Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Arrow 3x12 "Uprising" (Having Changed)

Original Airdate: February 4, 2015

If you're familiar with me at all or have been around this site for a while, you know that I really admire Dan Harmon's story circle. Yes, Community has dipped in quality in recent years and has consequently fallen out of my good and gentle graces (and Harmon with it as a result), but his circle is actually something of genius and extremely applicable. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, here it is:

Okay, so that STILL might not make any sense to you, but let me explain it a little bit further. Dan Harmon's story circle is a way to structure a narrative -- it's what he uses in his episodes and his seasons in order to arc and in order to ground and in order to develop characters with trajectory and purpose. Each character embarks on a hero's journey (now you've got songs from Galavant stuck in your head, don't you?) in order to get what they want and accomplish a goal. The first part of the circle focuses on the character being comfortable and then the circle gradually progresses to that character leaving their zone of comfort, entering unfamiliar situations, adapting, and then getting what they want. But you'll notice that from #6 onward in the circle, the hero pays a heavy price for getting what they want and, eventually, they return to their initial situation. But something is different. Importantly, THEY are different. They've changed because they've paid a heavy price for something they desperately wanted and cannot be in the same zone of comfort that they were in step #1. This is a really brilliant idea -- this story circle -- because it reminds us that, much like circles, stories don't have definitive beginnings and endings. People cycle through stories and through events and they continue to grow and change and develop along the way. Once you've changed, you continue to change.

I bring this all up because "Uprising" falls on this story circle for Oliver Queen. Can you guess where? I'll pause and let you answer to yourselves. Ready? At this point in his arc, Oliver's journey back to Starling City falls between #7 and #8 on the circle, as does the episode. He's battled Ra's. He's paid a heavy price for it. And now? Now he's returned to the home he left weeks ago and he's changed -- he has physically and emotionally and mentally changed. But something happened that Oliver didn't anticipate: his city changed, too.

This happens a lot in life, you know. We go away on vacation for a week only to return and find that our co-workers have new stories and inside jokes that we weren't a part of. We miss one night out with friends and suddenly everyone seems to have changed. We leave summer camp and return only to find our camp friends have new haircuts and new boyfriends and new lives that we're not a part of. We know it's irrational and we know it's impossible, but there are parts of us that really hope things just stay the same in our absence -- that no one changes. That we can return to the familiar once more: a quaint little storybook landscape, frozen in time.

That's not the case though. The law of change is pretty simple: because we change, others must; because other people change, we have to, as well. And in this constant cycle of growing and evolving and maturing, we often forget that people don't halt while we are away. When Oliver returns to Starling City, it's a bit of a shock to him because the way that he left his city and the people within it? It's not the same. You cannot just pause the lives of others and then expect to pick up exactly where you've left off. This whole idea of changing -- of becoming someone else (or something else... sorry, it was just begging to be done) -- is a thread that runs all the way through "Uprising," which is an episode in which we learn more about how Malcolm Merlyn became the soulless and manipulative man he is in the present. We also get to see a lot of conflict (I'm a fan of this) between the new Team Arrow and between Oliver and Felicity and also between Oliver and himself.

And with a title like "Uprising," the question we're left with is this: what price will the heroes and villains pay for their decisions? And will the ends ever justify the means?

Malcolm (+ Team Arrow)

I'm always fascinated by origin stories of both heroes and villains. Aren't you? Don't you always wonder how heroes and villains became what we know of them when we meet them? We know part of Oliver's origin story -- we see him suffer on the island and in Hong Kong -- and it explains why Oliver thinks and acts the way that he does in the present. Throughout "Uprising," we see Malcolm's origin story unfold. He lost his wife, Rebecca, to Danny Brickwell twenty-one years ago. And in his anger back then, he killed the wrong man. That completely and utterly shakes Malcolm in the present because it means that all of the justification for his actions was for naught. Rebecca's killer is still alive and that means Malcolm's job is not done. The question of "Uprising" is -- as I noted above -- one of change: can a person change? And even if they don't... how far will you go to do what is right for the greater good?

That's a whole big theme of Arrow that's been pretty prevalent this season: justifying smaller choices for the sake of the greater good. Team Arrow is forced with a decision in this episode: do they team up with Malcolm in spite of all of the horrible things that he has done because they need to dispose of Brick? Or do they refuse to align themselves with him on principle? There's a lot at play in the Team Arrow dynamic this week. We get a glimpse into Malcolm's past. He wasn't always a heartless killer, as we see. When Rebecca was alive, he was gentle and nice and good. And then she died and became consumed with vengeance, so much so that he was blinded to ration and sense. Malcolm has always been such an intriguing and complex character to me. He's completely and totally remorse-less the majority of the time. He's turned himself into a monster, which is the most intriguing thing of all. Rebecca's death changed Malcolm, certainly, but what's really emphasized in "Uprising" is Malcolm's choice to kill the man he believed to be responsible. Malcolm tells Oliver near the end of the episode that once you kill, a piece of your soul is gone. If that is true, most of Malcolm's is gone, as is Oliver's. Yet in spite of the horrible things Malcolm did to others in the name of avenging Rebecca's death, there is still a part of him that is human, right? He refrains from killing Brick, even though he tells Thea earlier that a killer is all he will ever be. The Arrow is the one who reminds Malcolm that there is always another way. Gee, wonder who he got that from?

(I won't talk much about Malcolm/Thea because I'm still processing their relationship and dynamic. Right now, Thea still believes in the good in people. Specifically, she believes in the good in Malcolm. I'm ready for Thea's arc to really kick in once she realizes what Malcolm made her do for the sake of saving himself because let's be real: the day that Thea realizes how many people have lied to her is the day she begins to really fight against everyone and everything. Actually, now I'm more worried about Thea becoming a supervillain. At any rate, Malcolm genuinely did protect Thea during the siege on the city and she tells Roy that. But the question "Uprising" asks us to answer is whether or not one moment of compassion or selflessness is enough to erase evil that was done. And what I really loved about this episode was that everyone was right and yet everyone was also wrong, too. I'll explain in a bit, don't worry.

Back to Thea for a second -- Oliver calls Malcolm out on his treatment of Thea later in the episode when the former claims that Thea is his chance for redemption. I don't know if anything good that Malcolm does can ever erase the horrors he's inflicted on others, specifically Thea, but I'm intrigued to watch him interact with Oliver in the future. This is one messed up family, y'all.)

Because the truth is that Malcolm monologues to The Arrow about his choices or lack thereof to kill Brick. If he had killed the correct person years ago, Tommy would be alive. The undertaking wouldn't have happened. Lives would have been saved had he just taken the right one. And for a brief moment, we think that maybe Malcolm is right -- we think about how life could have been for him had he only avenged Rebecca's death years ago. But then, just as we begin to justify Malcolm's actions, Oliver reminds him of something that flashback!Malcolm knew to be true: killing doesn't cure your anger and it won't stop the pain.

