cave three-way, the trope has no impact on any of the people in the conversation. Worse, it’s completely out of character because I will bet any amount of money that Oliver and Diggle who have been training together for a season and a half have never had this conversation on their own. So why are two taciturn men and a secretive blonde showing off their scars and acting completely out of character? Because the plot needs Felicity to feel left out, aka it’s Plot-Driven Character. Another problem: it makes them look like they’re bragging, trying to top each other in some kind for fourteen-year-old “Oh, yeah? Well, I mostly get shot” kind of competition. Also, why doesn’t anybody ever hit these people in the face? All those scars and yet still perfect complexions. Stupid use of a foreplay trope that damages character in the process and doesn’t move story.

This scene (the one where Felicity feels left out while the others compare scars) does not make Felicity look vulnerable, it makes her look like an idiot, right up there with “I love spending the night with you.” Rickard is a good actress, she could have done all of that with a look. And then there’s Sara: “You’re so cute.” Bite me, Sara. Don’t patronize people; you’re not a in a position of superiority here.

Oliver re Laurel: “She’ll come around.” So he’s an idiot. At least Sara has a grip on reality. You know, if he’s this bad at reading people, he’s not a Leader, he’s a Hitter. Diggle reads people. Is it too late to call this show Diggle?

Laurel’s “a little mad at Sara”? Oliver cannot possibly be that dumb. How can Sara leave her own party? She and Oliver just duck out and nobody notices? Why is this party even here? It doesn’t move plot in any way. Oliver and his mother are still at odds. The Lances are still happy Sara’s back. Why was this scene here? Cut This Scene.

“Wolziak (?) was just the muscle. We need to find the brain.” Y’know, I think Quentin already knew that since he just said, “Wolziak is small time on a good day. I doubt he’d even know how to use thing, let along break in and steal it on his own.” On-The-Nose Dialogue.

“Smaller people like us.” Finally, Sara shows some sensitivity, but Felicity’s tired of being patronized.

And we’re back on the island? Why? Edited to add: Oh, to set up Sin. Because that couldn’t have been done in a line of dialogue. Cut this Scene.

How much do I love Quentin? And Laurel, really happy because he thinks her mom might come back, so she offers dinner. Finally a Lance scene that isn’t toxic. Also, finally a scene that moves plot and doesn’t violate character.

The Clock King is a great antagonist. What a shame he’s been in this for about five seconds.

Love “He doesn’t know there’s two of us.” Great action stuff. Scenes move plot, don’t violate character. Go, Arrow.

Oliver patronizes Thea by not telling her the truth. She’s an adult. Kiss on the forehead. Oliver, I will buy you as the Hitter/Muscle in this show, but you couldn’t lead any of these people out of a paper bag. Where’s Diggle?

Sara knows blood analysis, computers, has perfect hair, can kick ass. That must have been some five years. Edited to add: And BARTEND. She makes a perfect drink. I’m thinking of a very old sexist joke that ends “And a flat head to put my pizza on.”

Clock King/sister; Oliver/sister; Sara/sister. Those parallels can’t be an accident, but they just left it there because they were squandering story real estate on scenes that went nowhere.

The Clock King is a great antagonist.

If Oliver liquidates 800,000 shares, doesn’t Isabel buy them? Wouldn’t Walter point that out? Wouldn’t the Clock King see the sudden appearance of all that money as suspicious? Why am I expecting this show to to make sense?

Are you kidding me? Sara wants Oliver to go with her because she doesn’t want to face Laurel alone? Because bringing Oliver will make things so much better? Now Sara’s an idiot, but she can’t help it, her character’s been taken hostage by the plot. Plot-driven character. And now, the show’s convinced me that Oliver and Felicity are a bad idea. I want Diggle and Felicity to run the Arrow cave. Sara can go live with her mother and tend bar for the Flash in Central City. And Oliver can shoot people with arrows when Diggle and Felicity tell him to.

I like it that Felicity is feeling threatened as a team member, not because of her crush on Oliver. That gives her a little of her self-respect back. But they’re still defining her in terms of Oliver and the Arrow cave. Speaking of the Arrow cave, where’s Roy? Did the writers get bored with his plot line? Because you know he’d be there.

I am so Team Laurel at this point, except she deserves better than Oliver.

And Laurel speaks for the entire viewing audience. Or at least me.

So Laurel tells Oliver the truth, and he deflects it by pointing out that she drinks. Oliver “You have no idea what’s going on with my family right now.” Because the fact that I just screwed up your family again is not as important as the fact that I’m lying to my sister. Self-involved, sanctimonious jerk.

“I have loved you for half my life but I’m done running after you.” WTF? When has he ever run after her on this show? He’s screwing her sister and NOW he’s telling her he’s done with her? She got that memo, Oliver, when her idiot sister dragged you to the dinner that was supposed to reunite their broken family and then exchanged long looks with you. I really don’t like Oliver, and not just in this moment. I haven’t liked him since the last episode and now it’s coalescing around this moment. He’s turning into the guy I want the hero to beat up. Diggle? Could you come in here and smack the shit out of Oliver? Thank you.

So is it smart that Felicity is in the bank or dumb? I really want her to be smart and not just going into danger to be a wannabe. The jacket is not a good touch, especially with Sara pointing it out. Tacky, Sara.

“Diggle get her out of here.” Because Diggle is just his driver now?

FINALLY, Diggle gets a real job. And he gets to defeat technology with brawn, which means his skill set is perfectly balanced by Felicity’s. In fact, Felicity and Diggle defeat the Clock King. And I am suddenly struck by how great a Felicity/Diggle team could be. Send Sara and Oliver back to the island, get Laurel a nice guy who appreciates her instead of screwing her over, and give this show to Diggle and Felicity.

Of course Felicity is better at computers than Sara. She had to have known that because she’s not stupid but hey, the plot needed her to feel threatened, so . . . Plot-Driven Character.

Very happy the Lance Catfight is over but this dialogue is just deadly. Nobody in the grip of sincere emotion talks in extended metaphors.

If Felicity saves everybody, why is she cowering while Sara stands triumphant? Do the writers think keeping their feet on her neck is characterization?


How did this show get so bad so fast? What happened?

Edited to Add: I left off the disclaimer I put the beginning of the Arrow posts because things were going so well. Then I got this comment from Dennis:

This is why no one respects women, they watch shows because “there’s hot topless men in it and they do stuff coz abs”. If you’re going to critique something, at least watch it properly, moron.

Yes, Dennis has issues. He also had a valid point in the first part of his comment which I can’t post without editing the insults out of his comment, and I don’t edit comments, so here’s the disclaimer again:

Community Rules: Treat everyone with courtesy and respect. Do not say somebody is wrong, say “I respectfully disagree.” Any comment that refers to anyone in a derogatory way is going to get trashed. Any comment in a sarcastic, snide, or demeaning tone will be trashed even faster. Any comment that says”this is why no one respects women” will be ignored because really? Really, Dennis?

306 thoughts on “Arrow Thursday: So Many Things To Fix


    It’s amazing how in just two episodes they’ve turned Oliver into the world’s biggest hypocrite. His argument with Laurel was horrible and selfish and worst of all, UNTRUE. The things he was saying just have not been supported by the show’s narrative. We finally get him talking about feelings…and I don’t buy a word of it based on what they’ve shown us in two seasons. **shakes head**

    I can’t quite figure out the writers’ plan here (if they even have one). I mean clearly they don’t understand The Romance Contract, but just in general. Steven Amell gave a surprising interview to TVLine last week where he super downplayed any romantic connection between him and Felicity (which is unusual for him/his interviews) and instead gave lip service to the idea that there’s a lot of deep feelings on Ollie/Sara’s part and layers we just haven’t seen yet. Sigh. Then Marc Guggenheim, the showrunner retweeted a fan’s urging for everyone to not hate on Ollie/Sara while they wait for the endgame of Olicity. Both things ironically remind me of your (and my) hatred of writers telling fans to “Just be patient and wait for the good stuff.”

    The Ollie/Sara depth should have shown up already and it’s totally mired in this fallacy that he’s been in love with Laurel the whole time so I can’t buy into that at all. And while I have no problem with waiting as a narrative builds a relationship between two people organically and well (and Ollie and Felicity both need that at this point because of the huge power imbalance between them) but…with the way they’re going, I won’t like Oliver enough to want Felicity to get her heart’s desire by the time it happens. (It’s probably a good thing we don’t know much about Felicity’s backstory right now, because god forbid she has a sister.)

    All that aside, I did like that the show passed the Bechdel test with scenes between Sara/Felicity and Sara/Sin. I could potentially be here for a nice friendship developing between Felicity and Sara.

    And Diggle. Diggle was great. Felicity & Diggle are always great.

    More Team Arrow, Less Lance Family Shenanigans.
    (Too bad they wasted Robert Knepper too because he’s a fabulous villain.)

    1. Taragel! You made me laugh aloud with that ‘god forbid she has a sister’ line! Ha!

      I really think the Arrow writers need to get wherever they’re going with this Black Canary thing and just drop trying to make this triangle with sisters work. They need to establish a friendship with the women and Oliver for awhile and let this mess go. Give time for viewers to forget, put some mental distance between it before you start building again. Then pick something, set it up, show it on the screen and stop telling viewers the story will explain all that love stuff “later.” No. Show me now. Otherwise drop the whole romantic aspect of it, focus on the crime-fighting and team because that part is great. The human side of pretty much everybody including story story’s main hero (pardon my language, Jenny!) suck right now.

      1. Julie, My thoughts exactly. Get back to the action. Let the romance go. Quit trying to build romantic relationships. Instead of drawing me in, it makes me want to change channels. That can’t be the goal of the writers, right?

      2. Hee! 🙂 Maybe Ollie just can’t resist a sister act. *shrugs*

        I don’t really know where the Black Canary thing is going. I’m not sure the writers do either. To me, it seems clear they don’t have a strong grasp on the romance relationships so they’re just trying to keep all the balls in the air (er, figuratively speaking) and not close the door on any of them.

        At least I would’ve said that before this week, but most logical people would have to think a door has now finally been firmly closed on Ollie/Laurel.

        But this is TV, so it probably isn’t.

        1. I totally expect a 180 on Oliver/Laurel before the season is done. I’m hoping I’m wrong but I’m expecting it. It’s why I’m bubble wrapping my remote control before watching from here on in. LOL. 😉

          1. I’m with you there. In one of the interviews (I gotta stop reading those things), SA said something about that confrontation between Oliver and Laurel paying off at the end of the season. No clue what the payoff is but I’m already dreading it and its consequences.

  2. I’d say it’s been bad since the start of the season. Other than that, I AGREE WITH EVERYTHING YOU SAID. It’s a Christmas miracle! 😉

    Though Laurel’s speech to Sara infuriated me not because it was florid or whatever the word would be but because, once again, Laurel’s left apologizing to everyone else for acting like a human being when no one’s apologized to her once for acting sub-human. However, I read someone say it was a nod toward this Dinah Laurel Lance quote from the comics: “Scars. You’d have to go under the knife to remove those. But the psychological disfigurement — no blade for that. Except the cutting edge of life itself. Otherwise, you remain a cheerless bird in a gilded cage. Truly… a Black Canary.” I can buy that. But still. Ugh.

    Other things: Sin was adorable. I really love her. But how convenient that the guy that crashed on the island also happened to be from Starling City. And how convenient that Sin was still there when Sara came back to town after the quake to “keep an eye on her family”. What a complete coinkydink that she just happened upon Sin when those guys attacked her.

    So, I’m still trying to figure out why we’re supposed to like Oliver. He’s the absolute worst human being on the entire show and that’s including the villains. His idea of standing there to face his problems is to continue to lie, cheat, murder, maim and, when he fails at his self-appointed saviour job, he ran away from five months. But somehow, he thinks that makes him a better person than Laurel that stayed put for her Dad’s sake and turned all of her pain on herself. Yeah, no.

    I can only hope that the writers are doing this to Oliver so he can choke on his own hubris during the final showdown with Slade. I have no faith though that Oliver will finally pay for anything. The only people that ever pay for Oliver’s sins are the people he supposedly cares about. Hey, since he doesn’t care about Laurel anymore, I guess that means she’s safe!

    PS Felicity was awesome. Just hate that, once again, a woman’s worth boiled down to what Oliver thought of her.

    1. I’ve actually thought Oliver Season 2 has been pretty good. He’s seemed more focused, more thoughtful, less impulsive, a better team-mate, etc. You know how I feel about the mess of the Laurel/Oliver/Etc stuff so I don’t need to bother with that again, but you do know that I think it’s an aspect of the overall story that brings out the absolute worst aspects of his character (and that of the people involved in that part of the story. I mean, nobody could look good in it. It’s just a bad, bad choice for a back story period). Something changed in the last 2 episodes for sure. Tone is different, focus is different. Whoever made these story choices? Bad, bad move. They really need to prove to me there’s a point here because making me want Oliver to suffer because I find him unlikeable is not, I think, the reaction they’re going for here. LOL.

    1. I too am rooting for Slade. I understand what is motivating him – Oliver injected him with the Mirakuru and Slade now has to live with the consequences. Oliver chose to save Sara over Shado and now Slade has to live with the consequences. The only thing I see that motivates Oliver is selfishness.

      Honestly, if at the end of the season Oliver & Sara run off and Diggle puts on the green hood I would be more excited about the show. I can buy into the idea that “The Arrow” is a concept much more than I can buy Oliver being a hero.

      1. Oliver didn’t really CHOOSE to save Sara over Shado. He just jumped in front of the gun when Ivo pointed it at her. If Ivo had pointed the gun at Shado, I think Oliver would have jumped in front of it just as fast. Basically, Ivo set him up in a no-win situation.

        1. Just to clarify, when I said Oliver chose Sara or Shado it was from Slade’s perspective. I am talking about what is behind Slade’s motivation. Since Oliver did not tell Slade the details of what happened we are lead to believe that Slade blames Oliver for Shado’s death.

          1. Ah, okay. Thanks for clarifying. But I do hate the the show, and the characters, keep telling us that Oliver chose Sara over Shado, too. Oliver seems to feel guilt about that, which is within character for him, I guess, but totally needless because the only thing he chose was to get between a gun and his friend. Ivo chose to shoot Shado. God, Oliver, stop taking on the guilt of the world! Start worrying about the shit you actually DID, yeah?

        2. Yeah that whole I chose to save you thing… He didn’t chose. I saw no conscious choice there. So that one I totally don’t blame him for. I also don’t blame him for the injection thing either. He was trying to save Slade.

      2. Wait a minute, Slade’s in this? I love Slade! He was a great antagonist for the Teen Titans. I really have to start watching this show.

    2. Oh good, I thought I was the only one cheering for Slade. Atleast he really did love Shado and held on to that love- even though his mind was twisted by the Mirakuru. I really want to see a smackdown between Slade and Oliver. Also, now that Queen Consolidated is under threat again, maybe they can show Felicity and Moira Team up to save it from Isabel’s cluth! That I WANT to see! I honestly was cringing in second hand embarassment for Felicity through out the whole thing!

      1. I was never a Slade fan, but if he treats Felicity like a fully-functioning adult and kicks Oliver’s butt, I will become one.

        I’m trying to think of another show that’s violated and abused its characters the way this one has. I didn’t hallucinate that this was a good show, did I? It really was great before. Was that because they used to tell the action story and just have one or two family/romantic scenes so they played to their strengths?

        1. The first half of the season was pretty amazing, mostly hits with a few lows (and most of them being about Laurel). But now? I have no idea what’s going on with them.

          1. I really enjoyed this season through Blast Radius. Since then, it’s started going downhill, and 2×14? Down in a BIG way.

            I think their problem is that they never, ever expected the Olicity reaction to be what it was, and now they’re caught between those who wanted that relationship and those of the audience who are devout DC canon worshippers who, by God, do not care if the relationship works as long as Oliver is with Black Canary and enough cleavage and black leather is shown. Sorry, but that really is the way it seems to go.

            So, what do they do? Give the first crowd half a season and then proceed to swap to the other crowd. Who knows, maybe they think if they make Oliver enough of a jerk, people will stop rooting for Olicity, but they’ll like Felicity enough to keep watching. That would be their ideal dream.

            And yes, at this point, I want an equivalent superhero to come on the show to spend some serious sheet time with Felicity and tell Oliver where to jump, how high,and just how far onto the pointy stick he should land.

            I also notice amongst those in the latter category a real sense of discomfort with Felicity being both a) highly intelligent and skilled in a male-dominated area and b) *beautiful*. They cannot combine sex appeal and brains.

            I have to say, I hate and loathe any part of the Lance family drama. It’s never Arrow-centric and it always feels like a time I should go out and get a refill on my coffee before coming back to what’s *really* up with Team Arrow action.

            As to why they showed that whole scene with the pilot- my guess is to make Sara a sympathetic character. To date, we’ve got her working with a torturer, betraying Oliver (and indirectly getting Shado killed), sleeping with her sister’s boyfriend (after her sister tells her she’s in love with the guy and wants to move in with him)…not a sympathetic character. Problem is, great, yeah, one sympathetic act does not make up for all the damage she’s done and not repaired.

            I was disappointed that this was considered to be the ‘Felicitycentric’ episode. That said, I didn’t get quite the same patronizing air from Sara that I thought I would. It helped that towards the end, she started readily admitting her ignorance, i.e., Felicity having to stop to translate why what the Clock King was doing was important. I got the impression Sara was probably better at the medical stuff than Felicity (reasonable, given she did work in a clinic and we know Diggle’s just begun teaching Felicity) but couldn’t do much more than jackleg computer stuff. Felicity’s *perception* of what Sara could do, however, was different.

            That was the one save they did. If they’d not basically made a point of Sara not understanding what Felicity was doing, I was going to say, “Hey, wow, when my little girl gets to be college age, forget student loans and MIT. I’ll just send her to Nanda Parbat and let her put in five years to become better at computers than a genius who’s been working with them since she was 7 AND a trained killer assassin!”

            And Felicity knocking him out by blowing up the cell phone? I loved it.

            But Oliver? He doesn’t even feel like the same character. I almost feel sorry for Stephen Amell, because getting yanked around by the writers and publicists like that can’t be easy, and from all accounts from our friends who attended the last Dallas ComicCon, he’s a decent kind of guy and very dedicated to the show.

            I actually re-watched the “girl” scene three or four times before I started drawing some conclusions. One, in all fairness, *she* called herself his girl; he didn’t. But I give her leeway; she was looped beyond loopy, and let’s not forget this is the woman who’s got one pot brownie (and anaphylactic reaction) to her name. From experience (and if there is one thing Oliver has, it’s experience with drunk and drugged people), you just don’t argue or try to converse with someone in that state. Plus, how many of us have had the drunk/stoned friends who do the, “I LOVE you, man!” bit. Lots. And we don’t think much of it. Potentially, it could be (yet another) case where one of them is saying something and the other is hearing something else. They do that a LOT, I’ve noticed.

            I do not at all want to seem like I’m defending Oliver, because on my first view-through, I almost growled at the screen because I so hated the way it came across. But I’d watched it on a very small screen, knew I could very well have missed a few things, and so thought it was worth taking another look.

            Final verdict: I have to say, he didn’t call her his girl first. And what else could he really have said to her in that state which would have sounded right? Besides, this isn’t a guy who can communicate worth a flip on his best day. That said, I’m tired of having to read between the lines with this couple and with him, especially. Also, it ended up being dangerously close to the ‘I love you like a sister’ zone, which I hate like fire and which every single geek woman character out there seems to hear at one time or another.

            Sorry for the book. Overall: disappointing episode. I don’t hate Sara as much as I did, but apart from Felicity and Diggle, I just can’t get behind the people I should be rooting for. And I’m so disappointed about Oliver, because he really did have the redemption thing going there for a while. Sigh.

        2. If it’s a hallucination, we’re licking the same magic mushrooms. It was a great show. It had it’s wobbles but again, have you noticed? Both seasons have fallen apart around the same point. This is around the same episode # (I think it was like 16/17 in season 1) when they started breaking up Tommy/Oliver and crumbling the Tommy/Laurel episode so they could do that Oliver/Laurel/Tommy fiasco and I started to dislike Oliver.

        3. I think what’s driving me crazy is that the writing and scripted actions so often seem to be deliberately ambiguous.

          I do wonder if maybe the whole slide with Oliver is deliberate. He really does not have a very stable moral compass. To date, he’s been listening to people who do, namely Felicity and Digg. Now, he’s hooked up with someone who really doesn’t, namely, Sara.

          I did get one potential foreshadow, though; the “I always wanted to take a bullet for someone” comment. Anyone else betting the season cliffhanger will be either a “who shot Felicity” or Felicity getting killed? :/

      2. I’d seriously debate what Slade displayed for Shado on the island could be construed as “love”, at least not anything of a healthy variety and it also factored Shado’s choice very little. He wanted her because he wanted her and he was pretty creepy and Nice Guy about it. The stalking around in the bushes while Oliver/Shado were being intimate, the resenting of Oliver because Shado loved him, etc. I get the affinity for the bad boys, especially the hot ones, but Slade did come off a pretty gigantic creeper to me and the Mirakuru exacerbated all those sociopathic tendencies to extreme proportions. I don’t want Felicity anywhere near this guy, but if Slade did try to “corrupt” her, I fully predict he’ll fail and as he should. I wouldn’t see Felicity as totally incorruptible, but I’d see her astute enough to see through a psychotic like Slade.

  3. >>How did this show get so bad so fast? What happened? <<

    I really enjoyed the first part of the season with the set-up for various plots — the Mirakuru and Roy, Diggle and the Suicide Squad, Oliver finally becoming (at least in Felicitys eyes) a real hero. Plus they had a wonderful slowburn of a romance in Olicity. The first half, for me, ended on a high note with the revelation of Slade in Starling City.

    Then we came back after the Christmas break and suddenly it was like watching a totally different show. Sure there was Slade and Blood but that story took a detour to Dramaville with Laurel. And then producers decided to waste precious time on a family drama that did nothing to support or propel or have anything to do with the main story (and not a lot of viewers actually cared about). This whole Oliver/Laurel/Sara thing is just an unholy mess and I really didn't like the way that ended last night with Laurel apologizing For once, I thought she was in the right during her outburst last night and I badly wanted to smack Oliver.

    If Slade is the big bad this season, I hope they would refocus on him and his efforts to bring Oliver down. I thought that was what we were going to get after that awesome speech of his in episode 2×09.

    1. I wasn’t sure what the writers were aiming for with Sara and I’m still not but there was that one line between her and sin last night… something like you’ll never lose me or I’m not going anywhere… where I thought, oh, she’s dead. LOL. At this point it would be a blessing. Kill her, do whatever with Laurel, get the mom out of town and keep Quentin. Drop this family soap opera drama and start working on making Oliver a hero we can root for.

        1. Marc Guggenheim tweeted that “Laurel gets a new job in 2×17 #kinda” Can’t remember if this response was on Twitter or Tumblr: “Belly burger?” LOL!

  4. You know what my first thought was after watching this episode?

    “Man, I hope Slade destroys Oliver.”

    And I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to be rooting for the Big Bad on a superhero show, but they’ve just made Oliver so unbelievably unlikeable that I just can’t root for him right now, and I’m hoping Slade gets to put that arrow through his eye.

    First off, the whole Oliver and Sara “relationship” just threw everything off balance. So they literally went from sexing each other up after 3-4 years to being in a relationship overnight? Huh? Where’s the transition phase? Where’s the “let’s see if we can make this work” conversation? Because they seemed overtly couple-y for two people who haven’t seen each other in years, and I have no idea why they’re together other than Sara’s home. And again, nothing that happens on the island in future episodes will give credence to their present-day relationship because Oliver was claiming to be in love with her sister not even a year ago even after everything that went down on the island.

    Secondly, what was Oliver’s problem with Felicity in this episode? He seemed unusually cold to her when he wasn’t completely ignoring her. That both Diggle and Sara picked up on the fact that something was off with Felicity while Oliver was completely clueless was just weird. Is he just not capable of paying attention to two women at once? Does him sleeping with Sara mean that he can’t even be friendly with Felicity anymore? There was just a weird shift in the tone of their scenes that wasn’t there before, and I can’t figure out if it’s because the writers are trying to lessen the importance of Oliver’s relationship with Felicity now that he’s with Sara or if it was simply done for plot point purposes to add to Felicity’s feeling left out because Oliver was certainly able to pick up on the fact that something was bothering her in the last episode and kept asking her about it.

    Thirdly, Laurel. Poor Laurel. What are the writers doing with this character? Are we supposed to feel sorry for her (cause I really, really do) or are we supposed to see her as being unreasonable for still being upset about Sara’s betrayal? Because, I have to say, it really irked me the way Quentin was basically telling her that she should just get over it and be happy that Sara’s back so that they can be one big happy family again. Why isn’t she allowed to be pissed at Sara for what she did? And why is she the one apologizing to Sara when she was the betrayed party here? When is Sara going to apologize to her for running off with her boyfriend, sisterly loyalty be damned? *head meet wall*

    About the only thing I enjoyed in this episode, apart from Diggle being awesome as always, was the look on Oliver’s face when Slade walked up to him, in his own house, and introduced himself. I’m rooting for you, Slade. Teach that kid a lesson.

    1. I want Slade to seduce Moira or Moira to seduce Slade or for them both to just go at each other like two bobcats in heat, so that when Oliver recoils, Slade can say, “I thought you were a believer in keeping it all in the family.” Also I want this show to do with romance what Laurel’s doing with pills: go cold turkey. Just back away from the relationships and concentrate on the real story which, when they give it enough plot real estate, they do pretty well. They’ve stopped pimping the Oliver-Felicity relationship, which I’m grateful for at this point because Felicity deserves better, and they’ve ended the Oliver-Laurel mess, at least for now, so if they could just let the Oliver-Sara thing lurk somewhere in the background to explain why he’s not nailing everything with two x chromosomes and get back to telling focused stories, there might be some hope. After Slade beats the crap out of Oliver for being such a sanctimonious jerk.

      I never thought I’d say this but, Oliver needed more time on that island. He’s reverting.

      1. Also I want this show to do with romance what Laurel’s doing with pills: go cold turkey. Just back away from the relationships and concentrate on the real story which, when they give it enough plot real estate, they do pretty well.
        – Jenny

        Exactly what I said somewhere. They need to give us some mental distance here to regain some form of attachment to Oliver because right now he needs a time out.

