Meh. Arrow Mehcap E311, “Midnight City”

Ish got real, y’all. Real sad. And real boring, I’m sorry to say. Last week was actually an easier recap, so this is even shorter than that one, and here’s hoping this week is better. I’m still here for this show.

 

We got a dream sequence where Oliver is all, “Yeah, you know what? I’m gonna stay here and screw this city because I only know ONE thing, not two. Solve your own problems, Thea Queen, I’m about to smear this pink lipstick.”

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I may have paraphrased most of that dialogue, but I had to. It was probably the only time this episode I smiled. So of course he coughs up blood because it has to suck balls to be Oliver Queen or else we all turn into pumpkins.

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Same, Miss Smoak. SAME.

 

Oliver wakes up and stumbles over to Tatsu, who is rocking a smoky eye and brewing him some penicillin. I would watch this show. It’s like Himalayan ER. Or House, because Maseo is pretty cranky.

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Oliver thanks Tatsu, and she credits the snow, the cold, and Maseo, who asked her to meet him. Maseo is leaving when the snow stops, and tells Oliver he should care more about what Starling has become in his absence, and less about what the LoA will do to him.

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Girl running from a dude in an alley only to get saved by Laurel as Fauxnary. She immediately gets pwnd and then saved by Arsenal, who knows at least enough to save the banter for AFTER you beat up the bad guy.

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Roy takes Laurel back to the Cave for some stitches and a talk, and his delivery of “you have a law degree” when he points out the holes in Laurel’s skill set is fighting with Digg’s fabulous “Laurel, what the hell?” to be my new text message notification.

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Proving again that John is the voice of the fandom, he says she’s “certifiable” if she thinks she can wear her sister’s mask, and she tries to justify this mess by saying that the city needs a visible hero, and that since Oliver is gone and Sara is dead, she’s all they got.

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At QC, Felicity is in the office 3 hours early so she can brood in peace
and STILL Ray manages to crash her pity party. He’s meeting with the Mayor about the situation in The Glades so of course she needs to go because that’s what VPs do, they go EVERY PLACE THE PRESIDENT DOES. He mentions he could help in other ways, but
she still won’t fix his chip.

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She huffs that “nothing
you can do or say will change my mind” and this is when I know she is
definitely changing her mind. Never play poker, Arrow writers.

 

Thea’s at Verdant & runs into Creep DJ who is briefly skeezy and when he leaves, by Malcolm,
who is annoyed that she isn’t packing.

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She can’t leave without
knowing about Oliver, and she doesn’t know why he wants
her to go. Malcolm tells her she’s not ready for the truth, and she’s
all BYE THEN and stalks off. Oh Merlyn, no one ever prepared you for a milennial. When he gives up and gets in the car, Roy sees him go.

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There’s a meeting about something with the mayor and Brick is an asshole and I am already done with this plot, I care so little.

 

What I do care about is that Maseo and Tatsu are no longer together, and I SHIP IT.  Damn it, you two, get your shit together. Oliver is like the handsomest marriage counselor ever, but the odds don’t look good.

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There’s a flashback to Tatsu’s rescue from China White in a club. All you need to know is it’s successful, and even tho Maseo gave them the real Alpha, it ended up being fake.

Brief convo between Quentin and Felicity where he points out that the Arrow didn’t show, but Sara was back. Felicity immediately realizes it’s Laurel.

More Laurel unsuccessfully lawyering.

More interesting is Roy, who is my new favorite person as he confronts The Magician himself in Thea’s apartment. Turns out someone other than Felicity is willing to mail a truthigram to Mr. Merlyn.

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He tells Malcolm that he is “poison,” he won’t let him take Thea anywhere and that she will find out about Sara. Once she does, Roy assures him as one in the know, Malcolm will lose her forever. Merlyn holds up his hand and un-invites him from the convo because he’s not family, but I’m still glad someone had the balls to call him out on his utter dickishness to his only living kid, and that that someone was the man who loves her.

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Felicity heals Ray and I’m not ready to see these two together. It’s too soon and feels gross. The takeaway is he tells her he’s not trying to fight crime only for Anna, but for the people he cares for. Ugh. OK, fine. God please let this arc end soon and be replaced with a significantly less gross arc.

 

Laurel and Roy are suiting up when Diggle arrives. She won’t stay safe in the Cave and let him go with Roy. She knows she’s not her sister, but she thought Digg would understand.

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John asks Roy to stay close to her, but when they go to save the alderman Brick kidnapped (yeah, that’s happening), Roy and she screw up and don’t capture him, and Brick kills one of them just to make a point. POINT TAKEN.

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Back at the station, Quentin talks to Laurel about her sister because YES, he still thinks she’s alive and yes, Laurel STILL says nothing. Brick calls and wants a parlay with the mayor because Shakespeare. This would totally happen IRL.

 

At Thea’s, Malcolm tells Thea just enough truth to hook her. Basically the story of his wife, but you know, omitting the part where he got her brother killed.

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The book.

 

Felicity comes to see Laurel and no, it’s not a dream sequence. She saw the news and knows she suited up as the Canary. Laurel has a very nice monologue about how Felicity needn’t worry about her anymore because the death of the alderman made her realize she’s not “strong enough to fight for Sara.” So OF COURSE the next thing Felicity says is what Ray told her, that maybe they fight for those still alive. It was well acted, well-written, and I bought into NONE of it. Zero.

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Go figure, and I can’t really say why, but when Arrow is at its best I lose myself in the characters. I forget that I am watching a show, and this entire setup felt so contrived to me that I was painfully aware that this scene was written this way to pull in these specific four characters (Felicity, Laurel, Sara, and Ray via quote) to give them a commonality and a unity of purpose, and it was hammered home a little too hard for my taste. EBR and KC approached this from radically different acting schools. If Emily had chosen to play her sadness bigger, or Katie had downplayed her lines some, this could have been great. Instead in comparison with Oliver and Tatsu’s tragic, permeating sadness at the change in the man they once knew, this felt harsh and overdone. Not to mention THIS:

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At the parley, Brick takes waaay too long to ask the Mayor to move all cops out of The Glades so he can crime in peace and no one knows why Ray’s there.

 

At the cabin, Oliver tries to convince Maseo to stay with them and Tatsu sweetly tells him she still loves him, no matter who he thinks he has become. There is a split second where Maseo breaks his blank stare and blinks during their kiss, and I scream out loud. These poor babies.

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Maseo sees the LoA outside the house and when they open the door, Oliver and Tatsu are hiding and he is warming his hands. Maseo tells them that Oliver was there, and that he was about to leave to follow his trail. When they get suspicious and try to check the house, he kills them.

In the Cave, Digg and Roy drink Oliver’s good vodka and Roy asks if they can’t do this without Oliver.

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Cue Felicity and Laurel, who come down the steps. Felicity admits being wrong, she’s back in, and says that it’s up to them to protect their home. Laurel tells them that the Mayor is going to pull out of The Glades. My takeaway: Laurel still doesn’t believe Oliver is dead, but there are for sure live people that might appreciate a save.

Next up: the clubbing of a baby seal. HAHA NO J/K Laurel uses recordings of Sara’s voice that Felicity fed through an algorithm (et tu, Dr. Frankenstein?) to up the ante on asshole behavior to Quentin and get intel about the case. She cries when he says he doesn’t know what he’d do if something happened to her. GOOD.

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Felicity hits Ray up for his helicopter. This is more Ray than I really needed to see. Just steal it. Turns out Diggle knows how to fly, and he takes Roy and Laurel to the (all together) a warehouse in The Glades where Brick is holding the aldermen. When Oliver gets back, he should just set fire to all warehouses in The Glades. Roy and Laurel do somewhat better this time and free the aldermen, but when Laurel is cornered by Brick, she escapes by kneeing him in the junk, then throwing herself out a window and grabbing onto the helicopter ladder as it flies her away, and just HAHAHAA NOPE.

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Just…no. Ah, show. You kill me.

Props to her stuntwoman, tho.

 

At the cabin, Maseo leaves Oliver and Tatsu behind despite their (and my) pleas.

 

Because my heart isn’t broken enough, Laurel hangs out on a fire escape and uses the voice recordings to have an entire conversation with her dad as Sara. He tells her that the Mayor is still pulling out of The Glades and maybe they can go have Chinese food and talk? When she avoids him, he calls her on it. To his concerned “are you okay” she answers, “I’m fine, Daddy” in Sara’s voice and it is actually beyond fucked up.

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If lying to Thea is wrong, lying to Lance is goddamned criminal. This is a decent man who has endured car chases, shootouts and a high-pressure job and his ticker is still going. F#CKING TELL HIM.

 

At Chez Thea, she tells Malcolm that he taught her to fight and not be scared, and she thinks he should take his own advice. Malcolm gives in for perhaps the first time in his life, and tells her that they’ll stay. His smirk at the end is deeply disturbing, because there is now no doubt in my mind that he meant to stay and this is all a setup. Malcolm doesn’t brush his damned teeth without a plan B.

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Felicity gives Ray back the keys to his helicopter, plus his (now fixed) chip. If she helps him, she says, he may not end up dead. Yawn. K. Moving on.

 

Finally, Thea’s at Verdant and finds Skeezy DJ, who tells her he was in there for “some of his music files” he needed for another gig and boom just like that we know he’s shady because WTF are those files on a floppy? When Thea leaves, he makes a phone call to… Maseo, informing him that The Magician is still in Starling. The worst thing about this news is that I can almost guarantee we’ll be seeing him and his boy-band headsuit again.

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That’s it for this week! Next week, Oliver returns, and the tug-of-war between this show and my feels continues. Thanks for reading! For more shenanigans, follow me here or on Twitter @conniebv.

Allrighty. Arrow Recap 310, “Left Behind”

Hey you guys, this one was a hard watch for me and the multiple rewatches required for a good recap were even harder. Still, it provided some clarity on parts I previously disliked, and insight into others I still don’t like. Either way, I made jokes. That’s in my DNA.

Another chase down an alley. For a police chief, Quentin sure does plebe work a lot. Shouldn’t you be avoiding a heart attack at your desk? Team Arrow also continues their crime-fighting, working tighter suits and with poorer aim.

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(Con’t. after the jump)

Back at the Foundry, Felicity has totally adopted Roy and is threatening him with Daddy for joyriding on Oliver’s bike. Also, Roy wants to strut but he looks like he can’t walk in that suit.

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When he and Digg make it back, we hear it’s been three days since Oliver left. Roy and Diggle are starting to doubt the outcome, but Felicity still believes.

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***FB ALERT***Amanda Waller would like you to quit whining about your wife when she’s got important military secrets to steal, MASEO. image

She tasks him and Oliver with shutting the hell up and going after “Alpha”, the second ingredient of the Omega weapon/serum/thingy. ***END FB***

In other news, Felicity continues her track record of wearing awesome coats and talking to characters I don’t give a sh*t about.

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And speaking of people IDGAF about, there’s a pointless court scene to remind you that Laurel is still pretending be a lawyer.

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Back at the Foundry, a really sweet, believable moment between Diggle and Felicity, where he tells her to prepare herself for the possibility that things may not have gone Oliver’s way.

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Which is ridiculous, because things will always go Oliver’s way. Maybe just not right this second, but EVENTUALLY.

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Brief intro to Danny Brickwell, who is the new big bad. Movin’ on up from Iron Heights. Mazel tov.image

In a warehouse in the Glades (where else?) Brick fulfills his Arrow villain bona fides by being a monstrous tool to his lesser tool of a former pal.

Back at the police station with Laurel, who can’t convince Brick’s man to tattle. She should have trusted his lawyer to do it, because I guess attorney-client privilege vanishes once you hit the hallway.

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Malcolm and Thea have a heartwarming moment where he tells her not to be predictable, because boring will get you killed. Take a peek into his psyche.

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She takes a break from pretending to kill her blood to check her phone, and when she says she is worried about Oliver, he  promises to have his contacts (read:him) look into her brother’s absence. Every time someone else on this show lies to Thea, I want to yak. Maybe it should be a drinking game.

***FB ALERT*** Roof where Sara was killed gets a new life as roof where we find out Oliver wasn’t always great at busting through windows.

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***END FB***

Roy and Diggle trace Brick’s burner phone to warehouse with Felicity’s help but by the time they get there the only evidence left is half burnt papers with numbers. When they get back to the lair to show Felicity, the Arrow writers screw with me by having Felicity find the door unlocked and shouting Oliver’s name as she runs down the stairs.

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Nope. It’s Malcolm and though my disappointment is real, his assertion that “Guns don’t scare as much as annoy me” when Diggle pulls one on him leads to my favorite moment of the episode. John’s answer to that is to silently pull out a second gun-and point that at him as well.

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Standing ovation.

Malcolm says what no one else does, that this entire plot is flimsy at best the team should really consider that Oliver would have contacted them by now, because R’as takes no prisoners. Felicity is like “That’s cool and all but I have numbers to crunch, don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya,” an he glides out like a disdainful ninja.

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When Roy questions Felicity about her divisiveness, she says that Malcolm didn’t tell them anything they don’t know, and that Oliver taught her to push forward. I BET. (Someone please write a sexytimes fic called “Pushing Forward.”)