Speaking of pain, Team Arrow is in a bit of it throughout the episode as they try to battle Brick and his men and realize they're failing. When the option to recruit Malcolm to help take out Brick (as both of their interests align for a while), Felicity is vehemently against letting him anywhere near them or their operations. Let me pause, for a moment, to discuss how completely and utterly stellar Felicity Meghan Smoak was in this episode. She was brave and angry and vulnerable and I'm loving the fact that she's become really bitter in Oliver's death. Because grief reveals you and remember, if you will, that Felicity was once dark. It's not difficult to unearth that again. And when Malcolm steps back into their lair and the team entertains the idea of letting him help them... she flips out, for lack of a more eloquent term. He used Thea in order to get what he wanted. He killed Sara. He doomed Oliver to death. In the eyes of Felicity Smoak, Malcolm is irredeemable. But it's not just that -- Felicity is the final mouthpiece of Oliver on the team and Roy calls her out on it in the episode. She tells them what he would want and what he would do until finally, Roy snaps and reminds her that it doesn't matter what he would do -- it matters what THEY will do.

But when the question of the episode is: "Do the ends justify the means?" Team Arrow has a lot to consider. Eventually, they look to Diggle for the final call and the man sides with Felicity. They find another way, like they always have, and they eventually are able to face Brick and his men without using Malcolm as their loaded gun. But just because Team Arrow wouldn't use Malcolm to justify beating Brick doesn't mean everyone in this episode feels the same. For at the very end, Oliver decides to enlist Malcolm's help -- he needs Malcolm's training in order to kill Ra's. He needs Malcolm in order to avenge Sara's death by protecting his sister.

Because when Oliver returns to Starling City, those things he knew to be true in "The Climb"? That he would do anything to protect Thea (including getting into metaphorical bed with Malcolm) and that he loved Felicity? They're still true. But the funny thing about coming back from the dead is that it often changes you in ways that directly impact others. And that, as Oliver discovers, isn't always good.

Oliver (+ Oliver/Felicity)

And now we come to the Oliver/Felicity portion of our evening. I won't lie to you -- their reunion was painful. But actually, it was the best kind of painful. And I'll explain to you why, momentarily. But before we get to that, let me just brief you on Felicity Smoak as a character and the Oliver/Felicity relationship as I see it up until this episode. It's extremely important to understand her in order to understand Felicity's motivations in "Uprising" and critical to understanding why, exactly, Felicity is so mad at Oliver's return and also critical to understanding the importance of the line: "I don't want to be a woman you love."

In "Heir to the Demon," Oliver told Felicity that she wasn't going to lose him. This is important, but not as important as understanding the conversation that preceded that lovely statement. Felicity was discussing her father -- she was talking about how she's never really felt grounded because the people she cares about always seem to leave her. At this point, we -- the audience and Oliver -- don't know about Cooper: about how Felicity loved with all that she had and lost with all that she had, as well. The loss of Cooper changed her. Like, literally changed her into the person that we meet when Arrow begins. What Oliver is doing in that moment is what he does when he leaves her in "The Climb" -- he's earnestly promising her something. (Recall that I noted his "I love you" was a promise.) So let's combine these two promises, shall we?

1) Oliver promises that she won't lose him. 2) Oliver promises that he loves her. Looking at these two moments side-by-side, it's easy to understand why Felicity was so distraught after Oliver left. He never promised her anything he couldn't keep. (Recall she once asked him to promise her that he would return and he said nothing.) So when Oliver seemingly dies, Felicity is not just distraught. She's also mad. She's mad because Oliver told her that he loved her and promised she would never lose him and then... she did. She lost him. He was gone and he wasn't coming back. And she was forced to deal with that -- forced to live through those two broken promises. But it was more than that, too, because Felicity told Oliver at the end of "Uprising" that while he was gone, she allowed herself to fantasize about him returning -- about him returning to HER. She was trying to grieve and hope at the same time.

You know, I love fairy tales. But have you ever noticed that a vast majority of those stories involve the princess waiting on her hero? Rapunzel waits to be rescued in the tower. Sleeping Beauty and Snow White wait for their princes to save them. Jasmine waits while she's held captive by Jafar. And this is pretty true in modern love stories as well, when you think about it -- Kathleen waits for Joe at the park in You've Got Mail; Annie waits atop The Empire State Building in Sleepless in Seattle; everyone waits for everyone else in Love Actually. There are more love stories about a woman waiting for the man to realize his feelings and declare his love than there are women walking away because they know they deserve better than to wait (A Cinderella Story is a pretty decent example of the latter especially because the line she tells him is literally: "Waiting for you is like waiting for rain in this drought -- useless and disappointing." All the applause). And that's why I love Felicity's response to Oliver in "Uprising." I love that she's mad. I love that she's hurt because the man who returns to her is saying and doing things she literally told everyone earlier in the episode that he would never do. And it would be easy to write Felicity so desperately in love with Oliver that when he returns, she succumbs to whatever he decides -- for their relationship, for himself, for the city. If "Uprising" had only contained that desperate hug and no conflict, a lot of people would have been okay with that outcome.

But that's not who Felicity Meghan Smoak is and the writers know that. Felicity never waited around for Oliver to stop being stupid and she's not about to start now. She didn't wait for him in "The Calm." She didn't wait for him in "Sara." And I have no doubt in my mind that she loves him desperately, but she's not waiting around for him in "Uprising" either. What else would be easy would be to write off Felicity's dismissal of Oliver as just anger over him dying and then returning. Certainly, she's still processing her grief over him. And how can you grieve someone or a relationship (or lack of a relationship) when that person is standing right in front of you, having completely changed? The simple answer is that you cannot. The problem with Oliver is that he's always made decisions for other people. That's a genuine flaw in him, as a character, and it's something I often discuss when it comes to examining characterization: the vast majority of the time, a character's greatest strength is also their biggest flaw.

Oliver's greatest strength is his instinct to protect. His greatest flaw, meanwhile, is his instinct to protect because it leads him to make decisions FOR others, rather than WITH them. Remember how at the end of "The Calm" Felicity, as Oliver was telling her that he thought he could be Oliver and The Arrow but he couldn't, had this look of pure and complete frustration on her face? It's because she had no say and always had no say in what Oliver did under the guise of caring about her. She vocalizes her anger in that moment when she tells him to "stop dangling maybes." And then he kisses her. And I know we flail about it and we think it was romantic, but think about it from Felicity's point-of-view momentarily. Think of that moment and then the: "You know how I feel about her" comment in the foundry, too. Oliver ALWAYS dangled maybes and almosts when it came to Felicity -- he told her he couldn't be with her and then kissed her; he told her he had to be alone and then, indirectly, that he had feelings for her; he told her he loved her and then he left. Felicity never had a say in their relationship because Oliver made the decisions for her.

