“John, I don’t wanna die down here.”

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**This post contains spoilers for episode 3.02 of Arrow, “Sara.”**

Even the best shows on TV have one or two episodes where things just don’t mesh. BBC Sherlock fans will tell you that “The Blind Banker” is probably not their favorite; Community fans will likely point to a season 4 episode and say “I like to pretend this one never happened”; heck, there are one or two Friends episodes that I skip over on rewatches because they just aren’t very good. Great TV shows set the bar very high, so when that dud of an episode comes along — and inevitably it happens — it’s twice as disappointing.

“Sara,” to me, was a misfire. It’s made even worse because I think I know where they were trying to go with it, but the direction and even the writing was so uneven at times that the entire thing ended up feeling disjointed. The biggest example is that motorcycle fight scene: back and forth, three or four times, these guys pulled wheelies, drew their bowstrings, and drove past each other. By the time Oliver was finally shot (in the shoulder? in the chest?) it ended up feeling like a poorly staged parody of a telenovela. I get what they were trying to do, but the editing and strange cuts really took the suspense out of it.

I get the feeling the producers and writers weren’t expecting to go into this episode having to justify Sara’s death. For whatever reason, they seemed to assume the viewers would be properly sad but willing to follow this story thread in due course. So we saw Team Arrow splinter in what probably would’ve been an organic way in any other circumstance, with Felicity deciding she wants more and Oliver retreating in on himself and Diggle just showing up because he’s amazing like that. And in that regard, if you write it down on paper, everyone’s grief-driven reactions make sense. But that’s not what the viewers were wanting to see this week.

I spent the days since the premiere expecting the writers to have a good, compelling reason to have killed Sara off. I wasn’t interested in watching Laurel’s rage-filled vendetta (not that I didn’t want to see it — I just thought it was something better suited for episode 3) or Roy’s guilt over secret-keeping or even Felicity’s lashing out at Ray Palmer. I wanted to know one thing: Why did Sara Lance have to die? And maybe this is my mistake, but I expected the Arrow writers to have at least a nugget of a reason — a breadcrumb, maybe — for why they chose to kill her. We were promised flashbacks and backstories and tons and tons of Sara, and what we got? Was Tommy. In an episode called “Sara,” we got Tommy.

Don’t get me wrong, I squealed when Colin Donnell appeared on my TV screen. I’m happy to see that guy any day, and I would’ve been happy with the Tommy flashbacks if they’d existed in a vacuum, but they didn’t — they existed in this episode, the one right after Sara died, the one that should’ve had Sara flashbacks or Sara backstory or anything pertaining to Sara other than everyone else’s grief around her. That’s all this episode was: an episode of everyone grieving about Sara.

 

It seems she really was killed primarily to make Laurel become the Canary. We watched as Laurel struggled to come to terms with Sara’s death and whether to tell her father, and then she nearly shot a man who didn’t have anything to do with Sara’s death. She tortured one of the victims and railed against Oliver in the lair and cried the entire episode. I don’t mean to diminish the quality of the writing, because Laurel grieved credibly in the wake of her sister’s death, and Katie Cassidy was all in for these scenes, but I’m still not happy with the fact that Sara had to die in order for Laurel to take on the Canary mantle. Don’t kill your females just to give other characters their dark backstories. That’s cheap at best, and lazy at worst. Or maybe it’s the other way around. I’m too frustrated to decide.

That goes for the rest of the characters. Sara had to die for Diggle to rejoin the team? Sara had to die for Oliver to reach out to his sister? Sara had to die for Felicity to realize that she doesn’t want to play Monday morning quarterback to a guy with a deathwish, a guy who just a couple nights ago told her they couldn’t be together? Sara had to die for Oliver to realize he doesn’t want to die in his hood?

It’s bad. It angers me that her death set them all spinning onto these paths so easily, when there were a million other nuanced ways to get these reactions out of these characters. Laurel could’ve become the Canary on the rebound from Quentin’s near-death in the finale. She already has the dark backstory. Her sister was declared dead in a shipwreck, her boyfriend died saving her in an earthquake, and she was nearly turned into a porcelain doll by the creepiest man alive. That’s not even mentioning all of her other near brushes with death and her ongoing struggle with addiction. Laurel already had her crucible, and with a bit of preplanning and tweaking (and working with the actress) they could’ve had her on the Canary arc as early as the middle of season 2 if they really wanted it.

Similarly, Felicity could’ve decided to go work for Ray Palmer after Oliver’s half-hearted rejection of her last week. She could’ve decided that being Oliver’s sometimes-girl wasn’t enough for her, so instead of toiling away at Starling City’s smallest Best Buy, she could’ve accepted that job offer from Ray and told Oliver “Sorry bro, maybe if you hadn’t signed over your company to your side piece last season, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.” Sure, it means losing the emotional punch of those scenes where Felicity cries in the foundry, at Queen Consolidated, and at Sara’s graveside, but on the flipside, it’d also mean we never had to sit through that scene where she accused Oliver of not having feelings.

 

I don’t love that Felicity abandoned Oliver in his hour of need, but at the same time, he can’t have his cake and eat it too. I can’t fault Felicity for knowing her absolute limit, for knowing that she can’t sit there and watch Oliver slowly lose his life to his crusade. On the other hand, Oliver’s right, he can’t grieve because if he grieves, everything falls apart.

We all say and do things in grief that we wouldn’t normally say or do, and I know it must’ve been hard for Felicity to watch Oliver be so “cold and rational” over an ex-girlfriend. Part of her was probably scared, in the wake of what they just went through with their date and kiss, that he would seem this unaffected by her death. It must seem unfair to Felicity, who would feel so much overwhelming grief if something happened to Oliver, to think that he could be so detached and unaffected. But I still don’t buy, in that moment, that Felicity would accuse him of not having feelings. She of all people knows how he internalizes, how he feels so much that sometimes his body just seems to shut it off so that he doesn’t go to pieces.

