Arrow Thoughts & Open Thread: Unthinkable

Arrow[SPOILERS BELOW FOR LAST NIGHT’S EPISODE OF ARROW]

I’ll admit I was slightly underwhelmed by the Arrow finale, “Unthinkable.” It was mostly fine, just didn’t really grab me for the most part. Oliver won! Yay! And imprisoned Slade on the island, so that will be interesting. And . . . knows how to fly planes! Because he was taken to Hong Kong? Or something? And everyone was saying “I love you” all over the place, and some of them even meant it.

But Oliver did not mean it when he said it to Felicity, at least not in the way she wanted him to, and this whole bait and switch situation annoyed me a bit. And it’s not even because I wanted it to be real – I’d rather see Oliver with Laurel. But it just seemed mean. If Felicity had been in on it, and she and Oliver were fooling the audience along with Slade, I would have loved it. But it gave her false hope, and maybe her feelings in the moment aren’t that important when Oliver’s manipulating her to literally save their own and everyone else’s lives, but still. “You really sold it.” “We both did.” Heartbreaking.

John Barrowman is going to be a regular next season, and I’m very curious to see where this Merlyn/Thea situation goes. She did shoot him, but he was wearing Kevlar, of course, so he’s fine. Because he’s Merlyn, he’s proud that she went through with shooting him, because her courage shows that she’s truly his daughter, blah blah. STOP INSULTING TOMMY. Anyway, he basically convinces Thea that everyone in her life is equally terrible and lying to her, and so they leave town. She claims she won’t return, though I hope that doesn’t stick for long.

Also leaving Starling City: Sara. She agrees to rejoin the League of Assassins in order to get their help saving the city, but she insists she’s no martyr: “For the first time in my life I’m deciding my own fate.” I loved that she gave Laurel her leather jacket when she left and very much hope it’s a sign of the passing of the Canary identity.

Other favorite lines and points of interest:

  • “Well, seems like I missed a lot.” I missed you, Roy.
  • “Felicity Smoak. MIT class of 09.”
  • Sara: “To fight the unthinkable, you have to be willing to do the unthinkable.”
  • “The League does not take prisoners.” “It does tonight.”
  • Oh no, I hope Lance is okay!
  • “You don’t have the guts to kill me.” “No. I have the strength to let you live.”
  • I loved that Oliver acknowledged that he made it home because Slade trained him to kill.
  • I assume this is a minority opinion, but I’m super excited for a plotline about Oliver trying to get his company back.
  • “You did it.” “I had help.
  • Lila’s pregnant!

Arrow Thoughts & Open Thread: Birds of Prey

Arrow[SPOILERS BELOW FOR LAST NIGHT’S EPISODE OF ARROW.]

I’m in a weird place with Arrow recently, where I’m still enjoying it, mostly, but I feel like what the show cares about and what I care about are pretty different. So while I thought last night’s episode was mostly fine, I am surprised to see reviews calling it “perfect” and saying that everything Huntress-related is The Best. Which really just means that those viewers’ wishes are more correctly attuned to what the show itself is trying to do, and I’m probably in the “wrong” here, and this is basically just a roundabout way of saying that I don’t have a whole lot to say.

What I do have:

