Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Arrow 3x16 "The Offer" (Are You Better Off?)

"The Offer"
Original Airdate: March 18, 2015

You know what is really difficult for me? Making a decision. My friends and I joke about how we are all quite indecisive, but there's a nugget -- nay, a boulder -- of truth in our jokes. It took my best friend and me about twenty minutes to decide where to go for dinner one night. We began texting, trying to weigh our options: Well, what were we hungry for? Which places were a good half-way distance between our apartments? What time should we eat? I am a terrible decision-maker. My roommate is not. My roommate will make a decision without too much hesitation or conflict because she would rather have a plan solidified than waste fifteen or twenty minutes contemplating options. I've had to make very few life-altering decisions in my twenty-six years on earth. I've decided where to go to college. I decided to break up with my college boyfriend. I decided when to transfer to another university. I decided when to move out of my parents' home. I decided when I wanted to start looking to buy a house. I decided when I wanted to start searching for other jobs. All of those decisions are good and they're important.

But sometimes, decisions aren't easy. Sometimes offers that we have seem tempting and they seem good and they seem perfect, but they turn out to be something we didn't want. And sometimes, the thing that seems least appealing to us actually becomes more intriguing. There's a common thread there that is really important in decision-making: your circumstances. Where you are physically, mentally, and emotionally when you are preparing to make a decision is often more important than the decision itself because it colors your perception of your circumstances and it colors your decision, too. I'm sure you all know where this is going, but Oliver Queen has a very difficult decision to make in "The Offer" as he contemplates Ra's' offer to become the next Ra's al Ghul. And we look at Oliver's circumstances and think the same thing that Diggle and Felicity think: of course he'll say no. Of course he will. It would be absurd to agree to that. It's not even an option.

There are two simple words that can alter our trajectory and they're two words that Oliver contemplates in this episode: "... and yet." It seems like Oliver would never agree to become Ra's. And yet... has Oliver lost himself so much already that he believes becoming Ra's would be and could be his next logical leap? Would it be better for those he cares about if he wasn't in their lives? Ra's isn't stupid -- he didn't make an offer knowing that Oliver would immediately turn it down. He knows who Oliver Queen is. He knows what he fights for. And Ra's knows that this proposal is attractive to Oliver, which is why he offered it in the first place.

Oliver Queen (+ Ra's)

Oliver's struggle all season has been whether or not he can be both Oliver and The Arrow. And if he can't be Oliver anymore -- if he is too far gone and his humanity has been stripped away from him -- the literal progression up until "The Climb" for Oliver was this progression toward death. Oliver has been moving toward death for most of the year and as a consequence, he's been moving closer to The Arrow and further from those he loves. He's admitted that he doesn't want to die in the foundry, but he spent so much time brooding and wallowing and wishing his life could be different without actually believing that he had the power to make it so. And then he died. Almost. And, as Felicity notes, that should have changed him. But it didn't. When Oliver returned, his concern wasn't about learning to live and learning to be human. It was choosing to ally himself with Malcolm Merlyn because he believed that was his only choice. It was Oliver, choosing -- without consulting anyone -- what was best for him and for his team and for Thea. That has, as I've constantly said, always been Oliver's problem. He tells other people what to do. He doesn't ask. He's not good at asking. He's good at dictating, really. Here's the funny thing about controlling people: controlling people are always driven by an insecurity. I'm controlling because I'm fearful. I'm controlling because I really like order and I really like structure and I especially don't like change.

Oliver's controlling nature stems from the insecurity that the people in his life don't really need him. Think about it: when we see Oliver at his weakest, where is he? Alone. When we see Oliver struggling his hardest, he's always isolated himself because he believes, in his heart, that the people he loves don't love him back. Or at least that they don't love him back enough to fight for him. Look, I have a lot of problems with Oliver Queen at the moment. He's making decisions without asking others, he's choosing to isolate himself rather than become a part of a team and not just the team's dictator. But what makes Ra's' offer so appealing in "The Offer" is that for Oliver, he could live the life he already believes is true -- he could live and believe the lie that everyone he loves would be better off without him. And Arrow is so complex because it swings back and forth like a pendulum between Oliver isolating himself and Oliver needing other people and relying on them. And I think the only way we can start to understand why Oliver is the way that he is will be to first understand what makes this offer so appealing.

Ra's touches on a really important and entirely true idea in their conversation: he tells Oliver, first of all, that he knows The Arrow. When Oliver tells Ra's: "You don't know me" (hilarious teen angst right there, buddy), Ra's acknowledges the truth in that statement. And then he says: "But I know The Arrow." I could write a paper on that sentence alone, about how Ra's clearly differentiates between Oliver and The Arrow -- how he's one of the few people who genuinely understands the complexity of duality because he has literally lived it. Okay, ready for some deep thoughts? Here goes: Ra's is probably the only person at the moment who understands exactly where Oliver is because he's been there. Ra's hasn't always been Ra's al Ghul because he's offering that title over to Oliver. Ra's isn't a name, it's a title. Just like The Arrow isn't a name; it's a title. And essentially what Ra's is saying is that he's giving Oliver the option to shed the "Oliver" (like Ra's shed whoever he was before he was Ra's) in order to adopt the "Ra's." Does that make sense? It makes even more sense when you think about where Oliver is this season. This offer seems appealing because it's essentially what Oliver has been struggling with (the idea of shedding the "Oliver" in favor of adopting the "Arrow"). And what Ra's is telling Oliver is that he shouldn't do that. He shouldn't shed Oliver to adopt The Arrow. If he does, he will die and he will die alone.

What Oliver SHOULD do, Ra's implies, is shed his humanity to adopt immortality. Tempting, right? It's tempting to know that you could adopt a persona that would give you what you want but can't have: power, a sense of purpose, a sense of control (all things utterly appealing to Oliver). Oliver isn't getting what he wants as Oliver Queen. Bit by bit, he's losing himself and -- as he confided in Barry -- he's afraid that there isn't much more of him left. (Cue Barry telling Oliver that there's a light inside of him and Felicity entering, of course.) The funny thing about what you believe to be true about yourself and what is really true is that they often don't match up. Oliver hasn't lost his humanity but it doesn't matter -- all that matters is what he sees when he looks in the mirror, what he sees when he examines his soul. And until Oliver learns to believe he isn't too far gone, until he learns that there is still hope for him and that he is still Oliver Queen, deep down, he will never be able to live as such. He literally will doom himself and his soul.

The offer Ra's presents is especially appealing in light of everything that is happening -- Felicity has moved on to Ray (again, this is Oliver's fault because had he told her what he felt and had he not chosen The Arrow over Oliver Queen in "The Calm," he would be with her now). Diggle has a family and the team itself? Well, they've all pretty much moved on without him, too. They don't need his leadership, anymore. His city, as Ra's says, will eventually turn on him and consider him to be a criminal. And then what will he have? Nothing. He will literally have nothing left. He will have traded Oliver Queen for The Arrow and the way that he began the journey is how he will die -- alone. Ra's... he's such an interesting character because he (as Stephen Amell said, I think, at PaleyFest) values Oliver alive. He doesn't want to see him dead. And Ra's isn't necessarily a villain, really. He's terrifying because he lives by his own code and commands a league of assassins and he is his own judge and jury. But Ra's lives and dies by that code of honor. He's not ruled by chaos. He's not dominated by vengeance. His structure is one of order and of balance and that, perhaps, is what is most terrifying of all: he makes sense.

