Quentin Lance Wasn’t a Very Good Detective After All


**This post contains spoilers for episode 3.18 of Arrow, “Public Enemy.”**

In the three years since the Arrow has appeared in his city, Quentin Lance, detective-turned-beat-cop-turned-captain, hasn’t figured out his true identity. This is besides the fact that the Arrow’s sidekick was Oliver Queen’s bodyguard, that his other sidekick was Queen’s executive assistant, that his daughter Sara Lance, aka the Canary, was dating Queen when she ran around saving the city, and that his other daughter Laurel, aka the Black Canary, has taken over that mantle.

I’m not sure how we can interpret this other than Quentin being a colossal idiot who is terrible at his job, but hey, at least he probably knew it on some level. Sigh.

It really undermines the incredible pathos that Paul Blackthorne puts into Lance’s storyline in this episode. He’s on a rampage to get to the Arrow because he’s grieving, he’s hurt, and he believes he’s lost everything. He’s reacting irrationally, but in a way that makes sense — he can’t trust Laurel because she burned that bridge, and he’s similarly angry at the man under the hood. In his mind, neither of them did anything to protect his daughter, and they spent the intervening months lying to him about her true fate. It’s awful that his inability to figure out the truth about Oliver has clouded this otherwise compelling story.

Lance is captured by “Race” al Ghul, who not only reveals the Arrow’s identity, but also tells Lance that Sara spent some time on Lian Yu. He announces the Arrow’s identity to the entire city, effectively shutting it down and forcing Oliver to turn himself in. Oliver tries to do it in exchange for immunity for his team, but none of them are thrilled with letting Oliver take the fall.


Ray, meanwhile, saves Felicity’s life or whatever. He ends up in the hospital and he’s still SUPER boring there, even on his literal deathbed, as he talks about his “teeny tiny robots” which can break up a blood clot. Then he goes from boring to psychotic in a teeny tiny robot second when he tells Felicity that he loves her. You know. Less than a year after he lost his “beloved” fiancee during Slade’s Mirakuvasion. This is definitely manipulation on his part.

It’s all gonna be okay, though, because Mama Smoak is back! “Hey! At least you finally have a boyfriend!” (Literally my mother. Like. Seriously.) Felicity confides that Ray said he loved her, and Donna lays it out for her: “You don’t love Ray, because you’re in love with Oliver.” She sweetly tells Felicity that it’s time to make a choice.

Roy abruptly goes off the deep end, consumed by sudden and random guilt over everything he’s done. It almost reads as out-of-character until we get to the end of the episode, when he dons the Arrow leathers and reveals that HE, in fact, is the Arrow. (Nice try, Roy, but are you saying that YOU saved YOURSELF from that man on the train back in season 1?)

“Race” al Ghul is still trying to bully Oliver into taking on his mantle, and make no mistake, this is actual bullying. Stephen Amell can tweet his faux-excitement to be “the next R’as!” all he wants, it’s not gonna fool me into thinking this is actually a good turn for him. This show needs a huge reset button for this storyline and I hate that they’ve driven me to the point of actually wanting time travel or Lazarus Pits or anything that will get rid of this stupid “Race” al Ghul storyline once and for all.

By far, one of the best scenes from this dismal season is the one between Lance and Oliver in the back of that van. “Well, was it worth it? All the pain and misery you brought back from that island? Merlyn, Slade Wilson… wouldn’t it be better if you just died there?” Then he goes on a heartbreaking list of the casualties of Oliver’s war: “Tommy. Hilton. Your mother. My daughter. And now you’re set on killing Laurel too.” It’s not fair for him to put all of this on Oliver — Tommy and Sara’s deaths aren’t on his hands, especially as Oliver chose Sara over Shado on Lian Yu — but it really punctuates Lance’s actions in this episode. None of this is fair, but we can see the thread of logic that runs through it all. Oliver IS the common denominator even if he’s not the instigator, and Lance, in his grief and anger, has boiled it down to its most simple solution.

“Do you have any idea what you’ve done, huh? What you’ve done to all of us, to the people you claim to care so much about? You’ve made us criminals! You’ve made us liars and victims! You, Mr. Queen, are not a hero! You’re a villain.”

And then —


Mmm whatcha saaaay…

Other notes:

– Nyssa is still around! She gives Team Arrow the absolute minimal amount of help when she gives them Maseo’s location, but that’s enough for me! #TeamNyssa

– In the flashbacks, Oliver runs into Shado’s (long-lost, never-mentioned) twin sister, Mei. SUSPICIOUS. This raises so many questions, but until we find out from a third party that Shado definitely had a twin, I’ll remain suspicious.

“If your father were here –” / “He’d be arrested.” Bits of backstory on Felicity’s father.

“You, Harper, Sara, the freak in Central City, the Huntress, I got a new guy flying around the city!” I love Lance’s breakdown of the various Starling City vigilantes.

– I assume something happens to Akio in the flashbacks, prompting Tatsu’s present-day grief and Maseo’s alliance with the League, but they keep dragging it out and it’s getting tiresome. This whole show is tiresome.

TONIGHT: Felicity and the punchable Ray Palmer make appearances in Central City where huge revelations are made, and probably reversed thanks to time travel. So watch The Flash if you need your Felicity fix.

TAX DAY: I just watched the extended promo for this week’s Arrow and while I’m looking forward to an Oliver-and-Roy centric episode, it’s also gonna be heavy on Bootleg Iron Man, so my mental countdown for when Ray goes to his own show has already begun. SPOILER: Supposedly someone will die, too. The internet is rampant with theories from Roy to Diggle, but like I listed above… Akio, to our knowledge, is not alive in the present day. And presumably, his death or disappearance has to happen soon. I haven’t delved too deep into online (okay, Tumblr) theories but I don’t know why people aren’t considering Akio to be a significant death… since it sorta sets Maseo’s, and by extention Oliver’s, current storyline in motion.