Laurel arrives in her less-awesome coat and asks about Oliver when no one reacts to her ME report. Felicity turns to Digg, who comes clean and tells her that he went to go fight the (Demon’s) head of the LoA and hasn’t been heard from in three days. Roy adds that Malcolm came by and told them Oliver was dead. Laurel, who is a veteran of the Oliver Queen Receivers of Death-News, asks if they believe him.

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Felicity nods her head no, but Digg rushes to explain. In one of the first of many times this episode that I agree with her, Laurel points out that she’s heard this news before, and that he will be back again, just like he’s done before. She obvs watches this show. Or maybe she reads the comics.

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In any case, the fact that she looks at Felicity while she is being reassuring buys her some goodwill in my book. Grrls supporting grrls is my OOTP.

In the meantime, Malcolm is donning a League outfit that is way better-looking than all other League outfits because it’s probably Armani for LoA and a lamp that I need in my house NOW to hit up the mountain where the duel took place, and finds the scimitar in the stone with Oliver’s blood on it.

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This place has GOT to be like, 30 min away. How does everyone get there so quick?

***FB ALERT*** Oliver manages the break the window on the third try and gain access to Alpha, but not before the Triad does, too. ***END FB***

Moment of truth(iness): Malcolm shows up in the Cave again, this time with the scimitar. He explains that it is “Ra’s’ custom to leave behind the instrument of death as a memorial to honor the fallen.” So thoughtful.

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Digg asks if he saw Oliver’s body, but Malcolm answers that it fell into a ravine and is “unrecoverable.” Roy immediately looks at Felicity to gauge her reaction, but she asks Malcolm how they can know it is really Oliver’s blood. Malcolm responds by reciting the exact thing she’s gonna do (wait till he leaves, test the blood, come up with conspiracy theories, and then conclude that no matter why or how, Oliver is dead), which really serves more to illustrate that MM is both an ass, AND a master at reading people and gauging their motivations and actions. Oh, and selfish. Like, SUPER SHELLFISH. Even now, he makes it about him.

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Felicity wastes no time in placing the blame at his door, albeit super-low key growly, since I guess she’s not about to expose her soft underbelly to Merlyn. But it’s too late. Merlyn admits his guilt in full and apologizes, and then does the one thing that can hurt her even more in this moment, verbalize what she herself could not: that she loved him.

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Diggle steps in at this point and accuses Merlyn of enjoying himself, but Malcolm explains that he did in fact orchestrate the duel to free himself from the League, and since Oliver lost, his death means Malcolm’s, as well.  Felicity, who has yet to take her eyes off of Merlyn, gives the most satisfying line delivery in the entire episode when she pours all her anger into one word, “Good.”

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Meanwhile, Schroedinger’s Oliver rides in a fuzzy stretcher like a boss.

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In a quiet Foundry, the ping of Felicity’s computer announces a blood match. Both Diggle and Roy make ready to catch the grief-football, but Felicity pulls a Lucy Van Pelt and just won’t throw it. Dude!

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Instead, she quietly admits that she’s glad to know with tears in her voice, and excuses herself to go to work.

*** FB ALERT*** Maseo and Oliver escape, and Oliver doesn’t kill a Triad member when he could have. What a guy. *** END FB***

Upstairs at Verdant, Roy drinks his grief away while a worried Thea asks for his help getting The Arrow to find her brother. She knows he’s Arsenal, BTW, no big whoop. Roy promises to try because promising Thea sh*t that’ll never happen is a hobby on this show.

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Downstairs, he tells Digg that there is no point in lying to Thea about Oliver anymore, and they have a very existential “what is the point of anything, really” discussion where Digg finally admits that he is focusing on the case evidence just so he won’t think about Oliver. image

They look at the evidence together, and John realizes that the digits are file numbers, all corresponding to men they caught who are awaiting trial.

Digg calls Felicity but she is freezing him out at a record 9 missed calls, and because now we must start feeling an emotional investment in Ray Palmer, the following goes down. Palmer asks for the progress on his chip and Felicity lets him have it with double-barrels of grief. She tells him that when someone dies, they are just gone, and nothing you can do will bring them back. It’s both sad and kind of uncomfortable.

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For all her intelligence elsewhere, I suppose this is a simple and profound concept that she has only now internalized, so I am willing to overlook the simplicity of the dialogue, which I feel could have been meatier. It does communicate, however, that Felicity Smoak is not prepared for loss, because for once she is the one having the inappropriate talk with her boss. And because Ray’s Ray, he can’t just let her have this. Nope, he has to growl at her to never speak of his dead girlfriend that he himself used as the motivating factor to pull her into a web of secrecy that had already at the time cost her the life of at least one person she cared about. I guess we finally know what sets him off, at least.

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GOD, RAY. YOU EXHAUST ME. I LITERALLY NEED A NAP.

To Felicity’s credit, she GTFO and picks up on Digg on her way out. He is telling her about what they found and she promises to call Quentin. When Diggle proudly tells her that “this was everything Oliver was working for”, her voice gets stronger, and she says she’ll be right there.

Roy and Digg go to stop Brick and his men, and Roy’s looking pretty smooth for once, with a scene where he runs through a tube and shoots stuff like a hero. I am HERE for Arsenal asskickery, y’all. If this boy isn’t getting laid, he at least needs to do well at his night job.

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Digg is crimefightin’ like a mofo too, but WTF OMG WEAR A MASK CHRIST ALMIGHTY. Think of that adorable puddin at home and HIDE YOUR FACE, JOHN.

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During a moment of inattentiveness and bullet shortage, Brick challenges him to death in his usual quirky way, and things don’t go so well until Roy arrives and shoots Brick with an arrow. They try to chase the rest of his men out but the garage door slams shut suddenly, and divides our heroes from our villains, who get away on a truck with all the evidence for the upcoming cases loaded on it. Bah.

When they run into the Foundry, Felicity runs to John to see if he is okay, but he’s not. He’s ticked.image

He and Roy bemoan their bad luck with the door when Digg realizes it was Felicity. Roy is upset that she let them get away, but Felicity says she saved their lives by making a choice not to lose any friends, because Oliver used to come back too, but now he’s dead. image

John tenderly tells her that if they are going to keep on doing this, they need to trust each other, and that’s the moment of truth for her. She says there is no “this” without Oliver, and she walks out of the Foundry. “This is done. I’m done.” image

Not surprising to me, and I suppose it helps set up why the Team would go to Laurel and Roy as helping hands. I get it. If we joke that they were married, this was their house, and who wants those memories every day when a loss is so fresh?

Back in Nanda Parbat-ISH, Maseo is revealed as the good Samaritan, and he knocks on a door and apologizes to the owner, saying he didn’t know where else to take him, and that he needed help.

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LoA, A.R.G.U.S., no matter what or where, Maseo’s manners are EXQUISITE. Props to Momma Maseo.

So back to the scene I hated, and still hate. Felicity arrives at Palmer Tech and apologizes to her boss for being “out of line.” She tells him about the deaths of Oliver (“more than a friend,”) and indirectly, Sara. She is 25 and over having her friends killed off is really starting to wear on her. She’s kinda over it. image

She says that she can’t stop him from killing himself, but she won’t help him, and gives him back his A.T.O.M. chip. Sure, fine, whatever. I could have used the message to Ray in an email and the apology and discussion of her feelings about death with Diggle or Roy or screw it, even Thea, but I get it. Still, if this is supposed to be Ray’s hero’s journey, and he seems awful unconcerned and naive about what it entails.

At the Foundry, Laurel and Diggle sympathize with each other over all the criminals that went free as a result of the loss of evidence, and Diggle comes clean with the fact that Oliver is “not coming back.” image

He tells Laurel that it’s true, even if she doesn’t want to believe it, and “God knows” he doesn’t. “Are you coming back?” she asks. His response is all the more heartbreaking for the quiet way David Ramsey delivers it.

I don’t know. For the first time since I met Oliver Queen, I don’t know what happens next. I know it’s silly but I…(deep breath)…still like to think of myself as Oliver’s bodyguard. …But I just couldn’t protect him.

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When Laurel hugs him, I can’t even hate. Hug the shit out of that man, girl. Hug him for all of us. image

John tells her that it’s funny, Oliver worried something would happen to him…and leaves, overcome. Laurel, left alone in the Foundry, turns to look at pieces of her sister’s costume and Canary bombs, and UGH THIS IS NOT WEARABLE.

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Thea arrives home and cutely tries to off her father, who has snuck in because keys and doorbells are for suckers who aren’t master assassins. Malcolm tells her he hasn’t found out anything about Oliver, but that they are in danger, and need to leave Starling and never return.

Meanwhile, (say it with me) in a warehouse in The Glades, Brick holds the trial evidence as blackmail over the criminals he exonerated, and tells them all that together, they will take over The Glades. image

As two of them leave the meeting, they are incapacitated by a deafening noise that brings with it a full five seconds of a shot of Laurel’s ass, and a three-second of her face in the Canary costume, as she announces that she is the justice they can’t run from.image

I know, Laurel, because the Arrow writers won’t let me.

***FB ALERT*** Amanda has her serum and she’s happy, but Maseo is still ticked about his wife. She leaves after chiding Oliver for letting one of the men go, but he confesses to Maseo that he dropped the GPS in his pocket so he could lead them to Tatsu.image

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Maseo responds tearfully that he will be “forever ” in Oliver’s debt for what he has done.***END FB***

Present Day Nanda-Parbatish, Oliver wakes up and looks around. image

He is in some ind of small hut with Tatsu, who has healed him, and Maseo, who tells him that he asked her to come save him. She looks super-excited about that.

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And that’s it for this week! Tune in next week, same undead time, same undead channel. Look for shorter recaps or Favorite Scenes only going forward until the end of 312. I find Oliver-less eps are not my favorite.

Thanks for reading! For more, follow me here or on Twitter @conniebv.

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WTF. Arrow Photo Recap S3E09, “The Climb”

So here we are, the much-ballyhooed mid-season finale. Some people were blown away and deaded, and some found it underwhelming and meh. My mood varied as much as the tone of this recap. It was a memorable one, and a hard left in a lot of ways.

The show opens with Oliver climbing a snowy mountaintop in the dark…

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…and rapidly switches over to the SCPD Christmas Party, where Captain Lance is chugging nog and getting an unexpected gift from his favorite green elf.

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They exchange brompliments about how great the other is, and it’s a testament to their journey as imaginary partners that Lance’s opinion of Oliver is so high. As he goes inside with his new toy, Oliver gets a surprise of his very own.

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At first he thinks it’s Merlyn, but no, just someone with the same taste in leather sportswear. The League of Assassins has come to Starling to finish their Christmas shopping and kidnap the resident hero.

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When Oliver comes to, we find out why. Nyssa A-G says her father is done with Oliver’s excuses for not finding Sara’s killer. He has to find and deliver the killer in the next 48 hours or she’s going to let her minion kill off Starling citizens ‘cause JUSTICE That minion is Maseo, who has taken on a new name that I think is Sarab. Oliver protests that Sara is dead, but Nyssa is all,

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Laurel is a the cemetery boring her poor sister’s soul with inanity when Thea, who was visiting Moira, bumps into her. Before we know it, she is coming clean to Thea about Sara being dead, glossing over the fact that her father doesn’t know and emphasizing she not mention it to Oliver.

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OLIVER? REALLY? Whatever. Your main takeaway is that Thea is upset and scandalized, and Laurel brings sadness everywhere.

At Palmer Tech, Felicity and Ray are supposed to be “weird” but are so much more normal and make so much sense. Basically Ray has finally noticed that he dorked up, Felicity (among with the rest of us) wants to forget it happened, and the Oliver 911’s her and she is all “LATER HATER” and I love my sassy muppet so much.

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When she arrives at the Foundry in yet another coat I need to steal, Oliver tells her, Roy and Diggle about Nyssa’s ultimatum. Felicity says that Caitlin is still analyzing the DNA, but Oliver asks her to hurry.

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Diggle points out that they need a backup in case this goes south, but Oliver is fresh out of contingency plans.

***FLASHBACK ALERT***Oliver comes home from a nice long day of torture and Maseo hands him a dishtowel. Who knows why.

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DUDES. Amirite? Oliver did get information about the super-virus Omega from him, but he haz a sad. Maseo is all, “Dude. City> you.” Except he says it with a tiny bowl of food, cause torture is hard work. *** END FB***

At the Cave, Felicity is catching up on her Reverse Flash news and getting the DNA results from Caitlin in the form of a reassembled genome, which she then runs against SCPD’s genetic markers database. The results come in, but she openly doubts their veracity and refuses to show Oliver until he demands to know who it is.

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Once again we get a nice view of Oliver climbing up this fakakta mountain. image

He almost falls, but catches himself in time. Save that ass, boy.

Back at the Cave, Felicity clarifies that she took a sample of the perspiration on the arrow that killed Sara and that it matched a DNA sample that Oliver gave during his arrest in E105. Oliver guesses that he was set up by someone with a vested interest against the LoA, and that it was Malcolm Merlyn.

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Diggle points out that he was out of the country, but Oliver reminds him he is REALLY good at hide and seek. Felicity starts an image search, even though time is running short.

***FB ALERT*** At BTHK Biotech in Hong Kong, Maseo and Oliver break in and find the empty canister where Omega used to be. I have a  physical reaction to Karl Yeun’s cheekbones. Chen Na Wei had someone on the inside get it for her. ***END FB***

The Police station and Dinah “River Song” Lance is in for the Holidays to spend some time with her girls.

