¿Qué pasa? Arrow E303 Photo Recap, “Corto Maltese”

At beginning, we get a flashback, but not Oliver’s. Thea’s.

***FLASHBACK ALERT*** Starling City, Six months ago. We see Thea get into Malcolm Merlyn’s car and she asks him where they are going. He tells her she can choose, as he is “a very well traveled man” who has been everywhere.

image

She tells him that they need to get out of the country, however, since he is trying to hide the fact that he is still alive from both the police and the Arrow. He compliments her ability to tell when people are hiding something, saying her mother had that quality, and I wonder where the hell it was for S1 and half of S2 but he admits she is right, saying that anyone finding out would be “unfortunate, for both of us.”

image

He wants to know why she reached out to him, and she responds by saying “I don’t want to feel this pain again. I don’t wanna hurt, or get hurt, ever again. And you seem like someone who could teach me not to”.

image

Oh honey, it’s adorable that you think this is possible, or healthy, and by adorable I mean sad. It’s really sad. ***END FB***

Present-day Star(ling?)City, the Arrow chases a man through traffic and into an alley, where he has to be shot him with a trick arrow with a line attached, because that’s what happens to you when you decide to run away like an a$$hole who doesn’t know you’re there to serve plot.

image

Turns out the man was a witness to Sara’s shooting (his fingerprints were on the green glass shard he found on the roof where she was shot), and Oliver wants to know what he saw. He mentions he was drinking on the roof when “a blonde” arrived who told him to leave and he did, because “she looked like she could handle herself.” Oliver leaves, disappointed, and the guy says that whoever The Arrow is looking for, “he wouldn’t want to be him.”

Back in the basement of Verdant, Oliver tells Felicity, Diggle and Roy that it was “another dead end”. Felicity complains that it took her a week to reconstruct the partial fingerprint using a “predictive indexing algorithm”, cracking a joke about how it was appropriate “since it was his index finger. Oliver makes eye contact with her for one of the two times this episode, saying nothing, and she wryly adds that her comment is “not particularly relevant, now.” She is taking their aborted attempt at a relationship much better than he is, but I guess that’s what a badass new job and not being crippled by PTSD does for you.

image

Diggle tries to reassure Oliver that they will find the killer, but Oliver says they won’t, as “the trail’s gone cold”. Felicity interrupts to say she hates to go, but has to leave for work. Roy mentions that he didn’t know Tech Village opened that early, and Oliver interrupts by asking if she figured out “where in Italy Thea’s staying”. She says Thea is not in Italy at all, and that when she pinged her cell “it came back Corto Maltese”.

image

Diggle cracks a joke about the Queens and islands as she leaves, and Roy tells Oliver that Thea’s letter said not to look for her. “That letter was addressed to you, not to me,” Oliver sidesteps. He is watching Laurel go through the loss of her sister, he explains, and “it’s time for my sister to come home.” Roy accepts, nodding, and goes to get his bow from the rack. Oliver asks what he is doing, and Roy very nobly says that Thea is gone because of lies he told her, so he owes it to both Queen siblings to “make it right.” “No”, Oliver asks, a slight smile breaking through. “What are you doing? You can’t travel with that.”

image

Roy puts it down, sheepish, as he admits he has never been on a plane before. Oliver looks at Diggle, who shrugs, because DIGGLE IS US.

At Chez Dyla, Diggle is joking with Lyla about shooting his daughter’s future beaus with his Glock when he tells her that he is looking forward to spending quality time with baby Sara in the next few days.

image

Lyla calls him out on lying about the diaper thing, but asks why the time off, did he quit Team Arrow again? Digg answers that Oliver is going to Corto Maltese for a couple of days. Lyla asks if he would mind going along. It turns out a fellow ARGUS agent (and “old friend”) in Corto, Mark Shaw, hasn’t checked in in a while and may be in danger. If he doesn’t check in in the next couple of days, she would have to report him to Amanda and she wants to avoid it. Diggle agrees grumpily, saying that baby Sara “better not do anything interesting” while he’s gone and proving again that Beyoncé is the Socrates of our generation.

image

Neither of them seems to have an issue with Lyla revealing Shaw’s identity as an ARGUS secret agent to Dig. Hold on to that nugget.

At Ted Grant’s boxing studio, Laurel walks in wearing her badge and her f-u lipstick and he jokes that she “must not be there for a self-defense class”.

image

Laurel is there to speak to him about one of his students, who witnesses place at the scene of a break-in the previous night. “Not possible,” Grant says, and it is obvious he is lying. He tells Laurel that he and the student were sparring that night, and neither her warnings about lying to the DA or threats of perjury matter to him. In his mind, he is lying “to protect a good kid who made a stupid mistake out of this system,” and that perjury is “a big word” and he, “just a dumb fighter.” image

He tells Laurel that the city is full of “good people that get dealt bad hands,” lose people, lose themselves, and that they come into his studio to “work out that rage”. He says he’s gotten good at picking out the types, and that Laurel is one of them. She says that if she’s angry, it’s because she is “dealing with someone willing to lie to a D.A. just to protect a punk kid.” Ted doesn’t think that is the case, but hands her a flyer that proclaims “LEARN TO FIGHT! Defend yourself effectively!” just in case she has something she needs to come in and work off.

Corto Maltese. The boys of Team Arrow arrive looking golden in the light and dewy with sweat. I already love this episode.

image

Roy asks about Thea, and Oliver says he would like to speak to her alone first at the address Felicity gave him for her. Roy and Diggle head into the hotel (WHO IS PAYING FOR THIS???) and Oliver heads off to the lovely mansion where Poppa Merlyn is hiding with his lovechild.

image

Oliver knocks on the door and there is no answer, which is good, because on the other side of the door Malcolm waits, bow drawn, to shoot Oliver if he tries to come in.

image

A gardener comes by and asks in Spanish, “¿Señor? ¿Cómo puedo ayudarlo?” (Sir? How can I help you?) I flail helplessly as it is revealed that, on top of his other stellar skills, OLIVER SPEAKS SPANISH AY DIOS MIO. “Estoy buscando a mi hermana,” he responds. (“I am looking for my sister.”)

image

The gardener says he must be “Mia’s brother” since he can see the resemblance. Oliver smiles tightly at the alias, but asks if he knows where “Mia” is. She woks at a cafe, which the gardener offers to kindly show him, and they leave. Behind the door, Malcolm exhales and lowers his bow.

image

***FLASHBACK ALERT*** Early days in Corto Maltese, Malcolm and Thea sit by some hot coals where he is brewing “a meditative tea” that is going to activate her “mind and body.”

image

Thea jokes that she’ll need more than tea to learn to use his weapons, but Malcolm tells her that the Buddhist warriors from who he learned believed that first you fight with your mind. He sets a bucket of cool water in between them, telling her he began just like her, “devastated” by his wife’s death. Hurt and angry, and that “the pain was unbearable-like this”, he illustrates, taking a ladle of hot wax and pouring it over his hand, suspended over the bucket.

image

Thea, upset and forgetting that he is crazy as a basket of monkeys, wants him to plunge his hand into the cool water, but he doesn’t flinch. The “simple truth” that every warrior must learn, he says, “that pain is inevitable and suffering is optional”. He takes her hand and holds it over the bucket, tipping the ladle as she asks him not to do what she thinks he is going to do. “You asked me to teach you,” he answers not unkindly.

image

***END FB***

image

Corto Maltese. At the cafe, Thea is serving a table (IN SPANISH) when Oliver calls her name and she turns. The siblings are obviously happy to see each other, and they hug. image

Thea wants to know how Oliver found her, and he gently reproaches her that it “isn’t precisely the Amalfi Coast.” As they sit down at an unoccupied table to chat and Thea tells a waiter in Spanish that she’ll be right there, Oliver asks if she didn’t flunk Spanish. Thea jokes that she “skipped it all together” and it is the first clue to him that his little sister is not the same. He compliments her haircut, and she apologizes for lying to him about Italy. “I just needed some space.” Oliver says she has had five months, and when she tells him that “this is not just a visit,” he shows her the ticket he bought for her (SRSLY WHO IS BANKROLLING THIS TRIP?). He tells her he understood why she left when their mother died, but lays his cards out “Thea, I miss you, and I would really like it if you came home.” “I miss you too”, she answers earnestly, “And I love you…so much…but I’m never coming back to Starling City”. Oliver looks down, disappointed and I can’t even these two are adorable and heartbreaking.

image

image

***FLASHBACK ALERT*** Malcolm is pouring hot wax on his baby girl’s hand and this %$#@! is crazy. Thea must think so, too, because she plunges her hand into the cold bucket and tells him that she can’t, and she is sorry. “There is strength in you, Thea, and if you can’t see it in yourself…” But she is starting to panic, saying that she is not like him, and that she can’t do as he asks. image

He pulls her in for a hug, and tells her it’s all right. “It’s not your fault”, he says, staring off into the distance, “it’s mine”. ***END FB***

Starling City, Offices of QC. Ray is talking to a man in a suit when Felicity walks in. He starts talking at her very fast, and then excuses himself as he has been working all night and is on his third espresso. She stops him right there and says that she wants to list a few hard boundaries, which include no late-night emails, no personal errands and no coffee. “There will be no espressos brought to you by me. I stand very firm on that.”image

“I admire your conviction”, Ray smiles, but says that the man in the suit is Jerry Conway, HER assistant, and that the coffee in question was one he was going to bring her, unless of course she is “anti-latte in general.” Felicity utters a weak thank you as Jerry leaves, clearly off-kilter, but Ray has moved on, showing her a table full of partially burnt hard drives from QC’s Applied Sciences Division that survived the fire that “some whacko” (Spoiler alert, that wacko is the blonde he’s speaking to) decided to set. “I’m sure they had their reasons”, she says primly, and guesses that he wants her to retrieve what data she can. image

He is pleased that they are going to work so well together, and tells her he has a lot of work and has to go. She questions why she is leaving his office if that’s the case, and he sets her straight with a small smirk. “I’m not. I’m leaving yours.”

image

Corto Maltese. Diggle is looking for Mark Shaw at his usual day drop to verify that he is okay for Lyla, and Oliver has tagged along, joking that he “doesn’t know how to vacation like a normal person”. When Diggle spots him and says “Got him”, Oliver responds by saying “I got you.” Diggle grins and heads off towards Shaw, telling Oliver that “he’s a friendly”. When he approaches him, however, Shaw draws a knife on him and Oliver, watching from a distance, flinches. image

Diggle blocks him, saying he is with Lyla Micheals. Shaw tries to get a pass code out of him, but Diggle clarifies that he is not with ARGUS, just “Lyla’s Baby Daddy”. He says that she was worried when he didn’t check in, and that she sent Diggle to find him. Shaw threatens him if he’s lying, but Diggle tells him to reach into his jacket pocket for his security transcoder. Shaw sticks what looks like a small USB into his phone and it verifies John’s identity. image

Diggle comments that he is pretty jumpy, and Shaw says “better jumpy than dead”. They walks away and Shaw tells him that he has had eyes on him all week. It turns out someone stole the ARGUS files on their undercover operatives and is willing to sell that info. The actuals, as they are called, are a “digital encoded omnibus” of all agent details, including data on their covers and families, including women and children. Diggle starts as he realizes someone could get a hold of information that would threaten not only Lyla, but baby Sara.

image

SC. Laurel is at an AA meeting, confessing that a week ago “something happened that I can’t share with anyone for several, complicated reasons” and that she thought she was going to want to drink, but wasn’t really even tempted. What she is, it turns out, is angry. “I don’t know what to do with it or where to put it, I just–” and she stops as Quentin walks in to the same meeting, thanking everyone for letting her share as another woman takes her turn.image

The woman, Erica, shares that her boyfriend, who still drinks, and she got in a fight, and shows the group the bruises on her collarbone from where he obviously hurt her. She knows she should leave but she can’t, she says, and wonder if there is a group she can go to for it. After the meeting, Laurel and Quentin talk and Laurel tells her father that Erica has been making statements like that every month, that they are getting worse, and that her boyfriend has 8 pending charges for assault in several cities. Lance tells her that it takes everything in him not to go after a guy like that, but that “the day that cops start bringing their badges into AA meetings is the day that the drunks stop coming”.image

CM. Oliver is standing out of view with a bluetooth while Diggle drives with Shaw to the sale of the actuals. He questions that there are only two of them and if he shouldn’t call for backup, but Shaw pulls a gun out of his glove compartment and tells him that’s the only backup he’ll need.

image

Walking to the meeting, Diggle starts asking Shaw if he isn’t concerned that someone will see him, and how he knows about the dropoff. Shaw says he’s been the home agent in Corto Maltese for the last three years, and that he’s got “this third-world garbage down”. Diggle’s doubt shows on his face, and he circles Shaw, who asks him what’s wrong. Diggle responds questioning whether there is a buy at all, checking the clip on the gun Shaw gave him and discovering that it is empty. He comes at Shaw only to have the later tase him, and as he goes down, Oliver rises despite Diggle telling him not to. image

Shaw has a gunman backing him up, however, and Oliver is forced to stand back as Shaw drags Diggle to one side and steals his transcoder, telling him that there is a buy, and thanking him for giving him the means with which to decode the actual. image

Oliver runs after Shaw, but he escapes in the Jeep, leaving both men behind.

CM. Thea is taking the trash out to the cafe dumpster when her bag breaks. image

As she is bending over to pick it up and toss it, Roy comes around the corner and jokes that she “should have gotten the heavy duty ones” and compliments her hair. Thea sarcastically asks if he and her brother are “travel buddies” now, and he starts to help pick up the trash, simply and sincerely saying, “Nah. I was worried about you.” Oliver told him that she wouldn’t come back and he was going to try to convince her. She tells him he can’t. He says that he gets that she’s hurt. “I lied to you. I lied right to your face. But I need you to know that when I said I wanted to leave Starling City with you, that wasn’t a lie.” image

Thea tells him she didn’t leave just because of him. Her mother and brother lied to her, and she had to get away from Starling City and “all the secrets”. She tells him she found herself in Corto and when he asks her if it isn’t kind of lonely, she answers that it’s what she likes about it. No one there thinks her as Thea Queen, or Thea Merlyn, lies to her, or tries to protect her with secrets. “All I ever wanted was for you to be happy, Thea,” Roy says, “I’m sorry if I got in the way of that…and I’m sorry I hurt you.” image

He tells her that if being there makes her happy, she should stay. He isn’t the same impulsive boy she left behind, and as he is walking away, Thea stops him to ask how he has been, saying that he looks a bit tired. “I just haven’t been sleeping much lately”, he tells her, and walks away as she goes back into the cafe. As Roy rounds the corner, Malcolm comes into frame and it is obvious he has listened to the whole exchange.

image

***FLASHBACK ALERT*** Thea and Malcolm are hugging when she pulls away from him and asks what he meant when he said it was his fault, not hers. “I thought I could do this differently, but I can’t,” he explains. “I need to train you as I was trained.” He places one hand on her shoulder, and it looks like it’s for support. “Treat you as my student, not my daughter,” and he holds her steady as he brings up his other arm and STRIKES HER IN THE FACE.

image

Thea falls to the ground, asking him what he’s doing, but he strikes her again, and again she falls. “The only way to forge steel is to temper it with fire,” he says, and Thea gets up on all fours as he advances on her, reaching behind her for one of the swords on the rack and unsheathing it as she threatens him with it.image

“Stay away from me, you sick son of a bitch,” she snarls, and the smile that breaks out on Malcolm’s face is an 11 on the creep-scale. “Now we can begin,” he tells her. image

***END FB***

CM. Back at the hotel, Diggle is updating Lyla on events over Skype and she tells him that they have discovered there is a buyer headed to Corto Maltese, but not his identity. She says that Amanda is sending “a wet team” over to his location and when Diggle says they won’t get there in time, she says that “they might,” and advises him to “keep his powder dry” and stay put. image

“Copy that”, says Diggle, ending the call. Oliver, sitting behind him, wryly asks, “We’re not keeping our powder dry?” image

“Hell no,” Diggle answers, already walking away.