    2. …nothing that happens on the island in future episodes will give credence to their present-day relationship…
      – Abby

      This. I don’t understand what the show writers don’t understand about this. You cannot ask me, as a viewer, to understand, accept or buy a relationship when you’ve given me absolutely nothing to invest in, nor a reason to even suspect that these two people care about each other in any way. Give me something in the “now” and stop assuming that when you actually decide to put the proof in the pudding episodes and episodes later I’m gonna care. Cause I won’t. I’ve already decided, just like I did with the Oliver/Laurel story construct, that I don’t like them and think they’re horrible people together.

  5. I temporarily changed the channel the minute the words “I have a scar too” came out of Felicity’s mouth. I went to make myself a Whiskey Mac when the first island flashback started. I changed channels again the second the Lance “family + Oliver” sat down for dinner.

    I wish that when Oliver asked what Felicity was wearing, she had replied “a cooling Lycra/spandex blend” or “what does it look like?” or something. I wish that when Sara asked her about the jacket, she had replied “what’s wrong with it?” because seriously, it looked great with her outfit.

    I loved stoned Felicity. She was funny and I thought that scene was sweet. I just really wish she never had a crush on Oliver. That’s half the reason I want them to end up together (even though it doesn’t feel right yet – if it ever does) – so that Felicity gets what she wants. I think I would have been perfectly happy with a friendship/brother-sister dynamic, if it weren’t for the fact that she has a crush on him.

    And last but not least, I can’t believe Sara/Oliver thought it was a good idea to show up together at a Lance family dinner at Laurel’s place.

    I’m thinking of giving up until I can binge-watch (and fast forward through) the whole season on Netflix, preferably right before the next season starts.

    1. Not only “What’s wrong with it?” but “Since when have you performed an exhaustive inventory of my wardrobe?” Sara doesn’t know what Felicity wears. She’s been around her for a total of a few days. That was a perfectly normal, girly leather jacket that anyone might have. Sara was an asshole, and I wanted to wipe that smirk off her face.

      Other than that I was fine with the Sara/Felicity interaction.

      1. I actually kind of like Sara (she was a bit patronizing when she was stitching Felicity up, though), and I am looking forward to more interaction between the two of them (Sara training Felicity would be nice), but yeah, the jacket remark was uncool.

        1. She was patronizing all the way through. “You’re so cute.” That’s not something you say to somebody you respect. And then the jacket crack. And the stitching up. She treats Felicity the way she treats Sin, and at least Sin likes her as a mom figure.

          1. She acted like Felicity is an eleven-year-old with a crush on Sara’s boyfriend that she’s indulging.

            It was appalling.

          2. Agreed. She was SO patronizing that I think I used the word “patronizing” until it lost all meaning last night. I’m about as much of a babbling nerd as Felicity, but I also own a spine (which Felicity *usually* does), and if Sara had talked to me like that once, I assure you she would not have made the mistake of doing it again.

            The thing that would have made sense would’ve been for Felicity to stand up for herself, like she generally does to Oliver, and say, “I am not a freaking child, I am not a third wheel, so stop treating me like it. I am a part of this team, and I was here before your condescending, smug ass rolled into town, now act like it.” I can’t stand for Felicity just to take that treatment like she’s not a grown woman.

            But I guess when you consider how they treat/write females on this show most of the time, it’s par for the course.

      2. I actually thought the black jacket Felicity wore was Sara’s jacket that Felicity borrowed (I guess it was lying around the arrow cave or something?) hence Sara’s remark on it? I guess this is why I didn’t think she was being patronising because to me she was thinking ‘wearing my jacket, nice, it looks good on you, I approve’ kind of thing. I haven’t seen anyone else come to that conclusion, so perhaps I interpreted that scene wrong lol.

        Generally, I also disagree with the interpretation that Sara was condescending to Felicity this episode. The actress has mentioned that Sara genuinely likes Felicity and to me, that’s how all their scenes came across, even the ‘you’re still cute’ comment. If that comment was made in isolation, I’d feel a little different about it, but Sara had already previously commented that she found Felicity (or Felicity’s rambling) ‘cute’ so it was a nice callback to that. Having said that, I didn’t like the ‘scar competition’ between Oliver/Diggle/Sara and I liked it even less that Felicity felt she had to measure up to them and contribute – even if I completely understand her motivations for doing so. And to me, Felicity was scarred worse than any of them in this episode by having her computer system blow up – that’s a hit straight to the heart of what she does even if doesn’t amount to a physical scar on her body. She doesn’t need one of those and I really wanted her to realise that too.

        At the end of the day though, I’m rooting for a Sara/Felicity friendship more than anything, with Oliver out of the picture. I enjoyed their scenes, and I can see they’d make a good team (again, with Oliver out of the picture).

        1. I think you’re right about the jacket. That makes more sense than Sara critiquing Felicity’s fashion sense in the middle of a fight.

          I’m starting to think that it wasn’t Sara being condescending, it was the writers. That is, I don’t think the intent was for her to come across that way, it’s just part of the way the writers treated Felicity in this episode because it was more than just Sara, it was the out-of-character way Felicity behaved.

          You know, if she wasn’t patronizing Felicity, I could ‘ship them. Unlike Oliver-Sara, Felicity-Sara would have balancing skill sets. Which of course gets us into Birds of Prey territory, but still.

          1. I think there’s potential for a sara/Felicity friendship and I was mostly ok with their interactions in that episode. I didn’t see so much patronizing but I do think that a lot of the writing was really awkward because the writers were trying so hard to come up with a plot driven excuse to push Felicity into the corner to make her feel vulnerable blah blah blah. They’re great with action and that Big Plot thing but man they need some focus on the relationship aspects of things. It reminds me of how soap operas are written. They’ll write something and then rewrite it leaving viewers going, Wait. What? That’s not how that happened at all! because they assume nobody will remember. Sadly, viewers remember a lot. And when a show is as “young” as Arrow is… it’s kind of hard to forget. It hasn’t been that long since the pilot. LOL.

          2. No, that is not Sara’s jacket. I was curious and went back to check because I really would like a reason not to dislike Sara on that. She is saying that because is her trademark to wear leather jacket and not Felicity’s. I think she is implying that Felicity wants to be like her.

          3. When I look at the photos of Felicity in her jacket and the stills of Sara in her jacket, it doesn’t look like the same jacket to me. Felicity’s appears to be shorter and have 3/4 sleeves and no collar. Sara’s seems to have full length sleeves, is longer, and has a small collar. Also Felicity’s seems fitted and Sara’s does not.

          4. My biggest issue is when she said she wouldn’t be there if Felicity hadn’t been so brave. I teach pre-school…I tell the 2 1/2-6-year-olds in my class to be brave, or commend them on being brave after they come to school with a band aid from having received their vaccinations. So, for Sara to say it to Felicity–I just can’t take that in any other way than patronizing. Imagine if Felicity had gone up to Oliver after thanking him for saving her from the Count and said: “Oliver, I wouldn’t be here right now if you hadn’t been so brave.” Ew.

            But then again, I really, really dislike Sara, and that colors how I see her and how I interpret the things she says. When she pointed out the jacket, I thought: “Was that really necessary?” They’re hunting criminals. I don’t see why that would be relevant at that time. It just made it seem like she was belittling Felicity for wearing a leather jacket, as though trying to be a superhero.

            I also hated the “We did it” and then Sara says, “You did it.” I can’t explain why I hated that exchange, which leads me to the conclusion that I am at the point where Sara can do no right.

        2. “And to me, Felicity was scarred worse than any of them in this episode by having her computer system blow up – that’s a hit straight to the heart of what she does even if doesn’t amount to a physical scar on her body. She doesn’t need one of those and I really wanted her to realise that too.” – Emma

          Oooh, really EXCELLENT point. And I agree, she doesn’t need a scar to prove her value to the team. Only a couple of weeks ago, Oliver would have been rushing to reassure her of that. Sigh.

    2. I’m thinking of that, too. I’ll give it another episode because they seemed to be clearing some brush here, but if they’re still screwing their stories over, I’ll just wait until I’ve got all the episodes and see if it makes more sense when they’re played together. Watching them together helps undercut the “We’ll tell you why we did that later” problem.

      1. Next episode is an island episode that I’m not very excited about. The episode after is the Diggle Suicide Squad, so I’m in for that. Then, however, I may take a break because I can’t take an hour of Super Sara as Canary making a fool of Laurel (and I am not a big fan of Laurel) unless the Huntress snaps and kills Sara. Now that’s a story I could get behind.

      2. The breaks are not helping and watching back to back definitely helps see where things are going. I found that after I watched Season 1 on DVD.

        Am I totally wrong or is there another Arrow break coming? why do I think it’s back this past wednesday, here for 2 more and then another break? Am I remembering wrong?

    3. I totally second you on Felicity and the crush. I want her to get what she wants, it’s just a shame the dude isn’t living up to it. (And I get the feeling Amell got told that Olicity isn’t happening so he should tone it down.)

      Honestly, I don’t like Oliver too much and never really have, EXCEPT when he is with Felicity. I watch the show for the other characters, not him. And right now he is especially Jerky McJerkPants. What Jenny said last week about him boning her sister twice.

      I would have almost enjoyed Oliver telling Laurel off (because honestly, these two people should be D-O-N-E with each other, logically speaking, and should have been ages ago swearing to never have contact again), except it was awkward and out of nowhere and Oliver was also being a shit, so he couldn’t exactly pull off the moral high ground.

      1. “(And I get the feeling Amell got told that Olicity isn’t happening so he should tone it down.)”

        That never occurred to me, and unfortunately it sounds about right.

      2. “(And I get the feeling Amell got told that Olicity isn’t happening so he should tone it down.)”

        I’ve had this very thought. Sniff.

      3. Honestly, I don’t like Oliver too much and never really have, EXCEPT when he is with Felicity.
        – Jennifer

        And this is why, I think, so many people responded to that Felicity/Oliver interaction in season 1. His character needed her. Not for just a romance but for his character. It brought out likeable qualities. You were charmed by him. You saw a guy who could be a hero when he was with her. Now it’s like they suddenly yanked it back as if they thought, Okay, we fixed the problem. People like him. Then they shoved him right back into the same scenario that make him that unlikeable putz in the first place. It’s like, did the show not understand *why* that Olicity thing caught on with so many people and exactly why they liked it, not only for the romance, but for Oliver’s survival as a character? Ugh. Writers. Come on!

        1. Hah, yeah, this is like the Klaus/Caroline discussion in the last thread. Except I seriously cannot stand Klaus (except when he’s hot for Caroline because that’s the only time he’s not completely awful, but I still can’t root for her to be with him because he’s so awful). Oliver’s just a lameass jerk by comparison.

          My suspicion is that the writers of this show are wedded to canon, so Felicity can never win, ever, because Laurel and/or whoever the Black Canary is has to. Blech, but there it is.

  6. Thank you so much for writing this, Jennifer.

    I don’t know what happened with Arrow. It used to be SO GOOD. And now… I’m cringing through the episodes, getting upset for all the wrong reasons. So disappointed.

  7. Hi,

    I stumbled on your blog on the arrow subreddit where there was a link to a previous post of yours about Felicity. I really enjoyed your analysis of the characters and the writers of the show so I read through your other Arrow related posts and was excited to see what you had to say about this last episode, considering it was so relationship focused.

    I agree on most of the points you make, especially on how underused Diggle has been most of this season and how the Clock King’s character could have been better developed. I’d like to offer my POV on a few things that I felt differently.

    Firstly, I think that the island scenes with Sarah were not unnecessary, and arguably quite good, for a few reasons. Compared to the present plot, the island story overall has moved slower and interactions like the one between the pilot and Sarah are not uncommon. Furthermore, this scene played an important role in showing part of her character’s transformation from morally ambiguous (after Ivo) to genuinely good (present). She seems hesitant to promise him anything but she is moved by his death. Through the reveal that the pilot was in fact Sin’s father we learn that after all her ordeals Sarah has remembered and fulfilled a dying man’s last wish from long ago. I do not think that a single line could have done as much.

    On the shares liquidation issue, Oliver isn’t shown to be the most attentive and/or knowledgeable businessman. This combined with his character’s single-mindedness when he’s set his sights on someone should explain some of his less than optimal business decisions. The Clock King seems very confident in his abilities to predict the outcome of situations so, I assume he went in expecting the ambush.

    Finally, in the scene with Sara and CK Felicity is shot through the shoulder, kinda explaining why she may be scared/not on her feet.

    Overall, I’m willing to overlook most flaws up to now seeing as it has set us up for very interesting showdowns (e.g. Arrow v Slade) and resolved some annoyances (e.g. Laurel v Drugs & Booze). Hopefully things improve and continue to do so, ’cause I’ll be watching either way – it’s too entertaining not to.

    1. Welcome to Argh!

      From a story-telling standpoint, the writers seem to be using the island to set up anything they want to do in the present. The guy who gets shot down (I think) happens to have a daughter who will be left alone, and that sets up the Sin relationship, basically dumb luck. How much more interesting would it have been if Sara had found Sin as part of her story, taken care of her as part of her story, instead of just having her deus ex machina father hand her off? (That’s entirely aside from the fact that no conscientious single father leaves a child in a situation where she’s on her own if he dies so he has to trust somebody he’s never seen before who’s stuck on an isolated island and can’t get to her.) It’s lazy storytelling and it wastes a chance at character development, especially since Sin’s back story doesn’t have to be explained now and, in fact, has no bearing on the story now. So those minutes were taken away from the Clock King story for nothing.

      On the shares, I agree Oliver isn’t business savvy, but Walter is.

      I agree that if you’re shot, you fall down. But the director deliberately staged that so Felicity is crying at Sara’s feet in spite of the fact that Felicity just saved everybody. Felicity cowering while the Black Canary stands ready to fight is knee-jerk staging. Felicity standing in front of the Canary (she just took a bullet for her) would have been brand new and really cemented the idea that Felicity is more than a typist who needs to be rescued.

      But since Slade is coming up and there’s the Suicide Squad, I”m with you, I’ll keep watching for a little while longer.

      1. It’s lazy storytelling…
        – Jenny

        And again, it’s the emotional back story/relationship building part of the show. I see a trend here. LOL.

  8. Do we know what ages these characters are all supposed to be? Ollie presumably went on the cruise (to hell) at age 19 or 20? Laurel and Sara were both in college at that time, and Sara’s younger, so…she would’ve been 18 or 19? That would put Ollie (and Laurel) at about 25 now (which…uh…okay.) and Sara at 23 or 24. And how old should Felicity be? At least 22 given she graduated from college?

    The reason I ask is because they’re infantilizing Felicity quite a bit I think. I didn’t originally get the idea that she was younger and naive, but over time, with the increasingly Barbie-ish wardrobe they put her in and now with the way everyone talks down to her and finds her “cute” and even the way they paired her with Barry who seemed very young, as if it were a first love kind of thing… I don’t know. But I need them to cut that out and focus on Felicity’s skills and smarts so I can respect her as an equal partner and a possible romantic one to Oliver. And an equal friend to Sara.

    1. Oliver was born in 1985. (Amell was born in 1981.). Sara & Felicity were born in 1988. (EBR was born in 1991. Don’t know about Lotz.). Ollie was 23 & Sara was supposed to be 20 when they felt on the Gambit. My question: how could Sara be a bartender at 20? Don’t you have to be 21?

      1. Hmm. Interesting. Their ages mostly make sense with canon events, but they don’t emotionally act their ages, I think. I think bartending age differs from state to state. It’s probably possible at 20–or she faked her age or whatever.

      2. Oliver was born in 1985, we know that from his epitaph when he came back from dead. Laurel is actually supposed to be one year older than him and Sara one year younger as she is two years younger than her sister. According to Character bios, Felicity is 25, Roy is 22 and Thea is 17 which makes Roy and Thea’s relationship and statutory rape situation because Roy is an adult and Thea is still an underage kid. I mean now that i notice it, I am cringing some more.

        1. Thea turned 18 in S1. According to the Arrow wiki, her birthday is January 21, 1995. She met Roy in an episode that aired in February 2013, so she was already 18 at the time.

        2. Thea is actually 19. Her 18th was last season. As for the statutory rape thing, that depends on what US state you live in, or which country. In Maryland, the age of consent is 16. In Ohio, it’s 10. In England it is 17 and in Saudi Arabia it is 12 (for the males, females don’t get a say).

    2. That is why bogged me the most of last night episode. They made Felicity childish looking. I mean she was suddenly reacting like a teenager, so no wonder she was called “girl” at the end of the episode. That really bogged me, that and the “You’re still cute” comment. I think they wanted to make her appear like she is a “girl” (immature) against Sara who is a “woman” (mature). That bogged me because before Felicity has always been pretty mature.

    3. They actually released digital character bio cards at the beginning of season 2 with ages on them

      Oliver: 27
      Roy: 22
      Felicity: 25
      Diggle: 35
      Thea: 17 (now 18 according to the show)
      Moira: 48
      Slade: 40
      Quentin: 50
      Laurel: 28

  9. Hi Jennifer, thanks again for your post. Again, you just wrote down everything I thought during the episode. I’m sad and disappointed because just a few weeks ago Arrow was an AWESOME show… now? looks like a tacky soap opera… the story lines, the characters… everything is screwed up and you pointed it out why perfectly. Thanks again, I will try to overcome this sadness reading fanfic because right now the fans write better stories than the Arrow Writers. Best, BD.

  10. Laurel’s apology at the end really, really bothered me.

    Just for the record, Laurel has never been one of my favorite characters, and I’m tired of her blaming everyone else for her own issues and not recognizing that, hey, other people have gone through equal or worse. So I’m not on Laurel’s side here, at all.

    That said, this episode ended with Laurel ended up going to a woman who betrayed her – six years ago, yes, but it was still a betrayal – who then brought the guy who cheated on her to a family dinner because the woman wanted moral support. This, when the woman in question KNEW that Laurel was still upset about the betrayal.

    And then Laurel had to turn around and apologize to the woman who hurt her.

    There are terms for this: gas-lighting. Victim blaming.

    I think deciding to focus on the Lances for five episodes was a bad move.

      1. I was actually fine with that, as it shows how Sara grew as a character on the Island and as Canary. She’s big enough to forgive her sister, and not hold a grudge, despite being wronged by Laurel. She’s also big enough to understand that Laurel did have some points about Sara’s return, and that Laurel was judging her through the lense of the girl who snuck off on the Queen’s gambit with her boyfriend. Hence anything goes, as long as its Sara.

        Sometimes, I think, when people are watching something on TV, they forget that what the characters on screen know about a situation is different from what we, the audience knows. Sara knows a lot more about how Laurel has spent the last six years than vice versa. We, the Audience, who knows what Sara has been through think that Laurel is being kind of a bitch, and that Sara has ever right to shove it in her face, just like Laurel did to Sara. However, Sara (Laurel’s odd explanation notwithstanding) understands what her sister does not: that the Sara who left is not the one who returned six years later. The right thing to do is to understand the situation for what it is and forgive.

        1. Hi, Newguy
          “Sometimes, I think, when people are watching something on TV, they forget that what the characters on screen know about a situation is different from what we, the audience knows.”

          Yes but all we have to go on is what we know, so that’s what we react on. Part of the writer’s job is to give the reader/viewer enough information that they’ll follow the right story path. Not everything, and definitely not back story, but cues in the way the characters behave that they’ve changed.

          So look at Sara as she is on the screen. She doesn’t it like it that Laurel is so cold to her, so she invites the reason that Laurel is so cold to her to dinner. That’s both stupid and cruel. She tells Felicity she’s cute. That’s rude and patronizing, especially since Felicity is a fixture in the bat cave and Sara is the new kid; it feels like a power play. She moves through the story, not as a sadder but wiser woman, but as someone who feels she’s entitled to do as she pleases, someone who feels superior to one of her co-workers. None of that is justified by anything that happened in her past, that’s just a self-centered woman. And the writers reward her for that: Laurel apologizes, Felicity saves her and then cowers at her feet so she can get the big finish. The writers like her entitlement (which is not the same thing as confidence; Diggle is confident, Sara is entitled).

          So I will wait for a long time to find out about Felicity’s mother and father. I will wait for quite a while to find out what Thea’s going to do when she finds out about her parentage. I will wait patiently while the Suicide Squad forms and the Clock King heals and Slade puts his plans in motion. But I won’t wait for Sara to get her head out of her butt when it’s clear the writers don’t know they’ve put it there.

          Beyond that, I do need to care about the characters. Not “love,” “care about” as in, “I care what Slade does next.” I don’t care what Sara does next. She stood there while Laurel apologized to her and never said, “I was wrong, too, I betrayed you and I’m sorry.” At this point, I just don’t like who she is, and all the trauma in the past doesn’t make up for her self-centeredness in the now of the story. Now if she was presented as Moira and Slade are presented, as flawed, self-centered human beings that are a problem to those around them, I’d probably find her a fascinating character to dislike. But as it is, it feels as though the writers are trying to make me love Sara as a character the same way they wanted me to love the Oliver/Laurel romance last year, and that’s just annoying.

          1. You seem to think that Sara’s “You’re cute,” to Felicity was patronizing & rude, but did you forget that she’s be set up as bi? I took it as she was giving felicity a small compliment to see how she’s react, ya know, not knowing if she’s straight having just met the young woman & all…

          2. The show runners have said she isn’t bi (yeah, I know, eye roll) but it didn’t come across as flirting to me. Flirting I’d have been good with. Serve Oliver right.

          3. Thank you Jenny for putting into words all the things I have been feeling about this show, the Sara character, the Oliver character (hypocritical, obnoxious, arrogant, spoilt, patronising, selish, narcissistic eejit), the Lance saga, etc, etc, etc. I adore Felicity and Diggle – give me a show with just them, Felicity as Oracle maybe, and I’d be there every week, but with the last few mins of episode 2.13 and this one, somehow in less than an hour they’ve made not want to watch. I’ll watch Diggle’s episode and I’ll keep an eye out online for the supposed pay off of what Felicity said about her family before the end of the season, but I won’t be watching it otherwise-I want to enjoy a tv show, not be dissapointed and angry about it. If I’m going to dislike/hate a character/storyline, I want to enjoy doing so, if that makes any sense. I want to enjoy my baddies, not sit and want the supposed goodie to get his head handed to him. Oliver has never been likable as in nice, but once he started having regular interactions with Felicity and then with Team Arrow (by which I mean Felicity, Diggle and Oliver), I could forgive him quite a lot. In less than an hour (how do you even do that so quickly?) all the interactions that enabled me to like Oliver just dissapeared along with my want to watch. It is so increadibly dissapointing and sad and I really do hope they manage to fix it, but I don’t think they know that it’s broken so I’m not particularly hopeful. Sorry, needed to rant a wee bit.

          4. Holy cr*p. You’re right. Laurel apologized to Sara and Sara just stood there. She never apologized about what she did. And she IS the new kid acting like she’s entitled to a spot in the team. That makes me hate her on a whole other level.

            It does make me wonder, how she could apologize now that she’s doing it again: “Hey Laurel, sorry I slept with your boyfriend six years ago…and last night…and while I’m at it, I’m going to apologize for tonight too, since we’re probably going to do it again…” Although, technically, he’s the ex now…like THAT’S supposed to make it better.

          5. “But I won’t wait for Sara to get her head out of her butt when it’s clear the writers don’t know they’ve put it there…..But as it is, it feels as though the writers are trying to make me love Sara as a character the same way they wanted me to love the Oliver/Laurel romance last year, and that’s just annoying.”

            This. Seriously. What really disturbs me and makes me distrust the writers is exactly this – they have no idea how horrible and unlikeable they are making Sara and Oliver. And frankly, what does that say about them as people? How could it ever have been OK for Sara to take Oliver to that dinner when she KNEW that it was supposed to be about fixing broken relationships. Honestly, her little “please come with me speech” came off as so immature and self-centred. She has no problem confronting bad guys when she’s wearing a mask but when it comes to dealing with confrontation in her personal life, she acts like an immature, selfish brat. Same thing with dissuading Oliver from telling Slade the truth about Shado, something Slade really should have heard about from him. And I agree that she should apologise to Laurel for stealing her boyfriend – I mean, how can she think that it’s OK to stand there and accept Laurel’s apology without offering one of her own?

            As for the condescending thing and friend zoning of Felicity. Ugh. I honestly feel that I am just about done with this show. The only characters I like anymore are Diggle and Felicity and they are constantly getting pushed aside in favour of the Oliver and Sara show. No thanks.

        2. Exactly what other lense does Laurel have to view Sara through? To her, Sara’s been home a week and obviously she has no idea what Sara has been through because for her to know that would be for Sara to stop lying to her.

      2. I spent a great deal of those scenes comparing them to my own family dinners and my relatives. The last thing I’d have done is apologize. But then, this is why some of my family and I haven’t spoken for several decades. LOL.

    1. I thought it was terrible that she apologized too. The only saving grace was that she apologized to Sara and not to Oliver. (Although who knows. That might be in next week’s show.)

    2. Yeah, I just flat out don’t want to see the Lances any more because I’m sick of watching Laurel drink and weep and throw fits. I feel sorry for her, but man, I don’t like her. Sorry, Jenny.

      1. No apologies necessary. And good news, she put the cap back on the pill bottle so maybe the writers are putting the cap on that toxic mess.

    3. I totally agree, Chris. I hate that she apologizes & I don’t understand the purpose of this scene at all… What does Lauren do now in this show? She’s not a lawyer anymore, she’s not in team Arrow, she’s not an antagonist … Which will be her part ?

        1. Unfortunately I think they are going there this season. Something about Canary protecting Laurel. If they want to use that as a springboard for sisters reconnecting, I guess that would be better than this week, but at this point I don’t care if they ever speak to each other again, and if they do I don’t want to see it.

  11. Yay Slade 🙂 that’s about it for me with this episode…
    I’d like to see Felicity/Sara friendship developing , more Diggle and bye-bye Laurel to rehab for a couple of years and then new job in another city. It is really toxic for me, i said it couple of times, Oliver-Laurel-Sara is such a mess that in my head it can not be fixed. If after all of this Laurel becomes BC and ends up with jerk Oliver i’m done. He and Sara deserve each other, i like them together because they are both bad. But Laurel is bad too. I don’t know… First half of 2nd season was tv at its finest for me, i enjoyed it so much… And then came Laurel and Lance family centric episodes and it all started to fall apart with that episode when everyone was made stupid so Laurel could be right.