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Laurel, who is surprised to see her mother, makes up an excuse as to why Sara isn’t answering her calls. Don’t try to get one over on Melody Pond, girl.

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At the Arrow Cave, Felicity has found a wacky flight pattern for a plane out of Corto Maltese.

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When Oliver asks when it landed on a private strip outside Starling, she replies that it was the night before Sara died.

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Somewhere out there is a pilot  that is about to find out how high Oliver can toss him.

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After some ‘interrogation’, the pilot makes a decision between dying now or later and confesses that he flew the man they show him (Merlyn) into Starling and offers him security footage from that night, October 7th.

Back at the cave, Roy hands the footage to Felicity, but when she pulls it up, it’s not only Malcolm we see emerge from the plane.

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Oliver now knows that Merlyn lied about staying away from his sister. Diggle says the DNA may be hers, but Oliver tells him that Thea neither would nor could, and even if so, why? Even Roy admits that Merlyn being her father may have hammered the killer nail home. It’s finally Felicity that urges Oliver to look at the facts, pointing out that the shooter was below average height.

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Oliver’s not quite ready to listen, and as he walks away, Felicity’s phone rings. It’s Ray! And because wanting to speak to a woman in your employ about non-work things merits employing techniques that make human rights activists blanch, he pings her phone and shows up at her location despite her EXPRESS DESIRE NOT TO SPEAK TO HIM.

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He has a sad story though, and that makes it all okay! Ray’s cool! Calm down, everyone. Atom1cflea Disclaimer: If this happens to you in real life run because you are about to be Lifetime-movie killed.image

Summary: Ray’s fiancé Anna was killed by a Mirakuru soldier the night of the raid on the city, and he now wants to use the A.T.O.M. suit to protect the residents of the city. He felt guilty kissing someone other Anna since her death, and he tells Felicity that no man would regret kissing her. image

Because Felicity has no idea that she is a BAMF and a superhero gateway drug, she wryly alludes to knowing one man who does regret kissing her. She puts her hand on Ray’s to hold him down until the cops get there offer him comfort.

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Oliver heads back to the apartment he shares with his sister, and finds her decorating the tree. Oliver tells her that he knew she saw him in Corto, and she admits to trying to get to know him now that she lost both parents. Oliver asks if she came back with Merlyn at any point, and she denies it, saying that she would have called him. They are so sweet it breaks my heart.

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It’s obvious that she is sincere, and that he thinks she is lying.  I’ve said it before and I will say it again, but  to me, this is and has always been the central relationship on Arrow.

***FB ALERT*** Oliver and Maseo torture the man who stole the Omega, but he doesn’t remember. Maseo tells him they’ll get it out of him one way or another as Oliver points a bow at him. ***END FB***

Dinah and Laurel are out to dinner, and Dinah notices the look on her daughter’s face when she speaks about her sister. She tells her that her mother’s intuition is telling her something is wrong.

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When Laurel, who has been avoiding looking at her finally makes eye contact and nods, Dinah knows that Sara is dead. Laurel tells her mother it has to remain secret because of Sara’s involvement with dangerous people, and that Quentin doesn’t know because it would kill him.

Nanda Parbat. R’as al Ghul stabs dudes with the same enthusiasm I muster for changing my oil, but it doesn’t make them any less dead. I get the feeling that everything bores him.

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Nyssa drops in on Dad to say Oliver’s time is almost up, and he tells her to return to Starling City and remind Oliver Queen that they are “merciless, and only ask once.” He then leaves to watch paint dry.

At the Arrow Cave, Oliver tells Felicity and John that while Thea lied to him about spending time with Merlyn, she super-duper did not kill Sara. Diggle very diplomatically tries to point out that his family is and always has been his blind spot. As he lists the instances, Oliver loses his temper and Team Arrow has a domestic. Felicity shouts at both of them to stop, which they do immediately because they know who’s boss.

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She tells Oliver that she can’t imagine how difficult this is for him, but that John is right. Thea lied to him. Oliver knows she lied about Malcolm, but he says with tears in his voice that he doesn’t want to believe Thea capable of killing Sara. Felicity, always reasonable, says that is why he shouldn’t be the one asking.

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The Arrow shows up at Thea’s apartment and comes in through a window to ask about Merlyn. Thea at first pretends to be frightened, but then attacks him.

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Oliver blocks her with a look of shock on his face but doesn’t hit back. Thea angrily warns him to stay away from her and her “father”, and jumps off the balcony.

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I have a super-stong urge to poke Oliver cause I bet he would fall over.

At the bar in Verdant, Oliver is nursing a grudge when Malcolm walks in after Thea calls him and tells her she got a visit from The Arrow.

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Oliver calmly tells Merlyn that he figured he would never kill again…but he was wrong.

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He picks Malcolm up to choke him against the bar when his phone buzzes and he stops to look. Malcolm has sent him video footage of Thea killing Sara, and threatens him with showing the LoA the footage if Oliver kills him. He tells Oliver that he dosed Thea with a plant that made her highly susceptible and left her with no memory, and even if Oliver tells R’as it was his plot, it was still Thea who fired the arrows.

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Malcolm’s plan is for Oliver to blame himself, gain rights to a trial by combat and kill R’as. Once the Head of the Demon is dead, all blood debts die with him-that includes both Thea’s and his.

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He is glad to see that Thea can still motivate Oliver, and advises that he not take long in making his decision.

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That night in the Arrow Cave, Oliver blames himself for letting Merlyn turn his sister, the kindest person he knew, into a killer. Felicity tells him that even if he blames himself, it ’s not his fault.

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Diggle urges him to tell R’as it was Merlyn, but Oliver tells him about the video. When Roy worries that he will be killed, Oliver responds he won’t, because now he knows what he is fighting for: Thea.

***FB ALERT*** Oliver is super-annoyed that their prisoner won’t confess. Maseo says he may not remember taking the Omega, and tells Oliver about the mind-control drug. He worries that Chen Na Wei may come to find them. At Maseo’s house, we see her arrive and threaten his wife and son. Tatsu tells her son to run, and the two fight each other with swords.****END FB***

Oliver goes to see Nyssa and asks to speak with R’as, who apparently has nothing better to do than hang in Starling, stare at fire, and let’s be frank, be a bit of an ageist.

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Oliver confesses to the murder of Sara. He tells Nyssa that he killed her because she “begged [him] to”, rather than be in the League. R’as tells Oliver that he should let Sarab kill him for thinking he was a fool. Oliver responds by demanding his right to trial by combat. R’as, who I am pretty sure is nodding off, warns Oliver that it has been “67 years” since a man challenged him (shout out to the Lazarus pit!) and asks if he has a death wish. Oliver asks him if he accepts, and he does.

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A brief flash to the mountain, where Oliver has reached the summit and pulls himself over the edge, gasping for breath.

Sarab/Maseo and Oliver are left alone, and we get a brief idea of what happened to bring Maseo to Nanda Parbat, the same year as Sara. He tells Oliver that he does not think he killed her, and that he has no desire to bear witness to his death. Oliver says nothing, so he gives him a location and tells him that he has 12 hours to get his affairs in order before The Thrilla on The Hilla.

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At Sara’s grave, Dinah reminisces about her daughters’ childhood and how Sara wanted to be a doctor. Laurel sees her mother’s grief and promises that she will find Sara’s killer “no matter what it takes” and make them pay.

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Dinah surprises her (and us) by demanding a promise from her daughter: not only to make them pay, but to make them suffer.

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These Lance women will cut you, y’all. RESPECT, MOM.

At the Queen apartment, Oliver walks in to see Thea repairing the window. She lies to him about how it shattered, and he makes one last attempt to warn her not to trust Malcolm, saying that he has discovered things about him, and he doesn’t love her. image

Thea asks that he not make her choose between her father and brother. He tells her gently that he never would, and that because she is his family, he will always protect her.

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Thea, worried, asks what that means, and he pulls her in for a hug. “It means I love you,” he says quietly, “no matter what.”

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Dammit, I love these two bbs. Not only do they hurt my heart but…

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Christ GREEN AND RED SCARVES? Was the entire color scheme of this show designed to put me in therapy? It’s a good thing this is about where my attitude took a dive, because you can’t go much lower when you’re already flat on your back in the basement.

***FB ALERT*** Maseo and Oliver arrive home to find Akiro alone. He tells his father that the white-haired woman took his mother. ***END FB***

Felicity walks into work and demands to know what Ray is doing with “Queen Consolidated,” because this seems like the time to worry about that mess, even if it’s nice to know she can’t remember to call it Palmer Technologies, either.

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Ray takes her “Hey you can trust me I keep secrets for people with emotional baggage” speech to heart and shows her the A.T.O.M. (Advanced Technology Operating Mechanism) suit, born from both processing and weapons tech small enough to fit in his palm. So superhero persona-wise, the Arrowervse has it broody Batman-type, it’s chipper Spidey-type, and now, we’re going to get an Iron Man-type except NOPE cause RDJ.image

Felicity wonders why this keeps happening to her, I wonder exactly the same thing about this entire plot line, and really the answer is that if you KEEP DEMANDING SECRETS FROM SECRETIVE PEOPLE YOU WILL KEEP LEARNING SH*T YOUR WERE LIKELY BETTER OFF NOT KNOWING. Sigh. These two. Whatever.

Now ish gets real.

In the Cave, Oliver is getting ready to go. Diggle wants to go with, but Oliver gently refuses him. He asks Roy to take care of Thea and gives him a hug. John (he calls him John!) shakes his hand. Felicity walks in, and it’s obvious by her quiet “Oh” that she didn’t expect him to leave so soon, and Digg tells Roy to give Oliver and Felicity a moment alone. image

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What follows has been extensively gif’d, dissected and discussed, so add mine to the pile. Felicity is rooted to the spot, one hand on her purse and the other nervously twitching her fingers as she asks where he is going. Oliver tells her that it will be fine and he’ll come back in his fake-chipper tone and Felicity’s voice is the one that drops to a lower register, saying she wishes that his comment “sounded more convincing.”

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The look he shoots her is an acknowledgement, but he stays silent.  She rushes through the next sentence as she places her bag on the table, saying that she wishes he wouldn’t go, but knows better than asking him to stay. Oliver smooths down that bag like his life depends on it, and tells her he appreciates it. She then walks up closer to him and asks him to do one thing, even if he doesn’t want to. Quiet, serious Oliver, who has nothing to lose in his last few moments with her, earnestly tells her that if it is her asking, he will do it. Damn you, Amell. THOSE EYES.image

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“Kill him,” she says quickly, and the shock is evident on his face.image

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Felicity offers that Ra’s al Ghul is one of “the most powerful men to ever walk the Earth,” and even as Oliver tells her he wouldn’t go if he didn’t think he could win, she clarifies that it’s not his skill she doubts, but his ability to take a life. She is “terrified” that Oliver won’t kill him. Just for reference’s sake, this is what Oliver looks like directly after that line. AMELL IS KILLING IT. There is shock at the depth of her emotion, tenderness, and the shifting eyes of doubt. IN FOUR SECONDS.

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Back to the scene. Felicity says she knows that it isn’t who he is anymore, but she doesn’t want to see his humanity turned against him. image

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Oliver slings his bag on and tells her that he isn’t sure if he is a killer anymore, but he knows two things. The first is that, no matter who he is, he is someone  who would do whatever it takes to protect his sister. image

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Felicity, who has been looking into his eyes until that moment, drops her gaze. He then looks at her worried face and and gifts her with one last comfort, pulling her towards him to kiss her forehead. image

For a moment, both are pressing in towards the other with eyes closed, and it’s an instant of perfect faith in each other and the mission. image

Oliver breaks away and looks at her face once more before walking away, and Felicity, somewhere between worry and panic that the actual time has come, asks for the second thing.image

Oliver smiles a bit, shaking his head, and takes one deep breath as he looks at her again.

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“I love you,” he says simply, as a statement of fact and at her stunned, sad face, he turns and walks away, leaving her frozen, only her twitching fingers indicating her anxiety.image

The mountain. image

Oliver hauls himself over the edge and walks the flat summit where a stone circle marks the spot of the duel. Maseo and Nyssa stand witness, and Maseo tells Oliver to remove his shirt as is the custom. image

He warns Oliver in a whisper that R’as “The Demon’s Head” al-Ghul is not known for his mercy and if he wants to bow out, now is the time. Oliver doesn’t answer, and he tells him to choose his weapon.image

As Oliver picks two swords, he listens to R’as wax poetic about murder and why he both regrets it and takes pride in it. It is exactly the sort of horseshit you expect from a self-important dude who takes forever to strip off ceremonial garb when he has a poor half-naked bastard waiting to battle him the the snow. image

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Hurry up, R’as. Damn. He says the League exists to replace “evil with death” and you just know he is batsh*t because that’s like replacing poop with vomit. STILL BAD. Then they recite the obligatory monotone sh*t-talk most fighters do before they throw down.

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Nyssa takes a moment to toss her five cents in and mess with Oliver’s head about being envious that he will see Sara first. image

R’as tells Oliver to begin, but Oliver points out that he is unarmed. No matter, says this asshole, he’ll just take Oliver’s knives once he is done, and he punches him in the jaw. Oliver swings, and the fight begins.

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Now we all know that Oliver is a great fighter, but there is a lot of emotion here. Every three of his actions meets with one reaction, and while Oliver’s attacks may force him back, R’as connects every time. He fights Oliver in the same way I load printer paper, efficiently and perfunctorily. He even manages to cut his forearm.

