Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Arrow 3x07 "Draw Back Your Bow" (Love Is A Dangerous Game)

"Draw Back Your Bow"
Original Airdate: November 19, 2014


Isn't it interesting that a four-letter word has such an impact on us as individuals? Love means something different to every single person on this planet; it looks different to every person, too. There are different categories of love and different scales. We say that we love cheese fries but then we also say that we love our husbands or our families or a television show. It's the same word, though, each time. The fact of the matter is that we love to love and we love to be loved and gosh darnit, we just love the IDEA of love so much that it infiltrates every piece of our lives whether we recognize it or not.

I'm not a stranger to unrequited love, by any means. In fact, unrequited love and I are kind of BFFs. In high school, I was in love with a guy for four years. The moment I finally got over him, we ended up slow-dancing at prom together (to Alicia Keys' "Fallin'" because the universe is cruel and ironic) and then BAM. I was hit again with those feelings. You know the ones: nervousness and giddiness and fear. I was in love with him for so many years and he never saw me the same way. I eventually moved forward with my life and now I look back on that love as a nostalgic twenty-five year old woman. But it sucks, let's be honest, to feel something for someone so deeply and know that they don't feel the same about you. Unrequited love can make us self-conscious. It can fuel depression or anxiety. Conversely, it can motivate us to be stronger, more self-aware, more confident.

Or, in the case of Carrie Cutter, it can cause us to do some crazy things. I think love is one of the most powerful weapons we've been given -- it can do so much good or bad in the world; people do some crazy things in the name of it, after all. But I don't think there's any love quite as dangerous as the unrequited kind. Oliver and Team Arrow learn this in "Draw Back Your Bow" when The Arrow's number one fan shows up. She's head-over-heels in love with him and she has a great way of showing it (that was inflection: she shows it by killing people). Love is as much of a theme in this week's episode as guilt was in last week's, so let's talk about that little four letter word as it pertains to Oliver, Ray, Felicity, and Cupid, shall we?

Ray/Felicity & Oliver/Felicity

I know there have been a lot of discussions in the fandom about the relationship between Felicity and Ray, especially in light of the Oliver/Felicity of it all. Let me take a few moments to explain why I'm more than okay with Felicity kissing other people this season and with other people kissing her. Here is a truth that you need to understand before proceeding reading: Felicity can find happiness in other people this season and is going to seek to try and find her happiness, no matter what the cost. Oliver can only find his happiness -- his true happiness -- when he is with Felicity, which is the struggle that he will combat this season because he is going to be forced into this realization (and, as we can see in "Draw Back Your Bow," Oliver already is aware of how Felicity's desire to live her life is emotionally impacting him.)

I think that people expect Felicity to sit and pine for Oliver. And perhaps you don't even expect for her to sit and pine so much as just sit and WAIT. That's certainly what Oliver expects, as we see in this episode, when he becomes jealous that he's dangled maybes and almost-I love you's to her and she's still chosen to live her life (which she told him flat-out she was going to do during "Sara," remember?). But Felicity's done her waiting ("Twelve years of it in Azkaban!" #sorrynotsorry) for Oliver and she waited for him to make a decision about them and when he did, she decided that she wasn't going to wait any longer and continue to be hurt by being so close to him and yet so far away. Sara spent a great deal of her time in Starling City feeling so hopeless and so dark and what her death taught Felicity was that life is short and she should try to seek out whatever kind of happiness she could while she was alive because tomorrow has no guarantees. Felicity knew that if she spent her life waiting for Oliver to decide that he loved her AND wanted to be with her (because remember, at this point those two things are mutually exclusive in their relationship), she would spend her life wasted. And what a strong thing it was for her to walk away from the man she loved because she loved herself more.

Felicity can be happy without Oliver. She was happy before he arrived and she can be happy again. Is that shocking to you? Is it shocking to know that this woman who is in love with this man can also be happy -- genuinely happy -- somewhere else? It's shocking to Oliver. And I'm not saying this to negate Oliver/Felicity because I am one of its biggest supporters. In fact, I hope that this little diatribe explains why, exactly, Oliver/Felicity is so important. It's possible for Felicity to still be completely in love with Oliver and also kiss Ray. Or Barry. Because Felicity's ultimate happiness isn't tied up in a person at the moment -- it's tied up in herself. She is happy with who she is. She's had to learn to be over the years and I think our blonde hacker (after everything with Sara and "The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak" and her trip to Central City) has finally learned to embrace  happiness in every aspect of her life because life is far too short to not embrace happiness. I know people had issues with the way that Felicity was characterized in "Draw Back Your Bow" -- that she was swooning over pretty dresses and diamond necklaces and vouching for Ray as a good guy and person who wants to make the world better, but I didn't find it to be outside of the realm of possibilities for Felicity, namely because we have never actually seen weakness in her until tonight.