I understand what would make this offer appealing to Oliver. I understand that it would make him feel valuable. That it would make him feel like he could make a difference. But the cost? The cost is at the cost of his literal identity (heyyyyyyyyyyy that's the theme this season!). And I think that, for as much as Oliver talks about how far gone he is, Oliver still believes there's humanity within him and he's still fighting for that, whether he recognizes it or not (I feel like it's on a very subconscious level these days). This humanity? It comes in the form of conversations with Diggle. It comes in the form of bonding with and understanding Laurel and Roy. And it comes, most of all, in the form of Felicity Smoak. (More on that later.)

What Oliver is forced to do in "The Offer" is something he's been forced to do a lot this season: choose who he wants to become. But he's never forced into anything (it may seem that way, to him). He always has a choice. And whether he takes an offer or leaves it; whether he wants to be with Felicity or not; whether he steps aside long enough to let other people lead and fight for his city... well, it's HIS decision. But I like decisions like these. I like character arcs like these. I like conflict like this. Why? Because I like knowing the "why." And until you know all the reasons why Oliver might take the offer, you can't really understand his ultimate decision.

Ra's informs Oliver that he can have an entire league at his disposal and that once he adopts the identity of Ra's, he chooses who he will become -- the League of Assasains doesn't need to remain an army of killers; "Thy will be done," Ra's tells Oliver. And... it's appealing. The idea that Oliver could utilize the Lazarus Pit and not worry about dying? The idea that he could have an army of soldiers willing to listen to him at his disposal? (Ahem, remember that these days, Team Arrow isn't exactly an obedient lapdog. Dig, Felicity, Roy, and Laurel alike have chosen to disobey Oliver at some point since his return.) That's appealing to Oliver. But what is more appealing is this: the idea of having control again and of making a difference. I never contemplated that part of Oliver's journey, but it's true and it's something he confesses to both Diggle and Felicity in "The Offer." Ra's tells him that instead of making a dent, he could actually make a DIFFERENCE. That instead of slightly changing one tiny corner of a tiny part of a tiny country, Oliver could enact change that would impact the world.

In Parks and Recreation, there's an episode titled "Are You Better Off?" and in it, Leslie Knope poses the question to her town: "Are you better off than you were a year ago?" Oliver, as it turns out, has thought a lot about his crusade. He's thought a lot about the sacrifices he's had to make along the way. And the conclusion he comes to mid-way through "The Offer" is this: Starling City isn't better off with him. He hasn't made a difference. He's lost Moira. He's lost Tommy. He's lost Sara. He's lost his sister's soul. And crime hasn't changed. So what, then, is the point of any of it anymore?

The point is something that Felicity reminds Oliver of, because she's the woman who does that for him all the time: she is the one who reminds him of what he fights for. She reminds him that if he runs away and becomes Ra's... then what? He'll keep running whenever things get difficult? Whenever he feels pain? That's not living, that's escapism.

In "The Offer," Oliver has to answer the question of WHY he does what he does in order to determine whether or not he is actually making a difference. He stops brooding long enough, thankfully, to recognize the truth in Felicity's words and determine what he's continuing to fight for. And eventually, Oliver decides that for now... he's staying. He's going to continue his crusade. Even if he doesn't have all he wants.


Speaking of fighting for things, Felicity has always been Oliver's light and the one to constantly remind him of his humanity. He's rejected it -- rejected her -- time and time again and yet she won't stop telling him of this. Why? Because it's truth. And Felicity Meghan Smoak is the bringer of truth, no matter how difficult or inconvenient or frequent: she will speak the truth because she knows that the person she loves needs to hear it. Felicity is what has kept Oliver holding on, really, in a lot of ways. She's his anchor and his light and his conscience and his last thought before dying. But they're at odds, now, because every time she pulls him close, he chooses The Arrow. Every time she provides him with support, he pushes away. Every time she uses an "us" or a "we," he uses an "I" or a "my." Oliver and Felicity are tethered together by their love, no doubt, but even tethers break if you wear them down enough.

Something changes, subtly, in "The Offer" though in terms of Oliver and Felicity's relationship (and really, in terms of Oliver's character development): Oliver walks in on Ray and Felicity getting cozy at Palmer Technologies. He realizes, truly, in that moment that he's lost her. But Oliver doesn't see things as Diggle does. He doesn't see Felicity moving on as temporary. He simply sees Felicity moving on. And he can't bear to be around her (that moment she touches his arm was excruciating because he wanted to reach back to her but he couldn't; when she approaches in the foundry and is all up in his personal space, he has to walk across the room because he can't be near her without wanting to BE with her, etc.) and he can't see beyond his present circumstances. Felicity, though, tells Oliver exactly what he needs to hear. She reminds him that it was HIS choice to push her away. That's why they're not together. And it was a stupid choice that he's brooding over. And I wish I could give a thousand standing ovations to Felicity for calling Oliver out on his crap and reminding him exactly whose fault it is. So when Oliver broods in this episode, it's Felicity who reminds him of exactly who he is and what he's chosen. It's Felicity who reminds him that he doesn't do what he does for thanks: a hero doesn't need thanks. And she, essentially, tells him that he needs to stop whining and stop sulking long enough to examine his crusade and not just examine the casualties and not examine the problems he's faced. He needs to examine the why: why he puts on that hood and why he does it day in and day out.

It's because of Felicity that Oliver realizes he is a hero because people count on him to bring loved ones home each night. Saving one person? That's enough because that's one person who will see their families, one person who will kiss their spouse, one person who will read their child a goodnight story. And for Oliver... that's enough. There's a theme here -- that's enough -- that resonates in the Oliver/Felicity of it all during "The Offer." Oliver is trying to keep his distance and one of the factors in his temptation to take Ra's' offer is the fact that Felicity is with Ray. And I already talked about the pained expression in his face and the fact that he has to walk away when she gets too close... but let's talk about their final scene between them.

Because at this point, for Felicity... she's content to be with Ray. She really is. (I mean, God knows why because he's still creepy to me, but whatever.) And Oliver is happy for her. Sort of. He's brooding like men do when they make a decision and then have to live with the consequences of it. But Oliver loves Felicity. His love for her is what is carrying their relationship at this point, really, because he admits to her that she was right and that he is sorry. (WOAH. HUGE STEPS. Because Oliver, a few weeks ago, was so stubborn that he couldn't admit she was right and he couldn't express how he felt in that Verdant alley.) Felicity, meanwhile, revels in being right but then she says something really interesting and heartbreaking. She tells Oliver that all she needs to be happy, really, is to have him in her life.

And you can just see (kudos to Amell whose work always impresses me) in Oliver's face the sting of her words because that may be enough for her, but it's not enough for him. It's not enough for Oliver to just have Felicity in his life. In order for him to be truly happy (as Diggle said in "Draw Back Your Bow" because he's wise and NO ONE LISTENS TO HIM), he needs to be with her. It's a different kind of pain but a pain no less when you realize that you need more from a relationship than the other person does.