And by the same token, I don’t buy that Oliver would insinuate that Felicity’s ability to be off her game and be able to cry all over the place is some kind of luxury. He realized he could easily die on one of his missions, or be taken by surprise, and instead of it inspiring him to live a fuller life, it scares him. That paralyzes Felicity, it’s the first time they just can’t empathize with each other, which is what causes the friction. He can’t argue with her when she says she can’t stay and watch him die; he doesn’t want to do that to her. But it still hurts him when she says it. How could it not?

But Sara still didn’t need to die in order for this to come about. Oliver losing Felicity and Diggle in the same week could’ve set him on this identity trajectory of “Damn, being alone sucks, maybe I don’t want to die down here!” He’d still have his mentee, Roy, but he’s also about to embark on Operation Save Thea which I’m sure will also be a target-rich environment for Oliver’s ongoing identity crisis. Through all of this, Sara could’ve still existed, alive and well and joyously assassinating bad guys offstage, while occasionally flitting in and out of Starling to dole out useful advice and maybe scare the crap out of Laurel once in a while.

There was an organic way to go about this, and killing off Sara Lance was not the right option. They keep saying this season is all about “identity,” yet Sara went through her own identity crisis last season. Both Oliver and Laurel insisted Sara was a hero, but Sara was plagued with self-doubt based on her assassin past. Sara doesn’t get her heroine arc. She was killed, and that arc was artlessly passed on to Laurel. Laurel, who could’ve credibly earned that arc all on her own. But hey, at least Diggle named his daughter Sara. Maybe she’ll grow up to become a future Canary.

And what about Sin?

 

Next week: It’s the Thea show, starring Thea’s new haircut, with a cameo appearance by John Barrowman! I’m actually looking forward to that — I think Thea will be a refreshing change from what we’ve dealt with in the first two episodes.

My First Con

For a few years now I have wanted to go to a Comic Con, and now I can say I attended the most attended Comic Con in America. I was amazed to be in a building with so many people, but I never felt too crowded (minus waiting in line for The Walking Dead panel).

As it was my first time, I did rely on my friends who have already been to NYCC. It is always a good idea to talk to the ones who have already experienced dealing with Cons in the past and receiving pointers from them. I am most indebted to my friend, Kim. Luckily the first panel I went to was one she was also going to, and I was able to better navigate my way around for the rest of the weekend.

One of the most important things to do is plan ahead of time. Never go to a Con without a plan, and always meet up with your friends before you arrive at the convention center. It is easier to find someone if they are not in a mass horde of other fellow nerds.

The next step is to know which panel you want to see the most. I mainly attended panels in the main room. My biggest problem was deciding between Elementary and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and even though Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was later, the queue line for it was longer. In the end I was able to attend both.

Always arrive early for a panel or you may not get in. This includes smaller panels because it means there is less room for that panel. Also, for any panel that will be incredibly popular. The Walking Dead queue line filled up the fastest and the line was capped quickly. I will applaud NYCC for establishing different queue lines for the various panels on the main stage, and clearing out the room after the panels were finished.

The only time I experienced problems with the new process was with The Walking Dead panel. Hopefully they will be able to work out the kinks with the new system, but even if they do I won’t stay in line that long again. The screens have excellent views of the stage, and it leaves you time to explore other panels, the show floor, or even better the Artist Alley. I can now say I have waited in a crowded line for hours, and to me it is not worth it. Time is better spent by exploring what the rest of the Con has for entertainment.

The one place I will definitely recommend is Artist Alley. Forewarning: Be prepared to spend your money here. The artists are creative, and if someone is able to leave there without more than one print, they are stronger than me. The artwork is spectacular and is better than many of the posters you see for the actual artwork for the shows or movies.

The panels I went to were a delight. The first one was the Disney panel, which made me really interested in Big Hero 6. I saw the trailer, and it appeared alright, but what really sold me on this movie were the clips they showed us at the Disney panel. Seeing Baymax low on power is priceless, and was my favorite clip. It introduced me to the term of “hairy baby” used for cats, and according to T.J. Miller we are supposed to use this word from now on.

The panel for Tomorrowland was next and if I wasn’t already convinced Damon Lindelof has superpowers, I am now. Hugh Laurie talked about a lunch he had with Lindelof and Brad Bird where he did not remember the conversation, but knew he wanted to be part of the film. Lindelof is a Jedi. This can be the only conclusion. The biggest surprise was indeed George Clooney appearing on stage after Laurie said Clooney has been lying about his age and is really 75. Clooney has never really been a part of nerd culture so it was surprising to see him at a Con. Of course he was his very dapper self, and said he apologized for his Batman to Adam West as well as the nipple suit. Hugh Laurie and George Clooney sitting right next to each other during a panel was something I never expected, but I greatly enjoyed the experience.

Friday was the day of full episodes. While I was fully expecting a full episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Elementary premiere came as a shock. The premiere was enjoyable, but felt a little disjointed. Of course I believe it was a goal because Holmes and Watson went their separate ways in last year’s finale. However, it was clear as soon as Lucy Liu and Jonny Lee Miller took the stage they have a wonderful partnership. Even with the little things with Liu pouring a cup of water and then handing it to Miller. Ophelia Lovibond, the newest cast member, was asked how it was coming onto the show, and she called it a well-oiled machine. Miller then responded that they were very well oiled (I love how snarky some people are). Later in the panel, Miller talked about how Sherlock’s addiction is a struggle and how there will be many mistakes made. I genuinely love how big of a part Sherlock’s addiction is on this show.