Let's think about it for a moment: the reason I really love Felicity Meghan Smoak is because she is honest and vulnerable and extremely intelligent (and kind and loving and compassionate and an encourager, etc. etc.) and -- essentially -- perfect. The problem with characters like Felicity who are well-loved and do nearly everything right is that when there is a weakness displayed in them, we recoil in horror. Our perfect character is no longer perfect. They no longer makes correct decisions 100% of the time. They no longer have flawless judgement every moment of every day. So sue her, because Felicity Meghan Smoak makes mistakes. (My hope is that she learns her weakness in letting Ray buy her nice things to win her affection, but what if she doesn't? What if Felicity just really likes it when people pay her attention?) Perhaps the reason that Felicity allowed Ray to pay her so much attention is because it has been years since anyone did -- years since anyone SHOWED their affection. And maybe Felicity's love language is "thoughtful gifts." Because I think Felicity knows that she is awesome. I think that she hears it a lot. I don't think a lot of people ever do anything beyond that -- Oliver certainly didn't. He told her inadvertently that he loved her and then did nothing about it. Ray (for his creepiness) actually tells AND shows Felicity her value. I think that is why her weakness is so surprising to a lot of people. I think that a lot of the time I expect Felicity to be content just knowing that people care about her; I think I forget that she wants to see those words expressed in actions.

But back to our discussion about happiness: I would argue that Felicity's complete happiness -- the kind of happiness that's on an entirely other level, that transcends words and defies explanation -- will be found when she's with Oliver. Diggle expresses this to Oliver multiple times in the episode -- Oliver claims he wants Felicity to be happy, but Diggle knows that in order for them both to achieve the kind of happiness they both deserve, need to be with each other. Eventually. But Felicity cannot be completely happy with Oliver as he is at the moment and I think we would all agree that while Felicity is secure in who she is and what she wants out of life, Oliver is decidedly not.

So that brings me to Oliver. Oliver's not happy with himself and he's not happy in general. He's not sure of who he is yet or what he really wants. Felicity cannot be completely happy with him because of that. And I would not expect us to be okay with her being with someone who doesn't really know what he wants out of life and from her. How can you be happy with someone who's still so full of guilt and self-blame and keeps you at arm's length with dangled maybes and subtextual 'I love you's'? But here's the kicker: Oliver has found his true happiness in Felicity and he KNOWS it. He has come to the place in season three of self-actualization in the romantic area of his life. I think it was in my review of "Sara" that I said this: Oliver is not lying to Felicity anymore about his feelings and he's not lying to himself either (like Dig noted he was doing at the beginning of "The Calm"). Oliver is aware that he has real, genuine feelings for Felicity at this point and it's something he's not hiding. That's why he keeps trying to tell her that he loves her without saying the actual words.

Stephen Amell was interviewed this summer, I believe it was, and said that in season three, Felicity is the only woman in Oliver's life. Why is that? It's because Oliver now knows where his hope and his optimism and his love are found. Felicity doesn't know this yet -- doesn't know the reality in its fullest form because Oliver has not told it explicitly to her (remember: he has yet to actually tell her that he loves her without it being in the context of a mission) or proven it to her (he hasn't really fought for her; he let her walk out of the foundry in "Sara") -- and so she cannot be happy with him. Not yet, anyway. That's what I'm most looking forward to, though, this season in terms of angst: I'm looking forward to Oliver being forced to watch as Felicity finds happiness without him and then doing something to fight for HIS happiness -- his literal and figurative Felicity.

And that brings us to Ray Palmer and Felicity Smoak. I can't tell if Ray Palmer is a bad guy or a good guy or if the reason he feels sketchy is even because of him, as a character, or because of his writing or the actor playing him. What I do love about his introduction to Arrow is that we weren't asked or expected to feel a certain way toward him. We can love him or hate him or feel ambivalent, but it genuinely seems like the writers don't want us to feel like we have to accept him or his relationship with Felicity. As I stated above, I'm okay with Felicity kissing other guys. I'm okay with other guys kissing Felicity. I'm okay with Felicity being respected and admired and awed by someone else because she's a freaking amazing character and deserves to be told she's beautiful and taken out to dinner (... probably in a less creepy way than in this episode though, writers).

The only thing that I ask in all of this is that the show refrain, as much as possible, from delving too deeply into a stereotypical love triangle (the key word there is "stereotypcial"). I think that Arrow is on the outskirts of one right now and that's good: Ray/Felicity isn't an obstacle to Oliver/Felicity -- it's an obstacle to Oliver/happiness and it's his OWN FAULT that it is, which is what needs to be addressed. That's what's adding a layer of complexity to an otherwise stale trope. I think that Oliver/Felicity shippers need to be reminded of this (I'm counting myself in this bunch, too): it was Oliver's decision to push himself away from Felicity and I love that he's going to be forced to watch the repercussions of that ripple throughout his life. He's going to watch Felicity be happy and that's either going to drive him closer to pursuing her (our hope) or further into the foundry (not our hope). Moral of the story, writers: make a love triangle work by making it about something much deeper and more impactful than just jealousy. Or don't bother to write one at all because I can promise we will hate it and you for constructing it.

