“In the event I failed, it would not be right in front of you.”

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**This post contains spoilers for episode 3.01 of Elementary, “Enough Nemesis to Go Around.”**

Happy Halloween!

Elementary returned for season 3 last night, and let me tell you, I had no idea how much I missed this show until it was on my TV screen. Even if things aren’t hunky dory in Holmesland, at least we have reliable and creative storytelling to get us through the rift between Sherlock and Joan.

The case was technically pulled from Holmes canon, and it’s one that BBC’s Sherlock also covered: The Adventure of the Sealed Room. It’s not from the Arthur Conan Doyle stories, but it was written based on a comment Watson made in a previous ACD story. Whether it’s part of the “official” canon or not, the premise is something inherently Holmesian in nature. The BBC version referred to it as “the invisible man” in the episode “The Sign of Three” (and that particular case starred one Alfred Enoch, who is now kicking it opposite Elementary on ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder) while our Americanized CBS Sherlock refers to the case as a “locked room” mystery. A person or people, seemingly alone, are murdered by an invisible suspect.

This one is solved more elegantly, I think, than the one on Sherlock, because I’m more willing to believe that an electromagnet was stolen from Rutgers to ricochet bullets around an elevator than I am to believe that soldiers were unknowingly stabbing themselves with their belts. It stumped Joan and Bell for two solid months before Sherlock came back to propose his wacky theory, but hey, remember that case with the ears on someone’s back last season? That’s way wackier.

The bigger takeaway is that Joan was an intended target on the elevator. Crime scene investigators assumed one of the bullets had missed its target, but in reality, it was meant to kill Joan. She chose to stay behind and go to the courthouse with Marcus (thank goodness for Marcus!) leaving the client alone on the elevator with the bodyguard.

And why was Joan a target? Why, it’s because she made good use of her time away from Sherlock to get herself her very own nemesis! And not just any nemesis — she got Gina freaking Gershon. If you ever thought “Wow, how will they ever top Natalie Dormer as a frightening and powerful nemesis?” well you never considered Gina Gershon. She killed it in her role as Elana March. I mean that literally — she killed a bunch of people, off-screen of course, and she also has an amazing house with stables and an awesome wardrobe. Basically, this show is really making me consider becoming a kickass Lady Villain.

Elana is arrested and taken into custody at the end of the episode, but I have a feeling we’re going to see more of her throughout this season. Joan gets her moment of triumph, and that’s all that matters.

 

Sherlock returns to New York just before the second commercial break, sporting a creepy 1920’s “isolation helmet” as he sits in the dark on the garden level of his unpowered brownstone. He tries multiple times to apologize to Joan, but Joan’s not having any of it — she’s clearly hurt and is striving to move forward, but Sherlock is and always will be an anchor who will either keep her in one place or drag her down. It’s just his nature.

He later tells Gregson (whose entire dialogue in this episode is just sassy one-liners, have I mentioned how much I missed this show?) that he was fired from MI-6 and that he intends to come back and work for the NYPD. Gregson awesomely says he can come back only if it’s okay with Joan, and Sherlock looks properly apprehensive about that.

The problem is, he didn’t come back alone. He brought along his new protegee, an upstart young woman by the name of Kitty Winter. If you recognize the name, it’s because she’s from canon too! The Illustrious Client. Kitty is clearly jealous of Joan, calling her “the original model” and treating her with half-hearted scorn, but really, she’s mostly intimidated by Joan. She has a bit of baggage herself, as evidenced in her closing conversation with Joan when she reveals that she’s “moving toward something” as well.

 

Joan pretends not to be fazed by Kitty, but I have to think it hurts a little bit when Sherlock goes on and on about basically replacing her with a new person. A lot of the dynamic from the first two seasons was this balance of power because while Sherlock was this brilliant but impossible man, the only person in the world that he held in esteem was Joan Watson. He even held her above Moriarty. Now that Joan is being told that she’s pretty much replaceable, Sherlock probably doesn’t realize the imbalance he’s creating there, or the fact that he’s inadvertently creating antagonism between Kitty and Joan.

As for me, the viewer, I was apprehensive about this Kitty storyline, and while I’m still not sold on it, I think it has potential. The heart of the show (and the canon) will always be Sherlock and Watson, so really, Kitty is destined to be temporary as a protegee or partner. It’d be fascinating to see her go on an apprentice-turned-nemesis arc, especially if we get to see it all play out up close with Sherlock not reading the signs, but I doubt this show will go that way. I guess it really depends on Kitty’s backstory and what she’s running from… or what she’s running toward.