Are you excited, or are you dreading it?


“I keep my promises, kid.”


**This post contains spoilers for episode 3.14 of Arrow, “The Return.”**

I have good news and I have bad news. The good news is that, Malcolm Merlyn aside, much of the present-day stuff in this week’s Arrow was almost up to par. There were familiar faces, island scenery, a ridiculous booby trap, and some much-needed truth-telling from Oliver. Unfortunately, there were also flashbacks… and the only good things about the flashbacks were Andy Diggle and the incredible Tommy Merlyn. (Sorry, Felicity fans, but you might want to skip this post. I promise this will hurt me more than it will hurt you.)

I couldn’t even write about last week’s episode, aka the Oliver Steals Everyone’s Agency Episode. He was downright awful to Laurel, and he even did it to Roy! It was all just bad, and I think it was a misuse of Caity Lotz when there is still so much of Sara’s story that we don’t know. I will say that Katie Cassidy knocked that one out of the park, but I couldn’t bring myself to write an entire post slamming the episode and then have one paragraph that said “At least Katie was awesome! Go Laurel!” So I’m saying it now: Katie was awesome. Go Laurel!

The only reason I had any sort of hope for this week’s episode can be summed up in two words: Slade Wilson. I don’t even know why I held out hope for him — whether it’s because his season 2 storyline was so great that his face just reminds me of why I loved this show, or whether it’s because Manu Bennett just seems to elevate the show indescribably — but he was definitely a sight for sore eyes. And his scenes with Oliver and Thea brought back a lot of the frenetic action that’s been sorely lacking this season. People like Malcolm and Ray Palmer, they’re calculated and precise, to the point that they get boring. Malcolm Merlyn is boring, his particular brand of psychopath is no longer intriguing because we spent all of season 1 exploring that. There was no outcry when he was gone, because the character arc stopped being interesting the moment Oliver thwarted him.

Slade Wilson’s brand of psychotic is still refreshing, somehow. It helps that his vendetta is focused solely on Oliver, and everyone else is just collateral damage. He’s not acting out of selfishness or self-preservation, he’s still reacting to the love he lost, and he’s willing to die or trade his freedom just to watch Oliver suffer. Malcolm is not that intriguing — selfish characters are not that interesting. Show me a selfish lead character on a show that is fun to watch or is beloved! There aren’t any, that’s why the Bad Boys with a Heart of Gold is even a trope, because people want to believe that selfish people are actually acting out of love. Malcolm isn’t doing that, he’s never done that, even the Undertaking wasn’t really about his wife, it was about control at first, and eventually it became about power.


Slade, on the other hand, has never exclusively wanted power. Power, via his Mirakuru army and Sebastian Blood, was a means to an end. Power was what would enable him to torture Oliver Queen. He’s acting out of love, not just for Shado, but for the betrayal he felt from his brother-in-arms. He even said it in this episode: “Maybe if you’d told me what really happened with Shado, your mother would still be alive.” In this respect, Slade is the killer counterpart to Moira Queen. Everything Moira did, she did out of love for her kids. In a way, and I say this grudgingly, it’s kind of poetic that she died by Slade’s hand.

(Sidenote: Did the writers ever think about that aspect of Sara’s death? That Oliver chose Sara over Shado on that island all those years ago, sealing his fate with Slade and leading to the events of season 2, only to have Sara die for no reason by Malcolm Merlyn? It actually cheapens Shado’s sacrifice. And if and when Slade finds out about Sara’s demise… there will be hell to pay.)

So I was hoping Slade’s presence would bring back some of the energy and pace of the second season, especially in regards to people finding out certain secrets, and it worked for the most part. Thea freaks out when Oliver finds out that Malcolm had freed Slade just to turn them into murderers, and it eventually forces Oliver to tell her the truth about Sara’s death: that Malcolm had drugged and manipulated Thea into doing it.


They have a fantastic tag-team fight to take down Slade, who holds his own even without Mirakuru now, and Thea has him at gunpoint when Oliver stops her and talks her down. Together, they manage to overcome Malcolm’s ministrations and continue to honor Oliver’s promise to Tommy after he died. That, of course, means nothing to Malcolm. And just when you think this episode is going to fix the fundamental problems with the show… Oliver and Thea go and agree to continue working with Malcolm, because they need him so badly. You know. For the mess he created. Sigh.

I’m sad to see Slade go, but I’m happy that he’s still alive, and I loved his interactions with Thea (he seemed to grow to respect her over the course of their encounters; she’s not the same girl he kidnapped only eight or so months ago) and his last conversation with Oliver.

Slade: “She’s lost, your sister.”
Oliver: “No, she’s not.”
Slade: “You can see it in her eyes. She’s been touched by darkness. Was it Merlyn? He’s an interesting man, to do that to his own daughter. So now you’ve lost your father, your mother, and now your little sister. How’s the girl in the glasses? What’s her name? Felicity. How many people can Oliver Queen lose before there is no more Oliver Queen?”


I’ve got news for you, Slade: there already is no more Oliver Queen. This guy is not the same Oliver we saw for the last two seasons, or the Oliver we see in flashbacks. This guy is just a travesty… and Felicity is the least of his problems. (I like how Oliver immediately says Thea isn’t lost, like just by saying it, it must be true.)

Nonetheless, the Slade fan in me appreciates how he can just cut right to the core of Oliver, and I think if Oliver weren’t so wrapped up in his League of Assassins stuff, he’d realize that that was, and still is, Slade’s intention all along: to turn Oliver into himself. Slade lost all the people in his life, so he’s no longer Slade Wilson. And from what he’s seen, the last link to humanity lies in Felicity Smoak, which is why he says her name like a threat.