And still, "The Offer" gave me hope because it proved something that hasn't been proven the last few weeks: Oliver can be humbled and he can admit when he's wrong and he can figure out what he wants and what he's fighting for. Now I just need for him to wake up and figure that out in regards to his romantic life. Sheesh.

Team Lance (+ Nyssa, Thea)

Can't anyone in Arrow have a functional familial relationship full of love and compassion and a lack of lying? (Well, it's looking like Dig may be the only one who gets to have that at the moment, I guess.) To say that Quentin and Laurel's relationship is fractured at the moment would be an understatement. She lied to him. Repeatedly. Moreover, she pretended to be Sara in order to continue that lie. And I think it hurts most for Quentin (as we saw a few weeks ago) because he always believed that he and Laurel were the same. Dinah and Sara were the wild spirits. But Quentin and Laurel forged a connection that was close and closer because they understood each other -- they're both addicts. They both handle grief the same way. They're linked, in that manner. And so, for Quentin, the hurt that Laurel inflicts is a hundred times worse than anything BECAUSE he trusts her. Because it's like a part of him is doing the betraying. And Laurel meant well, initially, but as with everything in an addict's life, one thing -- one moment -- snowballed and spiraled until she was caught beneath an avalanche of guilt and lies with no way out but to brutally hurt the person she wanted to protect in the first place.

Honesty in Arrow is rare. But there's something from the movie To Write Love on Her Arms (go rent it ASAP and not just because it filmed in Orlando and I got to be an extra in it, but because it was awesome) that was uttered and that really sticks with me when I think about the lies in this show: "Secrets make you sick." No one ever gets any better when they lie or keep a secret. No one heals by lying or being lied to. Secrets, quite honestly, really do make you sick. It's something that Laurel had to learn and it's something Quentin is, too. Because right now -- in "The Offer" -- Quentin cannot trust his daughter. He cannot forgive his daughter for what she did. Secrets might have made Laurel sick (she did not enjoy lying to him, I can promise you that), but they made Quentin even sicker. And now he's beginning his own spiral. See, that's the thing about secrets and lies: when they unravel, they don't just unravel close to you. They don't just trip YOU up or cause you pain. They hurt the people closest to us. They leave scars that are not easily healed.

Laurel, Nyssa, and Thea all have issues with their fathers (seriously, are we sure at some point an alternate title for "The Offer" wasn't "Daddy Issues"?) and they all weirdly and wonderfully bond over them in this triangle. Laurel and Nyssa's relationship though is so special and wonderful and beautiful to me. I love that they both are keeping each other in their lives because each woman is a reminder of Sara. It's really and truly like Sara is still with them whenever they're together. And now? Well, now Nyssa has left Nanda Parbat because she dared to defy her father. And Laurel has walked away from her own father after he pushed her away. Both women understand each other. They're different in a lot of ways but similar in many more: both stubborn, both fighters, both emotional, both loved Sara in different ways. And I'm so excited to see this friendship develop.

(Additionally, there were some great Laurel/Thea moments where the former showed a lot of compassion and concern for the latter, and great Nyssa/Thea moments where the latter was essentially the sassiest of all the sassy ladies throughout "The Offer" as well. Bechdel test passed with flying colors, writers! Congrats!)


Oh, Thea Queen. My baby girl. As Oliver says in this episode, Thea is in about ten different kinds of pain. I harken back to something Willa Holland mentioned this weekend at PaleyFest where Thea, this year, has become like an onion in that every time you think you've unearthed her final layer, there's just more characterization and development. Thea is so many things in "The Offer." She's angry. She's bitter. She's scared. She's vulnerable. She's suicidal. She's desperate. And all I really want is to reach through my television and hug her because she's turned into someone she doesn't recognize anymore. Thea confesses to Oliver that she's thought a lot about who she used to be -- before Moira died and before Malcolm entered her life -- and she can barely remember that girl anymore.

Thea is broken. She really is. She believes that something inside of her is broken and that this same thing is what is inside of Malcolm, too: that she may not be exactly like him, but she is similar enough to warrant comparison. They share something more than DNA and that hurts and disgusts her so much that she spends half the episode contemplating killing him and the other half feeling immense guilt and disgust for wanting to do so. But what I love about Thea is that she can admit when she's broken. She can admit that she has problems and that she's completely and totally messed up. She doesn't keep that inside of her, letting it fester. She talks to Oliver. She confesses that she's scared to Roy. She doesn't hold back her emotions from Malcolm. Though Thea may be terrified of who or what she is, I can honestly say that I love every moment we get to see her display those emotions and fears. It is wonderful and beautiful and gut-wrenching to see a character who is terrified of who they are. Truly it is.

"The Offer" begs us to contemplate each of the characters' stories and wonder whether or not they're better or worse off than they used to be. Is Starling better with or without The Arrow? Is Oliver better off with Felicity in his life? Was Thea better off before she knew Malcolm? Is Quentin better off if he denounces his faith in The Arrow? Is Nyssa better off without Ra's? "The Offer" also asks us to question our own choices and the choices of these characters.

Because the funny thing is that sometimes you think you have a choice -- you think that you have free will and the ability to do whatever you would like. And then you realize that the question? Well, it wasn't a question at all. It was a command.

Observations & favorite moments:
  • MVP of this episode is way too close to call. So I'm gifting FOUR people with the title this week: 1) Stephen Amell who constantly brings it as Oliver Queen week in and week out. I can't articulate how wonderful it is to see someone depict every range of emotion and nuance like Amell does. His pain is palpable and on a very shallow note, his eyes have never looked more entrancing in tonight's episode. Back to non-shallow observations: Oliver's journey hasn't always been glamorous and sometimes I've despised him as a leader. But I love the range that Amell is able to portray and that's why he's one of the MVPs this week. 2) Paul Blackthorne for the absolutely heartbreaking scenes with Stephen Amell and Katie Cassidy. Watching Quentin unravel is sad enough but watching him tell Laurel he may never forgive her and essentially denouncing his faith in The Arrow? Ouch. That hurt. And Paul absolutely delivered everything about those moments spectacularly. 3) Katrina Law. Nyssa's confrontation with her father was SO stellar because you could see the anger and defiance and pain in Katrina's expression and then something just switched in her when she made her move to attack -- you could see the fear etched into her eyes and her face, so much so that Nyssa actually finds it difficult to look Ra's in the eyes. That shamefulness and childlike response was so impressive and made an already dynamic character even more compelling. And finally, 4) Willa Holland. I can't say enough about how much Willa has impressed me recently. "The Offer" was a showcase in her ability to deliver dark humor and also a great display of vulnerability. Her scene with Katrina Law at the beginning of the episode was so emotionally charged and I loved it. Bravo to every single actor listed above and even those I didn't list because this episode had some great work.
  • Fun fact: I changed the subtitle of this review about four times. I finally settled on a Parks and Recreation quote because you can't go wrong with Leslie Knope.
  • This may be the longest Arrow review yet. I'd apologize but I'm kind of impressed, actually.
  • "Am I supposed to understand what that means?" and "You don't know me" are perfect examples of Oliver displaying teenage angst while in Nanda Parbat.
  • We got to see the Lazarus Pit in action! I have a feeling we have not seen the last of it or Nanda Parbat this season.
  • "I didn't defy death just to become an instrument of it."
  • "It's called the League of Assassins for a reason!" Oh, Oliver. I'm sure that we could get a new nameplate for the office door.
  • "We really need to stop having these 'thank God you're not dead' reunions."
  • Amell sounded like he was sick throughout the first half of the episode.
  • "Well I suppose congrats and WHY OH WHY DID YOU DO THAT are in order." God bless Felicity Smoak.
  • "You still need training." "When are you gonna stop telling me that? "When you stop needing training." Gee, Oliver, you're especially sassy this episode.
  • "I see the man under the hood now. He lies. He keeps secrets. and he doesn't have to carry around the weight of those decisions. And I'm done with him."
  • Someone get me Felicity's blue dress ASAP.
  • Petition to send the Queen family to therapy 2k15.
  • Roy called his criminal days his "less socially responsible days" and I just love him so much.
  • "Where are you going?" "To buy my evil dad some soup." If you don't think this was the best line and delivery in the entire SERIES, you are just wrong.
  • "You and I are not together but that was YOUR choice." *standing ovation*
  • "You know how you're always saying you want me to be happy? Well, as long as you're in my life... I am." Cue the puddles of goo from the Oliver/Felicity fans.
  • I'm 1000000% here for Laurel/Nyssa friendship.
  • OH SNAP, RA'S. Well, Oliver, what did you think would happen if you turned Ra's down? He would be like: "JK I've got a back-up anyway"?
Whew. Well, there you have it, guys! I actually really liked "The Offer" and thought it did a good job setting up the last half of this season. What did you all think? And are you excited about next week's wedding? Hit up the comments below with your thoughts. Until then. :)


