The Hopes and Dreams for 2015

Merry Christmas! I hope whoever reads this list is having a Holly Jolly Christmas because I do believe it is one of the best times of the year. Here is my wish list for TV next year. Yes, I know some will not come true, but a girl can dream can’t she?

Arrow – We get a hint or find out who Felicity’s father is. We know Felicity’s father left them when she was a young girl, but there is so much story potential with her character with adding who the missing father is. Basically I need more of Felicity’s story or more storyline for her that doesn’t involve Palmer.

 

More crossovers between The Flash and Arrow. The crossover made a great two hour event with characters from both shows intermingling. Felicity Smoak and Caitlin Snow are great when in scenes together. I want more female friendships on this show because they are both sorely lacking when it comes to highlighting that aspect. Also, it would be great for Quentin Lance and Joe West to finally meet and tell each other their woes with dealing with Arrow and The Flash.

 

My final Arrow wish is they bring back Tommy Merlyn and Sara Lance. If they can bring back Malcolm (and they are definitely bringing back Oliver), they should bring back these two. Especially Sara who only was killed for a plot device. How many characters who have so much potential will still be killed as plot devices?

 

 

No more deaths in mid-season finales or season finales. Yes, I know deaths are necessary on shows, but it is starting to get a little predictable with who will die and when they will die on the show. Kill a person on a random episode. Let it be less predictable. (Yes, I know I’m delusional for wishing this, and it will never happen.)

 

For Selfie to be resurrected. The world is better with Henry and Eliza. I am better with Henry and Eliza.

 

 

Both Galavant and Agent Carter are successes. Once Upon a Time is a royal mess, it might have been better if it made fun of itself a little more. This is why I hope Galavant is what Once Upon a Time is not.

 

 

As for Agent Carter I want this show to be amazingly successful because they are focusing on a female as the main lead. If this is successful, it can branch out for more females in the Marvel universe to be highlighted. I still desperately need a Black Widow movie.

 

Community has a great season six. It is sad to see only four members remain of the Greendale Seven. However, I am interested in seeing how Paget Brewster and Keith David will interact with the group. I am especially interested in seeing the episode with Britta’s parents. I have my fingers crossed for at least one Clue reference.

 

Someone gets Emily Kinney back onto the small screen or big screen soon. She is a delight, and it was sad to see her character become a plot device on The Walking Dead.

 

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Jemma Simmons and Leo Fitz start getting some field training. I really wish Bobbi will train Jemma because I think that could be a beautiful friendship. I also think Jemma is very likely an unsuspecting deadly force to be reckoned with.

 

Finally, The 100 gets renewed. This wish is for my friends who love the show.

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“I wish that sounded more convincing.”

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**This post contains spoilers for 3.09 of Arrow, “The Climb.”**

It won’t surprise you to learn that I did not like the mid-season finale of Arrow. The following post is depressingly negative. It’s rather unlike me, that’s how upset I am about the whole thing. I even debated just not posting and maintaining an austere silence, but I’ve been so disciplined about posting every week for each new episode that I felt like I owed you some closure.

This is difficult for me, because for over a year now, this show has been my bread and butter. Thanks to hours and hours (and hours) of scrubbing through footage to make videos, I know the canon and characterization of this show like the back of my hand. I want this show to be great, I want it to be as great as it was in season 2. I didn’t need it to get any better, I just wanted it to stay the same.

I can’t abide the ‘Death of Sara Lance’ story arc anymore. It was bad enough when we just knew she died. The promise of a compelling mystery surrounding it softened the blow a bit. I remember all of the speculation, all of the possibilities, ranging from Ra’s al Ghul himself to Slade Wilson breaking out of prison to exact his revenge. Then we had that episode where Roy had memories of killing Sara, which was hard to endure, because having Sara die thanks to a Mirakuru withdrawal felt cheap and hollow; it made her death meaningless to us, and to her. Thankfully that plot point was solved in one episode, and Roy realized he was hallucinating and conflating two separate events. We breathed a sigh of relief.

So imagine my horror on Wednesday night, as I sat sans red wine (I regret not having red wine) and watched as the most ridiculous, artless, meaningless plot unwound around Sara’s death. It turns out Thea killed Sara, something I’d actually heard before the episode aired, but I’d written off as so absurd and bad that it couldn’t possibly be true. But it was true, and that’s not even the worst part. Thea definitely did it — the DNA didn’t convince Oliver, but the video evidence sure did — but she has no memory of it. Why? Because there’s this magical herb that we’re only just now hearing about that makes a person highly suggestive with no memory later of their actions. Convenient, eh?

