5 Ways to Improve Arrow Next Season

The finale of Arrow has aired, and the consensus view is that this whole season has been a mess. I certainly don’t disagree with that, and in fact I am probably harsher in my outlook than most people who are still watching. I think that current head writer Marc Guggenheim is simply a bad writer who seems to think that we should find the show to be awesome just because it depicts comic book characters.

Some of the ways to make the show better next season are pretty obvious: make the dialogue better, get a good villain portrayed by a strong actor, write character allegiances that actually make sense, and next time you say a character won’t forgive something, make sure they actually don’t forgive it when it actually happens. They are certainly necessary, but for this post, I’m going to concentrate on some of details that I think people are discussing a little less.

1. Give the women some independence and agency

This season was just a bad one for women. Sara was unceremoniously killed just to motivate the characters for the first half of the season (the fact that she’s coming back for Legends of Tomorrow may indicate that the writers realize how stupid that was). Thea was manipulated at every turn and then was also killed in order to force Oliver to join the League of Assassins (she got better, but she was still reduced to being a plot point). And Felicity’s primary function was to be a love interest for two of the characters. Before this season, all three of these characters had rich backstories and interesting motivations. In Marc Guggenheim’s hands, they became pawns to be moved around by the men.

Ironically, the most independent-minded woman this season was Laurel. I thought her motivations were really stupid and that Katie Cassidy was incapable of selling her as an action hero, but at least she was going her own way without being mind-controlled or told what to do.

2. Bring back the ridiculous cool archery

Remember in the pilot episode when Oliver threw a bunch of tennis balls in the air and then nailed them all to the wall with arrows before they hit the ground? Or how about that time he shot an RPG out of the air? Those moments have mostly disappeared this season, and that’s been to the show’s detriment. It’s Oliver’s defining characteristic. Yes, it’s unrealistic, but that concern sort of goes out the window in a world with the Flash and a pit of water that can resurrect the dead.

In the comics, Oliver Queen has been known to curve the flight of arrows, fire them backwards over his shoulder, and shoot an arrow right down the barrel of a gun. How awesome would it be to see that happening on your TV screen?

3. Stop with the secret keeping

It just doesn’t work. It always ends up making people look stupid. Cut it out.

4. Make the stakes smaller

In season 1, the eventual big threat was an earthquake machine which would destroy a big portion of the city. In season 2, the threat was an army of superpowered soldiers overrunning the place. In season 3, it was a biological weapon. At this point, I think the trope has been played out and has nowhere else to go (incidentally, this is the same criticism I have of the Marvel movies and why I’m strongly unenthusiastic about the upcoming Infinity War). There’s only so many times you can threaten Starling City with utter destruction before it just gets boring.

There are plenty of other ways to generate dramatic tension. You could put one of the character’s lives at risk by infecting them with some disease so that our heroes have to spend several episodes searching for the cure. We still haven’t resolved Detective Lance’s feelings about costumed vigilantes (and he did have some good points when he was allowed to articulate his opposition to them). And how about Oliver’s unknown baby? The revelation could do all kinds of interesting things to the character dynamics.

5. Have some fun

Arrow has always been on the darker side of TV shows, but this season has gone a little overboard. Remember when Felicity would babble too much and inappropriately say what she really thought? Or when Diggle complained about always being cast as the chauffeur during undercover operations? Remember that moment in Season 1 when Oliver and Felicity were in an elevator with a guy hitting on Felicity and Oliver deliberately spilled the guy’s papers in order to get rid of him? Now try to think of a similar moment from this season. The closest we’ve gotten is Nyssa being pleasantly surprised at how good milk shakes taste.

I’m not saying Arrow should be a comedy. But it did allow humor to show up sometimes, and behind-the-scenes videos have shown that all of the cast members are pretty funny people. Humans living in even the bleakest environments have nonetheless usually found something to laugh at. It’s how they survive. Relentless tragedy and grimness just gets monotonous after a while.

