Deep Thoughts Outlander 311: Uncharted

Claire’s streak of improbably surviving things that would kill the rest of us continues. This time she lands on modern-day Haiti, her clothes intact and her hair looking way better than it should and narrowly misses the three-day survival deadline. Because she’s Claire, she finds a nutty priest (he literally uses a coconut as a life coach), swans about in a fly robe and manages to be called a whore by an older woman whose only daughter ran away with a priest. That’s right, Mamacita. GLASS HOUSES. While the first half had some of the comedy that I always love to see, the second half was an emotionally satisfying dessert. I would watch the hell out of a Fersali spinoff.

Spoilers ahead for episode 311.

Here are four takeaways:

A quarter hour is way longer than you think. I understand the need to impress Claire’s peril upon the audience, but that’s about ten minutes more than I wanted to spend watching her wander around the island. Just for comparison’s sake, that’s about two more minutes’ more screen time than was spent on Culloden, which was much more of a big deal in my mind. I get that it was to illustrate the passage of time and call back to the peril she was in due to hitting her third day sans water, but I wish we had spent more time with Jamie and Fergus, maybe gotten a hint of the storm that broke the Artemis’ main mast. Instead we got an extremely aversive introduction to the flora and fauna of Hispaniola. I’m not even talking about the snake. It was the ants that made me want to bathe myself in a cloud of Raid. And how is it that it took Claire about two days to find Father Fogden, but only a few hours to run back to shore to find Jamie? Of course, running to meet your sexy gingersnap puts wings on your heels, but I don’t think it adds an engine. Ah, Outlander. You are a time-travel show in more ways than one.

Geography is hard. I can’t tell you the number of maps I looked at to figure out where who was when, or how teensy the Turks portion of Turks and Caicos is when you’re desperately hunting for Cockburn Town. That strugglebus was on a circuitous route. It was nice to see the Americas featured, however, and to recognize and lust after fried plantains. I was, however, confused by the Spanish subtitles. Following the idea that the show doesn’t subtitle Gaelic or Chinese because Claire wouldn’t understand them, but did subtitle the French in Season 2, does that mean Claire speaks Spanish? Why then does Fogden translate for her? (An aside: I must congratulate the actress that played Mamacita for her very convincing Cuban accent. I could tell it wasn’t native, but I couldn’t identify what colored it until I saw she was Spanish and had lived in the U.S. Good job, Vivi.) In any case, because I had to make a visual for my own visual reference, here’s my super highbrow map of this episode, for the map dunces like me.

Eat your heart out, Jenny Fraser. There is a new HBIC in town, and her married name rhymes with “Taser.” Marsali is adaptable and practical, which is a necessity for joining the Fraser clan, but she also is a girl who, as Fergus says, “speaks her mind.” Fiercely loyal, she repeatedly speaks up in Fergus’s defense, first to Jamie, and now to Father Fogden. She is a Jenny Fraser for the next generation, imbued with all the grim shrewdness of a country girl and the genetic bull-headedness and managing nature to see her plans through. What is especially endearing about Marsali, and especially this episode, is her perceptiveness.  Sheh alone, in Claire’s absence had the stones to tell Jamie to snap out of it and trust in Fergus’s love for him last episode, and this episode she finally comes clean to Claire about the real status of the Jamie/Laoghaire marriage, and her fears for her own. Claire and Marsali connect on the very deep level of headstrong women who value their agency, and it did my heart good to see Fergus get what he has long wanted, a woman like madame.

More Frasers than you can stab with a branch. Oddly enough, Jamie and Claire’s reunion wasn’t the emotional high point of this episode. That was reserved for the funny, touching, memorable wedding of Marsali and Fergus. From Fergus’s untidy ponytail to Marsali’s sweet shawl and earrings, to the candlelight in the reverend’s garden are meant to evoke an aura of intimacy and ease. A wedding is a simple thing, really. It’s the building of a relationship that is difficult, and the maintenance of the ties that keep a family together. Marsali’s tart admonishments for Father Fogden are more than a girl mouthing off: they are the impatient nudges of a woman set on getting her heart’s desire, and the fact that this desire is a bastard boy with no last name and only hand speaks to the worth of her character and the love she can give. The fact that Fergus can’t even finish chastising her for her outspokenness before claiming that it is one of the things he loves about her shows the same for him. Jamie and Claire’s exchange of wry glances also tells the audience that Fergus isn’t the only one who appreciates an outspoken female. Finally, Fergus’s quiet admission that he has no last name, and Jamie’s assertive claim that he is a Fraser brought me to tears. Marsali turns immediately, startled. In contrast, her husband-to-be stills, then turns with shining eyes to regard his father before saying his full name proudly for the first time. So the Frasers grow, having lost both a son and daughters, to claim Fergus and Marsali for their own. In turn Fergus, who once sacrificed a hand to keep Jamie safe, now receives the final portion of the lifetime of care he was promised as a boy: the protection of Jamie’s name.