SC. Felicity is at her desk at QC, reading a blog about “The Streak”, as Barry is being called in Central City when Ray walks in and asks if she’s had any luck “raising their digital Lazarus”. image

She walks over and starts listing everything that’s wrong (hint: everything) when her cell phone rings and she hurries back to her desk to answer. It’s Diggle, and he wants her to look up Shaw in Corto Maltese. image

She tries to demur as Ray is there, listening to everything she is saying by saying she is in a meeting, but habit gets the best of her and she asks Ray to excuse her, saying it’s a friend. “Several friends,” she corrects herself nervously, “it’s a long story.” Ray tells her that he has a feeling she has a lot of stories like that, all of which are long. He asks her if he should come back later, but Felicity isn’t listening, mostly because she is trying to dodge the question but also because the call from Corto cut off.

image

As she tries to get it back she answers a second call from Laurel, who is asking her for a favor. “Are we favor friends now? Are we friends?” Felicity wonders out loud, very reasonably. “WHAT?” Laurel answers, because SHUT UP I AM NOT TRYING TO HEAR THAT JUST DO WHAT I WANT. “Oh Dear God,” Felicity says as her office phone rings. Who gave Diggle the number? In any case she tells him that the guy he sent her is a bit of a hacker and his trail is faint, but that with a bit of luck, she’ll find him and email him when she has something, and hangs up. image

Ray’s face as he listens is priceless, he obviously knows something is up, but he is enjoying eavesdropping.  “I’m having a bit of a day,” she tells Laurel on her cell.image

Laurel wants her help finding Erica’s abusive boyfriend, by “googling his phone.” Oh, Laurel. “Pinging his GPS,” Felicity corrects automatically, and when she notices Ray paying attention to every word, asks if she can call her back later. “This what a typical day looks like for you?” Ray asks her. “Believe it or not, this is better than most,” she answers.

CM. The boys of Team Arrow are walking and Oliver asks Diggle to call him when Felicity has a location on Shaw. He is going to talk to Thea again, despite Roy telling him that she doesn’t want to hear from either of them any more. “We both lied to her. A lot,” he tells him.image

Oliver knows, and that is why he thinks telling Thea the entire truth about the five years he was gone and everything he’s done since he’s been back will serve to convince her. Diggle tells him to think about it, but Oliver says that if lies drove her away, the truth will bring her back. “Except you won’t be telling her the truth. You’ll be telling her that her brother has been lying to her, to her face, with almost pathological sincerity for the last two years. She won’t believe a word you say, and you will lose her, Oliver. Forever.”

image

“Look around,” Oliver tells him. “I’ve already lost her. I don’t have any other choice.”

SC. Laurel, wearing her sister’s jacket, is stalking Erica’s boyfriend  as he comes out of a bar, and when he goes to unlock his car in an alley, she covers her face with a ski mask and hits him with a metal baseball bat. “I hear you like hitting women.” How about one that likes to hit back?“ image

Her righteousness is short-lived, however, as he takes the bat from her and hits her across the ribs and face, kicking her when she is down for good measure. “You’re right,” he says. “It’s better when they hit back.” image

He gets into his car and leaves her on the pavement, bruised and bleeding.

Later at the hospital, Laurel is in bed when her father walks in, repeating “Oh baby, baby, baby” under his breath and I remember that this is, in fact, Quentin’s child, and he is absofreakinglutley right to be concerned for her. image

She apologizes and he says he’s too relieved to be angry, but that “this is crazy” and he wants to know what he hell she was thinking, going after that guy. Laurel’s reply is at once frightening and terribly terribly poignant, and it really makes me identify with Laurel’s pain, which is totally unexpected. “There’s just something I needed to work out. I know that the world isn’t fair. I know that it’s a terrible place, where people…deserve to be punished…and they don’t. I just…for one night…I needed the world to be different.” Quentin is in a panic, asking her what is going on, telling her she is not being herself and he reassures her that she can talk to him about anything.

image

She is staring off into the distance for most of it, but when he says the last part she slowly looks at her father, and there is some pity there. “I know,” she tells him, and looks away. Quentin, conscious of the fact that he is not getting through to her, says exactly the wrong thing, telling her she is “not the Arrow, or your sister” and he wants her promise that she will never do it again. image

At mention of Sara her eyes go to her father’s and then her sister’s jacket, and she quietly, placatingly promises.

CM. Oliver shows up at the cafe and want to talk to his sister. Thea says that between him and “his best friend Roy” she is pretty sure everything’s been said, but he says not by him. They sit down and he says he saw the note admits to having lied to her and kept secrets. “The truth is if I tell you all the things you don’t know about me, I might lose you forever.” He tells her he spent five years “in the worst kind of hell” and that there were things that happened and he did that if she knew, she may see him differently.

image

“I will always see you as my big brother,” she interjects, tearing up, and she tells him that whatever may have happened to him in the island or what he may have done, what hurt her most was the lies he told her about herself, and the fact that he knew that he knew who her father was.

image

“Malcolm may have been your blood,” Oliver tells her, “Robert was your father…and I lied to you about him, too.” He tells her what he never meant for her to know, that their father wasn’t the man they thought, that he was better, and that he survived the shipwreck only to kill himself later when he realized that there wasn’t enough food and water for both of them to survive.  He’s telling her this secret now because he wants her to realize that her parents sacrificed themselves so they could live, “and if we’re not together…then we’re not really alive. You’re my family, and even if you don’t really need me… I need you.”

image

image

At this point Thea is biting her lip and I am just audibly sobbing. Oliver asks her to please just consider what he is saying, and leaves.

Later that day, Oliver, Roy and Diggle are hiding behind a trash can waiting for Shaw’s buyer.

image

When a car shows up, Shaw says he “was expecting Armitage” and asks to see the money. They show it, and when he plugs in the transcoder to his laptop to decode the files, we see Lyla’s is one of the identities it holds.

image

Diggle says it’s time for them to go, and Oliver takes out a duffel bag filled with bows and arrows that look like they came from Etsy, and guns for Digg.

image

Roy asks dubiously where they came from, and we see a short montage that shows a dude who is supposed to be Oliver but whose arms are WAY hairier stripping their room for materials. “Our hotel room,” he answers. Suddenly, a bunch of soldiers in camo arrive. When Diggle supposes them to be ARGUS, Oliver watches them point their guns at them, however, and says “That’s not ARGUS.”

image

One of the soldiers yells “¡Bajen sus armas!” (Lower your weapons!) and Oliver and the others take cover, and at Diggle’s “Go,” start to shoot. Not-Armitage hears the gunshots and asks if ARGUS knows they are there, and Shaw reveals that the soldiers are weapons for hire that he contracted to watch the perimeter. Oliver runs out of Arrows and shouts at Diggle, who throws him a gun. Oliver stands and fires off seven shots that hit six targets, and when he crouches down to see Roy’s shocked face, he says “I never said I didn’t know HOW to use a gun.” image

Roy rolls his eyes because yes it’s cute but try not to get killed.

Shaw is driving off in his jeep when Diggle chases him down and JUMPS ON HIS CAR AND PAWS HIM OUT OF IT like Goddamned Simba because Diggle is a freaking BADASS, and Roy and Oliver aren’t doing so bad, either.

image

image

image

Oliver manages to intercept not-Armitage and take the laptop from him, using it to beat him in a way that would make Felicity sad if she knew because poor laptop. Outside, Diggle has Shaw up against a truck, and from his bloody nose you can tell he’s been talking to him for a while now. “Lyla was your friend,” he yells at Shaw, upset that he would endanger her and their daughter “for a lousy payday.” Not for money, Shaw clarifies. The actual sale was his “ticket out of ARGUS.” He tells Diggle that he doesn’t know the things Amanda Waller has made him do, or “the person she turns you into.”

image

Diggle still says it was no excuse to put a target on his family’s back. Shaw says he didn’t have a choice and asks Diggle to put a bullet in him and tell Waller that he died, but Diggle refuses, although he would like to.

At Casa Merlyn, Thea tells Malcolm that she wants to go home to her brother. “And all his lies and secrets?” Malcolm asks, because he has zero understanding of irony, and accuses her of not coming as far as he thought. Thea says she will prove it to him, and they fight.

image

It looks for a moment that he has beat her, but she flicks the knife she dropped up into her hand and holds it to his neck, and he concedes. As she walks down the hall, she turns and looks at him suspiciously.  “You let me win, didn’t you?” Thea asks, but Malcolm’s only reply is a smile, “I’ll be seeing you soon,” he tells her, “Safe flight”.

image

At the airport, the boys are getting ready to leave and drinking coffee when Oliver, who has been staring at the door, sighs and says “She’s not coming.”

image

Diggle apologizes, saying he did everything he could, but then Roy spots her rolling her luggage towards them.

image

image

“I’m so glad you changed your mind,” Oliver tells her, and she jokes that she isn’t as sure about “flying commercial.” When she sits down, a gentleman next to her spills his boiling hot coffee on to her hand. We can see the steam rising from it, but she doesn’t flinch. Oliver asks her if she is okay, but she wipes it off and calmly tells him “Yeah, I’m fine.”

image

SC. Oliver walks into the Arrow Cave and Laurel is waiting for him. He is upset when he sees the bruises on her face, but she backs away before he can touch her, telling him she is fine. She said she “tried to do good” but “it didn’t work out.” Oliver runs his hands through his hair, exasperated, She tells him that it might sound insane and it may be, but Sara gave her the jacket, and when she wears if she wants to help people like she did. “My sister’s alive again.” Oliver understands, but tells her that Sara had years of training. Laurel knows, and she tells him that is why she needs to start, and she wants his help.

image

Oliver, at a loss for words, stares for a couple of beats before simply saying a quiet “No,” and walking away, and when Laurel follows him, indignant, he shouts it and then repeats it again, quieter. He tells her that he wants her to consider what would happen to Capt. Lance is something happened to her. Laurel says that since Sara’s death she has had a fire inside her that she can’t get rid of with booze or pills, and that the other night, even if it did go wrong, was the first time she didn’t feel that way. Oliver apologizes and says he can’t, but that even if he could, he wouldn’t, because Sara would have never forgiven him.

image

My kingdom for a gif of Oliver holding his head between his elbows, exasperated.

Diggle arrives him and hugs Lyla, telling her that he loves her, and that he missed she and Sara, that they were all that he could think about.

image

She needs to go into the office because Amanda called her in, but Diggle asks her to hurry home, staring at Sara sleeping in her crib.

At the police station, Erica’s boyfriend is being booked on an “anonymous tip” and Lance, who DIDN’T CALL IT IN LET’S GET THAT STRAIGHT winks and him and tells him that it’s a rough break, then practically skips into his office.

At Ted Grant’s gym, Laurel walks in wearing Sara’s jacket to find him shirtless and sweaty-boxing and doesn’t even react (to be fair, the show has set an impossible standard here). “Okay”, she says, letting the bruises on her face provide subtext, “When do we start?” Ted smiles.

image

image

Still at work late at QC despite the hour, Ray is complimenting Felicity on her ability to recover data form the Applied Sciences hard drives that all the techs said was unrecoverable. “Seems like this would be a good time to ask for a few days off then,” she ventures, and Ray points out that she just started. “I know,” she says, “but my friend was struck by lightening and he’s in a coma…or he was… it’s…” “A long story,” Ray finishes for her, and she nods.

image

Ray rolls his eyes at her but tells her he’ll see her, and she thanks him, walking out. When she leaves, he turns back to the data, and pulls up blueprints of Top-Secret weapons from a project called O.M.A.C. He looks up, and it’s not a look that you expect on what has been until now, a pretty affable character.

image

In the basement at Verdant in the Arrow Cave, Oliver compliments Roy on his performance, and he responds that he had a good teacher. “A judgmental, occasionally temperamental one,”  he teases, and I am thrilled to see Oliver joke back. “Those are the best kind,” he growls, and they both smile.

image

Oliver asks Roy if Thea seems different to him, and when Oliver asks if she was maybe seeing someone in Corto Maltese, but Roy says that if Thea was with anyone else, he has a feeling that he would be the last person to know. All of a sudden there is the sound of a metal arrow being notched and as Oliver steps in front of Roy, the camera pans to Nyssa, who is aiming at them. “Where is she?” she asks. “Where is Sara?”

image

image

Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting! For additional fun and hijinks, follow me here or @conniebv on Twitter.

Save

Outlander Character Appreciation Post 2: Dougal

To continue my hiatus series highlighting some of the ancillary characters on Outlander, let us move on to our morally ambiguous spare to the heir, and list the reasons we love Dougal “Big Poppa” Mackenzie. Full list after the jump.

1. Award-winning resting bitch face.
Most of Dougal’s common, everyday expressions are so shady that if they shot his feet, I swear tiny angry mushrooms would be growing there. Whether powering down for the night over a campfire listening to bedtime stories or chilling with some Rhenish while he ogles the merch, Dougal’s face is unremittingly, relentessly, deliciously transmitting that the stock of Dougal f*cks is backordered–and let’s face it, you shouldn’t hold your breath for restocks.

image

image

image

2. Machiavelli would be proud.
Somewhere in the afterlife the big M is raising a glass in respect, thinking “Man, that dude is ICE COLD.” He knows right from wrong, he just can’t be @$$ed to care when his political interests intersect with morality. It makes him a loyal friend, a worthwhile enemy and sometimes, kind of an unpredictable dick. To paraphrase the master, Dougal is walking a fine line between maintaining and overthrowing the status quo, and you never know whether he is going to zig or zag, which makes for great TV.

image

image

image

3. We can vacate the Cougar Corner. Sure we love Jamie like we love all Disney princes, but Dougal is the Hugh Jackman to his Nicholas Hoult. Young virgins? Okay. Silver foxes virtually identical from the neck down and with the benefit of experience? PLANT MY FLAG. Those of us closer to 50 than 20 may not post compulsively about his… um…assets, but we are certainly nodding elegantly in appreciation like the classy broads we are. In summary, you can ignore a lot of glaring when you’re busy elsewhere. Aging: URDOINITRITE, Mackenzie.

image

image

image

4. Still waters run deep. Just because he has largely no use for 96% of people he meets, don’t assume Dougal is unfeeling. He is the BAM in Collum’s gavel, a loyal friend, and a man who cares deeply for the future and well-being of those under his care. He doesn’t open that side up to the general viewing public as a rule, but those of us watching from home know which attachments he holds dear, and for those he’ll go further than you can believe. Like, imagine how far you think he’d go, and then DIG A HOLE UNTIL YOU PASS OUT.

image

image

image

5. Game recognizes Game. Dougal doesn’t like being outplayed, but he sure does appreciate it. One of the qualities of a good leader is to surround himself with talent, and he certainly acknowledges others’ skills while never once admitting that he may not possess them to the same degree, even if those skills are diametrically opposed to his own. His ego won’t allow for a loss, but that doesn’t mean that the dry martini where his sense of humor lives doesn’t have itself a quiet chuckle when it meets a worthy opponent.

image

image

image

Honorable mention: Corn, the new Jessica Rabbit of grains. You know what you did, Sir.