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R’as, late for his stories, finally decides to speed things up a bit and manages to back Oliver near the precipice, sword at his throat. He tells him that he should be proud to have survived longer than most, and Oliver takes the opportunity to twist his arm and force him to his knees, disarming him, and I stand up to cheer. I know there are those of you invested in his vow, but I wanted him to kill the sh*t out of that f*cker.

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But there’s a brief pause between twisting his arm and striking his neck with the sword where Oliver doubts, and it’s a window. image

R’as twists away forcing Oliver to take another, wider swing and R’as grabs his sword by the blade, cutting himself, pops him one in the throat and stabs him in the left side. image

Oliver falls to his knees (since a whack in the larynx inhibits your breathing) and R’as walks over and not unkindly tells him that he shouldn’t be afraid, because “death comes to us all, my son, we can only evade it so long”. By now I am resigned to the inevitable, but it doesn’t mean I don’t want to set his stupid robe on fire and punch him in the dong. image

He takes Oliver’s chin and tilts his head to look at him, telling him that he “should consider this an honorable exit.” That said, he stabs him under his right pectoral, looks like between the 6th and 7th rib, straight into his lung.

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There is a moment where no one does a damn thing as the fandom recoils, and then we either all lost our sh*t or thought “I can’t believe they are going to [insert your theory here].” I was in the second group, because never for a second could I, will I, or do I believe that Oliver Queen is RL dead (Comic-book dead is of course, probable), and while poignant, it just felt to me like the writers sticking a bookmark in a book I was really enjoying, and closing it in the middle of the paragraph.

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So Oliver’s bleeding and because R’as has yet to meet a situation in which he can’t be pedantic, he begins to recite a a variation of the prayer for the deceased in something that is supposed to be Arabic.

Oliver flashes back, one by one, to the people who have meant the most to him in his life: Papa Queen, Ma Queen, Thea, and of course, Felicity.

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It is poignant in the sense that, while his alienation, resentment and anger have always been expressed and explored, it is Oliver’s capacity for selfless love that is his true defining character trait. Because he loved his father, he gave up his life to redeem his mistakes. Because he loved his mother, he forgave her every sin and supported her until the end. Because he loved Thea, he climbed a mountain and sacrificed himself to The Demon’s Head.  It is only his love for Felicity that is unrealized, incomplete in its expression, and that–despite my cynicism in the longevity of this plot–is truly heartbreaking.

A dying Oliver kneels, as he once refused to, before his enemy. As the prayer finishes R’as al Ghul lifts his foot, pushes him over the cliff, and throws the sword in the rock, where it buries itself in the snow.

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So this it it. Is Oliver’s “death” permanent? HAHA NOPE. If it was I wouldn’t use bitchy quotation marks. Felicity’s mourning is going to be EPIC, though, and maybe it’s a sign of how much this show has twisted my feelings that I am kind of looking forward to it. For now, however, we’re on hiatus! For any trailer recaps, follow me here or on Twitter @conniebv .

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Shalom! Arrow Photo Recap 308, The Brave and the Bold

In the home team edition of our #Flarrow crossover, we open in the standard Arrow manner-in the dark, with our heroes on a dangerous mission:

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Oliver, Roy and John assemble around what they think is the home of the boomerang killer. Oliver can confirm, because it’s rigged to explode via tripwire.

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Since Oliver is a control freak, he and Roy shoot explosive arrows at the entrances so they can look inside. Not only is the house empty, but they are confronted by an Argus team that proceeds to verbally pee on the scene and warn them off.

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When Roy asks Oliver if they are, in fact, backing off, he replies by saying, “What do you think?”

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(more after the jump)

Back at the Cave, Oliver asks Felicity why ARGUS is all up in his manhunt, and she answers that the victim, Kai Wu (one of the writers in RL), was an ARGUS’s payroll. Oliver asks Diggle to put Lyla on it, but he says she’ll object because it’s an internal matter. Oliver says that she shouldn’t let people get killed in his city, and DIggle jokes that he must not care about his marriage.

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Oliver says he would, if Digg were in fact married. This is far from the last time this is pointed out.

***FLASHBACK ALERT*** Amanda Waller walks Oliver into a room with a man tied to a chair, and asks him to obtain information as to the location of a bomb he has planted in Hog Kong. She has very helpfully brought along pokey things to help him do that, and when Oliver asks if she wants him to torture the guy, she says she doesn’t care-she just wants the information.

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***END FB***

At Palmer Tech, Felicity is getting ready to leave for the day when Caitlin and Cisco show up. Caitlin says she is there to help with the DNA identification for Sara’s murder, but Cisco is there to see “the Arrow Cave” and all the toys.

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At said Cave later on, Cisco is putting his paws on everything, Oliver is cranky, Caitlin is in awe and Felicity is unrepentant.

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Caitlin asks where “Mr. Diggle” is, and Roy answers that he’s running down a lead.

At ARGUS, Digg is trying to butter up his “sweetie” into giving up the identity of Captain Boomerang. Lyla says it’s internal ARGUS business, but “Johnnie” says he has told Oliver both those things, plus exotic killers are more their thing. Lyla points out he only calls her “sweetie” when he wants something.

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Downstairs, Boomerang Dude finesses his way past ARGUS security using Kai Wu’s ID. Haha, no, he boomerangs the guard to death when the ID gives a red flag and walks in with a saucy walk and a snappy phrase.

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As the alarm goes off, Lyla is alerted to the breach, and John calls the Cave to tell them what is happening. As Oliver and Roy reach for their bows, Cisco is very impressed by the badassery of it all, and Caitlin wonders aloud if it all won’t be done by the time they get there.

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At ARGUS, agents stand around getting boomerang’ed but thankfully, the boomerangs aimed at Lyla and Diggle, both armed, get lost and don’t make the round trip.

Caitlin must have made a call, because we pan from Oliver on his motorcycle to a yellow streak making its way through Starling City and interrupting Thea tries to unload her DJ hookup from last week.

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There is a super-cool 2-on-1 fight scene with the archers and CB, and right as Oliver is about to take a double-boom to the chest, Barry gets the best entrance of either show to-date, zipping in and catching the boomerangs before they hit, pausing to execute a lovely turn in between.

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Once Barry leaves, Lyla wants to know what/who that was, but Oliver asks for and ID of their attacker. He is Digger Harkness, former Suicide Squad. Lyla “sanitized” this team after a mission gone wrong, and Harkness’s charge malfunctioned.

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He escaped and has been targeting ARGUS agents he holds responsible, and Lyla is at the top of this list since Waller was out when the call was made. Since most ARGUS sites are likely compromised, Oliver tells her there is only one place to keep her safe.

In the Cave, Felicity and Caitlin watch Barry zip repeatedly through the salmon ladder with the same expression most of us have watching a puppy chase its own tail. Oliver’s Wednesday routine (ha!) doesn’t seem that hard to him.

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Felicity isn’t sure Barry should have come since Oliver “doesn’t play well with others,” but he and Cisco are all for it. Barry tells her that their guy needed backup, and then he dashes off to get sushi because the salmon ladder made him hungry. Barry is the pet my parents never wanted me to have.

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Lyla, Oliver and John come back, with pieces of the boomerang that Digg brought as evidence. Barry dashes back and into a chair with his hood down, eating his dinner. His FFW (Future First Wife) Caitlin reminds him that he’s supposed to be keeping his identity a secret.

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He assumed Digg was married (nope) and that he told his wife (double nope). Digg reminds him that he keeps secrets for a living. I wonder how much that pays.

Barry sweetly introduces himself to Lyla as the Flash and offers her sushi. What a guy. When he suggests “working the evidence” however, Oliver calls him to the back to lay down the law. He tells him he appreciates the offer of help, but that Starling is different.

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Barry tells him that he has been practicing what he taught him and following his advice, and Oliver agrees, but says that they will do it his way.

After Barry assembles the evidence before Oliver can finish pontificating about its importance, Cisco examines it and says their suspect didn’t make them. He also has his first strikeout at a name. Ka-Boom-Boomerang sounds like a naughty suite at The Palms.

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He does identify the maker as one Klaus Marcos, and although Felicity can’t find a home address, he was recently arrested by one Quentin Lance.

Barry and Oliver get into their civvies and go to the police station to get information from Detective Officer Captain Lance.

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Oliver re-introduces Bart Barry to him and uses the ol’ “he’s here with CCPD” ruse that worked so well on him last season. Barry finds out that Lance arrested him for credit card theft on behalf of the Bratva.

Later on, the archers and the Flash meet up at the Bratva’s cyber-crime digs, and Oliver waffles on his current former membership. They They split to case the area, and Oliver briefly stops Diggle to ask why the hell he doesn’t wear a mask good grief if he is okay. “I’m good,” he answers, and Oliver doesn’t push.

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In the intervening 8 seconds, Barry gets bored, so he knocks out and zip-ties all the henchmen, so Oliver kicks down Marcos’ door and Barry zips over to hold him down so Oliver can question him. When Marcos tells Oliver off and gets an arrow through the shoulder, however, Barry is shocked that Oliver is using the threat of pulling it out to get information.

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Oliver gets Marcos to hand over a burner phone Harkness gave him to contact him when his boomerangs were done, and Barry delivers him to Lance’s office. He returns to Marcos’ hideout to accuse Oliver of torture.

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Oliver replies that he interrogated him, and Barry replies that he defended Oliver to his friends because he thought he was a hero and that they “were supposed to be better than them.” Oliver wearily explains that in Central City, “Its sunny all the time and [his] enemies get cute nicknames” but  he’s not there. He then lists, one by one, the deaths he’s had to live through since he came to Starling: Tommy (“my best friend was murdered”), Sara (“a woman that I loved was shot full of arrows and sent tumbling off of a rooftop”), and finally, his mother (“ was killed right in front of me”).

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But Barry cuts him off. He saw his mother die, as well, and he tells Oliver that he doesn’t use his personal tragedies as an excuse to torture whoever pisses him off.

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This led to a rare gem: an Oliver Queen Moment of Truth ™. “Well I’m sorry, Barry. I’m not as emotionally healthy as you are.” image

Barry is flabbergasted and wants to know what is wrong with him but  this is a only a one-hour show. Oliver replies that he agreed to do things his way, and if it’s too much for him, he knows the way back to Central City.

At the Cave, Lyla interrupts Oliver brooding to ask if everything is okay between him and Barry, and there is a lovely moment where they commiserate with each other over being the stone coldest baddest of asses.

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They pretty much recite their crime-fighting motto and it’s a long one, but it encapsulates the two characters so perfectly it doesn’t even matter who said what line:

There are people in the world who deal only in extremes. It would be naive to think that anything less than extreme measures will stop them. Sometimes bravery isn’t enough. Sometimes the world requires us to be bold. Whatever the personal cost.

Felicity interrupts to say she has located Harkness in a building with 10 others. Oliver sends Cisco with Diggle and Roy and when he turns to leave, Barry intercepts him, telling him he’ll race him there.

***FB ALERT***Amanda’s prisoner isn’t giving up his information, and he taunts Oliver with the knowledge that torture is harder than murder, and that he is not capable of it. Before Oliver can get anything out of him, an explosion is visible through the windows.

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***END OF FB***

In the car, Diggle is worried about protecting people he loves, and despite Cisco’s assurance that he is capable, he worries that he won’t be able to in a crazy world full of meta-humans. Cisco points out that the world was crazy before, and he has a theory. “Maybe meta-humans and superpowers were given to us to deal with the crazy.” He thinks that people like Barry are the hope for saving the world (plus they’re pretty cool), and despite themselves, Roy & Diggle smile.

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Oliver enters the building where the 10 men wait, and Harkness isn’t there. He paid them to wait for them, and left a phone. He realizes it’s a trap.

At the Cave, Felicity sees Harkness’ phone turn on despite the fact that she shut it down and realizes their location was traced. She tells Lyla and Caitlin that they need to leave, and as they go, Harkness shows up and a battle ensues that unites the fandom in a common purpose.image

Lyla defends herself with a gun she gets from a drawer. Felicity runs over and grabs an exploding arrowhead from the case and yells at her to take cover, but it is too late. Harkness has hit her in the chest with a boomerang, and he runs away under the cover of the smoke. Felicity calls for Caitlin, and they begin to work to stabilize her.

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Diggle and the boys return, and when Caitlin says Lyla is stable but that she can’t operate there, John looks around until he makes eye contact with Barry, who picks her up and rushes her to Starling General.

***FB ALERT*** Oliver surveys the bomb damage as Amanda Waller berates him. Oliver says he just needed more time, but Waller says that what he lacked was conviction. She says the sentence about people in the world that deal only in extremes and we realize this is where both Oliver and Lyla get it. Oliver tells Amanda he doesn’t have the stomach for torture, but she says it’s because he lacks practice, and that he must cultivate the skill. image

She thinks he has a talent for it. ***END OF FB***

At Verdant, Roy, Felicity, Cisco and Caitlin are in the club, doing tequila shots, since Oliver said he wanted to be alone. Cisco notices Thea, but when he finds out she is Oliver’s sister and Roy’s ex he gets the message to stay away. Caitlin updates them on Lyla, saying she is in surgery.

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Cisco and Caitlin then wonder how they can work knowing people they care for can get hurt, and that maybe the fact that they work with meta-humans makes their risk seems less real.