$#@! Everything. Arrow Recap 322, “This Is Your Sword”

I am literally drinking as I write this, so if this degenerates into random consonants and pictures of goats, you’ll know why. One of the platitudes being fed to us shortly before this ep was that “it’s always darkest before the dawn” and that certainly came to pass. 322 is a dark cave, and it is full of terrors.

Let’s go spelunking! First, the entire flashback because it sets the tone.

***FLASHBACK IN ONE TAKE*** Akio’s got a fever. The inoculation didn’t work on him because he is too young. As the boy starts to lose consciousness, his mother tenderly holds him on her lap, tells him everything will be okay, and sings to him as she rocks him like a baby.

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Me at home:

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Maseo is eager to get a cure from Shrieve and convinces Oliver to go with him to a restricted army base. They kidnap Shrieve so he can mix the cure in the correct ratios, but when they arrive back at the pharmacy, Tatsu is crying over the body of her son. Turns out Shrieve lied about the cure, instead making them bring along his insulin because on top of being a heartless bastard, he’s also a diabetic. ***END FB***

 

R’as is telling Oliver about how he can’t become the Heir to the Demon until he has severed all ties with his old life. His new beginning, therefore, rests upon his destroying Starling with the alpha-omega bioweapon.

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As Oliver chews on this, R’as gives a shoutout to Maseo, who it turns out was the man who gave him the bioweapon in exchange for his acceptance into the League. This shocks Oliver, but he barely has time to react because R’as gives him his itinerary for the next day or so: Marry Nyssa, fly to Starling, destroy the city, and ascend to R’as.

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Even though he nods obediently, when R’as leaves, Oliver and Maseo lock eyes. This is not something they previously discussed.

In Starling, Diggle is chasing criminals with no mask, to the point where one of them is even like UM DUDE WTF NO MASK? Diggle compliments his own intelligence because it turns out his plan was to have this kid lure him to his gang, then have Laurel bust their collective eardrums and prime them for a beatdown.

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Laurel finishes with her batch and turns to probably ask Digg for a milkshake, but he’s busy beating a single dude WAAAY too many times until Felicity shouts at him to stop.

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John heads back to his house, where Laurel and Felicity have stopped off to meet with him. Laurel wants to go back out there, but Felicity rightly points out that Digg was out of control, and is in denial about his anger. Digg denies he’s in denial, and throws the bag of peas Felicity gave him for his hand down to illustrate his point. He says that Oliver was his best friend and “He kidnapped…my wife.”

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His voice is rough with tears, but so is Felicity’s when she asks if he thinks “that justifies hospitalizing people?” John admits it doesn’t, and promises it won’t happen again. Felicity admits “life sucks right now,” but he can’t take it out on the criminals. Laurel puts her absolutely unhelpful two cents in, asking how Felicity can be so sanguine after what happened last week. “Because I know that that wasn’t Oliver,” she says, and John points out that now she’s in denial.

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Felicity denies it again, saying that their Oliver, “my Oliver died the day he joined the League. This is SOMEONE ELSE!” Laurel and John both look at her, and wonder aloud that she really believes that. “I have to,” she says quietly.

 

At Thea’s loft, she is packing up to go and Malcolm is encouraging her to stay, because “Mr. Harper went to a lot of trouble to fake his death“ and pointing out that she knows he can’t come back here.

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Thea points out that she’s not sure about things right now. Malcolm tries to empathize that not many people have had her experiences and he understands her confusion, but Thea hasn’t spoken yet about coming back from death. She tells Malcolm she would have rather died than have Oliver join the LoA, and that she remembers that the entire reason why this all happened: Malcolm brought R’as into their lives.

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Malcolm suddenly points out she is no longer at risk from the League and perhaps it’s better for her to go. His acceptance worries Thea, but she just wants to be with Roy right now.

 

Nanda Parbat. Dinner with  the mopiest family since Dark Shadows. Nyssa is so angry she’s going carb-free, and R’as chooses to treat it like she’s dieting to fit in her dress because there is literally no occasion in which he can decline being a dick.