So yes, Thea killed Sara. And she did it with no knowledge of it. Almost like… she wasn’t a human person. Like she was a puppet on strings. Like she was nothing more than an object. Like Malcolm Merlyn was sacrificing his pawn to kill the queen. He used his daughter, who was looking to empower herself, and effectively erased all of her agency and most of her identity from this season. He did it for dumb reasons that I don’t even want to get into, because it’s so contrived and stupid and not worth the death of one female and the emotional and mental manipulation of another, but I have to because I want you to have full context of my rage.

See, he had Thea kill Sara because he knew the League of Assassins wouldn’t forgive the death of one of their own. He had Thea do it because he knew Oliver would do anything to protect her. And for some reason which he never divulges, he thinks Oliver, the skilled archer, would be effective in a swordfighting duel atop a snowy mountain. Malcolm thought it was perfect, like killing six birds with one stone, and once Ra’s was dead, Malcolm’s blood debt (the Undertaking, Thea’s murder of Sara) would be erased.

I’m not totally sure how succession works in the League, but I’m fairly confident that Nyssa, new leader or not, would never forgive Malcolm for killing Sara. So there’s the rather obvious flaw in that plan. Other flaws? How about Oliver taking the gamble of Ra’s being forgiving and ratting out Malcolm? How about Oliver actually telling Thea what she did and Thea deciding to duel Ra’s herself? (After all, while she didn’t make the choice to kill Sara, she did choose to go train with Malcolm, a man who unapologetically killed over 500 people.) This contrived and terrible plan of Malcolm’s had a lot of moving parts, and the one thing that could’ve brought it all tumbling down was Thea realizing her role in all of this.

Instead, what’s happened is yet another powerful white male has robbed Thea of her agency. Sure, it’s under the well-intentioned guise of protecting her, but Oliver never gives Thea the opportunity to make her own choice and deal with her own consequences. He hugs her and leaves to die in her place, never mind the fact that she has to live with that now, never mind that he’s leaving her in the disgusting hands of her father who just took a calculated risk with her life. You want to protect her, Ollie? How about you actually empower her and GIVE HER ALL OF THE INFORMATION? At least then, she wouldn’t trust Malcolm anymore.

What happened between the season 2 finale, when a female brought down the most powerful supervillain on this show with a single syringe stab, and the season 3 premiere, where a strong female heroine was mindlessly killed by another strong female who wasn’t in possession of her own agency? (Let’s not forget Ray stalking Felicity who seems to be flattered by the attention instead of grossed out, or the time Diggle basically blamed Felicity for Oliver not having his head in the game, or the fact that Laurel’s still spinning mindlessly into outer space as far as retribution and reasons to fight. And where the hell is Sin?) Does this show hate women after all?

(And oh, how sad that it’s not even restricted to women! Remember when Oliver tried to kick Diggle off the team for having a family? And instead of putting Oliver in his place, Diggle later apologized and basically admitted Oliver was right. HE WAS NOT RIGHT. Diggle is a grown man capable of making his own choices, so even if Oliver felt that Diggle was being reckless in his choice to continue his work on the team, he was not right to strip Diggle of the power to make that decision for himself.)

And yes, Oliver Queen appears to be dead. Diggle really Diggle’d it when he offered to go into battle with Oliver, but no, this is something he had to do alone. No wonder Stephen Amell seemed to be on an extended break during the holiday season. It also appeared that rather than finding an actor/stunt man who could fight better than Amell or his stunt man, they just decided to make Oliver look like a freaking amateur out there. Like really, I’ve never seen such shoddy stunt work, and I watch Once Upon A Time, so that’s saying something. It was really, really bad.

We also found out that Maseo is now a member of the League, complete with a new name, and I suspect he will be the one to restore Oliver when the show returns. That reminds me, I guess we get to see the Lazarus Pit, one of the few things I never wanted to see on this show.

Honestly, what do we have to look forward to now? A Black Canary arc with Laurel, who still doesn’t even know why she’s fighting? A bigger storyline for Roy, whom I like very much but who the Big Name Reviewers keep calling “useless” and “bland”? More of Ray Palmer pinging Felicity’s cell phone and intruding on her life, then buying her loyalty by giving her things and spinning tragic tales of lost love? Do we have to — ugh — endure a multi-episode storyline involving Ray and the ATOM suit?! Do we really have to watch Thea run around Starling kicking ass with a false impression of having a father who loves her?

