The Emancipation of Felicity Smoak

Arrow showrunners gave the Olicity Ship exactly what it needed in last night’s “Uprising.” In an episode that saw citizens of the Glades band together in a street battle reminiscent of Buffy’s “Graduation Day,” Felicity led a personal uprising against the man she has loved, challenged, and supported for the past two and a half years. Felicity Smoak declared her independence from Oliver Queen with one devastating statement, “I don’t want to be a woman that you love.” Amen.

Few people want Oliver and Felicity to enjoy a lifetime of wedded-bliss more than I do, yet I cheered this latest development. The marvelous Emily Bett Rickards drew me to Arrow and the chemistry she shares with Stephen Amell’s Oliver kept me watching. Though to be fair, Rickards has chemistry with everyone at Arrow from Paul Blackthorne to Howard the Key Grip. Season Two marks the height of my obsession when I re-watched every scene between Oliver and Felicity as she continued to wear her heart on her sleeve barely able to conceal her love for him. Oliver’s jealousy over Barry Allen’s visit to Starling City and his admission later that Felicity is his “partner” further cemented the idea that Oliver’s feelings for her are just as real as hers are for him.

Oliver’s behavior toward Felicity, however, has been flawed. Despite recognizing that she is his partner, Oliver infantilizes Felicity. A pattern he repeats with most of the women in his life including his sister Thea. He approaches women as if they are girls in need of his protection and guidance. The problem here is that Oliver is not a font of wisdom despite the Jedi bathrobe he wears while wandering through the woods.

For example, Oliver revealed his love for Felicity – “Don’t ask me to say I don’t love you” – in the Season Three premiere and then in typical superhero fashion told her they could not be together, because that might put her life in jeopardy. In Arrow-speak, this translates to “We can keep hunting bad guys together as long as we don’t have sex.” What is worse, Oliver officially declares his love in a subsequent episode just before leaving Felicity and the rest of Team Arrow behind to duel the insurmountable Ra’s al Ghul. Then, he presumably dies leaving Felicity with a heavy heart and some fierce anger. To no one at home’s surprise, Oliver returns from the dead.

Felicity’s anger stems not from Oliver’s presumed death but from the fact that he made the decision to risk his life without regard for her feelings. When it came to solving Thea’s problem with Ra’s and the League of Assassins, he refused to find “another way.” A problem, by the way, that Thea does not even know she has since her loving father Malcolm memory-swiped her into killing Sara Lance. Oliver continues to keep Thea in the dark about this rather important development in her life. As for Felicity, with Oliver’s reappearance she is left to dwell on the fact that he left her behind without any voice in their relationship. He treated her as a child, not as an equal partner.

In the weeks that Oliver was missing, Rickards kept Felicity’s anger at a low simmer. In “Uprising” she took this anger to a new level, spitting her lines rather than speaking them. In contrast, Diggle and Roy appeared calm and unaffected. Only Felicity continued to carry the emotional burden of Oliver’s death. She directed most of her anger toward Malcolm Merlyn whom she rightfully holds responsible for Oliver’s predicament with Ra’s. Felicity speaks for the audience when she reminds the team that Malcolm is a “monster” responsible for turning Thea into Sara’s killer. Malcolm’s violation of Thea’s mind is akin to rape. By saying that he loves Thea, Malcolm attempts to complicate his actions and generate sympathy. As the team’s moral compass, Felicity does not allow him that power. She draws a hard line when it comes to Merlyn’s actions; they are immoral and unforgivable.

Felicity wields her anger as she leads the team against Merlyn, and make no mistake: in Oliver’s absence, she becomes its leader. If you have any doubts, re-watch as Malcolm shares his plan to take down Brick with the group. When the camera pans in on the foursome, Laurel, Roy and Diggle stand on either side of Felicity who sits on a chair looking like a cross between the Godfather and Elizabeth I. This positioning combined with Felicity’s uncharacteristically long full skirt leaves no doubt that she is the true Queen of the Arrow Cave. She has even surpassed Diggle in this leadership role. via Smoak and Arrow via Smoak and Arrow

