Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Arrow 3x06 "Guilty" (Playing Judge And Jury)

Original Airdate: November 12, 2014

One of my favorite movies in recent memory is Inception. I love how beautiful and dark and mysterious it is, but mostly I love that it involves dreams. Dreams are such intriguing things. In the film, Dom says: "Dreams feel real when we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange." I have very vivid dreams and remember them a vast majority of the time. I had a dream this week that James Spader sat and told me a monologue about his dying dog. I'm pretty sure I woke up in tears. I've had dreams about work and school, family and weddings and friends. The scariest part about dreams -- especially when they're bad dreams -- is that a part of your brain knows it's not real. But Dom is right; everything feels real when you're in a dream. And this week on Arrow, dreams play heavily into our plot. Dreams reveal bits and pieces of our subconscious -- they contain the last things we think about before we fall asleep or that conversation we had earlier in the day or that feeling that unsettled us at work. Dreams feel real because parts of them ARE real.

"The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak" ended with the revelation that Roy believes he killed Sara. He's been dreaming about it recently and it's terrifying him because it feels more like he's remembering something and less like he's just making it up in his sleeping state. Because remember: Felicity never told Roy that he killed someone while under the influence of Mirakuru. Roy is fearful of what he's capable of because of flickering memories of how he felt; he has no idea what he did while under the influence. And in "Guilty," Roy believes that he killed Sara and the evidence is pretty convincing, but the feeling is more convincing to our young vigilante, which causes tensions to rise in the foundry as a result and difficult choices to be made.

So let's talk about Roy, about Team Arrow, and about Ted/Laurel, shall we?

Roy (+ Team Arrow)

I've never been the biggest fan of Roy Harper, but in season three, I'm beginning to enjoy him more. He cracks jokes. He aids Oliver in saving the day. Together, Arrow and Arsenal work well as a team and perhaps the problem is that I've never really been able to dissociate Roy from Arsenal. It's the exact problem Oliver is facing in this season in terms of identity. I enjoy Arsenal but I've never really connected with Roy as a person, not a vigilante or a hero. But in "Guilty," we were able to explore more of his subconscious. Guilt is a powerful and deadly weapon. Can you remember the last time you felt truly guilty for something and didn't know WHY? Perhaps it wasn't even something you felt you needed to be guilty for... but you felt that tingling energy in your hands and the quickening of your pulse and the twisting in the pit of your stomach all the same.

Roy is feeling residual guilt for something he did (but does not remember) under the influence of Mirakuru. The themes of memory and guilt run very deep in "Guilty" and the revelation that Roy killed Sara (or at least at that point believed he did) was pretty stunning, quite frankly. Roy has been a sidekick for a while and he's proven throughout the first few episodes of season three that he is a loyal and valuable one. But what happens when the person that Oliver brought in to help aide him in his fight against crime is a person who committed a heinous act? What is so interesting about this season of Arrow is that it focuses primarily on the theme of identity. But this doesn't always mean a focus on whether or not Oliver can be both Oliver Queen and The Arrow. The question of identity is deeper than that: it is simple, but profound. "Who is Oliver Queen?" Thus far, we have seen Oliver struggle with his identity every episode -- is he a man who can be with Felicity while still being a vigilante? Is he someone who can kill Malcolm Merlyn for past crimes, even though he didn't kill Sara? Is he a good brother to Thea? In "Guilty," Oliver is challenged with the question of whether or not he can accept Roy on his team and in  his life if he did, indeed, kill Sara Lance. What we find is rather striking: Oliver can and will protect Roy; he will refuse to lose faith in the young man and will be the kind of mentor and teacher that he deserves. Twice already this season ("The Magician" and "Guilty") other people have told Oliver how to handle difficult situations -- Diggle, specifically, told Oliver that it would be best to kill Malcolm and to bring Roy to justice. But I'm glad that Oliver didn't do either of those things because it reminded us that Dig has the mentality of a soldier; Laurel has the mentality of a wounded sister. Both of them mean well, but Oliver's decisions to rebel against what is easy and what is expected of him say more about the person he has decided to become than anything else.

Roy, meanwhile, spends a vast majority of the time in "Guilty" grappling with who he really is. For most of the episode, Roy believes that he is a killer. And since he believes that to be true about himself, he pushes other people away. Even though Roy doesn't know if he killed Sara for sure, he does know one thing to be true: he will never abandon the people who need him. No matter what person he was or what he has done, he has been dismissed and abandoned so many times in his life that he makes the conscious and brave decision to continue to be there for Oliver even if Oliver doesn't want him there. It would be understandable -- expected, even -- if Oliver turned Roy into the police or if he just put an arrow through him. But that doesn't stop Roy from saving Laurel and Ted and taking down Isaac. Roy owes his life to Oliver for taking him under his wing, for giving him a purpose and friends -- for believing in him when no one else would. And that is why Roy begs Oliver not to do what Ted did to Isaac and lose faith.