(Meanwhile, Marc Guggenheim did an interview recently where he discussed Oliver/Felicity and used the terms "slow burn" and "on-again-off-again" and "one-step-forward-two-steps-back" interchangeably when describing the pairing. I don't think he understands the difference between the two; I'm not mad about his use of the terminology as I knew a lot of people were because I think he knows what he wants Oliver/Felicity to be (slow burn) but doesn't know that "on-again-off-again" is not the same thing nor is "one-step-forward-two-steps-back".

Let me explain this in fandom terms for you all:
  • Jane and Lisbon from The Mentalist? Castle and Beckett from Castle? Slow burn
  • Ross and Rachel from Friends? Finn and Rachel from Glee? On-again-off-again
  • Jeff and Annie from Community? Barney and Robin from How I Met Your Mother? One-step-forward-two-steps back
BAM. Education for you, showrunners and writers! Those terms are not all able to be used interchangeably. I think that Marc means the former, rather than the latter two, really: he means that Oliver and Felicity will continue to challenge each other in the ways that they have, will continue to feel things for each other and feel them deeply, and will find ways to express that when they're comfortable and repress it when there's need for angst. That is what I have garnered from that small snippet in the interview, friends and readers.)

Now, let's talk about "Draw Back Your Bow." Actually, let's talk about Ray Palmer for a moment even though I briefly  mentioned him above. Ray's been a pretty divisive character in the fandom recently (he's reaching Laurel Lance-levels), and it's seven episodes into the series and -- as I said above -- I still don't know how to read him. Brandon Routh seems like a genuinely good and nice guy, but I think it's something about the way that he plays Ray Palmer that comes across too strong and a bit creepy -- he's TOO charming and TOO insistent and TOO pushy. I'm starting to dislike him more and more as the series wears on (this episode left a bad taste in my mouth toward him), but I think it's because he's starting to present shades of... well, sketchiness, for lack of a better term. But here are a few truths I think that I've gathered about Ray Palmer:

1) Ray is brilliant. We know that he's business-savvy but he's also technically very intelligent. People with high intelligence often lack emotional intelligence (see: people with Asperger's or any disorder on the autism spectrum). I'm not saying that Ray IS somewhere on that spectrum but I see shades of it in his inability to properly read social cues (him barging into Felicity's place during "The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak" and also in this episode) and his constant babbling. That's not an excuse for his behavior, but it's something I think is definitely a possible explanation for it.

2) Ray is rich. Coupled with whatever social awkwardness or disorder he has, Ray is also wealthy. That means he's the kind of man who's used to being able to stick a money Band-Aid on any problem. I don't know if that is what makes him a tad arrogant or braggy (it probably is), but I'd presume Ray's wealth feeds into his personality. And we see this in "Draw Back Your Bow" when Ray buys Felicity an expensive dress in order to coerce her into a business dinner (and then rents her a diamond necklace). Again, this isn't an excuse that I'm making for his character because regardless of wealth, Ray shouldn't expect anything from or of people, which is how he appears to be acting lately. So that brings us to the idea of Ray/Felicity and their relationship.

Do I think that Ray actually cares about Felicity? Yes. I don't doubt that he actually likes our blonde hacker. However -- and this is a big however -- do I think that Ray is right for Felicity? No. It's a bit weird (okay, more than a bit weird) that he bribes her into a date with a dress. It's a bit weird (okay, more than a bit weird) to bribe someone into doing something romantic with you. Actually, it's a bit weird (okay, MORE than a bit weird) to invite someone to dinner -- business or otherwise -- with them already indebted to you. That lends itself not just to inequality but to more coercion in the future for control. (Did anyone ever watch The Lizzie Bennet Diaries? It's eerily similar to what Wickham did with Lydia -- he rescued her in Las Vegas and then reminds her of that fact in order to get what he wants. In turn, Lydia feels like she owes Wickham something and that presents both inequality and the ability for Wickham to control her by her constantly "owing" him one.)

And then there is the end of the episode where Ray and Felicity make out after the former tells the latter how valued she is as a person. (And then Oliver walks in right at the moment that happens -- apparently the moment he was going to tell Felicity how he really felt about her, but I doubt that he would have actually done that anyway because it's OLIVER -- and all I feel is pain and sadness and the intense need for Oliver to attend therapy.) Felicity, more than anything, seems genuinely surprised and a bit shell-shocked after the kiss. All I want to know, really, is what is going through her mind. So I'm going to speculate for a moment, if you'll allow me to: I think Felicity is really and truly confused because this whole "finding happiness in life and relationships" thing isn't as cut-and-dry as she would have hoped. At her office, she (brilliantly) tells Diggle that if Oliver wants her, he can come and tell her himself. If he really and truly wanted her, Dig wouldn't need to pass along messages like they were in grade school. Oliver is intensely flawed but that is no excuse for how he has treated Felicity. Oliver says AGAIN in this episode that he is destined to be alone, and yet he continues to try and tell Felicity that she is special and loved. And that doesn't work for Felicity. At all. Do you blame her?

