Wednesday, October 19, 2016

ARROW: "A Matter of Trust" -- A Missed Opportunity and the Olicity Moments this Season Needs

Don't be fooled by my title -- I absolutely loved the latest installment of ARROW, just like I adored the first two episodes. 

The action, especially the slow-mo moments are absolutely spectacular. We're getting great little dollops of drama in between as past relationships are sussed out and Oliver (Stephen Amell) learns to train and work with a new crew. And I'm loving that our latest villain, Tobias Church (Chad L. Coleman) is -- so far -- just your average crime boss looking to run Starling's criminal enterprises rather than a super-villain determined to destroy the city like in season 1. And 2, 3 and 4. 

Sure we've got another Big Bad lurking in the shadows, the mysterious Prometheus, but the show is taking its time revealing that figure's nefarious plans so we're not dealing with another whole season of Oliver getting beat each week until his expected rally in the season finale.

And in my opinion that's exactly what the show needs right now, a string of formidable (but beatable) villains-of-the-week to build back up the Green Arrow's bad-ass rep that's justifiably been shaken over the last four seasons after getting bested time and again by the likes of Malcolm, Ra's Al Ghul, Slade/Deathstroke and Damien Darhke.

So, all in all, Season 5 is looking like it'll be the best one yet. (Although to be honest, I've enjoyed all the seasons and have never been on the "seasons 1 and 2 were he best" bandwagon -- I've thoroughly enjoyed them all). 

The only notes that I'm missing so far this season are the Olicity ones, and I can't wait to see where the show takes this forever couple. And whether you're a shipper or not, Olicity has become the grand romance of this show. And it's a ship that this show definitely needs.

Don't get me wrong,I in no way want ARROW to become too soapy (and I will agree that there were a few too many soapy moments in seasons 3 and 4, but I only felt that way because while some were spectacularly done, others just felt false or uncomfortable), but in the end we want Oliver to be able to continue on as the Green Arrow and still be happy as Oliver Queen. And that's only possible with Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) -- a woman he can trust with both halves of himself

Now, let me clarify that I don't feel we should've had a bunch of Olicity drama packed into these first three episodes. In fact, I'm absolutely delighted that the only mention of Olicity we've had so far is when Diggle (David Ramsey) briefly asked Ollie about his relationship status with Felicity in episode 1. Because too much of a good thing kills tv romances. Right now that's all we need on the Olicity front, the reminder that it's still out there as a possibility. 

Because I hope when Olicity does come back (as it really must to be true to the characters this show has developed), that it is a much more mature, more effortless relationship than it was the first time around. That's one of the things that I thoroughly disliked about Olicity in seasons 3 and 4 -- many of the moments seems emotionally immature. Like how little Ollie trusted the woman he entrusted with his life ever time he "suited up," and how bitchy Felicity became toward him so often, speaking as if she were the last word in right and wrong -- and making it clear that according to her book Ollie was almost always in the wrong.

If that's the Olicity we get back, I don't want it. And I don't think many viewers would. Which brings me to tonight's missed moment. 


You see, at the heart of their breakup was the issue of trust. Ollie didn't trust Felicity enough to be honest with her and tell her about his son -- and so many other secrets he kept... And that led to her not trusting him. Which led to Olicity's demise. 

So imagine my surprise tonight -- in an episode that's all about trust -- that there wasn't just one clear exchange between Oliver and Felicity about what not trusting has cost him over the years. All we needed was one line of dialogue for Felicity about the price of not trusting and a reaction look from Oliver. That would've done the job to show us that while they were addressing issues with the new team, that they were both really referencing their past together. 

That moment could've shown how much they've both grown since last season, but it wasn't there.

Hopefully future episodes will have Olicity moments that make up for this missed one. And speaking of future episodes, here's the moments we really need in order to get back to an Olicity that works. 

(NOTE: While I feel the characters need these moments to get back together as they eventually should, I'm in no rush to see it happen. The full romantic reunion could wait until the season finale as far as I'm concerned, or even season 6, as long as we see progression toward that rekindled romance throughout the season.)


Okay, I'm starting out with a small one, but it's an important one if you consider all that the implications of the gesture. And that gesture is Oliver insisting on training Felicity to fight.

Some might argue that there's no need for fighting skills when she spends each episode in the lair, safely behind a computer screen. But let's not forget how many arrow lairs have been breached, how many times teammates have been kidnapped (including Felicity), and even those few times when Felicity has had to go out into the field.