Keep living chiaroscuro, Number Two. Dougal Mackenzie, we speak your name.

For a heads-up on the next one in the series, follow me here or @conniebv on Twitter.

Save

Save

The Official Felicity Smoak OHSH#T Hair Index

My original image made its proud appearance on my S2E22 recap, and was a tongue-in-cheek comment on just how often you can tell the state of peril Team Arrow is in by the lovely Miss Smoak’s ‘do.

My original image made its proud appearance on my S2E22 recap. Here’s a link to all my other Arrow edits/recaps, if you’re interested, and here’s the one that started it, a hard 9:

image

Now that we’re into S3, it occurred to me that there were a couple of instances that could easily have fit upon this scale, so I’ll include them below and add to the scale whenever I see one that seems to fit.

Here’s a 5, Neutral Ground:

image

And a 6, Tension Escalating:

image

A 7, Armor Deployed:

image

A 8, hair that is its own best tactical advantage, Escape Imminent:

And finally (for now), a 10, courtesy of the Olicity Date, Done:

image

Have fun playing at home! For more Olicity and Arrow fun, follow me here or on twitter @conniebv Enjoy!

Save

BLAM! Arrow Photo Recap, E302, “Sara”

Damn it, this was sad. It is hard to be funny when all you want to do is eat carbs and mainline ice cream, but it’s always good practice, so let’s go for it. One of the things that makes Arrow so compelling (along with all the pretty people and omg arrows) is that, along with the general WTF-ness of the comic world there are moments of very real-world emotion that are very well written and acted, and holy Whedon, patron saint of all geeks who want to be taken seriously, this was one episode that really played to that concept. Props given, let me joyfully lampoon everything I just said.

We begin the morning after, with Oliver, Roy and Felicity walking into the Arrow Cave. Felicity is complaining that re-doing their phone system is a lot of work when she is stopped dead in her tracks by Oliver, who is stopped because of this.

image

Laurel, still in the same blood-soaked suit from the night before and not knowing where else to go, has brought Sara to the Cave. Felicity, in shock, starts to suggest taking her to the hospital as Roy puts an arm around her and the camera pans to Sara’s face, eyes wide and still. Laurel tells Oliver over and over again that “it’s not fair” and as he reaches slowly over to close her eyes, Laurel seems to deflate, and Oliver holds her as she cries. “I’m sorry,” he tells her, his voice too calm. “I’m so sorry.”

image

***FLASHBACK ALERT*** Hong Kong, 5 years back.

image

Maseo and Oliver are on a rooftop, where Maseo informs Ollie that Amanda has set him up as her operative, and he is to eliminate a target. He reminds him that Amanda is threatening his family to ensure Oliver’s compliance, and Ollie accepts the rifle, looking through the viewfinder to discover that the “target” is his best friend, Tommy.

image

***END FB***

Back at the Arrow Cave, Laurel tells Oliver a story about a stuffed shark that her sister had when she was small, and how she used to find it for her when she was scared. Now that her sister is dead, she says, all she can think about is finding it. Oliver promises to find the person who did this, and Laurel says they both will. She tells him that when she thought her sister had died on the Gambit that there was nothing she could do with her anger, but now she can help him find who did it.

image

Oliver tells her that  what she can do is take care of herself and her family, and that Quentin will need her, but Laurel says that telling her father now would kill him. She gets up to leave, saying that she doesn’t know a lot about her current situation, but she knows she shouldn’t be in a bar.

Oliver takes out his phone to call Thea, and when she doesn’t pick up, leaves her a message saying he would “really like to hear [her] voice.”

image

Felicity shows up and he asks her what she found on the security camera footage. They have all been disabled in some way by the local drug dealers, so Oliver heads to the scene of the crime.

image

On the rooftop, Oliver tries to recreate the position of the shooter, acting out the motions when Diggle shows up, and finds him with tears in his eyes, mute.

image

Felicity told him about Sara, and he asks Oliver if he is okay. Oliver nods and starts to describe his theory of the events, but Diggle interrupts him, saying he “doesn’t have to do this right now.” “It’s the only thing I can do,” he replies. Diggle wants him to let go, telling him that he knows that his military training tells him to “stay on task” even though his friend has been shot.

image

Oliver interrupts, however, saying he is fine. Diggle accepts this, but tells him that Sara was his friend, too, and if he thinks he is going after her alone, then he “couldn’t be more wrong.” Oliver nods and swallows, overcome, when his phone rings. It’s Felicity, informing him that “Detective Lance called…Do you think he knows about Sara?” Oliver leaves to go meet with him.

Oliver, dressed as the Arrow, meets Capt. Lance in an alley way, still addressing him as “Detective”. Lance asks if he is okay and mentions that he looks like “someone peed in his cornflakes”, but Oliver shortly asks what’s going on.

image

Lance tells him that there “is another archer in town, dropping bodies” and hands Oliver a file, asking if he has seen the man before. Oliver says he may have, and when Lance asks if he “knows where SCPD’s finest might find him” answers with a question, asking who the victim is. Lance says it’s John Burke, a local financier who wandered into town “looking for some local entertainment and wound up with an arrow in his chest.” Oliver starts to walk away, and Lance stops him, telling him “Hey, watch your back, okay? Whoever this guy is–” “He’s a killer,” Oliver says, without turning back.

image

A quick shot of an abandoned warehouse, where  a man is running blindly through rooms, obviously scared. He stops and turns, looking for an escape, when he is shot through the chest with an arrow by a hooded figure in black.

image

Back at the Arrow Cave, Roy is bagging Sara’s belongings as Felicity scrapes under her fingernails for evidence.

image

Felicity is marveling at how small Sara’s hands are, and that she never noticed it before. “She was always so strong and brave, I always envisioned her as this sort of amazonian warrior,” she tells Roy, “Invincible.” It was “something I could never be. I was so jealous”.

image

The phone rings, and it’s her job. She wipes the tears from her face as she tells them that she knows she was supposed to come in, but that “there was a death in the family.”

Diggle and Oliver walk back into the Cave, as they are discussing other archers capable of this. Oliver says that there are “only about ten that I know of, and most of them are in the League of Assassins”, who wouldn’t target their own. He asks Felicity what she found out, and she tells him about the hit at the abandoned warehouse and tells him about the victim, a construction foreman named Tim Kaufman.

image

Security cameras couldn’t get an angle of the crime, but they did capture what Roy calls “low-level dealers” in other parts of the building, and Oliver thinks they “could be witnesses.” Diggle asks where he should be, and Oliver asks him if Lyla would give him access to Argus’s database, to look up any assassin who use a bow that may be on their radar. He leaves, and Oliver exhales as he looks at his phone. “What?”, Felicity asks. “Thea hasn’t called,” he tells her and Roy, and they exchange a glance he doesn’t see.

image

***FLASHBACK ALERT*** Oliver puts the gun down, refusing to shoot his best friend, and Maseo tells him it is a test he is flunking.  It turns out that when Oliver briefly logged on to his email last episode it set off an account alert that made Tommy he think he may still be alive. “Dead men don’t check their email, Oliver” Maseo tells him, proving why he’s at the top of his game.

image

He tells Oliver that Amanda needs him and “won’t let [him] be compromised by some rich kid flashing [his] picture all over Hong Kong,” and that whether or not his hand is on the trigger, “she wants Tommy Merlyn off the board.” ***END FB***

Back in the Arrow Cave, Roy is at the computer, running an FBI database search on Thea. Felicity walks in and utters one of the best lines ever on the entire show. “That is a cobalt-encrypted workstation. You better not be using it to TWEET.”

image

image

As he stutters and tries to close windows, she comes over and notices what he is doing.“Roy, why are you looking for Thea?” she asks, and he answers that he doesn’t thinks she is where she says she is. “Why would she lie?” Felicity asks, and Roy hands her the note she left him, which he apparently carries around in his pocket because Roy is a masochist.

image

Felicity tells him that Oliver needs to see it, and Roy refuses, saying that it is his fault and that Oliver will kill him.

image

Felicity thinks that she ay be in trouble, but Roy thinks she may just need some space. “She’s had five months and thousands of miles of space. Oliver needs to see this. You need to show it to him.” Ray sighs and takes the note back, when Felicity gets a call from an unexpected source. She walks out, and when Ray asks where she’s going, she responds “There’s someone I need to kill.”

Offices of Queen Consolidated. Felicity gets off the elevator and lets loose on Ray, telling him that she gets it, he is rich and impulsive and “frankly, the creepiest sort of stalker that I have ever had to deal with and trust me when I say that is saying a lot.”

image

image

She cuts herself off when she notices that he is remodeling the office with touches of blue, and asks “what the hell”  he is doing. He calmly tells he that he is livening the place up for “a sort of pledge drive,” asking what he can do for her. “You can stop,” she tells him. Turns out Ray has been texting her, sending her flowers, calling and emailing her trying to get her to work for him. “Actually, you already do,” Ray tells her. It turns out the call she got in  the cave was her boss, telling her that Ray bought the store she works at. Raay says “He’s wrong…kind of” (this is fast becoming the most annoying verbal tick of this new character). What he did buy was the holding company that owns and operates the entire chain of stores.

image

Either way, he tells her, he is her boss and she can work for him at QC, “in a big office, with a big salary” or at the store “in that awful uniform.” “Or,” Felicity says, “I can quit. Which is what I just did.”

image

Ray did not expect that, follows her as she walks out, and says the absolutely most clueless douchey thing he could ever say. “You know, most girls would be flattered that I spent 1.2 million dollars to hire them.” Felicity tells him that she “is not most girls” and that she doesn’t need this, or him. Ray says that while he is used to making people angry and that it is “the cost of being the smartest guy in any given room” he also knows when people are mad at something other than him, and that Felicity is mad at something else.

image

He asks her what that is, and when she says money won’t fix it, he says money never does fix the problems that matter. She tells him she is leaving and he says that he is there to talk to, even if they barely know each other, and that he hopes she knows “it gets better.” I know that they are trying to write this character in a sympathetic manner, but so far with me at least, it’s ringing hollow and this entire exchange is emblematic of why. Felicity leaves without another word.

In the abandoned warehouse, the Arrow tracks down a dealer and questions him about what he saw.

image

He describes a “black face mask, like a hockey mask.” Diggle calls, and he has a list of about 20 archers, but only one with a mask: Simon Lecroix, a mercenary that goes by the name “Komodo.” Diggle sends this information to Felicity, who is in the Cave with Laurel looking over her shoulder.

image

She manages to glean Simon’s credit information and that he was raised by a single mother in Saint-Sophie, Quebec. She manages to triangulate his phone by tracing calls made to Quebec, and Oliver takes off after him. Oliver chases Komodo, also on a motorcycle, while he tries to eliminate his next target, Ehrlic Kelso.

image

The two of them face up to each each other. Arrow shoots Komodo’s motorcycle out from under him, but the latter stands on the skidding cycle and shoots and arrow into Oliver’s side, knocking him off his cycle.

image

Komodo takes off and Oliver, momentarily knocked out of wind, gets up and says he got away. Upon his return to the cave, Oliver, Felicity and Diggle decide to stop looking for Lecroix and start looking for the connection between his victims.

***FLASHBACK ALERT*** Back at Maseo’s house, Oliver suggests getting a body from the morgue that looks like Tommy until Maseo points out that THEY ARE IN HONG KONG. He wants to find another way, but the only other way is for someone other than Oliver to assassinate him. Back at his hotel, Tommy argues with his father over his decision to take the jet to come to Hong Kong looking for Oliver. He hangs up and looks out the window, only to have a gloved hand cover his mouth and something injected into his neck.

image

***END FB***

At the hospital where Erlich Kelso is recovering, Laurel lies to his guard and says she is there with the D.A.’s office and throws her father’s name around to get in.

image

Kelso says he doesn’t know anything, but she insists on asking “a few questions.”

Back at the Arrow Cave, Felicity is running a search and Oliver is impatient. He says the killer is still out there, so “every minute we waste down here…” “I know,” Felicity interrupts. “You don’t need to talk to me as if I don’t know.”

image

image

Oliver stops and apologizes, telling her she is right, but that he needs her A-game. “I don’t have it,” she tells him, crying, and with every word she says, Oliver, turned away from her, tries harder and harder not to cry as well. “My friend, our friend, was shot with arrows and fell off of a rooftop…Her body is right above us, upstairs in a freezer because we don’t know what to do with it…with her, so I’m SO SORRY, Oliver if I have feelings but maybe if you did too–”

image

image

And he turns to her, his eyes bloodshot and mouth open and she stops, apologizing back. “That was mean,” she tells him, “but this is Sara. Your Sara.” She doesn’t understand how he can be so cold. “I don’t have the luxury of falling to pieces,” he says bitterly.

image

image

He tells her that everyone is looking to him to handle things, to make the right decisions, to lead, and that if he stops to grieve, “then nobody else gets to.” Felicity tells him that he is allowed to have feelings, and that she knows it is easier to live under the hood sometimes, but he says he isn’t. When he looked at Sara, he tells her, he realized that one day it would be him. “This life I’ve chosen, it only ends one way.” Felicity is sad, and tired, and done.

image

image

“So that’s it? You’re just going to spend your life down here in this cave, waiting to die?” She walks up to him, “I’m sorry, I’m not going to wait with you, because if there is one thing today has taught me is that life is precious and I want so much more in mine than this.” They stare at each other with tears in their eyes and when she realizes Oliver has nothing to say, she walks past him and out, wiping her tears as she goes.

image

image

Back at the hospital, Laurel starts out professional but when things don’t go her way, she threatens Kelso with an obstruction of justice charge and then twists his injured arm until she finds out that he and the other two victims were all working on a secret deal to build an oil pipeline for AmeriTech.

image

He doesn’t finish his confession, however, because he is shot through the heart with an arrow. Laurel looks out the hole left in the hospital window and sees the Komodo on a rooftop.

image

Oliver is at the Cave leaving another voicemail for Thea as Roy listens. Diggle shows up with information that Lyla is looking for Lacroix and asks abotu Felicity. “She needed some air,” Oliver says, and Diggle asks what he needs. He says pitifully that he just needs his sister to call him back, and Roy decides to come clean. “It’s not gonna happen,” he tells Oliver, and hands him the note, explaining what happened and why she left.

image

image

He tells Oliver that he didn’t say anything to him because he would have known he was lying the entire time and that he knew why she left. “I didn’t say anything about the letter, I know that I should have.” Oliver, contrary to Roy’s expectations, doesn’t lose his temper. “Okay,” he nods.