    1. I actually enjoyed Felicity and Sara together. GO FIGURE. I suspect Sara might have a crush on Felicity, even.

      1. I also enjoyed Felicity and Sara together and I’m looking forward to seeing their friendship develop. That’s all I’m going to say about this episode.

    2. Yep the introduction of the Lance stuff again was an anchor for me. It just took a terrific season and dragged it down. Ya know. Below the waves. With the shark spittle. 😉

  12. I am so happy to have found this blog. I cannot express how many mmmmm’s and how excessively I nodded my head while reading this.

    My biggest question is: what happened to Arrow? When did it turn into such a mess? Somewhere between the ridiculous Moira running for Mayor and Oliver and Sara starting a relationship storylines.

    I feel so blind-sighted and shocked at how much I want to tune out.

    Is everyone now a prop for Sara Lance? Are watching…not even Season 1 but pre-Island Oliver?

    I will be setting my DVR until further notice. I have now found myself rooting for Slade.

    1. So Slade and Diggle walk into a bar with Felicity . . .

      I will confess that I love Moira running for mayor just because I love Moira. That woman is so batshit insane, she’ll start a leper colony in her backyard next.

  13. Since I continue to believe that yes, the romance contract is between Oliver and Felicity, I have to ask myself why – other than necessary delaying tactics to keep to the desired schedule – their relationship needs to go through exactly this to get to where it needs to be.

    Felicity is a supporting character in a de facto lead position. It’s not only that she needs to be part of something larger, with an apartment and a history and more details fleshing her out than quirky traits you give extras to make them stand out, like peanut allergies and panda flats. She also needs to be going somewhere. She has to have an arc.

    But that wars with my desire to see her remain as she is. And I don’t think anyone, TPTB included, want Felicity to be a different sort of person.

    So what about *Felicity* has to change for Olicity to happen properly? Not just, well, Oliver has to resolve his intimacy issues and be ready for her. It can’t just be her waiting till he’s ready. Why isn’t she ready herself? What has to happen?

    I keep coming back to the idea that neither she nor Oliver take her seriously. Seriously as a work partner? For her skills? Yes. But not seriously as a woman. She doesn’t believe in herself as a woman. Oliver…can’t. He expends a lot of mental energy avoiding admitting to himself how attracted he is to her. And she makes it easy for him to not take her seriously as a woman because she doesn’t believe in that part of herself.

    I keep coming back to the idea that actually prevents me from being able to imagine Olicity’s actual first kiss scenes, not to mention sex scenes. Felicity was a child prodigy, and she still sees herself as one. So Oliver and Sara are both comfortable seeing her as a child prodigy, too. A child prodigy can be brilliant, but they still aren’t allowed to vote in elections.

    That has to be why I had to cringe through that excruciating, humiliating display last night. Sara doesn’t take her seriously either, but Felicity makes that easy, too. Nobody in there takes her seriously except Diggle. Diggle may not be into her that way, but he sees her as both an intelligent, competent colleague and a beautiful young woman. He can reconcile those things just fine. Then again, Diggle is a man who is equipped to be in a relationship with a woman (may I suggest Sara?), and Oliver is not.

    The first order of business here, I think, is that she has to be taken seriously, treated as desirable, by someone who is himself desirable, and who is himself taken seriously. It’s not just about working up Oliver’s jealousy, though that’s required too. Felicity has never been (to her knowledge at least) wanted by a man. You know Barry doesn’t count. He’s another child prodigy. He probably has to learn to see himself as a man the same way Felicity has to learn to see herself as a woman. He’s been friendzoned himself.

    1. You took words out of my mouth. I believe that they are not ready for each other and that a couple of things need to happen first, Felicity being in a true relationship is one of them. I think that’s classic. If after that they don’t hook up than the writers have been teasing us all along. That being said, i’m not counting for Olicity before season 4.

    2. Felicity needs to stop basing her self-worth on other people’s opinion of her. She’s confident as all get-out when it comes to her tech skills, or at least she was until last night, but she lacks the same confidence in herself as a person. She can see that Laurel is gorgeous, that Sara can kick ass, that Isabel looks like a model, but she fails to see that she’s all those things combined. Once she gains that self-confidence, I think it will change the way not only she sees herself, but others as well.

      We all know that Felicity is a gorgeous, sexy woman, but rather than acknowledge and embrace that, she comes across more as though she’s playing a part, that of Oliver’s EA, and she’s doesn’t realize how desirable she really is. I think a big part of that has to do with the fact that she doesn’t really go out a lot (Barry was apparently the first guy who’s been interested in her) and she hasn’t received a ton of compliments about her looks since people mostly saw her as a tech geek.

      So yeah, I think it all comes down to a lack of self-confidence and her not being truly aware of her own assets. I’d be all for some handsome stranger sweeping her off her feet and showing her how desirable she truly is, but Felicity needs to believe it herself first.

      1. I think she grew up fairly sheltered – as a child prodigy is – and praised constantly for her intellect and abilities, but her influences were ones that would never reflect back at her any image of herself as growing into a beautiful and desirable young woman. I mean, her mom and her professors, you know? So there’s no one to show her that part of herself.

        I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect Felicity to drum up a belief in herself as a desirable woman without anyone reflecting that back at her. Who could? One could objectively judge one’s own intellect. You could look at your test scores, for example, compared to others. But unless you are treated like you’re sexy at some point, that’s going to be beyond you. I don’t expect Felicity to do that all on her own. No one could pull that off.

        Felicity’s basic understanding of the world is that men aren’t attracted to her sexually. Obviously. Weird as that is. So since men are, without question, attracted to her sexually, this means she misses their signals. She’s missed a lot of signals in her life.

        I think she needs…she needs a very confident, very physical, very charming man, one of those knows what he wants when he sees it types. So she cannot miss his signals, and no one, not Felicity, not onlookers, can deny that someone who is very much a man looks at her and sees someone who is very much a woman.

        1. I thought she grew up neglected or at least with a really problematical parenting situation. Single, difficult mother? Did I miss some back story?

          1. You aren’t missing anything. I just don’t think her single, difficult mother was neglectful or low income or anything. The way she sort of eyerolled about her made me think more of a Tiger Mom. So, sheltered in the sense that mom was demanding and didn’t let her have a social life. I keep picturing Christine Baranski as Leonard’s mom on TBBT.

            I mean, being able to build computers and code by the age of 7 indicates economic privilege and generally means educated parents, and the picture she builds of her life in college looks very middle class.

            Felicity makes more sense as a sheltered person, really. There’s an innocence there you don’t get from someone who has had to scrap for anything, ever. My headcanon is that she entered MIT at sixteen and had her M.S. by 21, and was at QC five years when the show began. Of course, why an MIT grad is working IT is another issue entirely.

            We know she responds strongly to praise for her competence, for what she can DO for people. This suggests a child who developed that pattern. If other adults gave her that approval that mom withheld, that’d do it. And the absentee dad explains why praise from older men is so valuable to her. It really explains why she has difficulty believing that even if she messes something up and isn’t the bestest, highest contributor in the room, people will still value her. She is used to thinking her value lies in her performance, not her person.

            Do you know what Impostor Syndrome is? That could be a contributing factor.

            A mom who is difficult and demanding and never satisfied with her would parallel her with Oliver as well. Lord love Moira, but I see her as someone who transferred a lot of her disappointment with her philandering husband onto Oliver. I think he’s really more similar to Moira in nature, but sometime around adolescence, I think “you’re just like your father” started to turn from a compliment to a criticism. That would’ve been around the time Thea was conceived.

            And look at Oliver’s bond with Raisa, who tells him he’s always been a good boy. Laurel, eternally disappointed in him, tolerant of his serial infidelities because she wanted the status…that sounds like Moira, who to this day doesn’t think he’s much good at anything. Felicity is more like Raisa. She’s an employee, and she sees good things in him. Anyway, that’s a parallel with them, the way they see themselves as others see them, live up or down depending upon the expectations put upon them. She responds to praise from him, he responds to being told he’s good by her.

          2. That’s an interesting parallel with Raisa. Both employees who approve of him and admire him, both within his control. Where as the women who are supposed to love him, keep kicking him. Given that dynamic, I can see why Sara appeals.

      2. The problem isn’t that Felicity doesn’t see herself as worthy, it’s that the writers like it that she doesn’t see herself as worthy. They’ve had her stammering and feeling threatened by other women all the way through and they’re not arcing that at all. It’s like that awful “She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful” song, because women who know they’re beautiful are powerful. I hated that moment when Oliver said, “You’ll always be my girl, Felicity” and she kind of rubbed her cheek on his hand. My dogs do that.

        1. “I hated that moment when Oliver said, “You’ll always be my girl, Felicity” and she kind of rubbed her cheek on his hand. My dogs do that.”

          I’m choosing to blame that on the drugs and her being 10 kinds of loopy. She looked like she was about to fall asleep when she leaned her cheek into his hand like that. It’s the only way I can make it through that scene without cringing.

        2. That was stupid. Stoned Felicity was kind of funny, and I didn’t mind the smile when Digg said “Oxycodone.” But after that, blech.

  14. One of my favorite things of all times is Patton Oswalt’s review of KFC’s “Famous Bowl”. Since sharing that essay with my husband, “Failure Pile in a Sadness Bowl” (or sometimes “Bowl of Sadness”) has become our shorthand for things which are meant to be your typical guilty pleasures but are instead guilty pleasures you feel actual shame and true regret about. Or, put another way, epic fails of such a magnitude that the term “epic fail” can’t even do it justice.

    Guess what I would call last night’s episode?

    On a personal note, I came to a new level of self-knowledge about something, so that hour wasn’t completely wasted: I learned that when I find something so wonderful that I’m in gleeful awe of its magic or so bad that my brain is imploding in on itself, I can’t disengage my emotions, sit back, and analyze with any coherence. I’m too busy squeeing or screaming to have any kind of objectivity.

    I therefore really appreciate your analysis because my mind was too full of ?!?!?! to get any further than a list of the stuff that set off an internal howling that’s still ringing in my inner ears:
    1. In no way has either Laurel or Oliver ever demonstrated even the most rudimentary foundations of a true friendship, let alone any kind of love. When Oliver said, “I have loved you half my life” I couldn’t help but respond “NO YOU HAVEN’T”. (It was pretty ridiculous because I did, in fact, yell at my televion.) It’s impossible for me to accept that he has even an infantile understanding of how decent people treat one another when his actions have so completely belied these words. I’m left struggling to grasp whether this means he’s an idiot or has some kind of psychosis where he has no actual understanding of human emotions. That doesn’t read as “heroic” to me.
    2. Sara needed/wanted Oliver at the Lance family dinner to smooth things over for her/reduce the chances of familial tension? Really? In what way does that make the least bit of sense? Needing Oliver as an emotional crutch and not realizing it would only increase the odds of familial tension brought her level of emotional maturity down to a sub-terranean level.
    3. Felicity runs off without telling anyone where she’s going/what she’s doing? Really? This completely undercut her as the person who has, up until that moment, insisted on honest and consistent communications within the team, thinking things through, and using restraint.
    4. Where in the heck does Oliver get off thinking he has any right to talk to Laurel the way he does? (Yeah, not over that yet.)
    5. Laurel apologizes to Sara? I could MAYBE accept this when she gets to the “make amends” stage on her road to sobriety IF it were the kind of apology where she acknowledges that many of her actions came from a place of immaturity plus sincere hurt for Sara’s part in betraying her. But a complete “I’ll say I was totally wrong if you’ll say you love me” kind of apology with no statement along the lines of “but you were wrong too” after all of those years? No. Nonononono. (And again with the character undercutting: it completely goes against her earlier “I don’t care what Oliver thinks” declarations. And, fair enough, we probably all knew all along that there was a part of her that cared what Oliver thinks, but to go so quickly from a little kid with her arms crossed while stamping her feet to “oh, forgive me, I was so wrong” with no stops in between was not believable. At all.)
    6. The island flashback stuff was even more annoying than usual, and that’s saying something (IMO).

    So to recap what I got out of that episode:
    1. Oliver has moved even further away from being any kind of heroic figure.
    2. Laurel and Sara continue to behave in ways which are utterly baffling if we are to accept them as even remotely mature adults with even remotely believable skills, goals, and emotions.
    3. It seems that the writers aren’t afraid to completely screw up the character who’s supposed to be the hero of this whole shindig as well as the beloved “everyman” character. That…disturbs me.

    I’m honestly on the fence about whether there’s any point continuing to watch this show because I’m having a really hard time in imagining how in the hell this train can get back on its tracks.

    And on a completely different note, I’m also disturbed by how crowded the bat cave is getting. It loops back again to the undercutting thing: it reduces the power of Oliver’s secret and undermines both the collective and individual importance of those who are “in the know”.

  15. Is this how a writer sways popular opinion of one character (Sara) the other way to another (Laurel)? Because before the last two episodes, Sara was fairly well liked, but in these two episodes I feel they have helped sway a better outlook/opinion towards Laurel. Also, it’s interesting to me that the fan’s opinion of Sara and Laurel seem to rise and fall with how they treat Felicity. What a testiment to the likability of the character of Felicity.
    Actually now that I think of it, my opinion of Oliver has dropped with the way he has treated Felicity (the minute he said “what are you wearing” I turned the channel).

    My last thought is that they are trying to further one to many stories at once. I don’t think it was necessary to tell about Sin in this episode with so many other things happening. Could have been an interesting story but when you have Robert Knepper on the show I think there could have been so much more development there.

    1. Well, they also finally gave Laurel a legitimate gripe, while at the same time having other characters refuse to acknowledge she had a legitimate gripe. That makes you feel like defending her. It’s injustice.

    2. Speaking for me, I started off the episode not liking Laurel, and I ended the episode not liking Laurel. Her having to apologize to her sister really bothered me, but it didn’t make me like Laurel any better. So if that was the point of this episode, it failed for me.

      I liked Sara when she was the woman who knew she had committed terrible crimes, far worse than anything she did to Laurel, and needed to atone for that. I’m less certain about this Sara, who doesn’t seem to think that she has anything to atone for.

      1. Speaking for me, I started off the episode not liking Laurel, and I ended the episode not liking Laurel.
        – Chris

        Exactly. See, that’s the thing I’ve been saying in all the discussions here. It’s not that I hate the character. It’s not that I’ve ever loved the character. the problem is I don’t care about the character at all. I mean, I’m just blah and apathetic. So doing all this doesn’t make her interesting. It makes me look at the clock and wonder when they’re gonna get back to the stuff I actually do care about. I really don’t think the writers are that astute to the emotions of their viewers that they would even begin to understand how to manipulate them in this way. I’d hashtag this #totallycluelessineverway if we were on twitter. LOL.

    3. That does sound like they have rehabilitated the Laurel character by giving the audience a character to truly cringe at.

    4. I seriously don’t know if the writers are that attune to how to shift audience adoration that effectively. Look at Oliver. Do you think they knew when writing this that a lot of people would watch him, shake their head, and think, “I hope Slade arrows your nutsack”?

  16. Jenny, thank you for writing this. I have many issues with Arrow right now, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I liked this episode.

    As a writer, I have a tendency to treat my characters as real people, because they become real to me, and when I “adopt” a show like Arrow my writer’s mind kicks in. In my “white space,” Oliver would stop regressing and Laurel would get an apology from Sara; Diggle would knock some sense into Oliver and Felicity would be kick-ass and get her own man. Sara would have no reason to call Felicity “cute” any more.

    But, as you’ve said before, the Arrow characters are “hyper-real.” And hyper-real characters don’t always do rational things. I want Oliver to be as great of a leader as Diggle, but as anyone who is a leader knows, it doesn’t happen overnight. We are only in season two, after all. All of these characters have a lot of growing to do. Except maybe Diggle.

    All I’m saying is that Oliver was a SUPER playboy before the island, and Oliver’s crucible happened, and now we have this incredibly damaged character who: 1) Only “thinks” that he loved Laurel for half his life and “chased after her” (but as Diggle said, “Love is not about changing or saving a person.”) The fact is that if Oliver had really loved Laurel he would never have invited Sara on that boat. I think that Oliver was in love with the idea of Laurel, but when things got real he panicked.

    Post-Island Oliver comes back to Starling City after having bonded with Sara because of a shared crucible, but he thinks that Sara is dead. It was no surprise to me that Laurel was one of the first people to crack Oliver’s facade at an emotional level because, throughout the first season, Oliver is still in love with the idea of Laurel. Likewise, Laurel loved the idea of Oliver, but the real Laurel was loved by Tommy. Cue the plot device of L/O sleeping together so that both parties can realize that Laurel’s true love is Tommy.

    Now, we have Sara/Oliver. A pairing who I believe is together because of a shared crucible. And when Oliver had a drink with Diggle at the end of 2×05 right after Sara left and said his past “didn’t want to stay buried,” I took that to mean that there was more to O/S than we know about. Plus, Oliver has a pattern of drinking over women (he did the same thing when Felicity was dancing with Barry in 2×08).

    So this storyline right now? Yes, it’s a setup. Yes, it’s sometimes contrived. But this is TV, after all. I don’t expect Oliver to be a hero overnight. So let him date Sara, who has a lot of growing to do of her own. Let Felicity grow, Let Oliver get knocked down by Slade if he has to. Let Diggle continue to be awesome. And one day we may get our hero.

    I know I’m rambling a bit, but I really love messed up heroes.

    1. You know, I agree with most of this. My problem isn’t that Oliver hasn’t completed his arc as a hero, it’s that as he arcs, he’s becoming somebody I don’t want to watch. I can watch somebody unlikable, but I can’t watch a boob who thinks he’s a hero. I’m fine with him dating Sara; I’m not fine with him ignoring what he’s done to people and being self-righteous.

      If the show was presenting him as screwing up, I’d buy that this regression is part of his arc. If I could see him heading for a crash, I’d be on board to watch what happened when he hit. But the show seems to reward his self-righteousness, his patronizing of his co-workers, his complete lack of empathy, so I’m having a hard time here. I like messed-up heroes, too, but I need some indication that the story knows he’s messed up. I don’t think that’s there.

      1. Oh. THIS! I love flawed characters but not if they think they’re right and everyone else is wrong. The bad guys are usually shown as being secure in what they’re doing, even if everyone else thinks it’s evil. Merlyn, for example, thinks he’s doing the city a favour. But the hero has to have more self awareness or humility. Oliver seems an entitled jerk right now. Not the hero Felicity says he is.

    2. hyper-real characters don’t always do rational things
      – JK

      You bring up a lot of great points and I loved messed up heroes too. My problem is that as this story goes, Oliver went from a character I wasn’t sure I liked, to a version of himself that was fabulous (Season 2) to… this. Back to square 1 where I’m thinking, Dude, I really don’t like you. I hope Slade Wilson kicks your butt. I hope you suffer because you’re such a callous, self-absorbed jerk. These are not things I think the writer wants us to think because when we do? They risk us turning off our tvs and never coming back.

      I don’t think we’ll ever see Oliver torn. I don’t think he’s ever going to make a grand realization over it. Frankly, I don’t see a glimmer that anything Oliver’s done or said was wrong in any way. He’s acting righteous and justified and that is just not okay with me. I think maybe this, for me, goes back to something Jenny said in another post about that Gotcha moment. I’ll label this one the Lightbulb Moment. I need that Dumbass Moment to be followed very quickly by some form of Lightbulb Moment by Oliver or, at the very least, have someone voice to him that he’s being that dumbass (like they did with Felicity to Oliver after his falling out with Diggle in season 1). Instead everybody seems to be apologizing to him/them, giving it the apparent stamp of approval which just leaves me confused.

      So yeah, if they want us to get that Oliver’s messed up, they need to start showing before more people just give up on him.

      1. This. If Oliver had been a jerk and then realized it, hey, happens to everybody. It happened in the bat cave when he yelled at Felicity and then came back and apologized. That was one of the best moments of characterization for Oliver that I’ve seen because he was vulnerable and honest. But if I have to wait for him to realize that he’s being a jerk AGAIN . . . because that doesn’t happen to everybody, that just happens to jerks. The feeling I get from this last episode, though, is that nobody on the show or behind the show realizes that Oliver’s being a jerk. And that’s not good.

        1. The feeling I get from this last episode, though, is that nobody on the show or behind the show realizes that Oliver’s being a jerk. And that’s not good.
          – Jenny

          Exactly. That’s what I’m sensing as well. I really hope I’m wrong because Oliver was becoming such a great character. Sigh. Darn it.

  17. My two cents:

    I completely agree that the action plot was reduced to a sub-sub plot and should have had way more air time.

    I too wondered about Ollie selling WC shares. He can’t afford to do the as Isabel would snap control of the company. How does the clock king find out about it and Isabel doesn’t?

    Also, thought while watching the show during Laurel’s apology to her sister that the metaphor went on way too long.

    At the end of the show when Ollie was introduced to Slade, I said out loud, that made watching the whole show worth it. So, really, I only really enjoyed the last few. Inured of the show.

    Diggle was great this episode.

    I may be the only one, but I like the island stories usually. I want to know how Ollie became a general in the Russian mob and more.

    Not telling Thea is stupid.

    1. Yes – not telling Thea is SO VERY stupid. It’s not just that it’s treating her like a child (OK, she’s barely 18 and she’s been through a lot, but it’s her life). It’s that he didn’t tell Slade what happened with Shado on the island to make it easier on him, supposedly the same reason he’s keeping this from Thea, and it obviously came back to bite him later. Not to mention screwing up Slade’s head even more. He said this. He knows how something like this ends. Yet more repeating of stupid past mistakes. What are they doing to this character???

      1. I still don’t get why Oliver’s not telling Thea. It’s dumb. She’s going to find out. For a guy who has such a hard line on lies, they need to have him vocalize his reasoning for lying to Thea. They have yet to have anybody ask him or have him explain his logic. We need that.

  18. I think JK hit the nail on the head, honestly, because, again, in real life, people do things that make no sense at all quite frequently, oftentimes against their own best interests. When you look at a bad decision, or a mistake, a character makes, what I ask myself is “okay, that was dumb, but is it something the character would actually do?”

    As an example, the last scene when he shows up at Queen Manor to talk business with Moira is something Deathstroke (don’t call him Slade Wilson, to me, he will always be Deathstroke the Terminator) would totally do. Forgiving Laurel when Laurel came to her is something Sara would do. Remember who you’re talking about. You’re talking about Sara Lance, a woman who worked for Ra’s Al Ghul for five years. Laurel’s sins must seem very small to Sara compared to what Sara thinks of her own sins.

    I will admit that the belittleing of Felcity with the “check out my scars” contest was a little…odd, but I don’t think Diggle, Sara, or Oliver intended it to come out that way. Its like Sara pointing out Diggle’s scar got the conversation rolling, they all tried to one up one another, and they forgot Felicity was in the room and listening. What happened next, when The clock King managed to penetrated the Arrow Cave’s data network hammered home the “let’s make Felcity feel useless” plot, but, here’s what I would caution: there’s something at work here. Going to the bank to use the computer system was beyond stupid but makes sense when you add it into what was going on in the rest of the episode. The transition wasn’t handled as well as it could have been, but the intention of this was clear: laying in the audience’s mind the idea of Felicity as someone who can operate in the Arrow verse in the field and outside of the Arrow cave (hence the brief training sequence with Sara).

    As a vet of many, many comics, I saw this coming a mile away. In comics, no one is techie/info nerd forever. One of the problems with Felicity Smoak is that the way her character was going before this episode, the character faced the real possibility of becoming stale. The reason no one stays techie forever in comics is what can broadly be described as “the Oracle Problem”.

    Years ago, after Barbara Gordon (the original Batgirl) got shot through the back by the Joker, she was confined to a wheelchair and became Oracle, cyber-space super information provider to the superhero class. The insane thing is that that Babs got shot, confined to a wheelchair (no more jumping off rooftops, and something Alan Moore had done just to be rid of her when DC told him he couldn’t kill her off) and became even more popular than she had been before. However, the problem was that now, Batman no longer had to be a detective. In fact, no superhero did. They just called Oracle and got the answer. She became a plot and narrative shortcut. Batman got On-Star.

    Barbara as Oracle by the way was the first Chloe Sullivan and Felicity Smoak. She was the archtype that the latter TV blonde Bombshells were modeled after. That’s why you often hear fans of the show asking for the inevitable Felicity/Barbara/Chloe Birds of Prey team-up. However, eventually, Oracle reached her “sell by” date and got the use of her legs back and became Batgirl again. As a techie, Felicity has reached the limits of what her contribution to team arrow can be. If her character is going to grow, her job description has to as well.

    That’s part one, the second part is more uncomfortable, because for me, its not how I want superheroes to behave, but I’ll say it anyway. Felicity is clearly in love with Ollie, and jealous that Ollie seems to have switched to Sara. That’s why Felicity starts training, and why she goes to the bank, she wants what Sara has. It was a very dumb thing to do, but even geniuses do dumb things when the rational part of their brain isn’t thinking. I like that the show isn’t always about the characters doing the right things, but so far, it seems in character, which is what I think it important. If trying to get stronger, or learn to fight, so she can go out into the field is what it takes to impress Oliver, than it looks like Felicity has decided that’s what she’s going to do. She’s going to take on that challenge. I like it because it opens up a new avenue for Felicity the person, her jealousy makes her do dumb things, just like everyone else, while also providing a solution to the Oracle Problem.

    1. This is really fascinating. Thank you.

      One of the things we’ve barely touched on here is the influence of the superhero story tropes on the TV version. I think your suggestion that Felicity is evolving out of the IT girl character is really interesting, and that really is on the screen.

      “When you look at a bad decision, or a mistake, a character makes, what I ask myself is “okay, that was dumb, but is it something the character would actually do?”

      Okay, THIS is where I have troubles. I agree that Felicity, feeling vulnerable, would start to train, might go to the bank, etc. (still not sure why the Clock King was there). I can see that set-up on the screen. But I don’t see this: “You’re talking about Sara Lance, a woman who worked for Ra’s Al Ghul for five years. Laurel’s sins must seem very small to Sara compared to what Sara thinks of her own sins.” I don’t see Sara behaving as if she has any sins, I see arrogance and entitlement.

