Saturday, October 14, 2017

Arrow 6x01 Review: “Fallout” (Moving Forward) [Contributor: Jenn]

Original Airdate: October 12, 2017

It’s been a few months, in-universe, since the events of Arrow’s fifth season finale in which seemingly everyone died in an explosion on Lian-Yu. Because of logistics like, you know, actor contracts and story, we knew that not all of the characters could be dead. But we certainly didn’t know the fate of some of them going into the season premiere (and we still don’t, to be honest — what happened to Nyssa? Or Talia?). Even though characters survived, however, it doesn’t mean they left Lian Yu unscathed. Quite a few people return with demons — including Oliver Queen.

Shockingly, I don’t have much in the way of snark for the Arrow premiere (as I look back on my other reviews though, at the beginning of the seasons, I usually am pretty positive), because it was such a jam-packed episode, mostly used to set up the plot of the season and wrap up loose ends from last year. Nevertheless, we got some glimpses into our characters and relationships that will be pivotal moving forward this season. So let’s break them down!


Perhaps one of the saddest things about “Fallout” was the relationship between Oliver and William. The latter doesn’t refer to his father with any sort of endearing terms like “dad” or “papa.” Instead, he coolly calls him “Oliver,” when necessary. Raisa — REMEMBER HER?! — tells Oliver that William has nightmares, and when Oliver tries to pull his son back from the brink of one, William surprises and troubles Oliver by pointing to him and calling him the “bad man.” He blames Oliver for his mother’s death (which Oliver blames himself for, because #somethingsneverchange), and is traumatized from his experiences on the island.

Oliver as a father is definitely an angle that Arrow is gearing up to explore this season, and Slade’s pointed advice at the end of the episode proves that while we’re used to seeing Oliver handle identity crises, this one will be different because there’s another human life involved. Our Green Arrow is going to inevitably have to — or be forced to — choose whether or not his identity will be a father or a superhero. I have a feeling that this identity crisis will move similarly to Oliver’s other crises (he first is aware of the crisis, denies that he needs to choose between the two, becomes broody and/or emotionally distant to someone, does something stupid, and then apologizes by season’s end for his actions), but I’m cautiously optimistic that Oliver has learned from his past mistakes and is on a path toward healing and changing. Even though this episode focuses a lot on the trauma that other characters have faced in a more blatant sense, we can’t deny that Oliver is experiencing his own trauma too. He watched the mother of his child die (it’s not like he had a deep, emotional attachment to Samantha because none of us did, but she’s still the one who raised William), saw his sister lying on the ground, unresponsive (how many times does Oliver have to watch Thea die/be on death’s front door?), and — most significantly of all — was forced very quickly into the role of parent and provider for a child he doesn’t even know.

William and Oliver are still strangers. They’re not father and son in any sense yet, apart from biologically being linked. And parenthood is something that Oliver is not accustomed to. He didn’t have the greatest examples growing up, and no real “healthy” relationships to turn to as examples. Oliver is learning to parent as he goes, based partially on instinct, partially on what he’s seen other people do, and partially on guessing. Thankfully Oliver has Raisa to help him navigate this new role, but it’s something he’s going to have to really work hard at in order to be the kind of father William needs.

Which is why Slade’s remarks are extremely important. Unlike choosing between being Oliver Queen or Green Arrow, choosing between being Green Arrow or Dad? That’s a decision that directly impacts another human life — another innocent, human life. Oliver can’t just think of himself anymore, and though his heart is in the right place at the moment, he’s walking a thin tightrope and if he wants to truly be the kind of parent that raises a stable, mentally and emotionally healthy child, he’s going to have to be all in. That’s what Samantha meant by being a parent — not simply providing William with a house, but a true and stable HOME.

I’m interested to see how the writers take this storyline. They’re not always the most subtle (see: never, actually) so it’s already abundantly clear that Oliver will be having more heavy-handed parenting conversations in the future. Heck, we already had TWO and we’re only in the first episode of the season. Still, if tackling this difficult subject and role allows Oliver the chance for character growth and development, I’m all for it. Meanwhile, the tiniest bit of growth and development happened in this episode, and it’s related to everyone’s favorite ship: Olicity.


I always thought that the role of Felicity as a mother was an interesting one to ponder. It’s not that she isn’t maternal — I think she would do a fantastic job raising a baby. But early on in our fourth season, we got the chance to see how nervous the idea of settling down made Felicity. And my argument then was in favor of this response. I still stand by that. It’s canon that there’s some sort of age gap between Felicity and Oliver, so it makes sense that Felicity got spooked at the idea of having babies. She was young and the thought of raising human life — even with someone she loved — gave her pause. Now, Felicity is a few years older and wiser, but the idea of taking the next step with Oliver still makes her a bit cautious. He’s ready for it, but she’s a bit more reserved. Why?