Forgive me as I take a quick detour to comment on the tactical foolishness of planting Diggle behind a computer screen while novice vigilantes take to the streets. Diggle easily outclasses Roy and Canary Light when it comes to training and experience. The writers don’t even pretend to offer an explanation for sidelining him. The audience is then left to conclude that some sort of contractual obligation has led showrunners to put one actor in black leather while Diggle scowls from a distance. Are we also supposed to forget that his bride-to-be is a lethal ARGUS agent with access to a rocket launcher that might have come in handy against the merciless Danny Brickwell? Maybe Diggle and Lyla’s conversation went something like this: “Honey can I borrow that rocket launcher you used to rescue me once from a clock tower?” “Ooh, sorry babe, I’m headed over to Castle this week and might need it get myself out of a sticky situation with the NYPD.”

I should have been paying attention to beautiful, dumb Roy as he delivered one of the most naïve speeches of the season: “Malcolm saved Thea and did not have an agenda.” Good grief. Malcolm Merlyn always has an agenda. Instead, I could not help but wonder how David Ramsey manages to fold those canons he calls arms across his massive chest. In the words of Melissa McCarthy, I would “climb that like a tree.” Incidentally, Roy belongs with the equally dim Thea who suffers from the most pronounced case of Glasses On/Glasses Off Syndrome since Lois and Clark.

Speaking of which, now is the perfect time for Ray Palmer to make his move. And why shouldn’t Felicity pursue a relationship with him? He’s funny, smart, hot, and just damaged enough to be three dimensional. Plus, he owns a helicopter. I don’t want Felicity to marry Ray Palmer or raise children with him. I will not, however, condemn her for sharing some sexy times with Superman. She is a healthy female adult without any romantic entanglements. That’s right. Felicity does not wear Oliver’s class ring around her neck, and one kiss and half a date do not a commitment make.

At the end of “Uprising,” Oliver shares a brief reunion with Felicity, Roy and Diggle before shocking them with the news that he will work with Malcolm Merlyn to take down Ra’s al Ghul. Felicity storms out of the foundry in disgust. Oliver follows her ready to make what likely amounts to him as a noble choice to break her heart, planning to tell her once again that he must sacrifice his feelings for her in a quest to save his sister. “Getting into bed” with Malcolm Merlyn in Thea’s name serves as the final straw for Felicity. Oliver’s path will not be her path. Before he has a chance to break her heart, she slings an arrow of her own, stopping him in his tracks with her admission that she does not want his love. Stephen Amell plays the scene perfectly, wincing as if Felicity’s words hit him like a physical blow. She has upset the balance of power between them. Felicity’s love is no longer something he can count on, a fact that liberates Felicity and deepens her as a character. She has reminded him once again of a simple truth, “My life, my choice.”

Let’s hope Felicity stays out of the Arrow Cave for a few episodes. She can help Ray Palmer on and maybe off with his Atom suit. Oliver’s choice to ignore Felicity’s advice and join forces with Merlyn will lead nowhere good. Everyone knows that when the hero makes unilateral decisions, Xander loses an eye. Felicity is no longer Oliver’s “girl.” She is a woman who deserves Oliver’s love on equal terms. He needs to make her fall in love with him all over again on an even playing field, preferably while groveling . . . and shirtless.


  1. Well said! Of course, I don’t watch the show, but I feel as if I do after reading this. Your discussion of the main relationship issue in superhero relationships is spot on, as usual!


  2. I love that you got all that. I think it was especially clueless of the Arrow writers to try to justify Malcolm’s murder of 503 people and the attempted murder of thousands more as ‘saving lives’. The Glades are the slums and therefore home to the working poor as well as minorities. So, therefore, what Malcolm meant, and what that kool-aid everyone else was drinking except Felicity, said was that lives only count if they belong to rich white guys and their buddies, not the poor people whose jobs they take away, homes they destroy, and children they murder. Oh, and it’s also okay to drug my kid, murder someone by using her as a weapon, videotape it to blackmail her brother, get him killed, then use that kid as a human shield because, b’doh, I’m really just damaged and misunderstood.

    You can afford therapy, Malcolm; get some.

    There is so, so much f’d up going on this season. First there’s the Laurel show which is getting ridiculous, PapaLance recognizing Roy but not seeing Oliver of Sara, Everyone saying ‘Yeah! Let’s be Malcolm’s friend except Felicity—

    You know what really killed me here? That…you know what? It all killed me. They are so lucky they got renewed for a fourth season. Here’s hoping they get it together or there won’t be a season 5.