(I know this seems like a rabbit trail but bear with me momentarily, because it's important.)

But watch every single interaction where Oliver dangled a "maybe" and also realize an extremely important common thread -- it's Felicity who walks away. She physically extracts herself from his kiss in "The Calm." In "Sara," she walks out of the foundry after their conversation. She slightly rolls her eyes and turns and walks out on Oliver in "The Secret Origins of Felicity Smoak." There's one instance in which Oliver walks away, right? "The Climb." Think about that significance: Oliver is no longer dangling a "maybe." He tells her, definitively, that he loves her. And then it is he who walks away from her rather than the other way around. But that's just as important because of how maddeningly upset Felicity must be.

See, she wants their relationship to be on HER terms (as she should), but Oliver continues to decide for them. He wants to be with her when HE wants it. And that's extremely frustrating and anger-inducing for Felicity. So she walks away until Oliver can definitively tell her what he wants and then the very moment he does tell her what he wants... he walks away. I don't know about you all, but I would be mad at the man I loved if he kept stringing me along, not letting ME dictate the terms of our relationship but only wanting me when he wanted me. Because even in "The Climb," when Oliver confesses his love, it's still on HIS terms, not Felicity's.

There's a scene in the season two finale of The Mindy Project in which Danny confesses his love desperately to Mindy. You don't need to watch this show in order to appreciate or understand the conversation, really (though you should because it's a pretty hilarious series). Here's the exchange:
Danny: I love you. Mindy, I love you. I want to be with you. Look at me. I want to be with you.
Mindy: I don't believe you.
Danny: Yes, you do.
Mindy: I don't.
Danny: Why?
Mindy: Because you love me until you don't, okay? I'm not gonna do that again. I want something real, Danny. 
Mindy Lahiri and Felicity Smoak are filled with the same spirit -- both women want to be pursued, want to be wanted and not just when it is convenient for the men in their lives. Felicity doesn't want to be loved until she's pushed away or left; she doesn't want Oliver to say that he loves her again and then yank away the promise. He's broken two promises to her -- two really important ones -- and she can't deal with the emotional whiplash he's put her through. So of course she's mad. Of course she's upset. Of course she's angry. (More on some specifically targeted anger in a bit...)

And if she was anything less than that, it would mean that she would love him less.

The reason she's irate and the reason she is now walking away is because she wants Oliver to prove this is different; to prove without any shadow of a doubt that he wants her. And in order to do that, it's going to take more than words. I hate cliches, but in this case it's true: actions DO speak louder than words. Felicity doesn't want to be loved until it's inconvenient or until Oliver changes his mind again. And Felicity doesn't deserve that kind of love. So she walks away. Now, what's going to make this time different for Oliver and Felicity as a romantic pairing than the last few times she's walked away?

Oliver is going to have to follow her if he really wants to make anything work between them. He didn't in the hospital. He didn't in the foundry in "Sara" and he didn't when she rolled her eyes at his half-confession of feelings in "The Secret Origins of Felicity Smoak." So if Oliver wants Felicity -- if those words of his are truly accurate and he desperately loves and wants to be with her -- then he is going to have to pursue her. He's going to have to fight to be with her. I, of course, sincerely hope that he does. An additional hope? That Felicity pauses walking away from him long enough to turn back around and see him standing there waiting for her, not just with words but with actions. That is, quite honestly, the only way these two will ever work.

Now that we have this prelude, let me briefly discuss that final scene. Because that reunion between Oliver and Felicity was wonderful, even if it was painful (at least Oliver chased after her, right?). Felicity stood up to Oliver, reminding him that it was HER who was left picking up the pieces and just when she thought she could process her grief... she started entertaining the idea that maybe Malcolm was lying or wrong; maybe Oliver was alive. Maybe the words he said to her before he left meant something and he would come back from near-death, humbled. Changed. Bettered. Different. But when Oliver returned, he hugged Felicity one moment and promised that he was okay... and then informed her and the rest of the team that he was going to be training with Malcolm in order to beat Ra's. That he was going to do the unthinkable in order to protect Thea -- that he was willing to let the end justify the means. Is he wrong or right? (I think that, as I  noted above, he isn't entirely wrong but he isn't entirely right, either. The show presents his choice the same way it presents all of Oliver's choices -- as painful inevitabilities.)

Could you imagine that, though? Can you imagine Felicity's anger? The man she has spent weeks dreaming of, and just defended against the entire team, the man she spent weeks hoping beyond any desperate hope was alive actually IS alive. But he is not the man she loved. Felicity stands in front of Oliver in "Uprising" and tries to reconcile the idea of him -- the man of her dreams and fantasies, the one who left her with claims of love -- with the actual presence of him and what he is preparing to do with Malcolm. And she cannot. She cannot be a woman that he loves because he cannot be the man that she loves.

You were all I wanted. But not like this.

And I'll let Taylor Swift drop the mic on this review with that extremely apt lyric. Cool? Cool.

Observations & favorite moments:
  • MVP of the episode is bestowed upon the always exceptional (but in this episode even more so) John Barrowman. When I heard that John Barrowman was on Arrow, my little Doctor Who-loving heart decided to give the series a chance. As a result, I've now become mildly obsessed with this CW hit series. And what makes Malcolm so great and so complex on this series is how Barrowman portrays him. Just when you think you have all of Malcolm figured out -- when you think you can definitively say that he's a heartless, evil, manipulator -- you get a glimpse into his backstory and realize why he is the way that he is. It doesn't excuse any behavior, but backstory isn't mean to do that. Backstory is meant to illuminate a character; to make you think about how they became what they did. I absolutely love how John Barrowman plays Malcolm Merlyn -- dripping sarcasm with a bit of humor, a tinge of fear and vulnerability, and a lot of anger. And "Uprising" was such a great episode for him, understanding his backstory and his pain. Runner-up MVP is Emily Bett Rickards especially in her scenes with John Barrowman and Stephen Amell.
  • "Are you that red streak I've been reading about on TV?" "Wrong city."
  • "Arsenal? What, are you guys just picking names out of a hat now?" Quentin Lance, never change.
  • OH AND LANCE STILL DOESN'T REALLY KNOW THAT SARA IS DEAD. At least Sin was kind enough to tell him. Geez, everyone else.
  • "Well, I guess I won't be needing this anymore." Roy was so great this episode. So great.
  • "Not that I generally believe in hell but for them, I'll make an exception."
  • "I did not understand a word that you just said but Oliver was lucky to have you." Awww, Laurel/Felicity moment.
  • "You stole my idea. I was gonna stand here and wish my problems away."
  • "Well, Oliver isn't here anymore and we need to stop pretending that he is."
  • "Once we let the ends justify the means, that's the first step." "In what?" "In becoming you."
  • "I don't know if we made the right choice but we definitely did the right thing." DIGGLE, BLESS YOU AND YOUR LIGHT.
  • "Feels like recess and we're about to fight the school bully."
  • Roy and Laurel GOT TO SAY THE THING together ("Daniel Brickwell..." "You have FAILED this city")! Also, I may or may not be warming up to the idea of Roy/Laurel romantically because why not, right?
  • "No more death." "That's easy for you to say -- you just returned from the dead."
  • "You did not fail this city and I promise I will not fail you by leaving it again."
  • That final Oliver/Felicity scene is so good. Looks like Oliver doesn't need to worry about Ray coming between them -- Malcolm just did!
Okay, whew. Well that was quite an episode and a beast of a review. What did you all think of "Uprising"? How about that Oliver/Felicity reunion? Hit up the comments below and continue the conversation. Until then, folks! :)