Enter Ray Palmer who is problematic as a character, but who has yet to lie to Felicity, has yet to push her away. And maybe Felicity knows that Ray is wrong for her. Maybe she doesn't. But one thing I do believe to be true is this: I do believe that she is still in love with Oliver. I really and truly do. I believe that if he told her he loved her and wanted to be with her and only her at the hospital the night Lyla gave birth, they would be together. But how can Felicity be with someone who keeps her on a rope? I am interested to see where Oliver/Felicity progresses, as they both have some growing up to do before they can really be together.

Cupid (+ Oliver)

I don't know why, but I love female villains. I think that it's the complexity of them and their unassuming nature that makes me cheer whenever they appear on-screen. Cupid was a great addition to this episode (and "Guilty") because she wasn't just a fan service and she wasn't just a way to expedite plot -- she was a conduit for some real, genuine character development with Oliver and Felicity. Oliver is forced in "Draw Back Your Bow" to contemplate not just his decisions regarding romance and love, but the ramifications of those decisions (or indecision, as it were). What's so great about Cupid and Oliver is their dichotomy: Cupid loves with everything in her being; Oliver only loves with parts of himself. Cupid is totally unhindered and Oliver is guarded. It's wonderful to see a hero/villain dynamic like this because it begs the question: which one of them is right? And the fact of the matter is... neither, obviously. Carrie/Cupid loves so much that her love becomes reckless; Oliver cannot open himself up to love, which makes him jaded and causes him to balk at the very idea that love and pain go hand-in-hand. That love is a GOOD kind of pain.

But I really love the parallel with Cupid totally expressing her love while Oliver is repressing it, thereby pushing Felicity away. I know it may seem like I spent a lot of this review berating Oliver. There is a part of me that feels a great deal of sympathy for him -- he could have never planned to fall in love with Felicity. And, much like Nick Miller on last night's New Girl, I don't think Oliver Queen ever really learned how to love. So while it broke my heart for him to walk in on Ray and Felicity kissing, another part of me (a larger part, if I am being honest) spent the duration of "Draw Back Your Bow" feeling no sympathy for the man who pushed Felicity away and... pretty much right into Ray's arms. What's really ironic is that in this week's Arrow, Oliver learns more from a villain -- and a few good monologues from Diggle -- than he does anyone else in this episode. And though he destroys things in the foundry upon seeing Ray and Felicity kiss (and then seeing the "love fern," as I've affectionately nicknamed it), he actually makes progress at the end of the episode.

What we learn from Cupid is this: she and Oliver are a lot more alike than he would like to believe. Cupid (per her therapist) forms emotional attachments to people who are experiencing similar emotional states to her. She is essentially their mirror. And if Cupid is a mirror for Oliver... what does he see? He sees someone who is desperately in love and doing stupid and reckless things to feel something. (Do you see the very clear parallel there? Okay, good.) We look at Cupid as crazy because she kills people to get Oliver's attention. But... do we see Oliver the same way? Do we see him isolating himself in the foundry and vowing to live a life alone as a comparable form of crazy? We don't really, but "Draw Back Your Bow" asks us to. Carrie Cutter tells The Arrow that love is a cure, not a weapon, and while I do think that she is right, I don't think Oliver can quite believe that. The Hong Kong flashbacks this week though made it clear that Oliver has always longed for the kind of love that seems to come easy to other people but is so complex and difficult for him. And in tonight's episode, the most astute comment of all came from Carrie's therapist who knew, after looking at Oliver for one minute, that he was broken and that is why Carrie was drawn to him. Broken people flock to other broken people after all.

And love -- both the absence of it and the presence of it -- can and will break us.

Observations & favorite moments:
  • MVP for this episode is Amy Gumenick. Amy's portrayal of Carrie/Cupid was just so spot-on and wonderful and diabolical. I love female villains and I loved getting the opportunity to see a character with faults and layers, but who was also generally such a FUN character in how unassuming and yet terrifying she was. Every scene with Amy as Cupid just oozed "crazy" and it was perfect. Even the inflections in her voice ("hello lover") were perfect. Brava, lady!
  • I loved that we got a new flashback to the season two finale!
  • Hong Kong Oliver doesn't know how to do laundry. Who here is surprised?
  • "Oh god. I have a type."
  • "There's nothing platonic about couture."
  • I loved the heart-shaped arrow in the credits this week!
  • Thea opened Verdant! Yay! There is a DJ who resembles a grungier version of Chord Overstreet who is apparently all about making out with Thea. Less yay? I miss Malcolm.
  • Sherwood Florist! There were two Robin Hood mentions in tonight's episode and I appreciate that.
  • "Oliver made his choice." "And we both know that was the wrong choice."
  • "You could use a little therapy yourself." "What makes you say that?" "Besides the mask and the Robin Hood costume?"
  • "I want her to be happy." "If that were true, you'd be with her, man."
  • "... Maybe the DJ got confused and thinks we're at a rave?" I missed joking Roy. Let's keep him around a while longer.
  • They played "Turn Down for What" which is about to be added to my running playlist soon.
Well, my dear readers, that is it! I'll be back to review The Flash AND Arrow after Thanksgiving when they cross over. Until then, hit up the comments with your thoughts about this episode. :)


  1. I did everything I could to watch Arrow last night because 1. I needed to watch it during an annoying week and my fave tv shows of the season was guaranteed to make me feel better (you've seen my TV struggles tweets) and 2. I wanted to be able to read your review today hahaha.