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Their dinner conversation is an exercise in patriarchy, as Nyssa points out she would rather die than wed Oliver and R’as is like YEP those are your options. Nyssa says she once held the title of “daughter” with pride, and he points out that perhaps “mother” will suit her better.

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Can you choke to death from a grape? I sure hope so. The conversation goes from bad to worse when he tells his daughter that she will bear Oliver a child and is to be given “no choice in the matter,” any more than her mother was. The thought that she is the product of rape is enough to mute Nyssa for the time being, and R’as turns his conversational skills to Oliver, and they discuss why he’s so wasteful with his food. HAHA just kidding it’s more ascension $#@.

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Al Sah-him states that while he is ready to ascend to R’as, he is still “coming to grips with marriage.” He says that perhaps a walk will do him good, turning down the offer of a guard to protect him. As he gets up to go, Nyssa grips and steals a knife from the table and hides it in her robe.

 

Outside, Oliver’s walk was really an excuse to meet someone in the dark, and it’s not the someone we hoped for (I wonder if someone fic’d it.). He flips his attacker over and says “You’re late,” in his Oliver voice. The man flips up his hood and it’s none other than Malcolm Merlyn, who took the 8:20 from Starling to Nanda Parbat, but reminds Oliver that it ain’t easy infiltrating NP.

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“Don’t joke!” Oliver says as he pulls Merlyn up. “It’s worse than we thought.” Oliver tells Malcolm about R’as plan to fly the bioweapon over Starling the next day, and Merlyn points out that “it’s strangely modern” of the League. Oliver and Merlyn had estimated months before ascending to R’as, and in that time could have dismantled the LoA from the inside.

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“Malcolm,” Oliver says, “we need help.” Merlyn tells him he was “too good” at convincing his friends of his loyalty to the League, and that he himself doesn’t carry much weight with them. “I know someone who they’ll trust,” Oliver tells him. Suddenly, we see Maseo walking towards the fire, but by the time he gets there, Merlyn is gone and he finds Oliver alone. He tells him that there was concern since he has been gone a while, but Oliver says he’s just been thinking.

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Somewhere other than Starling. Thea comes into a garage looking for “Jason.” Roy rolls out from under a car, surprised to see her but covering admirably. Thea keeps up the ruse, saying she has a ‘67 Mustang that needs a bit of work, and that someone told her he was “the guy to see.”

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“You came to the right place,” he whispers. They go into a secluded spot, where they hug and Thea tells him she can’t believe he is alive. He tells her he wanted her to know, but didn’t want to risk Oliver finding out and breaking him out. Not to mention kicking his ass, for which Thea says she would have helped. During all of this, I am distracted by superhot greasemonkey Roy.

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“I had to do it,” Roy whispers, “for all of them.” Thea, probably distracted by the phrase “do it,” asks if there is another place they can go talk. Roy answers his place, and she smiles and says, “That’s such a good answer.” It does my heart good to see these two together.

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They were always so legitimately considerate of each other.

 

Starling City, Palmer Tech. Felicity is visiting with Ray, who is tooling around with a “little idea” for his suit.

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He asks her if she’s okay, because she has a “little cloud” over her, which he correctly guesses is Oliver-related. Felicity, ever loyal, points out that she’s handling it, and maybe that’s a line they shouldn’t cross. He responds that if she ever wants to talk, he’s still her friend and will always be there for her. “That’s non-negotiable.”

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It’s both sweet and weirdly devoid of consent in the way most Ray-edicts tend to be, but Felicity is touched, and thanks him. He asks her for a favor in the meantime, and gets her to sign her name to “some corporate stuff” in her function as VP, which she does. Her phone beeps immediately after, with a text from Malcolm saying that they have to meet. She leaves, and the camera closes up on the papers Ray had her sign: a transfer of ownership to Palmer Technologies.

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Again Ray, SWEET BUT DISTURBINGLY DEVOID OF CONSENT.

 

Nanda Parbat. Oliver and Maseo sit before the fire and finally have it out about the alpha-omega. It turns out Maseo stole it even before Akio died, because he wanted revenge on Shrieve. Then he used it to gain entry into the League because he was not strong enough for himself, “and certainly not enough for Tatsu.”

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Oliver asks him if he could go back to her, would he? Maseo says it’s “immaterial,” as “Maseo Yamashiro is no more.” Oliver insists, saying he doesn’t have to be, and that when he is R’as, he can release him from his oath, set him free. “The League is not my prison,” Maseo says sadly. “From my prison, there is no escape.”