  1. I bought passage on USS HARLANCE. Yeah,
    I ship those 2 so hard I did the name thing. I just like Laurel when she's with Roy. I mean, she talks and I don't roll my eyes or exhale painfully when Roys around so even tho it's cougar time with those to, it's wrong and I like it.

    As for Olicity. Oh Oliver you doof. I've said this before tho, this is the kind of OTP angst I like. The kind where they have to get out of their own way because it makes for a damn romantic story to tell at the wedding.

    Felicity is by far the best character on TV right now. I want to be her when I grow up and she's much younger than me. If Oliver doesn't run after her metaphorically, he doesn't deserve her. He will tho because of those puppy eyes, he loves her hard.

    As a fellow Whovian who cut her teeth on Captain Jack, I love me some John Barrowman!

    1. April! First of all thank you for your comments. I'm really actually getting pretty fond of the idea of Laurel/Roy. He's the one person who's supported her and they're kind of misfit superheroes together. It's cute. I like it.

      And yes, I'm totally here for Oliver/Felicity angst when it's done like this -- tropey crap with love triangles? No thank you. But I love that the conflict between them this year is based on Felicity trusting Oliver and in Oliver thinking about the kind of person that he's becoming (the giant overarching theme of this season).

      Funny, isn't it, how at the beginning of the season it was Oliver unsure of whether or not he could be the person to be with Felicity and now it's FELICITY who is unsure if she can be with Oliver?

      I'm always here for John Barrowman, as a Whovian. ALWAYS.

  2. Oh and, I love the idea of a Supervillan Thea. There's a Merlyn redemption story I can get behind.

    1. Dude, I was so down for Laurel becoming a supervillain given the anger and rage she had over Sara's death, but I am 110% here for Thea becoming one considering the fact that, you know, her entire life has basically been a lie in some way or another.

  3. YES DAN HARMON'S STORY CIRCLESSSS! I LOVE THE CIRCLE! As an aspiring TV writer, story structure is super important and super helpful to me when trying to think about writing. Being between 7 and 8 in an episode called Uprising...? Perfecto haha.
    I actually argued in my Nerds of Color recap that Oliver *hadn't* changed. Felicity says so and I think it's somewhat true. I think he wants to change and he may intend to, but he came back and things were in dire straits so he didn't have time to do anything but act as he always did. "His greatest flaw, meanwhile, is his instinct to protect because it leads him to make decisions FOR others, rather than WITH them." He did the same in this episode. True change would have been telling Thea about Malcolm or consulting with the Team before, as Felicity put it more than once, jumping into bed with Malcolm. He returns but, as you said, his city changed and he wasn't quite expecting that. But I don't think he's shown change *yet,* hopefully it's coming, especially in the aftermath of Felicity's harsh words to him.
    I lvoe all that you say about Felicity being angry (I call her an Angry Queen because of that scene in the foundry where she sits staring Merlyn down with the team standing behind her. It seemed very regal to me). But I also noted that Felicity is scared. She doesn't want to be a person that Oliver loves because the people that Oliver loves die. Shado, Moira, Tommy, Sara, the list goes on and on. And if you look at those who are still here, Laurel and Thea aren't the shining examples of what it's like to have (had) Oliver's love. So she's scared of becoming them. She wants to live, she expressed that earlier in the season, so she can't be the focus of his love if all it gets her is dead or pained inside. This poor, poor girl.
    "Felicity never had a say in their relationship because Oliver made the decisions for her." Mmmmhm.
    "Oliver is going to have to follow her if he really wants to make anything work between them. " I was actually surprised he followed her to the alley. It's a hint that things ARE changing and that somewhere deep inside I think he's trying, but he's not there yet. And as I said earlier and you pointed out, his city is different and he hasn't compensated for those changes yet. So he runs on the same types of choices he's always made. But deep down, something is stirring. Her constant walking away and his death and rebirth are chipping at things inside of him. I have so much hope, but it really does hurt in the mean time.
    "That final Oliver/Felicity scene is so good. Looks like Oliver doesn't need to worry about Ray coming between them -- Malcolm just did!" HA excellent point! This makes me feel just a tad better about Ray coming between them and it not being a typical love triangle situation, because there ARE other things keeping them apart rather than just a shiny new boy toy. There are other serious cracks in their relationship that they also have to deal with. Layers are a great way to make a cliche something new.

    1. Also something interesting I discussed in my NoC review is the idea of Malcolm as both the Magician and the Monster. Nyssa calls him the former while Felicity calls him the latter. Both are true, but in the same vein of Oliver being himself and the Arrow, Malcolm has two sides to reconcile. The Magician being the flawed man who cares for his family and wants to endure his pain and rage, with the Monster being the person the League turned him into. I liken it to the way that Sara was named the Canary but never felt as beautiful as that name because of what the League did to her. I think The Magician as Malcolm's name doesn't live up to who he became, it's who he was. Also, I agree with Felicity that they shouldn't have worked with Malcolm, but I am totally down (and was of course, expecting) Malcolm and Oliver to work together. I think that they need each other -- Oliver needs the knowledge, but Malcolm needs the redemption. He can learn from Oliver how to become a reformed killer. Also there's the fun bit where the recurring phrase of the episode "only the student can defeat the teacher" will work for Malcolm just as it will work for R'as. Oliver is storing up knowledge on both his biggest enemies. So Felicity is right, but Oliver is also right? Which makes their friction even more painful, because they're both doing what they need to do. They're on separate paths for right now, but parallel paths that will merge hopefully sometime soon (but I'm guessing not til the season finale because television likes to torture us like that).
      I skipped a week, but while I didn't hate last week's episode, I didn't really feel like reliving it or analysing it after recapping it. =/ But Oliver's back and so am I!

    2. Amazing point about Felicity sitting in her chair while the others stand around her. It WAS such a regal moment. I wonder how they came to that in blocking the scene.

      I am like you. I believe Felicity and Diggle were absolutely right that Malcolm is icky and they should not work with him. But part of me also just wants to see Oliver and Malcolm training together. Does that make me shallow?