(The way I see it, there are two options with Thea: She turns dark when she finds out about Malcolm’s treachery, turning into a supervillain of her own accord, OR the love and loyalty of her brother and his ultimate sacrifice is the one thing that keeps her light. Frankly, I’d stick around for the second story alone.)

But hey, Oliver loves Felicity. I guess that’s supposed to distract us from how awful everything else was, and in a vacuum, maybe that scene would’ve meant more. I wish I could say I have hope for the second half of the season (which was when it got really good for the last two years) but that’s not true. All I feel is dread.

There’s a very good chance I will not be recapping these in the new year. I’m tired of being negative.

On a side note: Are you guys watching The 100? The mid-season finale is tonight (Wednesday), and so far, this show has done very well by its females.

Flash vs. Arrow: The Great Crossover Event

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**This post contains spoilers for episode 1.08 of The Flash, “Flash vs. Arrow,” and episode 3.08 of Arrow, “The Brave and the Bold”**

I’m gonna do something I’d intended to do since October — I’m going to write about The Flash! Well I’m actually going to write about the big Flash/Arrow crossover that aired this week just in time for Christmas, like a big beautifully wrapped present under our trees! And make no mistake, these were two exceptional hours of television which were groundbreaking in exciting ways that will pay off once Arrow finally gets its act together.

If you haven’t been watching The Flash, I won’t go as far as saying “You’re really missing out!” because it’s going through the same initial pains that Arrow did early in season 1. There’s no credible Main Villain, the love triangle needs to be sorted, the relationships need to be given room to grow, and overall, we’re still getting to know these characters. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the main love triangle (because it’s not a CW show if it doesn’t start out with a love triangle) except for the fact that it’s a really tired trope. Barry and Iris are friends since childhood, but Iris is in a relationship with Eddie, who is a cop and happens to be her dad’s partner. So Barry has been sitting on the sidelines making sadfaces at Iris for seven episodes. And instead of making Eddie unbearable, mean, or neglectful, the writers went and made him an utter delight, to the point that I can’t ever fully get behind the Barry/Iris concept unless Eddie turns out to be a supervillain. But it’s a concept the show is still pushing, and much like Oliver/Laurel, we have to cross our fingers and hope that there’s some sort of course-correction one way or the other in the future.

Barry’s superhero life is much more interesting, especially with his “team” of Cisco and Caitlin. Cisco is enthusiastic, Caitlin is nurturing and in mourning, and as a trio, they make a great dynamic. They’re led by Dr. Wells, who is faking a disability to sit in a wheelchair. He frequently sneaks off to stand up in an odd little room and talk to his clairvoyant computer, but after Slade Wilson’s halluciShado from last season, it’s not that crazy in comparison. He’s ramping up to be a Big Bad but for now, he’s manipulating and shaping Barry into a scientific specimen to his standards, and Barry has only recently started to question Wells’ motivation and methodology.

The real standout on The Flash is Joe West, played charmingly by Jesse L. Martin, who raised Barry after Barry’s father was (wrongfully) imprisoned for the death of his mother. Joe is also Iris’s father and he frequently has to toe the line between father and cop with both of his unruly children. He’s in on Barry’s super-secret identity and he’s very supportive of his hero efforts, and in general, he’s just a joy to watch onscreen. If you enjoy nothing else about The Flash, you will enjoy Joe West.

The Flash has made a very strong, concerted effort to differentiate itself from Arrow tonally and thematically. One is light, the other is dark. One is hope, the other is vengeance. One is life, one is death. One is superpowers, the other is strategy. Barry and Oliver spearhead their own shows effectively, with Barry bouncing around all chipper while Oliver stands still and scowls. It’s the difference between a slightly goofy sci-fi show and a grittier show about war and loss, and yet they both fit seamlessly into the same universe.

So now that I’ve covered the basics, I’ll remind you that Arrow left off with a guy killing someone in an alleyway with a metal boomerang, which is what brings Team Arrow (minus Roy, so I guess he really is Team Arrow Adjacent, sort of like those junior babysitters in The Babysitters Club?) to Central City just in time for Oliver to pop up at a crime in progress and save Barry and Joe from certain death. Probably. Okay, not really, but Oliver can’t resist an entrance.

 

When Barry zooms up to the abandoned house where Team Arrow is congregated, Diggle is shaken to his core. He spends the entire scene staring at Barry with deep distrust. Diggle then spends the rest of the episode questioning not only Barry’s powers and how they function, but also Oliver’s complete non-reaction to Barry’s abilities. “Mirakuru soldiers are one thing, but this?” Oliver insists that Barry’s new powers do not change who he is as a person, but Diggle still doesn’t trust it because he doesn’t understand it.