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Starling, either the remnants of the Old Cave or the Alterna-Cave. Felicity, Diggle and Laurel wait for Malcolm to arrive “waving the white flag”, as he told John. Felicity calls him out right away as a sociopath and a liar, and he doesn’t deny it, asking only that they “fast forward” through the usual denials and admit he is telling them the truth when he says that Oliver’s “allegiance with the League is a charade,” born the moment that he realized he would have to capitulate to R’as to save Thea.

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Felicity thinks he is playing with their emotions, while John doesn’t believe he would ally himself with Malcolm instead of them. Malcolm points out that not only is he more “practiced in the art of deception,” but that none of them are “very good actors.” John has had it, and turns to go. Felicity and Laurel both turn to follow his lead as Malcolm keeps talking, saying that they have seen what the LoA and R’as are capable of, and the “the circle of trust” had to remain very small.

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“What changed?” Felicity asks, turning around. John urges her to go, saying that they can’t believe anything Malcolm says. Merlyn admits that “Mr. Diggle is right, which is why I brought along a friend of Oliver’s.” The team turns at the opening of the door to see Tatsu STOMPING IT TO THE DEATH. “My name is Tatsu Yamashiro, and your city is in great danger.”

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It’s not the reaction Oliver hoped for, as Felicity points out that they never met her and don’t know her. Tatsu explains that besides helping Oliver recover from his wounds, her life has been one “of isolation.” To Digg’s point that they have never heard of her, she quietly says that “Oliver doesn’t like to speak of the past.” Felicity points out that he’s not so forthcoming about the present, either.

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Tatsu once again speaks gently, and her words are all the more painful for their softness. “My son was killed by the virus R’as intends to use on your city,” and Diggle recognizes her at once as Akio’s mother. She tells them Oliver was with her when it happened, and that the danger they face is very real. Laurel isn’t disposed to believe Merlyn after all he’s done, but Tatsu points out that the request isn’t from Malcolm, but Oliver. Digg tells her that, at the moment, that may not be any better.

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Malcolm loses patience and says he is not playing, reminding them that his daughter lives in this city (RIP Tommy, who didn’t get this consideration). He hands Digg a folder with all the information he has on the bioweapon and tells them that he has arranged passage to Nanda Parbat for all of them. If they are in, they should be at Ferris Air before sunrise.

 

“Jason”’s place, unknown. Thea compliments Roy’s apartment, but he says both it and the job at the garage are temporary and he will leave soon, before people “put 2 and 2 together.” She asks about his other night job, and he replies that he is leaving the crime-fighting to the cops, because he just wants to be normal.

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When Thea laughingly asks how that’s going, he admits he’s “so bored.” She triumphantly then pulls out his costume, which she had Malcolm steal out of impound for her.

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He admits he didn’t think he’d see it again, and she says that if everyone thinks Roy Harper was The Arrow, they wouldn’t suspect him of also being Arsenal. “Hmm,” Roy mutters, asking if bringing is costume was the only reason she came. Thea admits it was one of the reasons, and then sets about showing him the other one.

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SIGH.

 

Starling, Palmer Tech. Digg, Felicity and Roy watch footage of the bioweapon attack on Hong Kong, which was previously thought to be a chemical spill. Felicity is worried that her friend is believing a man who lied to them so often “it should be a drinking game,” but John says it’s irrelevant now, because if there is the slightest chance of this happening to his city, he has to report for duty. Laurel agrees with him, but Felicity says she can’t go back to Nanda Parbat. “Not after what they did to Oliver.”

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Nanda Parbat. R’as has a little visit with Nyssa before the big day, and chastises her for speaking to him as if he is a monster.

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“I’m your father, Nyssa.” She asks him why then will he ask her to marry someone she doesn’t love, and he answers in his favorite way: long-ass story about himself. He tells her that once upon a time while out on business, he met a woman who was “breathtaking in her visage and fortitude“ (Jesus what did he do to her?) and her name was Ameena Raatko. Nyssa smiles, recognizing the name.

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He tells her he had taken other lovers, but Ameena had “wit and a fire about her” that he found he couldn’t live without, so he made her his concubine. A servant steps forward with a box which R’as opens, showing it to Nyssa. It contains an ornate necklace and headpiece, his gift to her mother upon the occasion of her birth. “I kept it in the hopes that one day, you would wear it on your wedding day.” It is a tender moment between father/daughter, and you can see them both struggle with the emotion, but this is not a tender family.