    "what her death taught Felicity was that life is short and she should try to seek out whatever kind of happiness she could while she was alive because tomorrow has no guarantees. Felicity knew that if she spent her life waiting for Oliver to decide that he loved her AND wanted to be with her (because remember, at this point those two things are mutually exclusive in their relationship), she would spend her life wasted." Hmm and another key thing about this is that she knows life isn't guaranteed because she's still (for now at least) choosing to still work on Team Arrow. She's not walking away completely, because if she did, her life would be a bit safer lol.

    "And maybe Felicity's love language is "thoughtful gifts."" Ahh, I love love languages and talking about them and understanding other peoples'! (Mine are quality time and probably words of encouragement). She definitely gives words of encouragement as her outgoing LL, but we haven't really been able to see what her incoming might be--words definitely affect her (you will always be my girl, felicity *felicity swoons*) but then Oliver said "I love you" and other words of encouragement he didn't back up with actions, so she's perhaps also turning from her normal love language to see if she can find love with a new one? Does that make sense?

    Something I was thinking abotu yesterday is another reason why Oliver pushing Felicity away hurts all the more is that she missed out on family dinner at the Diggles. She was off reeling from kisses and, not that she wasn't invited, but she wasn't around to be with Team Arrow at dinner. For all that she *is,* as I stated, still with Team Arrow--rather than pulling away all together even though it would hurt less than being around Oliver as he constantly almost tells her he loves her like he did when she was listening over the comms--she's still being distanced from the others. Diggle had to go to her office to talk to her. Oliver's poor decisions are tearing apart the core of Team Arrow. For all the reasons why I cannot WAIT for the crossover (two weeks is sooo long), I also can't wait to see what the tensions are as the three of them head to Central City. There's the Olicity pain, the Raylicity that's happening, and I'm pretty sure Oliver's gonna find out about the Barrycity of it all as well. The tension is going to be so strong and come right through the TV at my heart lol.

    Haha I love your slow burn explanation and that I knew a show from every category. (using Castle as a reference gives me joy perfect slow burn lol) And yeah, I agree that he means slow burn rather than the latter two, especially because if it were the latter, they would be together right now with an impending break up. So clearly he means the former.

    Fake Chord Overstreet (perrrfect comparison lol!) is gon' get murdered by the Dark Archer if he's not careful. I wonder if Roy is aware of this dude yet and what his mindset will be, considering he's upset about other things at the moment.


    1. CONNIE. It really doesn't feel like a Thursday until you've commented on my reviews. I'm going to have to find some way to watch the fall finale live while I'm in L.A. because I'm going to go crazy otherwise. So I feel ya, girl. I feel ya.

      I agree -- Felicity isn't walking completely away from her life in Team Arrow but (as you astutely noted here) she IS distancing herself from Oliver and from the team as a result of their fractured relationship. What still bugs me (and maybe we can chat about) is that Dig pretty much was like "hey, it's dangerous that Oliver is in the field while he's distracted," when it's not FELICITY's fault at all. And I loved that she called Dig out on that -- on the fact that, you know, OLIVER could talk to her himself if he wanted. And earlier in the episode he chose to tell her she could do whatever she wanted. Also interesting to note, which I didn't have time to discuss in my review, Dig is approaching Oliver like he doesn't know about the kiss at the hospital? Like, he kept telling him "tell her how you feel." But the thing is, Oliver DID -- indirectly at the hospital, at least, post-kiss. The whole reason they're not together isn't because Oliver is withholding his feelings for her. It's because HE KEEPS TELLING FELICITY HOW HE FEELS AND THEN PUSHING HER AWAY. The poor girl is being given emotional whiplash here.

      ANYWAY, back to your comments: LOVE LANGUAGES. I'm glad someone else understands these. Mine are toss-ups between words of affirmation and quality time. I don't care about gifts as much. But you're right -- we've seen that Felicity's love language to Oliver is always words of affirmation (and I think that is probably HIS love language). But I think hers is a toss up between acts of service and gifts. People tell her how great she is all the time, and I think she doesn't FULLY believe in herself until someone pursues her. And what Oliver is doing right now is NOT pursuing her, while Ray IS. I think that's what's making all of the difference. Also helping: Ray is far less complex in Felicity's mind than Oliver is right now. Girl's gotta simplify her life and I think this is a way she is trying to.

      I'm even more excited for the crossover and eagerly anticipating the fall finale (which I think is gonna break us all), too. And yessss the tensions between them all are going to be AWESOME. Okay, mostly I just can't wait for Barry and Oliver to be back on screen together, let's be real.