    • I am not sure that the writers are trying to justify Malcolm’s destruction of the Glades. If that were the case then Felicity would also appear to forgive Malcolm and she does not. Arrow does not do a great job with its analysis of race and class. As a friend of mine pointed out, not only is this minority and impoverished population constantly under attack from earthquake machines and the like, they also appear to need wealthy mostly white people to come in and solve their problems for them. The people of the Glades do not fight back against Brick until the Arrow Team tells them to. Not much empowerment here. The battle itself also felt a little last minute.

      Malcolm is a serial killer. He is, however, played by the entertaining John Barrowman. The writers are reluctant to let him go!

      Thanks for your comments. I appreciate that you took the time to write them.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Felicity has enjoyed the most character development of all of the characters on Arrow. I would argue just as much if not more than Oliver has. Diggle, Roy, and others remain static. Like you, I love Felicity even more after “Uprising.” I did not think that was possible!

      Thanks for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent recap! With all the apparently OOC moments and questionable writing choices thus far into the season, the one thing the arrow writers have managed to accomplish is the character development of Felicity and the relationship between her and Oliver. This story line is a standout in the series, along with the performances of both Emily Rickards and Stephen Amell. I appreciate your comments along this line. Thank you


  4. i loved every Word that u wrote, and i love Felicity smoak so much more, she is a one in a million, i was on youtube and i read the most horrendous things said abt her being too emotional and whiny n worse then laurel now, my blood started to boil and im amazed these ppl are watching the same show as iam. Anyway your Amazing.


    • Sadly whenever women express emotions in life and on television they are described as “whiny” or overly emotional. Felicity Smoak is nearly perfect and when she’s not it is because she is a written like a real human being. Pretty cool. Ignore all of those nasty comments.

      Thanks for commenting. You are very kind.


  5. I like many found Felicity’s stance to be quite wonderful, painful but wonderful. Oliver has a tendency take his desire to protect the people he cares about to a level of control, he makes decisions unilaterally “for their own good”. And I would argue he has done that with some male characters as well (like Tommy or Roy, maybe even Diggle) although not to the same extent as he has with the women. The Arrow can be such an asshat even with the best of intentions.
    I can see why Oliver thinks that training from Merlyn will be the most effective way to deal with Ra’s but even if he holds that opinion strongly (even if he were right) he owes it to his team to talk about it and not drop that bomb on them expecting them to just fall into line. Felicity was pretty darn clear about her principles and has been very consistent. I’m glad Ray is not the source of the tension between them, that comes from their own opposing views, but I’m sure Ray will step into the gap. I have some issues with Ray as a character but that’s another story. (And another reviewer wondered if Ray will be any better or just another “self-sacrificing hero” who will make decisions for others instead of with them.

    Nothing Merlyn has said or been through justifies any of his actions. (Guggenheim has said they are not trying to make the audience agree with him.) It’s pretty telling that Merlyn has done nothing to help or defend others until it is in his interest. If he were truly remorseful he could do something to help the Glades community instead of just standing back and only getting involved with the whole Brick story because he had a personal reason for wanting him dead. Ugh, how do Thea and Roy just gloss over all of that? I loved Diggle’s response when Laurel asked if they made the right decision in turning Malcolm away. “I don’t know if we made the right choice but I think we did the right thing.”


    • Yes, Diggle’s line is one of the best of the night. I am curious to see how he reacts to Oliver’s plan to work with Malcolm. Logically he should also object. I think Oliver has a strong need to protect everyone around him and for him that translates into making decisions for them. You are right, he does this for Diggle and Roy too, as well as for Laurel. I understand where he is coming from but it is quite patronizing. His treatment of Thea has really gone too far. She wants nothing more than honesty from those around her and she never receives it. She would be within her rights to go off the rails when she finds out what Malcolm did to her and that Oliver is the Arrow. How she can still be in the dark about Arrow’s true identity is beyond me.

      As for Oliver and Felicity, they will find their way back to each other. Ray might enjoy her company along the way, but the showrunners know that Olicity is big business. No worries there.