At the hospital Laurel is calling Felicity and leaving a voice mail for her when Quentin shows up. He’s heard about the shooting and knows she lied to his officers. Laurel says she needed to talk to him because it was important. Quentin asks her not to take risks, because her “sister has that covered for the both” of them, and to go home.

image

“Yeah,” she whispers. Quentin kisses her forehead and walks away and when Felicity calls back, she gives her the information about Ameritech and goes back to the Cave.

Felicity is running an algorithm to figure out who received payments from Ameritech when they all start to hypothesize why Sara may have been a target.

image

It turns out she eliminated targets for Nakura, a subsidiary of Ameritech that was trying to stop the deal. The person who authorized the payments, Tom Westin, is the next target and when Oliver asks where he is, it turns out he is at Ray’s party. Laurel walks to get a gun, saying she is coming with them. When Oliver objects, saying she was reckless and that Lacroix almost put an arrow in her. He takes the gun from her and asks her to let him handle this, reminding her that Sara was trained by the best and he still put her down. “I will get him,” he tells her. “You didn’t before,” she yells at him, proving what a brat she is.

image

image

Oliver promises her that he will and walks away, and Laurel’s gaze falls once more to the gun.

image

At Ray’s party, he proposes that the most affluent business owners of Starling City contribute to the rebuilding of the city. He pledges half his net worth to the cause, and says that he will take a $1 salary for the next year, and asks that they invest ingenuity and time. At the conclusion of his speech, a window bursts open and Komodo tumbles in, followed by the Arrow and Roy dressed as Arsenal.

image

image

image

They fight, and eventually Komodo rappels a couple of floors down. Oliver follows and they face off. Komodo tells him he “thought he’d be taller” and when Oliver tells him to lower his bow, rejoins with a wry “We both know that’s not gonna happen.” They take shots at each other until Oliver pins him to a column, asking who hired him. “Who’s she?’ Komodo asks, and Oliver turns to see Laurel, holding a gun.

image

He tells her that she doesn’t want to do this, that it won’t bring her back, that revenge doesn’t make it better but worse, but Laurel doesn’t lower the gun,even when Komodo denies killing Sara, saying he was drunk two nights ago. When Laurel calls him a liar, he says that he’s “proud of my work” and wouldn’t deny it. Laurel, unbelieving, pulls the trigger once, two, three times. It’s empty.

image

image

“You took the bullets out of the gun,” she says in confusion to Oliver, and when the police sirens sound, he grabs her, saying that they have to go.

Later that night at the Cave, Oliver tells Laurel that Lacroix’s alibi checked out, and Laurel marvels that she almost killed him. Oliver also says the trail has run cold, and that he is going to find out who killed Sara, but he doesn’t know when. “Your father deserves to know,” he tells her, and she sighs, resigned. The next day, however when she goes to the station resolved to tell Quentin about the passing of his daughter, she is derailed by the sound of the alarm signaling him to take his heart medication hourly, and instead just apologizes for lying.

image

Quentin hugs her saying, “Hey, I’m your dad. I forgive you. I’ll always forgive you.”

image

Night at the cemetery, and Oliver, Diggle, Felicity, Roy and Laurel are burying Sara in the plot that was reserved for her after the shipwreck.

image

Felicity takes a handful of earth and tosses it on the coffin, saying that it is a Jewish custom, and that she knows Sara wasn’t, but “it feels right.” Oliver does the same, and signals to Laurel that it is her turn, but she is angry. “This isn’t right. She doesn’t even get a fresh grave? it’s so perverse.” Oliver quietly says that she “deserves a proper burial. She’s earned it.” Laurel, upset, repeats that it’s not fair and that no one will really know who she was. Oliver hugs her, and Diggle walks up to tell her that he and Lyla have decided to name their baby Sara. We will never forget,“ he tells her quietly, and she thanks him.

***FLASHBACK ALERT***Tommy wakes up tied to a chair, and first pleads for his life and then threatens his kidnapper with his father’s name. The kidnapper, which is Oliver in disguise, pretends that he hacked Oliver’s account and that he is asking for ransom.

image

He tells Tommy that “Oliver Queen is rotting at the bottom of the ocean.” A siren sounds and Maseo comes in dressed as Hong Kong police to “rescue” a crying Tommy, now convinced once more that his friend is dead. ***END FB***

After the funeral, Oliver is sitting alone in the cave when Diggle walks up to him. Ollie laments that he couldn’t catch the person that killed Sara, and Diggle tells him that until he does, he is back on the team. “What about your family?” “Sara is family, Oliver,” he tells him. “Just like you, man.” Oliver nods, close to tears. Diggle wants to know what is next, and Oliver says that now he has “to go get Thea. It’s long past time she came home.” Diggle nods and starts to walk out, when a very subdued Oliver calls to him in a very quiet voice. “John…I don’t want to die down here.”

image

Diggle,direct as always bless him responds immediately. “So don’t, Oliver.”

A gorgeous music montage follows to Civil Twilight’s “The Courage or the Fall” and really, HOLY %$#@ the lyrics are a dead match. Laurel sits alone with Sara’s stuffed shark and the black leather jacket from her Canary costume, Roy debates calling Thea, and Diggle looks at baby Sara in her crib.

image

image

image

At the end of this, the elevators at Queen Consolidated open and Felicity walks out, in somber colors with her hair down, looking grave as she walks to Ray.

image

“Changed your mind?” he asks her. “I just decided I want more out of life,” she responds, expressionless, and I am both proud of her and sad for her all at once.

Change scene to the imaginary island of Corto Maltese, where an unknown man watches a masked fighter dispatch two opponents and slow claps in congratulations.

image

The camera pans to him and we see it’s Malcolm Merlyn. “Well done,” he says. The figure whips off the mask and we see it is Thea. “Thanks, Dad,” she grins.

image

image

This was a rough one to keep cracking jokes about and the season is dark so far in general, so I will likely do a Favorite Scenes next week until inspired for a full recap again. Hope you enjoy, and leave a comment here or @conniebv on Twitter if you can, they are much appreciated!

Save

Outlander Character Appreciation Post: Murtagh

To kick off a series that I plan to do to highlight some of the ancillary characters on Outlander while on mid-season hiatus, let us start at the beginning with everyone’s favorite loveable grumpy muppet, and list the reasons we love Murtagh Fitzgibbons Fraser.

1. Any hair that sprouts from any visible place on the man is luxuriantly perfect.  

The eyebrows. The beard. The lashes. Murtagh is the shaggy fantasy of every little girl who ever ran a plastic brush through her Barbie’s pony, dreamily imagining the day she would braid her husband’s beard. Was that just me? No matter. It is still the craggy promontory on which the crankiest, dourest expressions break into daydreams of petting his face and crooning him into a twinkle from under those spectacular brows.

image

image

image

2. He makes all the background stuff sound casual.

More so than just about any other character, Murtagh clarifies events that help provide information about the story and move the plot along without bogging us down with long monologues, and he’s frequently an agent of change. He brought Claire to the Mackenzies, provided the back story for Jamie’s troubles at the Gathering, and established that he has intel on all sorts of background characters, from Ellen Mackenzie Fraser (Jamie’s mom) to Dougal that we can look forward to hearing about in the second half of Season 1.

image

image

image

3. He is physically incapable of pandering to your bullsh*t. 

Murtagh may be a lot of things, but one of the things he is NOT is here to waste time on your paltry feelings. From calling Dougal out on his rapey/not rapey tendencies to knocking Claire unconscious in episode 1 to brutally not bothering to correct or reassure Claire when her discovery of Jamie put him in danger, Murtagh knows you may need to be coddled at times, but he’ll be damned if he’s the one doing it.

image

image

image

4. He will, however, lay down his life and put up his sword for those he loves.

Murtagh fights hard, frowns hard, and he loves even harder. He has a soft spot for Jamie’s mother Ellen, and he is Jamie’s sole Fraser kinsman among the Mackenzies, covering his back and giving him advice in situations both important and insignificant. He is on the lookout for threats and puts himself in their way rather than expose Jamie, like when he got his kilt for the wedding. From the second Claire marries Jamie, he sees how good she would be for him, and extends this courtesy to her. For a tough old bird, he can can surprisingly tender.

image

image

image

5. He’s the uncontested Laird of the Ship, Captain of the S.S. Frasers.

You might love Claire and Jamie as a couple, but no one ships them harder than Murtagh.  The unadulterated glee on his face any time these two show love is an education. Our squeeing is but an echo of his loving, encouraging baritone. Lead on, O Captain. Your crew follows.

image

image

image

Keep sailin’, you glorious bastage. Murtagh Fraser, we speak your name.

For a heads-up on the next one, follow me here or @conniebv on Twitter.

Save

W00t, Arrow S3E1 Photo Recap, “The Calm”

Hey y’all! Here we are back again, ready to both 1) intellectually get drunk and make out with and then 2) emotionally be slapped and then drunk-hugged by our favorite ‘ship. If you are a comic book geek (I was one, too), you are reading the wrong recap. No detail about the show as it relates to the source material for the most part, just a decided Olicity slant and my irrational dislike of Laurel, so fair warning. If you haven’t read these before, all my S2 edits are here. Let’s dive in.

You know it’s Arrow because there is a dark alley, a runaway truck, said truck driver getting punched in the face by Oliver while Diggle and Felicity run backup. PSA for the Starling City villians: If any of your plans start with “Let’s get a truck and….” just go home. It isn’t going to work out.

image

image

image

Season 3 means my favorite dinner trio sampler now comes with a side of hot sauce.

image

Some of you will remember that Roy was my Laurel Light, and if you are thinking I’m fickle let me just say that you are 1000% correct. Props to the writers, because  characters I could not until recently stand are becoming more interesting, and Roy’s Example. #1, mostly because HELL YEAH RED SUIT. Example #2 of this is still difficult for me to cop to, so we will not speak of it just yet.

Here specifically tho,  the bad dude did a thing and it’s bad and Team Arrow is ON IT, but not really relevant to plot except to point out to us that they’ve got their process on lock and are working like a well-oiled machine that shuts down crime. Oliver is once again reminding people who likely fail at family, holding down steady jobs and having a good credit score that they “have failed this city” and I am ready to finger-point right along with him because F YEAH ARROW IS FINALLY BACK!

image

I really do mean to cut down on the images on these, so I don’t want to cap every small thing, but upon 1st reintro to the cave there are a couple of things I noticed.

image

image

That’s right, Roy now has a light-mannequin in the Arrow Cave to call his very own, and we have a new toy that Oliver quaintly refers to as “the board”, where Team Arrow keeps tracks of baddies they want to boom. The news report playing also tells us that Starling City is in decline, with people moving out because they have realized that A LOT of bad sh*t happens there and two terrorist attacks in as many years. They neglect to mention the high incidence of perfect abs, however, which I think would go a long way towards ensuring people stayed put.

Oliver, fresh from kicking @$$ and high on endorphins and victory, notices a plant and asks Felicity about it. Turns out she has gotten him a fern, which is good in low light now that he is a crime-fighting hobo who lives in the basement of his non-working (from the looks of it) club, and they proceed to cutely bicker about how she didn’t buy him a bed because OMG SLEEP IN HERS ALREADY. Take a hint, Oliie.

Meantime, these two know what’s up.

image

Oliver’s text alert goes off, and it’s Thea, who says she is on the Amalfi Coast because she somehow managed to avoid poverty. Oliver keeps asking for pics, but she probably isn’t sending them because she is really full-time into the official Queen pastimes of kicking ass and lying through your teeth. Roy flinches at mention of her name, and says he is leaving to go on a patrol. Oliver stops him briefly to tell him he did well tonight, and his expression softens somewhat. Felicity is heading to an early shift at her job, and when Oliver asks if they are “still on for tomorrow night” this adorableness happens:

image

image

Turns out she is helping him prepare for a board meeting at Queen Consolidated to try to convince them to give him the company back. Diggle says he has to go as well to put together a scary bassinet for Lyla (because Lyla would not have any other kind), and that reminds Oliver of something.

He’s poor now, so he made Diggle and Lila’s baby a girl a really sharp pointy necklace out of four arrow heads in the shape of a throwing star, and Diggle is touched and also stoked because now he can teach his infant daughter to be a ninja. Oliver congratulates him not only on his impending fatherhood, but on his happiness. Diggle says Oliver should try it, but Oliver demurs, listing the reasons why he is “not a catch at the moment”, which mainly runs along the theme of all his girlfriends being assassins who maybe like him but loooove killing. “Maybe Felicity will change all that,” Diggle says, and Oliver says “It’s not the right time”.  Diggle says that things are “as good as they ever will be”, plus he loves her, he “told her so”. Oliver says he was trying to fool Slade. Sure, Diggle says, except now he is fooling himself.

image

image

image

***FLASHBACK ALERT*** Oliver and his wig are running through the streets of Hong Kong, stealing phones and destroying property in a bid to get back home. Meanwhile, this dude shoots at him, and, when he tries to email home from a café, shoots the computer he was using.Owner of the cafe that saved up for MONTHS for that outdated PC cries salty tears.

image

They fight, destroying even more property, and when Oliver complains he can’t “understand Chinese”, the guy tells him in English that if he tries to escape again, he’ll beat him senseless, then pistol whips him senseless to illustrate his point. This is our introduction to Maseo Yamashiro. ***END FB***

Next scene up, Laurel is smug because she managed to get the criminal Oliver convicted in jail. Sure, Laurel, I guess that’s as hard as chasing him down an alley and bare-knuckling him, so you take that credit. Bully you. She jokes about being “in business” with Oliver and I already can’t wait for this scene to end. Brief light at the end of the tunnel when she talks to Daddy Lance, who is now Captain Daddy Lance (which is also his rap name), and asks him to please stop trying to off himself running around town now that he has the opportunity to wear dress blues and just stand there and look pretty with his new sleek aerodynamic head.

image

Captain Lance is not only there to tell merciful lies to his youngest, but to surprise Oliver with a public acknowledgment of the Arrow’s contribution to the city’s safety, and announce the dismantling of the city’s anti-vigilante task force. Oliver is so touched he smiles again (O.Q. official smile count: 6), and I maybe hate Laurel a little less right now, because anyone who contributes to a plot device that ups the Queen Smile Quotient can’t be all bad.

image

image

The press conference footage transitions to playing on a TV in an unspecified baddie’s crime den, where the top said bad guy complains that “less heat on the Arrow means more heat on us” and his goons complain that the ATF has their grenade launchers and WTF is the purpose of bribing cops, anyway? He is interrupted by a dude with an unspecified accent so hard to understand they even have the actor playing opposite him mention it, so you don’t think the sound guy messed up. This is about where it falls on the UAS:

image

He says that what the villains really suffer from is a “lack of leadership”, and when current top evil bad guy objects, saying he’s nothing but a low-level pusher, he shoots a dart into his neck while announcing his name: “I am Vertigo.” He assumed the name and tinkered with the Count’s formula, including “an additive produced by certain mushrooms,” which reveals the face of the subject’s “greatest fear.” What is the bad guy  scared of? Roughly the same thing Lt. Ripley is.

image

Vertigo then stabs the dude in the carotid with another dart and announces his super-original master plan:kill the Arrow. Surprisingly, no objections from the remaining bad guys, but that’s evil for ya. No loyalty.