      Thank you! *curtsies* There's a total difference between all three of those phrases and I hate that people accidentally use them interchangeably. I don't think Marc meant to, but I definitely think he means "slow burn."

      HE TOTALLY LOOKED LIKE A GRUNGIER VERSION OF CHORD OVERSTREET. It was the face and the hair, I swear. I was kind of expecting Roy to walk in but I'm glad he didn't. (Instead, we got Oliver walking in and his poor crushed puppy face.)


  2. Spot on review. I agree with everything you expressed and was extremely frustrated with my own inability to articulate why I have no problems with Felicity looking for love in all the wrong places. Now I can just send people here! Thank you!

    1. Thank you so much for reading and for your comment! I'm glad I was able to express your own feelings about this episode. I'll be here all season so be sure to keep coming back! :)

  3. I really don't think the viewers are meant to see anything sinister in Ray. If you read comics, you know where he's going. There's also the fact that in Arrow, Felicity is pretty much never wrong, and she believes in him. For Ray to fall or be a creepy stalker would throw the canon and Felicity out the window.

    I think the reason Ray is written over the top is because Ray is supposed to be the movie-like culmination of anything anyone could want. A devoted billionaire with a respect for fashion and jewels whose openly courting Felicity. Who is openly telling Felicity she shouldn't be a secretary pining away on random compliments and lingering gazes but someone who deserves to be called dedicated, a genius, with a corner office, a couture wardrobe and ten million dollar necklaces. What one would imagine Oliver Queen to be if he wasn't the Arrow and he had his billions back. Or, as I like to think of it, Oliver's worst nightmare because it wasn't just Felicity he gave up at the beginning of this season, it was Oliver Queen too.

    That's what I like about this season -- Oliver Queen gave up on Oliver Queen at the start of this season but Felicity followed suit an episode later. Felicity decided to openly flirt with Barry, to get a day job, to kiss Ray Palmer. Basically Felicity decided to put herself first, which is soooo not Felicity. It's not without it's struggles (she can't seem to ever focus completely on work, Barry ended with them both realizing they loved over people, Ray pulled away) or her hesitation -- she did ask Oliver if it was okay. Oliver is doing worse -- because (and this is why i love Arrow right now) he's just shocked it's not going to be his way. Laurel isn't going to do things his way. Ray isn't going to do things his way. And the hardest one, Felicity isn't going to do things his way. Felicity, to Oliver, is part of him. He doesn't really consider what job she should have just the job that makes her the closest to him. He doesn't really consider her, just how to keep her near to him. Terribly, he doesn't really consider her heart, just his own love for her and expects for her to live off that. All of that is gone now for Oliver and that's why the fern (I love the fern) was almost killed by lab equipment. The writing to get him to the kiss may have been clumsy but I cheered at that moment. Oliver. Had.It.Coming.

    In other words, right now Ray is right for Felicity. As Taylor Swift says "be that girl for a month" because Felicity needs to realize her love language is feeling useful (heir to the demon) and feeling wanted (this ep, Barry, her father issues) and that there is nobody on the show's planet that could replace Oliver in this. But she'll never realize that until she has the opposite of it, which is Ray.

    Felicity has her own identity arc this year. If they had code names in the Arrow cave (why don't they? I mean, so many people have caught them on mic's), it'd be Felicity vs. Oracle. Oliver vs. Arrow. They will always be together as Oracle and Arrow, that's eternal. But how they find themselves to Oliver and Felicity is a process both have to undertake. I think this is what was meant by off and on as well.

    Does that make sense? I hope so. The show still has its issues for me but god if this isn't the best character ship out there.

    1. Hello there anon! First of all, thank you for your well-thought out comment on this review. I'm approaching the character of Ray very cautiously. As you mention, he has an alter ego in the comics (that I am unaware of because I do not read them). But -- this is a big 'but' -- I feel you would agree that characters, while initially portrayed in comics need to be fleshed-out in the television counterpart for those who, like me, do not read the comics. The writers shouldn't rely on the idea of "well, he's not a bad guy -- just read the comics" in their show. I don't think they do that for Oliver or anyone else so I wouldn't expect they would for Ray. Which brings me, then, back to my problem with him: we don't know how we are supposed to feel about Ray yet. He's kind of this... floating plot point. And I think the problem I had isn't that I believe him to be evil or conniving (as I mentioned, I think he genuinely does care for Felicity) but that his methodology in attracting her attention was -- in the episode -- slightly red-flag raising. I mean, he essentially coerced her into the dinner with the promise of the dress and everything he does in regards to her seems a bit too forced to me and a bit too off-putting. I am sure there are women who swoon at him, but I'm not one of them. He is strongly pursuing Felicity, though, where Oliver is passively doing so (dangling maybes, etc.) so I do think you are right in the fact that this is what separates his character the most at this point from Oliver. Oliver doesn't know what he wants yet and when he did at the end of 3x07, it was too late. Ray KNOWS what he wants and knows how to get it.

      I do think that Felicity's exploration of happiness (and subsequently, her identity) will be very important in how her relationships with Ray and Oliver evolve. Ray is the kind of man who is not giving her ANY mixed signals and Oliver keeps doing so. It must be maddeningly frustrating for her to never get a straight answer from Oliver regarding his feelings.