 

That’s where this Flash episode really got Diggle’s characterization right, and I know the Arrow writers were in that room helping out and making sure everything stayed in character, but still — it’s better than Diggle’s been for the last few episodes. I’ve said before that he’s the one character that grounds everyone else; he’s the realist, the rock, the shoulder to cry on, the steady soldier. He believes in what he sees, nothing more and nothing less. He is suspicious of people whose motivations he doesn’t understand (Laurel, Moira) and of people who have power, because power corrupts. Barry has a power now. Diggle’s reaction was played for laughs because it’s funny to see someone who is normally composed be so shaken, but it was based in something real. Superpowers freak him out. Metahumans freak him out. He understands Slade and his army because Mirakuru was a drug, and that’s a science he can grasp. Super speeds thanks to a lightning strike and a particle accelerator? That has him questioning everything he knows.

It’s great to have Diggle wig out because of what it brings out in Oliver and Felicity, too. They’ve both already known about Barry for a while, and after their initial shock and awe, they moved on. Felicity is technically-minded with a slant toward science, so she was always going to be fascinated and enthralled by something like this. But Oliver accepted it as a part of who Barry is now. His only concern was that Barry would use it for good. His responses to Diggle are part of his intrinsic trust in the goodness of some people — of the light inside his heart.

Oliver and Barry agree to collaborate on their cases, but Oliver’s opposed to Team Flash learning his true identity, so Felicity heads to Star Labs alone, just before she’s scooped up by Barry and flashed there. He sets her shirt on fire, which is why Cisco and Caitlin find her standing in her bra in the middle of the lab; they’re both happy to see her, but for vastly different reasons. Cisco gets even more excited at the sight of the boomerang (“Aaaaaawesome!”) as Caitlin fills Barry in on the Metahuman Of The Week. He’s a rage-inducer. I’ll get to him later.

Meanwhile, Joe is understandably horrified at having the Starling City vigilante in his city and that he’s an acquaintance of Barry’s. This is where we truly get to appreciate what the rest of this CW-DC-verse perceives of Starling City, because Joe and Dr. Wells sit there and reel off the facts: “He was wanted for murder in at least twelve different cases dating back three years.” “There’s been at least two major terrorist attacks on Starling since he became active.” Barry argues that the cops are on good terms with the Arrow now, and calls him a hero, to which Wells responds, “You’re a hero, Barry! You offer protection, hope, light. What that man does is carry out a dark reckoning for his city. It is a brutal, violent vision of justice.” He ends his speech saying that even if the Arrow is a hero, “He’s not the kind you should be looking up to.” Joe tells Barry to get the Arrow out of his city, now. You can’t blame the guy. Looking at the cold, hard facts, it does look like the Arrow is a harbinger of death rather than a hero. (And let’s be frank — one of those terrorist attacks was directly due to Oliver’s presence in that city. Oh Slade. The gift that keeps on giving.)

 

Oliver and Felicity have coffee at Jitters (fun fact: I spent all season thinking it was named Co-Jitters and wondered at the stupid name, but it’s actually CC Jitters… for Central City Jitters… which really isn’t any better, but at least it makes sense) where Iris basically drapes herself all over Oliver as he crosses his arms tightly in a defensive pose. Her excitement is understandable, sure, but her complete obliviousness to Barry’s obvious feelings for her is getting a little obnoxious at this point. It’s even more insulting when she proclaims “His arms are, like, twice the size of yours!” and then talks about how he’s on her list of exceptions and ends with “I just cannot stop staring at him.” Which is funny because as she stares at him and drools, he’s staring at Felicity even more adoringly and saying, “Felicity, this is me noticing you staring.”

 

She wants to help Barry with his case, and even tells him that Barry defended the Arrow to Wells and Joe. Oliver (correctly) says that Barry doesn’t really want his help, but Felicity is insistent, a fact that is not lost on Oliver:

  

After that, how can a guy say no? (May I remind you that the last time we saw Oliver, he had just watched Felicity kiss Ray Palmer? This is actually kind of a big deal — a lot of other brooding types would’ve cold-shouldered the bewildered woman, but Oliver is being a big boy and recognizing that these are the consequences of his choices.)