  • Felicity: “Or as I like to call her, Oliver’s psycho ex-girlfriend hellbent on revenge against her father.” Sara: “Ex-girlfriend?” Oliver: “That’s what you took from that sentence?” Thank you, Oliver. Priorities, Sara.
  • “I’m still facing sanctions from the bar.” “Ah, I’ve got a buddy on the disciplinary committee, I squared it for you.” I have a lot of questions about the Starling City bar association, not least why Laurel is referring to herself as a lawyer in the past tense when she’s “facing sanctions” rather than, you know, actually disbarred.
  • Felicity: “Anyone with boobs can get a frat boy to do anything.” Oliver: “I was a frat boy.” Felicity: “I rest my case.” Heh. I like snarky Felicity better than pining Felicity.
  • Oliver: “It’s not like Helena to show restraint.” Sara: “Sounds like you have a type.” Point, but also, again, priorities, Sara.
  • Oliver: “I thought I was helping you control it.” Roy: “You are. I mean, I can’t look at a bowl of water without slapping it.” HEE.
  • Oliver should know better than anyone that just telling Roy to stay away from Thea for her own good will never work. But I liked that Roy realized the risk he was posing himself and then followed Oliver’s advice. (But I enjoy the Roy/Thea dynamic, so I hope this situation doesn’t last long.)
  • “Unfortunately I decapitated the engineer.” Oh, right, this is why I love this show.
  • “I created the Huntress.” “Yeah, well you created Slade too.” These people are really into taking credit/blame for everything, huh?
  • “See this, Mr. Donner, is what happens when you let freaks with masks run wild.” Heh.
  • The courthouse scene was interesting because Oliver was there as himself, which curtailed his options of how to actually help. And: Oliver: “I’m with Lance as Oliver and he just called the Arrow.” Felicity: “Oh. Oh. It’s getting really hard to keep track of who knows whose secret identity.” Confusing for us too!
  • “Are you one of the good guys?” “No. But I’m friends with them.” Interesting.
  • Laurel never recognizing Oliver in “disguise” is one thing, but not recognizing her own sister when she’s just wearing a tiny mask is completely ridiculous.
  • “Does this make us girlfriends?”
  • “Helena, don’t kill him. You can never come back from that.” “It’s too late. I’m already gone.”
  • Love Ollie basically buying his way into a police interrogation room. I like a boy who throws his money around occasionally.
  • “I have to say, I’m impressed. I’d have thought blackmail was a little dark for you.” I like Laurel’s darkness.
  • “You’re the only one who does lie to me, Ollie. You’re the only one who doesn’t keep secrets from me.” Oh, Thea.
  • I loved the tiny wordless moment toward the end of Diggle comforting Roy.
  • When Slade picks up Thea, they act like they’ve never met, but I thought they had, at the house. No?

Arrow Thoughts & Open Thread: Suicide Squad

Suicide Squad[SPOILERS BELOW FOR THIS WEEK’S EPISODE OF ARROW.]

“Suicide Squad” was another episode of Arrow that I enjoyed but am not sure I quite got and feel wholly unqualified to talk about because of my lack of knowledge of the source material – here specifically Amanda Waller, A.R.G.U.S., Harley Quinn, and more. So I will once again send you over to the AV Club for an actual review and just comment on some thematic and random/tangential things:

  • Two lines that really got at the overarching themes of the show: “What they do, what I do, is completely different” and “It was an impossible choice.” “I made it anyway.” This whole enterprise can only succeed – or even exist – for as long as Oliver, Diggle, and team can keep themselves convinced that it doesn’t matter that they’re employing some of the same techniques as their enemies – including killing people – as long as they’re convinced they’re in service of the greater good.
  • I loved take-charge Oliver with the Brotherhood at the beginning. More of this, please.
  • I’m still not feeling the whole Sara/Ollie thing.
  • The scene with Diggle outside Felicity’s house protecting her was adorable, though. Pajamas! Cocoa! “No marshmallows?” “I’m out.” (Though I must point out that I am always against assigning bodyguards to women without telling them.)
  • “So I get you sitting outside my house like that lacrosse player my freshman year of college.”
  • “A little early for champagne, don’t you think?” . . . haven’t you ever heard of mimosas?
  • “What were you saying about women in the military?” Go Diggle.
  • “We’re still in the crime-fighting business, right?”
  • “I think I preferred it when we were all lying to each other.” Yep, often much easier.
  • “I detest swimming!” . . . “My mother sometimes enjoys a casual relationship with the truth.” I like that in the midst of everything else they haven’t dropped this slightly quieter plotline.
  • “Still mad at me?” “Lucky for you you’ve been pushed down that list.” This is funny and then you remember that our protagonist literally kills the people on his list.

Arrow Thoughts & Open Thread: The Promise

Arrow[SPOILERS BELOW FOR LAST NIGHT’S EPISODE OF ARROW]

I knew my apparent inability to concentrate on the island flashbacks in Arrow would come back to haunt me eventually, and with “The Promise” it seems that time has come. I mean, I get the gist – I think – but I could not pass an exam on the details of Oliver’s castaway past, and the format of last night’s episode – flashbacks within flashbacks, jumping back and forth between the island and the freighter – didn’t really help clarify things. Ah well. One thing that did leap out at me during last night’s flashbacks was the confirmation that Oliver was acting according to Sara’s wishes when he told her family (and everyone else) that she had died during the initial shipwreck.