If it means a few more episodes of Bell and Joan being a dynamic duo, I’ll take it. It warms my cold, dead heart-space to think of them working in tandem for eight whole months!

Other notes:

– Lucy Liu was amazing in this scene:

 

– Joan has a boyfriend now! He has a bearded dragon, and his garlic-loving brother lives on Joan’s floor. I’m hoping there’s a vampire story in there somewhere.

– Joan has taken ownership of Clyde, and so far, it doesn’t look like he’s involved in any dioramas. He looks happy, though.

– Her new apartment looks nice, but I have always been partial to the dilapidated brownstone, myself. Sherlock brought her wire hangers as a housewarming gift, because “There’s little open at this hour.”

– Sherlock was tight-lipped about why his work with MI-6 ended, but he did admit to Watson that he came back to New York because he feels he belongs there.

Next week: Double the detectives! Double the fun! Or double the dead bodies.

“You have made an enemy tonight. One with a long memory.”

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**This post contains spoilers for episode 3.04 of Arrow, “The Magician.”**

Game 7 of the World Series was on last night, but did we care? Nooooooo, because Nyssa al Ghul, daughter of R’as, Heir to the Demon was holding Oliver at arrowpoint and demanding to see Sara Lance, daughter of Quentin, Heir to the Plot Device. (If you’re wondering if I’ll ever get over the death of Sara Lance, I will not.)

It was worth tuning in, though, because while we had an unpleasant dearth of Felicity Smoak (who was busy in Central City, overdressing for trivia night and kissing cute guys on trains) it was made up in spades by the hissing, growling, menacing presence of Nyssa. I’d even venture to say that this episode finally felt like the Arrow of old, even if there were still some fundamental problems with the continuing story arc.

As I’ve ranted and raged in previous reviews, I think this show really messed up by killing Sara when and how they did. We were then promised more of Caity Lotz (presumably in backstory, because we’ve already done the ghost/hallucination thing) and an exploration of why Sara was even in Starling in the first place, yet we were then treated to two subsequent episodes that just had our characters scattering in different directions. I’m happy for Diggle and his baby, and I’m happy to have Thea back and better than ever, but this episode more than any should’ve progressed that crucial Sara plot forward. The presence of Nyssa all but indicated that. Unfortunately, this episode made very little headway in the case of Who Killed Sara Lance. The writers took out the mystery surrounding Malcolm by showing him spending the summer training Thea all the way in Corto Maltese, so logically, the viewers knew that he was very low on the suspect list. We were able to draw the inevitable conclusion: Malcolm Merlyn didn’t kill Sara. Back to square one. (Spoiler: next week is a Felicity episode, so that brings the total up to four episodes since we saw Sara fall from that rooftop.)

Meanwhile, we have our three major players running around trying to scream the loudest about solving this mystery. There’s Laurel, who is making everything about herself — which is fine, it’s based in grief and that plays realistically, but that doesn’t make it any less grating to watch than her spiral into addiction last season. Laurel spends the episode crying, hounding Oliver about killing Malcolm no matter what, and struggling to prove to Nyssa how tough she is. Nyssa, rightly, sneers that Laurel is unfit to wear Sara’s jacket. She senses the fire in Laurel but not the strength, not yet, and she knows what that jacket symbolizes; she knows why Laurel is wearing it. It’s not that Laurel will never be worthy, it’s that she’s not ready yet. And Laurel, as usual, is desperate to prove that she is ready.

 

Nyssa is out for blood, because she’s been an assassin her entire life, she doesn’t know anything besides vengeance. She wants to punish Malcolm because he might be lying, and she’s not interested in giving him a chance. She’s forced to hear some harsh truths about her father, R’as, but she’s not necessarily ready to hear them yet. It’s clear from every word and every expression that she loved Sara deeply, but she is decidely single-minded when it comes to honoring her love.

Oddly, it’s Oliver who is trying to make all of his decisions based on what Sara would want. He’s patently wrong most of the time, though. He invokes the “what would Sara want?” argument every time Laurel talks about him killing Malcolm, and isn’t that the exact conversation he and Sara had last season when Roy was whacked out on Mirakuru? Sara was a trained assassin, and even if she started on a heroic identity arc shortly after that, she still ended last season by rejoining the League of Assassins, making the choice to basically be a contract killer.