10 Questions for Arrow

  1. If the Canary jumps off the rooftop of a building with no way to save herself and the Arrow doesn’t manage to grab her hand in time to save her, does she become the Splat Canary?
  2. If police officers are chasing a deadly archer and they find him along with several other archers on a rooftop, why would they just let those other archers go?
  3. Along the same lines, why does Captain Lance trust the word of someone who kidnapped him and employs a bunch of really obvious archers who could be the copycat of the Arrow?
  4. Why is Oliver taking responsibility for Laurel’s decision not to tell her father about Sara’s death?
  5. Why did Laurel think it was a good idea to march three uncostumed, really obvious Arrow associates into police headquarters to see Oliver? And why didn’t Captain Lance arrest them?
  6. Did Shado never tell Oliver about her twin sister that entire time on the island?
  7. After Oliver learned his lesson about the power of telling the truth from Shado’s sister, why did he spend the next two years of his return to Starling City busily keeping every kind of secret imaginable?
  8. Are the police really going to believe that Roy Harper is the Arrow when he’s noticeably smaller and skinnier?
  9. Why does Thea keep disappearing at random throughout this episode? Doesn’t she at least want to visit her brother in lockup?
  10. What exactly was the point of the Ray Palmer storyline when all this other stuff was happening?

Arrow S03.E12 — Uprising

If we assume that Malcolm Merlyn really can teach Oliver to defeat Ra’s Al Ghul (which is a huge assumption that I’ll get to in a moment), then both Oliver and Felicity are right. Felicity is right because Merlyn’s crimes really are unforgivable and it should turn anybody’s stomach to work with him. He can claim that he was trying to protect his city all he wants, but he murdered numerous people and drugged his own daughter to get her to commit another murder (of Oliver’s friend and lover, no less). Felicity’s parting words (“I don’t want to be a woman you love”) were rather hurtful but also contained a lot of truth. Oliver goes through lovers at a rather alarming speed, and they tend to end up dead.

On the other hand, what is Oliver supposed to do? Ra’s Al Ghul killed him last time they fought. He has to be realistic about his chances when the League of Assassins tries to enter his city again. If Merlyn offers the only chance he has, then he has to take the bitter pill.

That last part struck me as rather silly, however. Only the student can best the master and therefore only Merlyn can teach Oliver how to defeat Ra’s Al Ghul? How exactly does that work? I teach martial arts, and there aren’t very many of my students who could beat me in a fight. Nor would I do very well against my grandmaster, and my students certainly wouldn’t learn how to beat my grandmaster from me. I suppose the justification is that Merlyn will understand Ra’s Al Ghul’s sword tactics and that Oliver will be able to discern a weakness in the technique by learning them. But even assuming that’s true, why not just have Maseo teach him? And besides by this logic, Merlyn would be able to defeat Ra’s Al Ghul himself.

So it all seems like a bit of a forced dilemma, but I suppose I’m ok with it for now as long as the show isn’t trying to force a Merlyn redemption arc. The flashbacks reveal a pretty sympathetic Malcolm Merlyn who is lost and doesn’t know what to do when his wife dies. His first kill was rather heartbreaking to watch. And John Barrowman’s hair to indicate his younger self was hilariously awful.

But he killed hundreds of people! And he brainwashed his own daughter into killing another person, all the while claiming to love and care for her. He’s just not redeemable. And I’m a little afraid that this seems to be where the writers are taking the show given how various characters talk about how Malcolm Merlyn truly cares. Roy, of all people, shouldn’t fall for that line.

On another note, I was rather happy to see Sin make an appearance. One of the things about Sara Lance’s story was that it was detailed enough to make its own TV series. It was so rich in fact that she had her own secondary characters one of whom was Sin. I was wondering if the writers were just going to pretend that Sin never existed and that Sara had never made a promise to Sin’s dying father. I’m glad to see Sin wasn’t just tossed aside and forgotten. But it still highlights what a stupid and insulting idea it was to kill off Sara’s character.

Last thought: that street brawl was an impressively big scene and well shot. But the two armies have some pretty strange tactics what with both sides lining up opposite each other and charging into melee range despite the fact that they both have firearms. Diggle was carrying an assault rifle!

Arrow S03.E11 – Midnight City

In my view, this whole season of Arrow has been about the show making the best out of a really bad, insulting decision (namely, killing off Sara Lance and making her sister the Black Canary). This episode continues the trend. In itself, Laurel’s continued development into a costumed vigilante is not terribly done and even makes her kind of interesting sometimes. But it’s still the result of a stupid plot development that should never happened.

Laurel is pretty bad at this fighting business, it turns out. And she never really gets better throughout the course of this episode even as people keep reminding her that she’s not her sister. I can’t help but feeling like there’s a little behind-the-scenes subtext there: “You’re also not Caity Lotz.” Katie Cassidy can’t really help that she needs a stuntwoman and camera tricks to pull off her fight scenes, but it still makes me miss Caity Lotz. In the show, they acknowledge that Laurel’s inept superheroing has real consequences such as the death of a city alderman. It will be interesting to see how Oliver deals with her new hobby when he comes back. It’s pretty clear to me that Laurel is barely functional as a fighter and not even really able to take on the average street tough.