Outside Verdant, Oliver runs to catch up with Felicity and asks her how work was. She tells him that it wasn’t work so much as a “soul-sucking exercise in misery that offers medical and dental.” You paint that picture, girl. Aren’t they all?

image

She tells him she is highly motivated to help convince the board to sell back Queen Consolidated to him, even if he isn’t really qualified to run it. She says he has “passion”, and that he cares for the people that work there and he should “speak from the heart.” That’s all you need, right? Who needs an MBA? No one.When she says this, she pats his chest over his heart and Oliver stops in his tracks, ready to take a chance.

image

image

He asks Felicity if she wants to go to dinner with him, and she responds, “I’m being serious, Oliver.” So am I, he says, at which point she tells him that she doesn’t want to “read too much into this,” but is he asking her out on “an actual date”? Oliver starts to stammer about how it includes dinner, she calls him on usually being the one speaking in partial sentences. He takes a breath and says, “Felicity, would you like to go out on a date with me?” “Yes,” she responds, smiling and nodding almost before he finishes.

image

image

image

God, these two delightful dorks.

That evening, Team Arrow are back to their usual shenanigan, fightin’ evil and looking smooth as silk.

image

Diggle is reporting on a liquor store holdup, and Oliver, tearing around on his motorcycle, wants a picture sent to Roy and to be patched in to Felicity, who says she “can’t talk right now,” then promptly proceeds to make excuses to her customers to talk right then.

image

image

Oliver takes advantage of the fact that he has her on the phone tracking the perp to ask her if she likes Italian. This scene was much-repeated in the promos, so I won’t expound on it here.

image

image

image

Felicity tells him she does like Italian, and that Detective Captain Lance is also on his way to the sewers, where the bad guy is.

image

Lance catches up to him first and beans him with his flashlight, which leaves the Captain gasping and reaching to take some pills. Oliver catches up to the perp and knocks him out, and walking back to Lance, thanks him for what he said that day. The Captain wishes he could have done more, but Oliver says he has done enough, and that there is something he needs to do. “What, have you got a hot date or something?,” Lance asks. Oliver smiles under his hood as he walks away.

image

image

***FLASHBACK ALERT*** Amanda Waller walks up to where Oliver is sitting, guarded by Maseo, after his ninth escape attempt in five months, and complains that this is her reward for saving him from drowning. Oliver asks why she did it, but she responds that it is “need to know”. He tells her that he doesn’t care about anything except going home, and he will keep trying to escape.

image

She threatens to kill him, and he says to go ahead. She stares at him a moment, looks at Maseo and announces, “We’re going to have to try this another way.” Maseo knocks Oliver out, and he falls off his chair.***END FB***

Next up, the meet-cute between Felicity and Roy. I neither understood nor care to understand most of the dialogue here, so here’s the scene in four quick caps-

image

image

image

image

At their OB/GYN’s office, Diggle and Lyla are being told to sit tight, since Braxton-Hicks contractions don’t actually mean you’re in labor.

image

image

Lyla mentions to Dig that he looks scared, and he jokes about facing down the Taliban, Malcolm Merlyn and the worst villains and admits that yes, he’s terrified.

image

Meanwhile, Oliver arrives at his date LIKE A BOSS.

image

image

image

image

Stashes his bag in an air vent, and looks for Felicity. Boy, does he find her.

image

image

image

image

As they sit, Oliver smiles twice (OQ OFFICIAL SMILE COUNT: 11), and fidgets, and Felicity is startled. “What?” she asks. “nothing,” he replies, still grinning. “Nervous?,” she intuits in the way she has of reading him and he admits, “Yes.” “Line forms behind me,” she laughs. He stops the waiter, telling her that the “booze might help” with the nervousness, but she whispers furtively that it wouldn’t mix well with the three anxiety pills she took before the date.

image

image

The waiter leaves, and he asks if it’s crazy for them to feel nervous. She points out that they have already exhausted all first, second, third and potentially all date topics. And, she blurts out, she has “seen him shirtless. Multiple times. Shirtless all the time.” I’m sure she doesn’t want to sound as creepy as we the fans, but when the waiter comes with the water and she is saved from elaborating on this theme it’s frankly a pity. I could have used a visual aid.

image

She shouldn’t have worried, though, because she is by no means the biggest weirdo at that table. Oliver tells her that there are still some things she doesn’t know about him and when she asks him to name one, he says that he was not on the island all five years he was gone. Felicity doesn’t seem surprised though, and asks where he was. “Hong Kong, for one,” he says.

image

He tells her he has been thinking a lot about his time there and the choices he had to make. His voice is very quiet, and he is visibly emotional. “Those years sound like they were full of a whole lot of suck,” Felicity says gently, and he almost smiles, reaching up to wipe at his face and apologize to her, as he feels “out of [his] element.” After a deep breath he begins to explain that during his time away, he couldn’t completely trust anyone, and as a result, he stopped seeing people and instead, started seeing threats-or targets, and that when he came home, he didn’t know how to turn that part of himself off. 

image

And when he walked into her office, she was the first person he could see as a person. “There was just something about you,” he smiles.

image

“Ugh, I was chewing on a pen,” she says, self-consciously putting her hand to her face. “It was red,” he says, as if he were telling her she was beautiful, and there is a perfect moment where they are just completely caught up in each other.

image

image

image

Evil minion #2 is on the roof, talking to Vertigo about how the Arrow is definitely in the restaurant. He thinks they should get closer, but Vertigo says they are “close enough,” and opens a suitcase.

In the restaurant, Oliver asks Felicity if she remembers him telling her that he couldn’t be with someone he could really care about because of what he they do. She does, and says so. “So maybe I was wrong,” he says, and they gaze at each other with their hearts in their eyes.

image

On the roof, Vertigo whistles while he aims a RPG at the restaurant. Inside, Ollie’s senses a disturbance in the force, and dives for his girl Friday, and for cover. They didn’t even get their food, and that makes me angrier than anything.

image

image

The frame is tight on Oliver’s closed right eye, which opens suddenly as he focuses on the room around him, and finds Felicity.

image

Oliver carries Felicity to the Arrow Cave, and places her on the table. She is okay, just passed out, but he still looks impotent and upset. Diggle asks if he thinks it was a coincidence that their restaurant got bombed and he looks momentarily nonplussed.

image

His expression only worsens when Roy shows him the GPS he found in his bag, and they realize that the crook he caught earlier with Capt. Lance was a setup so they could plant the device on him. Diggle takes one look at Oliver and tells him he knows what he’s thinking.

image

Oliver denies it, but immediately says that he knows why this happened, and it’s because he lost his focus. He calls Lance to find out who is at the top of that organization, and how he can get a hold of him. Lance says he is on it, and Oliver hangs up.

Ollie walks back to the table where Felicity is, only to have her suddenly jerk awake and yank him down to her with a frightened “Oliver!” “Hey,” he says quietly to her, “You’re safe. You’re safe. I’m here.”

image

Maybe physically, but mentally, Oliver is already Arrowed up and ready to kick ass.

At the tattoo parlor hunting Vertigo wabbits, Oliver is startled by and almost shoots  Capt. Lance, who refuses to sit it out because of the damage Vertigo has caused, and gives him Vertigo’s real name, Werner Zytle. Oliver assures him he has things under control, but warns him to keep his “head on a swivel.” Then he runs right into Vertigo, who introduces himself again because this a dude who really, really likes his name.

image

Oliver says that Count Vertigo is dead, but Zytle says some things never die, Oliver being one of them. Even if the Count is dead, his “glorious narcotic lives on” and Zytle hits Oliver in the chest with a dart, to show Oliver his greatest fear….which is Oliver.

image

Arrow-Ollie and Evil-Ollie fight, and you know Evil-Ollie DOES NOT GIVE because his shirttails are untucked like a hobo and he fights dirty. Right about when Evil-Ollie morphs back into Vertigo and we see him about to double-tap Ollie with a second dart to the carotid, we see Capt. Lance aiming at him from some distance away. Lance screams at Vertigo to “Get away from him or get put down,” and Vertigo throws the dart at him instead, missing rather badly as it sinks into a wall. This gives Oliver a chance to get away, and Vertigo turns back to Lance, ready to finish him off as he appears to suffer another heart attack.

image

Right before he can, an arrow shoots into his back and Oliver runs back to help Lance, telling Felicity over the comm to call an ambulance.

Back at the Arrow Cave, Oliver is changing his suit and Felicity asks if he is okay. He ignores her question all together, and asks about Captain Lance. Felicity pauses for a split second while Diggle answers that he is “stable.” She has noticed his evasion, but decides not to call him on it. It turns out Lance had a coronary artery spasm, which was treated with medication, and that he will be fine. Oliver looks briefly insecure and then in a much softer tone, asks how Felicity is doing.

image

She smiles and says that believe it or not, she has “had worse first dates”, but her joke doesn’t quite hit the mark, and Ollie looks obviously upset even as he rolls his eyes and turns to Roy to ask him to see if he can figure out what Vertigo has planned from his contacts on the streets. When Diggle offers to back him up, Oliver tells him it’s just intel-gathering, and that Roy can handle it. He tells Diggle to go home to Lyla.

image

He then tells Felicity that “they need to talk,” and she asks if it’s about the date, or the date getting blown up. “Both,” he answers, and she says it’s okay, they will talk after they catch the baddie. She does wonder if they should have rescheduled the board meeting, which is in less than an hour, but Ollie says “ I got this.”

***FLASHBACK ALERT*** Ollie wakes up in a house in Hong Kong, again complaining that he doesn’t speak Chinese when he discovers the woman speaking to him is actually doing  so in Japanese. He asks her where he is, and she says he is in “our home, mine and my husband’s”. When he asks her who her husband is, the camera pans to Maseo, holding out soup and asking him if he wants dinner. Now that’s decent captivity!***END FB***

At Starling City General, Captain Lance wakes up and warns Laurel that yelling at him is against doctor’s orders. Great she says, because he’s already ignored doctor’s advice by going out in the field. She tells him that the night he collapsed, the ER doctor asked if he had an Advanced Healthcare Directive, which is what they ask for when they think you are going to die. She sits on his bed, upset.

image

He apologizes to her, and she wants to know why he keeps pushing himself. He tells her he was a cop even before she and her sister were born, and if he isn’t a cop anymore, what is he? “You’re my father,” she says, holding his hands, “and I need you.”

image

Back to Queen consolidated, where Oliver arrives for his meeting only to find out there is another bidder. It’s Ray Palmer, dropping grins and handshakes like a politician and just as smarmy.

image

Or maybe that’s just me. In the board room, Oliver makes an emotional plea to be allowed back at the head of the company, speaking about how his family built it and nothing is more important to him than family. “Good speech,” Ray says, “hard to top.” And then proceeds to do just that.

image

He has information on the company’s numbers under Oliver’s “managment” (which he got thanks to Felicity’s hackvice). And he speaks about how the company can’t “hope to survive” when the city it is located in “is dying”, and he proposes a CITY REBRANDING so that people want to live there again, which is both ridiculous and genius and I hate him and he is nuts and I am kind of on board with this.

image

Leaving the board meeting, Felicity catches up to Oliver and apologizes, saying that she really thought things would go their way. So did Oliver, but he admits that QC may do better under Palmer, and that trying to get it back would be selfish, since he struggled with having time for it in the past. He says that the past 12 hours have reminded him that two years ago, he “made a decision to put Oliver Queen aside and be the Arrow,” and that it’s “not a choice [he] gets to un-make.” Felicity touches his arm and walks around him, trying to make him look at her. “Last night you didn’t feel that way,” she contends, but Oliver reminds her of what happened.

image

She says the explosion was not his fault, and he tells her about Vertigo’s formula making him see his worst fear, and how he say himself. She isn’t convinced that he is afraid of himself, and he clarifies “I think I’m afraid of what would happen if I let myself be Oliver Queen.” Felicity falls silent, having nothing to say to this.

image

image

Walking back into the Arrow Cave, Roy and Diggle tell Oliver their working theory, which is that Vertigo is killing off the three major competing crime bosses in a bid for total power. Felicity rushes to tell him their location, and snaps at Diggle when he hurries her that they all “don’t walk around with little GPS’s”. Actually, she realizes, they do. They are all on recent parole, and she uses their ankle monitors to trace them all to the same location: Rockets Arena.

image

Turns out it is the night of the heavyweight prize fight, or “Christmas for crime bosses,” as Roy describes it. Even though there are 20K people there, Diggle doesn’t think he’ll flinch at killing that many to finish off the remaining three, but Oliver says he will use a larger explosive device, and asks Roy to suit up.

Diggle asks where he wants him to go, but Oliver wants him to stay put, saying he is about to be a father when Diggle asks him what changed. Digg calls foul, saying he’s known that for the past five months, and presses him. Oliver admits that he’s changed, and that his risks can’t be Diggle’s since he has “a life, a new life…Something I can’t have.” Felicity listens in the foreground as Ollie blames himself for Lance being hurt and Diggle argues that both he and Lance get to make their own decisions. “Not this one,” Oliver says very quietly. Digg tries to reason with him one last time. “Oliver, I’ve given the past two years of my life to your crusade and I don’t know what that’s supposed to earn me, but it earns me at least the right to make my own choices.” “No it doesn’t,” Ollie rejoins instantly, and Diggle loses his temper, getting in his face and yelling that Oliver “would be dead ten times over” if it wasn’t for him.

image

image

“You’re right,” Oliver says calmly, almost sadly. “But this is my crusade, which makes it my decision.” Diggle walks out without saying another word, and Felicity, the foreground, starts to cry.

image

At the arena, the fight is going strong and Vertigo has set a bomb. “It’s a five-minute timer,” he tells one of his minions as he walks by, who nods and then promptly gets shot with an arrow.

image

Oliver drops from the ceiling pissed off and ready to punch out his feelings. One of the guys threatens him with a knife, taunting “What are you waiting for?” When Roy comes out of nowhere and triangle-chokes him and as he falls, Oliver says “My partner.” It’s a pretty badass moment.

image

Oliver checks in with Felicity, who has found the bomb in the maintenance tunnel behind the stairs. Roy tells Ollie he will get the bomb, and Oliver goes after Vertigo.