Which goes to show that even Slade Wilson underestimates the importance of John Diggle in Oliver’s life.


Hey! Speaking of Diggle — we met Andy this week! We only saw him for a minute, just long enough to establish that Andy got Diggle the Rich Kid Bodyguard gig, and that he thinks Diggle was a fool to divorce Lyla, to which Diggle dryly replies, “Thank you, Andy, I appreciate that.” Heh.


Tommy also appeared as an overbearing but good-hearted big brother figure (nice that he turns out to actually be her big brother) to Thea, who was already getting into drugs and acting out. She still goes to talk to Oliver at his gravestone, which is sweet until her drug dealer meets her there. Oliver, who is back in Starling this week for really dumb lampshaded reasons, watches appreciatively from afar as Tommy intervenes. Tommy also flirts adorably with a radiant Laurel, and I had honestly forgotten how delightful they were together until now.

If I could choose one other person to be in flashbacks, it would be Moira. I feel like that deserved a long, resounding DUH after that statement, but unfortunately, this show decided to cater to the lowest common denominator and have Oliver have a near-brush with… Felicity. Who talks to a terrifying picture of him… and calls him “cute” even though he’s dead. It was painful and weird and bad and I hate when shows retcon and rewrite history to have people crossing paths in contrived ways, but the shippers are eating it up. The cynic in me thinks this crew really knows how to manipulate the fanbase.

Oliver kills Thea’s drug dealer, probably causing a lot of emotional and mental harm to his little sister along with the fact that he kind of ruined Tommy’s party, then throws a fit when Waller won’t let him stay in Starling. The only reason Oliver even survived this season of flashbacks is because Maseo is repeatedly sticking guns in his back to keep him from doing stupid things.

They end up capturing China White and turning her over to military custody, with a particularly villainous looking Army guy telling Oliver that he will be debriefed in China before they drop him off wherever he wants to go. Oliver doesn’t seem to notice that Waller seems scared of the Army guy, but we do know that China White somehow makes it out of custody and that Oliver never makes it back to Starling City until the day he’s rescued. Presumably.

The only good thing to come out of the flashbacks is the video Oliver found of his father, Robert, telling him about the list. So that’s one mystery solved, clumsily, but solved nonetheless. I appreciate the casting for Oliver’s father, when he talks, he has a lot of the same mannerisms and facial tics as Stephen Amell, and that’s when the resemblance really comes through.

Quentin was awful in the flashbacks, but in a realistic way. He was deep into booze and blaming the world for his troubles, and it played painfully but accurately; it shows the tremendous growth he’s made since then. Unfortunately, present-day Quentin is really mad at Laurel, not for donning the mask or becoming the Black Canary, but for lying to him for months. He tells her she broke the bond between them, and he leaves for a separate AA meeting from hers. And I’ll just end with this observation: This is the same sort of secret and breach of trust that created the Slade Wilson we know and love today.

Next week: It looks like everyone takes a field trip to Nanda Parbat. Hopefully this ends with Malcolm Merlyn’s demise. Also — ugh — ATOM stuff.



**This post contains spoilers for episode 3.12 of Arrow, “Uprising.”**

Everything is so bad right now, I don’t even know how to write about it. Should I stop? Should I stick it out in the hopes that it’ll get better? Can it get better? I think I’ve set a mental deadline for myself — if things aren’t amazing by the time Slade returns, I’ll be done writing about this show. It’s not fair to keep coming here and trashing something that, judging by social media, a lot of people are still enjoying. It’s getting exhausting. But I can’t sugarcoat my feelings, so the language gets worse, the writing gets more italicized and exclamation point-y, and I end up sighing with relief on Wednesday nights when I hear those blessed words: Previously, on The 100…

The funny thing is, I’m not angry about any of the things I expected to be upset about. I really, honestly thought that this batch of episodes would be hard for me primarily because of Laurel ascending to the Black Canary, but this week, she was the most inoffensive part of the whole episode. There was a snafu with her when it seemed like she actually wanted to team up with Malcolm Merlyn, but ultimately she cast her vote correctly, and my tiny bit of faith was restored in Laurel. I also thought Ray Palmer would be flitting around in this episode, but he was mercifully absent… unfortunately, it made way for other terrible developments and plot devices and ugh.

We didn’t see Oliver fight his way back. Did you know he was stabbed through the midsection, on a snowy mountaintop, and left for dead? Did you know someone dragged him all the way back to a cabin in God-knows-where to have him nursed back to health, sans magical herbs or a mythical healing pool? Did you know Maseo, and by extension Tatsu, risked everything for him? And we see, what — we see him get on a truck and half-heartedly ask Tatsu to come with him back to Starling. Then suddenly, one commercial break later, he’s back in his leathers, shooting people, bellowing at Merlyn in an alley, and moving around like he didn’t just recover from certain death. They made such a big deal about him almost dying, you guys, they pretended he was dead even though we knew better, they had the characters spin out of control in their grief, they had a madman take over the Glades, and Oliver just… appears. Mid-battle. And gives the most hokey, cringe-inducing speech on top of a truck. It was horrible. It was rushed, it was poorly edited, and worst of all, it was hackneyed.

Instead of going immediately to his team, who kept his image going for as long as they could while he was gone, Oliver went to Thea’s apartment to make a deal with the devil. We got to hear all about how Thea is now Malcolm’s redemption, except for the fact that he already ruined her. And Oliver just nods like this is totally normal language! Like, “Yes, I can see how this is a good thing, you know, you turned her into a killer and our mother wouldn’t recognize her today but sure, yeah, your redemption should totally hinge on my twenty-year-old sister who still doesn’t know the truth about Sara’s death! Hey, let’s get drinks later!”