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Nyssa throws the gift on the bed, scoffing that he expects her to marry Al Sah-him “because of some trinket.” R’as, quick as a snake, takes his only child by the face and reasserts himself as the asshole we all know.

I expect you to marry Al Sah-Him because it is my will. You defy that, and I will see you suffer the pain of a thousand deaths

He leaves Nyssa with tears in her eyes, but as he walks away the camera pans up from her hand, holding her knife, to her dry-eyed face.

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Palmer Tech. Felicity is alone in the office when Tatsu shows up. She came looking for Felicity, not to convince her of the threat to Starling, but to speak to her about Oliver.

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Tatsu tells Felicity that during his recovery, Oliver spoke of her, and his last thought before the fall was of her. “You love him…still,” Tatsu points out, but Felicity replies that he belongs to R’as now. Tatsu says that if she believes that, she must fight for him. “There is no ‘him’ left,” Felicity replies, sadly.

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Tatsu shakes her head, saying that she thought as she did once, that Maseo, her husband (and here she smiles a heartbreaking tiny smile at his name), was so lost to the League’s darkness, that she didn’t even try to  reach him.

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“Don’t make my mistake, Felicity,” Tatsu whispers, and walks out, leaving Felicity with the images of her city’s destruction.

 

Early the next morning, Ferris Air. Tatsu is packing her katana, which she tells Malcolm was passed on to the eldest son in her family for generations. When Merlyn points out she is not a son, her face is hard when she responds that indeed, she is not.

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Diggle and Laurel show up, wanting to get it over with. Malcom replies that the plane he booked is big enough for all of them-including Felicity, who has shown up at the last minute to join them. She tells Malcolm that is he betrays them, she’ll reveal to the world that he is alive, and where they can find him.

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Nanda Parbat. The team wanders around in the open in THE least covert outfits ever while Felicity bemoans the lack of horses, asking if they can get some next time. “There won’t be a next time”, Digg growls.

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They crest a hill, and Malcolm announces that the stealth bomber they see is how R’as plans to distribute the alpha-omega over Starling. Felicity says she has to be withing 50 feet of it to disable its navigation features, but Malcolm shushes her abruptly.

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Laurel, who must be facing the wrong way, says she doesn’t see anything, but in the next instant Malcolm has nocked an arrow and shoots a LoA member on his nine. “There’ll be more”, he says calmly, walking everyone into an open space. As the fighters become vigilant, they form a circle around Felicity and prepare to do battle. The music swells, the camera pans around the circle, and they each get a heroic beat. It is pretty. Effing. Cool.

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After Digg shoots some assassins down, Malcolm shouts at Felicity to get to the plane, and they’ll cover her. She runs, kneeling about thirty feet out to start running her programs.

In the meantime, all hell breaks loose as Malcolm, Laurel and Digg shoot, kick, punch and swordfight a whole bunch of assassins. At one point, Malcolm saves Laurel’s life, and calmly accepts her statement that she would not have done the same for him.

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Malcolm may be a murdering lying SOB, but he’s pretty self-aware.

Tatsu is also fighting, but a bit apart from them, in full Katana gear including mask. Her movements are graceful and ruthless, and when she kills the last man, she hears an assassin tell her to surrender that she may live. She recognizes him instantly.

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“Maseo,” she says softly. “Maseo is a memory,” is the stern response, but Tatsu is not put off. She advances towards her husband, and states her case: their child is gone, and he left when she needed him most. “But you can still come back to me. It’s not too late.”

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Maseo’s reply is as stoic and cold as his earlier one. “Yes, it is.” He takes his mask off and draws his sword against his child’s mother, telling her that her husband “is long dead, and if Serab must die as well, so be it.” They clash swords, and fight.

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Over by the plane, Felicity is working to ground the plane when it begins to take off. “Frak!” she exclaims, looking at her malfunctioning tablet. In another instant, more frak happens as an arrow goes through the tablet. Felicity dives, yanks the arrow out and tosses it frisbee-style into an assassin’s neck.

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He drops like a stone, and both she and we are pretty impressed with her until we realize that Malcolm shot him with an arrow in the back and saved her.

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“Oh, that makes more sense,” she deadpans, and I am cautiously optimistic things won’t be that bad if she can still joke.

 

The plane takes off despite their efforts, and when Malcolm asks Felicity if there is anything she can do, she confesses that she had some “insurance” come along. “The atomic kind.”