      I enjoyed reading your comments. Thanks for writing.


  6. Ditto to everything above 🙂
    Loved Felicity & Oliver, neither are clearly in the right or wrong here. Liking Laurel more now. Enjoying Roy stepping up (even if he’s still a little naive… he’ll learn) Writers need to throw Diggle into the mix MORE! As much as we love John Barrowman, Malcolm is unforgivable… so find another way to keep him around as an entertaining villain rather than try to redeem him. Can’t wait for Thea’s reaction to the secrets they’ve kept from her for TOO LONG! It’s been a “rough” ride this season and need to throw in the occasional “lighter and happier” moments to make us “feel better” watching this show. Feeling pretty bummed out now 😦 Not sure if/when they’ll bring back the lighter, flirty banter & mood of season 1 & 2…was looking forward to Oliver becoming the more “sarcastic & witty” GREEN ARROW… but right now it’s kind of depressing! I’m all for Felicity enjoying some happier moments with Ray for now… although still hoping Oliver comes to his senses and pursues Felicity WELL BEFORE THE SEASON FINALE so that we can enjoy their new-found relationship/romance on screen rather than assume it plays out over the summer hiatus so that they are “established” at the start of season 4 and we missed out on all the “newness” of it and how it affects Team Arrow dynamics…Of course – that’s assuming that we ever do get these 2 together… but I don’t want to go there right now… not in my present frame of mind!


    • I am not sure “sarcastic and witty” is what Oliver is best at. For all of his physical skill I don’t think he is the most articulate of the group. That is Felicity’s game. And, we have to admit, Ray’s. If you are looking for light, check out Flash. It really is a lot of fun. Like you, I want Felicity and Oliver to get together by the end of the season. I want Oliver to work for it, to earn her love. Then, we can enjoy all of next season when they are a real couple. I want to see the “newness” as well. Did you see what they did with Bones and Booth on that score? Total disaster. Made me jump ship. I think Arrow will be better than that.

      I appreciate your comments. Thanks for writing!


  7. Yes, yes and yes! I feel like so many people have been missing the point with this reaction of Felicity’s. They want sunshine and daisies and Felicity only appears to be that kind of girl. Oliver has only been with girls (save for Sara, second time around, but that was a mutual ‘easy’ relationship when they were both in love with someone else) Oliver makes unilateral decisions and those always piss her off, from the EA job, to leave for the island the second time, to deciding not to be the Arrow, to deciding to go after Ra’s and finally joining with Merlyn. He needs to learn what it means to truly be a partner, not just have a partner.


    • “He needs to learn what it means to truly be a partner, not just have a partner.” Brilliant.

      Rickards’ performance was so sharp in “Uprising” because she practically seethed with anger. Felicity is allowed to be angry. Who wouldn’t be? You also made a great point about the EA job. Excellent connection.

      Thanks for your comments!


  8. Awesome review. Last week’s Felicity seemed OOCto me especially when she engineered lying to Capt. Lance. I was so glad to see the Felicity I love back in play this week. I loved her every scene, but her final scene with Oliver was one of her best to date.


    • Maybe we can chalk up Felicity’s participation in the Big Lie as the fog of grief? News of Oliver’s death shook her. Who knows what went down in the Arrow cave as they planned that horrifying voice over between Lance and Laurel. I would like to think Felicity protested and then gave up because she did not want Lance to feel the pain she was feeling? I admit to reaching here and you are probably right. Felicity’s participation in the lie took me by surprise and did feel a little OOC to me too.

      Thanks for commenting. I appreciate it.