The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. panel won the day because of Clark Gregg. He was originally not supposed to be at NYCC, but asked to come. How could someone say no to that guy’s face? This man who is so awesome they brought him back from the dead and gave him his own show. The man is adorable. They need to find a way to make miniature Clark Greggs so you can keep him in your pocket and always have him around. They also showed the episode which aired last night, and it is by far the best episode of the season. One of the best parts is being able to watch a solid episode with so many fans of the show. After the episode, they informed us Gregg had flown out with the first clip of Agent Carter which was shot Monday. I may be more in love with this show, and really hope they further explore Peggy Carter’s and Howard Stark’s friendship.

Saturday, was dedicated to The Walking Dead. It was enjoyable to see the majority of the cast in person as well as Scott Gimple, Robert Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd, and Greg Nicotero. To me these four are just as big as the cast. We were again promised heartbreak and more crossovers between the show and comic book series. Sometimes it is hard going into a show where you know it will lead to heartbreak, but I still trust Gimple as the show runner. I love the man dearly. The only problem is there is never enough time. The cast is big. While I’m glad so many of them came, it never feels like there is not a lot of time. This panel made me wish there was a better way to filter fan questions, and possibly give some a time limit. I understand this may be a person’s only time to talk to whoever is on stage, but I wish they would also think about the people in line behind them who also want to ask questions.

While Saturday may have been dedicated to The Walking Dead, Stephen Amell still won the day. A room with him doing a Q & A is already perfection. However, he made it better than perfection because he had emailed Colin Donnell, and told him to show up to his panel. The moment he appeared on stage was amazing, and let me just say everyone who was at the Con definitely looks better in person.

Sunday had the best conclusion, with the last panel on the main stage being Sleepy Hollow. Honestly, I would attend probably anything that gave Orlando Jones a mic. For me this was probably the best panel because it showed the audience only half the episode leaving more time for the cast and crew to answer questions. While it is enjoyable to see a full episode, it doesn’t give a lot of time for the people on stage to talk. No one should ever take away time for these people to talk. When they get to talk we learn things about the show like Ichabod learning about Karaoke, or Jones choosing “I Will Survive” as his song choice (I now want to see Frank Irving break out into this song). It was interesting to see that singing may be one of Tom Mison’s talents and him saying there were many things Len Wiseman did not know about him via text during the panel.

Overall the experience was fun, and I cannot wait to go to my next Con.

“It was red.”

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**This post contains spoilers for 3.01 of Arrow, “The Calm.”**

Last night, Arrow came back howling and screaming and… falling off of buildings shot with three arrows center-mass. But I’m not angry. Nope. Not at all. Ahem.

First of all, we should talk about the fact that Arrow now officially exists in an expanded universe, since The Flash premiered on Tuesday night. I’ll be covering The Flash later this week, because as a pilot it was solid, but for now, Arrow is largely unaffected by Flash canon except for the fact that Barry appeared in the premiere to ask for some advice from Oliver. The possibilities are endless and exciting but I can’t, with good conscience, say that the third season of Arrow got off to a stellar start. Any good vibes about crossovers, Easter eggs, and oblique references are a little marred by the death that occurred in the last minute of the premiere. But I’ll get to that in due time!

Season 3 opened with Team Arrow working like a well-oiled machine. Things are going so well that Diggle sums it up nicely: “There will only be two types of criminals in Starling City: the ones we put away, and the ones that are running scared.” They even have a new List, but it’s a super cool touchscreen with mugshots and X’s through captured criminals, because Felicity Smoak doesn’t do anything halfway. We also learn that Oliver’s been living in the foundry, because he’s really poor and I guess his life wasn’t depressing enough, but that’s okay because Felicity spruced it up with a fern! Oliver flirts that she should’ve bought him a bed too, which sounds like enough of an invitation to me, but Felicity just points out that he sleeps on the floor. At this point, Digg and Roy exchange an amazing “yeah we ship this” look in the background and for one moment, everything is perfect.

 

Digg says Lyla wants him to “build a bassinet from hell” so probably from Ikea, and that’s when Oliver gifts Digg with a beautiful arrowhead necklace. In theory, it’s lovely, because he made it himself and I may or may not pay upwards of $50 for the same one, but in practice, it’s probably not the smartest thing to put an arrowhead, a clear indicator of The Arrow, on Diggle’s baby girl. It’s kind of like a beacon.

Oliver then launches into this self-loathing recap of his disastrous love life, ranging from Laurel to Sara (and all of the McKennas and Helenas in between) and Diggle’s pretty much got hearts in his eyes when he says, “Maybe Felicity will change all that.”

Diggle: “And you love her. You told her yourself.”
Oliver: “I was trying to fool Slade.”
Diggle: “Yes. Except now, the only person you’re fooling is yourself.”

 

First of all, it’s fantastic that Diggle knows exactly what went down in that mansion. It’s even better that he knows the truth of how it went down. And best of all, it’s great that he can stand there and call Oliver on his denial and half-truths. Diggle is so great because anyone else would be worried about third-wheeling or being annoyed by lover’s spats, but this guy just wants his friends to be happy. We should all have a Diggle in our lives — or maybe we should all aspire to be the Diggle in our friend’s lives!

Later, after Felicity pep talks Oliver about speaking from the heart (accompanied by her actually patting his chest, can you blame her?) Oliver actually stops walking and asks her — with a stutter — if she wants to go to dinner. Her immediate reaction is amazing: “I’m being serious here, Oliver.” Hehe!

He talks in actual broken sentences, and she points it out to him, and then the most amazing thing happens: she falls silent and just watches him expectantly. I know! So great, right? So Oliver is forced to take a deep breath, and I assume he counts to three in his mind, then he asks her again. Her answer is an immediate yes and a radiant smile.

Oliver even flirts with her that night, asking if she likes Italian as he’s riding around pursuing bad guys and she’s working at Starling’s version of Best Buy. “And yes, I love Italian.” Unfortunately, Oliver is stuck with a tracking device when he encounters one of the baddies in the sewer, but he’s so excited for his date that he doesn’t notice. It turns out he was wearing his dinner suit under his Arrow suit, so when he stashes his Arrow garb in a secret hiding space, the tracker still points to his location.