      And yes! There are so many complications in Oliver and Felicity's relationship (I think deep down they still have very different world views). That makes it sooooo much more interesting. And, really, so much better payoff if they do get together because they've had to work at it and deal with real issues like grown ups.

      Although, I gotta say. I think Felicity's rejection of Oliver at the end had more to do with anger than fear. She names two examples of women that Oliver claims to love, his sister and Sara. Both have been deeply wronged by Malcolm. Thea has been manipulated horribly and Sara was killed because she was threatening Malcolm's safety. And now Felicity is watching as Oliver overlooks both those things in order to work with Malcolm. That must feel like the worst kind of betrayal. If that is how Oliver loves (ie he will stand by them only until he believes it is more important/effective to stand with their betrayer) then she doesn't want any part of it. And I can totally see her point. And I can see Oliver's too. Painful.

    3. CONNIE! It's not a Thursday until your comments are in my inbox. ;)

      First of all, for all of his faults, Dan Harmon's story circle is a thing of beauty and of genius. It's so structured and YES THANK YOU FOR ALSO NOTICING THE TITLE BEING "UPRISING" -- because that was super important to the story circle as well.

      As far as Oliver changing... I think you're right, but I think he has changed a bit. I think he's more patient and humbled (Amell said that and you can totally tell how tired and mellowed he is in the foundry scene and even in the confrontation with Felicity because he just lets her rant). But as you pointed out, he has changed in that he's not letting Felicity walk away without a small fight for her. Sadly for him, she STILL walks away but that's because Felicity is awesome and too good for any man. (Sorry, not sorry.) I think that, as I said above to April, the juxtaposition of Oliver not being able to be with Felicity at the beginning of the season and Felicity not being able to be with Oliver at this point in the season is great. And it's also great set-up for the future.

      The thing about the "woman you love" line is that it's not implying that she doesn't love him, right? It's just implying that she cannot accept his declaration based on the kind of person HE is now, not the kind of person she is. And that's important. It's also important as you pointed out to note that the women Oliver love? Well, they kind of end up dead or emotionally manipulated and FELICITY WAITS FOR NO MAN TO TURN HER INTO THAT. God bless EBR and her portrayal of this character. God bless the writers for creating such a strong woman.

      (Also that scene in the foundry? That shot made her look like the freaking queen of the foundry and I absolutely LOVED it. Notice that Malcolm addresses her as if he's her subject. Dude may be the devil, but even he knows what's up.)

      A++++++ to everything you said about Malcolm, Connie. I cannot say it any better than you did. I LOVED BABY NYSSA AND HER NAMING HIM THE MAGICIAN.

      So Felicity is right, but Oliver is also right?

      See this? This is SO important because the show isn't naming one party right and the other wrong. Like, there is no right answer in this scenario. As Dig said so astutely: "I don't know if we made the right choice but we definitely did the right thing." Like, that's the whole point. Oliver and Felicity are at an impasse on whether or not the decisions they're making and the things they're doing are both right or wrong.

      OLIVER IS BACK. And I'm so ready for whatever he does now. THANK YOU ALWAYS FOR YOUR COMMENTS, CONNIE. You know I love our discussions almost as much as I love reviewing the episode. ;)

  4. This week's episode had so much meaty content! I am going to state a few things I had problems with first though.

    -I am having a real hard time getting past the whole "leaving the Glades to Brick" thing. It is very unethical and actually in no way realistic. The city had so many other options. And while I accept that it made for some interesting plot things I just can't go there. It's one step too far in terms of believability.

    - Why exactly is Brick (who has been shown to be pretty intelligent) destroying the Glades to get power over it? Continued violence and poverty don't give him any real money to get out of people. There are much smarter ways to get money and power (ie just enough corruption and violence to get control of people but not so much that it hurts business) and destroying the people of the Glades gets him nothing except a wasteland. Unless he's just a little crazy but if that were the case I would like that to be a little clearer in his characterization.

    - Wow, it took Lance no time to figure out that Roy was Arsenal but Oliver and Laurel (who he has known a lot longer) are not recognized at all? And Sin was the only one who comes right to Lance to talk to him about Sara as soon as she realises she is being impersonated? I love her for that and I'm disappointed in others. It should have come from Laurel. Secrets have a way of getting out and the longer you try to keep them the more likely it is that they will come out in a worse way or be used against you. Has no one learned this yet??!

    1. BECCA! Always a pleasure to see you commenting on these reviews. :)

      - Ethically, yes, it seems problematic that the mayor would vacate the Glades and turn them over to a criminal. It seems implausible by our standards, really, but a) this is Starling where the implausible reigns supreme! and b) it's necessary for the story, unfortunately. I don't think it would have been far-fetched to pull the police out of the Glades since, you know, people were getting slaughtered left and right. But I do wonder why there's no like, additional outside military support or something? But again, I guess that would defeat the purpose in Oliver returning, haha.

      - Brick is so interesting because he's like, as Felicity astutely puts it, a bully on the playground. He killed Rebecca because he could, not for any reason. I think that Brick is the first example of senseless violence that we've seen on the show. Slade was avenging Shado; Malcolm was avenging Rebecca; Moira was in over her head... but Brick? Brick is just evil because he CAN be. And I think that's the scariest kind. As for why everyone wants the Glades, my only plausible theory is that they're full of blue collar/poorer people who are easily persuadable and influenced. It's basically like Brick has his own army because he can terrorize them into doing whatever he wants. That's my take on it anyway.

      - I will honestly never have an explanation as to why Quentin cannot tell his daughters apart and cannot tell that it's Oliver. I honestly don't know because this plot point will never make sense AND WHY DOES QUENTIN HAVE TO FIND OUT FROM SIN? So help me, he better find out in "Canaries" or Imma be so mad. There's only so much more of this arc I can handle.

  5. Okay, now with that out of my system... On the more important things. So much interesting character stuff this week! Great idea to bring up ways of story structuring and character development. (I too, am more than a little disappointed in Harmon lately) However, I tend to agree with Connie. I think Oliver has regressed a little bit. I mean, instead of outwitting or “finding another way” like we saw last year or the beginning of this one, Oliver is now willing to team up with a very dubious and ambiguous character in order to kill someone who is threatening him and his family. (Did anyone else find it odd that Oliver stops Malcolm saying “No more death” but then immediately asks for his help to kill Ra's?) And he's closed down a bit again, he is not talking over his plans with anyone else on the team. He's certainly not talking to Thea about it or giving her any information about her own life. Most times that we've seen Oliver be triumphant over foes is when he has gotten all his resources and team-mates working together. And we saw Tatsu warn him that this method will cost him what he holds most precious, an even bigger price to pay than his life. (Will that be Thea or Felicity? They were the two absolutes that he mentioned in 3x09.)