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Bless this over-prepared nugget.  Ray blasts the stealth bomber, not anticipating that a STEALTH BOMBER HAS BOMBS ON IT, and gets boom’d back. His suit is short-circuiting, so before it gives out, he flies himself through the plane like a human plane-kebab and falls to earth like a big dopey metal Icarus, almost landing on the girl he came to help. Oh, Ray.

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Felicity runs to check on him, but he makes a dumb joke, which is optimal health in Ray world, so we’re good.

 

Somewhere not far, the sun shines down on the Yamashiros, who do not spare each other at all until finally, Maseo holds his sword to the throat of his prostrate wife.

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He walks around her, and speaks gently to her as he raises his sword to deliver the fatal blow. “Tell Akio…I love him.” As his arms go up, Tatsu rolls and kneels, stabbing him in the gut.

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Maseo is astonished, and looks down. Tatsu’s eyes are swimming, and she replies to him just as gently. “You tell him for both of us.” She pulls her sword out, and Maseo falls forward into her arms. She drops her sword to hold him, and he rests his head against her shoulder. “Thank you…for releasing me…from my prison.”

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He lies quietly while Tatsu sobs, singing to him until he passes, and she keens his loss. It is a painful reminder that not all stories have happy endings, and certainly not when characters embrace their fatal flaws.

Damn it. Screw you, Ray. Your joke was dumb and things are awful.

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I will never not hurt for Maseo and Tatsu. They are the Doctor and Rose of this series. Their love was marked for tragedy, and the fact that it was doomed by the inability to come together after the unexpected loss of their only child was painfully, terribly realistic. If Diggle and Lyla are Olicity’s aspiration, then the Yamashiros were certainly their cautionary tale, and what a bitchslap of a warning it is.

And on a shallower note, where the hell am I supposed to go for my Karl Yune fix now? I’m reduced to watching this on a loop! (You’ll see what I’m talking about from 3:13 on. )

Damn straight you creeped, girl. Did that rapper talk about motorboating? Never mind. KARL. CALL ME.

 

The Team limps back together and R’as and Al Sah-Oliver appear on a hill overlooking them, along with dozens of not-dead assassins, and R’as tells them it has all been in vain.

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Ray points out the grounded airplane and Felicity tells him they destroyed the bioweapon, but he holds up an intact vial of the alpha-omega and says that they only think they have.

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Cue assassins, and our heroes are taken prisoner. LoA Oliver isn’t familiar with the concept of overkill, because he shouts “Surrender…or DIE!” dramatically. Felicity looks heartbroken, and Diggle angry.

As they are led inside by Oliver, Felicity runs up to him and calls him by his name, asking what they are doing here. He turns around and looks at all of them, speaking in his most Oliver-y voice since the fireside conversation with Maseo. “If any of you speak, we’re all gonna die.” Felicity lets out a quiet, confused, “What?” and Oliver looks right at her, his mask down for an instant. “I need you to trust me.”

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They silently file after him into R’as’ main room, right in time for an interrogation. The ruse with the plane was meant to weed out any traitors in his midst, and he wants to know how they knew about the virus and the plane. Oliver stares straight ahead as R’as walks the line, stopping by Diggle and Merlin, but when the Head of the Demon pauses before Felicity, his eyes go right to her.

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Tatsu quietly says that Maseo told her, and she told them. R’as points out the convenience of saying that a dead man was his traitor, and Tatsu tells him that Maseo said only three men knew of it: himself, R’as, and Oliver. “Oliver Queen is dead,” says Al Sah-him, back to robot voice. “I am Al Sah-him.”

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R’as seems to accept this, saying that it is not the first time Serab betrayed him for Maseo’s weaknesses, and points out that the timing at least is fortuitous, as traditionally R’as would contemplate mercy upon his enemies on the eve of a wedding. Ray expresses his surprise that R’as is getting married, saying “there really is a kettle for every pot,” and Oliver speaks up, saying that the wedding is his.

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At this, Felicity’s head whips to him, and he looks down as he announces he is “betrothed to Nyssa Al Ghul.” When he is done, his gaze flickers right to Felicity, and you can see the apology and sadness in his eyes, and the shock in hers.

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It is only when R’as issues a command that they be taken below that Oliver tears his gaze from hers, looking down. Felicity keeps her eyes on him as she is led away, and eventually, he looks back. THESE TWO MORONS. I pity the fool who gets in the middle of this.

 

Back in Not-Starling, Thea got her groove back. She’s blissfully post-coital and happy, and it’s about damn time.

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Roy realizes what show they’re on though, and that there is a reason his girl came looking for him other than the whoopie. Thea tells him that she got hurt, and that to save her Oliver joined the LoA. She tried to stop him, she says, but couldn’t, and “now he’s become someone else.”