  9. Loved your article and agree with everything you said about Felicity, she is sooo talented when it comes to portraying real emotions, she does have a permanent blank face like Laurel showing ‘no emotion’ (David Ramsey’s words – not mine.) She is the only one who seems to have stuck to her principles – though we don’t know where Digg stands yet. She is also still vulnerable and I think a lot of us ‘click’ with her because we identify with some aspect of her, she’s still very real. Someone above summed it up nicely about ‘truly being a partner, not just having a partner ‘ because right now he seems to take it as meaning ‘be there for me and do as I say – not as I do’. He has to earn the right to have Felicity love him.
    I think Ray’s role is twofold. First to establish him as a character for his own show later & two; to educate Oliver how he’s supposed to treat Felicity, i.e. make her your VP not EA, Respect her as an equal, value her opinion & treat her like the diamond that she is by spoiling her like other men would not like the hired help. Even Barry is more clued up than Oliver.
    I don’t want to Laurel-bash but I gonna have to. The writer’s are trying to get us to like & accept her by making Digg/Felicity act OOC, e.g.. Digg manning the comms – twice instead of being out in the field. Apparently since Oliver isn’t there they decided that Laurel was the obvious replacement for him instead of Digg, the most experienced after Oliver and also that Digg/Felicity both agree to having someone with no real fighting experience face a biga** villain despite knowing both Sara & Oliver would be against it & so would Quinton if he knew AND have Felicity help her lie to her dad about Sara despite in SE2 risking her friendship with Oliver by refusing to lie to him about Thea, now she lies easily( Quinton will be so hurt if/when he finds out Felicity helped lie to him.) Oh and have Laurel drop some pro Olicity lines to make us ‘dodos’ happy like ‘Oliver was lucky to have you’, writers trying too hard.
    Does Oliver really think Malcolm will help him? Surely if he knew how to kill Ra’s he would have done so by now and none of this will ever redeem him of all the killings he has done and the whole drug Thea/kill Sara/Oliver-dual thing. Malcolm has a plan, we just don’t know what it is. Felicity is 100% correct about Malcolm.
    Glad that’s off my chest, thanks 😀


    • I am happy to let you get that off your chest! You are certainly not alone in your feelings about Laurel. The shipper in me wants to push her aside, even send her to Central City if necessary, but another part of me truly believes that some sort of official agreement is in place that keeps KC on the show. My feelings toward Laurel soften when I allow myself to believe that Oliver and Felicity are a sure thing, the showrunners are not going to move backwards on that. They know Oliciters are their most active and dedicated fanbase. Moving Laurel and Felicity toward a genuine friendship is probably the best thing the writers could do at this point to engender some love for Laurel amongst those fans. Yes, it might be off-putting at first, but there are so few female friendships on Arrow and television in general that I am willing to give it a try.

      Your comments about Ray are very insightful. I never thought of his character in that way and I think it makes sense.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate them.


      • OMG, I actually said that to a friend of mine the other day about KC. I know she was signed up for Arrow before Steven A. some she would have signed a contract that was favourable to her but no-one could have foreseen the lack of chemistry btwn SA & KC or the magic btwn SA & EBR and how this would backfire for the leading lady. I do think there they have a legal obligation to KC. Thanks again 🙂


      • Yup, that EBR/SA chemistry is magic. That’s what keeps me watching every week.

        It will be interesting to see what happens when contracts are renegotiated in the coming years.


    • I do media studies as a grad student, and though some would disagree with me, I don’t think you bashed Laurel at all. You were giving a completely legitimate critique of how the writers have failed to integrate her into Team Arrow properly and are now forcing beloved characters to act out of character and like her so the audience will change their minds about her.

      Yes, of course Diggle would open up to Laurel about how much losing Oliver hurts. That whole “Laurel and damn everyone else” thing? Totally forgotten. Complete lack of prior interaction? Well, with Sara fridged Laurel can be his new BFF.

      Oh, and the snide way she’s always treated Felicity? They *bond* by having Felicity encourage Laurel to take up a mask she is completely not ready for. BOND, I tell you! Luckily, as said above, Emily has chemistry with a red pen, so certain shortcomings were somewhat compensated for, even if there was no logical reason for them to get along.

      While I have issues on putting Diggle on the sidelines and letting Laurel out there when she’s a danger to herself and others bothers me, I’m especially bothered with how the writers are using two of their assets to prop up their weakness.

      Again, I don’t consider this bashing because it’s an analysis of the writing and narrative choices of the producers (and no, that’s not just a fancy way to say “bashing”). None of this is Laurel Lance’s fault. If I put the blame on Laurel, saying she’s “whiny” or “a bitch” or “the worst” with absolutely no reasons to back up opinions, that’s bashing, and that’s when there’s problems.


      • As I said in a reply to another comment, I would like to see a friendship develop between Laurel and Felicity. It is possible given that they are now the only two women in the lair. Laurel’s storyline feels more plot than character driven at the moment. You are right, saying things like this is not attacking a character. It is possible to unpack a story line and critique it without becoming nasty.


