Arrow 2-23: “Unthinkable”

Roy comes out of his coma just as Slade’s super-powered minions storm the clock tower. He promptly gets pummeled by one of the goons, which proves pretty decisively that the cure has worked on him. Nice to have you back, Roy. I’ve missed those giddy pre-mirakuru days when all of his fights would end with him getting his pert Abercrombie-model ass handed to him by miscreants. Oliver, Felicity, Diggle and Roy flee from the tower, just as Lyla Michaels zooms by in an A.R.G.U.S. chopper and blows it to bits with a rocket launcher.

They regroup at the now-destroyed lair beneath Verdant. While Felicity and Roy scrounge for injection arrows to fill with the mirakuru cure, Diggle heads off with Lyla to prevent Amanda Waller from blowing up Starling City with her drones. Roy has no memory of his madcap pre-coma escapades (getting kidnapped by Slade, going on a crazed rampage, killing a cop, beating up Sin, attacking Thea); Felicity lies and assures him he was unconscious the whole time. It’s probably a smart move for keeping Roy’s beautiful head in the game right now, though this bit of deception will almost certainly come back to bite them all in the future.

Sara breezes back into town, accompanied by her murderous ex-lover Nyssa and several members of the League of Assassins. In exchange for Nyssa’s help battling Slade, Sara agrees to rejoin the League. Good to see Nyssa back. Sure, her first appearance on the show was in a grotesque train wreck of an episode, but none of that was Nyssa’s fault. She’s kind of awesome.

At the train station, Malcolm is still very much alive after getting shot by Thea. He cheerfully shows off his Kevlar vest. “You are truly my daughter, and I could not be more proud,” he tells her, while working in a few digs at his late, lamented son Tommy for never having the guts to try to murder him. In the midst of all this surreality, Roy calls Thea and asks her to meet him at his apartment. Malcolm advises against this, pointing out (correctly) that Roy has a habit of keeping some pretty big secrets from her, but Thea heads off anyway.

Slade and Isabel and assorted goons hole up at Queen Consolidated. Oliver, Sara, Nyssa, and the League storm the building and shoot cure-loaded injection arrows all over the place. Slade immediately hightails it to freedom; Sara stabs Isabel with an arrow, presumably stripping her of her super-powers. Before Oliver can stop her, Nyssa breaks Isabel’s neck.

Adios, Isabel. You had a downright weird plotline with a few bad missteps (that you turned out to be Robert Queen’s spurned, bitter ex-mistress being chief among them), but Summer Glau, you did a solid job with a bizarrely-scripted role.

Meanwhile, Slade grabs Laurel from the police station, intending to use her as leverage against Oliver. Quentin pleads with Oliver to kill Slade and get his daughter back; Felicity tries to talk him out of resorting to carnage, urging him to try to cure Slade instead. Oliver is not convinced by Felicity’s plea: “I can’t outthink him,” he tells her glumly. Felicity: “Then don’t. Make him outthink you.”

Oh, Felicity, honey. That’s never been the problem. Slade has been blithely outthinking Oliver all season long.

Having received word of Amanda Waller’s plan to bomb the city, all of Slade’s goons head for one of the tunnels leading out of town. Oliver and his team plan to converge on the tunnel and take them out all at once. Before this, though, Oliver takes a quick detour to stash Felicity at the Queen mansion to keep her safe from Slade: “Slade took Laurel because he wants to kill the woman I love. He took the wrong woman.”

Oh. Oh, dear.

Well. Let’s examine this for a second. All season long, Oliver’s romantic affections have been divided between the two Lance sisters—in fact, a mere two episodes ago, he asked Sara to move in with him. Sure, there’ve been a few (poorly-handled and wildly inappropriate) indications of romantic feelings developing between Oliver and Felicity (see: the way he was foul and verbally abusive to her when she became involved with Barry Allen), but his affections have already been spread much too thin this season, and thus Felicity can’t suddenly become Oliver’s one true love without him looking like a jackass. Ultimately it’s okay, as this turns out to be part of Oliver’s shrewd plan—hey, spoiler alert for something that happens ten minutes from now!—to trap Slade through misdirection, but it’s still a pretty cringe-worthy moment.

Roy and Thea have a tender reconciliation at his apartment, complete with cuddles and apologies. Roy lies to her once more and assures her he has absolutely no connection to the Arrow. They make plans to leave town and start a new life together… and then Roy gets a request from Oliver to join the battle in the tunnel. He leaves Thea behind, instructing her to pack up his belongings and assuring her he’ll be back soon.

While packing, Thea finds his shiny red bow and arrows. Pro tip, Roy: If you’re hiding Big Secrets from someone, don’t ask them to pack up your stuff. Fed up with the lies, she leaves him a mildly-scathing Dear John letter, gets gussied up all in black, and hops into Malcolm’s limo, ready to start a new life with her evil dad. Splendid. I look forward to Thea’s future adventures in the exciting realm of supervillainy.

In the tunnel, Oliver, Sara, Roy, Quentin, and the League of Assassins kick the crap out of Slade’s goons. Roy, now wearing a mask given to him by Oliver, finally achieves full sidekick status by lending his modest archery skills to the proceedings. It’s a nice symbolic gesture that Roy heads into the battle at Oliver’s right hand, but really, without his powers he’s the least proficient fighter of everyone in the tunnel. Maybe Oliver should’ve stuck one of those hyper-lethal assassins from the League next to him on the front line instead?

Upon defeating Slade’s army, Oliver receives a call from Slade, who chuckles diabolically and informs him that he’s going to kill the great love of Oliver’s life: Felicity. Oliver rushes off to confront Slade in an abandoned factory. Slade, who is holding both Felicity and Laurel captive, prepares to slaughter Felicity…

…and then she stabs him in the neck with a syringe full of the mirakuru cure and scurries for safety.