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She turns to him and says that when she is with him, everything just slips away. Roy understands her, but points out that her go-to move when something goes wrong is to bolt out of Starling, and that this isn’t something she can run away from. Thea says she wasn’t running away, but to him, and asks if he doesn’t want her to. “The only thing that I want is what’s best for you,” is his answer.

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Bless Roy, he always did love this girl right. “You always did,” she sighs, and they kiss, and I am instantly suspicious of their happiness because this show is a carousel of pain.

 

Nanda Parbat. A dungeon.

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Everyone is in actual physical chains, and Felicity is both in chains and shock, muttering sadly that she can’t believe Oliver is going to marry Nyssa. “You should worry more about getting out of here alive,” Malcolm says not unkindly, and Ray asks if that could even be a remote possibility. Malcolm doesn’t say anything, but Laurel says Oliver wouldn’t let them die there. “He let this happen,” Digg points out, holding up his chained wrists.

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The door opens, and Malcolm asks quickly in Arabic to speak to R’as. The assassin walks directly to John, however, and tells him that “Wareeth Al Ghul” has commanded his presence.

 

In the room where he once consummated his great love affair, Oliver paces and waits for Diggle. He asks the guards to leave them alone, and then quietly asks John if everyone is okay. “Like you give a damn!” he answers, rightfully tee’d off. Oliver seems surprised at his anger however, asking if Malcolm didn’t speak to them.

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John says he did, but wants to know if it was part of his plan to leave baby Sara alone when he kidnapped his wife? “I had to do something to prove my loyalty to R’as,” is Oliver’s response, but when Digg spells things out for him, asking if it was his idea to take his wife in front of his daughter, Oliver’s voice is small when he says yes.

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He tries to tell him that Tatsu said in order to beat R’as, he would have to sacrifice all the things in life that he held most precious, “and your friendship is on that list.”

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Digg points out that he didn’t only lose his friendship, but also his trust, and his respect. Oliver obviously wants to say something else, but the door opens. Oliver bellows “WHAT?” at the guard, but he answers that R’as has demanded that John be returned to his friends, and leads him out.

 

Meanwhile, Merlyn got the time with R’as that he wanted, and the Demon’s Head points out that while he expected Nyssa and Maseo’s treachery, his was a surprise, especially after he saved his daughter.

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Malcolm says he tried to pledge fealty then, and is willing to do so now. R’as holds a sword to his throat, saying he had nothing to offer then, and nothing now, and Malcolm says that he does, the name of his betrayer. Not Maseo Yamashiro, but Oliver Queen. “He’s been lying to you all along,” he chuckles. At that moment, Oliver walks in and R’as shares Malcolm’s accusation with him. I’d be more worried if I thought R’as would ever actually kill Malcolm.

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The two men face each other as Al Sah-him makes his case.

I have killed for you. I have severed all ties to my past. I have hurt people who were friends to Oliver Queen, and if you wouldn’t have stopped me, I would have murdered your daughter at your command.

R’as points out that this may have all been part of his ruse, and Oliver’s answer is laced with very real anger. “Then I will have nothing and no one to go home to. Oliver Queen is dead, and the Arrow is gone.”

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R’as isn’t entirely convinced, muttering a “We shall see” that has Oliver looking faintly apprehensive. Kudos to Amell for the nuances here.

 

Not-Starling, morning.

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Thea wakes up alone in Roy’s apartment and goes to look for him at the garage. When she gets there, the manager says ‘Jason’ came in and quit an hour ago, and he left her a leather bag (containing his old suit), and a note.

Dear Thea, I wasn’t supposed to make it this far. I was supposed to end up in jail or dead by now. But then I met you, and you made me want to be the man I saw through your eyes. And now all I want to do is give that back, and help you be the person you can be without Oliver, without your father, and without me. Living on the run from the police isn’t the life you deserve, Thea. It’s not what Oliver gave up his life for you to have. Whatever happens with me, I will always love you.

P.S. Thanks for the suit, but I always thought red was more your color, anyway.

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That’s love, guys. I am humbled by Roy goddamn Harper’s capacity to love.

 

Nanda Parbat, the dungeon. Felicity wants to know what Oliver said to John. “Nothing worth hearing” is his response.

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Felicity turns to Tatsu and says she was right about Oliver, and she should have listened to her. The door opens and Merlyn is led back in, followed by R’as and Oliver, complaining about what he is getting in exchange for telling R’as about Oliver.