His team barely reacted when he finally deigned to appear in the foundry; a couple of relieved looks, maybe a grin or two, and Felicity flinging her arms around his neck, but then things got so much worse. Felicity’s been fighting for the Right Thing since Oliver left, she and Diggle are holding the party line, but as the city falls into more chaos, Roy and Laurel have considered making exceptions. Felicity shouted them down.


And then Oliver comes back and the first thing he says is that he’s going to team up with the monster Felicity’s been facing down for weeks. It’s unimaginable.

I can’t even get into the horrible Merlyn flashbacks. Some of the scenes indicate that even Barrowman can’t make this crap work onscreen, and the anti-climactic showdown in the alley was just embarrassing for all parties. (No, I take that back, I think Vinnie Jones can hold his chin up after that.) Why bother doing a three-episode arc of a supervillain trying to take over the Glades, then throw in a random last-minute twist that Brick killed Rebecca Merlyn, then not even resolve the bigger issues around it?! The mayor kowtowed to a terrorists! The police were pulled out of that section of the city. That’s not even Gotham-levels of corruption and misplaced power, that’s just BAD. That’s just anarchy and death.

What was the point of twisting it so that Brick killed Merlyn’s wife? He didn’t even do it for a reason, he just needed someone to kill, so it wasn’t even a compelling backstory. It gave Merlyn a reason to kill him, but having him choose “correctly” doesn’t absolve him of the other horrors he’s bestowed on the people he loves. He killed his son. He turned his daughter, who still doesn’t know the truth, into a killer. He killed Sara and sent Oliver to his certain death. And Oliver made a deal with him? This is not Moira — this is not shades of right and wrong meshing and mixing in a gray area, this is black and white, this is manipulation and emotional abuse and Oliver actually making a decision that will turn him from an every-man hero into an Advocate for the Greater Good. And as Diggle rightly pointed out to Merlyn early in the episode — that makes him no better than Merlyn himself.

So ultimately, by the time the last scene rolled in and Felicity was standing alone in the alley as Oliver wandered over to her, I was done. I was livid, I was over it, and I was ready for the whole thing to implode. I’m so tired of this season, of the choices Oliver has been making for no good reason, of our beloved characters becoming warped versions of themselves… I was done.

I can put myself in Felicity’s shoes and picture falling out of love with Oliver Queen in that moment. Here is a guy who, despite the blood on his hands, I thought was a hero. I fought for him. I defended him to cops, to friends, to family, even to myself. He always did the right thing. He saved lives. He loved his mother and his sister, he defended his father’s honor, he chose not to kill in the name of his deceased best friend. He loved me back. He believed in me. He saved me. He armed me for a takedown, and I followed through. Things were good, and then they weren’t, and he pushed me away. I had to choose how to feel, and I tried to move on, but one of our close friends was killed, and that changed everything — that changed him. Suddenly he stopped believing in the good of people. Suddenly he started aligning himself with a criminal. He went to his death even when he knew it would hurt everyone, even when he knew it would leave his sister in the care of a psychopath. But he went anyway, and I asked him to fight, and he died. I mourned. I thought he was gone, but deep down, I wanted him to be alive, I wanted him to fight back and come back to me and decide life was worth living in the light, that being in the streets and in battle wasn’t fulfilling anymore, and maybe he deserved better… But he came back, and he said, “I’m going to work with Malcolm Merlyn.”

Yes. I can definitely see myself falling out of love with Oliver in that moment. At the very least, I can see myself hating him, and hating that he is who I love. I can see every reason behind Felicity’s speech, even if it was cruel, even if it was worded specifically to hurt him. He deserved it. As angry as I am at Roy for lying to Thea and considering aligning himself with Merlyn, as angry as I am with Laurel for even considering it for a moment, that’s nothing compared to the fury I feel when I think that Oliver is teaming up with the man who stole his sister’s agency, the man who killed Sara for no reason. Now Oliver is the hero Starling City has, but he’s certainly not the hero Starling City deserves. Not anymore.

Other notes:

– Thank goodness Sin was back, even if it was just for one episode. I love that character, and it sucks that they shoved off the “Hey that chick in black isn’t Sara” reveal to Lance on her, of all people, but at least he’s going to figure it out now. I kinda hope he tries to kill Oliver when he finds out the ugly truth.

– Also back was Ted Grant, who might or might not have been killed in the Braveheart battle, because why keep around a compelling side character whose backstory we didn’t even explore and who can actually fight when you can keep… Malcolm Merlyn. #ArrowLogic

– My sister was excited about “baby Oliver and Tommy!” but I couldn’t even work up a little bit of enthusiasm since they were part of the Humanize Malcolm Merlyn Campaign that this show is currently on. Still, here they are:


– I’m sorry I have to do this, but the absolute worst editing and voiceover work I’ve ever seen outside of The Mindy Project happened at the end of the episode, when Thea and Malcolm were chatting and Oliver walked into the apartment with an “Is my room still available?” It was poorly timed and poorly edited and honestly, it might seem like nitpicking, but after that terrible truck-top speech, I can’t abide it. IT WAS BAD.

– Also, I call it the Braveheart Battle because have you ever seen a crowd with assault rifles start charging at each other? Or do they, you know, hang back and use their assault rifles?

– I’m sad that the Vinnie Jones arc ended so lacklusterly. I’m so sad that I might spend tonight rewatching his episodes of Elementary, because THAT was a compelling villain.

– The only people who managed to make this episode watchable: John Effing Diggle and Felicity Friggin Smoak, that’s who. Diggle really Diggle’d this episode and his criminally few lines by being amazing:


And Felicity, well…

– Finally, this needs to be seen in its entirety.