Zytle, who was running out to what looked like the top level of the parking garage, comes face-to-face with a waiting Arrow and throws another dart at Oliver’s chest, jeering that it is almost as if he has “developed an addiction to Vertigo.” Once again, his image flickers to that of Evil-Ollie.

image

Under the stairs, Roy uncovers the bomb timer, sitting on what looks like a palletful of C4.

image

Evil-Ollie wavers and finally, as Oliver closes his eyes and seems to focus fades entirely back into Zytle. Oliver pulls the dart out of his chest and announces “I’ve made my choice.” Vertigo runs at him, and they begin to fight. As Vertigo’s remaining minion tries to join the fray, he is blocked by a familiar face, and both heroes take a moment for an exhilarating beat down.

image

Inside the stadium, Roy is telling Felicity that they are running out of time. She tells him to cut the yellow wire, but there is no yellow wire, so she guides him towards the A/C system, where he can disconnect a freon tube and, with 37 seconds to go, freeze the bomb. Roy does this using pole moves that would do a stripper proud, and manages to freeze it with one second to go.

image

Outside, both Oliver and Sara have worn their respective fights, and stop for a friendly chat, only briefly interrupted by Vertigo getting up, Oliver shooting him through the heart, and his dying proclamation that there “will always be a Vertigo” because Oliver gave it “the power.”

image

Oliver and Sara chat about the usual: the weather, family and the best way to hide your radio transmissions. Turns out Sara was on her way to visit Laurel until she overheard Felicity’s transmission. Oliver asks if she is back for good,  and that he hopes so. “We’ll see,” she says, and asks how he is. “I’m working through a few things,” he says, and she grins and reaches to put her hands on his shoulders. “Word of advice? We’re not our masks. And we need people in our lives who don’t wear one.”

image

She smiles, he is thoughtful, and they both walk away.

Felicity is walking hurriedly into the hospital, and is surprised to meet Ray Palmer in the hallway, who’s been stalking her via her phone GPS, because he is interested in hiring someone with her skill set.

image

Turns out someone hacked his cellphone, laptop and desktop. Felicity is totes #sorrynotsorry to hear it, but doesn’t admit anything. Ray tells her that all of his data has been replaced with “audio files of porcupine flatulence,” and that he was hoping an apology for misleading this person would merit an undo, plus he ants to offer her a job again.

image

Felicity says it would, unless he used that information to deliberately steal this person’s friend’s company, in which case he should get “ used to the sounds of spiky rodents farting.” He tries to tell her he didn’t even need the data because his speech was “pretty good”, but she informs him that her friends just had a baby, and “there is another slimy little human” who needs her attention. “BTW,” she says, walking away, “you might want to check your tablet.”

Felicity walks in and sees the baby a second before Oliver does.

image

He stands in the doorway and shyly says hello to Diggle. Digg comes over and thanks him “for being right.” He looks lovingly upon his daughter. “The second I looked at her, everything changed,” he tells Ollie. “My whole universe…changed. You were right.”

image

image

He goes to shake Ollie’s hand, but gets pulled in for a hug instead, and my emotions are at a 11. They separate, and as Oliver stares at Felicity, Lyla and Baby D, we get another memory of Hong Kong.

image

***FLASHBACK ALERT***Oliver looks out the window of Maseo’s house and asks him how to get out of there. “You can’t leave,” Maseo says, and Oliver tells him that he can’t stop him. Maseo says he has repeatedly, and that Amanda wants him working for her. “I’d rather die,” Oliver retorts, and that is when Maseo clarifies that it is not his life that is under threat should he leave.

image

Amanda has “motivated” him by threatening his family, and he tells Oliver about an old proverb of his father’s, “a man cannot live by two names.” Oliver asks what it means, and he tells him that in his case, it means he has “no choice.” ***END FB***

Walking out of Lyla’s hotel room, Felicity is raving about the baby when Oliver interrupts her to say that they “have to talk”. “I don’t want to talk,” she says, admitting it’s rare for her, but she knows that “as soon as we talk, it’s over.”

Oliver looks both sincere and wrecked, and my poor heart is already shriveling. “I’m SO sorry,” he tells her. “I thought I could be me, and the Arrow…but I can’t. Not now. …Maybe not ever.”

image

image

Felicity, who has been hurt and understanding and encouraging, finally gets angry, and draws her line in the sand.

image

“Then SAY ‘never’. Stop…” her voice breaks, and she continues, tears in it, “…dangling maybes. Say it’s never going to work out between us. Say you never loved me–” He interrupts her with a whispered, “Oh, Felicity,” and he kisses her.

image

It is brief and at the end there is a moment where they pause, lips still touching, before Oliver pulls away and looks her in the eye as he holds her face. “Don’t ask me to say that I don’t love you,” he tells her, and it’s as good as a declaration.

image

Felicity’s response is as true to character as it is heartbreaking. “I told you as soon as we talked” she says, pushing his wrists and freeing her face, “it would be over,” and she walks away, leaving Oliver with his hands frozen in the air until his phone rings, distracting him.

image

“It’s Barry,” Barry says. “I woke up, and I need some advice.”

On a rooftop in the city, the Lance sisters are having a meetup.

image

Sara asks Laurel how their father is doing and she responds “Same,” but that he’ll be better when he sees her. Sara doesn’t want it known that she’s in town just yet, however, because her life is complicated. Laurel reminds her they didn’t want her to pick that life, but she says she picked it for herself. Laurel gets a call from the office asking her to sit in on the Arena perp’s interrogation, and the sisters hug it out.

image

“Laurel Lance, always trying to save the world,” Sara teases. “Runs in the family,” Laurel responds. It is the most mature and human I have ever seen Laurel act, and a nice moment between the two characters. Laurel tells her sister she loves her and takes off, and Sara is left alone on the roof. “Hello, Sara” we hear a deeply modulated voice say. She turns and asks “What are you doing here?” and gets shot, three arrows in the stomach.

image

She stumbles off the edge of the building, hitting her head on the trash can and falling only a few feet away from where her sister stands on the street, her mask falling off during her fall. Laurel runs over and gathers the broken, bloody body to her as she cries, screaming her sister’s name.

image

I’m going to go drink now.

Thanks for reading! I can’t promise an update for every episode (the spirit has to move me), but I will try to do as many as I can, and if you want a heads-up, you can follow me here or @conniebv on Twitter.

Save

Outlander S1E08 Photo Recap, “Both Sides Now,” Part 2

As I get ready to hibernate like a bear, only occasionally opening up my maw to curse and maul at stray campers, let me thank everyone once again for reading, reblogging, liking, tweeting and all other manner of cyberhugs. This fandom is populated by awesomeasauruses.

Trigger warning: If awful violent acts that rhyme with “grape” are upsetting to you, please note this may not be a good episode for you to read about. Proceed under your own judgement.

Back to Claire and Jamie, who are in a meadow looking for some Afternoon Delight. I can’t blame them, because I have it on good authority that when the time is right, it’s right.

image

Claire asks Jamie between kisses if the Mackenzies “won’t come looking for us”, and Jamie says that he told them that they needed to find more of Claire’s “wee herbs.” That is what I will now say to the hubs when it’s time for him to submit and fulfill his duties.

image

“Oh it’s my idea?” Claire laughs, and asks if he thinks they believed him. “Not a chance,” he replies, grinning, and sets upon her like he’s the hungry young man he is and she’s the world’s sexiest steak. In true proof that men are incapable of logical thought during nakey Twister, he asks her “Does it ever stop, the wanting you?” at the same time as he is hiking up her skirt in the middle of a $#@! field. It merits the same serious problem-solving techniques I applied to conundrums back when I was a wee Flea. Time to consult the Oracle.

image

Outlook Not So Good, you guys. This sexymoon will, like Rose’s heart, go on and on. Jamie and Claire’s boat is rocking when Jamie says “Now I know why they call it a sacrament.” Claire, distracted, asks him why. “Because I feel like God himself when I’m inside you!” he exclaims, overjoyed, and she laughs and he grins at her and asks if that is “a foolish thing to say.” Claire can’t answer properly because she is too busy laughing at him.

image

When she admits between giggles that she is laughing at him, he, smiling, tells her she’ll “get what [she] deserve[s]!” and gets down to business in earnest. I start to feel like I am intruding, sitting on my couch in my own living room. The sky and grass are bright, the sex is playful and passionate and they are beautifully open and immersed in each other, so of course it has to go to hell. Don’t sleep, y’all. No matter what your library may tell you, this is not a romance novel.

image

There is the subtle click of a gun cocking and Jamie and Claire freeze. An English voice says “Get up, you rutting bastard” and Jamie is unceremoniously pulled off his wife, who shakes in obvious fear as she struggles to cover herself. We then see that their assailants are two grubby redcoats, and one mentions to the other that he shouldn’t have pulled Jamie off “before he finished” because it’s “bad for a man’s health.” It’s good to know he has his priorities straight. The other soldier answers that he’s not concerned with Jamie’s health and you can see that Jamie is vibrating with anger, but there is nothing he can do with a gun aimed at his head. The tension is making me twitchy.

image

The soldier’s partner says to “go ahead and kill him, then” because he means to have “a piece of that.” “That” is Claire, laying on the ground with her bodice undone and disbelieving as the soldier unbuckles his belt and moves toward her. Jamie roars and lunges in her direction, but is stopped by the other soldier’s gun. The redcoats joke coarsely among themselves about “letting him watch” and “showing him how it’s done” and it’s obvious by his expression and Claire’s that they are both horrified and powerless. I am a sobbing mass of empathy.

image

As the officer not holding the gun kneels and drags Claire toward him and Jamie shouts in the background, suddenly the sound seems to go mono and everything slows down as the camera focuses very tightly on Claire’s face. I pause mid-cat-chase (her fuzziness is soothing) to admire how freaking stunning Cait is. Probably not the time, but that’s never stopped me before.

image

The soldier must think so as well, because as he lowers himself onto a seemingly docile Claire, his guard is down and he doesn’t expect what happens next at all.

image

Jamie takes advantage of this to quickly draw his knife and slash the throat of the soldier who was holding him back.

image

He then runs to Claire, pulling the dead redcoat off her, tossing her into his arms and running with her to higher ground, where he sits her upon a stump and curls around her protectively. The camera is still slightly shaky, there is no music, everything is both slow and fast, and I am in a right panic, because I’ve somehow managed to convince myself that the redcoats aren’t really dead and I am screaming Zombieland’s rule #2 at my screen.

image

Back to Frank’s time and the vicarage, where Mrs. Graham is complaining loudly to the Reverend about how she has “held her tongue for weeks now” and that she “will be silent no longer”. Rev. Wakefield says that he won’t have her parading her “dribble-drabble as fact.” She says she will tell Frank and let him make up his own mind, but he says that the “poor man just made up his mind that his wife left him.” Because they are loud and the house is old, Frank comes upon them and very calmly gossip-shames them.

image

image

Noticing the tension, he asks Mrs. Graham directly if there is something she would like to tell him. She says there is, and that even if it should cost her her position, he should know “the truth.” Wakefield tries to interject but before he can, she amends “the truth as I know it,” and tells Frank that there is another explanation for what happened to his wife.

image

They sit at a table and while the Reverend paces in the background, Mrs. Graham tells Frank about stories “old as the stones themselves, passed down from generation to generation by bards and songs.” She says she heard the story from her grandmother, who heard it from hers. He seems calm enough as he listens and his face is pretty impassive. As a matter of fact, his suit matches the wall and he gives off a general air of IDGAF-ness. Frank is like a ghost of himself, going through the motions and being polite.

image

Mrs. Graham tells him of people who traveled through the stones, and that the stones at Craig Na Dun represent a place where “the powers of nature come together” and that the stones gather the power and give it focus. She says that “certain people, on certain days, can pierce the veil of time.” She adds that Frank knows Claire went up the hill, but she did not come back down the same way, and believes she “traveled to some other time.”

image

Frank asks where or when did she, and Mrs. Graham responds that she doesn’t know, every traveler has “their own journey,” but that the songs say the “travelers often return.” In short, she describes exactly what happened in the clearest way a Druid can and because it sounds impossible and Frank is dealing only in things he can touch now, he writes it off, albeit very politely. Tobias Menzies can communicate pain with a simple downturn of the mouth, and it is apparent here that speaking of Claire pains Frank, however well he may hide it.

image

image

He is still resolved to leave that afternoon, and Mrs. Graham is at a loss. “Did you no’ hear me? THEY OFTEN RETURN.” “I did hear you,” Frank says kindly and quietly as the Reverend places a supportive hand on Mrs. Graham’s shoulder. “I simply do not share your beliefs. Forgive me.” Her disappointment is obvious, but she doesn’t say anything else to stop him.

image

He turns to leave, pausing briefly to smile at this wee nugget, and the scene is done.

image

image

Back to the tree stump, where Jamie is being eaten alive by guilt and Claire is going into shock. For those of you unfamiliar with shock, here is a visual aid I totally made up:

image

Jamie, high on adrenaline and the blood of the oppressor, is apologizing to Claire. “I’m sorry, charaid,” he says, taking both her hands in his. “I’m okay. We’re okay” is her response. She sounds too calm for what just happened, and her gaze is fixed on her bloody hands, held inside Jamie’s. “MY FAULT,” he growls,“To bring you here without taking proper heed and to let you be….” Here his voice breaks, and he swallows, continuing with tears in his voice. “…To not stop him….” She only says “Okay.” It is obvious that Elvis has left the building.

image

Suddenly Jamie pauses, noticing that Claire’s hands are cold and he tells her “You’re so cold, mo nighean donn. Yours hands are like ice.” As he is kissing her hands to try to warm them, he hears is name shouted from the meadow below. It’s Dougal and the rest of the group, and thank God for them.

image

Jamie leaves Claire–staring at her bloody hands, bodice still undone, shaking and muttering to herself that she is going into shock but “it’s all right,”–to go take care of the redcoats, leaving Young Willie to guard her. In a voice over, Claire explains that her mind jumped from thought to thought “like a stone skipping over a pond” and lists the random thoughts she had during this time, which include her parents, the smell of her uncle’s pipe, Errol Flynn, men she’d seen die and finally, the feel of her dagger tip puncturing the kidney. Basically, none of these things:

image

image

Jamie looks up at her from below, and Claire’s voice over continues, saying that she knew he was worried and wanted to talk to her about what had happened, but that if she “started to give rein to her feelings” then things would pour out of her that she wanted to “keep locked away forever.” Instead of screaming, she paces back and forth like an automaton with an open bodice while Willie tactfully averts his eyes.