At the end of the episode, we see the Hong Kong flashbacks tie in clearly to our main story as Oliver helps Roy clear his head and the latter realizes that he didn't kill Sara but is merely remembering the police officer he killed while under Mirakuru's effects. That information, though, is too much to bear and Roy has to leave the foundry. I am proud of Oliver, though. Proud that he kept faith in him. Proud that he showed compassion and understanding. And I am proud of Roy, too: proud that he was willing to turn himself in rather than run; proud that he was brave enough to tell Laurel and Dig and Oliver about what he had (supposedly) done.

However, much like Malcolm Merlyn, though Roy did not kill Sara, he is not innocent. And those feelings of guilt and the repercussions will surely follow him throughout the remainder of the season.

Ted/Laurel (+ Oliver)

In "Guilty," we learn that Ted Grant used to be a vigilante, not so different from Oliver and had a sidekick named Isaac who was not so different from Roy. And we also learn that Laurel is more than willing to start leaping to his defense because he has been training her and -- whether or not she admits it -- is beginning to soften toward and trust him as a person and a friend. If we have learned anything in the last three years, we have learned that Laurel is stubborn and she also hates being told what she should do, who she should trust, and what she should be. I've said it before, but Oliver is the person on Team Arrow who knows Laurel the best. He has known her the longest. He understands why she gets angry. And though he is not in love with her anymore (his heart belongs to Felicity, y'all), Oliver does still love Laurel and will always strive to protect her. We saw that clearly when he refused to train her earlier this season and we saw it again in "Guilty."

Laurel approached Ted and has been training with him in order to curb some of her anger as well as determine a way to get justice for Sara's death that does not involve the law. Oliver and Ted  butt heads a lot throughout the episode and I don't think it is because Oliver is jealous of Ted and I don't think it is because he has any residual feelings left for Laurel. I think that he sees shades of Sara in Laurel. He sees that same Lance determination and resilience and stubbornness. And I think that what pains him the most is that Sara didn't have much of a choice or say in what she turned into. She became the Canary because of all of the pain and darkness that happened to her on the island and beyond. She fell deeper and deeper into her scars and all the horrible things she had to do in order to survive that -- as we saw -- at the end of her life, Sara was still hesitant to believe that there was any goodness or light left within her at all. Laurel doesn't have to be like that -- doesn't have to tread the same dark path that Sara did -- and Oliver refused to train her because he could not prevent Sara from becoming a vigilante and living that life, but he could prevent Laurel.

Or at least he thought that he could. Ted is beginning to understand why Laurel is the way that she is, but he cannot comprehend all she has been through. Not in the way that Oliver can, at least. And so he tries to warn her to stay away from Ted, not out of jealousy or even concern but out of a real and genuine desire to prevent the darkness already invading Laurel's heart from spreading further. Oliver knows that Laurel is playing a dangerous game and tells her as much in "Guilty." But what Laurel doesn't realize is that the game she is playing is not really a game at all. It is her LIFE at stake and her soul, really. Because what has happened to Laurel Lance over the last few seasons is this: she has lost bits and pieces of herself and has been struggling to get them back. She lost Tommy, then herself to her addiction, then Sara. I think it was Connie in one of her comments recently that noted Laurel's trajectory feeling more like that of a super-villain than a superhero. Nevertheless, in "Guilty," we don't see Laurel really spiral. We see her sharp. We see her angry. We see her determined. We see her stoic. We see her call the shots in her own life and not heed Oliver's warnings.

Laurel wants to continue her training with Ted, not necessarily because she wants to avenge her sister's death but because she wants to feel in CONTROL of her own life again. Think about it: ever since Tommy died, Laurel has understandably felt out of control. Everything that has happened to her seems unfair and painful and what she really wants most of all is a sense of calm in the middle of her storm. She takes control of the hostage situation in her car in this episode and it is because of the training Ted provided her with. It makes sense that Oliver wants to protect Laurel -- she and Thea are the only two people left in his life from before the island that he cares about. He will always be connected to them (Thea because, you know, FAMILY and Laurel because, you know, HISTORY) in a way that differs from his connections with Felicity and Dig and Roy. I don't always love or understand Laurel, but I think that "Guilty" helped me to understand a bit more about why she wants to be trained to fight. I still believe that Laurel is too angry and too impulsive to do any REAL good in the long-term for the city on Team Arrow, but I am interested to see if this relationship with Ted (professional and personal) will allow her to, much like Roy, tap into parts of her past that she has buried.