Downstairs in the Cave, Oliver is hiding out in full Precious Moments mode when Barry finds him. He tells Barry it is his fault, that if not for his torture of Marcos for the phone, Harkness would not have found Lyla. Barry disagrees, but questions his blame. Oliver explains that what he does not only takes conviction, but a certain willingness to do what is ugly, and that each time he does it, he loses little pieces of himself. What’s wrong is that the parts he is trading away are Oliver Queen, and lately he feels that all he has left is the Arrow.

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Barry, a sympathetic look on his face, tells him that he is full of crap.

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He tells him that while he may feel that he lost his humanity, that it is just that which got him through things. He tells him that he “wouldn’t be a hero, someone who wanted to do good, if [he] didn’t have a light inside [him].” Curiously, that is when Felicity walks in and it is not symbolic at all.

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She ran a facial recognition on Harkness, and she knows where he is, so Oliver and Barry leave to find him.

At the crowded train station, The Flash carries everyone away one by one until Harkness turns and realizes he is alone.

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Barry then reappears with Oliver, whose clothes are sadly not on fire.

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They tell Harkness that there is no place he can go, but Harkness has a contingency plan: 5 bombs armed to go off in 90 seconds throughout the city. Oliver sends Barry off to deal with it while Felicity and Cisco trace the locations, and he and Harkness fight.

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Barry finds the first bomb, but Cisco and Felicity discover they are linked, and if any singular one gets defused, the other four will blow. As time runs out, Barry thinks of a way to solve the problem.

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Back at the train station, Oliver has pinned Harkness to a column with what looks like a garrote arrow, but  he isn’t giving up the information, saying that if Oliver had the heart to torture him, he wouldn’t hesitate and would have done it already.

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At the Arrow cave, the gang is staring at the screen when a red blur takes Roy away. One by one, Barry takes the team and deposits each at a location, and races himself to the fifth bomb. No one’s clothes are set on fire and I’m really disappointed, because I bet Cisco has Batman underoos and I kind of needed to see that.

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Harkness gives Oliver 10 seconds, but the team manages to cut the wires at the same time, and Cisco gets to name the baddie (“Screw you, Captain Boomerang.”) At the train station, sore loser Harkness asks Oliver if he thinks not killing him makes him strong, and tells him it makes him weak. Oliver, who hasn’t turned to see Barry behind him, responds that it shows he has some humanity left. when he turns to walk away, however, Harkness reaches out for a boomerang, and Oliver turns suddenly to shoot his hand into the column.

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At Starling General, Diggle is waiting for Lyla to wake so he can ask her to marry him.

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After his heartfelt declaration of love, Lyla starts wife-ing right by asking him to be quiet so she can say yes.

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Back at the Cave, Team Flash is getting ready to leave Starling, and Caitlin promises to process the DNA in Central City and call Felicity when she has the results. Oliver and Barry return from dropping Harkness at the island with Slade.

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Felicity reminisces about full-body Oliver, and Barry notices a new mannequin set up for the next time he’s in town to do whatever Oliver wants, because Oliver is still a control freak.

Cisco shows Oliver a new jacket for his suit, that is like 25% lighter and can carry 15% more gear.

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And although he wanted to switch out the hood, wifey nixed it because she knows the deal.

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Before Team Flash leaves, the two heroes have some unfinished business that may or may not involve punching each other.

***FB ALERT*** Amanda graciously gives Oliver a stab at torture practice redemption with Ming Na We’s contact, and we can tell this time he’s gonna put his back into it.***END FB***

At an empty warehouse somewhere in Starling, Oliver and Barry are about to selfishly deny the rest of their teams the thrill of seeing one of them beat the other in a fair fight. Barry is still a bit upset about being shot in the back, but tells Oliver that fighting him is like standing still. Oliver says he has experience and strategy.

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Before they have it out, Barry tells Oliver that he was wrong when he said he couldn’t inspire people. “Not as the Arrow, that guy’s a douche,” he specifies, “but as Oliver Queen.”

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That gets a smile and a thanks from Oliver, and he also tells Barry that he was wrong when he though he could kick his ass. Barry says if Oliver’s going to beat him, he better do it fast. WE GET IT, BARRY.

Barry zips off to one end and Oliver walks off to the other, and they countdown to the face-off we’ve been teased with for two episodes.

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…Whose outcome we don’t get to see. POOP, Arrow writers. Still, this means we can imagine any ending we want, and I can’t be the only one that hopes there’s a slashfic alternate ending being written as we speak

Or maybe I am.

Don’t judge me.

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

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Squee! Special Edition Mini-Photo-Recap, “Flash vs. Arrow”

Since I don’t have a death wish, I will limit my kind attentions mainly to two scenes in last night’s The Flash portion of the #Flarrow crossover, and those are the parts that have to do with our visiting (and what the heck, resident) turtledoves. I’m also using colors, in honor of the Flash. I’m a big girl!

Early on, Oliver and Felicity stop by Jitters for gourmet coffee and an exchange of information.

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Shut up, Barry. Threatening people to get things you need is how Oliver shows love. Barry thought Oliver wasn’t helping him and he isn’t. It’s just a small token of his affection. Oliver’s so thoughtful, guys.

Iris shows up with their drinks, and we are presented with a microcosm of this tiny universe.

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HAHA it’s funny because every girl Barry is into so far is into Oliver. Such is the power of those guns, son. It’s bad when you’re not even the romantic lead on your own show.

Meanwhile at the table, Oliver & Felicity are about to settle differences the way they do 99% of the time: Oliver admitting Felicity is right and doing what she wants. At least they turned the chemistry back up to ONE MILLION. Good to know one side-kiss (or two) don’t dim this flame.

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Felicity tells Oliver that they should help Barry catch Bivolo. Oliver disagrees, saying Barry doesn’t want his help, he only “thinks he does”. Pause for Oliver’s ability to read the $#@! outta people, as this proves true, at least as far as Barry’s id is concerned. image

Felicity points out that he stuck up for Oliver when both Wells and his foster dad said he was a bad influence, and Oliver’s ability to read people again shows itself.

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These are the two most together pair of not-together people on the face of planet Earth. That nutty flavor in your coffee? IT’S DENIAL.

———A WHOLE EPISODE HAPPENS HERE, PAY NO ATTENTION——-

And then at the end, Oliver and Barry are once again at Jitters, where Ollie is waiting for one on the road, and Barry has come to apologize for vomiting his rage-diary. Oliver is not at all offended, but he wants to leave Barry with one final word of advice.

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Barry nervously jokes that as long as it doesn’t involve Oliver shooting him in the back… Oliver smiles and replies, “No…the heart,” and both we and Barry are like–

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But he means exactly what we think, warning Barry to let Iris go for both their sakes, because it won’t work out.

It’s obvious he isn’t just talking about them, but himself and Felicity, too.

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It’s a bit heart-smashing, because we can tell he really means to save him heartbreak, but it’s too late for them them both. Even if, as Oliver tells him, “Guys like us don’t get the girl,” it’s not the one-sided decision they are making it to be. You aren’t in love with passive damsels, gentlemen. Good luck remaining immune when they really put their minds to reeling you in. In the meantime…

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Enjoy “The Brave and the Bold” tonight! I won’t be live-tweeting since I will be doing a full recap of that ep and posting it this weekend. Thanks for reading! If you want to read any of my other Arrow posts, they are archived here. As always if you like, you can follow me here or on Twitter @conniebv.

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‘Sup. Arrow Photo Recap 306, “Guilty”

Y’all I can’t even say how excited I am about recapping this ep. I would venture to say I am more excited that I was for the previous episode, because this is a Laurel-centric ep. “But Connie,” you’re thinking, “you have made it pretty damn clear you don’t think kindly of her character arc!” AND THAT IS EXACTLY WHY. I am firing on all cylinders, so fair warning. I am locked and loaded for satire, and will likely make little to no effort to be deep. Frolic through this field with me.

We start with Oliver rudely interrupting Roy reliving the trauma of his “OMFG I killed Sara” dream and once again, telling him to “get his head into the game.” Let’s just put a mental bookmark on this, K? Team Arrow’s trying to stop a massive Culebra drug deal yadda yadda. What you need to know is that Roy is off, Diggle has a mask, and this is the prettiest bunch of crime fighters ever.

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This may not be the lesson they want me to learn, but I am starting to think that if you want to fight crime, skill is less important than being at least a solid 7 in the looks department.

In any case, the entrances and roof appear to be clear, and it’s because all the occupants are dead and strung up from the ceiling like extras in a workout scene from Rocky or morbid piñatas, with a message written in blood underneath them that is pretty neat and clean for something written with a bodily fluid.

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He even cleaned up around the edges! So tidy. Also: Diggle speaks Spanish. That’s half the team speaking my native tongue. My heart grows two sizes today.

Back at the Arrow cave, Felicity needs to find a gangster(a?) that the killer took alive from the scene, and it’s like searching for one Paco in a metric crap-ton of Pacos. Oliver cares less about Paco than he does about the budding blood artist, so he mainly just wants to use him as a lead. He tells Roy to take a knee for the rest of the night (this exhausts my game metaphors) and that he’ll take care of it alone.

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Roy apologizes for being “a little out of it lately” and Oliver tells him not to be sorry, but instead be rested, and that he wouldn’t be much of a teacher if Roy bit it because he allowed him out when his reaction time was slow.

***FLASHBACK ALERT*** A marketplace with dubious wares.

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Turns out China White is Oliver’s mispronunciation of her name (Sounds like ‘Cheng Na-Weh’ when Maseo says it.) This is the most gripping fact in the entire flashback. Oh yeah, and Oliver chases a dude Maseo told him to, loses him to a car driving through the market with enough force to kill him but not other pedestrians, and can’t remember him stashing an envelope he was supposed to take from him. I’m also reasonable sure I saw Felicity in the crowd scene. image

***END FB***

At Ted’s gym, Laurel is improving and Ted compliments her by suddenly changing the rules and knocking her flat on her ass. image

He tells her that fighting was about getting surprised, and getting up off the mat when she falls. I knew I liked you, Ted, but now I know why. She wants to keep sparring, but Ted wants to subvert her new relationship with egg whites by taking her out for Korean tacos cause protein, y’all.

At the Arrow Cave, Roy and Felicity are alone, and he wants her to test his blood for Mirakuru. She asks if he is okay, because Mirakuru shouldn’t affect his sleep.

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When she becomes concerned and outright asks if he is okay, though, he folds and says he’s fine, just looking for ways to sleep.

Out about the Glades, Oliver is using her powers of persuasion and interrogative skills to look into Paco, and by that I mean he is shooting arrows into some Sean Paul button downs and stretching out some leather jackets.

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One gangster(a?) tells him that Paco is a nickname for a guy named Emilio Ortega, and Oliver thanks him politely before backhanding him unconscious. I guess it’s okay because he’s a bad guy? Gangsters are people too, Oliver! image

He tells Felicity, who pings his cell’s GPS, and finds Ortega hanging upside down…in Ted’s gym. You know its Ted’s gym because Ted walks in and surprises him. Oliver asks Ted why he killed all the men, but he’s all WTF and Laurel, who walked in with him, is all OMG OLLIE STOP IT and Oliver is all GET OUT LAUREL, but she refuses to leave because she says Ted didn’t do it and alibis him. She tells Oliver that Ted was with her the past two hours and “that” wasn’t there when they left.

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At the Cave, Roy tests negative for Mirakuru (although he needs to watch his cholesterol), and I must have missed the episode where Felcity acquired phlebotomy skillz.

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When he is too relieved Felicity gets suspicious and asks him why. He tells her that he’s been dreaming, remembering feeling not like himself, strong, and that in those dreams he killed Sara. He tells her that the dreams felt like memories, and that he remembers throwing arrows into her. He’s all “Welp, glad that’s over” just as Felicity is all “Ah, balls. It’s on, now.”

At the Wildcat Gym, Quentin is asking Laurel about Ted and telling her that the police will release him if his story checks out. Laurel leaves via her back door, and this gives us our first glimpse of a certain redhead.

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She keeps walking until she finds Oliver, and they discuss Oliver’s suspicions of Ted. Laurel says he caters to some rough clientele and suspects someone was trying to send him a message, but Oliver wants to speak to him directly. Laurel asks if it’s about the murder, or her, because OF COURSE.

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Oliver reminds her that two weeks ago he said he wouldn’t train her, and now she has someone training her. Laurel says she is learning to box to let off steam, and when Oliver tells her to be careful, repeats that Ted didn’t do it, but Oliver insists.

***FB ALERT*** Oliver is sitting still and trying to remember reaaaaal hard when Maseo’s son entices him into a memory game. In another part of the house, the Yamashiros are whisper-arguing. Maseo is asking his wife for her help, but she declines because all she wants is for them to leave.

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Maseo tells Tatsu that the second China White is caught, his debt is paid, and she reluctantly agrees. Upon seeing her son playing with Oliver, she orders him away and tells Oliver that she will house, feed and clothe him, but that her “son is off limits.” When he gets up to go, she tells him to stay so she can help him, and to do exactly as she says. ***END FB***

At the Cave, Diggle tells Oliver he’s heard of Ted Grant, and he saw his title match a few years back on Pay-per-View, vouching for his fighting ability. Roy brings up the fact that Laurel’s vouching for him.