    I like how you mentioned that Oliver's greatest character traits can also be his greatest weakness. Oliver wants to protect the people he cares about. That is so spot on – he makes decisions for people instead of with them. What worries me most about that is it is dangerously similar to how Malcolm does things. Because the desire to protect others can lead to controlling them for their “own good”. Thea needs to be told the truth, even very painful truths, so that she can move forward and make informed decisions. Too often a desire to protect people from painful things can imply that one doesn't think they are capable of handling them. (Or in Malcolm's case, protecting himself from consequences to their relationship) Thea was capable of handling the information that Malcolm was her father and keeping it from her was both hurtful and counter-productive. I wish Oliver would actually learn that lesson. We can't keep the people we love in little fluffy bubbles of protection. The best thing we can do for them is express our confidence in their abilities to handle their own problems and be there for support when they make their own decisions. I'm sure Felicity, Thea, and others would prefer that Oliver just have their back than try to run their life by deciding what they should and shouldn't know or should and shouldn't do. Oliver could find himself becoming more like Malcolm than he realises if he keeps thinking he knows what's best for everybody else and making their decisions for them.

    1. I love me some story circles, y'all. I think that what the problem is right now is that Oliver THINKS he has changed more than he has. And that happens to people a lot, right? They think they're different and then it's other people who help them realize that no, they're not as different or changed as they believe to be. I still argue that there is some change in Oliver, but definitely not what Felicity wanted to see.

      Like I noted above and Connie mentioned and you did too, the problem with Oliver is that his greatest strength has always been his weakness. He protects people but in doing so, he doesn't ask for help. He makes decisions FOR them. And that's the very notion that Thea and Felicity rail against constantly -- they don't want other people telling them what to think or who to be or what they want/need in life. So good on Felicity for confronting Oliver about that and for doing so in a way that Oliver hasn't encountered before.

      Because like, really, who challenges Oliver ever? Felicity. That's pretty much it. She's the only one to call Oliver out on what he's doing -- notice the two other men in the foundry remain silent because WHEN THE QUEEN IS SPEAKING, YOU DO NOT SPEAK. She's the one who calls the shots on the team most of the time because she's the one who has never wavered on her morals or her values. And she holds other people to a higher standard because of that.

      (I am definitely interested in which the "holds most precious" will be -- Thea or Felicity -- because at this point, you could make a case for both. If Thea ever finds out the lengths by which she's been protected by being lied to and manipulated, Oliver will lose her; similarly, if Oliver keeps making decisions FOR other people instead of WITH them, he'll lose Felicity.)

    2. So true about change. It happens to me all the time. I think I've grown or moved past something and bam, I will end up right back in old habits again. And it's usually fear that sets us back into our old ways. Something threatens us and we go back to what we know. Or we end up in the same pattern with people in our lives without even realizing it. I think you are right. Oliver has been deeply humbled. And that has shaken his belief that he doesn't have to kill anymore. Ra's might threaten him that deeply.

      Felicity has been giving the smack down so often. She's not perfect but when she is right she is right and deep down all the other characters know it. SHE IS OUR QUEEN.

  6. Yup, things have changed in the city and the team and Oliver will come up against that hard next week I think. He only got a little taste of what his team has been up to in his absence. He will really need to come to grips with their growth and changes going forward. I have a feeling things are going to hit the fan. Of course, Laurel wasn't there in the foundry when he came back and told them he was proud. We'll see how they deal with each other soon. Was she off taking care of Ted Grant? How seriously did he get wounded anyway? I feel like that was left dangling.

    Malcolm, Malcolm... I really enjoyed seeing more of his story. I find him to be a fascinating character and a very troubling one. I liked that at least he knew exactly how many people died during the Undertaking. And in that conversation with Oliver I think he saw how wrong many of his decisions have been. He killed the wrong person in vengeance, he left his son behind when that wasn't what Tommy needed or wanted, his Undertaking was a horror that got his own son killed... And hopefully he sees how terrible his “protection” of Thea has been. He told Oliver at the end of season one that he had greater conviction, he believed he was right and justified. Oliver told Barry in 3x08 about his need for conviction to be the Arrow. It can be a scary thing to be so sure you are right and I hope Oliver doesn't follow Malcolm's example. Can Malcolm be redeemed? I'm not sure. I believe most people can but I'd like to see Malcolm do the right thing more. Even though he created all the problems with Ra's it's not like he's stepping up to take on the fight himself (arguably Malcolm would be more effective against Ra's having actually trained with him). But no, Malcolm will just train Oliver to take that fight for him. Lying and manipulation are very difficult habits to break.

    1. I'm really excited for more of Oliver realizing exactly what happened in his absence. Also, if I'm not mistaken, Ted was beaten to near-death by Brick during the fight. That's why Laurel stayed with him while everyone else was busy.

      It can be a scary thing to be so sure you are right and I hope Oliver doesn't follow Malcolm's example.

      I like that we're getting the chance to see Malcolm and Oliver paralleled, because what happens when you do things under the guise of protecting people? Does that justify any evil you do? (Also Malcolm is such an interesting character and I'm not certain he can be redeemed but I'm definitely down to see him be a less-evil evil villain if that makes any sense.)

      How can you train with someone you can't trust? DOES Oliver trust Malcolm? Those questions will hopefully be explored throughout the remainder of the Ra's arc.

  7. I thought Diggle and Roy were very good in this episode. Diggle was so great and I loved his conversation with Malcolm. Using ends to justify means IS the first step to becoming like Malcolm and I think that line is a real warning about Oliver's development and the rest of what is going to happen this year. I want more of Diggle all the time and I look forward to the Suicide Squad stuff later this year. Diggle's ethics are hard-won after years of being in the military, seeing first hand the conflict and compromises in Afghanistan. He and Felicity were right on this episode and shining lights! Roy was so quietly dry and funny. And I like that it made total sense to him to work with Malcolm. It seemed so in character. He and Laurel were willing to use Malcolm and for Diggle and Felicity were against it. But they came together in an agreement (that will be new for Oliver) and then Laurel came up with a good plan to work with the people in the Glades instead of just on their behalf.

    That last scene between Oliver and Felicity was AMAZING. I know that Guggenheim said it would make the internet mad at him but I thought it was great. Horribly painful but great. THAT is how you write a complication for a relationship! It's not about a love triangle, their difficulties arise from their own characters. I generally find love triangles boring. There are a few exceptions but so often they feel contrived and shallow. I much prefer to see people having problems because each person's way of doing things is at odds or because circumstances outside their control are making things impossible. I agree, they are both kinda right and wrong at the same time. Oliver has made a choice to work with Malcolm for very pragmatic reasons. He is a source of knowledge and Oliver is going to make use of that resource. I get it. I think it's incredibly dangerous and a slippery ethical slope but I get it. Felicity has been against cooperation with Malcolm every step of the way. She has always stood by her principles very strongly and I think that is what I love about her most. While they were in the alley Oliver twice stated that Felicity's issue at that moment was their personal relationship but I think it goes deeper than that. Yes, Felicity hoped in her heart that he was still alive and that a change in his outlook would include their personal relationship. But what set her off was Oliver working with Malcolm. She was convinced she knew Oliver and knew he would never do that. “I guess I was wrong about everything.” Oliver did not say a word about what he wanted their relationship to be going forward so she doesn't really know if his outlook on that has changed or not. Felicity gives two examples of Oliver's love- Thea and Sara. She feels he is betraying both of them because it is practical. She feels he is abandoning his principles and at the same time abandoning those two women. I can completely understand her point of view. It sucks when you can see both sides, when you can see their points and how a gulf has opened between them but it is just so gratifying because it is REAL. This is a major problem and I really want to see how they deal with it. (And Ray might step into that gap I guess but he isn't the cause of it.)