  1. Girl you got this written fast!!! Great review!!! I enjoyed reading it as much as I liked watching the show!!! Love the insights!!

    1. Carly! Thank you so much for your compliment. :D And I was really proud with how quickly this one went up, haha. I'm so glad you enjoyed!

  2. Fascinating episode wasn't it? Going on from your discussion of criticism in Community's review, no matter the weaknesses that I see in Arrow from time to time I am also pleased to see that they really delve into big questions of ethics, loyalty, family, choices and identity. I like thought-provoking storytelling and you let me spill a lot of those thoughts here ;) and discuss with you and others.

    One of the really big lines for me during this episode was from R'as: "All men seek guidance, purpose, the means to live without pain." I partly agree but I wonder is it possible to really live without pain? And even if it were possible is it a good idea? I know it can be an attractive one. Malcolm was certainly seeking that when he found the League, so was Maseo apparently, and Thea wanted the same things when she joined her father last season. I don't think any of the three of them have accomplished a life without pain and I happen to think it is a fruitless goal and one that screws you up in the process of seeking it.

    At first Oliver seemed intrigued a little, he would like a simpler life and he is certainly in pain and without a solid purpose these days (which he finally comes to grips with this week). And then R'as makes those two “predictions” about Oliver's life and he seems to see them coming true. Although this has more to do with what Oliver fears at his core than any real accuracy in what R'as says. First, destined to be alone. Oliver already believes that to be the case. It's why he pushed Felicity away and he reiterated that belief to Cupid in 3x07. But that doesn't mean that he is right. He has convinced himself it is so and then proceeded to make it reality by pushing everyone away to some extent or other. You so nailed that this is his pattern- needing people and pushing them away. Where does that belief come from? I would really like to see the show drill down into why Oliver thinks that way. And it's also patently false. Is he alone? No! His whole team may struggle with him at times but none of them have done any leaving. He is the one doing the leaving and they continue to try and stand by him. I think especially Digg and Felicity, who were there since nearly the beginning, would be deeply insulted by Oliver assuming that he would be alone at the end. Felicity nailed that fear on the head when she talked to him at the end. Second fear: that his city would reject him, really an extension of the first fear. It hurt him more than he thought when he was first the vigilante and the city believed he was dangerous and criminal. He wants appreciates for his efforts, we all do. We are social creatures which is why bullying, shunning, and exile are so painful. But the winds of public opinion cannot be the basis for what he is doing. That way lies madness. And R'as al Ghul may be feared but people don't see him much better I think. And Felicity gets to the basis of that too. Capn Lance is mad right now, with good reason and as a result of Oliver's own choices, but the city rejecting him is not destiny. In fact, as we see at the end of ep, R'as will engineer things to make it so.

    1. BECCA. Welcome back! It's been so long since I've chatted with you. ;) I really do think that though there are plenty of things to be critical about in this season of Arrow, there are also a lot more to be praised. And I'm more than happy to provide the space for both here!

      One of the really big lines for me during this episode was from R'as: "All men seek guidance, purpose, the means to live without pain." I partly agree but I wonder is it possible to really live without pain? And even if it were possible is it a good idea?

      That's such a good point to be made and I think that's why it's so appealing and tempting for Oliver. To live without death and the fear of it and to live without the fear of being hurt is attractive. But it's not really living, right? And I think that Oliver realizes that through his conversation with Felicity. And I totally agree that Ra's' predictions were more just him pinpointing Oliver's greatest fears and weaknesses and vocalizing them. They're things Oliver doesn't vocalize and when we hear other people say about us what we fear about ourselves, it's disarming. I think that's what he did. And I don't know if I entirely agree with Dig's "he's getting in your head" thing, because I think the fact that all that stuff is swirling around in Oliver's head is exactly the problem. If he never does what he did to Dig and Felicity and vocalize his problems, he's doomed to continue to live a life of fear and isolation.

      I think Oliver is such an internalizer that he never learned to deal with his internal struggles outwardly. He projects his fears and his anger on other people, we see that time and time again. But does he ever really DEAL with what he's struggling with? Very rarely. And that's what I think this episode was (hopefully) the beginning of.

      I love the idea of destiny. Like, obviously Ra's knew Oliver would turn him down. And Maseo's warning is essentially: "Dude, Ra's' will WILL be done, whether you say yes or not. He'll engineer it to be so." But Oliver's not so great with the listening so clearly that wasn't important to him, lol.

  3. Even deeper than those things, Oliver really doesn't know what he is doing any more. His admission of that was so powerful and important. And it made so much sense. Anyone who wants to do good in the world gets discouraged. Good law enforcement people can get bogged down by the fact that nothing seems to be working and all of their efforts are in vain (Laurel had that feeling and it led her to become Canary), charity workers can see all the people they couldn't help, the lives they couldn't save, teachers can see those who run off the rails or waste their lives. War, poverty, cruelty, stupidity, crime, death all just keep happening despite a lot of people's best efforts. It's natural to focus on the failures but that will kill your ability to help faster than anything. So doctors, cops, teachers, and volunteers have to concentrate on the things they CAN do, the individual lives they have impacted. No one person can save the world. R'as has been working for centuries and the world can still be a pretty horrible place. But we can all help someone. And as soon as Oliver starts thinking about the real people he is helping, that gives him purpose again. I don't think the people who he saved from the earthquake, or the lady he pulled out of the path of a car, or the police officers families would say he has made no difference. We all want change to be more sweeping, straightforward, and permanent than it ever is. That is just not how life works. And now that Oliver knows why he is still doing this, I want to see him continue to show this sense of purpose.