The date goes even better than my wildest imagination — up to a point. They’re both nervous, but actually manage to cover a variety of relevant topics, including Oliver’s frequent shirtlessness and Felicity’s appreciation of said shirtlessness, before the appetizers arrive. Oliver decides it’s good first date protocol to talk about… his time in Hong Kong. In a way, I get it: he wants this date, this relationship, to mean something. These aren’t things he talked about with McKenna or Laurel, and to do it backwards — to talk about favorite movies and childhood best friends and sleep together and wake up the next morning only to have the Hong Kong conversation then, that’s not ever how it’s going to work between Oliver and Felicity. So while this might have brought the entire thing to an awkward and screeching halt, it makes sense that Oliver did it this way, especially given how it turns out for him.

“The entire time that I was gone, I could never completely trust someone. And when that goes on for so long, you stop seeing people for people. You see threats, or targets. And when I decided to come home, I just didn’t know how to turn that part of me off… but then I walked into your office. You were the first person that I could see as… a person. There was just something about you.”
“Yeah, I was chewing a pen.”
“It was red.”

Just as a monologue, this is beautiful. This show is based on a comic book, the style could’ve easily been campy with a lot of “bang!” and “pow!” speech bubbles, yet this show consistently goes for gritty and heartfelt… and this speech captures that spirit. What a pathos for Oliver Queen, what a way to recall that first batch of six or so episodes, what a way to showcase the unique way that he looks at Felicity as a person.

But there’s another element to this that’s almost tragic in nature, because Oliver came home to a family. Going by what he said about how difficult it was to turn off his survival instinct, that means he essentially came home to Threats and Targets. He saw Moira first, he hugged Thea, he embraced Tommy, he spoke to Laurel. He even built a shaky relationship with Diggle in those early episodes. But he didn’t see A Person until that third episode, almost halfway through, when he walked into that turquoise office and encountered the pink-shirted blonde girl chewing on a pen. Moira, Thea, and Tommy were Threats, but not to his livelihood or survival; they were Threats to his crusade. They were potential Targets for his enemies. Laurel was a Threat to his detachment, and as Slade even demonstrated only a couple of months ago, she was a constant Target for anyone wishing to hurt Oliver.

Oliver came home to a family, but what he got was a set of expectations that he had to work to destroy for the sake of the crusade. And isn’t that what we watched for that whole first season? He worked to keep all of his friends and family at a distance because that was the only way he knew how to function. Moira even told Oliver that she wished he hadn’t come home, Thea accused him of not even trying to be present, and he pretended to be drunk so that he didn’t have to run QC for his father. We didn’t see Oliver crack a real smile, or have a real reaction, until the IT girl unexpectedly babbled and counted down from three. He didn’t expect her to matter, because she was neither threat nor target; she was just someone he was supposed to encounter one time, for half an hour, before moving on with his life. But she cocked her head at his terrible “my coffee shop is in a bad neighborhood” excuse and then for a string of episodes, we watched him go back to her with increasingly ridiculous excuses.

Maybe it’s sad that Moira and Thea and Tommy weren’t People to Oliver when he came home, but I think it means something that Oliver chose to save Diggle’s life and ask him to join the team mere hours after he met Felicity Smoak. Something made him see Diggle as A Person instead of as a Threat. Of course he would remember that day in her office. Of course he would remember that red pen.

“Do you remember when I told you that because of what we do, I didn’t think that I could be with someone that I could really care about?”
“Yeah, I remember.”
“So maybe I was wrong.”

 

That bit is important because of just how many times Stephen Amell went back to that dialogue from 2.06. Almost every time he was challenged about his character’s feelings about Felicity, he would refer to that dialogue.

And then, because Oliver’s life is just tragedy-filled and awful, he hears a rocket and leaps just in time to grab Felicity and roll over her. He wakes up in smoke-filled rubble and scoops up an unconscious Felicity, who he carries all the way back to the foundry. Neither Digg nor Roy ask how the date went, so rude, but Roy does find the GPS tracker on Oliver’s stuff, which just sends Oliver on a spiral about distractions and not deserving nice things. He calls Lance and enlists his help, and then Felicity gasps awake. Good news, she ends up wound-free despite the blood and dirt all over her face.

 

Oliver ends up injected with Vertigo as he fights the new Count Vertigo (I guess it’s the crystal meth of Starling, it’s never going away) who keeps warping into versions of Oliver Queen. You’d think Oliver would’ve developed an immunity by now.

Meanwhile, Oliver wants QC back for some reason, and he’s dismayed to find himself facing off the punchable Ray Palmer, who parked his helicopter on the roof (I’m not kidding) and doesn’t get why that’s the douchiest thing any man has ever said on any TV show (excepting all of the things that came out of Chuck Bass’s mouth, of course). Palmer basically wants to rename the city to Star City, I guess? It makes Oliver give up on QC almost immediately, because wanting the company back is selfish and something the old Oliver would do. I don’t know which old Oliver he’s referring to… season 1 Oliver didn’t want the company, and season 2 Oliver is still this Oliver, right? Are we still hinging his identity on Tommy’s death, or is he a new Oliver since the Moira and Slade of it all?

His guilt spiral doesn’t stop at QC and Felicity, though; Oliver goes as far as kicking Diggle off the team, because of fatherhood. Felicity sobs in the foreground as Oliver basically says that his crusade means he gets to choose who is part of it.

“Detective Lance is laying in a hospital bed right now because I let him –”
“Wait wait, Lance is his own man who makes his own decisions, and so am I.”
“Not this one.”
“Oliver, I’ve given the past two years of my life to your crusade. I don’t know what that’s supposed to earn me, but it earns me at least the right to make my own choices.”
“No, it doesn’t.”
“Dammit, Oliver, you would be dead ten times over if it wasn’t for me!”
“You’re right, but this is my crusade, which makes this my decision.”