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Felicity hacked the murder investigation and found out that despite the gang members being armed to the teeth, not a single shot was fired and they were beaten to death with brass knuckles. I guess while each was beat the others just patiently waited their turn and maybe had a smoke break or checked their Tinder. Whatever. I’m sure it’s doable. Still, the perpetrator of this crime and another six years before was left-handed with the same M.O., and Ted Grant was known as “The Starling Southpaw” so it’s good enough for government work.

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Oliver, who probably had a gut feeling about this and is not at all predisposed to dislike cats who sniff around his womenfolk, slapped him with a tracer unit earlier, and as it beeps on Felicity’s screen, he leaves to find him.

The Arrow follows the signal to a storage unit, where Oliver finds another body strung up like a punching bag. Scanning the room, he sees a mask, brass knuckles, knives, and newspaper clippings about a vigilante. When he bends down to pick up the tracer, discarded on the ground, Ted grabs him from behind and puts him in a headlock.

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Thus commences the sexiest fight ever on Arrow, and I’m not ashamed to say I rewound this several times just to yell “FIGHT FIGHT” like you do in high school. It’s pretty awesome and seamless and yes, in the middle of it Oliver stops, pokes an arrow into a boxing glove and shoots an arrow at Ted’s jaw with enough strength to knock him down flat on his back.

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Oliver tells him it’s the second time he’s found him with a dead body, and Ted denies guilt, claiming he’s being set up, and reveals he used to be  like him- a vigilante. Turns out six years ago he quietly policed The Glades, and he thinks the person knows him because the last victim had the keys to this storage unit, his “cave”, hung around his neck, which was obviously meant as a trail for him to follow. Oliver brings up a drug dealer that Vigilante-Ted killed six years ago and it’s hilarious how clueless he can be about others’ grey zones when he is so gray he is barely more than a shadow most days.

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Ted says it was that event that made him hang up the gloves (ha!) and leave the life. No one knew of his hideout except him. He proposes they help each other look into it.

This help involves meeting up with Laurel, who shows up with a file on the victim, one Albert Mancini. No priors besides parking tickets, and Ted doesn’t know him. Oliver asks Laurel if she realizes she’s training with a (former) vigilante. OLIVER WE JUST DID THIS, DUDE.

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Laurel didn’t know but seems mostly unaffected, until Oliver reveals that Ted beat a man to death six years ago, and he again tells her to stay away. Ted, tired of their private chat, walks over to look at the file. Laurel tells him Mancini was an out-of work magician’s assistant and Ted guesses the connection: Mancini worked at the Zanzibar, the same site where Ted committed the crime that led to the end of his vigilante career. Laurel proposes following the trail, and Ted asks how she knows the Arrow. She answers “We used to date,” a really cute funny way to link your not-secret identity to someone’s secret identity.

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Good job, Laurel. Someone as discrete as you is definitely ready to be a superhero. Oliver asks for another minute alone with her, and is all WTF and Laurel is basically like “You’re not the boss of me, FO.” Oliver asks if he knows what is driving her, and she tells him that she told Ted about Sara being gone. Oliver then asks if Ted knows that Laurel is trying to follow in Sara’s footsteps, and it’s obvious by her expression that she hasn’t shared that nugget yet. I’m gonna quote these next two lines exactly, because they’re relevant to a point I want to make.

Oliver: You’re playing a very dangerous game, Laurel.

Laurel: I can handle it.

Oliver: No you can’t. Cause you haven’t realized that it’s not actually a game.

Now I’m not usually Team Laurel, but I have to say her expression mirrored mine exactly here.

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LOLOLOL WHAT? Let’s get on top of this metaphor, Arrow Writers. Oliver has told people to “get their head in the game” more times than I can count, and if this doesn’t mean anything, it sure as hell makes me roll my eyes when I hear him tell Laurel that superhero’in isn’t a game. Please have someone rip that comparison apart or never use it again. Let’s all get our head out of this particular game, ‘mmkay?

Oliver and Ted leave, and when Ted asks about Laurel, Oliver says she isn’t coming.

Down in the cave, Diggle wants Roy to suit up to go meet up with Oliver and Ted as they track the killer. Felicity grabs Roy by the arm and says he can’t go because she has to talk to him about something important, and even though he is suspicious, Diggle says he’ll take care of it and goes alone. Felicity tells Roy that before they buried Sara, she did an MRI of the body and created a virtual autopsy that allowed her to analyze the body, force of blows, etc and that the angle and velocity of the arrows could be explained by residual Mirakuru still in his system that worked itself out before she tested his blood.

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Roy is once again the saddest panda as it becomes possible once more that he could have killed Sara. C’mon, Roy. You had almost ten minutes of relative happiness. That’s like a year in Arrow-time.

Diggle pulls into the parking lot at Zanzibar so he can watch the perimeter, and as the camera pans across, we get our second Cupid sighting of the episode.

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Inside, Oliver tells Ted that someone is going to a lot of trouble to get his attention, and wants to know how this relates to the murder six years ago. They are interrupted by a masked man on the floor above them.

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He greets Ted by name and says that he sees he got his message, the postscript of which involves being shot at. I hate this villain so far THE MOST, because I don’t want these two shot until I get at least a decent hug.

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From the conversation it becomes apparent that Shooty McGee used to be Ted’s partner in vigilantism, and that he feels betrayed by Ted, who just wanted to be a kinder, gentler vigilante than he did. Oliver manages to scare him off with an arrow, but as he takes off to chase after him when he flees, SCPD shows up and arrests Ted for multiple counts of homicide.

Walking back into Verdant, Oliver and Diggle are met by Laurel, who is outraged that Oliver got Ted arrested. Oliver tells her that it was actually the police who arrested him (even though a DA should know the basic  song and dance, really Laurel) and that they had cause to do so, what with the multiple bodies found in places he owned.

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Even so, he tells Laurel that he knows Ted is innocent, that he saw the actual killer, and even though he wore a full face mask, he thinks Ted knows who it is.

They go downstairs, and even though Felicity asks him not to, Roy greets them by confessing that he killed Sara. Laurel is incredulous, and Oliver is silent, thoughtful. When Laurel asks why he would do it, Roy tells her his and Felicity’s theory about the Mirakuru, and Felicity assures them that Roy had no memory of it specifically, except for fragments of dreams that could be memories. Roy tries to apologize to Laurel, reaching out to her, but she snaps at him not to touch her, and Roy starts to walk out of the cave. In fairness, trying to hug the sister of a person you think you killed is not the best call.

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John catches Roy’s arm as he brushes past him and asks him where he’s going, but Oliver tells him to let him go. They’ve been highlighting his faults this season, but this is one of Oliver’s more stellar characteristics. It’s true that he can lose his temper, but when the status quo goes to hell all around, he is a quiet, methodical problem solver, and he showcases that here, turning immediately to Felicity to ask if Roy wasn’t supposed to be cured. Felicity rationally responds that what they know about Mirakuru < what they don’t know, and this ticks Laurel off, thinking that she is excusing Roy for murdering her sister. Oliver once again interjects, his voice low and calm, asking if Felicity tested Roy’s blood against the DNA sample they found at the scene of Sara’s murder, but the results were inconclusive.

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When Laurel  draws back, saying she can’t process, Oliver walks over to her and gently tells her to focus on what she *can* process, that Ted knows who they need to find, and he needs her to get that information from him. Laurel says she can’t do it if Roy killed Sara and Oliver once again interrupts to tell her that if that is the case, they will deal with it, and that he needs her to deal with Ted. In all honesty, Ted might be training her to fight, but that is some grade-A compartmentalizing there, and a helluva useful skill for a mask to cultivate. Put those emotions in a box and deal with them later, Laurel. Know what that’s called, kids?

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Once she heads out, Oliver heads straight back to Felicity and asks how sure she is of Roy’s guilt. She tells him that the trace evidence, virtual autopsy and his memories all sound very incriminating, along with the fact that his trouble sleeping all started when Sara was killed.

***FB ALERT*** Tatsu sits with Oliver and leads him through some deep breathing so he can quiet his mind. image

Even though he claims not to have seen anything, he did see where the letter was hidden, and he remembers. ***END FB***

At the police station, Quentin is telling Ted that he’s being looked at for 16 murders, more than the Son of Sam and Ted Bundy. It’s not an auspicious start for his future SIL, and Ted’s posture echoes that.

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Laurel bursts into the interrogation room and asks to speak to him. Quentin sighs deeply and reminds Laurel of her shit taste in men before he walks out. Once the door shuts, Ted asks Laurel if she’s okay, but she answers that she’s not the one facing life in prison and asks for the name of the person framing him. He denies knowing it, and she says that she can’t help him if he lies to her, since he will be let go if the DA’s office chooses not to press charges. It’s worth noting that while she takes an antagonistic tone while questioning him, these two characters are once again visually in sync with each other and the scene. They are meant to be taken as a pair.image

Ted comes clean, and names the man as Isaac Stanzler, a one-time apprentice of his who actually committed the murder attributed to him 6 years ago. He lied to Laurel because he never wants to see him again, and he feels that the entire thing is his fault. Oh yay, I like Ted too much to think he could have beat a guy to death, and Oliver tests my morality enough on this show.

At the Arrow cave, Oliver is waiting to hear from Laurel when Felicity employs plausible deniability to let him know that Ted Grant was allowed to walk. Diggle asks Oliver to let him bring Roy back so he’s not running around on Mirakuru-leavin’s, and Oliver asks what he would do with him once that is done. Diggle says that if their crusade is about justice, then they can’t have two sets of rules, “one for the bad guys, and one for us.” While I hate to see my BROTP fight, it’s also kind of old-school romantic.

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Oliver tells him he brought Roy into the crusade, and John suggests maybe it’s time to cut him loose. Oliver, shocked, asks if he wants him to abandon him and Diggle says yes, if that’s what it takes to get justice for Sara. Man, that’s cold, John.

Leaving the station, Laurel asks Ted what he thinks Stanzler will do next, and it’s not really necessary to wonder because what he does is hold a gun to the back of Ted’s head, scare the sh*t out of me, and take his mask off to accuse his former teacher.

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He tells Ted that when he abandoned him to the Culebra they wanted payback for the man they lost, and they tortured him for months. Ted, visibly upset, apologizes to him and asks that they talk. Isaac agrees to talk, but he’s still gonna kill him. He gets in the back seat of Laurel’s car and holds a gun to her head as she drives. As Ted argues with him about teaching him better than to take innocent people hostage and Isaac airs his grievances, Laurel swipes her finger on her phone and dials the last number she called, Felicity.

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In the cave, Felicity answers the phone and puts it on speaker at Oliver’s request. He hears Ted and Isaac arguing, and remarks “That voice- that’s him,” which is great cause then Felicity can ping the phone and find them, but she starts reporting their position to him and COME ON YOU GUYS SPEAKER DOESN’T MEAN THEY CAN’T HEAR YOU. Even so, it is a treat to see my babies still have it when it comes to their working relationship. I know a lot of Oliciters are worried with the state of ship this season, but never fear you guys. These guys are doing nothing but coming closer to meeting each other halfway, and the journey is lovely. Know who else did that? Hint:

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Laurel keeps driving while the Ted and Isaac have their spat, and is distracted by a van aiming for her head-on. It’s Diggle, and his purpose isn’t entirely clear, but it does serve for us to find out that Isaac was Ted’s only friend. Oh, sweetie. Hugglz.

Oliver comes up behind them and Isaac shoots at him, but Oliver manages to shoot an arrow into the car. This ticks Isaac off enough to grab the wheel from Laurel and sideswipe Oliver off his motorcycle, and he falls into the road. As the car speeds away, another motorcycle shows up, and Isaac marvels at yet *another* vigilante. Diggle brings the van around and picks Oliver up off the road, and Isaac opens the door to shoot, which Laurel uses as an opportunity for a hard brake that throws him out of the car.

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As she speeds away, we see that on the second motorcycle is Roy. Laurel crashes the car and as Diggle and Oliver stop to help them out, Roy faces Isaac alone.

As the two apprentices circle each other, Isaac attempts some mental warfare along with the physical. He tells Roy that he’s not a person to the Arrow, just “another weapon in his arsenal” that he will turn his back on and abandon the second he does something wrong.

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This ticks Roy off enough to finish him off, and when Isaac is laid out on the road, he tells him “I’m not you.” When he turns, Oliver runs up to him and it’s apparent that even if he pretended they didn’t, Isaac’s words stung. “Don’t abandon me,” he tells his teacher, and Oliver’s reply is as firm as it is heartwarming. “Never.” You guys. I want a fanfic where Oliver and Roy eat popcorn and watch Robotech and then Oliver tucks him in. I NEED IT.

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Later that night, Ted is mopping blood off his floor and calls Oliver out for hiding in the shadows of the gym. He thanks him, and Oliver asks for his gratitude in the form of a favor: staying away from Laurel Lance. He tells him that Laurel is in a vulnerable place, and that he doesn’t want her getting hurt.

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Ted, demonstrating a Felicity-like knowledge of human nature (even if that nature is Laurel’s) asks him if he’s asked Laurel what she wants, and that if she stops coming, he’ll be okay with it. Oliver assures him she will, and Ted volunteers some advice. He tells him that what he did, what the Arrow does, is “playing judge and jury” and it messes with people’s heads. He says he cut Isaac loose too late, and that Oliver shouldn’t make the same mistake “with that kid you’re running around with.” Oliver returns some advice of his own. He tells Ted that his mistake wasn’t cutting Isaac loose, but losing faith in him.