    Thea was so down deep in a mess this episode. This is where we really see her feel the results of everything that has happened. I thought it was so interesting to see her seek her own execution at Nyssa's hands. She wants R'as to kill her dad and Nyssa to kill her because she is in so much pain. And what could Malcolm really teach her? He is royally screwed up, probably beyond the pale, and even with his twisted good intentions there was nothing he could do but mess her up more. The more she surrounds herself with mentally healthy-ish people the faster she will be able to process this. And therapy would certainly be helpful for both the Queens :) I also really like Roy in the episode. He is getting to be a more effective fighter, he figured out the bad guy's plan, and he is so supportive of Thea no matter what.

    1. Even deeper than those things, Oliver really doesn't know what he is doing any more. His admission of that was so powerful and important. And it made so much sense.

      YES. I didn't think about this before. I thought all of Oliver's brooding was based on him losing people and having to be alone. I didn't ever stop to think that he's looked at his crusade and believed he made zero difference, quantifiably.

      I said it this week because I had a horrible week, but there's a quote from Scrubs that says: "Little victories count for a lot around here." That's what I think Oliver focused on at the end of the episode. Yes, there were casualties. But he didn't dwell on what he couldn't do; he dwelt on what he DID. An officer went home and ate dinner with his family. He kissed his wife. He put his child to bed. That is reason enough to continue to do what he does and it's reason enough to celebrate. Little victories.

      I JUST WANT TO HUG THEA SO MUCH. And send her to therapy. Poor girl is in so much pain that she literally wanted to die at the beginning because that's the only way she could make sense of her situation -- if she died, balance and order would be restored. Instead, she's tangled up in this horrible, messy, gross web that she wants to get out of but can't.

      I seriously love Roy. So much. If he ends up dying for some reason this season, I'll riot.

  4. I really like all the Thea/Laurel/Nyssa interaction in the episode too. Great scenes with those ladies. Laurel was compelling and looking to repair relationships and I hope she keeps it up. And Nyssa looked so lost and hurt when her father told her to leave. Ouch. It can't have been easy to grow up with father who is so long-lived (and they made clear not really immortal) and who seems so removed from regular human concerns. And he basically told her he doesn't believe she is competent to lead the League, she has let weakness into her life and let feelings pollute her judgement. He doesn't seem to have any room for those kinds of human things. And I wonder how bound he feels by the prophecy of who should follow him. Does he believe the prophecy or just feel it needs to be followed? Digg says he doesn't have a heart. Is that right? Is he past feeling anything human? He seems like even more of a control freak than Oliver is. But Malcolm is wrong, whether R'as is making an offer or a command, Oliver has the same choice, yes or no. It's just the consequences that shift. And I think we'll see the consequences of not showing obedience to R'as pretty quick, even though Oliver has made no promise of fealty.

    Other little things:
    - so painful to see Capn Lance feel so betrayed. He did say the Arrow was the closest thing to a partner he had. The quiet grief and sadness was more difficult to see than any rage.
    - LOVED the interaction between Oliver and his oldest teammates, Digg and Felicity. Of course, Digg and Felicity don't see how he could consider the offer but they didn't hear the whole sales pitch. But as he talks with them he gains clarity, as always! I've missed those dynamics.
    - “You know me. I don't dance” So many good one-liners from Oliver.
    - “I never stopped to think about it or about why until you asked me to.” Such satisfying Oliver/Felicity scenes this week.
    - I loved the way Amell crinkled up his nose before admitting to Felicity that she was right. Hilarious.
    - The way that Felicity was lit during that last scene between her and Oliver was stunning! She was just glowing with this soft light and it was amazing (and highly symbolic I should think.)
    - can't wait to see Nyssa/Laurel training montages. Bring on team Lyssa!

    This was a great set up for the rest of the season! Exciting times ahead I think.

    1. But Malcolm is wrong, whether R'as is making an offer or a command, Oliver has the same choice, yes or no. It's just the consequences that shift. And I think we'll see the consequences of not showing obedience to R'as pretty quick, even though Oliver has made no promise of fealty.

      AMEN TO THIS. Oh, Oliver. You don't even know.

      I'm such a fan of Laurel/Nyssa it's not even funny. I'm here for all of the women bonding about their father issues. And I love that Laurel went to the Queen loft knowing Thea was there and specifically checking to see how she was doing. Laurel and Nyssa being able to bond over Sara is wonderful and now they have another bond (their failed parental relationships) which makes them a more compelling pairing to me.

      Ugh, Paul Blackthorne was amazing last night. So so good as Lance. And so heartbreaking, too.

      SO MANY GOOD OLIVER/FELICITY SCENES THIS WEEK. I'm thinking we're on an upward spiral, which is good. And that little nose crinkle was absolutely adorable and you can tell it was all Amell. And EBR slayed in that final scene, especially admitting that she just needs him in her life to be happy and ugh, he wants so much more. STOP BEING DUMB, OLIVER. GO AFTER HER. FIGHT FOR HER BEFORE IT'S WAY TOO LATE.

      Thanks as always for your comments. I think it's gonna be a wild ride to the finale! :D

  5. Awesome review Jenn! Loved the real life comparison of decisions an all the facets of it! Excellent point in controlling people are insecure! Totally missed that in life & ep! So thanks for that because I learned something new! Excellent once again!'s Natalie from Twitter: kalichica12 :)

    1. Awww thanks Natalie! And thank you for taking the time to comment! I know from experience being a controlling person that I have insecurities that make me that way (I also just had a conversation this week about that with a friend so it was fresh in my mind, haha.) Glad I could help illuminate some things about the episode. :)

  6. Hi again!! I was looking forward to read your comments, they always help me understand the episode better… and with an episode like this one…. I needed them badly!!
    I feel the same as you do, making decisions is what defines our adulthood…. That´s the bigger change from being children or teens….. We have to make a decision and face the consequences… and that´s scary sometimes…. But that´s part of life and we have to learn to do it and to be ok with it because sometimes from bad decisions come good things and vice versa.
    I agree with you in the Oliver/Ra view of the episode, although I thought it was going to be a darker path, but I am happy with the outcome. And if Oliver had decided to become Ra´s for a couple of episodes I would have been happy too, because for me that was an interesting option (with him finally realizing he´s not made for that at the end, of course).
    What I don’t fully understand is the Olicity part. I´m beginning to think that I watched a totally different episode from everyone else… It shocks me the fast change of things between them, like nothing from episode 9 to now happened… Don´t get me wrong, it was wonderful! Won-der-ful! But I don´t understand what´s happened from 3x15…..Last of Felicity´s actions were: I don´t want to be a woman you love… I stopped suggesting you what to do because you have your head so far up your colon, I move on and try to start something with someone else….. And they didn´t even have a scene of more than 30 seconds!! Thea was everywhere…. Thea was everything to Oliver…. He died for her, he put everything else in pause for her…..
    And now, suddenly, Thea can do whatever she wants, she´s at home with his father, with the dangers that carries… she´s hurting really bad because she doesn´t know who she is anymore, she is broken because she thinks she´s a killer too….. but, whatever, this episode is Felicity´s turn in Oliver schedule? Hello??
    Felicity is with Ray…. And Oliver, in addition to every doubt he has about himself, now has a very “good” offer (in views of stop thinking about every problem in his life, he can´t take it and forget the rest) to become a really powerful leader and make a difference in the world (which for me is something that will make Oliver become more locked in himself to think about what that offer means, not start consulting with everyone else… seeing what he´s been doing this season…)
    But no, oddly he consults with Diggle (ok, that´s normal, but so soon? without Dig asking him a thousand times what´s happening in his mind?), who tells Felicity…… Felicity is all smiles and flirts with Oliver more than when she bought him the fern….. Oliver flirts back (although he doesn´t stand being so close to Felicity), they joke….. WTF is happening???
    Don´t misunderstand me….. I am really happy with what´s happening, the happiest!! But it has been a pretty big change in only an episode…..
    (OMG this is so long I had to part it in two…)