      I do think the Oliver/Felicity dynamic is very complex and one of the more interesting ships on television right now because it's rooted in SO much more than just a will-they-won't-they. I am ready for Oliver to start thinking about who he is if he isn't Oliver Queen (or if he IS) and for them to grow together, not further apart (which is where they are at this moment because, you know, ANGST).

      Thanks again for your comment!

    2. So first, thanks for responding but really -- your review was marvelous and honestly sometimes I love reading the reviews more than the actual show. Plus you sold me on Cupid because I was kind of mixed on her (though she has some great lines -- her calling Oliver's "I need to be alone" as a lie, so perfect, and love is a slice of insanity for two). Sorry I didn't write my clapping furiously in support/agreement/fandom, I meant to! It's why I posted.

      Yes, I think you're right -- Ray does have red flags, but I think it's the writers overly making the point that Ray not only is into Felicity, he adores Felicity. You're also right, he's not successful in execution. But all the ideas are so great -- hire Brandon Routh (taller, movie Superman), play him as Felicity's perfect other (genius, dedicated to helping others) and then put him into play hard. He just seems like he's everything Oliver Queen (absent of the Arrow) wants to be and isn't. The perfect foil for Felicity's post-Sara identity and Oliver's-ongoing-identity-search. He's Barry 2.0 because if there's anything that gives Oliver growth, especially with Felicity, it's jealousy and struggle.

      Also, humorously, have you ever read the article "romantic comedy behavior gets man arrested" on the Onion. It's kinda Ray. Arrow just has really smart fans to see it. :)

      But yeah... I think I'm happy Felicity is finally being treated as a main character, with her own arc. I want the same for Diggle though he can't be in this season's theme because his identity is that of amazing. Whatever the case, it's so refreshing to see the ship be made second to character growth. Also to know that for these characters, the ship won't die because it can't. That feels true to me. It's a fun time to be a fan.

      Thanks again -- I'll be reading!

    3. Anon! Thanks again for your thoughtful comments and your lovely words about these reviews. I love few things more than I love analyzing television so I'm really glad that you have garnered something from them -- be it appreciation or even just incentive to think about a character in a different light (like Cupid).

      You are right about Ray though and especially astute when you say that he is her "perfect other" on Arrow: they've made it clear this season that Ray is essentially getting everything Oliver can't (or won't allow himself to) have. I have to say that I love Barry WORLDS more than Ray at this point but -- again -- I don't think the writers are even necessarily asking us to love him at this point anyway.

      I am so glad that Felicity is being treated like the leading lady she is! (As a shameless plug, you should check out my character appreciation post of her on here if you haven't yet.) I love how layered and complex and strong she really is. And I love, as you said, that Felicity isn't just tied to Oliver this year and her story is obviously about him but more about HER and HER happiness and self-discovery. I like my ladies complex and dynamic and I'm glad Arrow has been doing pretty well with both in regards to her.

      Thank you again for reading. I'll be back with Flash AND Arrow reviews this week. Whew!

  4. Really enjoyed your review! I love thoughtful reactions to story.

    I am totally happy with the Ray situation, or with what it is accomplishing in the plot. He has replaced Oliver in some very serious ways- owning the company, changing the name, saving the city (his way, an important way of creating jobs etc), spending loads of time with Felicity, working out on a salmon ladder, being attracted to Felicity, and having perhaps a fancier looking hero costume ;) In all these ways Oliver and his choices are being threatened and I think that's an important theme.

    I really think Felicity's little speech about Ray at the business dinner was very significant. She has obviously been impressed by him and I trust her judgement generally (even if he really hasn't won me over personally) but then she said something that I think could really be directed at us as the audience when she tells the mine owner that she is not surprised he doesn't want to sell his mine. She says this is understandable because "You don't know what his plans are." WE don't know what his plans are either. Of course we don't trust him. We have very little idea of who is he, what he seeks or what his plans are. Until then we are not going to feel comfortable with him. I think that was a writer's way of saying - pay attention because this guy has some interesting plans and then you might feel differently.

    1. Oh also, :)

      As far as the Cupid character goes I thought she was delightfully creepy. "Lovers, Sounds creepy no matter how you say it"
      I also think we have to be careful if we are going to say what she was experiencing was love. Stalking is horrifying and really not about love. To quote Giles from Buffy , "I know it's not love, it's obsession." I don't want to get all therapist but stalkers (attachment disorder etc) are not coming from a place of love. That's why they so often escalate into violence against the object of their obsession. It's why she says that old phrase "If I can't have you..." before trying to kill them both with a train. And the stalker doesn't have to know the person they are obsessed with, they often don't, because they have created an image in their mind that has very little basis in a real person. Obsession and possession without really caring at all about the person you claim to love or what they need, that's really scary and perfect for a villain. It's another reason why I was glad to hear Oliver say "I just want her to be happy." when talking to Diggle about Felicity. That is love. I think at that point Oliver honestly believes her happiness will be more likely away from him. Of course we know he's telling himself lies again but he does that well and in lots of different ways as we've seen his character progress.