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Afterwards, Oliver goes to pick up Laurel from the hospital, and tells her that when he told her he wouldn’t train her, he was trying to protect her, and that he didn’t have her training with someone like Ted in mind.

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Laurel tells him she’s not helpless, and Oliver says that he’s never thought of her that way, but he will always protect her because he cares. They hug, and Laurel asks about Roy. Oliver asks her in return if she trusts him.

In the Cave, Roy is staring at his costume and saying he will miss being part of the Team, because he was just getting good at it. Oliver affirms this, and Roy tells him what Isaac said, that he was just another weapon in Oliver’s arsenal. Oliver tells him maybe that’s what they should call him: Arsenal. Roy doesn’t know why Oliver would even let him suit up again, and tells him he is planning to turn himself in. Oliver tells him that there is something his brain is trying to tell him, and that it is best if he helps him find out what it is.

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Roy, pretty freaked out by the candle, declares the whole thing “weird”, but Oliver tells him he has been hurting, and wants him to meditate so that the source of his pain will reveal itself. He would have told him directly, but he was scared to make it worse for him. “Do you trust me?,” he asks and Roy’s reply to him is as firm and sure as his earlier one to him. “Always.” As Oliver puts him through the same exercise Tatsu taught him, Roy remembers his past and the flashes of Sara’s murder resurface, and slowly melt into…

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Kidding! ….Into Roy’s murder of the police officer while on Mirakuru. He wakes up when Oliver tells him to let go, tearful and horrified at what he’s done. He asks Oliver why he never told him, and Oliver says he had overdosed on Mirakuru and didn’t remember and he had hoped he never would. However once Felicity told him about his dreams, Oliver knew it was the memories of the police officer trying to resurface. He thinks the manner of Sara’s death precipitated them. Roy says that he didn’t kill Sara, but he’s “still a murderer.” Oliver tries to talk to him, but Roy leaves, saying he has to be alone for a while.

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***FB ALERT*** Oliver and Maseo head back to the market, and Oliver finds the envelope in a basket. When they open it, it is a picture of sheep grazing in a field. Maseo takes it home and tells Oliver it is an example of steganography, a dinosaur with plates on its back (I wonder how much Oliver’s private school cost) hiding a message within a message.

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When he decrypts it, the message reads “CONTACT LI KUAN HUI.”  Maseo doesn’t know who that is, but he’s interested in him. Oliver sees Tatsu and thanks her, but all she wants is for him to get out of their lives as soon as possible. ***END FB***

Back at his gym, Ted is hanging up new bags and letting Laurel in after hours. She tells him she just made sure that his past vigilantism fell under the statute of limitations so no future charges will be filed, and he’s grateful, but says she still shouldn’t be there. She contradicts him by saying that when Isaac had her at gunpoint and was shooting at her friends she should have been scared and rattled, but she wasn’t because he taught her.

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Ted says he’s been teaching her to box and that her pal “Robin Hood” doesn’t even want him to do that. Laurel comes clean and tells him her hope for their training, that she can gain the skills to avenge her sister and get justice. Ted is kind of disillusioned with the apprentice game, but Laurel reminds him it’s about getting up when you’ve been knocked down. Ted smiles at her, and I guess they have a deal.

Isaac’s being escorted to jail when the two officers flanking him get arrowed, and we get our third and final gander at Carrie Cutter, AKA Cupid. “Who the hell are you?” Isaac says, echoing the thoughts of the entire audience. “I’m Cupid, stupid.” NOPE. If rhyming is one of her defining characteristics, I’m already bored with her.

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As the closing title credits flash on the screen we hear the whoosh of the arrow that undoubtedly kills him, and even though he was a pretty irredeemable character, no one deserves to die with that dialogue still ringing in their ears. Poor bastard.

Thanks for reading till the end, and see you next week! For a heads-up on when I post these, follow me here or on Twitter @conniebv.

Arrow 305 Photo Recap, “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak”

Here it was, our white whale. I’m going to try to be less literal in my recap to allow for some more insight, so bear with me. Let’s jump right in.

In the beginning, there was a training montage. And it was good.

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It ends with Thea questioning “how normal people spend their morning”, which transitions us to the much-talked about abode of Miz Smoak. Felicity’s at home getting her Jane Fonda on when the doorbell rings. Proving again that his character’s fatal flaw oscillates between lack of boundaries and intense ego, it’s Ray, here to deliver a DC comics classic line (see 1:14).

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He had an idea that merits popping up at your employee’s house without calling first despite the fact that he not only has a phone on him, but also a computer-watch and limitless resources. Felicity is very gracious about it, which is to say that she doesn’t propel him back in time with the power of her ire. I would have. He thinking about giving away the excess energy created by QC to the masses, and this is something that couldn’t wait for Felicity to have coffee, or even get dressed.

He’s expounding on his hippie view on energy and sharing his idea-napkin when we are treated to the blessed arrival of Mama Smoak, a woo girl who shares her daughter’s love of bright lipstick but not her technical know-how, as she never hit send on the text meant to advise her imminent arrival for a visit.

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Some quick double-takes on Ray’s part, who makes it very obvious that he is mentally aging Felicity forward 20 years and not unhappy with the mental image. While Felicity self-immolates in shame, they have a cute exchange which culminates in Ray gifting Donna Smoak with his super-cool computer-watch and Felicity sinking to the floor in mortification.

***FELICITYBACK ALERT*** Gothlicity is in her college dorm, alphabet-souping us with her tech wizardry and avoiding being eaten by a grue. image

Her boyfriend Cooper and she are making out not under covers, to the annoyance of the Cooper’s roommate, when they receive an alert that her not-super-virus is DOING THE THING.

She has hacked into the Department of Education’s Student Loan server, and Cooper takes this opportunity to take over the laptop and start deleting student loan accounts.

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Felicity and the roommate both warn him that that is a jailable offense but he keeps going until Felicity literally pulls the plug on the interwebz and stops him. Turns out Cooper wants to use their power for “hacktivism.” Even if it is a crime, he poses the problem to his girl in terms of being a hacker, or in his words, “a hero.” ***END FB***

Oliver is walking into a spacious apartment that looks more like an empty office at QC than living space. This is Thea’s new apartment, which she can afford because she is the sole beneficiary of Malcolm Merlyn’s estate. Oliver, unhappy at this, guesses that this is also the source of her Verdant funds, and tells her that it is “blood money.”

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When Thea counters that Malcolm wouldn’t hurt her because she is his daughter, Oliver says that he is “responsible for the death of 503 innocent people, one of which was [her] brother.” Thea, annoyed, holds up a metaphorical hand which she figuratively asks him to speak to and says that even if he is her brother, he can’t tell her how to live. She is her own person, she tells him, and that person demands that he return with popcorn or not at all.

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As she walks upstairs and away from him, Oliver is drawn to her windows by a sudden series of explosions, followed by a blackout that rolls over the city as he watches.

Quick cuts to the police precinct, Felicity’s apartment, and the city streets, where one of the booms makes baby Sara cry and I am totally down with killing the culprit, damn the Season 2 vow.

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imageThea rushes out to see what is going on, but Oliver has already left to save people being run over by cars like the hero he is. On his way home, he is distracted by a shop window whose TVs all turn on at the same time and start communicating in a computer-generated voice and giving its really boring self-righteous manifesto, which includes all the bad things that they’ll cause to happen to their enemies.

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The voice calls itself “Brother Eye”, speaks in plural and announces that “judgement has been rendered against this city” (you could almost say someone failed) and telling the citizens that this is the beginning of a sentence that they will serve “on their knees.” Who wouldn’t want this, citizens? When the voice announces “Let there be light”, the street lamps come back on, and Oliver hurries away.

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At Verdant, Felicity walks in with Donna in tow. She is impressed by the nightclub, but worried that her dress isn’t up to club standards. I would pay good money to see Mama Smoak dressed to kill. Felicity wants her to stay put upstairs, and tells her mother that her “friend owns the place” and that he just needs help with turning the power back on. This is confusing because the power is already on, and Oliver doesn’t own Verdant (does he?). In any case it doesn’t matter because the man himself saunters in and Charlotte Ross’s face looks just like Eddie Arkadian’s when Bruce Leroy got the glow. Bless.

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Us too, Momma. Us too. Even though Felicity is mortified and denies that Oliver is the friend who she came to help, she introduces him to her mother and homeboy is THRILLED.

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Oliver in turn introduces Diggle, who walks in with the manliest baby carrier and makes meaningful eye contact with Felicity before shaking her mother’s hand.

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Oliver tells Donna it was nice to “finally” meet her before racing after Diggle and asking why he brought the baby. Turns out Lyla is on a work trip and his nanny called out. When Oliver stutters that he isn’t comfortable with her there, Diggle deadpans “Who’s she gonna tell, Oliver?” Felicity, who overhears this, tells Diggle and Oliver that her mother “loves babies”. You can totally tell, because of her expression when she asks Diggle about his daughter:

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Downstairs, Felicity tells Oliver, Diggle and Roy that Brother Eye got access to the city by uploading a virus, and attempts to trace its source, but it deleted itself as soon as it finished its task. Oliver wants to find them before there’s a next time, which probably won’t happen because that would make for a pretty boring episode.

Speaking of boring, Laurel is back in her suit and turning up at the precinct, since she received the emergency services alert. It turns out the DA is out of town, so she is Acting District Attorney and DEAR GOD NO. Goddamnit, DC, take a lesson from Marvel here.

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Captain Lance takes a moment to call Felicity to ask if she is “on the Brother Eye thing” because “no one knows computers better than you.” She assures him that she is.

***FELICITYBACK ALERT*** Gothlicity is walking down the street talking her mother out of trying to get her a fake I.D. and then griping at Cooper for still being mad at her for pulling the plug on him. He wants her to think about how many debts he could have erased, but she wants him to consider how many he could have gone to prison for. He tells her to relax because [insert techy jargon that means they were untraceable here], but Felicity is all “Dude, no, [insert techy jargon that means there were digital arrows pointing at you so sorry here].” He tells her she is “hot when she’s being a chicken” and they make out.image

This is, of course, a totally appropriate response and it’s a bummer when it’s broken up by those douches at the FBI as they arrest him for being young, in love, and oh yeah, a criminal. Poor Felicity. I hope that’s waterproof eyeliner. ***END FB***

In the Arrow cave, the gang listens to Brother Eye pontificate about their next strike. It turns out electric power isn’t the only kind they’re interested in striking at. The voice threatens to turn the banks off, and drain all accounts to an even zero. Oliver, who’s probably struggling to maintain his minimum balance, urges Felicity to trace the signal. She tells him she has set up “breadcrumbs”, which she hopes she can follow.

Back at the police precinct, Laurel abuses her temp position and the city charter to send a riot squad to the Starling National Bank. Even the officer taking her order is like “SORRY WHA?” but she lowers her pitch a  half-step and that apparently does the trick because he scurries away to do as he’s told.

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In the cave, Oliver and Diggle see the order come in and Diggle comments that sending a Riot Squad to the bank is like “fighting a fire with gasoline.” Lyla is a lucky lady. Oliver tells Roy to suit up, and they head out to help with the crowd control, because when you have a mob threatening to riot, the solution that makes the most sense is to have two masked dudes throw projectiles at the problem.

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At the bank, SCPD is holding up their shields while batting ineffectually at the mob like a cat trying to shake off socks. Roy and Oliver shoot tear gas arrows into planters in front of the bank and the crowd disperses somewhat, but Oliver tells Felicity that they can’t calm the entire city.

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Felicity tells him it’s “a mile past complex” and that she is looking through it, but ten starts to panic, repeating “No, no, no..” When Oliver asks her what’s wrong, she confesses that she can’t stop the virus, and she knows because it’s one of hers, written five years ago.

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When Oliver and Roy come back in, Felicity stops them before they speak by telling them she never imagined that the virus could be used as it was. She then backtracks and says that of course she could have imagined it, like she did cronuts, but Oliver walks over and looks into her eyes, asking her to relax and take a breath, and start at the beginning. He may even touch her, but the camera crops it out and it is hard to tell.

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Felicity tells him that she was part of a “hacktivist” group in college, and that they practiced “civil disobedience via the Worldwide Web.” She created the super-virus to expose government fraud, stage virtual sit-ins and “digitally deface criminals.” She quietly admits that it could be thought of as her first attempt at “being a hero.” Oliver wants to know why she didn’t tell him about any of this, but she righteously reminds him that his team doesn’t even know “a fraction” of what happened to him the five years he was away.

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Oliver treats this like he does all truth bombs:ignores it and moves on. He asks Felicity who else had access to the program, and she names Cooper’s roommate and fellow hacktivist: Myron Forest. Oliver asks about her boyfriend, but she says that he was “out of the picture”, and that while he couldn’t have done this, Myron had  “more of an edge.” She gives Oliver his address, and tells him to take the alleyway, because Thea has shown up at the club.

***FELICITYBACK ALERT*** Neil Gaiman’s version of Felicity shows up at the Pen to visit her jailbird lover. She tells Cooper that she is going to confess to writing the supervirus, but Cooper already told them he did it. I spend most of this clip looking at Felicity’s makeup.