All that said, I definitely enjoyed the aftermath: Slade showing up in Starling City, acting like a friend (and campaign contributor!) to Moira Queen, was a ton of fun, from Oliver’s oh-so-subtle “What are you doing here?” growl to the tense standoff at the end of the episode. And I loved the reveal at the end of the way Slade was filling the house with cameras. Of course, this is another time when I start wondering whether Oliver should just tell his mother and Thea a (partial?) version of the truth, as surely their lives are more important than his secret, but I guess it’s hard to figure out at what point that would put them in less, rather than more, danger. I did like the chance the situation with Slade at the house gave Team-Arrow-minus-Arrow to work together – it’s interesting to see how these various dynamics play out.

Other favorite lines and points of interest:

  • “Did he ever say why?” “He wanted to save the world.”
  • “He cheats.” “So do you. He just cheats better.”
  • Apparently Oliver’s middle name is Jonas.
  • Where does Oliver live, exactly? (Or if he’s crashing at Team Arrow HQ, where does his mother think he lives?)

Arrow Thoughts & Open Thread: Time of Death

Arrow[SPOILERS BELOW FOR LAST NIGHT’S EPISODE OF ARROW]

Arrow returned from its Olympics hiatus last night with “Time of Death,” so called (in part) because Robert Knepper – who is always delightfully creepy – showed up as the Clock King, set up as a new nemesis for Team Arrow in general but Felicity in particular. But it was perhaps a throwaway line from him that really jumped out at me: “The dead are owed nothing.” What Oliver feels he owes to the dead is one of the main driving forces of the show, and we’ve seen time and time again that this is not always a good or useful thing.

But here is where I confess that, as usual, I paid more attention to the interpersonal dynamics than to the action and mythology stuff. (Yeah, I know I may be watching this show wrong.) I’m glad that they’re not making Sara’s reintegration into her family and society seamless or easy, and I really liked all the Lance family stuff in this episode. I love how much Quentin has evolved as a character, and my heart broke for him when his dreams of reuniting his whole family (including reconciling with his wife) crashed to the ground.

Also heartbreaking: Laurel’s whole plotline here, and especially her scene with Oliver. I’ve been pretty squarely on Team Laurel for most of this; you just don’t pop up after being presumed dead for years and expect your sister to immediately forgive and forget everything. (And aside from all her own family stuff and her hot-and-cold with Oliver, Laurel also just lost Tommy. Girl has not had a good year.) But I also understand Oliver’s frustration at feeling like he takes the blame for everything in her life, and his “I’ve loved you for half my life, but I am done running after you” might have been my favorite part of the episode.

The Sara/Felicity stuff, however, worked out better than I feared. Much was made in the lead-up to this episode about Felicity being jealous and feeling left out, but while the romantic element was definitely part of the issue, the show didn’t make it all them fighting over a boy – it was at least as much about Felicity’s professional pride, and that makes me happy. I loved Sara and Felicity training together and saving each other. “We did it.” Indeed.

I was torn on Diggle’s role in this situation: On the one hand, I like that he clearly values Felicity’s skills and recognizes her worth, and as the fourth person in the room for all this (and as the third person around Oliver and Felicity in general) it must be tempting to just knock their heads together occasionally. On the other hand, he sometimes seems way too concerned about Felicity’s Fragile Lady Feelings, and I just want to yell “She’s a professional! She’ll deal! Leave her alone!”

Likewise, I was annoyed on Felicity’s behalf that Diggle brought up her feeling left out to Oliver, but I get that one of Diggle’s main priorities here is just keeping the team alive and functioning and that’s harder if there are simmering issues. And Oliver’s “Hey. You will always be my girl, Felicity” was pretty perfect, I must admit. This is probably my main issue with the Oliver/Sara relationship: I don’t particularly care about the romantic endgame in this show, but it’s a problem when I can’t buy into the protagonist’s actual relationship because his non-relationships with two other women are both more compelling. I don’t mind Sara as a character as much as I feared I would – I think I could actually quite like her – but I also think I’d like this whole arc a lot better if they dropped the current Oliver/Sara relationship.

Other favorite lines and observations:

  • Sin is a continued delight and I’m so curious to see exactly where they’re going with her.
  • It’s nice that the Queens and the Lances can have their little “child back from the dead” support group, because yeah, that’s not something most parents will relate to.
  • “Do you guys just show up to every crime scene now?”
  • Since this is Arrow, do we think Dinah Lance’s new love interest is secretly . . . I don’t know, someone terrible?
  • “What are you wearing?” Oh, Oliver.
  • “You guys never go to the hospital.”
  • “I know it sounds like the same word, but it means something different in my head.”
  • And I just realized I didn’t even bring up the thing with Slade at the end. That was quite the handshake.