I love that Diggle is the first one to point out that Oliver doesn’t give the people in his life enough agency. That’s so perfect with my personal headcanon for Diggle — he’s so individualistic that he’s constantly having to remind Oliver that his team chooses to be there — that I kind of want to weep. He definitely Diggle’d this scene. I also love that Oliver’s guilt spiral extends to things that are out of his control, because that is so Oliver. And it’s not without reason — he has suffered a lot of loss, he’s just trying to circle the wagons, no matter how irrational it seems to everyone else. He encounters Sara during another mini-crusade, and she advises him, “We are not our masks.” It doesn’t seem to help, but it’s good nonetheless.

Diggle spends the episode being amazing. When he’s not dispensing amazing life advice to Oliver, he’s fretting over the basketball under Lyla’s hospital gown and enthusiastically saying “It’s a tank! Think a big, big tank!” to a bemused doctor. After his baby girl is born, Diggle admits that his whole world is changed. It’s true that children will make you reassess, but it doesn’t really teach Oliver to let people make their own choices. At least Diggle looks happy. (Note: the coloring on the gifs below is beautiful!)

 

In the maternity corridor, Oliver tells Felicity they need to talk, and for once in her life, she doesn’t want to, because “as soon as we talk, it’s over.”

“I’m so sorry. I thought that I could be me and the Arrow, but I can’t. Not now. Maybe not ever.”
“Then say ‘never.’ Stop dangling ‘maybes.’ Say ‘It’s never going to work out between us.’ Say you never loved me. Say –”

 

And then he whispers her name, grabs her face, and kisses her, but it’s the saddest and sweetest kiss I’ve ever had to watch. They even frame it so that there’s a beam of light between them when they break apart.

“Don’t ask me to say I don’t love you.”
“I told you as soon as we talked, it would be over.”

And then she walks away, and oh, I love it! It’s so sad but so great for Felicity because she can’t keep letting him call these shots! He did it in the mansion, and yeah, he never fell back on his “oh it was for Slade” excuse explicitly, but it was still there as an uncertainty. Now he knows how she feels. Now she knows how he feels. He kissed her, and she kissed him back, but she didn’t let him “maybe” her again — she took her dignity and she left him to figure out what he wants to do next, because she’s done playing the game.

I hope you’re as excited as I am about where they’ll go with this. It has the potential to be so, so unique.

He gets a call from Barry at that point, so he leaves to go appear on The Flash.

Oliver and Laurel have a really sweet scene that showcases how great their friendship could be if they’d stop trying to make fetch their romance happen. She’s practically vibrating with ill-concealed joy as she leads him to Captain Lance’s press conference, during which the Anti-Vigilante Task Force is officially disbanded. Laurel’s also thrilled to be working alongside Ollie in an official criminal ass-kicking partnership, and their shared smiles are really sweet!

 

Captain Lance, who is still referred to as “Detective Lance” by Oliver, has left his beat cop days and his long hair in the past. He ends up in the hospital again after some sort of cardiac episode, which gets some deserved condemnation from Laurel, and he expresses a fear that he doesn’t really have an identity outside of being a cop. Spoiler alert: identity crises are gonna be a thing this season.

The Hong Kong flashbacks are unexpectedly hilarious. If you’re not laughing, as usual, at Oliver’s wig, perhaps you’re laughing at his ridiculous escape attempts? Or maybe you got a good guffaw out of his botched “Hi Mom, I’m alive, I’m in Hong Kong, how’s the weather?” email? A hearty chortle at his vow to Amanda Waller that he’ll never stop trying to escape? Not a lot happened, plot-wise, except to establish that’s he’s trapped in Hong Kong at Waller’s beck and call, so we have a lot of plotty stuff to look forward to for at least half a season.

 

Roy was actually a cool cucumber and a good team player for the entire episode, which is encouraging given his Mirakuarc from last season. Presumably he’s paying penance for his drugged-up crimes, and he’s also distracting himself from losing Thea, but he could’ve just as easily gone off the rails after Thea’s rejection at the end of last season, so this is encouraging to see.

Less encouraging is Oliver’s attitude toward Roy. On the surface, it’s not that bad, since Roy clearly needs a mentor and Oliver needs a mentee. But after Oliver pushes Felicity away and practically cuts Diggle from the team, the fact that he takes Roy along with him to destroy a bomb makes it seems like he values Roy’s life far less than he does Diggle’s or Felicity’s. Even if that’s true on some level (after all, Roy is not an original team member, hasn’t been through their crucibles, and is still a bit of a loose cannon) it can’t feel great for Roy when he eventually realizes he’s the expendable one on the team.

At the end of the episode, Laurel meets Sara on a rooftop and they hug and joke about League of Assassin paid vacation days. Sara doesn’t say why she’s back, only that she doesn’t want to see Quentin, and she hints that things aren’t all rosy in the League right now. Laurel gets a summoning call from work, and Sara quotes Tommy Merlyn directly: “Laurel Lance, always trying to save the world.”

Laurel’s only gone for a minute before someone murmurs Sara’s name, and she spins around and appears to look between two people as she asks, “What are you doing here?” She doesn’t get an answer, she just gets three arrows to the stomach before she falls over backwards off the side of the building, her limp body landing hard in front of her horrified sister.

 

I can honestly say that the death of Sara Lance is the first time I’m truly questioning the writing and story direction on this show. I was ambivalent, and eventually doubtful, about Laurel’s arc in season 2, but ultimately I went along believing that the writers had a good plan for her. Even if that turned out not to be true, I still never really questioned the decisions. Some characters are just harder to write than others, and some decisions seem better at first than they do in hindsight. Sara was never one of those characters, so I’m a little upset at the timing of this in particular. Why have her survive that explosive season 2 finale only to have her die in this way?