Not bad, Felicity and Oliver! Not bad, Arrow writers! Knowing Slade had bugged the Queen mansion, Oliver declared his love for Felicity solely to trick Slade into going after her. With Slade now stripped of his powers, Oliver and Slade battle each other one final time. Oliver gets the upper hand, but refuses to kill him.

This is all intercut with the island flashbacks, in which Oliver and Slade have a no-holds-barred fight on the freighter, which is rapidly breaking apart and sinking after being torpedoed by Anatoli. Sara gets swept out to sea (again), Slade gets trapped beneath falling debris, and Oliver has an opportunity to inject him with the cure and save him, but instead opts to stab him in the eyeball with an arrow. With Slade and Sara both presumed dead, Oliver loses consciousness on the sinking ship… and awakens in Hong Kong in the custody of Amanda Waller.

So these blasted flashbacks will continue on into the next season, it seems, but at least the action has finally moved off of the claustrophobic confines of the island. That’s something, I guess.

Diggle and Lyla break into A.R.G.U.S. headquarters. They bust Digg’s nemesis Deadshot out of his cell and take him along for the ride while they try to browbeat Amanda into calling off her drone attack. There’s absolutely no need to have Deadshot in this episode, but I’ve grown downright fond of him, so it’s good to see him put in another appearance. Upon hearing that Oliver has defeated Slade, Amanda recalls her drones, but not before informing Diggle that Lyla is pregnant with his child. (Presumably Lyla would’ve gotten around to telling Digg this herself sooner or later, but I guess Amanda wanted to ruin their happy moment by scooping Lyla on the news. I think I like Amanda. Not only is she ruthless, she’s petty.)

Prolonged denouement: Sara prepares to leave Starling City and rejoin her old life with Nyssa and the League. She seems pretty chipper about it, actually. She bids farewell to Quentin and Laurel, giving Laurel her Canary jacket as a parting gift. I’m delighted to be rid of Sara—I loved her crime-fighting super-competence as Canary, but her inability to get through a conversation without her lower lip trembling and her eyes filling with tears worked my every last nerve—though I’m just as happy she’s leaving the show alive and content.

As Quentin and Laurel head off to attend a sorely-needed AA meeting together, Quentin suddenly spits up blood and collapses from injuries he sustained in the fight. Panicked, Laurel calls an ambulance.

Slade wakes to find himself in a high-security A.R.G.U.S. prison, which is located underground on the island. Up on the surface, Oliver and Felicity have an awkward conversation about his earlier confession of love, complete with enough sad smiles and wistful looks to make it clear that Oliver does, in fact, have feelings for her. Oliver, you are such a flake. It’s getting tedious. Decide upon a single love interest, then stick to that decision.

Thus endeth Arrow’s second season. It stuck the landing, but I give the season wildly mixed grades overall: Parts of it were solid and exciting, and then parts of it were ruined by too-frequent forays into blatant and unnecessary sexism (Oliver forcing Felicity to be his secretary, Felicity’s weepy and neurotic behavior, Sara’s weepy and neurotic behavior, Isabel’s motivations for joining Slade). Clean up your act a bit, Arrow, and stop botching the easy stuff, and I’ll see you in the fall.


DKoren said…
Thea was my favorite part of this show. She was the only character who seemed to feel and act on where her character's been pushed lately. Everyone else seemed to act out of obligation to someone else, not of their own volition. Got wearying, so Thea was a lovely breath of fresh air.

The rest? I do admit I'm glad Slade wasn't killed. And it was nice to see Deadshot again, even for a few minutes. And lots of nice fights... though none of them gave me any feelings like the good guys were in genuine trouble, so it was oddly... unstressful? anti-climatic? Not sure the word I'm looking for. I mean everything and everyone should have been at stake... and it never felt that way.

And when Oliver took Felicity to his mansion and told he he loved her, I said out loud, "are you kidding me??" And then finding out he was just using her to get to Slade... and then him smiling dopely at her at the very end. It all gave me weird vibes. I do not WANT them together. She's way too good for him. LOL! I do appreciate that they played Slade, and that Oliver finally trusted Felicity with basically his own life. But at the same time it all hinged on Slade not bothering to search a prisoner. Really? Then either he's stupid or we're going with the helpless female thing, why bother searching the damsel in distress. It's such a tiny thing, really, but it bothered me.

Not happy about Quentin at the end, though. He ended up being one of my favorite characters in the second season.

Overall, glad I watched the second season and will turn in for the third.
Morgan Richter said…
I hope Quentin pulls through. The actor says it's fifty-fifty whether he'll make it, so it sounds like the producers haven't decided yet. Sigh.

I've been reading a lot of anti-Thea comments online after that episode, which surprises me; like you, I thought her decisions made sense, and I loved how Willa Holland played it: exhausted and overwhelmed and angry and confused. She was great. John Barrowman has been officially signed as a series regular for season three, so it looks like we're going to have plenty of Malcolm-Thea scenes. (Apparently the original plan was to have Oliver turn out to be Malcolm's son, but Barrowman suggested it'd be fresher if they switched it to Thea instead. Good call -- it opens up much better plotlines for Thea.)

(The whole cast has currently invaded NYC for the CW upfronts. My Twitter feed has been flooded with adorableness. Like this.)

Felicity can do much better than Oliver. Not that Felicity needs a love interest, at all, but... yeah, she's too good for him.
DKoren said…
Oh that picture!! That is adorable! I swear he can never take a bad picture.

I wonder if we appreciate the Thea plotline s because we're both writers? I know I look at plots quite differently from my family, etc. It really did make sense, and yeah, the actress nailed it. VERY glad they didn't make Oliver Malcolm's son. That wouldn't have worked nearly as well.

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