Guilt drives us and motivates us and haunts us. The moment that we allow our minds to relax and reflect on our pasts -- those parts of us that have been hurt or have hurt others -- we allow ourselves the opportunity for freedom from that guilt. But what happens when the thing that haunts you is not a monster under your bed that turned out to be just a pile of clothes? What if the thing that haunts you is a real, genuine, terrifying monster? How can you live with yourself when that monster follows you around?

How will Roy and Laurel and Oliver and Dig and Felicity be able to look at one another in episodes to come knowing that each and every one of them is harboring a fugitive monster of their own?

Observations & favorite moments:
  • Ironically, I have no clear MVP for this episode. Everyone wins this week, so YAY!
  • Someone very astutely pointed out in a tweet that you can see a glimpse of Cupid at the crime scene early in the episode and then she appears at the end in preparation for next week!
  • I know I didn't talk a lot about it above since my Arrow reviews are usually 90% character studies, but thematically and parallel-wise this week was a bit too heavy-handed for my liking. Honestly, if you didn't get the fact that Ted and Isaac were supposed to be a parallel for Oliver and Roy, you probably weren't watching the episode at all. I like when shows use parallelism but only when it is subtle. This week was not at all.
  • I think I like Ted.
  • I need someone to make a cut of how many times Oliver has already said "get your head in the game" throughout this series. Every time he says it, I get that song from High School Musical stuck in my head.
  • "There are only eighty six THOUSAND Pacos."
  • "Can I ask you a question?" "You just did." Queen Felicity Smoak, everyone.
  • Oliver yelling "PACO" was the highlight of this episode for me.
  • Laurel said "run afoul" in a conversation and I find that highly unbelievable. 
  • "Masks are useful for serial killers." "... says the person wearing one."
  • "I am not on your team. I don't work for you."
  • Question: why did everyone automatically just accept that since there was some rough evidence that Roy may have killed Sara (DNA inconclusive though) that HE ACTUALLY DID IT? Does no one in Team Arrow watch CSI? You can't base a conclusion on just that. That is what I found most unbelievable about this week, honestly, was that everyone just assumed because one piece matched, then Roy definitely did it.
  • Everyone calls Felicity when they are in trouble! I love it.
  • "Don't abandon me." "Never." #brotp
  • "Do you trust me?" Oliver gave me Aladdin vibes, honestly.
  • I'm glad Roy knows what he did under the influence of Mirakuru but it was also sad that he had to find out that way.
  • "I'm Cupid, stupid." I got so excited by her entrance!
All right, friends. There you have it! Thanks for reading this week's Arrow review. Be sure to hop down into the comments and let me know your thoughts on the episode. Come back next week for some discussion about Ray/Felicity, the love fern, and Cupid! Until then. :)


  1. "Oliver can and will protect Roy; he will refuse to lose faith in the young man and will be the kind of mentor and teacher that he deserves." The theme of mentorship was obviously strong in this episode, especially since it's a part of Oliver's identity journey for the season, but I can't help but think about Oliver needing a mentor himself. Now, yes, but especially as we watch the flashbacks and think of S1 Oliver--he's going into this as a mentor kind of blind. Unless he meets someone in Years 4&5 of the flashbacks, Oliver has never really had much guidance in his life, so for him to have to step into the mentoring shoes himself, it's a stretch! And he doesn't have just one person, he has Roy AND Laurel (and Barry a little bit, more in the upcoming Flarrow crossover, I'm sure). He's still learning what it's like to be a hero, while also trying to teach others. I like that he's making mistakes and is seems super confident (but that confidence is a cover for him not knowing what he's doing. If only there were someone on his team he loved and trusted and could talk to about this, someone who gives great advice... Oh right. He pushed her away. -___-)

    We haven't gotten much of Roy just yet in terms of the identity theme, but here we begin. He's officially given his name but also told a part of his identity: a killer. He's going to struggle with that. Poor Roy. "And I am proud of Roy, too: proud that he was willing to turn himself in rather than run; proud that he was brave enough to tell Laurel and Dig and Oliver about what he had (supposedly) done." I wonder if he will want to do the same for the police officer?

    "Laurel doesn't have to be like that -- doesn't have to tread the same dark path that Sara did" It's so interesting to me that Sara was the Canary and was so haunted by darkness but Laurel, who we hope will avoid the killing aspect of Canary life, will be the "Black" Canary. (Yes yes, Green Arrow canon, yadda yadda) Just the way their names are sort of the opposite of their natures as that role is interesting. I'm kind of glad--it certainly breaks black as a negative, killer stereotype (unless Laurel kills someone, which--not out of the realm of possibility).