Next week: I don’t even remember the promo for next week. Actually, I wrote this whole thing based on my memory of the episode, instead of rewatching as I write like I normally do, that’s how much I didn’t want to relive it. I think I read a summary somewhere that Oliver won’t be happy with the changes on the team, but hey, that’s what you get for going to your ultimately pointless near-death, bro.

The Black Canary Cries


**This post contains spoilers for episode 3.11 of Arrow, “Midnight City.”**

So last week I said I was pleasantly surprised by Arrow, and that on a scale of 1 – 10, I gave it a 5 while I fully expected a 2. Unfortunately, water always meets its level, so hopefully this week’s episode, “Midnight City,” is as bad as Arrow gets. Previously, I thought “Sara” or “Birds of Prey” were the worst episodes of this show. I was so wrong.

I’ll start with the good stuff: Maseo and Tatsu. I hate that we’re really only getting their story in drips, but that’s not a real complaint because everything else on this show lately has been in anvil form, so I’ll take any form of subtlety at this point. We got more of their flashbacks, namely that Maseo was willing to risk the lives of thousands of people for his family and that China White had anticipated that quality in him. Oliver looks a little unnerved by this kind of loyalty over all else, and of course it’s in direct contradiction to the Maseo we know in the present day, but that plotline continues to be one of the more compelling plotlines of this show.

In the present day, Tatsu is helping Oliver recover while Maseo protects them and prepares to return to the League. Oliver is overly concerned with his old friend’s fate, so Maseo fakes a cut on his neck to indicate Oliver fighting back. Oliver asks him to come back to Starling City with him, but Maseo chooses to go back to the League, leaving Tatsu in tears.

Speaking of anvil-like imagery, the episode starts out with a dream sequence, going back to the moment Oliver told Felicity he was leaving. In this version, he abruptly decides to stay because he loves her so much, and they kiss for one joyous moment before he leans back and starts spewing blood. They both glance down in shock to find a sword going through his midsection, and cut to — Oliver waking up. This is the sort of thing this show used to do really well, or at the very least, they did it with a little more finesse. This time it was just clumsy and shot weird and had odd emotional beats without any indication that it was a dream at all. It even seemed like it should’ve been Felicity’s dream until we saw Oliver wake from it. Just so strange. But it’s nice that he’s dreaming about her, I suppose.

Elsewhere, people are making — just — I can’t even talk about the stupid decisions almost everyone on this show is making. Just mind-numblingly stupid. The only people not doing dumb stuff in this episode are Oliver, who is healing, and Lance, who is being lied to by every single person in his life. I don’t even know where to begin, but since my ire with this show begins and ends with Thea Queen, I guess I’ll start there.

Malcolm is still lying to her. Roy is still lying to her. And now greasy grungy shady DJ guy is lying to her, because — surprise! — he works for the League of Assassins somehow. He’s Maseo’s man in Starling, I guess. We’ll get more on that later. But Malcolm spends the episode trying to convince Thea to leave the city and she tells him that they should be strong and face down their enemies, and Malcolm… agrees. So sending Oliver to his death was totally worth it.

Speaking of lying, Felicity (yes, Felicity, because as much as a certain faction of fandom would like to blame Laurel for this, it was actually Felicity who came up with this particular atrocity) had the bright idea to use old scans of Sara’s voice to have Laurel talk to Captain Lance as The Canary. Lance has been wondering why there are reports of a masked blonde woman running around town beating people up, but he hasn’t heard from his daughter, and somehow this little detail never occurred to Laurel as she was putting on the mask. After Felicity has a crisis of conscience about saving the city, she comes up with this awful idea and Laurel stands there in the foundry, talking to her dad as Sara as Katie Cassidy finally sheds a tear. I was too angry with the writers and show and the general production for pulling this stunt to really appreciate that she gave it her all, so props to Katie for trying to drag that scene out of the abyss that it belongs in, because it was terrible. I hated every second of that plot and I hate writing about it now.

But no! That wasn’t the only time she impersonated her sister! Later she stood on a fire escape four stories high to tell her dad, as Sara, that she couldn’t be in contact with him right now, and Lance looked devastated. It was bad enough when his daughter was lying to him, but now, thanks to Laurel donning the mask and Felicity rigging up her voice, the entire team has been pulled into the conspiracy, and it’s just terrible, you guys. It casts a pall over everything, and that’s saying something, because it’s hard to cast a pall over an episode where everyone still thinks the main superhero is dead.

Felicity continued her tour of bad ideas by figuring out the nanochip thing so that she could eventually send another billionaire to his snowy mountaintop grave. I guess I can chalk it all up to grief but it’s getting old.

Roy and Diggle contributed to the fiasco by not really trying to stop Laurel. We can’t blame them too much, Laurel’s gonna be Laurel, but after last week’s emotional scenes, they both just seemed off, like this show can’t carry storylines through multiple episodes anymore. There was a funny scene where Roy went to try to threaten Malcolm for lying to Thea, but I think Malcolm likes being threatened. I think it keeps him young.

And Ray Palmer still exists, because Brick didn’t do us a solid and just shoot him while he had the chance.

Eventually, it won’t be so painful to watch the Black Canary join the fray, but for the love of God, Laurel, train.

Other notes:

– This scene was fun:

– For most of the episode, it seemed like Laurel thought Oliver was dead after all; she had a couple lines alluding to that. I was initially bothered by her lack of a reaction to his demise, until she indicated at the end of the episode that she still wasn’t sure he was gone. Whew!

– Vinnie Jones was still great as Brick.

– Thea read a book in the dark. No, really:


– Felicity and Laurel finally, finally had a not-awkward scene of mutual respect and support. It was great, and it needs to continue.

– I miss Slade. Who else misses Slade? Things were so fun when Slade was around! Except for all the death and stuff.