      • You are reading my mind, aren’t you? 🙂 I think the bottom line for me is Laurel’s integration (or attempted integration) doesn’t feel legit, feels forced. It’s not as natural as Felicity with Caitlin/Iris/Sara and like you said Digg has gone from ‘It’s always Laurel & everyone be damned’ to opening up his heart to her. I’m all for female friendships but they shouldn’t feel fake/forced and OOC. I’d also like Felicity to have female friends who aren’t Oliver’s ex’s because in real life you are rarely BFF’s with your partners ex’s.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. As a guy who loves superheroes and superhero shows, I find it really refreshing that a lead woman on the show stands her ground and doesn’t just excuse the hero of poor decisions. Felicity Smoak is by far my favorite character on the show, outside Oliver of course. I think your article is very well written and hits on many important points. But the main point I like is that Felicity and Oliver need to be equals. If Oliver truly loves and respects her, like we all know he does, then he needs to listen to her and understand where she is coming from. I agree he can’t treat her like this damsel in distress. She has saved his ass plenty of times. He needs to recognize that and allow her voice to have just as much weight as his. But if they are truly going to be equals, then Felicity also has to try to understand where Oliver is coming from. Yes getting in bed with Merlyn is not a smart idea but I believe Oliver is scared. Not just of Ra’s but also he is scared that he can’t protect the ones he loves and that includes Felicity. He needs training and the only one that he sees who can give him proper training is Merlyn. Does Felicity really believe that Oliver wants to have to turn to Merlyn for help? In any true partnership there has to be give and take from both sides. There has to be compromise and understanding by both sides. So while I do believe you are right and Oliver has to learn a lesson from this, let’s be careful not condemn him and act like he doesn’t truly love or respect Felicity.


    • It should not surprise you to learn that Felicity is my favorite character as well. Oliver has a difficult task ahead of him when it comes to defeating Ra’s. I think he is at his best when he works with the people on his team and does not make decisions without considering their perspective. I am hopeful that part of the arc for the rest of the season is him figuring that out. Oliver certainly loves Felicity. He does not always, however, show her respect. He makes decisions that affect her life without fully acknowledging her point of view or how those decisions will impact her. Something that again, I believe he will rectify as the season and the series goes on. I feel like the writers are beholden to Whedon in a lot of ways and Oliver’s arc reminds me of Buffy’s when it comes to these lessons.

      Thank you for sharing your perspective. I appreciate that it comes from a guy who applauds “a lead woman on the show [who] stands her ground.”


  11. It’s funny that INI mentioned Ray. Something to consider, Oliver has never truly been in a committed relationship. Even Roy has him beat on that front. Diggle, Ray and even Malcolm have been married men. They know about the messy parts of commitment and they understand why wading through the messy parts of commitment is worth it. Oliver has never been in a (faithful) relationship long enough to know what it’s like to be with someone through the good and bad emotional bits. I think that’s also why Diggle is very much an Olicity shipper. He sees the potential for “forever” when he looks at them because he knows what to look for. Ray, who has never seen Felicity and Oliver actually interact, I think will come to the same conclusion too.

    Honestly, it wouldn’t shock me if Malcolm has a few “words of wisdom” about how Oliver should treat Felicity because he was 100% in love with his wife. If Malcolm had half a chance to have what Oliver is on precipice of, he would go for it without blinking. Oliver needs to learn how to treat a lady, how to treat a woman who is the one… and what’s funny is that he doesn’t know what he is doing this relationship (very disconcerting when you were once a “player” who got all the girls and now this one beautiful, smart woman has you tongue-tied). If you look back at their first date and even when he is asking her out, he’s nervous and speaking in sentence fragments. He has never done this before and he is so out of his element. Oliver needs to learn what it means to be a committed man and what’s interesting is that the writers have set it up so that he has an abundance of teachers.


    • Ooh. Fantastic observation. You are absolutely right about Oliver’s limited relationship experience. His longest successful relationship with a woman is the one he shares with Felicity and he continues to blunder his way through that one. Diggle all but rolls his eyes every time Oliver makes yet another mistake with her. Very entertaining stuff. I wonder about Malcolm’s relationship with his wife. We have not really seen her side of things. He strikes me as the controlling type. I doubt the writers will pursue this path but it would be interesting to see if Rebecca felt as happy with Malcolm as he leads us to believe.