    I like that we have had an episode that has sowed some real seeds of contention. It leaves me excited to see what happens next cause they all have BIG problems.

    (P.S. Who else loved having a glimpse of little Tommy and little Oliver? I just wanted to hug them at that cemetery.)

    1. Diggle was so fantastic this episode but it kinda speaks volumes to how he's been written recently that I wasn't sure if he would vote to work with or without Malcolm. In the end, I'm glad he sided with Felicity but he seemed to slightly regret his decision later on. (Though that line from him was amazing.) ROY WAS AMAZING. He's growing on me more and more in this episode, I cannot lie. I even really loved how he verbally smacked Felicity down. He wasn't wrong in what he said (though he could have said it better). And kudos to Laurel for using her thinking cap and making their plan work! I like her better now that she's working with Roy. I kinda ship it a little.

      That final Oliver/Felicity scene was a doozy but I, too, in no way hate Guggenheim. I actually think it's rather genius that the thing coming between them isn't another person (like Ray, though I presume Oliver isn't going to roll over and let her go without a bit of jealousy there), but an actual ethical dilemma. And it makes SO much sense because Felicity thought she knew Oliver, thought she knew exactly what he would say and do, and when he comes back... he's changed. And when she looks at him, she's not sure she can be the woman he loves because she's not sure he is the man that she does. BAM, FEELS TRAIN.

      I don't think Oliver realizes that their personal and professional relationship are so intertwined so of course they have personal issues between them and he does astutely point out that she's upset and mad with him for leaving and then not dying and not contacting them, but she's more upset about their professional dilemma.

      GOD BLESS FELICITY EFFING SMOAK. She honestly is the queen of this show because she's so strong and so flawed and so beautiful and so amazing. EBR nailed that final scene, but so did Amell because you can see the tears in his eyes as she walks away. AGAIN.

      I loved bb! Tommy and Oliver. Ugh, this episode did a lot of good and set up a lot of potential conflict. Thanks, again, for your lovely comments (as always)!

  8. Hey Ladies. Im kind of new to Jenn's blog and I've enjoyed reading your thoughts about Arrow. I only have guy friends who watch Arrow with me and when I tried to talk about my feelings about the characters they look at me like Im nuts (boys are simple that way.)

    Jenn, I find myself nodding and yelling YES! when I read your analysis of the characters.... Im curious to know how many times you watch an episode before you begin writing your recaps?
    I have read there's quite a bit of hate on Felicity right now.... one was so angry and full of hatred that this person actually said Felicity should be killed off.... I stopped reading right there. I for one appreciate and cheered when Felicity stood up for her beliefs. Did I want Oliver and Felicity to be in a heavenly place upon his return? Of course. But as soon as Tatsu told Oliver that he would have to give up what is more precious to him I knew what was going to happen. As painful as their confrontation in the alley was, I loved when Felicity told him "uh, uh" and stopped him when he was approaching her.... imagine the strength of character one must have to tell the man you love, the man you thought you would never see again; coming towards you and you tell him: NO. My God that was beautiful to watch. Whether her reaction was born out of fear or anger, I thought it was brilliant. There's been a few different interpretations as to what her "I don't want to be a woman you love" meant. To me, I felt she was telling him she didn't want to be the woman who made him be the man he did not want to be.... Like Jenn said, Oliver makes decisions for others.... and decisions against what HE wants.... but rather what HE THINKS are best for those he loves. Felicity knows that and she refuses to be someone who he will change himself for.

    Laurel- She is so much better with the team. I've struggled liking her character but I've enjoyed her transition as BC. Even though I still think it's way too fast for her to all of a sudden be the second coming of Buffy.

    I am the only one disappointed that Ted died? Im hoping the still alive.... I really liked his interaction with Laurel. And who will train her now? Oliver adamant she was not to train to become a vigilante; how will that go over now???

    Roy is awesome. Love how he doesn't beat around the bush. He and Laurel looked pretty bad ass when the confronted Brick at the end.

    Diggle didn't have too many scenes but the one when he told Malcom to take a hike was brilliant... I cheered like crazy. I can't wait what he has to say to Oliver about his decision to train with Malcolm.

    And finally Thea... I know some people are intrigued with the idea of her becoming a villain.. I have to say I HATE this idea. Oliver has given up so much just so his sister can retain her innocence, her goodness.... and so far we have seen that she has not lost that- I think it would break Oliver into a million pieces. Believe it or not I see her being the one killing her father...and joining the League. I don't care how redeemable Malcolm back story could make him- he is evil and he will betray them all again....

    1. Gia! Welcome to the reviews, lady. I'm so glad you've joined us. :) :) :)

      You'll be surprised to know that I only usually watch an episode once before I recap. Which kind of goes against all I've done in the past with other shows. But until I get my hands on screeners, that's how I do most of these Arrow ones. ;)

      THANK YOU, GIA, for bringing up something I completely forgot to! When Oliver tries to take a step toward her, the little "nuh-uh," was absolutely PERFECT. So understated and so wonderful because then she steps toward him but it's on HER terms now. As I said above, that's the problem with Oliver -- he's always had their relationship be on his terms and now I sincerely hope that he learns that whatever he does will be on HER terms, not his. Ugh, so good. That whole confrontation was absolutely perfect -- I loved every single moment because as much as I would love Oliver and Felicity to be happy together, there's a LOT of work that needs to be done in order to get them to that place.

      Laurel is SO much better with the team than on her own and I do kinda agree with you about the training. My headcanon is that Roy has been training her, since she wasn't getting it from Ted who, by the way, did he die? I know the actor won't be around because he got a new series picked up so I presume that's the implication? But again, I'm not sure.

      I think I can see your point in regards to Thea -- about how she continues to see the good in people. But remember, she's seeing that because she thinks nothing is wrong: that Malcolm is protecting her because he loves her, that Oliver is being truthful with her, etc. I am interested to see how she responds to them once the truth comes out, because it WILL. And the truth can change you.