The ruse to fool poor Detective Lance is getting ridiculous. He really deserves a better storyline than this, but what else can they do when Laurel is predestined to be the Black Canary? The actors are actually making the best they can out of the storyline, playing it all without a false note (even Katie Cassidy is doing well). But it’s still a stupid story.

At least Brick is turning out to be a worthy adversary. I’ve always enjoyed seeing Vinnie Jones on the screen even if he always plays the exact same character. I’m not sure if he’s supposed to be super powered or not, though. Unlike his comic book counterpart, he seems to be a normal human. But his gimmick is that bullets don’t bother him. And then again, Roy can still hit him with an arrow. So what gives?

Meanwhile, Oliver is recuperating, and it turns out that he and Maseo rescued Tatsu. That’s great and all, but I still wish she hadn’t been reduced to a pawn for people to trade around. In the comics, she is the superhero Katana and one of the premiere martial artists of the world (she trains with Batman). But I suppose at least she has super healing skills in the modern day that allow her to bring Oliver back.

Oh yeah, that douchey DJ is still there. And he’s still sexually harassing Thea. I’d advocate for her to dropkick him out a window, but at least his last scene reveals that he’s tied to the League of Assassins. Malcolm Merlyn is not going to be happy to find out about that.

Arrow S03.E10 – Left Behind

In the DC Comics, Oliver Queen died and the role of Green Arrow was taken up by several others in his absence. Eventually, he was revived in the story arc “Quiver” written by Kevin Smith (yes, the Jay & Silent Bob guy). I quite liked it at the time because it dealt a lot with the repercussions of his death on all his friends and loved ones. And I mention it here because Quiver has some potential story elements which may show up in Arrow. There was the emotional devastation left on all his friends and loved ones. He had unknowingly fathered a child with a woman who was not his current love interest. People were not always happy to see him back, and I think the same will be true on the TV show.

You’ll notice that I haven’t made much of a big deal out of the reveal that Oliver is still alive. That’s because as I explained in my review of the last episode, his survival is not a surprise at all. Of course he’s alive. I previously guessed that Oliver’s duel with Ra’s Al Ghul and death was all a ruse arranged between the two of them to fool Malcolm Merlyn. It’s a little disappointing to find out that the truth really is exactly what it appears to be on the surface: Oliver died and was brought back by  a Deus Ex Machina. It’s nice to see that he was rescued by Tatsu who is still alive. Hopefully when we get to see the flashback of her rescue she isn’t too much of a damsel in distress. But all the same, this means Ra’s was dumb enough to believe Oliver’s claim that he killed Sara and that Merlyn was dumb enough to believe Oliver could actually win. Admittedly, it is rather nice to see Merlyn panicking a little.

Meanwhile though, there are those left behind to pick up the pieces. It makes sense that Diggle would be dealing with loss the best since he is a soldier. It was also a lot of fun watching him play the Arrow. Oliver’s normal outfit really is rather tight, isn’t it? I also have to point out that when he was in action with a pistol, I’m fairly certain he probably killed some of the people he hit.

I actually kind of like Laurel as a tough prosecutor. I didn’t think the show could get me to like her at all, but I admit Katie Cassidy is effective when she’s being stern and bitchy. Perhaps the show’s problem all along is that the writers have tried to make her a weeping, sad angel when that’s not in her range. If we can forget all the wonky characterization of the past two seasons, this could actually go well for her. Too bad it had to come at the cost of sacrificing one of the richest, most well-written and well-acted characters to appear on the show (Caity Lotz as Sara Lance). Unfortunately, Laurel is always going to end up looking like a pretender to me unless she manages to forge her own style and identity.

Vinnie Jones is always fun to watch as a tough guy. His character is Brick, and in the comics, he’s a metahuman with red, tough skin. In here he seems to be a normal human although there’s some hint that he’s not bothered by bullets. It seems a little inconsistent though, unless I’m missing something. Arrows do seem to pierce his skin.

There’s a plot with Ray Palmer continuing to build his suit, but honestly I don’t care until he actually finishes it and becomes the Atom. In the meantime, it does give Felicity a chance to give a heartbreaking speech about the people she’s lost. Emily Bett Rickards has nothing to prove as an actor at this point. She can sell any emotion she needs to. But in this case it helped that her speech was pretty well-written.