Next week: three terrorist attacks on Starling City in three years! What will Joe West and Harrison Wells have to say about this?! Oh and I guess Oliver’s coming back, but that’s no indication that this show will get any better.

Flash vs. Arrow: The Great Crossover Event


**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.

“We all have to keep secrets, Miss Smoak.”

**This post contains spoilers for episode 2.13 of Arrow, “Heir to the Demon”**

It was a Lance family reunion last night on Arrow, but it didn’t exactly go as Oliver (and Quentin, and Sara, and the viewers) had hoped it would.


Last episode, we saw Sara drawn back to Starling City by Oliver, who called her when Laurel showed up drunk and insulting everyone in sight at Verdant. Sara showed up just in time to watch Laurel collapse in a drunken (okay, poisoned) state and then boom, we were made to wait an entire week — seven whole days! — for sister reunions.

Well, the reunions went a bit out of order. The episode opened with a beautiful woman (Spartacus alumna Katrina Law, but I recognized her from Legend of the Seeker) at the Starling City airport, where her passport is flagged by A.R.G.U.S. She knocks out a bunch of guards and saunters through the terminals, and I actually wanted to see more of that. She’s Nyssa al Ghul, daughter of Ra’s (“heir to the demon”), and she’s here for Sara… but not for the reason we expected.


Yes, readers, Sara is a bonafide bisexual character! Her orientation might have been played as a twist for shock value, but the rest of the characters treat it like it’s non-news. Indeed, Lance outdoes himself for Father of the Year award by simply expressing his relief that she had someone to love during her six years of hardship. Hooray! This show did it right!

Sara admits that she loved Nyssa, and not just because Nyssa rescued her. But Sara asks Nyssa to convince her father to release Sara from the League of Assassins (we learn that he’s only excused one person before: Malcolm Merlyn). Nyssa doesn’t take this well, and decides to kidnap Mama Lance, who is in town to help care for Laurel after her apparent overdose.


The showdown is explosive and emotionally-charged: Lance and Sara bust in and rescue Dinah, who is shocked to see her daughter is alive. Lance drags Dinah out of the warehouse before they can have much more than a tearful embrace, and it turns out Sara’s taken a lethal dose of the same snake venom that Nyssa had used to poison Laurel. After Oliver appears and saves Sara’s life with his Magical Healing Island Herbs of Sunshine and Happiness, Nyssa releases Sara from the League of Assassins. That won’t be the last we see of her!

Speaking of the island, this week’s flashbacks go all the way back to six years ago, where we see the Lance’s side of the story of the week that the Queen’s Gambit sank. Last season, Quentin and Dinah’s relationship was so strained that it was hard to imagine them happily married, but in this episode, we finally got to see the Lance family together and happy, for the most part. Laurel and Sara get into a fight about Oliver, because Sara is flirting with him via text while Laurel’s trying to find an apartment for herself and Oliver.

Sara: “This is kind of assuming that he’s ever ready to settle down.”
Laurel: “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Sara: “We both know at least ten girls that he’s slept with.”
Laurel: “Can’t you just be happy with me? If you met some amazing guy who wanted to spend the rest of his life with you, I would be so supportive and so happy for you –”
Sara: “I wasn’t trying to be a bitch.”
Laurel: “Title of your autobiography.”

It’s not exactly what we were hoping for in the flashbacks of Sara and Laurel. It would’ve been nice to see happier times between them before Oliver came into the picture, but clearly their relationship has always had an element of hostility. Sara leaves the room and texts Oliver, “See you at the docks,” and the rest is history.

Laurel drops a plate when she sees the news that the Gambit went missing, but it’s not until Moira rings their doorbell that they get the news about Sara. “The dock master saw her sneak onboard.” Paul Blackthorne deserves all the praise for his acting in that scene (and really, the entire episode.) It’s nice that Lance’s season 1 antics of drunkenness and tunnel vision vengeance was the anomaly, and that this New and Improved Beat Cop Lance is the real Quentin.

Elsewhere, the nonexistent relationship between Felicity and Moira took a huge hit when Felicity confronted Mrs. Queen about Thea’s paternity.



Her tactics work. She finds a pressure point and bears down (oh, too soon) with all of her might. That Felicity has a history of abandonment was just a bonus; losing Oliver is scary, but the fear of losing someone else was paralyzing enough that she kept that secret for a couple of days, aided by Moira’s constant side-eyes and threatening glances. (I half expected Moira to drag a finger across her throat in Felicity’s direction.)


It’s a natural course for their dynamic to take: Felicity and Moira have similar motivations toward Oliver, and both possess a deep loyalty to him, but their moral codes are wildly different. Moira will do anything for her children, even if it means selling her soul or coming off as selfish and conniving. Felicity has the capability to go that far for the ones she loves, but she has an innate sense of right and wrong that makes her question everything and everyone around her, even Oliver and Diggle. It would’ve been nice to get a storyline where Moira and Felicity team up to help Oliver before it took this turn, just to give them a bit more depth, but Moira showed her hand when she called Felicity by her first name. Felicity showed hers when she gave Moira the opportunity to tell Oliver the truth first.

And in defense of Moira Queen, don’t forget that this was a secret over which she was willing to go to jail. Not just jail, prison. For the rest of her life! So when this upstart blonde girl comes in, aggressively telling Moira she doesn’t trust her and that she needs to tell Oliver the truth, Moira essentially went Mama Bear on her. She saw, in her mind, a family torn asunder by a secret she had moved heaven and earth to keep under wraps. No way was she going to let someone as inconsequential as Felicity Smoak undo all of her hard work! (Unfortunately, she underestimated two things: Felicity’s importance, and the strength of the relationship between Oliver and Felicity.)