Oliver could argue that Sara wouldn’t want him to kill in her name, and maybe he’d be right about that, but that’s never actually what he said. Still, he’s the only one not acting out of a selfish grief-based place. Felicity accused him of not having feelings two weeks ago, and he argued back that he doesn’t have the “luxury” to grieve, but the upside is that he’s working really hard to make rational, fact-based decisions in his quest to find Sara’s killer, and in his own way, he’s actually honoring her more fully than her girlfriend or her sister can.

Don’t get me wrong: there’s no right way to grieve. Laurel and Nyssa’s reactions are just as understandable as Oliver’s is. But it’s nice to see Oliver’s perceived aloofness actually being played positively rather than brooding-ly. So that’s something!

I also want to point out that I think the writers made a huge tactical error by having Laurel and Nyssa bouncing off each other so often this early into the Laurel-becoming-the-Canary arc. Nyssa is a steamroller in a scene, most of that is Katrina Law but a good portion of it is the nature of the character. She radiates danger, rage, and power. People like Sara, Oliver, and Diggle, they match Nyssa in skill and strategy. Felicity matched her in heart and wit (and admittedly, Felicity and Nyssa only shared a small scene, which I think was also strategic). Then there are people like Roy and Thea, who are still learning to be lethal and powerful. They both knew when to stand down: Roy, at the beginning of the episode, when he stood silently and let Oliver stand between himself and Nyssa; and Thea later on, when Nyssa came for her and tranquilized Roy in the process.

Finally, there’s Laurel. She should be in the same category as Thea and Roy, though she’s considerably less trained and powerful than either of them at this point. But she’s Laurel, and she doesn’t know when to stand down. She challenges Nyssa (and Oliver) at every turn, but her challenges are almost comically feeble compared to the power and strength that Nyssa exhibits. Toward the end of the episode, when Nyssa and Oliver have an argument (Nyssa even hits him, and Diggle really Diggles that scene by placing his hand on his sidearm) over his decision to put Malcolm under his protection, both of them emanate lethal power as they face off and deliver guttural ultimatums about archnemesis and long memories.

Then Oliver turns to Laurel who just doesn’t command the same power, yet. And all she has for him is questions, always questions, always distrusting his motives and decisions, which is another reason she appears less powerful. After the commanding presence of Nyssa, who is walking away, Laurel seems more diminished than ever.

I’m not saying this to continually trash Laurel (or Katie), I’m simply pointing out that the disparity between Sara as the Canary and Laurel as the Canary is more glaring than ever when you bring Nyssa into a scene. If they wanted to make progress on this transition arc for Laurel, they really shot themselves in the foot in this episode. She got beat up by a man last week, and she still seemed closer to the Canary at the end of that episode than she seems at the end of this one. Even Laurel’s growing anger and desperation for justice and her boxing isn’t making up for the fact that she’s not progressing in other areas.

Malcolm Merlyn (who is the titular “Magician,” by the way, and also the subject of my favorite tweet from last night) has taken over a Buddhist monk’s house and has an office in one of the downtown buildings, yet no one seems to know he’s back until Oliver and his team run around telling everyone. Malcolm insists he didn’t kill Sara, and Oliver believes him solely because Malcolm claims he only came back to protect Thea, his daughter. Never mind that he was a terrible father to Tommy, and that Oliver has no way of knowing that Malcolm deeply regrets Tommy’s death. Still, Malcolm’s telling the truth (I think — it’d be the lamest of lame reveals if it turned out Malcolm did kill Sara) and Oliver spares the life of his sister’s father, simultaneously honoring his vow not to kill. I’m pretty sure this also puts Malcolm in Oliver’s debt, since Oliver won that particular three-way fight.

Thea has absolutely no reaction to being kidnapped, dangled from a ceiling, threatened about her “devil” father, and then released and caught by her incognito brother. She is so unaffected that Roy, at least, should be suspicious, but we don’t employ him at Team Arrow for his brains, we employ him for his knowledge of criminal activity in the city. Thea is grateful to her father for protecting her (even though he’s not the one who saved her?) and she plays her emotions very close to the vest, which is an interesting juxtaposition to Laurel. As unhappy as I am with the Canary arc, this Thea arc is every bit as great as my wildest dreams.

 

The only qualm I have with the storyline is that Malcolm still hasn’t told Thea about the Arrow’s true identity. This is either because it’s a card he still needs, since it’s not necessary right now for him to break Thea’s trust in her brother, or because he actually wants to protect her just like Oliver does. I’m not willing to buy Malcolm as the doting and over-protective father a la Quentin Lance, but I’ll keep an open mind.