    "I think it was Connie in one of her comments recently that noted Laurel's trajectory feeling more like that of a super-villain than a superhero." I can't remember if this was me either, but OMG I GOT QUOTED! =DDD LOL. But it's certainly true and goes back to what I said above (I quote and write comments as I read lol) about Laurel being the "black" canary but she hasn't yet actually succumbed to the darkness the way Sara did (had to).

    This was the most I've liked Laurel in a long time. She was a bit useless in some scenes (two of them vs Isaac and neither of them can make a move? I know he has a gun, but what's all the training for then?) but she didn't make overtly dumb decisions and she managed to compartmentalize after Roy's reveal, which was good of her. She's slowly (slllooowwly) learning and growing. I don't often like her either, but hopefully her character development journey will lead us to a good place with her.

    1. CONNIE I ALWAYS LOVE YOUR COMMENTS. It seriously doesn't feel like a real review until I've read your thoughts. ;)

      1) That's such an interesting point about Oliver. I guess you could argue that Slade was his mentor for a while and we all know how well THAT worked out. Even his father didn't seem like the best mentor for him growing up to begin with. So you're right -- it's really interesting that Oliver is kind of having to make this piecemeal picture of what a mentor is based on the few loose examples he's had. I love that he didn't give up on Roy. And yes, THERE IS SOMEONE IN THE VERY FOUNDRY WHO CAN BE YOUR SOUNDING BOARD BUT YOU'RE BEING A STUPID HERO AND PUSHING HER AWAY.

      2) I did like that this episode sort of started the Roy journey of identity. He knows now that he's a killer (or at least a part of him is and always will be) and living with the guilt of that will be something I'm sure we will see recur throughout season three.

      3) LAUREL. Okay, so this is the first episode I didn't loathe Laurel on mys screen in a while. I understood why she was angry in this situation. I think my problem with her this season so far is that she's just PERPETUALLY ANGRY. I mean, I understand it but literally every line recently has just been [Laurel snaps] or [Laurel barks] or [Laurel scowls]. This episode I was actually proud of her for standing up against Oliver and essentially telling him that she's working WITH Team Arrow but she's not a member of his team that he can just tell to do things. And I think Laurel's darkness won't stem, like you said, from what she does to others but from what's been done to HER (Tommy, her addiction, Sara, etc.). I think Sara's darkness was about self-loathing and Laurel's is going to just be about anger.

      I do really hope that Laurel's development takes her into a place that's a bit more accessible for us this season. I think my problem right now is that her anger isn't being used as a tool for development, which is why it's just flat-out ANNOYING to hear her bark. But the scene where she calmed herself down in the foundry and her ability to fling Isaac out of the car (and have the sense to discreetly call Felicity) made her bearable and actually a bit more endearing for me at least.

  2. "Someone very astutely pointed out in a tweet that you can see a glimpse of Cupid at the crime scene early in the episode and then she appears at the end in preparation for next week" She also walks past Diggle when he's in the mom-van! I LOVE that they included her a week before she's important! I like that better than her conveniently showing up and knowing everything about the Arrow or whatever without seeing her. It's the kind of foreshadowing that JK Rowling used a lot in the Harry Potter series and made it that much more enjoyable. The same with Roy's inability to sleep, they've been dropping hints in the past few episodes, not just the end of 3.05. It shows the writers have a long game for the stretch of the season (at least) and are thinking and planning diligently.
    "I think I like Ted." Me too! Somoene on twitter noted how level-headed he was, and he is clearly self-sacrificing, funny, and even has chemistry with Laurel! I hope we see more of him, especially with his vigilante past, because Oliver definitely needs some advice and someone to talk to who's been in his shoes. Even if Oliver doesn't listen. I hope if they need extra back up, they can call on Ted to help!

    Also, I just REALLY NEED a Team Arrow hang out scene. Like we got with Team Flash in their episode this week. I say in my own recap here: that they need to just go to Felicity's place and play games or watch movies and just learn to like each other as people again. Diggle needs bonding time with ROy (so he has more empathy towards him in the future. Oh Diggle, I was so disappointed in you this week for wanted Ollie to cut Roy), I need Diggle, Felicity, and maybe Baby Sara squees, and Oliver really just needs a night to relaaax. Laurel and Ted can come too. I honestly think it would be a great way to let off some steam and to reprocess after Sara, but also it would represent her spirit a lot--Sara loved to have fun. She had so much light (even in her darkness) that a group of assassins named her "Canary!" A fun night for the group would be what Sara would want, I think. Also us audience members. Team Arrow really needs it. [2/2]

    1. I seriously LOVE that Cupid was integrated into the episode. I'm pretty sure everyone knew it when watching, but it was a great surprise at least to have the episode end with her. When Arrow does that, it makes the show feel a lot more cohesive and a lot less serialized (having Nyssa in the foundry at the end of "Sara" and then kicking off "The Magician" with her as another example) -- like we're actually watching watching these things unfold in real time. I'm glad the writers are doing subtle things like that to make this show even more engaging.