Serious question: does Thea ever wear shirts that don’t expose her belly?

Mid-Season Review: Arrow

This season, Arrow started off with a horrible decision and then proceeded to make the best of the situation by mostly ignoring that terrible start until the very end. I am talking, of course, about the death of Sara Lance and the resulting inevitable rise of Laurel Lance as the Black Canary. I’ll have more to say about Sara’s murder in the rest of this post, but suffice it to say it was unnecessary, insulting, and emblematic of some of the show’s worst tendencies. I almost stopped watching the show as a result and only came back to review episodes for this site. That was when it became clear that the investigation into her death would mostly sit on the back burner which was an odd decision on the part of the writer since it felt as if there was no urgency into finding her killer. On the other hand, other aspects of the show have actually done pretty well.

What’s Gone Well

First of all, the action scenes are still excellent. Even in a mediocre episode, I can count on a rousing fight or two. And since Oliver is unpowered unlike Barry on Flash, there’s a sense of real danger whenever Oliver gets into a scrap. Oh, and his unfolding compound bow is really cool.

At first, I was really worried that Oliver’s relationship with Felicity would either turn into a train wreck or another excuse for angsting and manpain. And at first, that is indeed where things seemed to be headed. But then Felicity made it clear that she was going to make her own decisions and was not going to wait for Oliver to get his act together.

Diggle’s storyline has developed very much in contrast to Oliver’s. Where Oliver is brooding and angsty, Diggle has had a lot of things go well in his life. He has a daughter with a woman who loves him (and they’re going to get married). And although he and Lyla have had some arguments from time to time, their relationship has been relatively drama-free in comparison to Oliver’s love life. In general, Diggle remains a grounded presence in the series who is most notable for his reliability and focus.

What’s Not Gone So Well

A couple of men have been introduced as potential love interests for the female characters, and in both cases I think they have fallen flat. In the first case is the DJ who shows up at Thea’s club (have we actually learned his name?). I don’t know if the writers intend for him to be charming or an asshole, but he definitely comes across as the latter. He also kisses Thea without any indication on her part that she’s interested in him or would welcome his advances. Which is technically, you know, assault.

Then we have Ray Palmer who casually violates Felicity’s boundaries at every turn. He tracks her phone, shows up at her house, and brings her to dinner with a client while putting enormously expensive diamonds on her. I don’t know if the writers intend for him to be likable, but he certainly isn’t coming across that way. Part of it may be that Brandon Routh is a little bit wooden (I thought he was excellent in Superman Returns, but he may have limited range). I’m not seeing much there to get Felicity to fall for him, so it will feel a little forced if the story actually goes there with their relationship.

It’s odd how little attention has been paid to Laurel’s transition into the new Black Canary. Maybe that’s for the best because Katie Cassidy’s performance in fight scenes will inevitably suffer in comparison to Caity Lotz. In any case, her character arc has been strangely detached from the rest of the show, and it just continues the trend of keeping her almost irrelevant to the show. She’s still supposed to be a prosecutor, right? Overall, she hasn’t given much reason to look forward to her eventual emergence as the Black Canary.

What Really Needs to Change

Simply put, the show’s treatment of women is terrible. Almost every woman has been used as a prop to inspire manpain (ironically, Laurel seems to have avoided this fate). The most obvious are all the women in Oliver’s life who have died (Sara, Shado, his mother, Sara again). But then we have Thea who is essentially held hostage by Malcolm Merlyn to get Oliver to sacrifice himself to Ra’s Al Ghul. And the writers don’t even give her the credit of making her own decision to kill Sara because Merlyn is just that good at brainwashing. Instead, she was drugged and induced into killing Sara. Then we have Tatsu—a superhero from the comic books for crying out loud—who is captured or something in order to inspire her husband to join the League of Assassins. And finally there’s Ray Palmer’s fiancée who died in the events of the last season and whose death motivates his research and development.

This has to stop. Women need to be treated as their own characters with their own motivations and story arcs, not as pawns for other people to move around to manipulate the plot. So far, Laurel is the closest thing we have to that kind of story, but I don’t think it’s working out very well.

What To Look Forward To

How does Oliver survive this one? I’m thinking that he will be away from Starling City for a few episodes while our other heroes will have to hold the line against Malcolm Merlyn.