Down in the meadow with the bodies, Dougal says the men are redcoat deserters like Munro said Horrocks was, and that if Jamie is to meet with him he cannot go alone, since “this is what becomes of a man who breaks his oath to king and country.”

image

Murtagh concurs with Dougal, saying that they should all accompany him “with our swords in our hands,” or Jamie should not go at all.

image

Jamie nods once, tersely, and growls out a low “Aye,” after which his gaze travels up to Claire, pacing in the mist like a ghost. They are not the same two people who snuck away only moments earlier for a giddy moment alone, and the disconnect is palpable. Props to the director for this last shot of Claire, symbolically haunting the moors à la Wuthering Heights. Beautiful, and chilling.

image

image

Back at the vicarage, Frank gets ready to make a clean break and be that dude that leaves a drawer full of underpants when he vacates a house.

image

image

Damn it, Frank. Mrs. Graham is your housekeeper, not your maid.

Back in the 18th century, the Mackenzies are back on the trail, and Claire won’t meet Jamie’s eyes. Her voice over tells us that all she “could remember about that pivotal time in her life was that [she] was angry,” and she didn’t know why. Really? I can name a few reasons.

image

Suddenly everyone stops, and Claire sulkily asks Jamie why. He doesn’t answer her directly, but tells he she will have to stay there with Willie. At her startled “What!” he explains that Dougal was right, and the meeting with Horrocks could be a trap. “I’ll no’ risk you again,” he says earnestly, “You’ll be safer here with Willie to look after you.” Claire’s reaction is cringe-worthy. She says in a bored tone that she doesn’t need an explanation, he can “go ahead and take Willie with him” because she “can look after myself. I think I’ve proven that earlier.”

image

image

image

OUCH, girl. MEE-OW. Jamie blinks at the insult and turns away from her, muttering “Ye needn’t prove it again” under his breath and Claire looks down as she hears him, but does not otherwise react that he can see. Jamie addresses Willie in a loud voice, saying it is likely that there are redcoats about and if they come, it will be from the South. Willie promises to keep an eye out. Jamie once again speaks to Claire, saying, “You stay here. I’ll be back. I promise.” Claire tells him he “shouldn’t make promises [he] can’t keep.” but the subtext is obvious.

image

“This one I will keep, Claire,” he insists, and asks her to promise him that she will stay put. Dougal calls him and he stalls, insisting. “Promise me, Claire. Swear you’ll be here when I get back.”

image

Finally and with little grace, Claire gives in. “Fine, I promise.” “Good,” he responds, and gallops away without another word. As she watches them leave, Claire’s voice over tells us that “In that moment, the reason for [her] bitterness became clear” to her.

image

She wasn’t mad at the redcoat deserters, or Jamie. She was mad at herself for forgetting her plan to get back to the stones at Craigh Na Dun, to her own time, and to Frank.

Speaking of Frank, he is headed out of Inverness on the road that passes right by…you guessed it, Craigh Na Dun.

image

image

He has barely missed the exit when he suddenly stops, focusing on a couple on a motorcycle clasped tight to each other as they zoom past. As he stares forward, his gaze focuses on his hand, and his decision is made.

image

I have no explanation as to why Frank’s ring sounds like an extra on Goodfellas. He looks behind him at the road, shifts the car into reverse,  backs up until he is by the exit to the stones, and makes the turn.

image

Back in the past, Claire is pouting and leaning on a tree when Willie shouts out that if she needs him, he’ll be “takin’ care of some personal business.” I applaud his tact, and wish that Claire could respond in kind. “Go at least fifty yards away and downwind”, she says crabbily, and as he walks away, I am shouting at him.

image

He walks one way, and Claire walks another, using the opportunity to think out loud at us via voice over as she gets ever-further from her guard. She says that she “tried to avoid thinking about the incident in the meadow”, but that her mind “kept returning to it again and again, like picking at a festering sore that’s left untouched.” As she wanders through the woods, all of a sudden she stops cold.

image

“There it was,” says V.O. Claire. “Craigh Na Dun.” She hadn’t recognized the road they had taken on the way in, but now, she was “back, to the place where it had all begun. So much had happened, so much had changed.”  Last time she was here, she was Claire Randall, then Claire Beauchamp, then Claire Fraser. “The question was…who did I want to be?”

image

Well that was a gut-check. Traumatized, alone and past her breaking point, Claire bolts for the safety of what she left behind. This begins a truly poetic series of parallel cuts between 18th-century Claire and 20th-century Frank as they both rush towards the stones, and their last memory of each other. The music swells and builds, imbuing what follows with a sense of the epic. No insult to Bear Mac, but when things get epic, at least in my mind, really only one song will ever do.

image

image

image

image

image

Claire is hauling her long legs and probably an additional 20 lbs of wool and assorted armature as fast as she can, but it’s no match for an internal combustion engine and a lead foot. Frank arrives first, and takes a moment to take in his surroundings, in case he finds Claire under a rock, or maybe the stones will become sentient and  and tell him where they stashed his woman. Nothing sounds weird to me anymore.

image

More cuts, back and forth. In the 18th century, Claire runs full tilt, and her urgency is palpable. Meanwhile, Frank pauses by the stone with the flowers at its base and finally, heart-stoppingly, allows to himself to cry.

image

It starts out quiet and builds into big, gulping sobs in between which he brokenly calls his wife’s name, and ends with his best Brando.

image

It’s exactly like that except he says Claire. For her part, Claire, who is still running towards the stones in the 18th century, pauses when she hears an echo of his voice sound out over the clearing, and likewise, shouts out his name in the timey-wimeyest, most high-stakes game of Marco Polo ever.

image

“Frank!,” she shouts while running, “Wait for me, Frank!” In the 20th century, Frank quits his manly weeping as he too, hears his spouse’s voice calling his name echo across time. He turns around and quietly says her name, unsure it is her. Wonder who else he thinks it could be.

image

In the 18th century, Claire finally arrives at the stones, and specifically, the one she touched when she traveled. You know it’s the right one, because the plaid wrap she wore is still there, wet and bedraggled at its base. She leans down to touch both hands to the stone and—

image

image

image

Yep. The redcoats get her, because maybe tearing uphill while screaming at the top of her lungs was not the best way to keep a low profile, but whatever. Bygones. She screams “NO,” as they haul her away, and Frank, who can no longer hear her in the 20th century, seems to tell that big rational brain of his that he imagined the whole thing. He takes a moment to settle himself, and still teary-eyed, walks downhill to his car in a world that seems leached of color, while 200 years in the past, Claire stumbles down the same hill to an uncertain future, the red of their coats so vibrant, it almost hurts your eyes.

image

image

I know there is a lot of dislike for this character and I promise this will be short, but this was heartbreaking, and I was perversely happy to feel this way because it means that this scene, this entire relationship, was done right and for that I am glad.  This was a couple who loved, who married in joy and hope, who was dedicated to making their marriage work and who were torn apart by circumstance. It is, no matter what you think of their personalities or Jamie’s, a muthaf#@! tragedy. *sigh* /drinks wine

Onward. In the back of the soldiers’ wagon, Claire tells us via voice over that she knew where they were taking her: “Fort William, the site of Jamie’s incarceration and flogging” and the purview of a man she knew “all too well,” who would have no notice of her coming. She however, had the “entire jolting journey in the back of the wagon” to plan what she would say, and she hoped it would be enough.

image

Time for fun with Captain “Black” Jack Randall, and by that I mean, constant douche chills, to the point where I had to watch later portions barricaded behind a mountain of pillows like a fugitive. There is something that Tobias does with his mouth when he does BJR that I cannot. stand.

image

First, Capt. Randall offers his “congratulations and felicitations” on her recent wedding, and tells her that he does not care whether or not she considers herself Scots or an Englishwoman, and apparently neither does Claire, he points out, as she is still wearing her old wedding ring. “Sentimental attachment,” she counters.“I doubt you have a sentimental bone in your body,” he says.

image

BJR always enjoys a side of affability with his crazy, but Claire seems to be almost imitating him, and if anything, it ratchets up the tension to an unbearable level. Watching these two be nice to each other is like watching a bear juggle salmon.

“The more interesting question,” he continues, “is why would Dougal Mackenzie consider [her] of such value” that he would make her one of his own instead of allowing him to question her. “I’m sure I have no idea what you’re talking about,” she demurs, and they toast to the king. “I’m glad to see you still consider him your sovereign, he says, and she says that “All the Mackenzies are loyal English subjects.” Which makes him laugh, which CREEPS ME OUT.

image

He says that that is “the single most amusing comment” he has heard “all week.” Claire comments that he must not have been amusing himself by flogging prisoners, then. He tells her that it is an unusual thing to say, because she should know from their last meeting that he “takes flogging very seriously.” For a moment, Claire’s facade drops and you can see the nerves and uncertainty, and as Capt. Randall walks around her in silence to noisily drag a chair next to her, she tries to school her expression.

image

“Madam,” he tells her, “you need to understand your position.” On this, their third encounter, he intends to discover her “true nature” and her secrets “by any means necessary.” “Perhaps you should ask the Duke of Sandringham,” Claire retaliates, and BJR actually chokes on his wine, so you know someone’s gonna die. That $#@! will NOT stand. Claire however, feels smug in having scored a point on her no good, very bad day, and it shows on her face.

image

image

Claire thinks about how this is a dangerous gambit, but that Randall’s reaction tells her that Frank and the Reverend’s speculation about who Randall’s patron was was spot-on. In essence, he could do as he wished because he was under the protection of a powerful man. “The cost of such protection,” thought Claire,“was always silence…and fidelity.” She makes a pointed comment about his cravat staining, and as he gets up to rinse it in a basin, there is a subtle shift in the power dynamic in the room, and this just puts me on edge.

image

Randall asks how Claire knows the Duke, and she tells Randall that it should be obvious that they are “both in the employ of the same great and powerful man.” Randall says that this is “Impossible,” because he would know, but Claire counters that Sandringham does not tell him all his secrets. She is so smug and confident at this point that I just want her to shut up. This man is a grenade.

image

Claire says he must be “a very special officer indeed” and Randall says that he will simply send a messenger to the Duke to ask after her. Claire gets up, and reaches over to help him tie his cravat. “Excellent idea,” she says. “I’m sure he would be most pleased at your skill and acumen and discovering my identity, OR….” she holds the ends of the cloth threateningly, “perhaps your destruction of the Duke’s carefully laid plans will not be rewarded. Perhaps he will be displeased, and take measures to terminate your special relationship, withdraw the protection to which you have become accustomed and thus leave you at the mercy of your superior officers and local authorities.” BJR stands docilely during this speech, and that is crazy alarming.

image

She finishes, saying that “the wisest course of action” would be for him to allow her to continue with “her mission” and give no indication to the Duke how close he came to interfering with his “efforts on behalf of the King.” She crosses to get her cloak and leave the room, when Randall stops her by saying, “You mean his wife’s efforts.”

image

image

image

That’s right, he tricks her into admitting that she communicated with the Duchess, who doesn’t exist, and just like that the balance of power shifts again, and it sends Claire into a panic, running to the door to escape and finding the same poor Corporal Hawkins there that kicked her last time. A low “Coorpooraal…” from Frank is enough to make the young man fearfully pushes her back inside with a whispered “Sorry, madam,” and Claire realizes how desperate her situation has actually become.

image

Randall ties her hands behind her back, and tells the Corporal not to come back, no matter what he hears. He walks calmly back to his desk, takes off his jacket, and takes out a giant knife with a curved blade. The look of horror on Claire’s face erupts into a sudden scream for “Help, someone!!!” and Randall reacts by drinking some wine. That is how you know you are f&%$#ed.

image

He comes at Claire with the knife and she backs against the door. Randall advances with his patented smirk, and lists the things he wants to question her about as he cuts through her laces. First, her real name, then Dougal, Collum, the Jacobite rebellion and finally, the Duke of Sandringham. At first you think that he is just going to intimidate her, but by the time he has ripped her chemise off and she is standing there exposed, you know it will be nothing so simple.

image

He means to exert power over her in the tradition of @$$holes throughout time, with his penis. Claire whispers angrily that he will regret this. “I doubt it,” he answers, grabbing her by the hair and dragging her to a table and bending her over it. When he flips her skirt over her back, he notices the sgian-dubh in her boot, and laughs as he pulls it out. “My, my..the lady has claws,” he comments, showing the blade to Claire as he pets her hair. He wonders how sharp it is, and to make his point…

image

image

I couldn’t show it, not even with words covering the bits. Suffice it to say this crazy f*ck was going to make it so she could never breastfeed, but suddenly the window bursts open and Randall transfers the blade to Claire’s neck instead. It’s Jamie, thank God, perched in the window with a gun like a verra angry handsome bird and pointing it right at Randall. In contrast with his expression, his voice is almost polite as he says, “I’ll thank ye to take yer hands off my wife.”

image

Randall lets out a surprised “Good God,” over Claire’s quiet sobs and then, like the insane crackpot he is, begins to laugh. This sort of heroin nightmare is what gets him off, of course, so while everyone else is at a zenith of tension, I feel like I know exactly what this bastard is thinking.

image

But I won’t know for sure till April.

For more Outlander fun during hiatus, follow me here or on Twitter @conniebv.

Save

Save

Outlander S1E08 Photo Recap, “Both Sides Now,” Part 1

So here we are at the mid-season finale. I laughed, I cried, I considered perming my hair and I knit like a flipping banshee. Much like the lauded high-quality bootie we have been exposed to thanks to this show, I hate to see it go, but I LOVED watching it leave. Posted in 2 parts because.

We begin as always with the lovely Skye Boat Song, and I play my usual mental game where I try to recognize each clip and where it comes from. Some are harder than others. Like, why is Claire running here? Towards or away from something? Let’s look.

image

RUN, GIRL. Damn it, I miss this show already.