Why did we have to kill Sara at all? Why does she have to die in order for Laurel to become the Black Canary? Why couldn’t she exist as a character who pops in occasionally to check on people? Why does it feel like this show kills more females than males? (And think about the fact that the females stay dead, but two of the males — Slade and Malcolm — have survived their “deaths.”)

I’ve made the mistake before of criticizing an episode that was ultimately part of a larger arc. Knowing that Caity Lotz is supposed to appear in multiple episodes this season would indicate that we are in for some flashbacks, possibly to explain what brought her back to Starling City and why she was targeted on that rooftop — and why the killer(s) waited until she was alone to take aim. So maybe, in context, this death will make sense, but as it stands alone, it feels like shock for shock’s sake. I’m waiting for good answers to my questions, but I’m worried that no answer will be good enough. I wanted more for Sara in her death, just like I wanted more for Shado in hers.

I think we can all agree that poor Laurel has been through a lot.

Next week: window crashing, graveside visits, some Sara flashbacks, and more of Ray Palmer’s amazingly punchable face.

Adios, Big Cheddar!

This afternoon, news broke that Yvette Nicole Brown, who portrays Shirley Bennett on Community, will not be returning for the show’s sixth season on Yahoo. This was met with much sadness; the show started with seven central characters in a study group, and that number has now dwindled to four.

While we lament the loss of a beloved character, it’s fair to say that Shirley was not always given the attention and respect she deserved from the writers. She had great potential, as a divorcee with a mind for business and strategy, to become a real powerhouse and an eventual financial booster to the college itself. While season 5 episodes revolved around Troy’s departure, Abed’s adjustments, Jeff’s growing pains, and Britta’s struggles to figure out her identity, Shirley was often relegated to side character status. She had great one-liners, the best reaction shots, and all the love in the world for her friends, but she deserved her own storyline.

We here at WWFTP are going to miss Shirley terribly, me especially. I identified strongly with her character both in backstory and in current form, and I was always most excited when it seemed a good Shirley episode was coming down the pike. There’s no way to ignore the fact that this is a great loss to the show, and we’ll miss her for all of the following twenty-five reasons, and then some.

01. I’mma die by werewolf!

 

02. This “He is Risen” apron might be my favorite thing this show has ever done.

03. Unlikely friendships could’ve been explored in season six. This one particularly intrigued me.

 

04. Her sexy voice.

 

05. She’s a baker, but that’s not her identity. She was saved from a nervous bakedown.

06. She didn’t take nonsense from anyone.

07. “I’ll make your ass linear!” “I’ll make your ass sense!” is an argument I frequently have with fellow Community fans. Thank you for that, Shirley.

 

08. These three got into some amazing hijinx in the early seasons, and a return to that would’ve been nice. At least we have our DVDs to comfort us

09. This friendship. I had even hoped for more of this in the sixth season, since it was sorely lacking in the fifth.

10. She has her morals, but she also knows how to get stuff done.

11. Her friendship with Abed was unique and touching.

12. We won’t get to see this dynamic duo of badasses again.

13. She really got the gist of Pulp Fiction and I think that’s so great

14. She’s had enough.

 

15. The birth of her third son, Benjamin, was memorable.

16. Just, this:

17. Anyone up for some virgin mudslides? (“Those are milkshakes, Shirley.”)

18. Never forget the showdown between Big Cheddar and Tinkle Town

19. For the love of God, whatever you do, do not call her “sassy.”

20. She was Britta’s biggest cheerleader, even when Britta didn’t believe in herself

21. This is just so great:

 

22. She “you go girl!”‘s herself, and that’s okay.

23. Remember when she dressed up as Not Miss Piggy and threatened a pumpkin-costumed Leonard?

24. She was so sweet to befriend that guy Gary, since everyone else at Greendale hated him. He does come from a land without sun, after all.

 

25. If you can honestly say that you won’t miss Shirley in the final season, she has one response for you:

Thank you so much to Yvette Nicole Brown for her wonderful portrayal of a complex, often flawed, but much loved character. We will miss you and we wish you all the best.

“Sometimes things are just out of your control.”

Last night, Once Upon a Time, Revenge and Brooklyn Nine-Nine came back to our TV screens, and finally, it feels like fall. Those are my Sunday night shows (until next week when Bob’s Burgers returns — should I recap that show? I only discovered it this summer but it’s practically flawless, so I’m considering it) but I don’t feel qualified to cover the first two, mostly because I don’t take them seriously enough to pay close attention. It’d be like if your grandmother was recapping Revenge for you: “And then the one with the pretty hair talked to the tall man who always wears colors, and both of them cried for some reason.” No one wants that.

I’m still not thrilled with Brooklyn’s move to Sunday nights, as they’re already chock full of other well-established shows (and football) on other channels, and I’m worried it’s misplaced in a mostly-animation lineup, but time and ratings will tell. Let’s hope for the best!

True story: I have the first season of Brooklyn loaded on my phone. I take my dog on walks and listen to that show instead of music because that’s just how I roll. I did this all summer. I never got tired of it. I’m still not tired of it. Needless to say, I had high expectations for this premiere, and I’m pleased to report that it did not disappoint. Not even a little.

 

**This post contains spoilers for episode 2.01 of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, “Undercover.”**

We open after a six-month time jump, where Jake’s still deeply undercover. He gets kissed by a bunch of old men, his hair is amazing, he’s got this affecting accent, and really, he seems to be in his element. Vice work can be wearing, and I know it’s only his first job, but Jake’s got the kind of personality that adapts really well depending on the situation, so I’ll be a little surprised if vice isn’t something he seriously considers at some point later on.