To understand that, we have to understand how Felicity processes information. She’s a planner and thinks through, logically, the outcomes of situations. She has to, because if she doesn’t, people die in the field. Yet she’s quick to think on her feet and able to come up with responses and solutions to problems when prompted. But when it comes to matters of the heart or emotional things, she’s a bit more reserved and cautious. It’s because of her background and experiences. Felicity, just like Oliver, has walls. She loves her mother (as do we, most likely), but while Donna did her best to raise Felicity, it was still a broken home. And Felicity still has emotional baggage because of the way she grew up. Baggage isn’t bad because all of us have it. But it does make us pause, sometimes, and take stock of our situations before proceeding.

It’s my own personal theory, so take it or leave it, but I think Felicity is worried she won’t know how to be the kind of parent that raises emotionally healthy kids in an emotionally healthy home. She and Oliver didn’t have those kind of homes growing up, and they both admire aspects of the way their respective families raised them, sure. But they both really want to make a life that is different for their future children. So when Felicity thinks of a family, she thinks of the brokenness that plagued her, growing up, but also dares to hope for the potential that someday — with Oliver — things could be different.

Blended families are beautiful. I love seeing friends and family members adopt children, raise their step-kids, and have good relationships with their ex-spouses. But I think Oliver is jumping the gun a bit on the whole Felicity-meeting-William thing. It’s only been a few months since William’s mother died, and he barely is warmed up to Oliver, much less ready to meet his future step-mother. Felicity is ready to take the next step with Oliver, but now it’s complex because it’s no longer about what THEY want or THEIR life together — it’s about William. Every decision they make from here on out factors in Oliver’s son, and I appreciate the maturity and restraint it took for Felicity to allow Oliver the space to bond with his child before she is reintroduced into the dynamic.

Just as I’m interested to see how this whole “Oliver is a dad!” story plays out, I’m interested to see the new layer of complexity and certain depth that will be added to the Olicity storyline this season.


At first, I assumed Diggle was suffering from PTSD, which wouldn’t have been surprising. But it seems that in addition to the mental scars everyone on the team bears, Diggle has some physical scars that are preventing him from doing his job on Team Arrow. Dinah notices, of course, and is concerned. I’m curious to know how this will impact the team as they move forward. I’d hate for Diggle to be sidelined, but perhaps we will see more of him wrestling with physical and emotional demons.

And speaking of...


I hate to break it to Team Arrow, but Laurel Lance is dead. Yes, there is a version of Laurel running amok in Star(ling) City, but that’s not the Laurel that our heroes knew. It’s not THEIR friend — it’s just a woman who wears her face. Still, Quentin doesn’t seem to quite understand that Black Siren isn’t the daughter he raised (even though he makes some claim that it feels like his baby girl), so he fails to kill her in the episode when he has the perfect opportunity to do so. As it turns out, Dinah and Quentin kept a secret from the team: Quentin thought he killed Black Siren on Lian Yu when the villainess attacked Dinah. Whoops, guys. Turns out, she wasn’t quite as dead as you assumed she was!

There’s some convoluted plot in “Fallout” about weapons and Black Siren does a lot of stalking around rooms, smirking evilly, and pushing buttons to blow stuff up. I really don’t know what her role in this season will be, since I feel like we’ve tried the whole “Laurel is back” story about a dozen times. I guess we’ll see.

Quentin, meanwhile, is falling off the wagon and Dinah is there to scoop him up. It’s understandable that he has successes and then backslides, so I’m glad they’re committing to Quentin’s issues rather than sweeping them under the rug. What I’m hopeful for this year, really, is more scenes between Quentin and Oliver. Out of all of the people in Oliver’s life, he knows a few fathers and my dream would be that we’d get the chance to see Diggle, Rene, Quentin, and Oliver really discuss what it means to be a dad and raise a child. Wouldn’t that be a nice bottle episode, you guys?

Overall, my level of snark toward “Fallout” is pretty low, which means this season is starting off on solid ground. Don’t disappoint me, show. I beg of you. My wine budget begs of you. Let’s make this the year where my reviews are snark-lite.

Please and thank you.

And now, more stuff:
  • I’m only okay with flashbacks for this episode since they obviously helped fill in the gaps without extraneous exposition. But no more, please.
  • I’m really kind of mad that Thea is in a coma, because HOW MUCH MUST THIS ONE WOMAN GO THROUGH? Still, thank goodness she’s alive (for now).
  • “You can write?” “You can read?”
  • The stuntwork in this episode was aces! My only complaint is that the slo-mo action shots were overused last year and I’d like to not have to see so many of them again this season.
  • The Canary Cry is a one-trick pony for me, and it’s overstayed its welcome.
  • “Takes one to know one, sweetheart.”
  • I already miss Slade.
  • “Be patient but be prepared.” “For what?” “Choosing between the man people need you to be or the father your son needs you to be.”
  • THEY FIGURED OUT THAT OLIVER WAS THE GREEN ARROW! WITH A VERY CLEAR PHOTO. Let’s see how he lies his way out of this one.
What did you all think of “Fallout”? Are you excited for this season? Sound off in the comments below!


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