      I really like that ” no one stays techie forever in comics” insight. Because you’re absolutely right; if Felicity stays in that chair, she can’t arc in the physical universe of a comic-book-based show.

      1. Question: Do you know Ra’s Al Ghul? Not the guy you met in Batman Begins, but do you know what a crazy, psycho you’re talking about? Do you understand what a man like that is capable of? I’m asking these questions because I honestly don’t know the answer and would like to know.

        I grew up reading comics, and watching all the animated shows and stuff. Grew up with Batman TAS, and Batman Beyond and Justice League and the whole nine yards, and I’m also very well read in the comic book DCU. The Ra’s Al Ghul I know is a corrupting, corrosive influence. He loves the planet, he loves the human race, he just feels the former would be better off if there were about half the number of the later as there is now. One of the most interesting “new” characters in comics is Damian Wayne, the son of Batman and Talia, and the grandson of Ra’s. Grandson of Ra’s and son of Batman? That kid never had a chance. The federal government’s annual budget isn’t enough to cover that kid’s therapy bills.

        To me, it makes perfect sense that when you spend that much of your time around a psycho mass murderer, like Ra’s, some of it rubs off. Maybe in subtle ways, ways that you aren’t even aware of on a conscious level yourself. You think you’re still the good person you were. You’ve held onto your old life, hence Sara’s comment about remembering her dad’s voice from earlier in the season, but slowly, little by little, all the killing, all horror, it wears on a person. The league of assasins is more like a cult than it is anything else. A cult of personality, built around Ra’s. His own personal army of mindless, completely loyal, minions. Each one manipulated to think like he does and to serve him. That kind of thing leaves a mark, even if a person isn’t consciously aware that it does.

        In comics, working for Ra’s, or working for COBRA or HYDRA (who you see fight SHIELD all the time), or, best example, being a servant of Darkseid (there’s something to see. The hordes of apocalypse obey and serve Darkseid without question, or hesitation) is as much mental as it is anything else. There’s no such thing as dissent in the league of assasins, which is why we haven’t seen the last of Ra’s trying to get Sara back into the fold. Release one person, and other people start getting ideas. The league will be back in force and soon, there will be a price to pay, or, as Ollie said it “we will all pay”.

        1. “Question: Do you know Ra’s Al Ghul? ”

          Nope, Green Arrow was never my comic-book-of-choice, so I have no idea, other than that he has two daughters and a Lazarus Pit and he orders his band/team to kill people.

          “To me, it makes perfect sense that when you spend that much of your time around a psycho mass murderer, like Ra’s, some of it rubs off.”

          To me, too. I’d LOVE to see that. But it’s not on the screen. And I know they’re going to get to it sometime in the next three and a half years, but in the meantime, I don’t have that information, so I have to process the story with what I’ve got.

          And the thing is, you can’t be sure that’s the Ra’s Al Ghul in this show because they shift things like crazy here (which is not a criticism at all, good for them for tailoring source material to their story).

          I love seeing the little I do know show up on the screen. My Suicide Squad has Harley Quinn, and I know I’m not going to get her, but it was still fun seeing Amanda Waller show up at the cell door. But I also know that whatever I know about the DC universe, it’s all subject to change as it gets filtered through this version of the story, so I don’t know anything until I see it on the screen, either foreshadowed (like the Oliver line you quoted) or played out in front of me. I’m fine waiting to find out, too, really looking forward to Nyssa coming back. But until then, I have to go on the story I’ve got, on the clues in the story I have in front of me. And none of that explains why Sara feels so entitled. It’s a shame, too, because I was completely with her in those scenes with Nyssa where she was honest and her motivations were clear. Then she brought Oliver to dinner. Huh?

          1. That’s one of the things that everybody loves about Arrow, seeing what you know show up on the screen. You’re right that they rotate things around like crazy, character traits change, as for example, to my memory, there was never a sister of Black Canary who was a superhero first, that was her mother (ie, Sara is playing the precursor superhero in the show that was played by mom in the comics). However, what they do not do is change the core of a character and the name from the comics. Count Vertigo has a different thing in the show (drugs, as opposed to the eyepiece), but the reason he’s called count vertigo is the same; the drug induces a kind of disorientated, vertigo sensation. So, yeah, I’m pretty sure Ra’s is still a mass murdering psycho leader of a cult that worship him as a religious figure.

            But, I agree that the little bits and pieces are really cool (fan-gasm!), but they are also done for a purpose (ie, I do not think the intention of the writers is to just lay out easter eggs, although that’s fun). You’ve said that one of the things about Arrow is that its hero is so grounded and the groundedness of Oliver allows you to believe some of the more fantastical stuff. The Chris Nolan Dark Knight movies did that for Batman, but Nolan never expanded beyond Gotham. He cut off Gotham from the rest of the DCU to focus on Batman. Arrow does not do this. Arrow is really a show about the DCU, that happens to star Ollie and his pals as the main characters.

            -When Mackenzie, the cop Oliver was dating in season one, wants to “move on”, she goes to Coast City, the home town of the manufacturer of that plane that Fyers wanted to shoot out of the sky (“targeting Ferris air flight 101”). Coast City is also the home town of Green Lantern Hal Jordan, and Star Saphire Carol Ferris (Blake Lively’s performance in the Green Lantern movie is a tad more interesting when viewed through the prism of her eventual alter ego).

            -Central City, home of the Flash, also exists, and we’ve seen Barry take on that role.

            -When Oliver asked Sara, just in last night’s episode, whether Sara had any experience with bars, Sara said the weirdest thing, she said she had been to the oblivion. That should tell you how much her years with Ra’s were messed up. The oblivion is not a normal bar, its a bar for magic users in the DCU, and can be accessed through a “magic door” (normal people cannot go there). Its also heavily associated with Shadowpact, whose leader, Blue Devil, happened to be in an advertisement on the side of a bus in yesterday’s episode.

            -Nanda Parbat. in comics, this is a monestary/sanctuary in the mountains of Nepal, guided by mystic monks. Nanda Parbat is very hard to find, is a place of religious pilgramage, and is heavily associated with rebirth (hence the association with Ra’s, whose “reborn” every time he uses the pit). If Sara and Malcolm went to Nanda Parbat, they are not the same people they were before, they went there, and they were both, symbolically, reborn. When the Question was heavily injured in 52, he sought out Nanda Parbat (with the help of Renee Montoya) in order to find healing and rebirth. He died on the way, but Renee completed his journey and was reborn as the new Question.

            Again, this is a payoff that if you’ve read comics (and I have, admittedly, read far too many 🙂 ) is pretty apparent. One of the things about comics is that with decades of continuity, not everything is explained in the present story. Sometimes, we wait ten years for an explanation to something. Its probably not fair to the viewers of a TV show, and it makes the show less accessible, which is definitely not a good thing. If you don’t know what Nanda Parbat is, beyond the place Ra’s lives, then Sara going there probably doesn’t mean much. It also probably doesn’t mean much that Malcolm Merlyn went there. (Ra’s own journey to find Nanda Parbat is detailed in “the resurrection of Ra’s Al Ghul”, that’s what Nanda Parbat is, a place of resurrection)

            So, consider, Malcolm and Sara trained in the same place with the same teachers. Remember last season when Malcolm told Tommy the truth about his plans for the glades? Remember how insane John Barrowman made that exchange sound? Remember Ra’s Al Ghul in Batman Begins? (“Crime cannot be tolerated, criminals breed on the weakness of societies’ understanding” or words like that) Compare Ra’s justification for killing criminals with Malcolm’s justification for killing the residents of the Glades, who he views as a group of criminals who took his wife. I think one of the things that Arrow is doing a solid job of is showing how Malcolm and Sara are two sides of the same coin. Malcolm is a doppleganger for Oliver, but he’s also one for Sara. Same training, reborn after dying, skilled assasins, both trying to protect their families.

            I know none of this is what you would call fair. To be sure, I would appreciate a more thorough connection of the dots. However, as a fan of comics, I’ve also sorta gotten used to waiting months and years for an explanation. I also fully concede the writing staff does many things that I just find….odd. Oliver keeping the truth from Thea is insane, for example. That’s clearly dictated by plot, and nothing else. However, I don’t think that outweighs the good things Arrow does. When I saw, in the opening to last night’s episode, that the technological gadget that was being stolen was being taken from Kord Industries, I fan-gasmed. Ted Kord is a favorite, one of my heroes, and I would love a Blue Beetle and Booster Gold Episode someplace down the line. With how heavily they’ve been using Ted easter eggs in the show, I would hope that’s only a matter of time!

          2. I thought Laurel knew what Oblivion was. Wasn’t she the one who brought it up? (I really can’t remember.)

            Sara as a doppelgänger for Malcolm. I’ll have to think about that. It’s harder because their back stories aren’t on the screen, so I don’t know what the writers are doing there. They’re both being hunted by the League . . . must cogitate. They’ve been so light with their references to the League, I almost wonder if that’s not Season Three stuff.

            The interesting thing about your comments (well one of the interesting things) is that you’re coming at this from a really extensive background in DC, and that’s a very different lens from most of the rest of us here. So it’s great to get this background and see how they’re working with the sources. I have a feeling you know the source stuff better than they do, though. I read an interview someplace where the producer said that they come up with villains and then try to find somebody similar in the DC universe. Although they have to had started with Count Vertigo from the comics, and Merlyn.

      2. There was an interesting observation by a guy on Youtube who does Arrow reviews. He reviewed this ep and he said something like… It’s like the Arrow writers want Felicity to be badass but don’t want to make her “hard” like Sara or have her lose her concern about killing people.

        That’s a tough line to walk but I agree with the post above, they do need to transition Felicity into “more” and not just the IT Hacker. I have a feeling we’re definitely going to see more of that in Season 3 if/when the writers follow through on that parent plot thing.

    2. I was thinking perhaps some of Felicity’s insecurity over her lack of fighting prowess is a nod to Barbara’s feelings about her body post-paralysis. Just in Barbara’s case, the comparison was to her former self, not someone else.

  19. Oh, and yes, the one thing I’ll completely agree with: not telling Thea was stupid. This is a superhero story, in the DCU, whenever you withhold a secret, it always A) gets out eventually, and B) the consequences of you not telling and dealing with it straight on are always worse than if you’d been upfront. Exception: Mind-wipping Batman, there’s really no good way to handle that one.

    1. If that’s what the writers said, then its a trivial statement (I’m a mathematician, and trivial means something so obvious that its easily show to be true. Like 1 < 2 is a trivial statement). Remember, many of these characters have been around for decades, and DC has been around for over 75 years. In that time, they've introduced a character for just about everything.

      On the Arrow writing staff are a lot of guys who know their stuff. Guggenheim is, I believe, regularly published by dc comics. Johns is the best writer the company has. Bryan Q. Miller, who is set to write an episode or two, is utterly awesome. For Felicity fans, check out Miller's adventures of another spunky blonde, his Stephenie Brown Batgirl is awesome.

      I do believe that what you're seeing with Sara is really a woman whose divided. There's her loyalty to team arrow and to ollie, but there's the conditioning of the league of assassins. Sara has her own issues to work through, just like Laurel, whether she realizes she needs help or not, she does. I'm thinking that at some time down the line, we'll the see the league and their methods better fleshed out, but Season two belongs to deathstroke. I think that's the way it should be. I do agree though that the writers aren't telling you all the things you need to know, and it is unfair to ask viewers to be patient with things that look like giant plot holes, particularly when some of them are.

      I can see, for example, Oliver thoughtlessly liquadating 800k shares to create a trap to take down the clock king. I cannot see Walter approving it, but I can see Oliver doing it without thinking. Here's some background:

      The writers of the Arrow show obviously take a lot of inspiration from Batman. Recently, I was reading a comic book called Batman Beyond Unlimited. Its a comic continuation of the cartoon from ten years ago where Bruce Wayne retires and a new Batman takes on Gotham with Bruce as his mentor (I always thought Clint Eastwood would make a perfect old Bruce Wayne). In one of the episodes from the TV show, Batman joins a justice league of the future. One of the members is Micro, a hero whose inherited the Atom's power.

      In the comic I was reading, there was an origin story for Micron, and one of the most interesting details were the information that Micron gave us about what Bruce in his final years as Batman. He burned all his families' money, all his fortune, on technology to squeeze just one more year, then one more week, then one more day as Batman. He became obsessed, not keeping track of the money, just burning it in the cause of his mission.

      Its a common superhero trope, blindness to all other things but the mission. You can totally picture Batman doing something like that, and with the way the writers of the show have structured Ollie, it makes sense he would act like that too. In another parallel, Bruce's obsession with squeezing just one more day out of Batman led to him getting careless with his finances and his responsibilities to his job as CEO of Wayne Enterprises. It allowed a younger and more aggressive man, Derek Powers (whose CEO of Wayne-Powers at the start of Batman Begins, an becomes the villan Blight) to hostily take over Wayne Enterprises. Can't you just see the same thing happening to Oliver? He's practically set in motion himself by offhandedly liquadating 800k shares of stock.

      Oliver's blind spot is the same as Batman's, he's too into the mission, and thinks everything else, with business, is secondary. There's no sense of detachment, no time spent pondering the consequences. Action has to be taken to stop a crook so Oliver does it.

      1. newguy, I appreciate the comics insight. I don’t know much at all about the DC universe, so this is helpful. I looked up the writers this season, and Johns was attached to what I thought were two of the best: The Scientist and Three Ghosts. Miller is one of the writers for Suicide Squad. Now I am even more excited for Suicide Squad!

        1. Thanks, I try to help as much as I can. Always remember that what you see on Arrow really is the first attempt to have a cohesive, shared DCU (its obvious they haven’t yet worked out all the kinks). Its what Marvel is trying to do with its movie franchises: integrate and overlap. It was Stan Lee’ great gift to comics, his single most important invention.

      2. Seconding the rec for Bryan Q. Miller’s Batgirl run. Everyone should read it, it’s one of the best books ever: filled with wonderful female friendships, and awesome snark and HEART. That book has more heart alone than anything else DCU has published in decades.

  20. So…I have enough self-control to stay off the fan boards, but not your Arrow Thursday posts. I had to come and read this because I. HATED. THAT. EPISODE. My husband couldn’t understand why, to which I responded: “Who are THESE characters?” They turned wonderful, justified-and-interesting-angry Laurel into remorseful and apologetic Laurel after a speech that should have enraged her (it enraged me). They turned tortured “I’ve done horrible things” Sara into a cheerful, patronizing (“You know I wouldn’t be here if you hadn’t been so brave…now you have a scar…”) bartender/girlfriend figure. And, worst of all (because he’s the protagonist), they turned sensitive more-often-than-not compassionate Oliver into a sanctimonious, preachy a-hole. How did we get from Oliver who noticed Felicity was acting weird last episode to this version who had to get feedback from Diggle about how she was feeling?

    About that speech, what exactly does he think he did for Laurel? Tommy died, and he ran back to the island for 5 months. Um…isn’t that the definition of abandoning her. AGAIN? Laurel shows up at the bar, gets drunk, and he tells Thea to get a cab and send her home (which I loved, I just don’t understand why he thinks he was there for her all those times). He visited her in the hospital for a good 2 minutes to kiss her on the forehead and tell her to feel better…and then he sleeps with her sister…in the same episode (show time-wise, it must have been a few hours, if not a day, apart, right?). And he thinks HE has the right to give up on Laurel? I’m not a big Laurel fan, but that was wrong on so many levels. I wonder if there will be an interview down the line about that. I can already hear the response: “You, everyone thinks Oliver was being harsh, but there’s lot of backstory there…” Then, just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, there was what he said to Felicity: “You’ll always be my girl.” Felicity was patronized so many times in this episode, it was disgusting.

    I may be in the minority, but I don’t want a Sara-Felicity friendship. Sara does not see Felicity as an equal. At least Laurel acted threatened by her (although, at the rate they’re going, she may be apologizing to Felicity in the next episode too).

    1. Oliver is the worst kind of jerk. He’s the jerk who thinks he’s the good guy. I find his lack of self-awareness truly disturbing. That speech he gave Laurel just made me want to slap him.

  21. Oh, the one part I did like was when Oliver went up to Moira and said he didn’t think she’d be there, and she responds: “It’s MY house. If you don’t expect me to show up, don’t throw a party in MY house.” Or something to that effect, which I loved, because SOMEONE needs to tell Oliver he’s a moron, and that was the closest someone came to doing it in last night’s episode.

  22. “The show seems to reward his self-righteousness, his patronizing of his co-workers, his complete lack of empathy, so I’m having a hard time here. I like messed-up heroes, too, but I need some indication that the story knows he’s messed up. I don’t think that’s there.” –Jenny

    I agree–it’s not really there–yet. Oliver is still self-involved. He lacks empathy because he’s self-involved, if we take empathy to mean that he is able to walk in someone else’s shoes for a while. We see this with his treatment of every character on the show at times. But I’m willing to give Oliver the benefit of the doubt because I don’t see the “rewards” he gets as the protagonist as necessarily “good” things. Instead, I see every “reward” as an antagonist, in the sense that everything Oliver rubs up against right now, “reward” or not, is going to either make him regress or grow.

    To me, Oliver was selfish pre-island, in survival mode during island, and now in Starling City he’s trying to reconcile two parts of himself. The part that grew up too fast because of his crucible and the part that wants to believe he still has a mother; The part that uses sex for comfort and the part that sees Felicity as someone precious; The part that wants to protect Thea and the part that knows “secrets have weight”…once again, Diggle comes to my rescue as the only character right now who seems to have his head on straight.

    I am with you that this is painful to watch at times, but to me that makes it more authentic because I’m always wondering how deep Oliver’s scars go.

    1. I may be interpreting this wrong, so let me know.

      Oliver was immature and selfish before he landed on the island.
      Then the island experiences matured him but not in the context of normal human interaction, so while he got stronger and smarter and more cognizant of good and evil, he didn’t really improve his social skills.
      And now he’s finally in a comfortable enough space, his lack of social skills is surfacing again.

      Huh. That would explain why he thinks he can lecture Laurel while being blind to his own culpability. If they’re setting him up for a fall, I could buy into that. I think the problem I have with that is that nobody in the story world is calling him on it. Laurel doesn’t fight back, Diggle doesn’t tell him he’s too judgmental, Felicity doesn’t say, “If I’m your girl, why aren’t we still a team?” Only Moira kicks him in the knee, as if I needed another reason to love Moira.

      1. This idea of progression and regression in arcing a character and being a messed up hero brought to mind the last season of Angel. I guess to really compare the full scope of Oliver’s on again/off again growth towards being a real boy, I’ll have to just wait and see. But my knee-jerk reaction is that, as a viewer, I had real empathy for Angel when his regression started in that season (and it was heart-breaking when you later found out the full scope of what that path entailed), but I just can’t feel any sympathy for Oliver. I think one significant difference for me is that Angel was completely aware he going down a dark path and he knew odds were it would mean he would lose people that were important to him, yet Oliver doesn’t seem to have any awareness along those lines. In this episode he seems deaf and blind to nearly all emotions that aren’t his own. Yet there have been times when he’s read the room and its undercurrents just fine.

        Now that my blood pressure is near normal again, I’m not taking Oliver’s actions as growth/regression of character, I’m taking it as lazy, confused, and inconsistent writing. That way I can forgive Oliver a little (a very little) and maybe garner enough patience to keep trying to watch a little while longer.

        Still: it was a train wreck and I’m completely stumped as to how this can be un-fucked.

      2. I think the problem I have with that is that nobody in the story world is calling him on it.
        – Jenny

        Exactly. I drew the same conclusion somewhere in one of the replies here as I’m reading through everything. Nobody’s calling Oliver on it, which makes me wonder if the writers don’t realize how this came across. Before, when Oliver did something dumb, someone would challenge him. Diggle would point out Oliver didn’t have a problem with Felicity until Barry. Felicity would tell Oliver he needed to apologize to Diggle for the Deadshot thing. Someone would give voice to what the audience was thinking. They didn’t do that here and they haven’t done it in the last few episodes since this slide started, which makes me think the writers don’t see anything wrong with it.

  23. Honestly, I can’t stand Laurel at the moment, but i don’t understand why Oliver had to go to the dinner with Sarah. They had to know it was going to antagonize Laurel. And yes Laurel has a right to be angry with the both of them, but to blame them for all thats happened to her? I don’t think so, i think she deserved and needed the talk Oliver gave to her, not just then because it wasn’t the time. And really if this show is really getting that bad to people then they don’t have to watch it. There are flaws in it as there are in all shows, but thats the human side of it and anyways i love the show to much to nick pick. Oh yeah i do agree he needs to treat Felicity alot better 🙂

    1. Hi, Debbie.
      This isn’t a fan board, the whole idea here is that we analyze story to see how it works. So nitpicking is pretty much what we do. You’re welcome to stay, but if you’re anti-nit-pick, the fan boards will probably be a better choice.

  24. I can’t add much to the list of what was wrong other than just about everything. If the goal of the writers was to make me hate Oliver, then check. Hate Sara? Check. Almost like Laurel (who I have never liked)? Check.

    I enjoyed Felicity being her own hero. Not only did she figure out the villain, but she also saved herself and Sara (although I wish she had not bothered to save Sara). I hated that the writers made Felicity seem so childish and stupid (wisdom teeth scars? really?). The only good thing about her saying to Oliver “I was your girl” was that she was high on oxy, so I can forgive that stupid line even though I hated it.

    I love Diggle. He is awesome. He and Felicity were the only redeeming parts of the show. (And I didn’t like a good chunk of the Felicity stuff because they made her seem stunted or something.)

    Oh, I did love the Slade/Moira reveal, and I will love it beyond reason if they had a hot affair.

    I have no idea how a show that could be so fantastic for 11 episodes – a show that I couldn’t wait to see – could turn into such trash in such a short time. The Lances are toxic. I have no interest in any of them other than Quentin, and I would give him up if it means I never have to see Sara or Laurel again.

    Here’s the thing, the protagonist doesn’t have to be good for me to like him. I love Klaus on the The Originals. I love Damon on Vampire Diaries. I love Boyd on Justified. I loved Spike on Buffy. But none of those guys pretend to be a hero. They don’t treat people well, but they are not sanctimonious about. They are who they are., and I’m fine with it. I don’t always like what they do, but I always like them.

    I might could accept Oliver as a shallow playboy with extremely limited morals and an intense lack of compassion if the writers hadn’t spent so much time trying to convince me that he’s on a hero’s journey. This episode more than any other showed him as an arrogant jerk. His comments to Felicity were offensive from the beginning (What are you wearing?) all the way to the end (You will always be my girl.) I can only assume that she purred rather than punching him because she was high on oxy. He is a complete and utter jerk, and in the space of an episode (really an episode and 30 seconds of the previous one), I’ve gone from rooting for him to hating him and hoping his enemy makes him pay in ways he can’t yet imagine. Is that really the reaction the writers are looking for? Are they trying to make us hate him?

    Don’t even get me started on Sara. I could rant about her character all night.

    1. I was reading a review of the first half of Arrow’s second season and why it was such a success, and this paragraph really hit the nail on the head. I hope it’s okay to post a part of it here, Jenny, but let me know if it’s not.

      “Arrow’s most important relationship is the symbiotic one between Oliver and the keepers of all his secrets, bodyguard and driver John Diggle (David Ramsey) and computer genius and executive assistant Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards). Like any good superhero, the Arrow started as a lone wolf, but no good hero can go it alone. By bringing John and Felicity into his crime-fighting world, the show gives itself multiple interpersonal dynamics to exploit: love, loyalty, respect, and disapproval. Along with their lighthearted banter, Amell, Ramsey, and Rickards have the kind of lightning-in-a-bottle chemistry that makes all their scenes together hum.”

      I completely agree with this because the Team Arrow relationship and the bond that those three share is what made the first half of the season so enjoyable for me, and I think the lack of focus on them since the mid season break is what started the show down this track. Now with Roy and Sara added to the team, I don’t see it getting better anytime soon because it seems like it’s going to be Sara and Oliver as one team, sometimes with Roy joining them, while Diggle and Felicity hang out together.

      I realize that the group was going to have to expand at some point, but with every new person added to the arrow cave, it lessens the interactions between the core three and takes away one of the most important elements of the show.

      1. It’s always fine to quote somebody, Abby, but if you can, link to where you got it so the writer gets credit and people can go read the whole essay/article/post.

        I agree with that absolutely. This is a show (I thought) about Oliver Queen fighting the good fight against the bad guys. That show got stronger when Oliver built a team, and the three of them faced some really excellent antagonists. But now one of the best bad guys they’ve ever had–the Clock King–gets very limited screen time and they’re diluting and dividing the team. It’s one thing to threaten the team dynamic to make it stronger (see Leverage), another thing to weaken it.

    2. Here’s the thing, the protagonist doesn’t have to be good for me to like him. I love Klaus on the The Originals. I love Damon on Vampire Diaries. I love Boyd on Justified. I loved Spike on Buffy. But none of those guys pretend to be a hero. They don’t treat people well, but they are not sanctimonious about. They are who they are., and I’m fine with it. I don’t always like what they do, but I always like them.
      – Paula

      Paula, I know all of those characters and enjoyed them too. I think the trick is, as Jenny said previously, vulnerability. Klaus, Damon, Boyd, Spike… they all had something in them that you could root for. Sure they did bad things but for good reasons. I remember Damon once saying something along the lines of how everybody else made all the messes but he was always the one who had to step in, make the hard, ugly choices and clean it up. You’re welcome. I loved Damon in that moment. He was totally right. He’s a guy who will go out and snap necks if it means solving the problem, saving lives, winning the day. It’s ugly. It’s brutal. It makes all the “good people” squeamish, but at the end of the day, Damon is the one willing to do it.

      The writers carefully balance the hard and ugly of these characters with a carefully developed vulnerability and humanity you can root for. I loved the way they took Damon in early TVD eps and presented him as the big, bad, out of control, irrational bad guy and then bam! hit you with the back story that turned everything on its head and made me realize, holy crank! Damon’s the victim here. He has a right to hate his brother and want revenge. It took the whole game board and flipped it. Hero became darker. Villain became human & worth rooting for as a hero. Loved that character. (I don’t watch anymore but I loved that development).

  25. So I’m usually the person that usually reads blog posts/reviews/etc about episodes, but never really engages in the comments…. but I can’t help myself with this one. I’m so confused by what I saw last night.