Arrow S03.E08 — The Brave and the Bold

It’s probably a simple matter of the two shows having different writers, but it’s interesting to note how the Arrow and Flash characters act differently when visiting each other’s cities. When the Arrow crew visited Central City, they were more light-hearted and fun, especially Diggle. On the other hand, Team Flash got comparatively more serious and somber when they came to Starling City. This was best encapsulated by Cisco’s comments when everybody was sitting around the table at Club Verdant. It was a little on the nose, though. In fact, this whole episode spent a lot of time talking about the differences between the two heroes instead of just showing us.

All in all, though, I still had a lot of fun watching it. The casts of the two shows work well together and really bring out the best in each other. I was actually having the most fun watching Roy’s reactions to everything around him. Colton Haynes is not the strongest actor on the cast by a long shot, but he is at least not actively bad. And his normal slightly bewildered expression at everything going on around the Flash served him well.

Credit also goes to Nick Tarabay for a sinister portrayal of Captain Boomerang. In the comics, Captain Boomerang is not taken nearly as seriously as other villains, and let’s face it, his gimmick is a little silly. Nick Tarabay managed to make even some of his cheesiest lines sound menacing, however, and rather than being a cheerful bandit robbing banks, he came off as a truly remorseless killer. It helped that his costume was designed to look like practical battle gear with an overcoat and that he wasn’t wearing Captain Boomerang’s usual hat.

By the way, once again that Laurel is mostly absent and that the show still does just fine without her. And speaking of characters who got shortchanged, it looks like Thea is still fighting off the advances of her club’s new DJ. I was kind of hoping one of Barry’s acts in this episode would be to grab the guy and transport him to Nebraska.

So what to make of the discussion between Barry and Oliver? Is Starling City really that much harsher and is Barry being naive by opposing torture? It’s easy to bring real world parallels into this discussion, but such comparisons don’t really hold up. There’s a lot of doubt that the ticking time bomb scenario depicted in the flashback ever really happens in real life, and of course it’s absurd to think that Captain Boomerang would have the time and resources to place five bombs in separate places around the city for our heroes to defuse. The stories presented on this show are fictional, and it would be foolish to draw any real-world lessons from them.

In the context of the show, though, there are a couple things to say. Barry is right that Oliver does not have to be brooding and wallowing in his pain all the time. And he was right to point out that his own mother was also killed in front of his eyes. But then again, Oliver’s troubles are an order of magnitude greater than Barry’s since they include years of torture and isolation on a deserted island, multiple people killed in front of him including both of his parents, and being forced to work for Waller as an assassin.

Speaking of which, do we really trust that what Waller was telling him was true? Could she have set up everything in order to convince Oliver that there was no choice but to torture the prisoner in order to get information? I honestly wouldn’t put it past her.

It was also nice to have John and Lyla acknowledge that there really isn’t any reason for them to not be married. This may lead to John having a different outlook on life, but we will have to see exactly what that means.

I wonder what exactly was the immediate next move in the final duel between Barry and Oliver. The episode cut away when Barry was about two steps away from hitting Oliver, so it doesn’t seem like there’s much time for Oliver to avoid the impending hit. But then again, Oliver must have known that standing still and firing arrows was going to be pointless. And he probably knew that Barry’s response would be to charge directly at him. So he probably prepared a next move. But what could that have been?

Final thought: Come on! Must we have Barry do the salmon ladder, too? He has super speed, not super strength. It made for a nice visual gag, but can we let Oliver have one thing that he does best? Ray Palmer’s and Barry’s actors aren’t even doing it for real.

Arrow S03.E07 – Draw Back Your Bow

The two consistent themes for tonight’s episode were:

1. Everything playing out completely predictably and

2. Men being entitled assholes.

Let’s start with the first. The villain this week is Carrie Cutter who is essentially an obsessed Arrow groupie. Naturally, Team Arrow’s attempts to bring her in exposes rifts and issues in their internal dynamic that they have to deal with. Of course, when Oliver tells Carrie that he has to be alone, Felicity hears it. And naturally when Ray Palmer kisses Felicity, Oliver is there to see it. Was anybody really surprised by any of it? Normally I wouldn’t remark on it, but it was also done pretty poorly in this episode. The romances weren’t really believable (more on that later), and there was also some really strange editing, as if they had too much material to go through and had to cut something out. For example, when Roy ran into Carrie, the next scene we see is of him lying unconscious on the ground. We don’t see the fight between the two of them. Given that Carrie is not particularly trained, I also find it a little difficult to believe that she’d be able to beat him, especially since Oliver had no trouble taking her down when it was his turn.