    Bri (1)

    1. Hello again there, Bri! I'm so glad you come back each week to discuss the episode with me and I'm glad my comments help you understand them a bit better. :)

      So as far as all the Olicity stuff, I think that Felicity is still miffed at him for choosing to team up with Malcolm. That's not something that goes away even in this episode (at the beginning her quote about WHY OH WHY did he save him? And then her being annoyed with Oliver shortly thereafter when he asked her to find them a case to work on in the city, etc.). And I can understand where you're coming from. It's jarring to go from Oliver and Felicity being really heated to Felicity and Oliver bantering and smiling again.

      But I think that the key here is OLIVER: he actually made an effort to listen to him. And she still cares about him. As mad as she is at him and as stupid as she thinks he's been (her comment about them not being together being HIS choice and basically on HIM to deal with was perfect), the fact is that he actually showed her respect and thoughtfulness. That's all she wanted when he returned. Felicity just wanted him to treat her like a partner and not like an employee he could just tell things to. I think that's what changed, really. It was Oliver opening up in a small way and it allowed Felicity to see that maybe he COULD change. If he chose to.

      Oliver is clearly uncomfortable throughout the episode because he has feelings for Felicity but he doesn't want to do anything about them. (He pulls away when she reaches for his arms and in the foundry if you notice when she steps closer to him, he literally gets up and moves to the other side of the room.)

      I think that when he's talking to her and being honest with her, she feels more comfortable around him. And they feel more comfortable around each other. It's when Oliver STOPS being honest and STOPS talking and makes decisions by himself that they have problems. So I think it was a matter of Felicity realizing that she missed how they used to be and how Oliver used to treat her and that's why they were more comfortable, you know?

    2. Yeah, that was it! But what I don´t understand is Oliver´s change! I´m thinking maybe because what weigh him down the most was what he told Diggle in NP: Ra´s beat him and that made him really insecure. And now with the offer he´s back being at the same level (more or less) than Ra´s... so he´s the Oliver we left before 3x09 and that´s why he is more open and honest with Felicity? (Because I thought thinking about the offer besides everything else would make him behave even more like a jerk...)

    3. I think it's that, in Oliver's mind, the threat to his sister from Ra's and the immediate problem of saving Malcolm for her has been resolved. He doesn't yet realize that Ra's has set up the board so he can't fail to win this game. And with the Malcolm problem diffused, Felicity doesn't have to be opposed to the Arrow anymore. She still doesn't understand his reasoning, but Malcolm isn't a direct threat to Oliver, so she can relax a bit. Malcolm is a symptom - the problem really being Oliver's refusal to let her be a part of the decision making process in their relationship - but people can forget about diseases if their symptoms aren't flaring too badly.

  7. And after thinking about it all day I reached a conclusion: Do you remember MG saying Olicity had a 50/50 chance of happening? Well I think this is making us see them as really close friends (as Felicity said), and this is the best for both of them….. Oliver´s pain will ease with time, and their friendship will be the best for the team too. Because, if you think about it… Felicity didn´t say, not once, I love you to Oliver… She really cares about him with all her heart, and she likes him, a lot, and when Oliver asks her out she accepts because Olicity is something that can make her happy….. But she isn´t in the same point as Oliver is … she isn´t in love with him….. And that´s why she´s capable to be as cheerful as she is in this episode…. Because she is HAPPY! She has Oliver in her live again, in good terms, not fighting all the time anymore, she has Ray, who she doesn´t love yet either, but they are starting something that can be good, and she notices the team coming together again… She doesn´t reproach Oliver for not being with her, she merely points that it´s a decision he made….
    The best thing is everyone is finding their path….. And that´s good, the episode was more defined, more like in the old days….
    And Nyssa…. Oh Nyssa….. I don’t trust her at all! I think she has a plan… and not a good one…. She wants to take revenge against Oliver or prove to her father that she´s worth his title! And for one of those reasons I think she´s going to be the one who kills someone in episode 19…
    As observations… everyone you made, everyone Becca made and I will add this: You know me I don´t dance…. What?? I hope they use this and Olicity dance together in the wedding!
    Lovely to read you as always (and looking forward to your comments to help me understand... I´m sure there are some details I missed).

    Bri (2)

    1. I don't know at this point that I would venture to say she isn't in love with Oliver. I think she pretty much straight up told him: "If YOU had wanted to be with me, I wouldn't be with Ray. I would choose you. But you pushed me away and that was YOUR choice, so deal with it or change it." And she tells him that in order to be happy she needs him in her life. If it came down to it... she could live without Ray. She couldn't really live without Oliver, I don't think.

      I'm not sure what Nyssa's agenda is in all of this but I actually don't know if she even has one. I think she's just sad and lonely and her and Laurel are gonna make a great team. But who knows: she IS a trained assassin after all.

      Marc confirmed no Oliver/Felicity dance at the wedding, I think, waaaaaay back in his Tumblr asks so I wouldn't hold your breath for that, haha. But I'm so excited for next week to focus on Dig/Lyla!

      Thanks, as always, for your comments and I'm happy to be here to help you understand stuff the best I can! :D

    2. "so deal with it or change it" change it please!!!!! :) :) :)
      I´ve known about MG clues in tumblr only for a month..... (and I lived so calmly before that....), so I didn´t know about the dance...... ohhh, it would have been great!!!
      Thanks for your help and your comments!
      Until next week!! :)

  8. Hi Jennifer Marie

    Season 3 of Arrow has felt like winter, at times a very cold and harsh one but this episode was like the beginning of spring as I think it marked a turning point in Oliver coming to terms with his identity.

    I'm not sure what I expected, but this episode turned out to be more than I had hoped. I thought they would draw out Oliver's struggle to make a decision and it be more darker and angst-ridden. I really appreciate that now as the season is progressing, the characters are really vocalising their thoughts rather than leaving many things unsaid; Oliver confiding in his trusted partners is a huge step to building upon the strong bonds they have forged as well as Oliver being able to clarify his path. I'm glad he came to the right decision and remembered why he was on this journey in the first place.

    I was also basking in the warmth of the wonderful Olicity moments as I missed seeing their cute banter and the way in which Felicity can harness the best from Oliver and speak truths like no other. Felicity was the most forthcoming she has ever been in terms of her feelings towards Oliver and it seems like they are now at such a better place than they have been since 3x01. I would agree with Becca that the way Felicity was lit in their last scene was absolutely divine. It kind of reminded me of the film Stardust in how Claire Dane's character glowed with light when she was in the presence of love. Also I am totally with you on that blue dress:)

    I'm happy to see Nyssa back in Starling City and her interactions with Laurel. It's great that they have each other and the common bond of Sara. I hoping for a good friendship for these too. With Nyssa teaching Laurel, they would be a force to be reckoned with, and would certainly shut Oliver up:)

    Quentin has been through so much and I'm not surprised that he severed ties with the Arrow, and it's going to be interesting when he finds out about Oliver's true identity. If he is mad now, I wonder how this revelation will impact him.