It turns out he’s orchestrated a bust on a big family wedding, and after he utters the code words (“dry meatballs”) a joint FBI-NYPD task force invades the wedding and arrests all of the criminals in attendance. Jeffords is the one who apprehends Jake and throws him into the surveillance van, and Jake, with his usual mix of genuine affection and snark, hugs Captain Holt and mutters, “I’ve missed us.” And credits!

 

Boyle is beside himself when Jake returns to the 99, and once again, Jake is adorably unrestrained when he talks about how much he missed everyone. Turns out he only missed three things in his absence: Terry chipped his tooth and had a lisp for a week, Santiago and Boyle wore the same outfit to work one day, and headphones were banned from the office due to “the Gina incident.” They’re all accompanied by flashbacks which are hilarious and make me really glad this show never abandoned the flashback format. Jake recaps his absence in twelve seconds, sans flashback: “Fixed a boxing match, smoked a whole cigar without vomiting, was once in a room with ten guys named Sal, and missed you all so very much!”

But things are tense at the precinct for a number of reasons, and Jake addresses one of them head on when he asks Amy for a private word. He fakes her out at first: “I have to ask, did you arrest a perp named Joe Uterus?” It breaks the tension wonderfully as Amy fills him in on Joe Uterus, but then Jake gets down to business and brings up the thing he said to her at the end of last season, about liking her. She quickly tells him she’s still with Teddy, “romantic stylez,” and Jake immediately retreats and covers his ass juvenile-stylez by saying that he didn’t mean any of it, he was just nervous about going undercover. It seems to break Amy’s heart a little bit, but she also seems to know he’s lying. There’s no way she didn’t spend those entire six months thinking about that night.

 

Meanwhile, the other source of tension at the precinct comes directly from Holt, who is putting his detectives through constant drills. This consists of making Terry wear a dry-erase board around his neck describing a citizen in need of assistance. The examples are hilarious.

 

“Unattended backpack” was my personal favorite because it was just Terry sitting there all curled up, defiantly hissing “tick tick tick!” at the squad. Sometimes I think they misuse his potential for physical humor, choosing to have him Hulk-out and destroy Lego buildings or princess castles, when he’s actually really funny in this context. This humongous guy is curled up next to a trash can at the back of a room, that’s hilarious to me.

These drills have already passed Rosa’s admittedly small threshold of patience, and after Amy successfully solves the case of the Confused Old Woman only to be immediately presented with a 7-year-old boy, she snaps as well. They ask the captain why he keeps running these drills — even Terry doesn’t know why — and Holt gives them the ol’ because-I-said-so.

Rosa and Amy try to comfort the 7-year-old, but Rosa tells Sarge to drop the act when Holt’s not around.

Terry: “You can drop your butt!”
Rosa: “YOU CAN DROP YOUR BUTT!”

Terry wrecks the Lego stables they were building, and Rosa decides to get him a bouncy castle as a giant middle finger to Holt, who is practically snarling when he finds them and deflates the bouncy castle.

Holt demands an apology, but Terry defends his actions, saying the squad is stressed out because they don’t know why they’re doing the drills. It turns out there’s going to be a new NYPD commissioner, which means they’ll be under a microscope. He’s not getting any information from his superiors, and it’s had Holt very stressed out, to the point that his husband hasn’t seen him smile in weeks. Terry points out that his squad feels the same way he does since they don’t know what’s going on, either.

 

The last source of tension is the secret between Gina and Boyle, the one I constantly forget: they slept together at the end of last season. Boyle’s not exactly a vault of secrets — remember last season when he gave away Babylon to Scully and Hitchcock after only a minute of questioning? — but he doesn’t want to tell this one because, “I don’t want to be known as the office slut!” But he admits that he tells Jake everything, so really, it’s just a matter of time. This prompts Gina to go ahead and accept her new social status; she sits with Scully and Hitchcock at lunch, and she dons a naked molerat sweater (“God’s disgusting mistake!”) because that is her spirit animal now.

Unfortunately, Jake finds out that one of the mafiosos, Freddy, got away during the sting, and Freddy’s one of the worst guys: “Extortion, terrible breath, murder! … I put ‘terrible breath’ too high on that list.” He impulsively decides to go back undercover (see? Cut out for vice work) to try to smoke Freddy out, but Holt doesn’t think they’ll trust Jake. But Jake disagrees. “Me and those guys went through some pretty intense stuff.” Cut to Jake and three other guys singing, yep, Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” at karaoke. “Once you Joel together, you’re bonded for life.”

Both Holt and the FBI agent advise Jake to let this go, and Holt adds, “Sometimes things are just out of your control.” But Jake can’t handle that, because he’s on a bit of a spiral. He spent six months working on this case, and in the meantime, deep down, he probably thought Amy was waiting for him. Coming back and seeing that she’s still with Teddy and that Jake spent those six months lonely and missing her (and everyone else), it makes him feel like he’s losing control. He glances back at Amy, then tells Holt, “Not good enough.” He latches onto the one thing he thinks he can control: detaining Freddy Bad Breath.

He enlists Boyle’s help with going back undercover, but Boyle has important questions first: “When you were undercover, did you have a mafia best friend?” Jake says he did a bunch of jobs with a guy named Derek, but his detached tone is lost on Boyle, who can’t hide his jealousy. They plan a ruse to find out where Freddy’s hiding, and it involves Boyle punching Jake in the face, which Boyle is hesitant to do. Jake tells him to just imagine he’s someone Boyle hates, and Boyle growls, “Derek!” and it’s one of the cuter friendship moments they’ve ever had.

Jake successfully gets an address for where Freddy might be hanging out, but Boyle freaks out and punches him and knees him in the balls. He ends up at one of Freddy’s girlfriend’s apartments, played by Jenny Slate, who holds Jake at gunpoint. Boyle busts in like a badass and defuses the situation, and after some questioning, Bianca tells them that Freddy’s heading to catch a flight to Barbados. Jake gets to the airport an hour too late; Freddy’s gone.