Since Felicity is his last original team member standing, it stands to reason that he'd want her to stay alive -- whether those motivations are romantic or not. So, I want to see a scene of the two of them fighting as he trains her to defend herself. And when the session's over, there should be an exchange about why he's insisting on this weekly training (so we know it's ongoing without needing to see it). 

Because for better or worse, these two have made a commitment to be partners in crimefighting for as long as there's a Green Arrow, and we need this moment to know that commitment is solid, no matter what else happens. We've had enough of them both walking away from this mission only to return. So we need this little interlude to let us know that as long as Oliver keeps notching his bow, Felicity will be there to have his back.


As I said, trust is why Olicity split in the first place, so restoring trust is essential before they even hint at the possibility of rekindling their romance. 

And I'm hoping beyond hope that they've already built in the opportunity for Oliver to show that he'll trust Felicity without question by giving her a new love interest -- cop boyfriend Billy Malone (Tyler Ritter). 

Since we've already established that Starling has some dirty cops on the payroll, I'm praying that in one upcoming episode -- after finding out about Felicity's new love interest -- Oliver will stumble upon some evidence that points to Billy being dirty. 

Of course Ollie's first instinct will be to keep this information from Felicity until he's come up with a plan to deal with Billy. But I think Oliver's character has grown enough now to reject that instinct and take the information to Felicity immediately so they can decide what to do about it together.

And that moment leads naturally to another moment, and that's Felicity showing a little faith and trust in Oliver, too. Because quite frankly, she didn't show much of that when they were dating. She was always too busy berating him for whatever decision he made, often regardless of the fact that there was often no good or "right" choice to make in the untenable situations they so often found themselves in.

I'm hoping the show will let Felicity's character grow too, and let her have a moment where she acknowledges how hard it is for Oliver to carry the weight of being the decision maker when so often he's forced to choose between bad and worse. I'm thinking her experience having to nuke thousands in Havenrock instead of millions in Monument Point was designed to give her a taste of the weight Oliver carries when making the many life-and-death decisions he makes.

SO, we need a little exchange where he's wrestling with a difficult choice and Felicity just helps him talk it out until they reach the best bad decision they can. And if she could just follow up with an acknowledgement of the weight he carries, and how she'll back his play -- even if it ends up being the wrong one -- that would be perfect.


I hate to admit it -- because I do love Olicity -- but their relationship did do a wee bit of damage to Oliver's "cool factor." I'm willing to chalk it up to both Oliver and Felicity being damaged goods emotionally that they had a few "immature" moments in their first relationship, like that episode when a bewildered Oliver wondered "what I did wrong." (Of course there were great moments, too, so it balanced out mostly, but it was still a dysfunctional relationship).

ANYWAY, my point is that at the beginning of the series Oliver was a desirable ladies' man who went from relationship to relationship with ease, even after he returned from the island. Now that he's found his forever love in Felicity (a fact driven home to him by Laurel on her deathbed), and we've seen him in a not-always-great relationship with her, he's lost a little of that smooth charm. And I want it back.

How great would it be to see our "pretty boy" mayor dating a string of model-beautiful women, and these women wouldn't just be pretty faces, but accomplished women, too -- from über-intelligent physicists to sweetheart schoolteachers. Of course this would be after finding out that Felicity's moved on to a new romance of her own, and he's got to accept that -- for now.

SO, imagine a nervous Felicity going to a public event with Billy Malone for the first time, knowing Oliver's going to be there, presumably solo. BUT, Oliver already knows about Billy, so he's brought a date of his own, which makes Felicity a bit relieved and also a touch jealous.

Then they have that brief moment alone in a crowd where they acknowledge each other's dates, and Felicity mentions how she hadn't realized Oliver was dating again. And he flashes that James Bond-y smile as he notes that getting "dates" was never a problem for him. 

And then, when she says something benign like she's glad to see him happy or whatever, he takes that moment to make his feelings perfectly clear. He tells Felicity that he knows he made mistakes, they both did, and if being apart is what what they need right now, he can handle that. After all, he had five years away to learn how to bide his time. But in no uncertain terms he should also tell her that when it comes to love, true love -- she's it for him. Even if they never get back together. 

And then, he says something like, "I love you. I want - you. And if you'd let me, I'd be with you." 

And boom, the mic-drop walk away. 

He returns to his stunner date and she returns to her guy. But she can't help looking back and realizing that the romance between them isn't over for her, either. 

And that moment could tide us over on Olicity moments for a good long while. They could both go on to date a string of others in between as they wait for things to be right between them again.

And I truly hope that we get something along these lines to give Olicity the continuation they deserve.

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