Arrow Returns: Producer’s Preview & Clip

ArrowArrow returns from its Olympics hiatus tomorrow night with new episode “Time of Death,” and the CW has released a few goodies to get you in the mood. Here, EP Marc Guggenheim talks about Felicity and her new nemesis The Clock King, played by Robert Knepper.

And here’s a clip from the episode:

Arrow Thoughts & Open Thread: Heir to the Demon

Arrow[SPOILERS BELOW FOR LAST NIGHT’S EPISODE OF ARROW.]

I was really not a fan of last night’s episode of Arrow, “Heir to the Demon.” While I’ve enjoyed the plotlines about Starling City politics in general, and liked the Lance family flashbacks as well as most of the Nyssa stuff, I felt like two of the main plot points of the episode didn’t really make any sense and were just inserted to add drama.

First of all, Thea’s paternity is absolutely none of Felicity’s business. Especially since she seemed to think Oliver needed to know and made no mention of telling Thea herself. Felicity does not need to be part of this plotline, and the whole thing just felt like contrived drama. Telling Oliver in public, right before he has to make a speech about his mother? Ridiculous. And getting all emotional about her family to make him think she has to say something about that? Ugh. Felicity does not need to be part of everything, and Queen family secrets that are likely to hurt other people don’t have to be made public in the service of giving Oliver and Felicity a “moment.”

I also hated the Oliver/Sara hookup at the end of the episode. Sara seems to be mostly trying to get revenge on Laurel, claiming she give her six year to get over her sister sleeping with her boyfriend, but that time doesn’t count if she thinks you’re dead, Sara. This seems like a completely unnecessary complication to add to the Oliver/Laurel/Felicity love triangle, especially as, up to this point, one of my favorite things about the episode was the way the other characters were handling the reveal of Sara’s bisexuality. “I can explain.” “You don’t have to.” Good boy, Oliver. And even Sara’s dad was startlingly quick on the uptake, especially for someone in the midst of a crisis.

Other favorite lines and points of interest:

  • “You guys did get divorced for pretty good reasons.” Totally not Felicity’s place to say, but I giggled.
  • I’m glad they made the point about how Oliver needs to stop supporting Blood, and I want to read the political press’s think pieces on this whole situation.
  • Blood has a point about Moira claiming to be fragile and under Merlyn’s thumb. That will be really easy to use against her in the campaign.
  • “Where’d you two meet?” “Vigilante club.” (I can’t believe Lance still hasn’t figured out how the Arrow is.)
  • “What’s-a matter, didn’t teach you about right crosses in assassin school?”
  • “And now you’ve made a liar out of me.” Um, dude. That ship sailed long ago.
  • “Every single thing that’s gone wrong in our lives is your fault.” Oh, Laurel.

Arrow Thoughts & Open Thread: Tremors

Arrow[SPOILERS BELOW FOR LAST NIGHT’S EPISODE OF ARROW]

I really really liked last night’s episode, “Tremors,” though honestly, Bronze Tiger and the earthquake machine, the supposed A-plot, took a back seat, for me, to the various interpersonal developments. First of all, I love the budding mentoring/partnering relationship between Oliver and Roy, especially now that Roy knows who Oliver is. Oliver had him slapping water in a bowl! Adorable. “Yeah, well, I can’t wait to get attacked by a dog dish.” Roy’s look when he sees who the Arrow really is is great, and I hope this relationship remains a prominent part of the show for a while. “We’re just getting started.” Wheeee.

Meanwhile, Walter is trying to convince Moira to run for mayor against blood, which is an interesting commentary on the mindset in Starling City, at least. If Walter’s polling numbers are correct, a whole lot of people either believe Moira was doing the right thing or believe she was being manipulated but want to put her in charge anyway. (And yes, I love when my superhero shows digress into polling numbers and campaign minutiae. I know, I know.) I love Moira, so I’m excited about her getting another storyline, and curious what will happen with the paternity stuff (which I’d sort of forgotten about). Also, Oliver has already come out in favor of Blood and campaigned for him. Will his allegiance switch or will he try to stick with his convictions? Either way, there should be drama.