    I didn’t like any of the character interactions in this week’s episode. Most of which is probably due to the fact that (you’re right) they’re completely messing with everything that was good (improvement of Oliver’s character, romance/family drama as a sub plot, etc… all the things you mentioned above… I completely agree with)

    I enjoyed Felicity & Diggle conversation, but I always enjoy Felicity and Diggle. I’ve never had issues with their character’s motivations, choices, dialogue, etc.

    In terms of what went on in the arrow cave, I did cringe when they all started talking about their scars. And why was Felicity merely watching them? When has she ever just sat there and watched their entire workout/train/fight routine? I can’t seem to remember if she ever has. It was just weird. The whole scene was weird and awkward. All in the name setting up the scene to make Felicity feel left out because of her lack scars. Skill set I get, different forms of fighting I get, but battle scars? Why would anyone want to feel left out over battle scars? It just makes Felicity, as other people in the comments have said, seem childish. Children compare scars and think they’re cool. Adults don’t. I’d rather have seen more of her feeling insecure about her lack of fighting skills rather than her lack of her scars.

    And seriously, what is up with Sara’s comments? I liked the one where Sara told Felicity “you did it” but I could’ve done without the rest leading up to that scene. I can understand that this was probably Sara’s way of making sure that Felicity shouldn’t feel threatened by her being on the team, but it just still didn’t sit right with me. There could have been better ways to do it. Maybe them having conversations or sharing tidbits of their lives (like they did when Sara first came on scene) would have been a better of way of Sara making sure Felicity is ok with her being involved.

    I thought I was going to like the lecture Oliver gave to Laurel (I have not been her biggest fan) but if he had said that when she was drunk at his club, I would’ve been like “You go Oliver, tell her how it is”… but the fact that he just slept with Sara, yet again without Laurel’s knowledge, just irks me. Again, it didn’t seem right with me at all. I’ve seen several times before on other articles that people think Oliver still has a great deal of selfishness. It’s the one thing he hasn’t outgrown since he went on that boat. I think this lecture he gave to Laurel is a clear indication of it. Sure there were some truths about what he said to Laurel (that she blames everyone else for her own problems) & she needed someone other than her Dad to say it to her. However, the fact that he turns it around and says “you have no idea whats going on with my family”.. uh.. hello.. Laurel’s sister came back from the dead. The sister that betrayed her. The sister who is an ex-assassin. I think that still trump’s Thea’s paternity issue. And then all that stuff about how he loved her half his life and will stop running after her. What? I just don’t understand why the show can’t admit that he’s loved the idea of her for half of his life, not Laurel herself. Just let Oliver admit this so he doesn’t say stupid things like that ever again that makes the audience question his character.

    Slade was great. I’m so glad Oliver’s world is going to come crashing down on him (remember, Malcolm is still out there). I am not sorry I feel this way. It will lead to redemption of his character, which is sorely needed right now.

    It felt good to get that out. Thanks for providing a place where people aren’t trolled or bullied about their opinions 🙂

        1. Can I shallowly request that we protect the abs? It’s one of the few things I still like about the character. 😉

      1. by the way, I don’t think you need to poll this, as smacking people is kind of what Deathstroke does. I’d bet money that you’re going to see that before the end of the season.

    1. …but the fact that he just slept with Sara, yet again without Laurel’s knowledge, just irks me.

      –Great point. It wasn’t WHAT Oliver said, it was that it came from him. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, Ollie. (I think Laurel might already have caught on that Oliver slept with Sara, though). It’s why we all listen when Diggle throws them. The guy lives in a castle made of concrete.

      1. Agreed! Like I said, if he were to have said all of this to Laurel before sleeping with Sara and starting a relationship with her, before keeping the truth about Thea’s parentage from Thea, I would’ve been fine with it. The one thing I can’t stand in characters (and people in general) are those who feel the need to call out others on their issues when they have so many of their own. Or just in general when characters start to act too self-righteous and better than others. Laurel did this in season 1. Its a major reason of why I went from rooting for her to the point where I could barely sit through her scenes.

        Maybe they’re doing this to Oliver’s character to show how far he has to go before becoming a true hero. Some parts are there, others obviously still need work. I just hope this is something we see that he works on or we see a development/growth of.

        1. Like I said, if he were to have said all of this to Laurel before sleeping with Sara and starting a relationship with her, before keeping the truth about Thea’s parentage from Thea, I would’ve been fine with it.
          – Fari

          I can’t remember if I replied to the original post where you brought that up, but I think that’s an excellent point. The timing of the conversation in conjunction with Oliver’s choices and actions really contributed to the problem of how I interpreted a lot of things. Does it make for future drama? Sure. But if the drama comes at the cost of me starting to dislike characters, then it’s not worth it imo.

  26. Just as a head’s up:
    We’re getting some new commenters who haven’t absorbed the commenting rules here (see the Edited To Add note at the bottom of the original post above) and I’m bouncing all of the comments that violate the Argh Code, but if one gets through somehow, please just ignore it. I don’t know where these people are coming from, but they seem to be mainly fourteen-year-old boys who can’t spell. (Points to Dennis for knowing how to spell “moron.”)

    1. the rules here seem pretty plain to me, and easy to understand, but lay down the law Jenny! If I run afoul, just please kindly point it out and I promise I will remedy the defect.

      1. You’re terrific.
        Dennis, on the other hand . . .
        Actually, Dennis made me laugh my ass off. “This is why no one respects women.” Wait’ll his mom finds out he wrote that.

    2. Regarding your question about where the new people are coming from- a person who admires your blog posted a link to this post on SA FB page, so the new people could be coming from there. It would explain some of the things that are happening, and that people don’t realize the writing analysis focus of your blog, etc.

      1. Some people are coming from Tumblr, too. I’m good with all of that, it was just that I had a spate of very strange comments in moderation that I had to trash, so I had a WTF? moment.

  27. “Huh. That would explain why he thinks he can lecture Laurel while being blind to his own culpability. If they’re setting him up for a fall, I could buy into that. I think the problem I have with that is that nobody in the story world is calling him on it. Laurel doesn’t fight back, Diggle doesn’t tell him he’s too judgmental, Felicity doesn’t say, “If I’m your girl, why aren’t we still a team?” Only Moira kicks him in the knee, as if I needed another reason to love Moira.” –Jenny

    Nobody is calling Oliver on this because they’re all self-involved as well. And I love Moira, but the ONLY person in this episode who is thinking of others is Diggle. I saw Moira’s kick in the knee as a reflex action against Oliver’s surliness, but that’s just me. Even Felicity’s taking of a bullet for Sara is more of a reflex action than anything, because Felicity is preoccupied with her own insecurities.

    When I look at the episode in the light of how self-involved these characters are, it makes me wonder what’s next. Because all that battling of “personal demons” is leading somewhere, in my opinion.

    1. Whoa, you’re right.
      I’d say Diggle and Laurel, because Laurel really does finally pull her head out of her butt and look around. Diggle’s grasp of reality has always been sound. And possibly Thea who’s just trying to run a bar and isn’t trying to make anybody fit her agenda. But the rest, you’re absolutely right.
      That’s depressing.

    2. You know, I hadn’t thought of it that way. But I agree. Everyone in this episode except Diggle really is thinking about themselves. Thats why its easier for me to accept Diggle calling everyone out, but not Oliver.

  28. First off, Clock King wasn’t stealing things that needed to be fenced. He stole the ONE code breaking device. Then he used it to open a bank vault and in fact steal cash. Later on in this “review” you comment about Felicity “cowering while Sara stands triumphant”. Would you be if you had just been shot?

    I think if you’re going to keep reviewing things like this, you might want to actually pay attention to the details.

    1. I approved this comment because you’re pointing out a mistake I made (the Clock King) and it’s a good point, and it belongs in the discussion.
      On the second point, nobody else on this show cowers when they get shot, so I wouldn’t say it’s an inevitable reaction for Felicity in the world of Arrow. But still a good point and it belongs in the discussion.

      However this “I think if you’re going to keep reviewing things like this, you might want to actually pay attention to the details” is a personal attack which we don’t do here. You made your point very clearly when you pointed out the mistake I made. Extrapolating from that I am reviewing this (I’m not, I’m analyzing it, very different thing) and that I don’t pay attention to details (somebody else just accused me of nitpicking) becomes a personal comment. Nope. You’re welcome to stay, but we talk about ideas, we don’t sneer at each other.

  29. “I’d say Diggle and Laurel, because Laurel really does finally pull her head out of her butt and look around. Diggle’s grasp of reality has always been sound. And possibly Thea who’s just trying to run a bar and isn’t trying to make anybody fit her agenda.”

    Yes, Laurel does look around in this episode, but her confrontation with Sara in the bar is still all about her and her pain, her journey. Thea runs the bar but she also knew there was a secret that Oliver is keeping from her and she texted him to make him fit the agenda of going to meet Slade at the mansion. Plot point? Absolutely, but Thea also knows that something is up between Moira and Oliver.

    It is depressing, but selfishness has to be dealt with before heroism is born, at least in my book. So I’ll keep watching.

  30. Ok all I am going to say is this is a 5 year arc with a 5 year island backstory. Anyone judging motivations for Oliver or Sara at this point without understanding their actual history is being a bit ridiculous.

    Sara mentions she was on Lian Yu for a year. I would imagine a lot of things ocurred between her and Oliver that would make their bond incredibly strong, it’s not like Sara just reappeared out of a time warp and her and Oliver jumped back into bed to piss Laurel off. They have a connection perhaps people should wait to see it.

    Oliver is not selfish, he risks his life nightly to help people and protect the city but he is still human. He came back and found out how he hoped and dreamed for 5 years on the island his home life would be was completely wrong.

    His mother slept with someone who it turns out tried to destroy the City and she was fully aware of the plot and did nothing and had a child on top of it and lied the whole time about her true parents. So not only did Oliver find out that his Mom had been leading a double life which resulted in the death of over 500 people but that she was also unfaithful to his father along with betraying his sister. Why exactly do people think he would get over that anytime soon?

    Felicity – (sigh) Ok. so her is relatively sheltered IT girl who has jumped into a world filled with violence and deception. None of which she is familiar with. Did she crush a bit on Oli? I never read that in any of their interactions, I think she respects him and wants to earn his respect because she feels that he has good intentions with helping keep Starling City sage. This episode nothing she did was out of character. As the writers and both actors stated she felt threatened because Sara pops up out of nowhere and seems very capable of doing what Felicity already does. Felicity has abandonment issues and she is afraid that she will get phased out of the team , Clock King shows up and shows her that her system is vulnerable right when she is feeling like her skills may no longer be unique. She sets out to not only repay Clock King for blowing up her system because you KNOW that pissed her off but to prove to herself that she still has what it takes.

    Oliver and Laurel – Someone earlier mentioned Oliver and Laurel having idealized versions of each other. I agree They were kids it was obvious that Laurel wanted to settle down and Oliver didn’t, hence the douchebag move of sleeping with Sara. Has anyone considered that if the boat hadn’t sank the two of them may have just broken up anyway? The boat sank and therefore forever froze into Laurel’s mind and Oliver’s that they were meant to be somehow. Oliver because he felt immense guilt over killing Sarah and Laurel because she lost the man she thought would be her husband. Flash forward 5 years and they both have changed, they both had to realize that they are not a good fit. Oliver had to deal with the secret identity issue so as much as he may have wanted to get together with Laurel he had to push her away, thus confusing Laurel and himself. Then things in both of their world’s spin out of control and they realize that maybe they are not right for each other after all. Oliver gave up any relationship with Laurel when he approved her and Tommy being together because he knew it would be safer for Laurel. They still hadn’t dealt with their feelings so the one night stand and ensuing awkwardness. Oliver tries to remain friends, Laurel starts spinning and pushing people away. Oliver can only do so much as his life is out of control too. Remember we are only seeing snippets of their interactions but it is pretty obvious that Laurel was blaming Oliver for everything until Sarah showed up and she had a new target. Oliver has been through his own hell and had hit a point where he tells Laurel to put up or shut up because he sees her actions for what they are, self pity and anger. Oliver had to push past all that to survive on the island and he has no time to deal with it now. Since Laurel attacked Sarah I think Oliver’s protective instincts kicked in.

    The Lance’s – It’s pretty obvious Lance knows. Cmon he called Oliver/Vigilante as soon as Sarah left the diner in the previous episode. Their forgiveness seen and saying Oliver was not a killer was Lance’s way of both forgiving and acknowledging Oliver’s identity. His opening line of “So the two of you just show up to crimes scenes now” and Sara responding with ” We saw you leave” pretty much dead giveawaay. Lance can’t come right out and say it though as Oliver is technically a criminal and so is Sarah.

    They are building a world, to condemn a single episode for bad writing is like condemning one chapter in a book. It’s part of a the story, not the whole story.

    1. Okay, you’re new here so . . .
      “Ok all I am going to say is this is a 5 year arc with a 5 year island backstory. Anyone judging motivations for Oliver or Sara at this point without understanding their actual history is being a bit ridiculous.”

      That’s a personal attack. You’re allowed to disagree, but you’re not allowed to say that the people here are ridiculous.

      Also (and again you’re new here and nobody should have to read everything that’s gone before to join a community but . . .) we’ve talked about the fallacy of “give the writers time to explain everything.” No. The story has to make sense as its told; writers can’t put a confusing mess on the screen and page and promise to clear it up later. They don’t have to tell the reader/viewer everything, but it has to make sense in the now of the story.

      “Sara mentions she was on Lian Yu for a year. I would imagine a lot of things ocurred between her and Oliver that would make their bond incredibly strong”

      Yes, that’s what you would imagine, but I would imagine that he was still in love with Laurel and feeling really bad about betraying her with Sara. Somebody else is imagining that Sara broke up a hot island romance between Slade and Oliver. That’s the problem with viewers imagining stuff: we’ll go off in different directions. If the writers wanted us to believe that Sara and Oliver have a connection in the now of the story, they have to show it in the now of the story. Most of us have people we cared about in the past; for a lot of us that definitely doesn’t mean we care about them now. The story is in the now, it has to be shown in the now.

      Writers who give us an incomplete story are inviting us to participate in writing the story which can be a lot of fun, but it also can be disastrous when they go in a different direction after we’ve written in all this stuff in our imaginations. That’s what’s happening for a lot of us now. We’d written in that Oliver had matured into an empathetic human being and wasn’t still at least in part the entitled rich kid. Our mistake, but also the mistake of the writers because they didn’t put it on the screen.

      1. Next episode shows more of the back story.

        To me they are showing us what they can in the time allotted to them every week. THe story is not in the now, they are telling two stories side by side. Like trying to read book 1 and book 2 together. I am pretty impressed with how they are doing it actually.

        I have read entire book series that have huge twists that there are no hints of 10 books into the series and I love it. The more layered it is the better. I am a huge fan of the Dresden Files and he has several different layers of character interaction going at the same time.

        Personally it seems that people want simple explanations and Arrow is not about that. Arrow is about messy it’s about incredibly messed up and confused people who all think they did the right things for the right reasons at the time and all the consequences are stacking up to really challenge all the characters perceptions of right and wrong.

        1. There’s a difference between “I don’t know all of the back story, but I understand what’s happening now and I understand why the main character does what he does” and “I don’t understand what’s happening now or why the main character does what he does and I don’t like him now.”
          Think of Harry Potter. You didn’t know his back story (hell, he didn’t know his back story) but the story in the now made sense and he behaved in character so you never lose your attachment to him. Snape, on the other hand, was awful until the reveal of his back story, but the story made sense anyway because it was actually improved by us not liking Snape. The reveal at the end gave us the missing information and illuminated the story, but the story worked without it.
          Most of us are having problems because the story isn’t working for us. Forget back story and all of that: the story isn’t working for us. And if the story isn’t working, it’s failing for us as readers and viewers. Saying, “Hang on, it’ll all be explained in the next five years” is not a help because we won’t be here. The story has to make sense now. We don’t have to know everything now, we don’t need simple explanations for things. but the story we’re watching has to make sense now or there’s no point in watching it. We can deal with mystery, we can’t deal with confusion and repulsion. So we’re trying to figure out what’s happening in the writing that’s repelling so many of us.
          It’s what we do here, try to figure out the writing craft.

          1. I guess to me it makes sense but everyone is different. I get why they are all doing what they are doing. I don’t see any regression of character development. I see it as we are picking up with some people after they have been through a crucible and get to see how they develop and deal with it going forward.

          2. Absolutely.
            One of the great things about storytelling is that its collaborative. We all bring our own ideas as we watch or read and those ideas become part of the story, so everybody reads or sees a different story.

          3. One more small comment. Oliver as a character doesn’t know what he is doing and that is the point of where he is at right now. Every other episode he is thrown a massive curve ball and is barely holding it together on a lot of levels. Like I said. Messy

          4. And I could get behind that if he knew he didn’t know what he was doing. I can understand and support a character who’s in turmoil and trying to find his place. But Oliver is passing judgment on everybody he knows; he assumes he knows what he’s doing and that he knows other people better than they know themselves. And that’s what’s off-putting.

    2. “Sara mentions she was on Lian Yu for a year. I would imagine a lot of things ocurred between her and Oliver that would make their bond incredibly strong, it’s not like Sara just reappeared out of a time warp and her and Oliver jumped back into bed to piss Laurel off. They have a connection perhaps people should wait to see it.”

      The thing is, whatever happened on the island happened BEFORE season 1, so any story the writers choose to tell on the island, including whatever deep bond developed between Oliver and Sara, happened before Oliver came back to Starling City, at which point he proceeded to apologize to Laurel for his actions with Sara, call it a mistake, and tell her that he loved her(Laurel) more than anyone else in the world.

      Then, Sara showed up alive and well in season 2, and during all of her interactions with Oliver once he found out that she was alive, not once did either one of them look to have any sort of longing/romantic feelings towards each other, and when questioned by Digg and Felicity as to why he never told the Lances that Sara was alive, he told them that “this was five years where NOTHING GOOD happened, and they were better off not knowing.”

      Maybe if the writers had hinted, even subtly, to their being something more than friendship between them when Sara first showed up this season, it would be easier to understand them falling back into some type of relationship now that she’s back home for good because we, the viewers, would have seen that there were some type of hidden feelings there which could have been later expounded upon during the island scenes, but Sara’s first words to Oliver when he slinged her up on that rooftop and asked her why she was following Laurel was “You and her, always and forever” .. so obviously Sara was also under the impression that Oliver was still all about Laurel, even after all those years and all that deep bonding.

      Nothing in the storytelling since Oliver returned to Starling City has pointed towards Oliver and Sara being anything more than a fling/affair, something that he regrets, until “Heir to the Demon,” and since all of this happened after the island, it’s impossible for the writers to go back and tell a different story between them now, at least not without completely wiping away the last year and a half of present-day storytelling.

      1. Sometimes I think doing the backstory on the island is kneecapping the writers. Imagine telling a story where the back story keeps changing on you. You’d never know where the hell you were with characterization. I understand that they shift the story as they tell it, I do, too (although I get to rewrite in private), but shifting the back story as they go means the ground is moving under their feet all the time. They have such great stories in the present that they have to stop to go back to the past and I’m not seeing the payoff. Slade would be a badass whether you knew his back story or not.

        1. I think the writers were more successful in melding the island information with the present day story and keeping all the balls in the air so things were kept in context and made sense. This season the island information seems to be “wait for it, it’ll make sense later,” when I need it to make sense now. I don’t need answers, but I do need the events on the island now to match with Oliver’s actions/words/deeds in Season 1 Present Day, and I definitely need to be shown something of the island stuff that actually even hints that Oliver/Sara were ‘more’ before hooking them back up in the present. The out of order juxtaposition is, for me, creating confusion, distance from the character(s), and making it hard to keep emotionally invested in their well-being or futures. all of that combined is a lethal combination that’s going to lead to apathy from me. That’s when I find something else to watch on Wednesdays.

        2. It’s only kneecapping them if they try to veer off their intended path to try to force some new agenda onto the audience, which is exactly what I think is happening here with Sara/Oliver, because I think the island story was paralleling nicely with the present-day story up until Three Ghosts.

          Yes, rewrites and changes are part and parcel of storytelling, but normally it’s done to improve the story and to make it more cohesive, not to send everything into a tailspin.

          If I had to guess, I’d say that the writers saw that Sara was well received as BC by the audience and they wanted to capitalize on that and make full use of having both Green Arrow and Black Canary on the show, and in order to fit her into the story and facilitate this romance with Oliver, they needed to start backtracking on certain aspects of the ongoing narrative, which is why everything after the mid season break has felt off-kilter.

          The thing that they need to remember, because the audience certainly won’t forget, is that they can rewrite as much of the island story as they like, but the one thing they can’t rewrite is when it happened, which was before season 1.

    3. “They are building a world, to condemn a single episode for bad writing is like condemning one chapter in a book. It’s part of a the story, not the whole story.”

      Um…it kinda depends how bad the chapter is. I was reading this book once about a family…and then the brother and sister decided to hook up and have sex. I don’t even think I finished the chapter…I closed the book and promptly threw it in the trash.

      My point is: sometimes, a story takes a turn that is so detrimental to the characters, it’s hard to stay on board. I believe that’s how the idiom Jump the Shark was born.

    4. Anyone judging motivations for Oliver or Sara at this point without understanding their actual history is being a bit ridiculous.
      – Kat

      My problem, Kat, is that, as a reader/viewer, if the writers don’t want me to have this reaction they need to provide me with the information *at that time* to prevent it. If this was a book, I can’t assume (as the writer) that the reader isn’t going to just snort, snap the book closed, and hurl it at the wall, muttering, “What a bunch of selfish boobs.” I can’t assume they’re going to read further. I can’t assume they’re going to come back to keep reading. The reader needs context to keep character framed in the right light with enough info that they stay engaged, interested, invested, and caring. If I can’t do that as a writer… if I choose to delay giving them that context, then I have to know I could lose people. That’s not the reader’s fault. That’s my fault as the storyteller.

  31. I’m most disappointed with backtracking with characters. Oliver has regressed. Sara regressed. And my precious Felicity regressed. She had no reason to be concerned or jealous.

    I would have preferred a Felicity and Sara friendship. The first female relationship on the show rather than focusing on Oliver and Sara which is nonsense. They can try fake a back story but I’m glad the fans are not buying it. However I think they have managed to make fans sympathize with Laurel which is a plus.

  32. Feelings shared by so many of us. I enjoyed the episode but I had problems with the same bits you did. I keep wondering all the time how the writers can be that stupid. They’re great with the hero/action part of the show, but they absolutely SUCK at anything pertaining people and their inter relationships.

    1. I think it’s impossible for any writer to be good at all things. I’m terrible at plotting. Aaron Sorkin is a brilliant writer but he can’t write a relationship story at all. Which is all the more reason for the Arrow writers to stick to things they’re really good at–action scenes, Oliver saving the city, the Arrow team, Moira plotting in the shadows, etc. A lot of the problems in this story would go away if Oliver became a fighting monk.

      1. But the thing is, they are good at relationships when they’re not trying. Season 1 Felicity was AWESOME (I still LOVE her, but I miss the awkwardness, her clothes, etc). Season 1 Laurel was better (they weren’t even trying with her IMO) when she wasn’t with Oliver. Sara was AWESOME when she first came in. Then the writers decided to give them their time and completely ruined them.

        If they have their strengths and weakness, then they should definitely focus on their strengths and get new writers that could take over their weakness and turn them around, even though it still poses a problem. Marc Guggenheim is a former lawyer, he’s the one who writers the legal parts of the show, he’s the one that wrote Laurel’s scenes in State v. Queen, he’s the one that made laurel take part in Moira’s case when it’d never have been allowed in real life. They were the weakest parts of an otherwise pretty awesome episode. I know this is a show, but when the storytelling becomes ridiculous enough for people without legal knowledge to roll their eyes, something is seriously wrong.

        I guess my point is, they need new/more writers. They need to sit down the actually think about where they want to take the show. They need to work on tighter storytelling, to clean up some of the dozens of loose ends. There’s only so much you can tell in 42 minutes and they keep trying to cram everything up in one episode.

        The first half of the season before the Christmas break was awesome and I wonder what happened for the sudden shift in basically EVERYTHING.

        1. Great points! I don’t know if this is going too far but…. how exactly do the writers of this show think real people behave? How do they think real people would respond to all of the awful &*%$ that these characters seem to put each other though? I feel like they are completely reacting to the reaction from the audience of the show.
          “Oh, they think its unbelievable that the Queens won’t be mad at Laurel for being the prosecuting attorney against Moira? We’ll mention it now while ignoring the past episodes of everyone being completely fine with this!”
          “Oh, they like Sara? Then we’ll put her with Oliver even though we’ve set no precedent or build-up for this relationship at the beginning of the season and focus heavily on her at the expense of other characters!”*
          “Oh they don’t like Laurel? Well we’ll have Oliver tell her that he’s done with her even though by doing this he becomes the biggest hypocrite in Starling!”
          Seriously, its just completely mind boggling. I understand that real people do terrible things for really selfish reasons, but the problem with the writing on this show is that they aren’t presenting the way that Sara and Oliver are acting as being terrible or selfish at all. I just can’t fathom any writer not recognizing how unsympathetic they are making these two. While I can watch (and even root for) unsympathetic characters (you do you Moira, you do you), I just can’t do it if its obvious that we’re supposed to sympathize with them…..if that makes any sense 🙂

          *on a side note about Sara’s and Oliver’s relationship: Did it really have to come at the end of episode where we were introduced to Sara’s psychotic lesbian love interest? Its just…well, I am bisexual and I can’t count how many times people have dismissed my relationships with women as a “phase” that I’m going through. Its unbelievably dismissive, hurtful and a little dehumanizing. I’ve struggled so freaking hard to come to terms with my sexuality even though its questioned and doubted daily by people that I love. Both of my parents are convinced that I’m going to settle down with a boy once I’m done ‘experimenting’. I get the feeling that the Arrow writers had no intention of presenting Sara’s relationship as a “phase” (and I am really grateful for that) but having her hook up with Oliver directly after her goodbye to Nadia just felt like a slap in the face.
          I know I’m coming at this with a mountain of baggage and bias, but it is a common (and homophobic) trope for the straight male hero to ‘tame’ the lesbian with his very special, very manly penis. And it is so freaking regressive it isn’t even funny. I know that Sara is in no way a lesbian (she did after all have a very straight fling with Oliver) but just putting their hook-up (or the beginning of their relationship…I guess) right after Nadia just rrreeaaallly rubbed me the wrong way.
          I completely understand if no one else is bothered by this, I am after all in the process of setting the record straight (no pun intended) regarding my own sexuality so this kind of thing is always at the front of my mind. I just wanted to put this out there and see what you guys think. I probably should have brought this up when the previous episode aired, but I just couldn’t really think about anything Arrow-related after the whole Oliver-Sara kiss and the demons in my own life that it reflected (at least to me). Again, this is a personal hang up and I understand if someone disagrees.