Oliver refuses to use the term “metahuman,” though, which is a running gag through both episodes of this crossover and I don’t totally get it. He hates the nicknames but he’s always been “Ollie” to the Lances, Tommy, and Thea, plus he calls Thea “Speedy” and brightly suggested the nickname “Arsenal” for Roy only a couple of episodes ago. Later, when Oliver expresses more disdain for “Captain Cold,” saying he’ll discuss the nicknaming later, Barry snarks, “You mean, like, over coffee with Deathstroke and the Huntress?” and I hate that those were the two examples they chose, because of all the nicknames, those were some of the only two that Oliver didn’t assign or even use. “Deathstroke” was an Interpol code name, but Oliver only ever addressed him as Slade, and I don’t even know who coined or used “Huntress” besides maybe the police.

Anyway, Oliver is very annoyed at Barry’s lack of training and discipline. And when I say very annoyed, I mean very annoyed, like he’s downright irritable about it. He asks if Barry cases new environments when he comes across them; “You could. You have the time. But you don’t.” He says it with crushing disappointment, but Barry’s still playing it off as something he doesn’t need to take seriously, so Oliver’s rigged up a system to teach Barry about perception and observation, and it ends with two arrows in Barry’s back. It’s okay. He heals fast.

Barry continues to defend the Arrow to Joe even if his personal misgivings with Oliver continue to grow. Meanwhile, Caitlin and Felicity are collaborating on the metahuman case, a man named Roy G. Bivolo (get it?) who uses his eyes to induce rage in people, causing chaos wherever he goes. They figure it’s linked to the color spectrum, since he uses red in his eyes to induce the rage, while Cisco continues to analyze the boomerang for the Team Arrow case. Wells rolls by and asks for a word with Felicity, and she obliges, but she quickly clams up when he says he wants to know the Arrow’s identity. “That is not my secret to tell, Dr. Wells,” she says, which is almost verbatim what Oliver said to her a year ago in 2.09 after she told Barry his secret. Wells graciously backs down, saying he’ll figure it out on his own, but it’s not that hard — she immediately turns around and asks Barry, “How did it go with Oliver?”

C’mon Felicity, SECRET identity!

Barry gets dispatched to Roy G. Bivolo’s location and gets macularly assaulted, but there are no immediate signs that he’s affected. It turns out his superhuman abilities are delaying the reaction, but they’re also intensifying his rage. It’s a gradual process, starting with him snapping at Caitlin (“I’m not Ronnie, you gotta stop treating me like I am”) and increasing at another training session with Oliver. It starts out pretty well, and Oliver’s intentions are from a good place.

Oliver: “Barry, I have been living this life for almost eight years, encountering things that you can’t even fathom, and I am still alive. Not because super-speed kept me out of the ground. It was because I realized I needed to keep learning, keep training, keep getting smarter. And until you get that, despite your best intentions, you will do more harm than good.”
Barry: “I finally see it. You’re a little bit jealous of me, aren’t you? A guy like you, handsome, rich, can have any girl he wants, jealousy’s probably a new emotion for you, so you might be a little slow to get what it is that you’re feeling.”
Oliver: “That’s your theory?”
Barry: “Absolutely. See, you can train, lift weights, climb that stupid bar until your heart explodes, but you will never be as fast as I am. You will never be what I am. And that’s gotta hurt your rock-hard pride, Ollie.”

He spits out the nickname like an insult, and it’s probably a little shoutout to the fact that Oliver hates nicknames, but how did Barry know that Oliver even has that nickname? Anyway, Barry’s rage builds as he shouts at his sergeant and then shoves Joe as he blames him for his father’s incarceration. Joe pops in at Star Labs to report that Barry’s off his rocker, and Wells turns to Felicity and says, “I think you better call back Oliver Queen. We’re gonna need the Arrow’s help.” Rude.

Barry attacks Eddie as he rides with Iris down Central City’s most deserted street, and he does enough damage to Eddie to send Iris into sobs as she begs for him to stop. Oliver shows up just in time to give Barry enough of a distraction from Eddie and Iris for them to escape, but Barry ends up dragging Oliver down the street and then punching him at super-speed. (This show is great with effects but not so great with stunts.) Oliver gets the drop on Barry in time for Wells and Joe to show up with a bunch of flashing blue lights to counteract the rage in Barry, but just before he turns him, Oliver says, “I still believe in you, Barry.”

 

Diggle, meanwhile, is now at Star Labs since Wells blew Oliver’s cover, and he’s arguing with Caitlin and Cisco about who is better: Oliver or Barry. Objectively, super-speed (coupled with super-healing) will trump a regular human, so it’s really great to see Diggle sitting there staunchly supporting Oliver as the superior superhero. Subjectively, I’d be Team Oliver just because of his experience and his training. In three years, though, who knows?