Speaking of Papa Lance, he still doesn’t know about Sara’s fate, but he’s starting to get suspicious. He leaves her a message at the end of the episode, and it’s every bit as heartbreaking as you’d expect.

In the flashbacks, Oliver kills a man, complains about killing a man, bribes a kid off a laptop, and then demands to see Amanda Waller. He’s figured out that Fyers (remember Fyers? Remember when he was the worst thing about Lian Yu? Oh, simpler times!) was working for Waller when he was trying to shoot down that plane. Waller admits that she wanted to down that plane, but not to topple the Chinese economy, that’s total nonsense! No, she wanted to kill one person. One woman, actually: China White. That’s right — Oliver saved the very woman who has repeatedly terrorized his city, who has tried to kill him on three different occasions. Whoops!

Finally, we get our first look at R’as al Ghul, Father of Nyssa, Demon. And, you know, he’s none too happy with Oliver Queen, Son of Robert, Heir to An Empty Bank Account.

Next week: FELICITY WEEK! She created some kind of program that she doesn’t have the power to stop, and whoever is running it has brought the city to its cyber knees! I assume we aren’t even ready for the heaps of Felicity backstory we’re finally going to get. (And how amazing was she on The Flash? I forgot how great she and Barry were together!)

“If we’re not together, then we’re not even really alive.”

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**This post contains spoilers for episode 3.03 of Arrow, “Corto Maltese.”**

Arrow still hasn’t gotten its groove back.

 

It had its moments, like the scene depicted above. And overall, this episode was a lot better than “Sara,” mostly because the direction and editing were a lot tighter, but there was still something off about the entire thing… Mostly from a character standpoint.

We need to talk about John Diggle.

He’s a new father, a loving boyfriend (though he’s self-proclaimed as a “baby daddy”) and a loyal friend. He’s not just a soldier, he’s special forces trained. We watched an entire episode of his backstory where he fought in Afghanistan, not to mention that time he went undercover into a Russian prison to save Lyla. He joined Oliver’s cause not because he felt obligated to clean up the city (though that definitely played a role in it) but because he felt like Oliver needed help staying human. He recognized the PTSD in Oliver and he saw enough good in this young man to think he was worth helping. “[War] scrapes off little pieces of your soul, and you need someone to remind you who you are,” he told Oliver in 1.04. In 1.04! We are talking about a character who was pretty fleshed out by the fourth episode, and no matter how much backstory we’ve gotten on Digg since then — Lyla, his brother’s death, his failed relationship with Carly, his complicated bromance with Floyd Lawton — the Diggle we know now has not wavered from the one who shook Oliver’s hand in that early episode.

He’s sharp, intuitive, and perceptive. He not only recognized the love between Oliver and Felicity, he was also unabashed when he told Oliver about it. He senses Oliver’s mood shifts and even his thoughts just based on minimal information and Oliver’s body language. On top of that, he is content to fade into the backgrounds of scenes, to be seen and not heard, which we saw a lot when he was a bodyguard, and that was because he was always watching and making notes. John Diggle is a force to be reckoned with, both mentally and physically.

So tell me why I had to watch John Diggle get bested on both counts — mentally and physically — by a single and rather unimpressive rogue ARGUS agent.

You can leave a comment telling me that I’m nitpicking, and I’ll nod my head at my computer screen and agree with you. I am nitpicking, but that’s because this show used to hold up to nitpicking. This is the same show that had Moira freaking Queen, a highly complex and polarizing character, who was so tightly written and acted that even her ultimate sacrifice was organic and made sense to the character. This show used to do a credible job of building this stuff up. Slade is the perfect example: it took an entire season, but we went from a proud and trusting Slade at the end of season 1 to a vengeful and single-minded Slade at the end of season 2. That took work, dedication, great storytelling, and attention to detail. There were no shortcuts.

Unfortunately, Sara’s death is still functioning as a shortcut, and it’s spreading to the rest of the show. Am I really supposed to believe that all of Diggle’s training, all of his intuition, just left his body when he got to Corto Maltese? He didn’t sense a trap until he was standing in it? He couldn’t overcome a sloppy little guy who had already shown his hand? He couldn’t dodge a stun gun?

Then there’s Oliver, crouching absurdly behind an oil drum, basically in plain sight of God and everyone, and his response when Diggle’s in trouble is to… Stand up? And scream Diggle’s name? And then kind of… chase after the car? Was I still watching Arrow, or did I watch some B-roll from Oliver and Diggle’s super-secret and ultimately scrapped guest spot on Gotham?