First scene, we are in Scotland, 1946. Specifically in the Inverness Police Station, where cops spike their drinks to deal with those pesky victim’s loved ones who won’t leave them alone and get over it already.

imageimage

That’s right. Frank has become such a fixture at the station that he’s someone used his coat for graffiti. It happens. At least the unnamed vandals who defaced his suit understand what makes him tick. Can’t say the same for the detective, who is very obviously patronizing. Frank listens to him apologize and say that he “wishes he could do more” for him and calmly says it’s his job, perhaps he could do that? The detective replies that he understands he is “disappointed” and I actually stood up and cheered “Disappointing? That’s an interesting word. It suggests expectations that were unmet. My expectations of your department were low to begin with and I can assure you that you have met those expectations at every turn.” DAYYYYUM SON. /highfive

imageimage

This is enough for the detective to finally lose his patience and let him have it. He reminds Frank that they spent the past six weeks “searching over 100 square miles of rugged terrain, conducted 175 interviews, invested over 1000 man hours…” but Frank don’t care. He wants to know what he “has to show for these efforts.”

image

As he speaks, the camera pans over to bulletin board and the missing persons rewards being offered for both Claire, and the Highlander Frank saw watching her on the night of their arrival, who looks pretty familiar…

image

Frank emphasizes that his wife has disappeared. “Do you have any idea–at all–what might have happened to her?” The detective says that they didn’t find a body, so they assume that she is still alive. There was “no blood in the car, no sign of a struggle”, so they assume she “probably wasna taken against her will.” Franks’s face hardens. He has heard this before, and deadpans that is is the detective’s “favorite theory.”

imageimage

The officer’s calm begins to crack and he raises his voice, telling Frank that he admitted that he caught a man staring at his wife through the window the night before she disappeared.  Frank says that he has said since the beginning that “the Highlander is certainly involved in some way,” and then the detective finally loses his patience.

image

He shouts that “OF COURSE he is involved, you fool! He is her lover and the two of them left, together.” Frank doesn’t take well to this.

image

He slams his fist on the table and shouts, his body shaking and more emotion than we have seen from him in the entire series to date. “My wife is NOT with another man.” It is telling that when he looks around the station and notices everyone is watching him, he almost immediately reverts to calm, as if he himself cannot handle the emotion and the illusion of control is important. He gets his hat and prepares to go.

image

Back to 1743, where Claire and Jamie are having a snack and gazing at each other like teenagers.

imageimageimage

Jamie acts all cute which means he is mostly just breathing and shyly asks Claire if he can ask her a question and she replies “of course.” He says he does not want to embarrass her and imply that she “has a vast knowledge of men,” but that she knows more than he does in such matters. After some prodding from Claire, he reaches over, holds her hand and asks “It is usual? What it is between us when I touch you? When you lie with me? Is it always so between a man and a woman?”

imageimage

At first Claire demurs and says that “It is often something like this,” but at Jamie’s somewhat dejected look she seems to reevaluate her approach and alters her response. “No. This is unusual. It’s different.”

imageimage

That seems to please Jamie and there is a very sweet beat as they lock eyes, and then a wee interruption.

image

Jamie’s eyes widen and he throws himself over Claire to shield her, then tells her “don’t move” as he crawls over to examine the arrow. When he gets a good look at it, this is how you know they are in no real danger.

image

It really is good and refreshing to see honest open smiles on either of their faces. They are so often swimming upstream a river of sh*t that the moments of joy really hit home for me. Not only is it not danger, it is a friend! Hugh Munro, what looks like the Highland equivalent of a homeless person crossed with that one stuffed rabbit you loved all the fur off of when you were a child.

image

Hugh is mute, and so communicates mostly by grunts and signs, which Jamie interprets for Claire. I don’t speak Munro, so I just made crap up.

imageimageimage

Hugh found them because he saw Dougal watering the horses and came up to where he figured Jamie would be. When he signals towards Claire, Jamie introduces her as his wife, “married just these two days past” and Hugh pulls out a wineskin, insisting that they drink to Claire, after which he has some news for Jamie. Jamie agrees and they all sit. As they pass the wineskin around, Hugh reaches into his bag and pulls something out. Jamie interprets that it is for Claire, “a wedding gift.” It is a dragonfly, trapped in amber.

imageimage

As Claire admires her gift, Jamie reaches over and taps one of the medallions sewn onto on Hugh’s vest, joking that he has “gone official.” he explains to Claire that they are gaberlunzie pendants, which are official licenses to beg within the borders of a single parish. Claire notes that he has “at least a dozen” by her count, and that is when Jamie says that Hugh is special, as was “captured by the Turks at Sea, and spent many years as a slave in Algiers”, where he lost his tongue. Claire asks if they cut it out and Jamie says that that and hot oil on his legs is how they got “Christians to convert to the Musulman religion.” When Munro appears lost in memory, Jamie prods him for his news.

imageimageimageimage

Turns out he has encountered a man named Horrocks, a redcoat deserter, who is willing to meet Jamie and provide testimony that Jamie did not kill the Seargant at Fort William. Munro cannot vouch for Horrocks’ trustworthiness, but Jamie wants to go meet with him, as having the price lifted from his head would mean he could take his new wife home to Lallybroch. He is terribly excited and hopeful and he hugs Claire, who has to go be a total downer because God forbid you should just hug your hot young Ginger husband who is totally into you and JUST ENJOY IT.

imageimage

A sincerely awesome shot of her hands blurs into Frank’s left hand with is ring finger on it, and we are back to 1946 to the owner of said hand, in the Reverend Wakefield’s house telling him that the police are not interested in his theories on what may have happened to Claire. The Reverend thinks she may have fallen in a river and been carried up to 20 miles into the forest. Even though Frank is being polite, you can tell that the Detective hit a nerve and that the Reverend, however well-intentioned, is starting to annoy him.

imageimageimage

Rev. Wakefield is getting on his last nerve by telling Frank about how Claire could be living in a cave (IT HAPPENS) and subsisting on “fish and frogs” when he (and all of us) are distracted. Mrs. Graham comes in with a snack and she is followed by his tiny, adorable nephew, Roger. Pause FOR THE CHEEKS. They demand it.

imageimageimage

There is a sweet bit when Roger asks for two cookies and the Rev. Wakefield tickle-chases him asking if he is going to “eat all my biscuits” and I am thinking about how it must say to share somewhere in the Bible and Frank is staring at them like “Great, now I have to be reminded that I am a childless sad sack, too.” Roger goes upstairs to bed, and Frank glares at the board with all the clippings related to Claire’s disappearance.

imageimage

Mrs. Graham offers him tea because he is English and I’m pretty sure that is how they mediate all disputes, but Frank says he needs “something a bit stronger” and, refusing the Reverend’s company, asks that they not wait up for him.

At what I assume to be the nearest pub, he looks like a PSA for how you handle this situation.

imageimage

I honestly identify with Frank probably for the first time ever during this scene. There is a fragility to Tobias Menzies’ sadness laid over a core of anger that feels very real, a man at absolute emotional bottom. So of course, here comes a blonde Eve to tempt him with a metaphorical apple.

image

She sits next to Frank and greets him with a smile and a “Good evening…Mr. Randall” which gets his attention. She says he can call her Sally, although that is not her real name. He gives her a once-over and asks, “What can I do for you, Sally?” She says it’s what she can do for him, and you can tell he’s intrigued.

imageimage

Sadly, no sexcapades (and really, who could blame him). Rather she takes out one of the leaflets advertising a reward for information regarding Jamie and tells Frank that “I ken where he is”. “Where?” Frank says immediately, and she replies, “Close. I can take you to him.”That’s all Frank needs to hear to jump up and get ready to go, but Sally places a hand on his arm and says “Not now. There are too many eyes and ears in here.” She asks Frank to meet her “at half past midnight” on Drummond lane, past the cobbler’s shop, to bring the reward, and to come alone. She gets up to leave, but poor hopeful Frank has one more question, and he grabs her hand to stop her from leaving and ask if Claire is “with him”. Sally says she doesn’t know, she’ll arrange the meeting and the rest is up to him.

image

When she leaves, he drinks the rest of his drink and asks the bartender for another. You get the sense that he’s not going home until after the meeting, and that he may be drinking up to that point. Wise choice.

In 1743, the Mackenzies have camped for the night, Rupert is telling the legend of the water-horse, and Jamie and Claire are gazing at each other, vigorously handfornicating and waiting for everyone to fall asleep so they can hit it.

imageimage

Jamie tells Claire that “it will be Yuletide” by the time they return to Leoch, and she asks if they hang stockings by the chimney. “To dry them off, you mean?” says adorably clueless Jamie and Claire laughs because she is a heterosexual human female and adorable Jamie demands it. It is a lovely, sweet calm moment.

imageimage

But is is Outlander, so those don’t last.

image

Claire notices the change in the vibe and asks what is wrong, and Jamie says the horses are restless and that someone is out there, and not to move. Those horses are better than an alarm. The storytelling goes on and everyone appears to continue what they are doing, but there is an alertness that underlies each action that tells you every man in that camp is preparing for sh*t to go down.

image

Jamie gives Claire his knife under cover of a kiss, and tells her that at his say-so, she is to go behind a hollow log and hide.

image

He strokes her hair, waiting for word from Dougal and, at his nod, yells “GO!” and all hell breaks loose.

image

I wanted to try to cap some of the fight, but it is one giant blur, so let me refer you instead to this excellent gifset by outlander-online, and you can just imagine me yelling over it like you do when there’s a fight in the hallway in high school: “FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHHHHT!”

image

And then it’s over, and it turns out it was a raid by the Grants. Even though they are some grain and one horse poorer for it, everyone is okay and giddy with exhilaration. Jamie calls Claire and she comes, saying she is all right. Ned is downright chipper, asking if anyone saw him hit a perfect shot. The comment breaks any remaining tension and everyone laughs. A crisis averted.

imageimageimage

Back in Claire’s time, Frank finally shows up to meet Sally for their appointment, and the moment I see the contrast I worry for the outcome of this. Costuming alone will tell you who holds the power in this situation, and the fact that you can’t really see Frank’s face is visual foreshadowing.

image

Sally complains that he is late, to which he counters “I am on time” and she explains that she just thought he would be early. You think a lot of things, Sally. She leads him to a secluded area behind a shop, and it becomes obvious that this isn’t what Frank thought it was.

image

The man who punches him yells “give us the reward” and this is when I check my TV to make sure I am not watching another channel because Frank goes full Batman, but like DARK KNIGHT BATMAN.

imageimage

Side note: when I was watching this for the recap, my husband wandered in and yelled “Yeah, blackjack that guy!” I got all excited thinking that he watched the show and somehow knew a plot point, but NO. Turns out that what Frank takes out of his pocket for this epic beat down is called a blackjack, and is get this: LEAD WRAPPED IN LEATHER. Kudos to the geniuses behind this production, who managed to tie this all together so neatly.

But first, said epic beat down:

imageimage

I make fun because it’s what I do, but it is honestly chilling to watch this gentle, hurt man lose whatever control he was hanging on to and echo his ancestor in such a manner. Not only does he viciously kick one of his assailants over and over again once he is down and then start up beating him with the blackjack, but when Sally runs over and shouts “Stop! Ye’re gonna kill ‘im!”, this happened, and my heart just dropped.

image

That’s right. HE MOTHERF*CKING CHOKES HER as he growls “There is no highlander, is there?” Oh I don’t know, Frank, you’re a goddamn professor. FIGURE IT OUT. A lot of things can be said for violence in this story, both past and upcoming, but I’ve always personally felt it flowed with the time and the story, and this struck a discordant note for me. I did not feel it was justified, or really even congruent. I could have fathomed him grabbing her and tossing her to the ground, wrenching her arm, but this just felt out of bounds. Any sympathy I felt for Frank flew right out of my mouth in a string of curse words. In an episode riddled with violence, it was the one moment I felt truly uncomfortable. Although, if that was the writers’ purpose, bravo folks. You got me.

Sally finally chokes out a no, and Frank lets go of her, flipping back to Bruce Banner before our very eyes. He backs up slowly, we hear the Reverend Wakefield’s voiceover begin as the scene shifts back to the vicarage, and it’s an important one.

“It’s fashionable in this modern age to dismiss the idea of good and evil. But there is evil…and it finds purchase in good men by giving sin the sweet taste of ecstasy. The Nazis drank from that poisoned cup thinking all the while they were slaking their thirst with the sweetest wine.”

image

Franks wants to know if the reverend thinks he drank from that same cup, to which Wakefield responds that “Evil has but one cup,” and taking the metaphor right to its limit says that while many “drink long and deep” his was “but a sip” and that he should make it his last. “Turn away from the darkness that beckons you and turn back to the light,” he counsels gravely. For my purposes, he could have been a bit more direct.

image

Frank takes this as indirect advice to leave Inverness, and Reverend Wakefield does not disagree. He tells him to “go back to Oxford, start your life over.” “What of Claire?,” Frank asks. “Let her go, just as she has let you go,” Wakefield says very gently. Still, the impact on Frank is visible.

image

Mrs. Graham overhears them and leaves the room without saying anything when Frank asks the reverend if he believes Claire left with the Highlander “of her own volition.” Wakefield asks him if he has ever read Sherlock Holmes, and tells him that “once you eliminate the impossible, what remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Frank shuts his eyes and sways and for one terrible moment, I think the is going to vomit. Reverend Wakefield’s point has hit home.

image

Thank God for comic relief, as we are now back with Jamie and Claire as they hunt through the hills for Jamie’s knife, which Claire dropped the previous night during the raid. Rupert finds it and tries to give it back to Jamie, but he indicates that Claire should have it. “It’s too big and heavy for me,” she complains, and then Rupert answers “Lassies say that to me all the time” so now, to paraphrase Diana, we know how old that joke is.

image

Ned tells Jamie that if he’s going to give Claire a knife, someone should teach her how to use it to “defend herself from assailants.” Angus is called up as the best man for the job and Claire objects politely, but Jamie cuts her off, saying that “every man and woman needs to learn to defend themselves, Sassenach- especially those married to a Fraser.” He punctuates this with a smooch, and she relents, saying “I think I’m more aware of that every day.”

image

Dougal, who is overseeing the proceedings while sharpening his own knife, says that “the lass needs a sgian-dubh,” which Jamie says is a “hidden dagger.” Ned explains that most highlanders hide them in their socks, but he has “a more private place” for his.

imageimage

Claire grimaces, but takes the dagger, and the lesson commences.

image

Angus explains to her that it is best for her to stab underhanded, as overhead is only good when you are “coming down with considerable force on someone from above,” and Claire nods. Murtagh, watching with Dougal and Jamie, says that “I still say the only good weapon for a woman is poison.” “Perhaps,” Dougal replies, “…it has certain deficiencies in combat.”

image

Angus helpfully lifts his shirt to show Claire where to stab a man if he is facing her, and when she pantomimes it, he tells her to go off to the side, not in the breastbone lest she lose her knife. He then volunteers an obviously reluctant Willie as victim for a back-stabbing. It’s all informative, but I am riveted by two people I swear I haven’t seen before. Am I alone here? Have I been high?

imageimage

Seriously, it’s like Dougal and Rupert’s stunt doubles or something. Ghosts? Anything’s possible. In any case, Angus tells Claire that it is hard to stab between the ribs from the back, so her best bet is to go beneath the last rib and stab straight upward into the kidney, and they “will drop like a stone.” Claire pantomimes stabbing Willie and playfully pushing him, and the reactions from the men are priceless. Claire is proud as she laughs and tells Angus “See? Got it.”

imageimage

In 1946, Frank is sadpacking his sad suitcase when Claire’s suitcase telepathically links to him, because he turns suddenly to look at it.

image

He must be ripe for seduction, because he picks it up and sets it on the bed, bracing himself to open it.

image

After a beat, he opens it and stands looking inside. It looks pretty standard, with her books and gloves placed neatly above her clothes, but he tugs something out by the edge and stands looking at it, swallowing convulsively. When the camera finally gets hold of it we see what it is, and while I know it’s meant to tug at my heartstrings, the reaction I experienced was somewhat um, uncommon.

image

At least he has a visual aid to get him through this lonely time. We can understand that, can’t we, Outlanders?

Follow me here or @conniebv on Twitter.

Save

Save

Save