    Thea and Roy, I love them:) I'm so glad that Thea can lean on Roy through her identity struggles, it's been so rough and having the constant reminder of Merlyn in your home doesn't make it easy, it was interesting to see how she was coping with it all, even though like you said it makes you want to give her a hug.

    Now that we're coming closer to the end of the season, I'm trying to be good and not spoil myself too much as it was nice to come into this episode without knowing too much of what was going to happen (it was a bit of a chillatus:) I'm very excited for the Dyla wedding next episode!

    Sitara x

    1. Sitara, hello there! :D Ah, yes, this season of Arrow has been rocky but I haven't hated it as much as most people have. But I definitely DO agree with you: I think this episode is a turning point. And this episode was definitely a lot more engaging and solid than I had thought it would be, going into it.

      I really appreciate that now as the season is progressing, the characters are really vocalising their thoughts rather than leaving many things unsaid

      THANK. GOD. People are realizing they shouldn't keep secrets (finally) and should probably not lie to each other either (FINALLY). It's such a welcome change from the show that used to be: "How many secrets is everyone keeping from everyone else?"

      HOW MUCH DID YOU LOVE THE FELICITY MOMENTS? Girl is so good because she always calls Oliver out on his crap. Even when they were being adorable, she still wasn't afraid to be honest and blunt. He needs that. He needs someone who won't let herself be treated terribly by him or dismissed. She walked away in the Verdant alley, but she doesn't HATE Oliver. And he cannot ever remotely hate her.

      (Also, a dozen metaphorical cookies to you for mentioning the movie Stardust. AMAZING. Also also, I found the blue dress:

      I love the idea of Nyssa and Laurel teaming up so much. They're both often very abrasive, brash characters but they're absolutely perfect together because for as much as they clash, they're also very similar. And they need each other, more than most characters on the series do at this point. And yes, for the love of all things good and holy, can Laurel please do something awesome so Oliver can stop harping on her?

      Ugh, I know things are gonna spiral for Team Arrow with Quentin based on that sizzle reel they showed at PaleyFest and I'm simultaneously excited and also nervous (and that's all I'll say in case you haven't seen it). But that scene with Paul Blackthorne's little monologue was amazing.

      I'm so glad Roy and Thea have each other. She's the one connection besides Oliver to who she used to be and I think a lot of their relationship will be her trying to recover what she's lost.

      I'm totally with you -- the rest of this season is going to be a rollercoaster and I cannot wait to join you all on the ride. Thanks, as always, for commenting! :)

  9. Hello new fan here! I was sent here from my cousin who follows you on Twitter. I really enjoyed your review!!!! There is one thing I have a different opinion about. I thought I saw Oliver's face different than you thought. I thought I saw joy in Oliver's face as when Felicity said that having Oliver in her life. I say that because I think Oliver thought he was going to see a day where she wasn't going to be there anymore. I think when she said that, in his mind he figured out that not only does she still care a lot about Ollie but also that he can see the light at the end of the tunnel (so to speak)

    So Thank you for letting me share my thought on the scene and I can't wait to read these weekly Arrow reviews now!!

    1. Joseph: Welcome to the blog! So glad you were able to find this through Charles and that you enjoyed the review. The moment I meant regarding Oliver's face actually happened after his initial momentary joy. Here's the one I'm referring to:

      I do think you're right, though and that Oliver thought that one day, she would just move on and leave him. And poor damaged puppy that Oliver is, he's so concerned about that. So you're totally right because he realizes that he still makes her happy. And then he just gets crushed the moment after because he realizes she has everything but he wants so much more with her that Ray gets and he doesn't, ugh.

      Thank you so much for reading and welcome again! :)

  10. Awesome review. I continue to be impressed by Stephen Amell's performance. So many little nuances that express so much with so little. I am amazed that he doesn't have any movie deals yet, he is better looking than 90% of the other actors out there and is a better actor than at least 60% of them.

    1. Thank you for your compliment, anon! Amell has so many facial nuances and little tics that just add SO much depth to Oliver Queen as a character. He makes him feel so real and raw and vulnerable. And his face? Such a sad puppy.

      he is better looking than 90% of the other actors out there and is a better actor than at least 60% of them.


      Thanks again for reading and commenting! :)

  11. I probably wouldn't say that Oliver needs more from the relationship than Felicity does, it's that Felicity has learned to settle a bit in the past months, and Oliver hasn't had to. I mean, it was only a handful of weeks ago that she thought he was dead, and not just clasping her hands to his hard, muscled chest to staunch the bleeding dying, but really DEAD.

    Like that children's book by Margot Zemach, It Could Always Be Worse, in which the man of the house, fed up with the chaos at home, repeatedly goes to his rabbi for advice until he is living not just with his wife, his children, and his mother-in-law, but all of his chickens and sheep and the cow - at which point the rabbi tells him to oust all the animals, and suddenly it seems so peaceful in the house.

    Felicity had a moment there at the beginning of the season when she thought she might get everything she wanted and then Oliver slammed the door closed on that dream hard and fast and the resulting tension between them slowly made her accept less and less as acceptable - until he went away and she thought he died.

    Now he's alive again and they're not fighting and he's telling her the things she NEEDS to hear from him and that is such a vast improvement that it seems like enough right now. Plus, she's got Ray, who for all his faults, doesn't seem like a broody bastard and is generous with all the boyfriend gestures. So that's covered. She's attempting to compartmentalize and for now it's working.

    But people are not perpetually contented, and if things keep improving between them, she's going to start taking peeks at what might be again - just like he is now.

    I will say, and I love Oliver and feel for him, I REALLY do, that it's a bit satisfying to see him being friend-zoned. Felicity has had to put up with that garbage time and time again and she did so graciously. What's more, this is a bed entirely of his own making, so he can LIE IN IT for a bit. Every time I watch the scene in the alley and he says, "Things between us, you mean," I yell out, "Yes, that's what she means! Get it together, Oliver! For God's sake." I'm a little exasperated with him right now. I want Felicity to wrap herself around OLIVER's arm and get all flirty and happy. Why can't we have nice things?

    1. Hello there, fiacresgirl and welcome! First of all, thank you for your thoughtful comments. :)

      I think what I was going for -- and what that scene meant to accomplish, where she basically said: "you being in my life makes me happy" -- is that Oliver is smiling in agreement when she says this. I think he likes to believe that all he needs is Felicity, in any capacity, to be happy. But then you notice the shift (and I mentioned the GIF above) when he sees Ray Palmer's calling that basically indicates that he's not REALLY okay with things the way they are. While Felicity is perfectly content as long as Oliver is in her life, he's not -- he needs more and he realizes that when Ray comes around. So in terms of Oliver needing more from their relationship, that's basically what I meant.

      But you're exactly right -- Felicity has learned to settle back into a sort of contentment without Oliver and this episode was great because it was so nice to see her settling back in WITH him.

      She's attempting to compartmentalize and for now it's working.