He’s dejected, and there’s something about a maggot drawer that seriously grossed me out, and Boyle tries to pep him up by saying “You did everything you could. Sometimes there’s stuff you just can’t control.” Jake likes this new forthright version of Boyle, who insists that Jake should be proud, and that they should go get a drink, “Because there’s a surprise party, and it’s my job to get you to the bar!” Whoops.

At the bar, Jake demands Holt give him a speech, and it’s a sweet thing:

“Your six month absence was noted. Drinks are on me. There’s a two drink maximum per person. It is non-transferable. Your guests will pay their own tab. Valet parking is not included. Tomorrow’s briefing will be fifteen minutes earlier than usual. And I’m very proud of you, Peralta. We missed you.”

Aww. That was so emotional. (I’m imagining that same speech delivered by Craig from Parks and Rec and now I can’t stop laughing.)

Jake brings Amy a drink that is champagne, 30-year-old scotch, top shelf tequila, and olive juice. “Captain set a two-drink max, but he did not set a price limit. Smart!” It’s gross. It sounds gross and it is gross.

 

Heartened by Boyle’s boldness and sage advice that some things are out of his control, Jake confesses that he lied earlier about his feelings. He meant every word he said that night. It gets Amy upset, because what does he expect her to say to that? And he says, “I don’t wanna hold anything back.” Amy accepts this gracefully, so long as they’re clear that “I’m with someone and nothing’s going to happen.” Jake waits a beat, then says, “I’m with someone, nothing’s going to happen, name of your sex tape.”

This sets up an interesting dynamic of having Jake’s feelings out there and Amy’s still repressed. I’m curious how they’re going to play this one out. Ideally, they’ll just fall back into their normal rhythm for a while, and we’ll get glimpses of Jake’s longing looks, but he won’t be pushy or tease Amy about Teddy. I so want this show to get this right, because they seemed to learn from their Boyle/Diaz near-debacle and backed off of that, so they seem to have their finger on the pulse.

Speaking of Boyle, he tells Gina that he didn’t spill their secret to Jake because he didn’t want to hurt her feelings, “because I’m terrified of you and what you’ll do to me!” She’s touched by that, and they clink glasses and say, “Sounds like our nightmare is finally over.”

Cut to them waking up in bed together again. Wacky! And a good change of pace for both characters.

War is Purgatory

Warning: This post includes spoilers from Fox’s Sleepy Hollow Episode 2.01, This is War

We can all rejoice because Sleepy Hollow is finally back.

One of my favorite things about Sleepy Hollow is how capable it can switch up the pairings. Yes, Abbie Mills and Ichabod Crane are the main pairing, but seeing Ichabod teaming up with Jenny Mills this week was enjoyable.

Abbie and Ichabod do have a strong partnership, but it is amazing to see how strong Jenny’s and Ichabod’s relationship seems to be. They trust one another, and I love how they are able to rely on each other. While Jenny wants to go with Ichabod into Purgatory to save Abbie she knows Ichabod is right when he tells her she needs to stay and accepts it. Another pleasing aspect was him being miffed she wasn’t at his birthday party that never really happened, and then she later jokes about it with him and Abbie. One reason why Ichabod and Jenny work is because I firmly believe Ichabod has chemistry with everyone.

Another highlight of the episode was seeing John Cho again, especially without the weird neck. Now Cho is starring on Selfie (which I highly recommend), I fear there will be very little appearances of his character.

Finally, John Noble is still one of the best parts of the series. He already proved he was an extremely talented actor by playing multiple Walter Bishops on Fringe, and he continues to bring his A-game with this series. It is great to see an actual human being playing someone so wicked on this show. Sure the Horseman of Death got a head at one point during this episode, but John Noble’s facial expressions is one of the reasons why he is such a great actor.

Overall it was great episode, but as the beginning went on it left me anxious with finding out what was really happening in their real universe. I was starting to get antsy, after the first ten minutes had went by and the finale hadn’t been really addressed. If I wasn’t wanting answers from the show, I would have enjoyed the first part better.

The only other thing that really threw me off was how fit the Horseman of Death appeared shirtless. I wasn’t expecting it, but I guess he has to do something during the day when he can’t go out.

Saturday’s Highlights of Comic Con

WARNING: This post does contain spoilers for upcoming TV seasons and movies. 

 

One of the most beautiful things about SDCC is that it is so big. It is so big that I generally spend a month watching panels and interviews, but I still will not have watched everything it had to offer. So here’s a few of the best parts that happened Saturday.

 

The Walking Dead panel at Nerd HQ:

 

As much as I love the actual panels at Comic Con, I generally love the panels at Nerd HQ more. It is in a more relaxed setting, and the actors and fans have a great time. Of course Nerd HQ wouldn’t even exist without Comic Con so I am grateful for both.

 

Once Upon a Time Panel:

 

While I am leery about parts of the show, I still love the majority of the actors. It is always great to see them, and Yvette Nicole Brown hosted the panel. I love that she is a huge lover of the show, and she has such a big heart.

 

The Marvel movie panel:

I will say the announcement of Evangeline Lilly made the Ant Man movie more exciting for me.

 

 

We know you for more than the Hulk here.

 

https://twitter.com/adambvary/status/4932046720358154

I think we would all pay money to see this.

 

 

And just when I think there will not be anymore characters appearing in Ultron, they announce another player. This movie is going to be packed with characters we love or will love soon enough.

 

WB DC TV Panel:

This was kind of amazing. To see all the major character of four different shows on stage. I don’t think I have ever seen that many people on the stage. What made it even more golden was Stephen Amell hosting the panel. DC knows how to do their TV.

 

 

 

 

The Women’s Panel at Nerd HQ:

 

 

All these ladies are amazing and I love them.