          1. Woops, Psychotic lesbian love interest’s name is Nyssa, not Nadia. My bad! I just completely scrubbed that episode from my mind that I forgot the heir to the demon’s name. So embarrassing!

          2. No, it bothered me, too, especially when one of the producers said that she wasn’t bi. That was mind boggling, especially since that was one of the more believable relationships the show has put on the screen. I really believed they cared about each other. Damn it, it was on the screen.

          3. I’m REALLY hoping in the Birds of Prey episode, Sara falls in love with Helena. Please, show, I’d forgive this episode if that just happened. I think it would be far more entertaining than this mess….and I think it’s EXACTLY what Oliver deserves.

          4. I had these exact thoughts about the Sara/Oliver kiss coming at the end of an episode with Sara/Nyssa. As Jenny said, it was one of the more believable relationships this show has portrayed so far. I really believed Sara and Nyssa cared deeply for each other, that their relationship had meant something important to both of them. And I believed that Nyssa truly loved Sara, because she released her at the end.

            The Sara/Oliver hookup seemed like a slap in the face to everyone who was excited that there was a canonically bisexual, or possibly lesbian, character on a major show. For that matter, it was also a slap in the face to everyone who was excited that Oliver had a positive platonic relationship with a woman he’s not related to. “Haha, just kidding! Sara is actually just as interested in Oliver’s magic dick as EVERY OTHER WOMAN ON THIS SHOW.” SIGH.

          5. I just read your response Jenny and WHAT?!?! They’re not setting Sara up as being bi?? What do they think Nyssa and Sara were doing for the duration of their relationship? Sweetly holding hands? Having super fun cuddle parties? I mean, there’s…things….that couples do. They know that right? Lesbians and bisexuals do those….things…..just like straight couples. Crazy kinky things.

            Are they trying to say that Sara is a bit lower than a 5 on the Kinsey scale? Meaning that she’s more attracted to men than women but is still, on some level, attracted to women? I can buy that, but being bisexual doesn’t mean you have to be a perfect 5. I have friends who are 2 or 3 at the most on the Kinsey scale and they’ll call themselves bisexual but hetero-romantic. Are they saying she identifies as queer? Pansexual? There are so many wonderful flavors of gay!

            I know I’m getting super technical, but I’m just super super super confused on what they’re doing with Sara’s sexuality because it truly means a lot to me. Its rare to find positive examples of bisexuality in popular culture (without them falling into familiar bi-phobic tropes) and I really thought that Sara could be one of those. I feel…cheated? I don’t know.

            I mean, was it comfort that she was looking for? I get that. But I’ve comforted loads of my straight girlfriends (friends who are girls not…you know) without it turning sexual in any way. I literally don’t know anyone (straight) who was having a really rough time and tried to get over it with gay sex. From what I understand, its not a standard therapy technique.

            I know girls who were bi-curious and experimented, but if they discovered that they were 100% straight, they DIDN’T enter into lesbian relationships. Sex with someone you aren’t attracted to is a chore that drags you down, and drags to the person you’re sleeping with down with you. I know because I’ve been that experiment. Its horrible. Even if they tried to make a go at it (which to me is pretty inconceivable), I don’t predict that such a relationship would last long. The idea that straight women will enter into lesbian relationships is a fantasy. A male fantasy that hurts the lesbian (and bisexual) community so so soooo much. If this is the direction that the writers are going in I will have to give up on this show. The perpetuation of this trope is stupid and hurtful. Its 2014 people, not a 1980’s action movie.

            On the other hand, the show hinted (but didn’t explicitly state, to my recollection) that Sara was sexually abused (or witnessed sexual abuse… which would have been used by Ivo to psychologically bully her into compliance which to me IS sexual abuse). This is…umm…well…something. I’m not against the portrayal of sexual abuse (and the toll it takes on victims) on a tv show, but it has to be done responsibly. Real people suffer through this everyday and their experiences and voices are silenced daily. I’m not against giving these kind of grievances a platform. But Arrow isn’t addressing what they have been hinting at. They’ve just been hinting at it to make Ivo seem like a BAD GUY tm. Which…yeah, sexual abusers are bad guys. That’s not news.

            In terms of addressing this abuse (because there was some sort of abuse, even if it wasn’t sexual) I think the show has been a mixed bag. I cheered when Sara stood up to him on the island. I cheered when Sara was hunting down men hurting women. I liked that she doesn’t like the word “bitch”. It was great.

            side note: I think its a little problematic that they were portraying her as a feminist after…whatever happened on that boat. People come to feminism through a myriad of ways. I was drawn to it initially because it was the best part of my Sociology class. I love looking at social issues through the lens of feminism and studying the intersectionality of identities – be it race, class, gender, sexual orientation etc.- and how inequality impacts these identities. It didn’t take sexual abuse for me to not be too fond of the word “bitch”, it just took some looking around. I only mention this because the trope of sexual abuse survivors becoming man-hating feminists is a super super super super harmful trope. Probably one of the worst out there. I know a few people who have read up on feminist literature after surviving sexual abuse, and a good number of them found it helpful in reconciling with what happened to them (especially in learning to shift the blame for the attack onto the perpetrator, not themselves) and that’s great. But it is by no means the only way that people become feminists. Now the show hasn’t explicitly stated that Sara is a feminist, nor have they stated (explicitly) that she is a survivor of sexual assault, but they are touching on this trope (or at least they were, not I have no idea what’s going on now). And it needs to be dealt with in a sympathetic and nuanced way. Some way that acknowledges what happened to her (whatever did happen) and how it is affecting her now. Her relationships, her sense of self, everything. This needs to be shown. Explicitly. No more teasing hints about what happened on the boat and BAM! Black Canary, super assassin extraordinaire. To me, the time that we spend on the island can best be served in showing this change in Sara. Which we are getting, to a certain extent. But I need them to do more.

            Which brings me back to Nyssa. It seems to me like they are hinting that Sara entered into this relationship because of what Ivo did to her. NO. Just. NO. I know (fat too many) women who have survived sexual assault and none of them (I repeat NONE OF THEM) entered into lesbian relationships if they were straight to begin with. If they are trying to convince me that Sara isn’t bisexual, then they are falling into a really really really homophobic trope. And they need to stop. Now.

          6. I think it may be simpler than that: They thought a Nyssa-Sara kiss would be hot but they didn’t want to alienate any homophobic viewers. It’s the only explanation I can think of. Anything else makes the relationship with Nyssa coercive, a parallel to the Ivo relationship, but Sara said, “I loved you” to Nyssa. I think it’s just another instance of the show runners assuming that if they say something, people will buy it, forgetting that the vast majority of people do not read the fan boards or the producers’ PR, they just watch the show. The story is what’s on the screen.

            I also think that Arrow is never going to be a feminist show, but I don’t think it’s anti-feminist, either. I think that because of its source material and because of its show runners, this is a male show. That explains why they thought the sisters back story would be such a hit. It explains why they made Laurel so cold and invulnerable and still thought everybody would root for her: she’s so beautiful and so hot, how could they not? I can see a lot of places where they’re trying to avoid sexism–Thea’s running the bar just fine, Laurel’s the one who found out the truth about Blood, Felicity is not a dumb blonde, Sara is not wearing fishnets–but there’s a tone-deafness there, using the Sara-Nyssa relationship because girls kissing is hot and then undercutting the most important thing about that kiss because OF COURSE she’ll go back to boys, or spending way too much time on the Lance Catfight because . . . God knows why.
            Somebody on here (Sara? I’ve lost the comment, darn it) pointed out that Sara/Canary was almost falling out of her costume while trying to fight crime. I keep looking at that long blonde hair and thinking, “Wouldn’t that be the first thing somebody coming at her would grab? It’s like giving opponents a handle.” But she’s not wearing fishnets and heels, in fact I covet her very practical boots, so they’re making an effort.
            The “not bi” thing, though, makes as much sense as “Oliver really loved Sara not Laurel.” If you put it on the screen, you can’t change your mind later. There’s a “these are not the droids you’re looking for” aspect to some of this stuff that’s the reason I don’t read fan boards or the PR anymore.

          7. The story is what’s on the screen. … If you put it on the screen, you can’t change your mind later. There’s a “these are not the droids you’re looking for” aspect to some of this stuff that’s the reason I don’t read fan boards or the PR anymore.
            – Jenny

            I think that’s where some of my confusion, as a viewer, is coming in with Arrow. I have this weird habit of reading articles and some of the PR stuff and letting just flow in one ear and out the other. Little bits might get filed away in the deep corners of my brain in a “that’s nice” sort of way, but my conclusions and reactions to the story and character are guided by what’s on the screen. Having someone connected with the show (writer, producer, whoever) come back later and “explain” things to me about what the right interpretation was or what it will be in the future just … It feels like a form of cheating, for lack of a better word. The average TV viewer isn’t reading all that stuff, they’re not following all the interviews and videos and Q&As so it’s now “knowledge” that they have. To me it’s like the comic book history. I shouldn’t have to know any of that or even frame information from any of it to “understand” the Arrow show. Plug the gaps on the screen and please don’t do it cliffnotes style in hindsight from the sidelines.

          8. Darn it! Typo that changed the total meaning of that sentence. It should read:

            It feels like a form of cheating, for lack of a better word. The average TV viewer isn’t reading all that stuff, they’re not following all the interviews and videos and Q&As so it’s *not* “knowledge” that they have.

  33. Thank you THANK YOU for this review! I couldn’t articulate why this episode left me feeling cold…but you spelled it out perfectly. Normally after watching a new Arrow episode I’ll rewind to all of the cute bits (not just all of the Olicity scenes…even though they are usually pretty darn cute) and read a ton of reviews online and engage with others about Arrow awsomness…but I just moved on after this episode. The only reason I’m here is because I saw dribs and drabbles of your review on Tumblr and I HAD to check it out.
    The thing is, Arrow became my favorite show not because of the great action sequences or even Olicity (although these things don’t hurt!) but because of the central relationships between Dig, Oliver and Felicity. You could tell that they all cared about each other and supported one another through thick and thin, and I loved it. I especially loved it when they called each other out on their crap (props to you Diggle), because you could tell that they were helping each other grow and change into better people. But this season… not so much. I mean the beginning was great, that dynamic was still there, but the latest Lance-centric episodes have just been awful. The terrible truth is that I don’t care about these people. Every time we’re with them I feel like we’re entering a movie that’s already half-way through. We get little windows into who they were before the Island, but we don’t really know them. We don’t get to see their relationships with each other (not to mention their individual hopes, desires, dreams…) grow and evolve – or devolve…whatever the case may be. Whereas with the central Team Arrow trio, we get to see that story from the beginning. And honestly, its a damn good story. But that story is being sacrificed at the alter of the Lances and they are just soooo not worth it. Not even a little bit. I don’t want to waste time that we could spend on Diggle and Felicity go to them. I just don’t.
    This show feels like it did back at the beginning of season one and honestly, I freaking haaated this show at the beginning of season one. The characters were paper thin and every last one of them was completely despicable. I liked Diggle, but his role was so small that it in no way made up for all of the awful surrounding him. The only reason I stuck with it is because friends assured me that it got waay better. And it did. But the Arrow writers are devolving into first-half-of-season-one levels of bad writing and I really don’t understand why. I mean, did they just get lucky when they wrote all of the good stuff? They don’t seem to have a handle on these characters at all and I just don’t understand where this change is coming from. *sigh* I’m not just saying this because Olicity feels like its ruined (seriously, no one deserves the sanctimonious mess that is Oliver Queen, especially not precious Felicity), but because these characters aren’t just behaving out of character, they’re not even behaving like people. I think you summed it up nicely in your review when you said that character has been sacrificed for plot. I can’t imagine real people behaving the way any of these characters seem to behave.
    Also (this is completely different but I think its also important) I read a bunch of spoilers online that this would be a Felicity-centric episode but in what way on heaven and earth was this episode Felicity-centric? This episode was almost completely about Sarah and the Lances with a few Felicity reaction scenes. I almost think that the *spoilers! spoilers! spoilers!* Diggle-centric episode will consist entirely of Laurel’s AA meetings and Sara’s adventures in bar-tending.
    Anyhoo, that’s my two cents. Thanks for the great review!

    1. I think because Felicity feels so left out and then defeats the Clock King, that the producers felt it was about Felicity. But earlier, they’d said it was about Laurel, and Laurel does have a huge character arc here. So I think the problem may be in the way they’re defining “centric,” because I don’t think this episode had a center.

      1. Good point. This episode was a complete mess. I was just so excited that I was going to see my girl Felicity do her thing and then….well. You know.

      2. I think that when the writers say “centric” they mean there’s some kind of character shift in the episode. I don’t think that translates to focus or an increase in screen time per say, just something changes for the character. Some viewers, I think, hear “centric” and assume that means the whole episode will be “about them.” It’s like the Diggle-centric episode in Russia. I mean… really… was it that big of a deal for Diggle? Yeah, we learned more about him, and I enjoyed that ep, but I didn’t think it was a huge Diggle ep. He got a tidbit of important information the opens up more of his own personal quest but really that was about it.

    2. At some pointless ago I read a quote from one of the EPs calling this “the most Brothers and Sisters” episode we’ve ever done – and he seemed proud. I watched Brothers and Sisters, but it was a totally different kind of show. Arrow should be about the action not the drama because there’s not enough time in an episode to do both well. Now if that “Brothers and Sisters” dinner had been at the Queen Mansion with the Lances, Moira, Thea, and Roy present (and in my fantasy, Moira’s new boyfriend Slade), image how entertaining it could have been. I would have rather seen that than the boring party and the Lance dinner party.

      Oh, and has anyone else wondered how Sara is going to manage to bartend and fight crime at the same time? Shouldn’t she have gotten a day job? That actually bothered me more than Oliver’s dumb move of selling shares.

      Also I wonder what scenes they cut. There was a still with Felicity standing in the street and Sara running that I don’t remember seeing on the show.

    3. Ok, I could pretty much quote everything you wrote and say ‘me, too’! The original Team Arrow threesome are why I watch, I didn’t like the show until those three became the heart of it, the Sister drama feels like the show has been intercut with scenes from a bad soap opera and the characterisation is built on shifting sands.

  34. I’m choosing to view this as a ‘filler’ episode leading to better things. We can hope!

    That scene were Sara’s sewing Felicity bullet wound had such potential… Now all I can remember is awkwardness and Felicity in a white bra! wtf They dress Felicity in such bright colors! Blue polka dots Pink lace anything else. Who would have thought plainness could be distracting?

  35. I always take everything outside of the episodes themselves with a truckload of salt, because what’s on the screen is what matters. And on the screen this week, I saw Oliver and Sara searching for happiness despite Laurel’s downward spiral, which is self-absorbed, but it’s where they are right now. I saw Felicity doubting herself but also branching out, which is going to pay off later I hope. I saw wonderful Diggle still being wonderful, and I saw Slade, who still thinks of Oliver as a “kid,” about to teach him a lesson. Bring it on!

  36. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who thought Felicity came off like a child in this episode. I still love her, and I love that she was the one to figure out how to defeat the Clock King, and then she did it herself WHILE saving Sara from a bullet, but the comments on her choice of clothing, and the “I thought I was your girl” scene made me cringe, “aspirin” notwithstanding. And I don’t see it as just Felicity is naive, or she sees herself as too young — it looked to me as if Oliver and Sara see Felicity like a child. Which bothered me a lot, and made me wonder whether it was the writers intention: for the audience to see that she’s too young/naive/childish for Oliver?

    Also, can Oliver maybe stop lecturing people from a place of moral superiority HE DOES NOT HAVE? If calling Moira a liar wasn’t bad enough, now HE’s the one giving up on Laurel? Uh. Her boyfriend died and he ran away for 5 months, I think she got that memo back then. I’m so frustrated with anything related to the Laurel/Oliver/Sara story right now, I still think all of them look bad, but I have a feeling that the show is trying to convince me that Oliver and Sara are totally in the right, and oh, look it, all of you audience members who hated Laurel so much: she’s now atoning for her mistakes. Barf.

    Also, Oliver? Stop throwing parties, you’re super terrible at it.

  37. Is it just me, or are Sara and Oliver way too similar? In a lot of ways they feel like the same character.

  38. Firstly I want to say how much I have been enjoying reading all the Arrow posts, and the comments (I first started watching Arrow because of a blog post of yours a while ago, before you started the series.

    My reaction to this episode, before I read your blog, was that it seemed the characters who the writers were putting into a parallel/comparison in the episode were Felicity and Sin – with both of them appearing as/being treated as a younger sibling. It seemed like the flashbacks entirely revolved around setting up Sin as a little sister to Sara, cemented by her telling her so at the end (and, while I don’t normally mind the flashbacks, it seemed like a total waste of episode time, agreeing with the comments above). Sin as the little sister really highlighted the way that Felicity was being seen as a little sister, and the writers were treating her as one. It can be seen in the scar comparison conversation, and her attempt to join in with something that would most likely only be seen as a pathetic comparison (not at all in keeping with her role in the arrow cave), Sara’s snarky comments, and even Sara giving her feedback on the training, which I didn’t mind. It also fit with the ‘you’ll always be my girl’ comment. I remember in the comments on a previous post there was a general agreement that that line would be ok if it was being addressed by Oliver to his little sister, but not to a potential romantic partner. I think the context that they put it into (him responding to something she said while doped up) made it a little better, but it was still pretty bad.

    Even Diggle, who I was so glad got to be a big player and hero in the episode, seemed a bit protective big brother, especially at the end when he gave her the painkillers but told her it was aspirin to let her be as brave as the big kids, getting stitched up in the arrow cave like the others rather than going to a hospital.

    Given that reaction, I thought it was interesting that you commented on the sister parallels in the post (and apologies if I am echoing something that has really been said already).

    The other impression that I got was that the writers were trying to ensure that Oliver had a moment with all three potential romantic interests that viewers could interpret as being ‘special’, which I think is just playing with the viewers and the raging debates rather than focusing on the story they are telling.

    1. Whoa, you’re right. I saw the sister motif, but I didn’t see that they were using Felicity and Sin as foils.
      Which takes Felicity out of the romantic interest stakes. No wonder this episode infantilized her.

  39. First of all I want to apologize for any mistakes as my first language isn’t English.
    I’m so glad I came across this. It’s really hard to find a place on the Internet where you can discuss a story without instantly being called a hater when you have a different opinion or someone telling you that you shouldn’t be watching the show in the first place because you’re not a real fan.

    The last episode was very confusing. From the beginning of season 2 Felicity was shown as a character who had grown immensely since the season 1 finale. She was more confident and talked with Oliver like she was his equal. Even before “You’re my partner” line was said.

    It felt like the writers have forgotten all that progress and taken Felicity’s character back so many steps, along with her relationship with Oliver. (Even if it wasn’t romantic)

    What I felt was they put down her character just to make Sara seem superior. It seems like there’s nothing Sara can’t do. I liked Sara’s character up until that point. But I don’t really care about her story. I don’t want to learn more about her like I want to about Felicity.

    I think the writers want this Black Canary and Arrow romance so bad they had to make Sara’s character seem stronger than Felicity (Making Felicity look childlike in the process). Because Felicity with all her insecurities and babbles, is one of the strongest females in the show. She is the lead female character even if it is never said.

    Sara calling Felicity “Cute” all the time didn’t make me like Sara anymore. I would have rather liked if Sara had acknowledged Felicity’s insecurities and talked to her about it like an adult. Maybe not so directly since they are not friends, but she could have said something. The purpose of Felicity’s training scene may have been for that but it was just one scene against all the other “You’re cute” scenes and the jacket scene. But I guess I shouldn’t have expected that from someone who didn’t even care about her sister’s feelings. I feel bad for Sin for having Sara be her big sister.

    The way Oliver treated Felicity wasn’t any fun either. He went from, “You’re my partner.” to treating her like the cute girl he keeps around because she’s good with computers. Where is that person who killed the count because he was going to inject Felicity with the Vertigo? What happened to the person the episode before noticed that Felicity was troubled? Instead of being worried about her being shot and appreciating her for saving someone’s life they were talking to her like a child. Talking to Felicity like a child is not only treating the character poorly, but also the fans that have come to adore the character.

    I read somewhere that making Felicity seem immature, may not have been intentional, but something added just to lighten the mood of the otherwise Lance drama heavy episode. If I remember correctly these episodes were announced as Lance family episodes. Then it was called as Felicity centric. Either way they were unsuccessful.

    I feel bad for Laurel’s character too. Why was she the only one to apologize? Why couldn’t Sara apologize too?

    Another thing I don’t understand is does Oliver really care about Sara at this point of time. Because he said, “I can’t be with someone I could really care about.” Does it only apply to Felicity? So since Super Sara can take care of herself, he can be with someone he really cares about? Hopefully they will explain these things within the show. Because not everyone watches and reads every interview and article out there about the show.

    I have a feeling the writers are going to justify what Oliver and Sara did to Laurel using flash backs. Not just by showing how Oliver and Sara’s relationship grew on the island, but also by showing Oliver and Sara had a deeper connection prior to the island, which we are not aware of yet. In turn to make us believe that it was Oliver and Sara that belongs together and Oliver is not a complete jerk. My problem with this ever happening is (if it happens), this connection was never shown the first time Sara came to Starling City. Yes they’ve been apart for years, but there was nothing to indicate that Sara had a deeper connection with Oliver. I don’t know whose fault is that.
    I just hope the writers are aware of these problems and concerns.

    1. Your English is terrific. No worries.
      I’m beginning to think that the character violations you pointed out are the real problem. It isn’t that characters can’t be elitist, arrogant, selfish, etc., it’s that those things have to be in character.

      1. Thank you. 🙂 It took me a lot of time to decide if I should press the submit button or not.

        I hope they work these things out, because I don’t want to give up on the show.

  40. “Is it just me, or are Sara and Oliver way too similar? In a lot of ways they feel like the same character.” –Madaline

    You’re not the only one who sees this, which is why I will be glad when Sara/Oliver has run its course because they have no where near the dynamic potential that I see in Oliver/Felicity.

    I also agree that Felicity was patronized in this episode, but she was being patronizing towards herself as well–that’s what happens when you doubt yourself-you feel small.

  41. A lot of people complain about Oliver and the way he treats Felicity in “Time of Death” but maybe you just need to look at his behavior from a new perspective.
    First, the weird remark about her sport outfit. Second, the rude way he reminds her that uncovering tracks is what she’s good at (and not fighting implied). Then the harsh command to Diggle to get her out of the bank. And finally, the way he stops Sara when she wants to go with him and silently asking her to stay with Felicity (& Diggle…better safe than sorry!)
    They are clear evidences to me that he doesn’t want Felicity on the field, ever. Training or not training, he doesn’t want she takes more chances with her safety than necessary.
    Like you said, Oliver’s behavior is quite uncharacteristic regarding Felicity (and the writer can’t be as bad all of a sudden…). If these reactions can individually be interpreted as dismissive, isn’t it possible that collectively, his reactions reveal actually how much he cares about her …. and maybe more than he should ?
    That’s the way I feel it. Slow burn in action. Subtle but definitely there.

    Check it yourself. Here is a link to all the olicity moment Videos.

    1. Oops! I forget the “you always be my girl, Felicity” comment.
      Did you ask yourself which ‘girl’ does Oliver mean by it? ‘my girl, girl’ or ‘my girl’ ? … because I did and I couldn’t help myself to think maybe it’s not a coincidence that he used that same word !

  42. Since this is a writing blog I have a quick question. Arrow has different directors could the last two episodes have different writers? Continuity just hasn’t happened. Thanks.

    1. TV shows like this generally have a writers’ room, lots of writers, with one or two writers in charge of each episode. But the overall story is always controlled by a showrunner or runners, who in this case are the executive producers. From what I’ve gathered, they keep pretty tight control over the stories. I think in some cases, different writers do different scenes within an episode, too, but that’s a guess based on how the quality varies so wildly sometimes.

  43. I checked the last two episodes were written by different writers. I think that has to do with the disconnect between the shows.

  44. I’ve only skimmed the comments, sorry if I’m repeating. Notes:

    I like that when Diggle reaches out to Felicity, she makes it clear she’s feeling insecure about her worth to the team, not because Oliver is sleeping with Sara. This makes sense to me because she really seemed to find a sense of purpose in the crime-fighting, and I’m hoping it may encourage her to expand her skill set a little or go out in the field more in way that doesn’t involve being bait. If this is their way of trying to arc Felicity, yay.

    Clock King was great. And he’s not dead, so I’m hoping he’ll get out of Iron Heights like the every other criminal in this city and come back for an episode where they actually give him screen time. (On a side note, how has this prison not been shut down for extreme negligence and incompetence, and why are they apparently using it to house people who haven’t been convicted? Is there no jail in this town? Sorry, this just really annoyed me during the first part of the season).

    Lance Family Drama. It was annoying for taking time away from the Clock King, and then they made it worse by having Oliver and Sara be horrible. The only scene in this part of the episode I liked was Quentin asking Laurel to come to dinner. He wasn’t asking her to forgive Sara, just play nice for a night as a favor to him, and she seemed happy to do that for possibility of her parents reconciling. It was a glimpse of what they were like in season one, something I always enjoyed. I want them to be close again. Everything else about this just confused me and pissed me off. I didn’t know what they were trying to do or why they want me to hate Oliver. Are they on something?

    Laurel’s 180 on the substance abuse. This felt rushed. But if that means they’re done with it and Laurel and Quentin will bond again through supporting each other at AA, I’ll live with it. Can they work together to expose Blood now? Please? Is Blood even still in Starling City? It’s been so long since I saw him I almost forgot about him.