      EXACTLY THIS. Which is why this week's episode will be SO interesting and why last week's was a shifting point for Oliver/Felicity because until that moment, she was able to keep Arrow and Oliver separate from Ray. Now... now things are about to get messy and I'm definitely interested to see how she handles them.

      I will say, and I love Oliver and feel for him, I REALLY do, that it's a bit satisfying to see him being friend-zoned.

      AAAAAAAAAAAAAAMEN. I love Oliver because I love Amell a lot. And recently, Oliver's been... well, he's been very difficult to love. He's been more stubborn and gruff than usual in season three and this episode was such a great shift back into the Oliver I love. But you and I are totally on the same page: I got a lot of justification from Felicity straight-up telling him that them not being together was on HIM, not her and he would have to deal with it.

      As ready as I am for happy Oliver/Felicity, I'm totally here for the Felicity-calls-Oliver-on-his-crap. ;) Thanks again for reading and your comments!

  12. The one thing I haven't seen discussed is that Felicity isn't just glowing, she's confident again, in her sexuality, desirability, she's got her moxie back and is up for all manner of flirty flirting & sass. She's literally strutting.

    Sex with Ray, if you'll pardon the expression, filled a void. Felicity had lived & breathed Oliver for more than two years, even while he bumped uglies with others, and no matter how brilliant she is, the dangling maybes had taken a toll.

    Not just with Oliver either, Barry is the only other attempt we've seen on her part to pursue a possible relationship, and that didn't work out for her either, what with him being emotionally unavailable (Iris) and pre-occupied with being a super-hero (when she realizes she has a "type" while watching Ray on his salmon ladder, I don't think Oliver was the only comparison to be made there.)

    Let us not forget that the other 'man Felicity loved' recently came back from the dead (faked suicide, IIRC) and took her and her mother hostage. The girl has not had a smooth ride with the men in her life (cue father who abandoned her as next seasons Big Bad)

    She's not engaged to Ray, so her behavior with Oliver crosses no lines. The girls is sexy and she knows it, and ain't afraid to show it. The between-the-lines dialogue to her reminding Oliver that he chose not to be with her was a clear "and do you SEE what you're missing, bub!?" But the other subtext was "when you're ready, come and get it" (Man, so many song lyrics, so little time)

    Or maybe all of that is my brain trying to rationalize how Felicity sleeping with Mr McStalkerPants is okay. I have, after all, resorted to quoting Selena Gomez & LMFAO lyrics.

    1. Hello there, lovely anon! First of all: Selena Gomez lyrics are ALWAYS welcome around these parts. ;)

      Secondly, yes. I love that Felicity is becoming more confident and more self-assured in the wake of all that's happened between her and Oliver. She's becoming scarier, too, like a force to be reckoned with and not someone easily dismissed (think of how Malcolm basically directed all of his comments at her in the lair).

      ...and no matter how brilliant she is, the dangling maybes had taken a toll.

      Exactly this. And yeah, I'm with you on Ray being a McCreeper because of how he pursued her, but like... I think I saw this floating around on Tumblr, but it's almost like you feel bad for Ray because though Felicity cares about him, he's not first pick. She told Oliver that during this episode: told him that if he had manned up and not shut her out, there would BE no her and Ray. In a lot of ways, I feel like a relationship with Ray is what Felicity needs in order to become a better person and partner for Oliver in the future. She needs to feel wanted and pursued and she also needs to call the shots sometimes in the relationship (she seems to call a lot of the shots with Ray, honestly). If Oliver ever wants a relationship with her, he needs to see how Ray treated her as an example of what do do (minus the whole pinging her phone thing because OH MY GOSH I CAN JUST NOT MOVE PAST THAT BEING WRONG ON SO MANY LEVELS).

      And look, like you said: Felicity is the kind of girl any man would be lucky to have. And I appreciate the writers treating her like a dynamic character who can go and live her life without Oliver rather than a blonde IT girl who sits in the basement of Verdant, pining for him.

      Anyway, thank you so much for your comments, anon! :)

    2. What if Ray is the one in the hospital and Oliver becomes Ra's to save Ray for Felicity, thinking he's sacrificing himself so that she can be with Ray since he doesn't think he deserves her?

      Not sure where "hospital sex" fits in, though with that many eligible doctors MamaSmoak......

      The promised scenes in the jet could be work, as best and worst - Felicity telling Oliver she loves him, but he's no longer Oliver, he's the new Ra's.....

  13. I have to disagree with you about something . As I learned in grad school, there are two kinds of people who want to control: those who control so as not to be controlled themselves and those who just like to control for its own sake. Oliver falls squarely in the first category, he's been controlled so much since the Queen's Gambit sank that he seizes every bit of control he can. But I wouldn't be surprised though if Ra's fell into the second category, wanting control because he enjoys controlling others. How he deals with the various members of the League, how he disowns Nyssa with a word after telling her all his life that she is his heir, and what he's going to do to Oliver now that he's been turned down -- all that sounds like someone who enjoys his power rather than someone who uses it because he himself doesn't want to be controlled.

    Speaking of controlling Oliver really needs to stop doing it. Laurel and Diggle no longer listen to his attempts to control them, Felicity is still hurt by it but determined to do her best to deal with it, but oh, poor Thea. Between Oliver and Malcolm, they've taken away every bit of autonomy she has and neither is listening to her because they both decided that they knew what was best for her, and they didn't. Thea wouldn't be in this much pain if she didn't have the man who betrayed her, drugged her and made her kill her friend in the sofa in her living room. She wouldn't be in so much pain if Oliver had just listened to her when she said she wanted nothing more to do with Malcolm.

    What Malcolm and Oliver have in common is that they both believe they know best for the people they say they love, and they both end up hurting those people even worse.

    1. Hello there, katakombs! Thank you so much for your insightful comments about control. Oh man, such a huge theme of Arrow, isn't it? Hmm, I do think that Oliver possibly controls because he doesn't want to be controlled. I think a lot of control issues though are often rooted in insecurities. (I say that from a purely personal standpoint, knowing the reasons why I'm controlling, haha.) Controlling people like to make sense of the world through their order. And I do agree with you that Ra's probably falls into the latter category because he likes controlling people because he likes being obeyed.

      Speaking of controlling Oliver really needs to stop doing it.

      This has been why I haven't liked Oliver in a very long time this season. Yeah, sure, Laurel has her problems. But Oliver has annoyed me more than her this season, honestly: he's not allowed anyone to make any decisions for themselves and has judged any decision they make which irks me. Though it does make me glad because Felicity constantly calls him out on his crap.

      Thea has been treated like a puppet by Malcolm and her whole arc this season is the irony in her believing she's gotten control of her life only to realize that someone else has been pulling her strings all along. I know some people don't like that, but I find this kind of arc in her so fascinating (and heartbreaking, OH SO heartbreaking) in order for her to become a better, more developed character.

      What Malcolm and Oliver have in common is that they both believe they know best for the people they say they love, and they both end up hurting those people even worse.


      Thank you, again, for your comments and for reading this review! I appreciate it! :)

    2. I've been enjoying reading your reviews all season. This is the first time I realized I could comment back. Now I can say thank you for all your insights.

      Poor Thea. But such a great opportunity for Willa Holland.

    3. katakombs: Awww, you're so welcome! This is always going to be a place to facilitate good discussion and I'm glad you've joined us. :)