      I was a little surprised at Diggle's conversation with Felicity in her office. When he talked about Oliver's head being messed with and that not being safe I felt he was straying a little into emotional manipulation territory(even Diggle is not perfect). I think it was coming from a loving place but that crossed the line and I'm glad Felicity called him on it. That scene immediately put me in mind of the conversation the two of them had near the end of season 1 when Felicity came to Diggle's apartment to mend the breach between the two men. If you watch those scenes back to back they are scarily mirrored. Both of them try to mend Oliver's bridges for him and both of them point out to the other that Oliver has to start that conversation himself. I think they are both such solid, emotionally mature people that they are trying to help by speaking for Oliver emotionally because he is so reluctant to do it himself (classic overfunctioning for an individual- Oliver- who doesn't do something well). And they are both right at the end of those two scenes (Diggle in 1x21 and Felicity in 3x07) when they say that if Oliver thinks or feels something that he has to be the one who says it. It actually doesn't help him to try and step into that gap and do it for him. He can learn that skill but he won't unless he has to learn it for himself.

      Anyway, that was long. Really enjoy your site and keep on with the interesting work!

    2. Anon, thank you so much for reading and commenting on this review. I'm so glad you've been enjoying the site. :)

      I do like, as I said, that we're not expected to love Ray. I'm okay with the writers telling us that we can feel however we want to feel in regards to him and it's justified. And I do agree that his purpose seems to be essentially getting everything that Oliver wishes he could have at the moment. It's sad to see Oliver's company and girl slipping away from him, but maybe it'll be the kick Oliver needs to make some sort of realization. I've never really thought about the dinner scene, so that's a really astute observation!

      I want Cupid to return and I think her being on the Suicide Squad gives her leeway to in the future, which makes me happy. I do think that you're right in terms of Cupid's obsession -- it may not BE love, but she's driven from a place in which she believes she is in love. I think the most important part of the episode (and the message as a whole) was that Cupid was broken and flocked to Oliver because he was, too. Not only that but Cupid's form of "crazy" is easily labeled as something in desperate need of help, while Oliver's issues are in need of just as much help but are more socially (or at least in the TV world) deemed "acceptable."

      THANK YOU FOR THE COMMENT ABOUT DIGGLE. That entire scene rubbed me the wrong way and I'm glad Felicity called Diggle out on it. He essentially blamed HER for Oliver being in a bad head place, guilting her into "if something happens to him in the field, it'll be because he was consumed with thinking about YOU," which irked me. I know it came from a place of trying to play fix-it with Oliver/Felicity (evidenced by how he treated Oliver the entire episode), but it seemed a tad out of place for Diggle. Of course, he WAS right in saying that Oliver needed to get his crap together. And Felicity was right in saying that OLIVER needed to tell her how he felt, not passed along through a message from Dig.

      Again, thank you so much for your thoughtful comments. I love to receive well-articulated and argued comments on my site. :)

    3. Oh I totally agree about Cupid. I would love to see her back in a Suicide Squad capacity (I think such a Squad episode has been hinted at).
      And thank you for pointing out that while Carrie is easily labeled as crazy and needing professional help Oliver's issues get dismissed, even romanticized. In superhero tropes, a good amount of dysfunction is expected and enjoyed. (Batman could never get therapy and become more mentally healthy because that would kill the momentum behind his character.) But Oliver is definitely full of issues, and not attractive romantic issues, but issues that are screwing up his life (even if an emotionally constipated, deeply isolated man is often considered attractive and masculine and strong in our social stereotypes).

      What did you think of the role of the therapist that had been counseling Carrie? I thought she was slightly unpleasant or maybe just too biting and condescending for my taste. Her snarky comment about his costume would make anybody defensive and even more likely to not ask for help. I don't know, therapy isn't cool or sexy and I understand why no one is super keen on the idea but PTSD and other issues are also no laughing matter and Oliver screws himself over in so many ways... He makes me tired and sad for him.

      Thanks for your thoughts. Yay - Becca

    4. You're welcome for the comments about Oliver. I think superhero TV series and movies (and ships, really) are quick to romanticize things. And I agree with you -- Oliver has some real issues that need to be worked out with heavy doses of therapy. It's not something to swoon at, really. I do love Oliver because he is damaged and imperfect and flawed but I think he desperately needs to get his emotions and feelings in check in order to be... you know, a functioning and less damaged member of society.

      I didn't necessarily like the therapist but a) I don't know that we were supposed to, since she was brash and a bit calloused and b) Oliver DID break and enter and terrify her so she may have been ruder because of that. However -- big however -- I liked her because Oliver responds better to harsh truths than he does ones that are gentler and sugar-coated. I liked that she immediately called him out on his flaws and she has been the only person in the series thus far to do that on a professional level.

      I really want Oliver to go to therapy, though. MAKE IT HAPPEN, SHOW. (Please.)