I’m not saying she was right to manipulate and threaten Felicity in such a way, but it was a great demonstration of the power Moira wields and how she’s made it this far in her life. If we want women on TV to be portrayed as powerful and varying, then sometimes, those strong women are going to clash. Moira fits that bill: Nothing she does is inherently evil, but in some cases, she’s not morally sound. If her every motivation in life is in the quest to protect her children, that makes her one of the most fascinating characters on television.


Because of her own family history, Felicity struggles with the secret. Oliver proves to be highly perceptive, and after two days of distraction and jumpiness, he finally corners Felicity at his mother’s campaign announcement rally (as she’s walking away, “Felicity? Fe li ci ty…”) and demands she tell him what’s bothering her. That’s when we finally, finally get a bit of backstory on Felicity: Her father abandoned her family, and all she remembers is how badly it hurt when he left.


Moira greatly underestimated their relationship; the moment he takes to process it is probably the most intimate scene he and Felicity have shared. If this were Gossip Girl, Oliver would’ve gotten up onstage and embarrassed his mother, but Arrow is not your typical CW fare. He does right by his mother, but ultimately, he keeps the secret for Thea’s sake. As he leans down to hug his mother, he tells her that he knows the truth.


That night, Moira’s worst nightmare comes true.


“Because Thea can never find out about Merlyn, and she can never know the truth about us, which is that as of right now, we have no relationship. I will keep up appearances for Thea’s sake. Publicly, I will support your campaign. But privately… we are done.”

Keeping in mind that she was afraid of this sort of thing happening back during the trial, and how happy she was when her kids reassured her that none of her secrets would make them hate her, this scene is particularly affecting. She should’ve taken Felicity up on her offer to tell Oliver herself, because it’s not the secret that he’s angry about, it’s the lie. The subtext is that he’s mad that she went to such lengths as to threaten Felicity, that he now has to keep this secret from Thea, that he can’t trust his mother anymore.

The question is, what does this mean in the war between Moira and Felicity? Is she going to give Felicity the respect she deserves, or is Moira going to try to squash one of Oliver’s closest allies like a bug?

Laurel spends most of the episode in the hospital, recovering from her poisoning (which was originally thought to be an overdose, so everyone was relieved to hear that it was just deadly snake venom that someone had slipped her, at least it’s not rat poison). She doesn’t turn up until the end of the episode, when Quentin and Dinah are tearfully hugging their recently revived daughter on the docks. She looks stunned and shaken before it cuts to commercial.

Later, at Laurel’s ill-fated apartment, three of the Lances are talking about how happy they are that Sara’s back and alive, but Laurel’s still boozing. Sara says Laurel must have questions, but Laurel claims she has none. “I already know all of the answers to them. How could you still be alive? Where have you been all this time? Why didn’t you call us? And the answer to all of them: Because it’s Sara.” The fact that Laurel doesn’t even give Sara a chance to explain herself is evidence enough that she’s not ready to hear any hard truths. Laurel spends her days railing against the world that she perceives as unfair to her, but she insulates herself from the harsh reality that other people are paying for their sins, too. Sara’s paid for hers through six years of exile and captivity. Dinah pays for hers in loneliness and regret. Quentin pays for his by watching his daughter disappear into the same bottle he’d hidden in for five years. Oliver pays for his every single day, in ways that Laurel would notice if she’d just pay attention. Laurel wants to believe that her life is harder than everyone else’s because it’s easier to feel like the world’s victim than it is to admit that maybe she’s just weak. She doesn’t have to be weak, she’s demonstrated strength before, but her constant misplaced blame and isolation from the people who love her is a sign of hiding from the larger truth, and that will always breed weakness. Until I’m explicitly told otherwise, I’m going to start watching Arrow with the understanding that Laurel is on a villain arc.

Quentin starts to ask Laurel not to drink the wine she just poured, but Laurel’s already on the sauce and she snaps at her father, “Dad, I swear, if you say one more word.” Sara asks Laurel not to blame their dad, to blame her instead, and that’s all the invitation Laurel needs. She rattles off a list of ways that this is all Sara’s fault.


Given the story Sara told Oliver on the island a couple of episodes ago, it sounds like there’s equal blame to spread around here, but neither woman is blaming the real culprit: Oliver. It was that fateful boat trip that changed everything, he had cold feet about getting serious with Laurel, but he could’ve invited anyone. He chose to invite Sara, and both families were destroyed when the Gambit disappeared.

Laurel forgave Oliver, so why won’t she forgive Sara? It probably goes back to their deep sibling antagonism, and the fact that Sara never seemed to be happy for Laurel’s successes. Coupled with Laurel’s growing self-victimization and the fact that she’s emotionally compromised thanks to the alcohol, it was a tall order to expect forgiveness of Sara anytime soon. Laurel throws her out of her apartment, and Sara goes straight to the foundry.


Oliver loved Sara, that much was evident when she first reappeared and he nearly had a breakdown. He spent five years believing her to be dead, and he never hid his feelings for her, not even on the island (where he chose to save Sara over Shado). Their final scene is actually detrimental (and maybe a nail in the coffin) for the Oliver/Laurel relationship; not only did he not spent the five years of exile obsessing over Laurel as we’d previously thought, he spent a portion of it running around with Sara. When he came back to Starling seeking out Laurel, we know it was partially because of guilt… but could it also have been because he thought she was his last connection to Sara? (That makes Oliver the jerk, and it makes Laurel right about a lot of things, but still, it’s up to her to decide whether to move on.)


Either way, Oliver and Sara’s emotionally charged makeout (which presumably led to other things) at the end of the episode makes a lot of sense. Their shared history and shared double-lives make them naturally compatible, and the actors have a lot of chemistry. However, Sara’s always been portrayed as a free spirit, and I have a feeling she won’t stick around Starling City for long, especially after being rejected by her sister.