      You have given me lots to think about. Thanks for commenting!


  12. All I can say is BRAIN TWIN! I spent Wednesday night staying up way past my bedtime on a recap comment thread reassuring shippers that this is a good thing – we want it done right, not done now – and yelling at snotty fanboys whining about how Felicity was a bitch/mean/stealing the REAL Black Canary’s spotlight/whatever.

    I’m going to graduate school for an MA in Cinema and Media Studies. Right now my specialization is what I call “the socialization of television” – how people watch episodes at the same time through livestreaming, tweet about it, make tumblr gifs, and argue on comment threads immediately after the episode ends. The big research project I’ll be starting in the summer actually comes from Arrow: I’ll be looking at how live-action comic book adaptations negotiate between the audience that knows the comics and has certain expectations and the audience that comes with no preconceived notions (the only problem is I’m incredibly biased towards the latter, so I’m going to have to be careful).

    That being said, I absolutely loved this. And I loved how the episode ended for Oliver and Felicity. I’ve done work tracking various characters through Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey, and Oliver is just hitting the middle of his journey. Amell has a six-season contract, and if I go by that, they’re right on schedule – Oliver has gone through a big Ordeal (or is in the process of doing so; television is tricky), and isn’t ready to be in a relationship with Felicity right now, because they both have some growing to do.

    One of the final stages in Campbell’s cycle is called “the Master of Two Worlds” – this is where we want Oliver to be in the last part of the series finale. Like Smallville only brought out the S in the finale, I don’t think we’ll be calling Oliver the Green Arrow for a long, long time. His big struggle is balancing his identity between being the Arrow and being Oliver Queen, and Felicity is pretty much the symbol of this. We’re in for a long ride, but it makes me think Olicity is endgame (unless the writers put Laurel and Ollie back together, but that would also mean they want maybe 50% of their audience to quit and leave the show with a legacy like How I Met Your Mother as a giant fuck-up). Once Oliver finds that balance, he will be able to fully commit to Felicity on equal terms.

    So that’s where we’re going. Along the way we’re going to be forced to swallow the Laurel Show (contractual obligation is right, and I’ve been using that term for a long time now – Katie signed on first and her contract said she would become the BC; I’ve heard she and Stephen didn’t even have a screen test together, which would be ludicrous except they really are that terrible on screen together). We’re going to see Raylicity happen, for it to end sweetly as he goes off on his own spin-off and Felicity angsts about another man leaving her.

    But we’re going to get there. We may have to wait for the last five minutes of the series finale for our happily ever after, but unless the writers want the consequences listed above, it will happen.

    And honestly, this is one of the shortest comments I’ve left discussing this subject – I kind of have a reputation for novel-length diatribes that mostly just show that I’m a know-it-all.

    Anyway, thank you for writing this. It makes a crucial point, and I’m very glad to see I’m not alone in my thinking.


    • It is nice to see that my post generated so many critical comments on your part. Your project sounds like a strong one. Oliver’s journey is certainly the hero’s journey, hopefully with a few feminist twists along the way. I think the showrunners might be able to improve Laurel’s arc. I don’t think we want Oliver and Felicity together too soon. Putting the big couple together onscreen can be done well (Castle is a good model), but we can enjoy a little more torture before we have our happy ending.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It just occurred to me what I want next: The Emancipation of John Diggle, and this one has some really yucky connotations that make me very uncomfortable. If you strip his role in the trilogy arc down to power relations… it does not look good for Diggle. Who exerted power to get her way? Laurel. Who passively allowed her to exert that power? Diggle. The word “emancipation” suddenly becomes incredibly loaded, and defines the problems I’m having with the way Diggle was used in this trilogy in particular and in this season in general.

        Yes, we know Oliver is the boss man, but there is a level of respect I see between Oliver and Diggle that isn’t there with Laurel “My Way or the Highway” Lance. With Oliver, Diggle is clearly the mentor, someone who’s in the final stages of his own hero’s journey (his “master of two worlds” will be symbolically reached by the end of the season – he will be able to balance family man and soldier). He is guiding Oliver, but he’s also his own hero.