They vanquish Roy G Biv offscreen and Oliver jokes that he has an impenetrable prison, too! “Mine’s on a nearly inhospitable island in the North China sea, but this works too.” Then he basically threatens everyone on Team Flash, including Joe, if they ever reveal his identity, which Felicity translates as “He had a lovely time working with you and getting to know each of you, and he can’t wait to do it again soon.”

 

Felicity asks Caitlin to run a genetic marker sample on the DNA from the arrow in Sara’s murder. Wells tells Oliver that he met his father once, and that Robert would be proud of the man Oliver’s become, but Oliver ends up muttering to Felicity as they leave, “There is something off about that guy.” I mean, he never noticed with Malcolm or Sebastian, so it’s about time he started noticing weirdos now.

At Jitters, Oliver and Felicity are meeting Barry for one last coffee, but they find him staring broodingly at Iris as she hugs a patched-up Eddie at the bar. Oliver makes all of the necessary deductions in about two seconds, and he sits with Barry as Felicity joins Iris at the bar. Barry apologizes, and Oliver simply says, “You can always talk to me.” He then proceeds to dole out some truly terrible advice about heroes not being able to “get the girl,” which is odd because we are meant to see it as both guys staring at the girls they “can’t” have, when in reality, Barry is staring at his Laurel. In that respect, Oliver is right. Oliver couldn’t have Laurel, he tried. And Barry won’t be able to have Iris, not in this current scenario.

 

It’s especially bittersweet to Barry, too, who sees Oliver taking that same attitude with Felicity. Barry respectfully “let go” of Felicity a while ago because he saw her clear feelings for Oliver, so it’s a tough pill for him to swallow… if he chooses to believe it. He shouldn’t, though, because Oliver is dark and Barry is light… Oliver is regret and Barry is hope. If Barry wants relationship advice, maybe Oliver isn’t the best counselor.

As if that’s not enough drama for one day, Oliver then encounters his baby mama who confirms via a phone call that she is, in fact, his baby mama, unbeknownst to him. I hate hate hate this subplot but I can’t stop it from happening so I guess I have to hope for the best. Iris blows off the Flash later, bitterly disappointed in his antics from the previous night, and then surprise! Caitlin’s believed-to-be-dead fiance, Ronnie, is alive and living under an overpass! And he’s on fire! (I resisted the pun. You’re welcome.)

That brings us to the Arrow episode, “The Bold and the Brave,” which aired last night. Team Arrow (now with bonus Roy!) is still pursuing the boomerang case when they come across a rigged house. They explode it only to come face-to-face with ARGUS agents (one of whom says, “You’re outnumbered, jerkwad!” and I feel so bad for that guy) which confirms Oliver’s suspicion that the guy killed by the boomerang was an ARGUS agent. Now, who do we know at ARGUS…?

Diggle says Lyla won’t want to get them involved in ARGUS matters, and Oliver snaps, “Then tell her to stop letting people get killed in my city!” like it’s a completely reasonable thing to say, and this is the first of seventeen times that the characters really hammer home the point that Diggle and Lyla are not married. They were married. But they aren’t anymore. Got that? They are divorced. This episode stated it like eleven hundred times because their plot points are anvils, so I want to make extra sure that you, dear reader, are aware that Diggle and Lyla are living in sin.

 

I bet you thought this crossover episode was a good place to have flashbacks. You were wrong. While I adore Amanda Waller in all of her badassery, this is the first time in a long time that I’ve felt annoyed and even cheated by the presence of flashbacks. In them, Oliver fails to torture a guy, bombs go off, Amanda tells Oliver to toughen up, then he tortures a guy. There’s no Maseo, no Tatsu, just Oliver and his bad wig.

Cisco and Caitlin show up at Felicity’s office (Ray has officially replaced the Queen Consolidated sign on the building) under the guise of analyzing the arrow sample from Sara’s murder, but really, “We want to see the Arrowcave.” Felicity tells them they don’t call it that. Ever. Because of Oliver’s aversion to nicknames and names in general and just fun things. But they want to see the toys, and their smiles are so huge, and Felicity can’t resist them. You couldn’t either! You know you couldn’t.

So Oliver sits in the middle of the basement and growls at Cisco not to touch things as Roy stands there flummoxed and asks, “Since when did we start selling admission to the Arrowcave?” which makes Oliver point at Felicity accusingly and say, “You see what you’ve done?!” Cisco freaks out over the Arsenal outfit and mutters, “Red is so much cooler than green, am I right?” to Roy, hilariously only a week after his Flash case with the red-eyed guy.