The problem is that Diggle is the rock of this show, he’s the one thing that is never going to change unless he dies. He’s not going to go through a midlife crisis, he’s not going to become Slade 2.0 and come after Oliver, he’s not going to leave the team and go work for Ray Palmer or Malcolm Merlyn. He’s always going to be Diggle because his qualities are based in loyalty and steadiness. So when the show doesn’t get these fundamental things about the most stable character correct, it suddenly leaves a lot of room for other characters to be written poorly.

So now the fact that Felicity’s not really engaging with the team feels like it might be out of character. Laurel’s rampage — the fire in her belly, the compulsion that drives her to get beat within an inch of her life in an alley — that almost feels over the top. Oliver’s decision to tell Thea everything feels a bit hasty and unlike him. We wouldn’t be having all of these doubts if they’d gotten Diggle right in the first place. If they hadn’t killed off Sara. If they hadn’t sacrificed characterization for the shock value.

And yes, it feels strange that Felicity spent the episode hanging out at Queen Consolidated. It’s nice that she has that huge office, it’s nice that the probably-dastardly Ray Palmer didn’t make her his executive assistant, and that he seemed to graciously give her a week off to go guest star on The Flash, but I’m still not really buying the chemistry that everyone seems to think they have. I think it’s because we’ve already spent a half-season watching Felicity suss out the secrets of a handsome brooding man, so it’s weird that her radar isn’t really going off with Ray. This goes back to characterization, and there’s only so long that you can chalk it up to her grief over Sara.

She did share a cute little scene with Laurel, who called her and rather bossily asked Felicity to find someone by “Googling his phone or something,” which is adorable even before Felicity corrects her. Felicity also questions whether they’re friends, which is a bit of lampshading, but it works for these two because I think their relationship will take a long time to develop.

Laurel’s storyline can be summed up in one photo:

Yeah. That’s right. That’s Bruce Wayne from Gotham, and he and Laurel are on similar arcs of making some really bad choices. Bruce, luckily, has an overbearing and slightly murder-y butler looking out for him. Laurel just has her dad, a police captain who is tired of finding his daughters battered and nearly unconscious in the hospital. She swears to Papa Lance that she won’t do this ever again, but she runs to Oliver at the end of the episode and begs him to train her. He invokes her father and Sara as reasons not to help her down this path, and besides, he has enough stuff going on.

The greatest thing about Laurel’s storyline is the fact that she met Ted Grant, a boxing instructor? an MMA fighter? a generic Fighter? who offers to train her at the beginning of the episode (after she erroneously accuses him of perjury, you’re hilarious, Laurel!) and basically has her on her heels as he refuses to back down from her. I like the dynamic and I’m looking forward to more of it, which is good, because she returns after Ollie’s rejection and tells Ted that she’s ready to fight.

 

We get it, Laurel. You want to be the Canary. WE KNOW.

While we’re talking about kickass ladies, Thea kicked ass all over the place, delivering some great scenes with both Roy and Oliver, separately. The flashbacks also showed her early training with Malcolm, who seems to genuinely love her just before he switches off his emotions and proceeds to beat her up. It’s hard to watch, but Thea’s crucible still makes more sense than Laurel’s at this point (and I can’t stress this point enough: it’s not Laurel’s fault.)

 

Ultimately, after a relatively small confession from Oliver and a lot of soul searching, Thea decides to return to Starling City with Oliver, Roy, and that bodyguard guy who’s always hanging around, what’s his name again? It’s just funny that Thea doesn’t question Diggle’s continued presence now that the Queens are too broke to afford bodyguards. They all question Thea’s non-reaction when she gets scalding coffee spilled on her hand, though.

I don’t know where Thea goes to live; presumably she’ll get a hotel for now, but I did laugh at the idea of her living at Verdant with Oliver. The episode ends with Oliver asking Roy if Thea seemed different (“Her hair is shorter.”) but they’re interrupted by Nyssa al Ghul, son of Ra’s, Heir to the Demon, and Super Angry Girlfriend of one Sara Lance. Who is dead. In case you forgot.

And she’s demanding to know where Sara is. So that should be fun, yeah?

Next week: Nyssa seems to blame Malcolm for Sara’s death, Oliver grapples with his vow not to kill, and maybe some fun Felicity! Who knows! Just badass women all over the place, scaring the crap out of Oliver and Diggle!

“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.”

arrow301

**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.