        I don’t think Laurel sees that, and I don’t think the writers are aware of how icky it is to have an extremely trained [black] soldier staying at home while a completely untrained [white] woman gets to play hero.

        So yeah. The Emancipation of John Diggle. Hopefully we’ll see some of it in the Suicide Squad episode – this could be Diggle’s identity thing to work through, I just keep on getting more and more furious at how he’s been pushed aside because KC has a contract that says she becomes the Black Canary and it would be too expensive for the show to break it.


      • I don’t think I would connect the word emancipated to an essay involving John Diggle for some of the reasons you suggest. Plus, Diggle still has a lot of sway on Team Arrow.


  13. Capt. Lance’s denseness astounds me. I mean the man can recognise Roy in a hood because he arrested him a couple of times, but he can’t recognise his own daughter and Oliver who has has known for years! I think the man may just be in denial. It took a kid to point it out to him that the woman running around in black leather is not his daughter.

    And that voice modulation or whatever they did? It did not even sound like Sara for God’s sake. If you ask me I don’t want Laurel around as the Canary or otherwise. It took Sara and Oliver years to reach the caliber of fighting they have reached, and Laurel is as good as them? Seriously! :0

    I’m also surprised at Thea’s naivete. In her short span of 20-21 years, she has seen a lot and her easy trust of Malcom Merlyn comes as a shock to me. Especially given how much people have lied to her. I agree with Oliver that she is the best of them and that she tries to look for the good in every man, but Malcom Merlyn killed 503 people including his SON and then some. How can she trust him so completely going as far as to tell Oliver not to make her choose. That’s just a glorifying way of saying, that Oliver I won’t choose you. Also I think Malcom is a hypocrite. I mean he is going around avenging his wife’s death, but if he loved her so damn much, why did he cheat on her with Moira??

    I also don’t think that once Oliver and Felicity reconcile their way of thinking, they could finally have their HEA. There’s Oliver’s son who still has to come into the picture and that just might cause a storm.

    Great review. I saw this at the exact write time. After reading×12-review

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lance needs to be in denial. Losing Sara twice will be incredibly painful for him. Thea felt lost after losing her mother and Malcolm stepped in at just the right time for her. She was vulnerable. I look forward to seeing her reaction when she learns what he did to her with regard to Sara.

      I am glad to hear that you stumbled upon my post and enjoyed it. Thanks for writing.


      • Yes. Since the day I saw that episode, I wanted to know Thea’s reaction when she finds out the truth. I think Lance’s pain will be greater this time around as he will feel betrayed by both Laurel and Dinah, and as my friend pointed out to me, maybe even the Arrow.


  14. This is absolutely my favorite review regarding Felicity’s evolution to date. Oliver truly does love her. I would dare say it is a pure love. Yet, being Oliver Queen, he wants to keep her snared in his web until he’s ready. Hell, he’d probably lock her up in one of those glass cases every night if he could.

    I saw that heart shattering scene in the alley as her ‘Earn Me’ speech and it’s been a long time coming. All of these feelings she’s suppressed for years just exploded out of her. Oliver knows she’s right. His tone was so soft and humble that it was almost physically painful to watch. Oliver looked like a kicked puppy. Behold, the almighty Arrow reduced to a pile of mush by this tiny blonde genius. She truly confounds him. Stephen and Emily nailed that scene.

    And then you have Ray Palmer, the anti-Oliver, who does all the right things and says all the right things. A man who sees Felicity’s value seemingly without hope or agenda. A relationship that is designed to be Oliver’s wake up call. Bring it.

    The Arrow would kill for Felicity. The Arrow would die for Felicity. Oliver Queen won’t live for Felicity. Not yet, anyway.


    • I’m happy to hear that this is your favorite review about Felicity’s growth. I love her because she shows such strength and she has never let Oliver intimidate her. I think she truly loves him, but she is going to love him on her terms, not his. There is also a wonderfully old fashioned sentiment to the story – Oliver could have any woman he wanted his whole life until he met Felicity. He has to earn her love. It is all great fun to watch. You are right, Ray is the perfect foil for Oliver.

      Thanks for writing.


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