As to #2, we had Ray Palmer and the new DJ at Verdant. Let’s start with Ray. Throughout this season, he has repeatedly been crossing boundaries, visiting Felicity at home in off hours or sneaking up behind her. Moreover, there’s been no indication up until now that Felicity is attracted to him at all. This episode took things up to 11 when he bought her an expensive dress, put a several million dollar necklace on her, and took her to dinner at a high class restaurant. It’s hard to believe Felicity would fall for such high pressure tactics. I can only think that she allowed him to kiss her because she was mourning the loss of her relationship with Oliver.

The new DJ (do we have a name for him?) was another thing entirely. His coming on to Thea was like the accelerated, even sketchier version of the Ray Palmer approach. He was trying way too hard to show confidence in his skills and his supposed attractiveness. It’s worth pointing out that since Thea never gave any indication that she was attracted to him or wanted to start anything physical with him, he was technically committing sexual assault when he kissed her. Her response seemed anything but reciprocal to me. I really hope that the writers know what they’re doing and are not trying to portray this guy’s actions as charming or cute. I worry a little bit given this show’s history of rather skeevy, inappropriate relationships (Exhibit #1: Oliver cheating on Laurel with her sister). But usually when there has been a call for two characters to show romantic chemistry and get together, they’ve been able to pull it off (Exhibit #1: Oliver and anybody except Laurel). So I have to believe that the total assholishness of this new guy is deliberate, but then where exactly is this story going? I can only imagine that right now, his purpose is to be such a monumental douchebag that Oliver doesn’t object when Malcolm Merlyn finds him and skewers him on a harpoon.

By the way, what’s going on with the investigation into Sara’s death? Or the storyline with Ra’s Al Ghul and the League of Assassins? Has anybody noticed that after all this time, Sergeant Lance still doesn’t know his daughter is dead? Where was Laurel, anyway?

The little shout-out to comic nerds today was Tatsu (the wife of the guy hosting Oliver in the Hong Kong flashbacks) getting into action with a sword. It wasn’t until she drew that katana that I realized that she is Tatsu Yamashiro a.k.a. Katana from the comics. It seems that this show is determined to have every unpowered hero from DC comics other than Batman make an appearance. Next up I suppose will be Vigilante. If they stretch things a little, they could bring in Jonah Hex. Or wouldn’t it be fun to have The Question?

Arrow S03.E05 — The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak

I haven’t been reviewing Arrow this season up until now because I needed to take a break after the season premiere which indulged some of the worst tendencies of the writers. I may do a write up of my thoughts, but if you saw that episode, then you know what I’m talking about. Anyway, on to the current episode which brings some much needed levity back to the show.

It’s all too common for parents in comic book stories to be crazy and abusive, so it was a great relief when I realized the writers weren’t going that route for Felicity’s mother. Mrs. Smoak actually seems to have been a pretty good mother all-in-all. She has some boundary issues, dresses inappropriately, and often mortifies her daughter. But she also loves Felicity, and despite herself Felicity loves her too. In fact, Felicity struck me as a little bit ungrateful during the early parts of the episode, but adult children do often fail to appreciate their parents.

There were other little touches that brought back the fun in this episode. Diggle having to babysit his daughter and arguing with Oliver about whether they could take her down to the den (“Who is she going to tell?”). The look on Roy’s face when he realized he had just shot an arrow through an RPG. Felicity exercising in the morning (although do we really think she has that much trouble with sit-ups? We’ve seen her stomach a few times and it is not flabby).

The flashbacks of Felicity’s past were effectively done, especially when she said good-bye to her boyfriend as he took the fall for the hacking exploit. I didn’t really buy her as a goth, however. The goth culture is more than just black hair and dark clothes, and there was no evidence that Felicity was into other aspects like the music. She gave some lip service to anarchist ideals, but she seemed to shed them awfully quickly. All in all, I think the writers would have done well to simply have her as a naive hacker who got carried away playing with her toys.

By the way, Arrow watchers with long memories will remember that Felicity has mentioned that she dyes her hair back in Season 2. It’s nice to see that the writers remembered that and referenced it in this episode.

Speaking of references, Ray Palmer has been checking out blueprints for something called OMAC in the past few episodes. In DC comics, OMAC was a series of superpowered cyborgs controlled by a satellite called Brother Eye. Now in this episode of Arrow, we get a hacker terrorist group called Brother Eye. There’s no way to tell if they will be connected in future episodes (after all, we don’t know if Ray Palmer will become The Atom as he does in the comics). For now, it might just be a nod to the comics nerds.

Last thought: saying that you have to love your family no matter what is actually a pretty terrible message.