    I didn’t care much for “The Odyssey” last season, and the next episode is supposed to be this season’s island-centric episode. Which I imagine means taking over the freighter. Hopefully that means lots more Anatoly, I like him. I’m looking forward to this one only because at this point I prefer Island Oliver; he’s not always the brightest, but he’s less of a jackass than present-day Oliver right now, and I need the break.

    1. Katie, I don’t think anybody can read all the comments, so repetition is fine.

      I don’t want to think about a mostly-island episode. I want off that island more than Oliver did.

      1. I like the “what went down pre-return paralleling present day storylines” thing as a device, but let’s please move on to the part where Oliver left the island and went and did…whatever he did, with the Russians or in Markovia or whatever, sans wig, and in more visually interesting locations.

        I don’t know how Lost managed all those island years without seeming so visually boring and Arrow doesn’t spend nearly as much time there but it all looks the same all the time. Maybe because one’s Hawaii and the other isn’t?

        (My eyes are) bored now.

        1. Regarding the sameness of the island backgrounds: that’s been explained in the extras on the Bluray. The show has a very limited budget, so the island stuff is actually all happening in a very small area, where filming is even more limited because the area where they are filming is filled with luxury homes so they have to angle the cameras to make sure none of the houses actually show up in the frame. And they also have to stage stuff so that the camera can still move around, while avoiding houses, and not having the camera hit a tree, which is another limitation.

          Lost had a much bigger budget, so they could go around to various parts of Hawai’i and film stuff.

          Regarding the showrunners: this show has three showrunners. Apparently two of them have temporarily backed away from some Arrow responsibilities to develop the Flash show, which may explain some of the tonal differences. I know that when I have two different editors/copyeditors look at my stuff prior to publication, they end up picking up on different things, so it’s possible that with just one “editor” as it were, some things are getting highlighted and other things are getting missed.

          1. Ah ha! A shift in showrunners is the most likely explanation. Those are the guys who control the narrative.
            You know, that’s what tanked Buffy in Season Six (?); Whedon concentrated on Angel and left Buffy to his producer, and she pushed that magic addiction story line that was pretty much universally loathed.

          2. Yeah: for the first nine episodes, Berlanti, Kreisberg and Guggenheim were all sharing showrunner responsbilities. Berlanti and Kresiberg haven’t left Arrow, but they are now reportedly focused on Flash.

            Back when that was announced in November a few fans started raising warning signs, which in retrospect seem to be justified.

            To add to this, there’s the rumors that the CW is engaged in pretty serious talks about developing Young Justice and Birds of Prey shows, which I think helps explain this sudden shift in focus from the Arrow Cave over to the Lance Family Drama and Roy Develops Superpowers story. These storylines may not be necessary for Arrow, but they might be necessary for those two shows. Whether Arrow is the appropriate vehicle to launch these shows or not is another question. And of course that might all just be hopeful fan speculation (or, in the case of the people I’m talking to, hopeful tie-in novelizations speculation), not what’s actually happening.

            And yeah, Buffy took on a very different tone under a different showrunner and I know I wasn’t thrilled by it.

          3. Reminds me of a story my agent told me, about being in a bookstore and hearing two people talking about the latest V. C. Andrews. One of them said, “She’s just not writing like she used to anymore.” My agent said she wanted to say, “That’s because she’s dead.” The publisher had hired somebody else to keep writing the books. Kinda the same feel here.

          4. I’d heard that several of the show runners were off focusing on the pilot. I remember thinking Oh crap! And yeah, you’re right… that totally explains things. It’s why I’m hoping the ones that are off doing the Flash aren’t leaving Arrow if/when the Flash gets picked up. I really, really, really need that to not happen.

  45. Thank god for your post! I was feeling so depressed about the last two eps and thinking maybe I was being too picky or allowing my love for Felicity to colour my ideas. Glad to know I’m not alone!

    I was thinking this season was fantastic so far, but it’s amazing how quickly things get turned around. There is still much to admire in Arrow, but I have to wonder what on earth the writers are thinking right now, especially with regard to their main protagonist. Oliver is, honestly, very hard to like right now. (It reminds me of ‘Castle’, a show I loved but have given up on. The show runner made Kate so unlikeable in order to serve the plot, that it was impossible to care what happened to her. The plot driving the characters is never a good idea if that means the characters lose those traits for which we love them.)

    I know O has a troubled past and that people can regress, but we still have to root for the ‘hero’ of any show. It’s hard to do that when we see him, and Sara, being so clueless, selfish, and a little cruel. The ‘sweet’ kisses and intense looks were nauseating. Ok, partly because of my Olicity feelings, but, even without that, the relationship feels so fake, so not in keeping with what’s gone on before, and so cheesy. Sara, whom I like, was condescending, Oliver was thoughtless, and I found myself agreeing with Laurel, which never happens!

    I did think ‘uh oh’ when I read Stephen A’s last interview. He’s a sweetie, but it seemed clear he was trying to get people on board with the latest plot lines, by some less than subtle retcon. They want to dial back on Olicity by friend zoning Felicity. That patronising ‘you’ll always be my girl’ and Felicity nuzzling into his hand like a kitten grateful for a caress from her owner, plus the way she responded to Digg’s questions, show that. I have no problem with there being a slow ride to them getting together, and even never having them be a couple. If that’s how it has been written before. But having all those moments in previous episodes, those looks and touches, and then saying they all meant nothing, makes it look like they think we are stupid or have short memories.

    I didn’t think O was jealous over Barry, until Digg made the ‘you never had a problem with F’s work until there was BA’ remark. Plus, Stephen, at the time of that ep, talked about how you can have feelings for your friend but not realise it until someone likes them. And a producer tweeted about his jealousy. Yet, now he says it never happened? Also, suddenly Sara and Oliver have a ‘deep history’? Um, again, all the canon indications were that it was a fling and O even said it was a mistake. Plus the whole ‘I’ve loved you half my life’ to Laurel, which doesn’t fit with the idea of S and O as a great love story in the past. However, they want us to be on board with the new couple, hence all this revisionist history, which, to my mind, is a trick used by the desperate. The writers have painted themselves into a corner by not keeping the characters consistent to the way they’ve supposedly been developing.

    Diggle and Felicity were the best things about the last two eps. But that is not enough to keep me around. I think I will wait a few eps and binge watch if I hear it’s getting back on track.

    1. Thank god for your post! I was feeling so depressed about the last two eps and thinking maybe I was being too picky or allowing my love for Felicity to colour my ideas. Glad to know I’m not alone!
      – Sarah

      You know, Sarah, I was once told that every viewer’s opinion represents approx 200+ other people when it comes to TV. If it’s one thing I’ve learned through all my TV viewing & talking with other fans, it’s the you’re never “alone” in how you take things. It might feel unpopular and people might be shy about saying it online when the other position is maybe louder… but you’re never alone.

  46. I think the show needs only one brooding, troubled, kiss a$$ vigilante with killer abs and serious family issues. So, from a purely aesthetic point of view, I’ll take Oliver! Or Ollie, as I think Ollie is the obnoxious, un-evolved version of Mr Q, and that is whom we’re seeing right now.

    1. Oops. I put ‘kiss’ when I meant ‘kick’ a$$! Hmm. Is there something Freudian in that? Probably it’s because I’m so tired of Oliver hooking up with all these women, which mainly serves to make him less and less likable.

  47. Brilliant reaction, Jenny. It’s weird because I have two hats when approaching this episode.

    1. The Fan Hat. As an Arrow fan, I was okay with the episode. By “Okay” I mean that I was entertained if I didn’t think about it too hard. I was okay with the focus of the episode (the Felicity stuff, really, even if it was mostly plot driven) was I was good with how they managed it. Felicity didn’t come across petty/jealous/catty over the whole Oliver/Sara romance (using that word loosely here). I loved the Clock King and I think he’ll be back. I was very happy to see they did what I thought they would: Felicity gets in an Uh Oh situation, the entire team comes after her, Felicity gets shot saving Sara, gets a scar of her own, and manages to take down the bad guy. This could have gone really, really bad (and I think a lot of people were braced for it to go a different way) but the outcome was good for me. Felicity’s even awesome-er than she was before. Yay. So on the pure-entertainment-level in this regard I was fine. I liked seeing Felicity picking up some self-defense. I think I could like Sara and Felicity as friends once they get some stable footing. There’s potential there if the writers can resist the lure of the catty/bitchy/mean girl thing.

    Then there’s:

    2. The Writer Hat. This is where I have problems and sat there picking apart the actual story like it was my own. Aside from the already pointed out Felicity/Dumb Choice/Plot Driven Needs issues…. I’m confused on how any of this is supposed to make Oliver look good. I feel like someone needs to sit me down and and explain this to me — potentially using stick figures — because I don’t understand what they think they’re achieving with this current direction. Almost all the characters didn’t look good in this episode. I think Felicity escaped pretty well compared to everybody else but Oliver came off as a huge “What Was That?”

    The weird thing is, I’ve watched arrow from the pilot. I know exactly what they did and said and the relationships they’ve established. I know what Oliver’s done and said. I know what Laurel’s done and said. What I don’t know is what the writers remember about these things because suddenly in Season 2 it’s like none of it happened. It feels very revisionist and I don’t get it because it feels almost like they’re looking at me, as a viewer, saying, “What are you? Stupid? None of that meant what you thought. You took it wrong. This is what it really was so forget everything we established that whole season and even this season cause now it’s this” (insert hard left turn here).

    Did I dream the entire first season and the first 1/2 of season 2? Don’t get me wrong. I loathed the Oliver/Laurel relationship because I thought it brought out the worst in Oliver’s characters. I would have been tickled pink if they just ended them as friends and let them remain friends. The whole thing is why I started looking for an alternative romance on the show (that actually makes Oliver look like an adult and a character I could actually like) and I couldn’t wait for that relationship to end.

    But that doesn’t mean I have forgotten that Oliver spent the entire first season carrying around Laurel’s picture, saying she’s what made him survive those 5 years. He came back vowing to “make it right,” earn her forgiveness, etc., etc., etc. I know what the show told me. So now, in the span of what? 2 episodes? It’s like the show is trying to wave a hand at it and say, “Forget it. Never mind. It wasn’t an epic love. There’s no ‘soul mate’ story here with these two. She’s ridiculous. Oliver’s over her. Nothing to see here. Move along, move long… ”

    Everything about Oliver/Sara/Lance family made me dislike them. That hallway scene was horrible and I’m still not sure what the point is that Oliver was trying to make. I have no idea what that “I have loved you for half my life but I’m done running after you” line was even about. I guess maybe Oliver could be seen as “running after” Laurel all of season 1 trying to earn her forgiveness, but I have a suggestion for him. If you’re trying to make someone forgive you for being – as my grandmother used to say – a jackass, don’t turn around and do the exact same thing you were trying to get forgiveness for in the first place. Duh. fool me once… I spent the whole night wanted to reach through my tv and smack his head into the wall.

    I didn’t like Oliver. I didn’t like the Lance family drama. I didn’t like the dinner. I felt bad for Quentin (kinda sorta but he assumed a lot) but that whole dinner thing with Sara and Oliver practically coming in holding hands was just ridiculous. How did they see this going exactly? Dumb choices making them look dumb and selfish and self-centered and awful. How am I, as a writer, supposed to think readers/viewers will want to spend time with these people? Because they’re “Arrow” and “Black Canary”? I’m sorry but that’s just not enough. They actually have to be good characters, intriguing, sympathetic characters people care about. I don’t care about them.

    By the end of that whole dinner thing I found myself sitting there wonder who this guy was and deciding I don’t like him very much. At the end, when Slade showed up, I found myself wondering, ooooh can Slade punch Oliver in the face nine or ten times? Somehow, I don’t think the goal of the writing here is to make me root for Slade. I need to like the hero in the story. They need to be people I root for to overcome, find happiness, etc. Suddenly Oliver is none of these things.

    What really stuns me is recent comments from actors and writers “assuring” me that they’ll eventually show me (in flashbacks, of course) how much Oliver and Sara came to rely on each other, fall in love, etc., and how there’s way more to their relationship than we’ve seen, etc, etc, etc. Did they learn nothing from the fiasco of the way the Oliver/Laurel story was presented in Season 1? Why are they putting the relationship cart before the story horse again? Don’t tell me I’m just supposed to know they’re in love and have this deep connection and came to mean so much about each other. You need to show me, as the viewer/reader, that relationship. Make me feel it. Make me care. But now, because it’s out of order again, I don’t feel anything other than annoyance. That means, by the time they get to this “reveal” of their past together I’m going to still not care.

    All this make sme wonder if the relationship they were/are constructing for Oliver/Felicity prior to this all an accident? Or is this on purpose? Do the writers really not get how Oliver looked in this mess (and by extension Sara, etc)? Do they think this is a good character? I’m so confused.

    What makes me sad, as a writer, is that they have such a terrific core team in Team Arrow (Oliver/Felicity/Diggle) and yes, even a great romantic potential in Oliver/Felicity with a good, healthy, adult, respectful relationship, and they are suddenly just torpedoing the heck out of their hard work (and great writing) with these last episodes. I don’t know who decided on this (feels very) sudden shift in focus/purpose but somebody needs to grab the reins again, get the big red pen, and start slashing pages and chapters and revising character choices to get this all back on track.

    I know Arrow got a season 3 renewal but if they keep crippling Oliver with horrible actions, attitude, dialogue, decisions, nobody’s going to care what happens to him and the team that chooses to follow him.

    It’s funny because I finally convinced a friend of mine (the one who gave up on Arrow during the pilot because she didn’t like Oliver, thought he wasn’t hero material, and declared him unlikeable) to give the show another chance this week. We sat down to watch together. She made it 15 minutes in before she turned to me and said, “Sooooooooo… Oliver is an even bigger douche-bag than he was in the pilot. Yeah. I’m out.” And she literally got up and left. Arrow. Dude. You’re *killing* me here.

    1. You know, one thing I got from that dinner was that everyone was living in the past. It’s like you could have picked up that scene and plopped it down 6 years prior. Dear dear Quintan (sp?) had his ex-wife there and he was hoping to pick things up where they left off — 6 years ago. Sara and Laurel were there and again Oliver was there sneaking nightly hookups with Sara on the down low. They were in the present, but living in the past. For all that Oliver and Sara have been through in the past 6 years, nothing has changed for them emotionally. They may have grown in skills and smarts, but emotional maturity wise, they are sitting exactly where they were 6 years ago.

      You put Oliver and Sara together, and you get Ollie from pre ship wreck. That’s one feeling I was getting. I am now convinced more than EVER that the Lance sisters bring out the WORST in Oliver. You saw it last season especially with Oliver leaving Diggle in the cold to help Laurel. And now it seems we are being given snippets of that in regards to Sara as well. Sara tells Ollie to keep there relationship a secret — he says OK., Sara says, “lets NOT tell Slade the truth, Ollie says OK!, Sara says come with me to the family dinner (and make it horribly awkward and deceitful), Ollie says OK. And from what I’ve read, Sara pulls Oliver aside in this next episode and tells him to kill Ivo. Is Ollie just going to say “OK!” I’m not liking what I’m seeing AT ALL. I want Felicity and Sara to have a friendship, but I am NOT trusting Sara right now. Something is fishy.

      I’ve said this elsewhere, and I’ve read this elsewhere — Felicity is by far the HEALTHIEST female relationship he has this show. The Lance sisters have a way of making Oliver not very likable. It’s like he stops thinking or something.

      Slade is about to rip him to shreds psychologically and I’ll be curious to see if that emotionally maturity will be kicked up a notch. I was hoping we would get a scene where Felicity talks some sense into Oliver about coming clean with Thea, but that means Ollie would have to be back in Oliver’s shoes in order to listen to Felicity, and while Sara is around I don’t think that will happen. Lance sisters = trouble

      1. That’s a great point: Oliver has two healthy relationships on his show: Diggle and Felicity. Everybody else is either yelling at him or getting yelled at by him. That’s not conflict, that’s bitching.

      2. …you could have picked up that scene and plopped it down 6 years prior. … They were in the present, but living in the past. …nothing has changed for them emotionally. They may have grown in skills and smarts, but emotional maturity wise, they are sitting exactly where they were 6 years ago.
        – Claire Rose

        That is a fantastic point and I think that presses the main button for why this whole scenario felt so off to some people. Yep. I’m sitting here nodding the more I think about this. This. Totally.

  48. “I think the show needs only one brooding, troubled, kiss a$$ vigilante with killer abs and serious family issues. So, from a purely aesthetic point of view, I’ll take Oliver! Or Ollie, as I think Ollie is the obnoxious, un-evolved version of Mr Q, and that is whom we’re seeing right now.” –Sarah B

    I agree! The only reason I like Sara around right now is because I think it will be helpful for Felicity to have a female “mentor” to look up to in terms of teaching her how to expand her skills. I think it’s great that Sara is serving as Felicity’s antagonist right now. And if Diggle joins in training Felicity again, so much the better!

    I think Oliver is hanging on to his past with Sara the same way that he hung onto his past with Laurel; it’s not pleasant but it’s what he does, at least until he learns differently. And part of the reason I still believe that the romantic contract is with Oliver/Felicity is because Felicity is the only romantic possibility on the show that Oliver has a “clean” past with, and Oliver needs that. We NEEDED Felicity’s entrance as a character, because they were strangers when he brought her that computer, and now she challenges him and there are no skeletons in their history.

    We NOTICED the romantic contract between them because of the natural chemistry between the actors. But for me the contract still holds because both are growing right now. Do I like that Oliver is regressing with Sara? No–of course not. But he is also learning, because he said goodbye to his idealized love of Laurel, and now he’s trying to find happiness with, basically, the female version of himself. Honestly, I don’t think it’s going to last very long. So, one of these days, I’m still hoping he realizes that he’s been slowly falling in love with Felicity all along.

    1. I really like your interpretation. I hope it comes true, because, the way Oliver is with Felicity, well, until the last two eps, is an Oliver I can root for. With the exception of McKenna, I don’t like the Ollie that he is with other women. Or rather, that person seems inconsistent with the way the writers have developed the character so far. It seems less like regression and more like convenience, to serve the plot.

    2. I wish that would happen but the problem is what I want and what the writers want are two very different things. I want Oliver with Felicity because I love and admire him through her eyes and the writers want arrow and canary together by all means even if it’s making the show a mess. The recent interviews really point to that, Stephen says Oliver was not jealous of Barry, Emily says her feelings are unrequited. Oliver tells her “you will always be my girl” and goes off to be with his woman. I think it’s pretty clear where their head is at, because arrow doesn’t do slow burn.

  49. Did you hear that Arrow Writers are getting praised for passing the Bechdel test for the Sara-Felicity scenes? So…they are getting praised for an episode where two female characters do not talk about a guy, but Black Canary fights crime using a push-up bra (Was anyone else distracted by her breasts last night?) and Felicity (who goes out into the field in high heels and a pencil skirt) gets told “You’ll always be my girl” by a guy. They basically ended the episode by having Oliver give Felicity his seal of approval (Hmmm…that sounds dirty to me, but it’s probably just because it’s Oliver). I’m missing how this can be considered a win in the fight against gender bias.

    1. I think the thing that a lot of people miss is that the Bechdel Test is a pretty low bar. It’s a good thing because it’s become rooted enough in pop culture that people actually know that what it tests for is a problem, but imagine a test to check for conversations between two men that weren’t about a woman. Uh, all of them? (Okay, most of them.) So all these writers who are proud of passing the Bechdel Test, it’s pretty much “Hey, I’ve stopped beating my wife.” Oh. Good for you.

  50. If you are developing a long term story arc, you need to keep control of the back story. Because the viewers who stick with you will know the story inside and out. If you get them to go on that journey with you, you need to remember where you’ve all been. You can’t at a later stage say, ‘no, we never went there! What are you talking about?’ Or pretend you’ve been to places you haven’t. Either through the way the story is now being written, or especially when you try to rewrite that history through interviews, because not everyone follows those. I feel like they are trying to manipulate us into liking Sara and/or Laurel, accepting some epic romance between O and S, and friend zoning the Olicity relationship. Sorry, I haven’t forgotten the previous 30+ episodes where things played out differently. The writers can do anything they want, and have the characters change hugely, if it all makes narrative sense and there are believable and well developed reasons we are SHOWN, not TOLD. On Buffy, Spike went from being a very evil minor character to someone heroic and central to the story. It was all done very organically and with an inner truth I could accept. Arrow, at the moment, is lacking that truthfulness and credibility, both in terms of the plot and most definitely with the characters. Except lovely and consistent Diggle!

  51. “The way Oliver is with Felicity, well, until the last two eps, is an Oliver I can root for.”

    It’s funny; that’s how I could tell that Sara wasn’t good for him in the long term, because she comes back to town and suddenly it’s “Activate her tracer, she has a bad habit of running away from me?” Sounds like a possessive, desperate, misogynistic jerk to me, but that is regressed Oliver. He had no problem with Sara being away for eight episodes, but he knew he couldn’t deal with Laurel on his own and so he calls her.

    One of the problems I have with the writers is that they’ve set up that Oliver is in a sandwich between two sisters (the “sister sandwich” is not my term; I think it was coined by someone on here). But the Lance sisters are a package deal where Oliver is concerned, which is what makes them so toxic because it’s a triple whammy of bad history: Laurel’s, Oliver’s, AND Sara’s.

    Now, finally, after four episodes of painful drama, the sister sandwich is at least halfway severed because Oliver FINALLY stopped running after an idealized version of Laurel and gave up on her. His separation from Sara might be just as painful or they may part as friends, but I do believe they will part because they’re too similar to last. And Oliver needs to be free of the sandwich before he can see ANY female’s true colors, because the sandwich is his past.

    Who knows what’s in Oliver’s future as far as romance is concerned? I still think it will be Felicity, but I’m glad that Sara is around because both O/F are learning from her in my opinion.

    1. Don’t forget, there are Tommy and Shado layers on that sister sandwich, too. Oliver and Laurel both semi-betrayed Tommy when they had sex at the end of S1, right after Oliver told Tommy he was good for Laurel and should make it work with her (WTF?), which Laurel regretted big-time after Tommy died. And Oliver feels like he betrayed Shado in “choosing” Sara on the island when Ivo threatened them both. There are so many toxic, self-loathing layers to this sandwich, it’s not even funny. These people should all just quietly agree to part ways and get therapy and never have anything to do with each other ever again, for the sake of their mental health!

    2. You know, until I read this comment, I don’t think I realized how damn creepy it was that Oliver had put a permanent tracer on her. Putting one on somebody going out on a mission, sure. But he basically chipped her like a dog. I’m guessing the writers needed to explain how he found her so fast and that was an easy answer, but I’m amazed she didn’t come back and hand him his ass for cyberstalking.

  52. Wow. I am super late in joining in the discussion. It’s all very interesting. While I agree with a lot of the problems people are mentioning, I didn’t hate the episode. I think for me the main sticking point is the Oliver/Sara relationship. As a result, for me, everything in the episode is colored by that. I am fine with Sara alone. I think I get her. I think I feel sorry for her that she had to go through the ordeal she went through and then feel not worthy of returning to her family. And I like Oliver as Oliver. He has his faults, but he has a lot of good points too, and he is trying to right some wrongs and he’s going through a journey of personal development. Together, however, they turn into selfish people who haven’t learned from past mistakes, and are just not smart or sensitive to the people around them. I am not talking about when they are together they become insensitive and horrible, but the concept of them together — the fact that they are together makes me see them differently as characters, and because I perceived them in a different light, it colors my perception of everything they do and say and I put a negative spin on it on some level. Some examples to illustrate what I mean:

    I have been waiting for ages for Oliver to lay it out there for Laurel. I have been waiting for the scene where Oliver tells her what she needs to hear to whip her out it. But, when it happens, it’s when Oliver is back with her sister, attending a dinner he wasn’t invited to — a dinner he would never have attended if he had any sense or sensitivity, so him calling Laurel on things seems misplaced. As a viewer, all I can think is, “who are you to be preaching others?” That scene, if you picked it up and put it in an episode pre-ep. 13, I would have applauded.

    Sara’s interaction with Felicity — I really want to love that friendship. And I think I am supposed to. And I think I can….BUT FOR the fact that Sara and Oliver are in a relationship. Because of that, Sara’s comments to Felicity DOES sound condescending and like she is treating her like a kid with a crush on her boyfriend. If Sara was just Canary and Oliver was just Arrow and they were not together, I think I would not see Sara’s interaction with Felicity as so condescending, but more as a speech “quirk” of Canary. But when you have Felicity’s crush + Sara and Oliver pretty much flaunting their relationship in the Arrow cave, that will = anything Sara says to Felicity (even if it’s to cheer her up) being taken/perceived in a negative snarky light.

    And then there’s the Oliver scenes. A previous poster mentioned that we can view the totality of his treatment of Felicity in a way that would support his strong feelings for her. And I do agree. I can put together all sorts of Oliver/Felicity scenes that will support that relationship as end-game. But because he seems so oblivious to her feelings about his relationship with Sara, and because that is a pretty big thing to be oblivious about, every small, nice detail that he does do and notice becomes irrelevant. For example, the “what are you wearing” comment can be viewed as him “noticing” how she normally dresses vs. what she was wearing. Personally, I like it when men notice when my hair is different or when I am wearing something different. It shows they pay attention. So, I could view that as a good comment — that he notices that she’s doing something different. And their relationship is comfortable enough for him to say it in that surprised way that he does. I can believe his comment is based on this subconscious awareness of her, BUT FOR the fact they he can’t seem to see how uncomfortable it must be for him and Sara to be flaunting their relationship. Diggle sees it. His failure to notice something so major and obvious diminishes the small sweet things that he does (or things that can be perceive as sweet).

    All that being said. I somehow still like Oliver. Maybe it’s because I like Stephen Amell. I also loved that Felicity brought it. I didn’t see her going to the bank by herself as doing something stupid, but I think she felt she had a major nemesis on her hands (who dared to fry her computer) and went to take him down. Issue of pride. I love her in this episode and it solidified for me why she’s so great. She’s funny, smart and while she takes her work seriously, she doesn’t have to take herself seriously. I don’t think that makes her childish, but makes her the light among many dark brooding characters. And I don’t think she cuts herself down either. I think she has plenty of confidence. She knows her worth. She stood up to Walter and told him she was the most important employee at QC in Season 1, she stood up to Moira (and you don’t do that unless you’ve got some confidence), she stands up to Oliver, she stand up for her convictions. So I think she knows her worth. But I also think because she sees the best in people, she sees the positive points in others as well. I must admit, I tend to do that too. When someone has a skill or quality that I really admire, I can’t help but gush. It doesn’t mean I think less of myself, it’s just I really think highly of the other person. I love that about Felicity — she has a generous heart. NOW, who can they possibly find worthy of her????