      I WANT THAT TEAM ARROW SCENE. I know they're all busy being top-secret vigilantes, but I really want to see them as people outside of their work. And I'm sure we will get some of that next week with Felicity and Ray (don't you worry -- I've already got about 2,000 words of meta drafted and prepared for that), but I really need a #TeamArrow movie night or something. Or even just them at a bar. SOMEWHERE OTHER THAN THAT FOUNDRY PLEASE.

      Dig has been interesting to me this season. I need more of him, and I understand where he's coming from with the whole set of rules because he used to be a soldier and structure and order and a code are more important to him than anything else. He's occasionally steered Oliver wrong in that regard this year, but he's also really steered him right ("Then don't, Oliver.") I need more of THAT Diggle please. I sincerely hope that it's Dig that Oliver is talking to in the promo when he talks about how it upsets him that Ray is going to dinner with Felicity.

      Can Team Arrow and Laurel and Ted just have dinner together? Or something? I just need a montage of them eating pizza. That's all I want.

    2. "(don't you worry -- I've already got about 2,000 words of meta drafted and prepared for that)" LOL oh i can't WAIT. It's going to be just... uughhhh. Go away Ray. All that talk from the producers about begrudgingly liking him with Felicity? Just no. And not just from an Olicity standpoint. But we'll go on and on about that next week. hahaha.

      Yes, movie night, a Thea (and Ollie's) HUGE LOFT. That giant bag of popcorn could feed them all.

      A lot of Dig's POV def comes from being a soldier and I'd love for them to explore that more as well. I said in my review that he's often the soul of Team Arrow (Felicity is obv the heart. and the brains. Oliver's the muscle. Roy is... Roy.) so I want more of, like you said, the "then don't" Dig who wants to push Oliver to live beyond the foundry (and into Felicity's arms). The Dig who wants to make a safe place for his daughter but understands that not everything's so black and white. That's def what was lacking from him (and as you mentioned, EVERYONE ELSE) in this episode--it was so black and white that Roy killed Sara, no one even thought of a shade of grey. WHY WHY WHY would Roy kill her? No one looked for motive at all. They all know Roy liked Sara, why not ask why he did it? So Dig being so easy to let him go, that hurt because it showed none of them were willing to really know who Roy was --THOUGH I just thought about this: they all knew Roy killed that police officer. So I guess they all were just resigned to know he had that in him? Still doesn't excuse his lack of motive, but maybe that's where Dig was coming from. Roy being a proven loose cannon, especially if they thought it was a Mirakuru episode. But still. No motive. No shades of grey from any of them. So frustrating.

      A pizza montage would be great.

      Also, the thing with Roy burns into my head that Sara knew her killer. I mean, it's still obviously R'as al Ghul, but any other suspects before that reveal (or any twist on it being R'as) will have to have an established relationship with Sara...

    3. I have SO many feelings about Oliver/Felicity vs. Ray/Felicity already drafted up. I feel like I'm going to have to to see how the writers handle the triangle next week, but we will have a LOT to discuss. :)


      "Roy is... Roy." Roy is like the appendix: you don't know what it does but you figure it's important enough to keep it if possible. :P I really love that everyone on Team Arrow is so different from everyone else. They all bring unique skill sets to the team and I love them for it.

      The most unbelievable thing about the episode really was that as soon as Roy confessed, no one was like "No, that makes no sense are you absolutely sure?" and instead everyone said: "OH YEAH YOU DID IT OBVS." Roy was definitely a loose cannon on the Mirakuru but considering he didn't have any in him anymore, I don't know WHY everyone just assumed it was residual or something? It was weird and kind of rushed and unbelievable.

      I am really interested to see who it really was that killed Sara. I think we all presume it was R'as and we are probably right but I wouldn't mind a good twist in there, too.

    4. NOR were any of them concerned that the other like FIFTY soldiers they shot down/cured had any episodes or any concern that SLADE WILSON might have an episode an break of of supermax!?!? why would only Roy have a residual episode?