      Thanks so much for joining our discussions! We're here every Thursday like clockwork. ;)

  9. I was eagerly anticipating this episode knowing that Oliver was returning to Starling City, but while he was making his way back I loved seeing Malcolm Merlyn's past and how he became who he is. Also it was a reminder that I still miss Tommy! (secretly I'm hoping that he's alive and makes a surprise comeback, but I don't think that this would happen). I think the writers did an excellent job telling both sides of the story and the conflict the characters face in deciding whether to work with MM or not.

    I don't know why Marc Guggenheim thought that we would hate him by the end of the episode, there was nothing that sparked outrage in me as I felt the way they approached the end scene was fabulous and respectful to the characters. I loved the hug, and that Oliver went after her outside (a bit of progress). Again Felicity was a complete pillar of strength in that scene, I love the subtle inflections in her words and the step back with the uh-uh. I am very hopeful about Olicity after seeing that as Oliver didn't say much and although he was obviously hurt, I'm glad we got to hear how Felicity felt as now that it's out in the open, it will be interesting to see how they work together.
    Throughout the past few episodes, I feel like there is something the writers are alluding to as it feels like there are things that have yet to make sense (mainly with the LoA), and I can't help but feel that Oliver has something up his sleeve. S3 hasn't been the smoothest in story telling, but I'm hoping that the jigsaw fits together by the season finale.

    Other random thoughts:
    - Loved Quentin's snarky remarks and his interactions with the team
    - Roy and Laurel worked better together and Laurel did not feel out of place in the foundry. It's like a mini team with Arsenal and BC.
    - Diggle telling it like it is to Merlyn!
    - Ted Grant kicking ass; I hope he is not dead:(
    - Return of Sin, she needs to stick around more
    - All Hail Queen Smoak! Could Felicity be any more badass?
    - The Arrow's speech on top of the truck, the grading of that scene looked more green too so the Green Arrow is on his way!
    - I'm looking forward to seeing Oliver and Malcolm work together

    Sitara x

    1. Hey there Sitara! Thanks for your comment on this week's review. :) Man, I miss me some Tommy Merlyn. I was glad to see what Malcolm was like before Rebecca died. He was such a good dad, ugh.

      MG probably thought that since Oliver/Felicity shippers like happy endings, we would be mad at him for that scene but honestly, I loved it. I think it was so necessary and it was so -- as you said -- respectful to who Felicity is as a character and her relationship with Oliver. Man, when she told him to back away from her... I clapped. I was so thrilled because it shows that she's the kind of woman who is strong and stubborn and who knows what she wants. Everyone listens to Felicity. Freaking Malcolm Merlyn listens to Felicity. She's the queen of the show, really, when you think about it.

      I'm not exactly sure how coherent the narrative has been this season since a lot has already happened, but I have the distinct feeling that it'll require us looking back and reflecting on the series once it ends. Also, I can't believe we're halfway through this season already! Crazy.

      Quentin's sass and his one-liners give me life on this show. As do Roy's. That voice changer bit was hilarious. I need some more Sin in my life, please and thank you. Also I totally agree -- BC and Arsenal as a little unit together is working really nicely for me, especially their moment in the van. Cutie pie baby vigilantes, those two are.

      Thanks again for your comment! :)

  10. Wow, what a review, so accurate with Olicity and with her strength and convictions!
    I think this episode was really light compared with last one... a lot of stories, a lot to discover about Malcom, but it didn´t keep me at the edge of my seat....
    I have to comment about someone saying Malcom saved Thea because he loved her, not because of some hidden agenda........ excuse me?? Trained her, made her kill Sara so Oliver would have to kill Ra´s al Ghul.... that´s 2 million hiddens agendas right there!! O.O
    I love the way Roy is in the show again!! It´s a great character and this season he was almost out of the show and his appearances were kind of awkward and forced... but he´s back!! :)
    About Olicity: I think Oliver does demonstrate Felicity he loves her in more ways than telling her (he cares a lot about her opinion in a lot of matters, he respects her, he asks for her advice... things he doesn´t do with anyone else)... It´s true he keeps dangling maybes, I think he fears something, and he´s not made up his mind... not about Felicity... about himself!
    And what about the time Oliver went to Palmer´s building in search of Felicity... and she was kissing Ray... what would have happened there if she would have been alone?? That moment might have been the reason he didn´t kiss Felicity after the "I love you" in "the climb"... maybe he thought Ray and her were together... I really don´t know... Your post help me to understand a lot about why the scriptwriters are doing this to us, actually, and I totally agree with Felicity in what he says to Oliver at the end of the episode ... I agree because I kept flipping out everytime someone said something nice about Malcom, or kept making excuses for his behaviour..... I don´t care if he wants to become a monk now..... What he did was REALLY REALLY REALLY wrong.... and he´s been doing it for 21 years.... so I don´t believe one single word he says about being good, doing something for someone.... Ok, you lost your wife in a horrible way.... Thea lost her mother and she is not killing cats everywhere she goes..... Oliver, a really immature Oliver, saw his father kill himself and survived in a really hostile island, Diggle lost his brother, Laurel lost her sister.... and I could keep going like that for a long time..... Of course everyone copes with life differently, but I don´t understand why everyone forgives or accepts Malcom´s reasons so easily. And I agree with her because after all she suffered (everyone really) he comes back, gives her a 3 seconds hug and keep with his plans as a superhero…. Cold Ollie, cold.
    And I think that´s all… I´m gonna miss Brick (oh Gareth) and Wildcat (I read he works in another show now, so he had to leave… why don´t they stick in the show they work!!!??) because I don´t want Laurel training with Oliver….. and Lance is going to find out about Sara next week… I´m almost sure!! So some improvement in Oliver being more the Oliver Felicity wants to compensate such a sad moment will be great! ;)
    Oliver is back in Starling!!!!!! Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    See (read) you next week!! Bri
    P.S. Oh Mindy…… oh that scene!! <3

    1. Hi there Bri! Thanks so much for reading and commenting on this review. I am such a fan of strong women and of Felicity Smoak, especially at this point in the series because she knows what she wants and she's not going to wait around for Oliver to figure that out. (As she shouldn't.) But you're right -- he's going to need to make up his mind not about them but about himself if he's ever going to make it work. That's something I cannot wait for them to figure out the rest of the season.

      ROY IS SUCH A DELIGHTFUL CHARACTER. I really didn't care for him at first and now he's one of my favorite parts of this show. Seriously.

      Malcolm is such an interesting character to me. He seems to be pure evil but there's a shred of his humanity left within him, I think. He justifies a lot of what he does and I think that's something Oliver is going to see when they work together. Like, just because you CAN justify killing someone, does it mean you SHOULD? And there's the battle Oliver will continue to face, I feel like, the rest of this season.

      I'm 99% sure Lance will find out about Sara next week but if he doesn't... I'm going to have some serious problems.

      P.S. Mindy is ALWAYS relevant. ;) Thanks again for reading!