Identity Crisis

*Warning: This post contains spoilers to CW’s Arrow Episode 3.16, “The Offer.”*

When I first learned the season three theme for Arrow would be about identity, I did not expect it to become such a mess. However, the writers must have believed the characters would only be able to figure out who they really are, and what they stood for by making them out of character this year. The season has now aired sixteen episodes, and I am only starting to see a glimpse of why I fell in love with the show in the first place. The fact of the matter is the theme fits because the show itself lost its identity this year.

The majority of last week’s episode was a right out mess, but it finally showed us a bit of why I came to love Arrow in the first place with the help of John Diggle and Felicity Smoak. Oliver actually does toy with the idea of becoming Heir to the Demon, and we were able to get some great scenes between the partners on why Oliver became Arrow in the first place. We finally get a glimpse of the man who does not make speeches on top of vehicles to crowds. Instead we get Oliver leaving the police station not expecting a thank you from Quentin Lance.

Oliver has lost focus on why he started his crusade in the first place, he didn’t start to to receive thanks or hero worship.

One of Oliver’s greatest fears is losing the ones closest to him, and Ra’s al Ghul knows it. Oliver has been trying to control everyone’s life around him this season because he believes only he can protect them. However, it has been backfiring on him. He has forgotten to stand by his family and friends instead of in front of them. He needs to support them and not try taking control over their lives thinking it is for the greater good.

The truth is Oliver would only lose his partners if he took Ra’s up on his offer. Luckily Diggle and Felicity are there to give him some cognitive recalibration.

I miss the show I fell in love with, and truly wish for the show to get its act together.

 

Other Observations:

*I will always be grateful for Quentin Lance. He is the only one who has been able to stay in character even though he is trying to remember who he was.

*Yes to the Nyssa and Laurel friendship. Nyssa has only known her life with the League of Assassins, and it would be interesting to see her explore who she is when she is not under her father’s command.

*While Walter may not always be on screen the writers need to include him. He was and still is a father figure to Thea. Yet the show seems to forgotten about how Walter helped raise Thea during her adolescent years.

*Diggle talked to Felicity about the offer. I’m glad these two confide in each other even if it is offscreen.

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Jemma vs Jemma

There are two Jemma Simmons out there in the Marvel universe: the TV show, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Jemma and the comic book, S.H.I.E.L.D., Jemma.

 

The comic book was inspired by the TV show, but there are differences between the two of them. The first being Skye is not part of the team, and while I greatly miss Skye I found the first issues enjoyable. One of the main reasons why I found them enjoyable is the way Jemma has been portrayed in the comics.

In the first issue Jemma is going on her first field mission as an operative. She still has her mad science skills, but Melinda May has also been training her in combat. As soon as I saw these pages, I greedily ate them up. This is what I have been wanting from the show. I don’t necessarily need May to be the one who trains her, but I firmly believe Jemma already needs to start training as an operative. She has already gone undercover with Hydra, and has handled a gun a few times on the show.

 

The problem is no one has been teaching her. While the show has been taking the time to train Skye, they have not taken the same time to train Jemma or Fitz in the basics. The pilot made a point to mention both Jemma and Fitz were not ready to go into the field, but nothing has been changed about this situation. I do not think Jemma and Fitz should always be in the field, but the two of them cannot always stay in the lab. They need basic training to defend themselves. Someone needs to teach Jemma how to properly aim a gun. If she is going to be carrying one to protect herself, someone needs to train her. May approved of Jemma shooting Raina, but the fact remains Jemma missed keeping Raina down. May did not mention anything about Jemma needing to practice. Jemma does not need to be with guns blazing, but she does need to be properly trained.

 

One of my hopes is Bobbi Morse will teach her. Of course with the two different S.H.I.E.L.D.s it may be a pipe dream, but Bobbi has already befriended Jemma. I welcome scenes between the two of them because Jemma doesn’t have a mentor on the show.

Another wish fulfilled I got by reading the comics is getting a glimpse of comic Jemma’s background. They reveal who her father is and part of her personal life. This Jemma has a family. She has a father, mother, sister, and brother. We learn how hard it is for her to keep her S.H.I.E.L.D. life a secret, but she has a sense of who she is.

Season one gave us a Jemma like this, and we did find out early in the series she does have parents. However, Jemma changed when Hydra came out of hiding. After the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D., we have seen a lost Jemma, one who is not sure of what her real purpose is anymore. It is one of the reasons why she went undercover with Hydra because it did give her a purpose. Protecting the ones she loves gave her a purpose, but the mid season finale has again highlighted a lost Jemma. Trip was her responsibility after the collapse of S.H.I.E.L.D., and she wasn’t there to protect him. Jemma has always had this instinct to protect the ones around her first with jumping out of the bus, and then by jumping on the supposed grenade on the train in season one.

Now she is at a loss, she doesn’t know how to protect the team. When she does, she goes about it the wrong way leading Fitz and Skye keeping secrets from her. The impact the mid-season finale has caused a fracture which needs to be mended. The whole team is suffering, Jemma included.

The rest of the season will probably remain with the dark tone it has taken especially when Avengers: Age of Ultron comes out. However, it should not be an excuse not to build on Jemma’s character. For the most part we have mainly seen Jemma’s reactions to what is happening to those around her. The stories have been great where the rest of the characters have been concerned, but it feels like Jemma is suffering where the rest have been strengthening.

While I may be in love with what the first two issues of S.H.I.E.L.D. has done with Jemma, I know the reason why I love it so much is because of my love for Agent Jemma Simmons on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Without Elizabeth Henstridge’s portrayal of Jemma Simmons, I would not be so deeply invested in the comic character.