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Felicity doesn’t want him to take the rap for something she did, but he tells her that “it’s better this way” and that there is no reason for both of them to be in prison when he wiped out the loans. He tells her he loves her, and she responds immediately in kind as they place their palms against the glass that separates them.

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I think this scene is supposed to make me feel bad for Cooper, but I’m pretty all right with how things turned out. ***END FB***

At the police station, Quentin catches up to his daughter and serves her a big portion of WTF. He tells her that she escalated the situation at the bank, and that she did it behind his back. He wants to know what got into her, because she is “angry and reckless” and he wants to know if she fell off the wagon.

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She tells him she hasn’t, but when he points out that she is “in ten different kinds of pain” and that he was hoping she would talk to him about it, she says she can’t talk to him. He is hurt, but tells her that if not him, then somebody, because sometimes “secrets hurt more than the truth.” This poor man. Please God just pump him full of pills, have a doctor on standby and TELL HIM..

At Verdant, Thea is trying to get into the basement through a locked door, when Oliver shows up and tells her the generator keeps it locked because the entire lower level is flooded. Thea wants to know what he is doing there, and he diverts her by telling her that he is worried about her on account of the hackers. He asks her if he still gets to worry, and she answers that he can even be judgmental if he wants, but that “family is precious, and it’s love, in spite of everything, that makes it precious.”

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She reminds him that the Queen family is down to the two of them. He asks her then that between the two of them, she not take Merlyn’s money.

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Thea, exasperated, tells him that she wants to meet him halfway, but that the rest is up to him, and leaves.

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At Myron Forest’s office, he has the standard Arrow disclaimer recited to him before his computer monitors are turned into shish-kebabs, but Myron denies being behind the cyber-attacks, instead asking if they have looked into Felicity Smoak.

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Oliver says she is innocent, and Myron says it could be someone else, as he showed the code to other people in the five years since their graduation, not thinking it was a big deal.

Upon their return to the cave, Felicity is at her wit’s end. she hacked Myron’s emails and texts and nothing. Oliver brings Cooper up again, and Felicity repeats that she told him “he didn’t do it.” Oliver is visibly annoyed, and asks if it’s because he’s her ex-boyfriend, to which Felicity confesses that no, and tells him that Cooper was arrested their senior year of college and went to prison.

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Oliver tells her he could have gotten out, and exasperated, asks her how she knows when she denies it. “Because he’s dead,” she says. “He hung himself shortly before sentencing.” In case you are wondering, this is what Oliver looks like when he is GODDAMNED MORTIFIED AND WISHING HE HAD A TARDIS SO HE COULD TRAVEL BACK 5 MINUTES.

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Oliver reels, clearly alarmed to have upset her, but when he says her name, she bolts from the room and says she needs to be alone.

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Apparently she walks all the way across town, because in the next scene she is in her office at Queen Consolidated when Ray walks in, mumbling about having lost his bid to rebrand “Star City”. When he notices she is upset, he tells her that he is looking for a partner to drink with, and she looks up to the task.

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Felicity apologizes and tells him that with her mother, she didn’t have any other place to go. Ray asks if she is all right, and Felicity asks him if, as an inventor, he ever created something he thought was unimportant that turned out otherwise? Ray says that those are “the best inventions” and Felicity counters, “Not always.” He asks her to talk, but they are interrupted by Donna, who has tracked her daughter to her office and is tired of being asked to wait.

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Felicity asks Ray to leave, and rounds on her mother, saying sarcastically that that “wasn’t the least bit mortifying.” Donna replies in kind, apologizing for being reduced to “stalking” her own daughter, and the gloves are off. Felicity is upset that she has to drop everything and reminds her mother that she has responsibilities. What follows is the kind of blowup you can only have with someone whose love you are 100% sure of. Felicity feels like a disappointment to her mother because she is single, doesn’t show enough cleavage or “dress like a porn star”.

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Donna, who was left by her husband, feels isolated from and left behind by her genius daughter. It’s a heartbreaking scene, and the quiet sadness of Donna’s parting line to her daughter is a beautiful contrast to Felicity’s uncharacteristic hysteria.

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Felicity returns to the Arrow Cave determined to work her way into one of her program’s access nodes, but then immediately laments that she protected all 3407 of them with firewalls and that if she had “two less IQ points” they wouldn’t be in this mess.

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Oliver notices she is not okay and asks about her mother. Roy and Diggle leave them alone as Felicity answers that she is probably wishing she had a different daughter, and that it’s a long story.

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Oliver  tells her that her “head’s not in the game” (get a new saying, Oliver) and urges her to take an hour and go talk to her mother while her tracer hack runs. Felicity says she has nothing to say, and he tells her what Thea told him about family being precious, and that it was “love in spite of everything” that made it so. “Go,” he whispers to her, and she does.

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When she finds her mother packing, she settles down to talk. She tells her mother that they will always be different, and Donna interrupts, taking the blame and saying she just got excited when she won a free flight. Felicity asks her about it, and when Donna says it was an email with a “free, first-class round-trip flight to Starling”, Felicity realizes that her mother’s visit was not a coincidence: someone wanted her there. At that moment, masked men burst into the apartment and push both women to the ground, pulling hoods over their heads.

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When the hoods are lifted, both Felicity and Donna are tied to chairs in a warehouse, crying with fright and relief, and Felicity’s hair is a solid 8. There is a bank of computers directly in front of them, and as a door opens, a figure enters and says Felicity’s name in the Brother Eye computerized voice.

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She asks who it is, and as he steps into the light, we see it is Cooper. “I thought you never forget your first love.” UGH YOU ARE GROSS. “You died,” Felicity says numbly, but it turns out Cooper let her think he was dead because the NSA offered him an espionage deal in exchange for his freedom and for letting the world think he was dead.

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Felicity tells him that she was “devastated” by his death, and that she loved him. He loved her, too, and he was going to find her to include her in his plans, but he was disappointed by the fact that she became a “corporate lapdog.” Felicity answers that if he though she was capable of this, he never knew her.

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Cooper tells her that years with the NSA taught him how the world works, and that is un-fixable. He tells her that the bank cyber-attack means the Treasury will send the mayor an influx of cash via armored car, and that if she hacks the GPS it uses to navigate to redirect the trucks to him, he won’t shoot the “motivation” he flew in: Donna.

in the Arrow Cave, Oliver worries that Felicity has been MIA for over an hour and that she isn’t answering her phone.

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He takes Diggle up on his offer to have the ARGUS agent that picked Sara up go check on the apartment. He tries calling her again, telling Roy that she is “never more than five feet away from her phone” and that something is wrong.

At the warehouse, Cooper watches Felicity’s phone ring and crushes it under his shoe, gesturing for her to sit at the computers. He warns her that the system cannot connect to anything besides the Treasury’s IP, so she can’t contact the police. Donna tries to take the opportunity to tell her daughter that she only ever wanted her happiness. Cooper wants to cut her short, but he himself is cut short by Felicity, who tells him the armored car will be at his door in five minutes. He zipties her to the desk and walks away, but not before reminding her that he’ll still shoot her, even if they used to bang.

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When Felicity hears a beeping noise. It’s the watch that Ray gave Donna, and as a function of being a desktop replacement, it has WiFi.

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Felicity uses the signal to connect to the internet while Cooper is directing the shipment, so when he comes back she tells him he doesn’t have to kill them because she did what he wanted. He disagrees, and Donna interrupts him to give him a piece of her mind, because she didn’t destroy her arches working time and a half to raise a genius for him to undo her hard work with his peen replacement of a weapon.

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Cooper is understandably annoyed by this slight because let’s face it, Cooper has an undeservedly high opinion of himself and goes to shoot Felicity when Oliver, dressed as the Arrow, shows up and tells him to put the gun down. Cooper compliments Felicity on her skill and then goes fishing for compliments of his own when he points out his motion-activated guns, mounted above them and pointed at Oliver. What he hasn’t counted on, however, is that Oliver isn’t your common target.

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Outside, the armored truck gets a pretty sucky reception, and Diggle and Roy try to minimize the damage even though I think both drivers are already dead. Inside, Oliver is climbing scaffolding and disabling the guns (HOW is it that no one on the ground is shot, I’ll never know). His success and own imminent failure annoy Cooper so much that he tells Felicity it’s all her fault, and she has the snappiest comeback imaginable: basic defense SING and pistol-whipping to the face. Mama Smoak’s face is amazing.

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Even Oliver is probably at a solid half-chub. Girlfriend is BADASS. Felicity frees Donna and they hug, crying it out as Oliver and Felicity make eye contact in the universal unspoken language for “All right, then, that was hot and I am mostly unnecessary here, I’ll be in my bunk.”

Back at the Arrow cave, Oliver is dressing his doll when Felicity tells him that he was right to keep pressing on Cooper, who was “not as dead as [she] thought.” Oliver has some experience with this, he tells her, so he doesn’t judge.

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Oliver asks if she is okay, and she comments that “old lovers have a way of opening old wounds”. She then gets caught up in the inherent creepiness of the word “lovers” when used other than outside Manolo Blahnik’s, and Oliver bookends the ep by smiling at a Smoak.

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He tells her that whatever experiences she had to go through, he’s glad that she did, because they made her into the person she is now, and that she knows “how I feel about her.”

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Felicity then tells him that this isn’t the best time for them to discuss his feelings because nothing is changed, that his is about her not him, Oliver apologizes for unfairly tossing her the I Love You hot potato when he has no intention of catching and they have a very mature discussion about their feelings. HAHAHHA NO. Nothing in this paragraph is true. Felicity changes the subject and pretends nothing happened, and Oliver adds “discerning the right time/way to talk to Felicity about feelings” to the laundry list of things he isn’t good at (shooting things and working out are not on this list).

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Felicity tells him she needs to head out, and in a masterful final twist of the dagger, tells him that the was right, “We have to love our families. No matter what.” Get it, Oliver? She has to love her family. She doesn’t have to love you. She is actually choosing not to love you no matter what, because down that road lies madness and you should consider maybe a bit more showing and a bit less telling.

***FELICITYBACK ALERT*** Back at MIT, Myron walks into his dorm room to find a black garbage bag on the bed and a godamned superhero coming out of his bedroom. Felicity, freshly dyed and pressed emerges in her new persona and answers his bemused “What happened to you?” with a calm “This is me, now.”

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***END FB***

Back at the gym, Laurel decides to take her father’s advice and talk to someone, and that someone is Ted Grant. She tells him that he’s right, she is angry, and it’s because her sister is dead, and no one but her knows she was murdered (technically not true, but let’s go with it).

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Ted says he can help her train, but for herself, not for her sister’s killer, who is a target “she will never hit.” He smiles and says now he knows how to teach her, and gives her a choice of workout gear, red or black. Laurel, who has gone black, predictably does not go back and we are ON. Much as the character can annoy me, I’m glad to see her connecting in a real way with someone outside the Arrow Cave.

At Thea’s new apartment, Oliver shows up with an apology and a bag of popcorn that is almost the size of his sister. “I missed you, Speedy,” he tells her, and they hug.

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Thea tells him they shouldn’t miss each other any more, and that it was easier to be all up in each other’s business when they lived in the same place. She tells Oliver that she has enough room for him to move in with her, and that once the club starts turning a profit, she will donate the rest of Malcolm’s money to earthquake relief. “I can live with that,” he says, and it warms my heart that this relationship, at least for the time being, is getting the attention it deserves. They settle down on the floor to watch TV (Joan Crawford’s Possession) like children have done for generations, and it’s heartwarming except for the psycho spying on them from a roof nearby and the fact that they are watching a movie about a highly dysfunctional relationship.

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Malcolm finally has a relationship with his daughter, it’s true, but it’s not entirely clear that he is comfortable not being the only important man in her life.

Back at QC, Donna stops by Felicity’s office with her cute Mondrian roll-along to say goodbye to her daughter before her flight leaves later that evening. As she hugs her mother goodbye, Felicity gets what so many of us adult children do at some point from a decent parent: the appreciation for what they did right, as opposed to what they may not have done right. She thanks her for being there day and night, and also tells her that she was wrong to say that there wasn’t any of Donna in her. image

She tells her mom that she has been through a lot in the past two years, and that she has learned that she is tougher than she thinks. “That,” she tells her mother, “I get from you.” Donna, touched, holds her face in the same gesture Felicity used for Oliver back in 301 and that Oliver used on her later that same ep and damn it now I’m crying.

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Oh good, here comes Ray to suck all emotion out of me and enable Felicity to blatantly lie about feeling sick so she can spend the day with her mom.

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The Smoaks walk out arm in arm while Ray talks to the computers in his head.

That night, Roy dreams of a deep voice, Sara’s death, and of himself, in his red hood, throwing the three arrows into her body. He wakes up in a cold sweat, breathing hard and terrified.

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Thanks for reading through to the end! For more Arrow fun, follow me here or on Twitter @conniebv.

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¿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.

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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.”

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”)

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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.

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***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.”

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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.

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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.

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***END FB***

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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.

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***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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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***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.

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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.

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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.”

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“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.

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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.

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“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.

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“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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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”.

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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.”

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

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“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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?”

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

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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.

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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.”

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

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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.

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***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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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***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.

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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.”

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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.

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

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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***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.

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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.”

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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–”

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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***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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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God, these two delightful dorks.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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***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.

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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-

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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.

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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.

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Meanwhile, Oliver arrives at his date LIKE A BOSS.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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***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.

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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.”

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

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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