Laurel’s story continues to be sad and spiraling, though I like that the people in her life are honestly trying to help, within their own conceptions of how that would work. Her dad might be going about it the wrong way – tricking her into going to an AA meeting – but at least he’s obviously, visibly caring and trying. And Thea cares enough to call Oliver when Laurel’s a mess at the bar, and he in turn cares enough to get her home safely and call her sister. I am very much looking forward to seeing where the Laurel and Sara stuff goes. On the other hand, I have no idea how they leapt from a rumor – not even an official notification! – of the beginning of disciplinary proceedings to “I’m being disbarred.” I’m pretty sure there should be several other steps in that process.

  • Oliver: “He was my friend.” Felicity: “Troubling use of past tense there.”
  • Oliver: “You hacked into a prison system network?” Felicity: “Is that judgment I’m hearing?” Oliver: “Pride.”
  • “You do know that thing could kill hundreds of people.” “No, Mr. Turner. It could kill thousands.” Such a cliched line, but it still gave me chills.
  • Oliver: “Do you have one of your hoodies?” Roy: “Do you seriously have to ask?”
  • Presumably that picture of Tommy was inserted into the Merlyn house scene just to make me cry.“Coffee and olives? Bad combination.”
  • “Bar me from your bar. That’s today’s theme, right?”
  • In case you, like me, need a refresher on who Amanda Waller is and why she said “squad” like it was so meaningful, here she is.
  • “Do you actually think I’d kill my sister’s boyfriend?” I mean, maybe.
  • “But these are the only two that matter.” Aww.

Arrow Thoughts & Open Thread: Blast Radius

Arrow[SPOILERS BELOW FOR LAST NIGHT’S EPISODE OF ARROW]

Arrow returned last night with “Blast Radius,” featuring a visit from Sean Maher (a.k.a. Simon from Firefly)! Seriously, this show is the best when it comes to geeky guest casting. He appears as the terrorist Shrapnel, bombing events such as Sebastian Blood’s unity rally – and making Oliver go from campaigner (which is kind of delightful and hilarious) back to vigilante. Oliver winds up on Team Blood in two ways here – campaigning for him as Oliver Queen and then, at the end of the episode, making a deal as the vigilante to work with Blood on behalf of the city.

But at the same time, Laurel, who is sort of casually dating Blood, becomes more convinced that he’s not what he seems and starts digging into his past, with her father’s help. Blood talks about his tragic past as an orphan, and tells Laurel that his mother killed his abusive father and then vanished, but when Laurel tracks down the institutionalized “aunt” whose bills Blood pays, she claims that she is actually his mother and that Blood killed his father and claimed she was crazy to shut her up. “Sebastian is the devil. He’s the one who put me here.” Oh, Ollie, you should really check out the opposition research before you commit yourself politically.

Roy is dealing with the after-effects of the serum, and though Thea tries to cover to Oliver (“How’s Roy?” “Handsome . . . brooding . . . usual . . .” Hee.), she can tell something weird is going on – especially when his injured arm heals immediately. I hope these crazy kids can work it out – I like them together.

And then we come to Oliver and Felicity. Sigh. I love them as friends and partners so much that I’m very, very afraid of what will happen if the show goes ahead and puts them together romantically in the near future, and it’s looking more and more like they’re headed that way. I can’t imagine Oliver staying with a season two girlfriend for the rest of the show, and I don’t want their awesome partnership to be ruined by a breakup. Grumble grumble. Anyway, at the beginning of the episode Felicity is away taking care of Barry, who is still in a coma, and Oliver is clearly jealous, though he tries to make it sound like he just wants her there to help him with Arrow stuff. And then when she does hurry back, he accuses her of being distracted. Diggle: “I think you didn’t have a problem with Felicity’s performance until she met Barry Allen.” Indeed. Oliver eventually apologizes to Felicity and talks about how much he needs her, and at least he’s recognizing what she does for him, but I’m still not thrilled with where this seems to be going.

Other thoughts and favorite lines:

  • When exactly (and why) did Sara read research on the serum? Presumably not on the island. Am I forgetting that she was supposed to be a scientist or something? Possibly.
  • I may be in a minority on this one, but I was happy to see Laurel get so much screen time this week.
  • I know I say this every week at this point, but how does Detective Lance still not know about Oliver??
  • “If you’re dropping fewer bodies, Starling City should probably build a bigger jail.”
  • “Were you apologizing to me or were you talking to your quiver?”
  • “You’re not my employee. You’re my partner.” I hope you’re still going to pay her a salary, Oliver. Not all of us are billionaires.
  • “I finally have a guy who’s interested in my and he’s struck by lightning and ends up in a coma. Typical.”