 

Caitlin asks about the salmon ladder, which Felicity says is for “distracting me from work,” and really what we need is Caitlin and Felicity just sitting there at the desk watching Oliver do his thing. Then Caitlin would understand. She’d understand completely.

Diggle is at ARGUS HQ asking Lyla for a favor (she knows this because he calls her “sweetie”) when they’re attacked by Boomerang Man. Diggle calls Oliver for help, but he won’t get there in time. You know who will? BARRY. He zooms right by Thea as she’s on the phone, and he gets there in time for Boomerang to steal an exit from Malcolm Merlyn and poof away.

 

Arrow is really good at the effects, too. Lyla finally discloses the villain’s identity: Digger Harkness, former ASIS and in my mind, former friend of Slade Wilson. You can’t talk me out of it until the show proves me wrong. Anyway, he was a member of the Suicide Squad, and Lyla had once tried to detonate the bomb in his head, which apparently malfunctioned, so now he’s on a revenge mission. Does that sound familiar?

Lyla’s put under Oliver’s protection, which means she’s admitted into the Arrowcave just in time for Barry to zoom back with some sushi and bump into Felicity’s computers like it’s no big deal. Caitlin reminds him that he’s supposed to be keeping his identity a secret, and Barry hilariously assumes that Diggle had told Lyla about him. “I keep secrets for a living, man.” “Oh. My bad.”

 

Oliver pulls Barry aside to tell him he doesn’t need help, and asserts that things are different here, “Starling City is… meaner.” Hahaha when you think about it, yeah, it’s pretty mean… corrupt cops, Malcolm Merlyn trying to kill the underprivileged, Sebastian Blood stepping on people’s throats to get elected, Laurel running around all crazy… Barry insists he’s been practicing everything Oliver taught him (for a whole week, you guys!) and Oliver grudgingly accepts his help, but on his terms. No one can match Barry’s enthusiasm except for Cisco, who figures out who manufactured the boomerangs. That leads Oliver and Barry straight to Detective Lance!

You know who’s fun? Lance when he’s annoyed. He’s currently being annoyed by his daughter, Laurel, who literally only pops up in this scene as a visual reminder that she exists for the viewers, so… way to get that paycheck, Katie. Laurel’s never met Barry, but Lance remembers “Bart Allen, right? You get hit by a bus or something?” Barry asks Lance about the manufacturer, and Lance remembers that he’s connected to the Bratva, which would be really great news if Oliver hadn’t burned that bridge last season. That means he has to torture for information, which horrifies Barry, who hadn’t been privy to these tactics in action before now. Oliver is unapologetic, telling Barry, “You live in Central City, where it’s sunny all the time, and your villains get cute nicknames.” I’ve always likened Starling to Seattle, so does that make Central City the CW-DC-verse version of Los Angeles? Sunny with cute nicknames?

Oliver says that in his city, his best friend died, his former love was shot full of arrows, and his mother was murdered right in front of him, and Barry points out that his mother was killed in front of him, too, “But I don’t use my personal tragedies as an excuse to just torture whoever pisses me off!” Oliver sarcastically apologizes for not being as emotionally healthy as Barry (accurate) and tells him to go back to Central City if he can’t handle the terms of their partnership.

Oliver and Lyla have a surprisingly great scene that starts off weird (she refers to “Speedy” and Oliver thinks she’s talking about Roy? When did he ever call Roy that? And Lyla meant the person who is literally speedy because why would she know Thea or Roy’s nicknames? What did I miss???) but Oliver admits that he and Barry had a disagreement on the way the world works. She understands and glances at Diggle as she says, “There are people in the world who deal only in extremes –” and she’s surprised when Oliver finishes the quote, “and it would be naive to think that anything less than extreme measures will stop them.” They both got that from Amanda Waller. And suddenly I want a lot more scenes of Lyla and Oliver collaborating in these ways.

Felicity frightens everyone by hacking into the ARGUS spy satellite (even Cisco looks terrified at her power) and tracking Harkness’ location. Barry and Oliver team up again as the other three men load into the van and have a philosophical conversation about metahumans and their purpose. Turns out Harkness isn’t there, though. That means they walk (well, they Flash and Arrow their way) right into a trap, leaving the ladies at the Arrowcave vulnerable. I guess Boomerang had the code to get in? Or the guys left the door open, probably.