  53. This episode is such a great example of when a Plot Driven Episode kneecaps most of the Characters. I have to say my reaction while watching this episode was very similar to when I watched Blind Spot (2 X 10). Cringe.Skip and asking myself what was the point of half of it. They apparently are both credited to the same writing team, so forget reading Producers spoilers – I’ll be checking the writing credits from now on.

    Still I have to give them two thumbs up for completely blindsiding me when it comes to Felicity – even though I got what I wanted. I didn’t want her to pine. IMO she didn’t, but in the end her ‘Victory’ being reduced to relying on Oliver to confirm she is important, undid last’s week major character building moment of confronting Moira and then overcoming her fears by telling Oliver what she had learned despite the cost. ARGH

    I did love that they were at least able to keep Moira in character and that Moria (and Thea) called Oliver out during the episode because what a douche to almost everyone else (and an idiot).

    The order about selling the shares – was very much a boss to a minion IMO and please let that come back to bite him in the butt because I know enough about business to know that was not a smart move by a CEO wanting to save his families company.

    Sigh – Even with all these flaws, I have to agree with Julie H. As a fan the episode had its entertaining moments.

    From a character POV, the writers IMO have taken Oliver and Sara down the ‘careless with people’ path and that’s not something I can watch a lot of.

  54. “Together, however, they turn into selfish people who haven’t learned from past mistakes, and are just not smart or sensitive to the people around them” – bt

    They did the same thing with Oliver and Laurel in season one, where Tommy was the one who got hurt by it. I’m starting to wonder if they just have really screwed up ideas about what is considered “romantic.” First it was Oliver and Laurel: he slept with her sister, her father blames him for her sister’s death, she’s dating his best friend, but look – it’s all just horrible things to overcome so when they sleep together everyone will think it’s epic love.

    Now it’s Oliver and Sara: repeating the mistake they’ve both spent so much time saying they feel guilty about and betraying her now not-so-stable sister again. Are we also supposed to see these reasons why this couple shouldn’t be together as something we want them to overcome? Because in both cases, everyone but Tommy comes off as selfish, kind of stupid, and borderline cruel at one time or another. They seem stuck on the idea that in order for a relationship to qualify as a romance worth investing in, it has to come with painful back story and it has to hurt and/or anger at least one third-party. The message I’m getting from their deliberate attempts at romance on this show is that guilt, anger and selfishness = love.

    It’s especially strange because the ones they put less focus on (Roy and Thea, Laurel and Tommy, even Oliver and McKenna) don’t have the same toxic effect on the characters. So the romance is only off-putting when they pay attention to it. God help us if they ever decide for sure they want Oliver with Felicity.

    1. I should clarify that by “less focus” I mean either between supporting characters or not intended to last, as opposed to those between two central characters/those that might eventually be considered “endgame.” They write the ones they seem to consider less important far better.

  55. everything you said was spot on! couldn’t have agreed more!! they are in for a slippery slope, and are going down faster than the speed of light

  56. Previously, we were told that the idea of Laurel kept Jerky McJerkface (sorry, not feeling the Oliver love right now!) going all those years on the island, symbolised by that photo he managed to hold on to through all those imprisonments, near death experiences, etc. Um, so how does that fit in with this deep and epic romantic connection we are now supposed to think he and Sara had? Did he put the photo away carefully each time he and her sister had a sweaty hook up on the island? Why did the writers show us that photo various times and have him tell Laurel, in S1, that he was still in love with her? There are too many examples of this kind of inconsistency to count, and that makes it hard to buy into this world and have that willing suspension of disbelief fiction needs.

    I’ve spent far too much time thinking about this show, clearly! But I hate when something potentially so good goes off the rails in such a spectacular fashion.

  57. How is this possible that I agree with everything you said?

    What bothered me most is that they turned Felicity into a stupid immature girl.
    The same woman who just one episode ago found BOTH the courage to confront Moira Queen in her living room AND the strength to tell Oliver Queen a secret that would wreck his world suddenly feels insecure about what? Not having scars and kick ass? Wasn’t it last season that she didn’t want to learn claiming “the point is to not get involved into fights?”

    Why did Felicity need her own scar? To be cool or equal with the other dumbasses (Diggle excluded). So now she is somehow superior? Her now won-over-scar doesn’t make Felicity awesome. It’s her brilliance and her mind and her courage and her strength and her ability to bring the team together that makes the viewers love her.
    I didn’t need Felicity to get a scar.I need her to realise she DIDN’T NEED ONE.
    And in just one episode they turned into being just “cute”. PLease….

    I was pissed that she took a bullet for Sara because simply (as the witrers wanted us to feel) she “needed” it. i would love for these two to become friends and build a relationship because with so many Lance cat fights the show lacks in the female-to-female-relationship department. And after there has been some connection she could gladly take a bullet for her FRIEND. What is Sara exactly to Felicity now?

    1. Where you see immaturity, I just see vulnerability… and when Felicity is vulnerable she’s more awkward than ever.
      I agree with you, Felicity doesn’t need scars but after last week episode, I’m not surprise that she reacts as she did… She starves to belong among these fighters. A scar (or a tatoo) would be just a symbolic proof that she’s one of them.
      Felicity’s problem is not what Oliver, Diggle or Sara think about her, they haven’t any doubts about her talents. It’s about what Felicity feels about herself and how she should be to be their equal.

      IMO, Felicity taking a bullet for Sara meant more than to have a scar like the rest of the team, it means that Sara will see Felicity as an asset on the field too (not only in the foundry)… She respected her skills to provide intels, now she TRUST Felicity to get her back. Sara & Felicity are partners now!
      That’s gonna be an interesting development, I think, because Sara will want to use Felicity’s skills at its full potential whereas Oliver is really reluctant to let her go on the field.

  58. Well said Jennifer. I agree with everything you said. I’m also going to give the show a few more episodes and then I’m done if they don’t start fixing their stuff. The show is really getting on my nerves. How did they manage to screw an entirely good show in 2 episodes? It blows my mind.

  59. Does anyone else find it interesting that this episode was written by two women? I have to say I was a little surprised.

    1. I think gender has a bearing on writing (it has a bearing on everything) but it’s no guarantee that it’ll result in good storytelling.

      1. True, but I wrongfully assumed that women writers would write better women characters. I’m specifically thinking of their making Felicity seem so childlike.

        1. I learned my “Women Will Not Necessarily Do Better Than Men” lessons in politics.

          Another aspect is that I think they’re working in LA. I know they film in Vancouver, but they’re based in LA not NYC. And my admittedly limited experience in the industry in LA is that the atmosphere there is so poisonous for women that just surviving that moves people toward that kind of misogynous thinking. Plus, the show is on the CW, not known for its deep understanding of character. None of that means the writers can’t do well, just that this isn’t HBO or even Netflix, where the powers-that-be say, “Just give us great drama.”

          1. That’s kind of true. Gail Simmone is the pre-eminent women writing comics, and she’s at the very top of her profession. Her fame is largely due to her acclaimed run on Birds of Prey. Chuck Dixon started on the book, but everyone knows its Gail’s baby. Simmone not only made the book good, even more incredible, she made it sell (in the sense that it never sold very well before. This has little to do with gender, as things like Thor, Captain America and Green Lantern never sold until a special creator turned things around.)

            A few years ago, DC finally gave in and gave the public what we’d petitioned for for years: Gail Simmone writing Wonder Woman. The book didn’t do well. Gail Simmone is the best and most influential woman in comics today, but she’s not a perfect writer and she can’t write for every female character. When she writes about Oracle, Huntress, Lady Blackhawk, and Black Canary, she’s in her element, Wonder Woman not so much.

            For the new 52, DC gave Wonder Woman to Brian Azzerrelo, and in this fan’s opinion, it is the best title DC publishes right now. The Azzerrelo Wonder Woman is nothing short of astonishing. Superior villans, story, redefining the character in a way that makes sense. It doesn’t take a woman to write a strong female character, just like it doesn’t take a man to write a strong male character. However, the dearth of women in these jobs is laughable, when you limit yourself to white and male, you lose perspectives that can help you connect with a broader audience. Comics is digging its own grave if it doesn’t embrace diversity, the world is changing, and comics needs to change with it.

        2. It’s my understanding that the individual writers do not have that much control over the episodes. The full writers room will “break” the episodes together: i.e. they’ll sit around and outline the entire episode, scene by scene, beat by beat, and then one [or two or three] writer[s] will be assigned to write that episode, strictly following the outline.

          Then the episode gets a pass by the story editor [currently that’s Ketu Shimizu, she started out as the story editor, and got promoted to writer while still keeping her job as SE], and then the showrunners also give it an overall edit. Then script goes to studio/network to be approved — they might have from small notes all the way to demand big changes. It’s a long, and very collective process.

          I think the one writer who might have a bit more leeway in his scripts for Arrow is Geoff Johns, but even he has to sit down with the full writers room to break his episodes before he writes them.

        3. Just wanted to take a second and say how much I’m enjoying this discussion with everybody. It’s been very thought provoking, interesting, articulate, and really respectful. I love that we can come here and look at the storytelling/writing craft elements like this. 🙂 I’ve enjoyed it very much.

  60. I was reading the review for 2.14 by Derek Gayle at, and the following jumped out at me:

    “Part of Arrow‘s brilliance is how Oliver is capable of making mistakes and bad judgement calls time and time again, but without betraying his character or angering the audience. With the Sara situation, we’ve seen the backstory behind Sara and Oliver’s struggles. Their hook-up makes sense, given their shared history. Sara being nervous and wanting a buffer makes plenty of sense, too, and Oliver’s decision to go along is mostly forced by Felicity pushing them together out of jealousy.”

    Were we watching a different show? When did we see the backstory of this epic romance? I guess Mr. Gayle has never met us or read anything from the fans. I know many people probably enjoyed the episode, but many people did not and did see the episode as a character betrayal. Many people were angered. What am I missing? How were we watching the same show?

    1. Paula, reviews for this episode are all over the place. I was curious so I read quite a few of them the next day (steering clear of fan-generated reviews/blogs and looking only at sites that are more ‘professional’ if that makes sense, I don’t mean that as an insult, just a clarification) and I was kind of surprised by the wide chasm between them. People seemed to either really love it or really hate it. Things either came off great or they came off horrible, condescending, self-absorbed, arrogant, etc, etc. There really seemed to be little middle ground. It all depend on who you read. I’ve also found that some reviews tend to always focus on the upbeat and not get really critical. I don’t know if that’s a style choice by the site/reviewer so they don’t upset readers or start comment wars or what. But if you start reading any review sites routinely, you’ll totally pick up on their “reviewing tone” preference.

      1. Julie, after I read that review, I did read some others, and I totally agree. They were all over the place. I’m always fascinated when there’s such a diverse opinion on something. I am generally in the middle and see both sides of any argument or situation, but this episode has me baffled.

        1. Some places only give good reviews. They’re basically PR sites, shilling for the TV industry, generating a lot of copy and promo without much analysis. They’re not fan-generated, they’re professional, but they’re a PR wing of the industry.

        2. If you do like to follow reviews, one of my favorites to follow is the round table reviews by TV Fanatics. It’s a panel of maybe 4 or 5 people each week who give their thoughts on various show aspects & questions. I’ve found them to be pretty fair and I like the multiple viewpoints. I think it lends a nice balance.

  61. Last week, fan fiction factored into this discussion. I looked at the recently posted fan fiction after Wednesday’s episode, and two things struck me: One, there is a surge of fan fiction where Sara breaks up with Oliver because she realizes he is clearly in love with Felicity. But MUCH more interesting: Felicity and Diggle. Yep, fan fiction is going there. Interesting…

    1. I’ve also seen a rise in OliverxFelicityxSara fics as well as FelicityxSara ones. What’s interesting about the latter is that both women get so pissed with Oliver that they end up turning toward each other. Yeah, I’m thinking Oliver is not really a favorite among some fans these days.

  62. I may be wrong, but the development of the Olicity relationship in this episode gives the impression that the writers have more or less friendzoned Felicity, at least for a while….until they decide to ramp up the romance again, in order to boost the interest of the large Olicity fan base.

    I think that the blog post below offers a very convincing description of the policies of the CW network, especially when it comes to the way they use social media and shipper enthusiasm to create the online buzz they need to market their shows:

    The above post represents a somewhat cynical approach to how the CW network and the “Arrow” writers handle the romance aspect of the show. However, I think that it is an adequate description of the way that the “Arrow” writers play with the (shipper) fans’ expectations and hopes concerning their beloved pairing.

    Of course, for me “the problem of Felicity Smoak” is that I (unlike many other “Arrow” fans) don’t think that she is so awesome and original that she outshines every other female character on the show (and therefore deserves to be Oliver’s soul mate and endgame). As far as I’m concerned the main problem with Felicity’s character is that the writers have barely let her develop beyond the relatable, awkward and lovable nerdy IT-girl stereotype with a huge crush on her gorgeous boss. The “Time of death” episode only cemented this stereotype, with the way the writers highlighted Felicity’s feelings of inadecuacy and need to be accepted. I would also say that Oliver’s condescending “You will always be my girl” line and as his almost “fatherly” or “brotherly” caress is a far cry from how the Olicity fans on this site envisage their relationship Although the “Arrow” writers might think that they are catering to the Felicity/Olicity fans with this type of scenes, it is quite clear from the fan reaction that this is NOT what the Olicity shippers expect or want to see when it comes to the Oliver/Felicity romance. In fact, I would say that the recent eps prove that the writers are playing the Olicity fans just like they’ve been playing the Lauriver fans, giving the impression that Laurel is the love of Oliver’s life and then retconning the whole Sara/Oliver storyline in order to convince us that Sara and Oliver are as much “destined lovers” as Oliver and Laurel.

  63. Personally, I’m waiting for the day when Felicity gets more confidence in herself as a woman, and we get a mirror of the coffee scene where she gets furious and tells Oliver, “You don’t get to treat me like a child!” I would pay money to see that scene.

    And yes, Marre, you’re right that they have not let Felicity develop beyond the IT girl, but she has to get there someday if her character is going to survive. I just don’t think the producers are going to do away with a character that is so popular and a “fan favorite,” and frankly I think Emily is the type of person who will fight for her place on the show.

  64. I so agree with not having liked this episode. The only parts I really liked was The Clock King and the end with Slade. Big yes to villians!! The rest was a complete mess – and hot abs do not keep me watching. When a show gets so vapid, I can open a magazine for abs.

    Why was it suddenly so bright in the Arrow Cave? Oh, right, so we could see their scares. I thought I was watching some behind the scenes, because I had just walked back in from the kitchen. Out of character.

    Why in the heck was Felicity stuck on the ground for soooo long? I was like, get up! And who can possibly like Oliver now? He’s a whining playboy again. He was best with the evil Helena.

    Loving your real writer critique. Very entertaining. Hope the ArrowWriters are reading!! Maybe tweet them?


      1. Hi, silent reader here.
        Love your blog! I learn a lot from your writing entries.
        Just to share, somebody already share this post on Amell’s facebook page and he responds to it. Crossing fingers, who knows, maybe Arrow writers are reading too. Well, i hope they will read all your entries on Arrow because the show has been great before it went crazy weird. Negative reviews are as important as the positive ones, so yeah, i think the writers should read this. Thanks!

  65. Thanks for this post, Jenny. I agree with what you (and others) have said. I was disappointed with this episode. Clock King was a great villain- for the 5 minutes of story where he was on screen. What a shame! I’m glad he wasn’t killed so there is a hope that he will return in future. I hated the whole “you’ll always be my girl” scene between Oliver and Felicity. It was so condescending and patronizing toward her.
    On another note, the discussion of the TV writing process was very interesting. It seems a strange way of writing- “writing by committee”. In England, a lot of shows are written by just one person. I wonder why the USA shows have big writing staffs?
    Also, I wonder how far in advance these scripts are written? I believe they are filming ep. 19 right now, so the writers must be working on the last few episodes. No wonder they were trying to do spin control over the reaction to ep.13-not much else they can do really. Very interesting that the writing started to have problems when the 2 other show runners left to concentrate on the Flash. I wonder if they will be gone for the whole rest of the season.

    1. I wonder if they will be gone for the whole rest of the season.
      – Teslin

      I saw somewhere today that the one writer will be returning. I believe he also mentioned co-writing episode 19. Oh and I was close about Arrow’s schedule. they have next week’s episode (March 5) and then they break again until March 19th.

    2. Britain has a much more sane approach to series TV. For one thing, your shows usually don’t have twenty-two or more episodes. If you need to produce that many scripts, you’re going to need a lot of writers, and that means you need a show runner to corral to everybody and he or she is going to be the vision for the series; if that show runner leaves . . . . Good examples of that are The Gilmore Girls and The West Wing over here. One of the best TV shows I’ve ever seen is the UK Life on Mars, two seasons of eight episodes each, done over the course of two years. Those episodes would have been written in eight months here. However, HBO, Netflix, Hulu, and other non-network suppliers are experimenting with the shorter limited series, and I think that may be the wave the future, especially the Netflix approach which is to provide the whole season at once. So much of our TV here now is streamed–something like 40% of Arrow viewers stream the shows instead of watching them on the network–and that’s going to open up TV story the way e-publishing has opened up fiction writing and publishing.

  66. I’m of two minds about the episode. On the one hand, I’m glad that Felicity eventually triumphed and got what she wanted, it was a nice success. But I really dislike that they made it so that she had to prove herself at all. I really dislike that she did it by trying to be like Sara.
    I read above about the sister-motif. That’s what that felt like. Oliver & Sara are suddenly the parents and Dig is the brother (which he’s always been) and Felicity is the little one that wants to be just like them. Like Sara. And maybe trying to be like Sara came from a jealous standpoint, but it wasn’t nice watching Felicity relegated to that position.
    You guys talked about the infantilization of Felicity and that couldn’t be clearer in every scene. It’s depressing to think that just one episode ago, Felicity was facing down Moira Queen and now she’s… almost pathetically trying to be like Sara so she can fit back in. I know she had to grow and do more things as a character, but I really wish that she would’ve realized that her place in the team was still her place, that she didn’t need a scar, she didn’t need to learn to fight like the rest of them, she had her place and they had theirs. She’s grown so much in the past year, her relationships Oliver and Diggle were stable and strong male influences in her life (lacking from her past) and she shouldn’t have been made to feel so out of place in the team that was as much hers as it was their’s. She was the team’s emotional strength all this time, after all.
    But for some reason, the writers couldn’t have two strong female presences in the Arrow cave, one had to be made weak in order to accommodate the other. Felicity had to feel insecure and Sara had to be the older sister/mom to Felicity and praise her for her efforts in order for her to feel good again. It almost makes me wanna gag when I think about it. Sometimes I think Arrow wants us to turn off our brains and watch all the pretty colours.

    There’s also the problem of the team. In the first half of the season, Arrow was hitting all the right notes with the core of the show, the team. Oliver and Diggle and Felicity had such a strong bond and were so in tune with each other and responded so well to each other that it was amazing to watch. They were so connected and they had this wonderful thing in that this secret crime-fighting trio was also there at QC, in public. They were partners and team members in every aspect of each others’ lives. They were the perfect team. Diggle as the voice of reason, the guide. Oliver as the core hero with a mission, Felicity as his moral and emotional support. They played off each other so well, and each was made better for it.
    That’s what’s missing now. Oliver with his old team was so much better off than how he is now. With Sara, he’s neglecting his team when he was so in tune with them, he’s careless about his behaviour with Laurel, he’s self-righteous and hypocritical, be it with his mother or Laurel… or everyone.
    That’s why his relationship with Sara is awful, he’s made worse off because of it. This combined by the fact that it came completely out of nowhere. The line they sold us all throughout the first season was that Laurel was Oliver’s great love… and because their chemistry was lacking, suddenly Sara was brought in to become Oliver’s great love and the Canary all in one swoop (because Laurel’s character was so unlikeable). I don’t know what they hell they’re doing anymore. They’ve kneecapped all their credibility in establishing relationships with their main character. This is compounded when he completely neglected Felicity the second he got together with Sara.
    It seems like the whole point of this past episode was to bring Sara into Oliver’s world and his team. They had Felicity feel threatened and then eventually save and accept Sara into the team to make us accept her (using Felicity universal likeability to pull that weight). And they used Laurel’s complete (and very convenient) turnabout face to make us think that Sara was the one that was wronged and is now… wait for it… accepted.
    Sadly though, the team’s dynamic is now off-balance. It seems like Diggle and Felicity are off on one side and Sara and Oliver are on the other, the connections are weaker. Oliver’s team is divided, he can’t bring himself to care enough to notice. His personal life is in shambles, but he doesn’t seek support from anyone, he just lumbers on. In one fell swoop, he’s back to being the same self-centered douche he was before he left the island.
    Everything seems to be off. They had such a great core of the show for the first half of the season. The trio had everything they needed in each other. Everything they needed to grow and become better people and better fighters. Felicity and Diggle’s impact on Oliver’s growth is unparalleled. All the other relationships he had, and their impact, were completely overshadowed by the core of his team. And yet… it was all scrapped for… I don’t even know what… maybe they’ll be so kind as to tell us what all of this was for eventually.
    Because nothing makes sense now.

    1. I watched parts of this episode again to write tomorrow’s post on plots and subplots and I was struck by how cold the Oliver-Sara relationship is. They work well as partners, but there’s no heat there, no sense of excitement when they’re together, and there should be because they’re still in that honeymoon period. I’d buy partners because they really work well together, I’d even buy brother and sister, but I do not see a romance there. And whatever spark he had with Felicity is gone, too. I’m thinking Oliver Queen, Fighting Monk is the way to go because romance just does not work on this show any more.

      1. And whatever spark he had with Felicity is gone, too.

        –Yep. Among my favorite Oliver-Felicity scenes were when she went up against him–she calls him out on going after the single dad in season 1, she berates him when he snaps at Diggle (“So he evoked the almighty Laurel…You’re not the only one whose having a hard time!” or something like that), she goes up against him when he makes her his executive assistant, refuses to get him coffee even when he has a guest, yells back at him when he gets mad at her for telling Barry, etc. etc. But the real reason the spark was there is because in ALL those scenes, she was confident and called Oliver out on his crap. In this episode, Felicity is questioning herself and acting like she has to prove herself, versus in the past when, in a way, she’s always had the upper hand: it was Oliver who has always needed her more (except, maybe, when the Count had her). Even in Season 1, when Felicity gave him those looks, she was powerful. And Oliver responded to that: he apologized for snapping at her when she locked him in the foundry; he doesn’t push the coffee issue because really, he needs her to be his executive assistant and she’s overqualified for the job; he apologizes over his outburst in Blast Radius.

        I’ve heard the comment that “at least she didn’t act jealous over the Oliver-Sara relationship.” You know, I thought I’d be on that end of the argument too, but now, I’m not so sure. I preferred the Felicity who said, “Why her?” when he slept with Isabel; the Felicity who initially said, “What happens in Russia stays in Russia” and then who later decided, “Screw it, give me an answer.” (Okay, she didn’t say that, but she demanded an answer). And I prefer the Oliver who knows she’s hurt and, even when she can’t see him because she’s already walked away, closes his eyes for a moment, clearly upset because SHE’S upset, over a one-night stand (yet, without giving it a second thought, he’ll kiss Sara in front of her–he’s suddenly missing a sensitivity chip). I don’t know who this version of Felicity is, but I’m not a big fan. I want sassy Felicity back, pronto.

        Also, I hated that aspirin line. The girl’s a genius. She must know she wasn’t given aspirin, and she can definitely pronounce Oxycodone.

  67. I really, really didn’t like*HATE* this episode at all! I hated the phrase “you’ll always be my girl,” since it IS insulting and patronizing towards Felicity and DON’T even get me started on Sara being a total BITCH in this ep..YOU KNOW I’ve always liked the character Sara but this ep has me NOT liking her at all. I mean, I’m absolutely SURE that CW/ARROW is just trading ONE condescending, bitchy, selfish sister for another, right NOW!I mean, if later on, “laurel” was/is BC, then she’d be EXACTLY in Sara’s position!! What I mean is, coming in, demanding all the ATTN and encroaching on the team-work that is the ‘Arrow’ team etc..Felicity shouldn’t be made to FEEL inadequate in ANY ways since it’s Sara/WHOMEVER BC MAYBE that is the NEW girl, NOT Felicity!

    I guess CW/ARROW succeeded in viewers changing their minds about Sara and being “ON” laruel side.. Sara and larell scene was nothing..I got distracted with laruele OLD, unhealthy, boney looking hands that look dead, and Sara’s healthy looking ones in comparisons.

    Sara and Oliver in this ep was awful and jack-*(** etc..I mean, Sara being all patronizing also and in her OWN ways..OLIVER being all COLD and DISTANT and that LAST scene with him and Felicity did NOTHING and was a SHIT scene..

    The worst ep by far this season.

    I’ve decided to quit and just wait until the DVD’S are out and binge watch instead..LIKE how I’ve always done

    The Ex-Prod are playing with F/O fans…This ep just destroyed it for me..Not going to continue on..URGHBLARH!!

  68. “I’m thinking Oliver Queen, Fighting Monk is the way to go because romance just does not work on this show any more.” –Jenny

    That’s just it! I’m trying to figure out why the past episode and a half has changed things so much, and for what? So Sara could turn into Mary Sue? Yuck.

    Whoever thought starting off the Arrow pilot with a toxic sister triangle, then have the sisters survive and deal with the same thing six years later as a coda, should be drawn and quartered. The original premise is bad enough; but revisiting it and causing so many characters to regress just makes me so sad.

    I hope that Oliver is headed for a fall this season because that’s the only explanation that makes sense right now, in terms of how Oliver can still grow from something this toxic.

  69. We’re over three hundred comments and the blog is going to break. So I’m closing comments, but there’s a new post about plot and subplot and one of the plots analyzed is this one, so you can go over there.
    Protect the blog.


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