Finally, Slade Wilson watches news coverage of Moira’s campaign announcement as Sebastian Blood walks in to his office. “I warned you not to underestimate Moira Queen.” Sebastian asks what to do next, but Slade tells him to do nothing. “I’ll take care of it.” What does that mean?! I want nothing less than a scene where Slade confronts Moira in person.

The bad news is, we have to wait until February 26th (after the Olympics that no one is going to watch) to find out! How will we survive?

“What color are your shoes?”

**This post contains spoilers for the most recent episode of Arrow, “Blind Spot.”**

This week’s Arrow was a Laurel episode, as least as much as any Arrow episode can be character-centric. It was also heavy on the Roy storyline (with bonus Sin!) as well as the island flashbacks. That means we saw a lot less of Oliver than usual (both in amount of screentime and amount of skin) and we really only got two good scenes of Team Arrow. But there was this:


This episode felt a little disjointed, especially given that we’ve been treated to tightly-plotted and fast-paced episodes since we met Sara. I saw it as a good thing; I think shows like this need to take an episode or two to step back and reconfigure their storylines, at least to establish a base line of normality so that we don’t start losing our connections to the characters. The alternative would be something akin to The Vampire Diaries, a show that went full-throttle with every episode, to the point that some beloved character had to die (and come back to life) at least once a week in order to maintain the momentum. Arrow is doing a better job of striking a balance, and a slower-paced episode couldn’t have come at a better time. Shado is dead, the Mirakuru is at work in the city, and we know that the end of this season is going to be explosive. It’s nice to watch an episode where Oliver spends most of his time in regular street clothes instead of in business attire or a hood.

Unfortunately, the slower pace happened during a Laurel episode. Her character has many detractors (sometimes including me) so it’s easy to pin this episode’s lack of action to Laurel. I don’t think that’s entirely fair. Yes, Laurel’s scenes could’ve been more dramatic and emotional, but she’s not a superhero or a villain. She’s a normal person struggling with addiction, so her scenes are going to be a little more human than the ones with Roy or the island flashbacks.

I will give Katie Cassidy credit where it’s due: her scene with Paul Blackthorne in the interrogation room is some of her best work. Even though she still doesn’t actually shed a tear onscreen, she looks absolutely wrecked, like a person going through the anguish of drug withdrawal. Her sobbing and begging to her father were heartbreaking, and Blackthorne in turn gave a deeply emotional performance.

In fact, if there’s an MVP in this episode, it’s Blackthorne as Beat Cop Lance, because he straight up Diggled this episode. (To “Diggle” something means “to make the most of one’s very limited screentime by being amazing.” I’m determined to make this an actual verb.) He had three key scenes: One in the interrogation room, one with Oliver, and one at the end where he debriefs with Laurel. The scene with Oliver, in particular, shows his growth as a character.


It also supports my theory that Lance knows Oliver is The Arrow, just because I want it to be true.

And Diggle also Diggled this episode big time.


But let’s get into the meat of the episode: Laurel is busted for illegal possession of narcotics. She’s busted because she’s getting too close to Blood, who kills his mother in the cold open. She went to Hooded Oliver for help, and they went on a wild goose chase for a file that would prove Blood killed his father, but the file turns out to be empty.

Present-day Slade gets on Blood’s case for being sloppy, so Blood has Daly ransack Laurel’s apartment with a warrant, which is how they find the drugs. This, plus the fact that Laurel’s kidnapper turns out to be Daly himself, effectively discredits Laurel’s increasingly screechy theory that Blood is a criminal mastermind, as everyone from her own father to ADA Adam think she’s lost credibility. In the end, she loses her job, as well as the trust of her closest ally: The Arrow.

But things aren’t looking so rosy for Laurel from a backstory standpoint, either. Sara tells a story about how she had a crush on Oliver back before he dated Laurel, and that her dear sister called the cops to bust a party so that Sara would be grounded. A month later, Laurel and Oliver were dating.

It certainly doesn’t excuse what Sara did, going on the Gambit and sleeping with her sister’s boyfriend, but… it certainly provides the motivation. And if the details are to be believed — if Laurel truly busted that party just to get Sara grounded so that she could take her shot at Oliver — it certainly changes the commentary on the elder Lance sister, doesn’t it?

The island flashbacks also explored Sara’s Stockholm Syndrome with Ivo, but she manages to separate herself from him at the end of the episode, just as he vows to find her and end her. Sara turns to Oliver and says they should find Slade. Hopefully they find him soon.


Elsewhere, Roy is dealing with his superhuman strength by trying to use it to make the city better. That involves getting Thea to dress up Sin in her “first date outfit” which of course makes Sin look like a prostitute. She’s able to lure someone called the “Starling Slasher” into Roy’s trap so that he can apprehend the guy, but Roy ends up losing control and beating the guy to within an inch of his life. The resulting angst sends Roy running from a concerned Thea, and he sinks against a hospital wall and cries.

Thea later tells Oliver about the man Roy nearly beat to death, and that finally compels Oliver to go to Roy and offer to train him to control his emotions. I’m not sure how Oliver knows how to do that, but I do think it will involve Oliver finally revealing his true identity to Roy in the near future.


Finally, after Blood has successfully discredited Laurel, sacrificed Daly, and taken the heat off of himself, Slade has a logical response: slaying all four of Blood’s henchmen. He’s wearing his Deathstroke mask and warns Blood that if he fails again, he will be the next to die. It’s pretty much the greatest thing ever.

None of that compares to the greatest scene of the entire episode:


That’s a scene you need to listen to in order to enjoy. Never has the question “What color are your shoes?” sounded so threatening.

Next week: Roy gets house trained! I mean… Roy gets trained!