Arrow Signals the Olicity Fandom
Arrow’s “Broken Hearts” engages themes of love and death while playing a winking game with the Olicity fandom. Cupid’s broken heart serves as a catalyst for an episode and a fandom littered with them. Felicity ends her relationship with Oliver despite his “I’ll do better next time” pleas and wounded puppy-dog eyes [which Stephen Amell rocks BTW]. Arrow then makes a remarkable gesture to reach through the screen and mend our broken hearts.
The wonderfully deranged Cupid flies back into town and sets up shop in a bridal gown storage facility of all places. She then proceeds to act out every jilted high-school girl’s revenge fantasy. Cupid kidnaps, tortures, and murders Star City’s celebrity couples. And she does it with such zest. Coupledom, happiness, love – they all make her crazy because she wants in so badly. Arrow mocks America’s hyper-obsession with Brangelinas, Bennifers, and Kimyes – untouchable and imagined love invented by tabloids.
Oliver and Felicity represent another imagined love, one brought to life by active fans and perceptive showrunners.
At the moment, however, Felicity is not feeling the love so she ignores her heartbreak by packing boxes. Oliver makes repeated efforts to connect with her while she moves through the apartment, lair, and the episode barely hiding her anger. She does not want a future with a man who lies to her, yet that same man “gives [her] life purpose,” inspires her to be her “best self,” yada yada yada, you know the rest.
Team Arrow’s work is never done so Oliver and Felicity pose as a bride and groom [a favorite trope] in an effort to lure out Carrie Cutter. Oliver throws on a tuxedo and Felicity appears at their faux-wedding in a bridal gown that takes his breath away. A star struck officiant prompts the couple to recite their vows. Felicity passes. Oliver takes the opportunity to pour out his heart, telling Felicity that she is the light to his darkness; he will never lie to her again, etc. Felicity will have none of it until Cupid interrupts.
Eager to avoid getting blood on a gown she hopes to return, Felicity tells Carrie that “love is real” and that she has found it, inadvertently giving Oliver hope. Mayhem ensues. The gown is saved.
Back at the lair, Oliver makes one last attempt to win back Felicity’s heart and fails. This time she leaves him and the team for good (a sensible choice because what woman could work alongside Oliver Queen every night and not fall in love with him?). Love is dead.
Just when the weak among us might think our ship has sunk, Arrow breaks the fourth wall to communicate with heartbroken fans. On the screen within our screen a newscaster describes Oliver and Felicity’s non-wedding with a banner below that reads: Olicity’s Secret Wedding Foiled. Olicity. Arrow signaled the Olicity fandom with their own call sign, christening Star City’s most famous celebrity couple with the ship name coined by Arrow fans.
Read the fine print on the screen. Love is not dead. Olicity lives. And everything is going to be just fine.
Another great blog post as usual. Everything you touched upon I agree with and I like how they incorporated the themes of love, loss and death through Cupid. She has always been a favorite of mine because of her sheer delusion and the fact that you can understand, in spite of that delusion, where she is coming from even though her methods make you shake your head.
As far as Felicity is concerned…Part of me could empathize/sympathize with her character while another part was absolutely infuriated with her. I understand her wanting to choose herself and not being okay with the lies that are always going to happen because of the Superhero way of life. But I am also infuriated with her because she knew what the superhero life was like and accepted that while being with Oliver so much so that she convinced him to come out of “retirement”. She needed to be part of the superhero world and needed him to be part of it but now she uses that against him. She knew Oliver is a work in progress and that he has some character flaws that stem from his five years away. She also knows how far he has come as a character since they first met. But she goes back and uses those character flaws against him to support her argument to leave him and Team Arrow. So my question is…..what does she want? And maybe that is the whole point of this current story line. She needs to find herself. I don’t know.
At the risk of the show becoming General Hospital or some other soap opera, I think the show-runners have to make a definite decision regarding “Olicity” by the end of this year. Either keep them together or keep them apart. This constant will they/won’t they get together and be together stuff can only go on for so long before it starts hurting a show. Especially a show that is built on Superheroes and comic book content. People tune in to see Green Arrow kicking butt and fighting for a cause not pining after a woman who can’t decide if she wants him or not. Now I am not saying romance on the show should stop but rather move the relationship and focus forward and stop treading water.
First let me apologize for taking so long to reply. This email fell down the list and I am sorry about that!
I think Arrow will keep up the “will they or won’t they” for awhile. I don’t think there is any doubt that Felicity and Oliver will end up married at some point, but when a couple is as popular as Olicity the writers want to get as much mileage as possible out of their relationship. I agree that a lot of people want to see Oliver kick butt but another portion of the audience wants to see that along with his romantic relationships. I recently used part of a great PBS documentary in one of my classes (Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle) which makes reference to comic books as a kind of soap opera. I don’t think the genres are that far removed from one another. Besides, “wounded Oliver” whether physical or emotional has his appeal.
Felicity’s actions might push Oliver forward. Superheroes don’t have to lie to the ones they love. That is a classic trope that lasts only so long on a television show that goes on for years. At some point Oliver does have to mature. He is moving in that direction and Felicity just wants him to change faster than he would like. I am pleased to see that Felicity will have some time to explore her goals outside of Team Arrow. We have not seen her at work in quite a while.
Thanks for the comment! I appreciate it as always.
You make some really good points. And those points have challenged me to be open to look at things differently so thank you. You are right about comic books being very similar to soap operas. I was wrong in thinking they weren’t. But I still think the show has to be careful to make sure they balance the superhero action-type aspects and the romantic aspects. For me personally, I feel they are swaying too far in the romance/angsty realm. It’s not like I don’t like the romance in the series because I do like rooting for Oliver/Felicity. I just don’t want it to dominate the show. I feel like it has since we have come back from the mid-season finale.
Also I hope I don’t come across as someone who hates or is too critical of Felicity. I love her. I love what the character brings to the show. I agree with you that Oliver needs to mature and that superheroes don’t need to lie to the ones they love. Arrow, at it’s core, is the story of Oliver Queen maturing as both a hero and a man. It will always be an ongoing process. My issue is that Felicity has been a little hypocritical this year and no one wants to admit that. They would rather just keep throwing Oliver under the bus. Let’s not forget this season started with Felicity lying to Oliver and convincing him to come back into the fray because she herself couldn’t live without the superhero life….that same life she is now holding over Oliver’s head. I’m not saying we, as fans, need to crucify Felicity but we should also call her on her flaws and her hypocrisy too. This breakup is just as much her fault as it is Oliver’s.
I think we should make this a no apology zone. I always take your comments in the spirit they are intended. I suspect that Oliver will get angry with Felicity for her earlier lies at some point or another. He has been way to accepting of this break-up. I wonder if the two of them will get trapped in the lair together and have knock-down-drag-out argument and then, naturally, make up? Next week things seem to be turning toward Diggle drama so maybe the writers will give the romantic matchups a break for an episode or two. Just as long as Felicity is in the game I am happy.