 

Lyla gets a boomerang to the chest and Caitlin manages to stabilize her so that Barry can flash her to the hospital. Oliver demands to be left alone while Diggle’s at the hospital, so the other four (minus Barry) hang out at Verdant, where Cisco is super attracted to Thea.

 

Oliver, meanwhile, is in Super Brood Mode and Barry tries to talk him down from that ledge.

Oliver: “To do what I do, Barry, takes conviction. But more often than not, it’s the will to do what’s ugly. Every time I do that, I’m trading away little pieces of myself, so, you asked what’s wrong with me? That’s what’s wrong. Because the part that I’m trading away is… Oliver Queen. And lately I’ve been feeling like there’s nothing left except the Arrow.”
Barry: “I think you’re full of crap. You’ve convinced yourself that everything you’ve been through took away your humanity. But I think it’s because of your humanity that you made it through. You wouldn’t have survived, much less come out the other end a hero, somebody who wants to do good, if you didn’t have a light inside of you.”

Oliver’s stricken by this, because Barry has no way of knowing how much he sounds like Sara in that moment. It hurts Oliver because everything’s already been full-circle back to Sara since she died anyway, and here’s this kid, this guy that showed up in his life and was struck by lightning, and the whole time he was in that coma, Oliver loved and lost Sara, who talked about that same light. Most of his light died with Sara, and here’s Barry, who didn’t even really know that, and after all the bitterness and yelling last week, and the torture and doubt this week, Barry’s still insisting that he sees that light. Oliver doesn’t believe it, because he only knows his own darkness.

Yet even as Barry says it, even as Oliver’s prepared to argue and drown himself in misery, light walks up and apologizes for interrupting. She’s dressed in blue and is sporting a blonde ponytail, but she’s light because it’s the only thing she brings out in Oliver: his light.

Felicity found Harkness, and Team Arrow and Team Flash (minus Diggle) reassemble to take him down. Barry and Oliver confront him at the train station while everyone else watches from the Arrowcave. Harkness issues the usual threats and stuff, and says that he has five bombs placed around the city. That sends Barry running while Oliver pins Harkness to a column. They figure out that all of the bombs need to be deactivated at the same time, so Barry flashes everyone (Roy, Caitlin, Felicity, and Cisco) to bomb locations so they can coordinate, and it works like a charm.

Harkness taunts Oliver for his weakness in not killing him, but Oliver corrects him: “It means I have some humanity left.” And you’re still honoring your best friend, don’t forget.

 

Diggle proposes to Lyla as soon as she wakes up (he calls her “sweetie” because he wants something). Caitlin packs up the arrow for analysis as Roy expresses regret that Team Flash is leaving, “You guys are fun.” Cisco says they could be fun too, if they ever realized they were working under a nightclub. Oliver and Barry saunter in all victorious and Oliver basically confirms my wildest dream: Digger Harkness is now cellmates with one Slade Wilson. Oh, the shenanigans! My heart can’t handle the possibilities. “We’ve got a pipeline, he’s got a gorgeous tropical island.” I guess Barry wasn’t listening to the part where Oliver said “inhospitable” and “North China Sea” last week, but Felicity helpfully mentions the land mines which gives everyone pause.

Barry’s happy to see a creepy mannequin enclosed in a glass case for his future visits, and Cisco presents Oliver with a gift of his own: a redesign of his Arrow top, now lighter and able to carry more gear. “I wanted to replace the hood, but Felicity said it had sentimental value.” Oliver beams at Felicity after Cisco says that — the beam is so bright, in fact, that Felicity has to look away, lest she be blinded by the beam.

 

Roy once again expresses regret that they’re leaving (he hates to see you leave but he loves to watch you go) but Barry says he and Oliver have some unfinished business to attend to first. Then they go to a hangar to try to determine who would win in a head-to-head battle. Barry tells Oliver he can inspire people, “Not as the Arrow, that guy’s a douche, but as Oliver Queen.” Then they face off and we cut to a nifty Arrow signoff with the lightning flash tracing the letters.

Whew! That was a lot of stuff. And I can’t wait until the next one. My only gripe is that Joe West has not met Quentin Lance… and now that I’m making a wishlist, I kind of want Eddie Thawne to meet some Arrow characters as well. I’m thinking Thea? That could be fun.

Next week on The Flash: Firestorm, I think? But mainly, Reverse Flash and Christmas!

Next week on Arrow: R’as al Ghul and the League of Assassins wreak havoc. It’s the midseason finale, and let’s hope it’s a thrilling end to a less-than-stellar half-season.