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R’as asks if he expected his mercy, and that he is going to grant it. “Because this death will be a lot shorter than the one I had planned for you.” Malcolm is struck down, and he shows the group a vial of the alpha-omega bioweapon. Felicity speaks to Oliver directly, saying that if what Malcolm told them is true and he is going to do anything, now is the time.

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R’as responds by asking that Tatsu be moved to another chamber, since Oliver told him she is inoculated. Over everyone’s cries of protest and betrayal, Oliver does nothing as R’as breaks the vial and drops it in the room, instead staying behind to close the door on them.

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Now that THAT unpleasantness is over, it’s wedding time! Oliver looks appropriately miserable but handsome in black as he walks to meet his future FIL.

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R’as is giddy with the thought of adding yet ANOTHER name to the alphabet soup of Oliver’s life. Scenes of the ceremony are intercut with scenes of the dungeon.

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The priestess speaks of the sanctity of the vow between man and woman, and how their souls will never again be free, captive by their love for each other.

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During this little speech Nyssa reaches for the knife hidden in her sleeve, and takes this part as her cue to attempt to stab Oliver in the heart. He expected it, however, and blocks her, throwing the knife down.

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“Continue,” he says quietly. Downstairs, John apologizes to Felicity and she says that there is nothing to apologize for, and she is glad to have known him.

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As the marriage is blessed and sealed, the camera cuts from the bride and groom’s impassive, unsmiling faces to the occupants of the basement, who one by one lose consciousness until all are unmoving.

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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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WHAT UP PLAYAS Arrow S3 “itunes Sneak Peek” Photo Recap

This featurette was hard to find, beautiful and elusive like an albino king cobra, and potentially just as deadly. Andy K is here to tell you some things you’ll like, some things that will make you chew your nails to the third knuckle and other things that you will pretend you just never heard because you don’t want to leave fingerprints on your screen from pointing emphatically.

As always, I reserve the right to ignore anything that doesn’t interest me or that we have seen before in other previews, and no apology for my rampant Olicity. Let’s begin.

The wholesale barter of my soul to @ArrowWriters begins immediately, because they own me even in the afterlife, and those %$#@! know it.

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/shakes fist

Here’s Andrew Kreisberg, our featurette sherpa.

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He begins by saying that last season was an exploration of “Am I a Killer, or Am I A Hero?” and that both Oliver and Sara wrestled with it. The theme for Season 3 is “Identity,” and it is one all the characters will wrestle with. Oliver, for example will ask himself if he has to be Oliver Queen or the Arrow.

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Digg is going to question whether he is a father and family man….

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…or whether he is a member of Team Arrow.

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Thea is going to be asking herself if she is Thea Queen or Thea Merlyn, and that they dynamic between she and Malcolm is interesting because they have each lost and gained a parent and child, respectively, and now they are coming together.

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Moving on to our protagonist, he says that Oliver has taken to the idea of being a hero, and that Starling City has also settled into accepting him as one, which is very different thank the pilot, where he was being hunted by the police and was a “real dark force for vengeance.” Now that he is a hero, and “enjoying the fruits of that, he’s starting to question if he can have a life.” Andy tells us that one of the fun parts of the Season 3 premiere where “everything is coming up Ollie” that he starts to be believe that “maybe there is a life for him beyond the hood, and maybe that could start with Felicity.”

Hold on, I gotta do something real quick.

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I am so easy to please, A-K. Thank you. Andy says that in the first episode, “we see Oliver go on a date with Felicity, to both comical and tragic results.” (“I’m going to ignore whatever came after “and”.)

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He says that “they clearly have a very strong bond, and clearly there’s love there, but this season is really both of them wrestling with, you know, is there any world where this could really work?” YES OF COURSE. LALALALASHUT IT.

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But according to Party Pooper In Charge A-K, there are “other options for Felicity, mainly in the form of Ray Palmer, AKA The Atom, played by Brandon Routh.” He says that the chemistry between Emily and Brandon is “off the charts” and while I have no reason to believe he is lying, I think it’s off the charts in the sense that it is not measurable by human senses. Also, NO. Also, NEVER.

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In any case he says that Ray is a “strong rival, and a good option” for Felicity. I’ll have to wait and see how he does on the salmon ladder or else NO DICE.

Next AyKay talks about the big bad for the season, Ras-al-Ghul, who is “definitely the biggest, baddest, scariest, most malevolent force that Oliver has come up against.” You can tell by the outfit.

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As for Slade, he is still in prison in what A-K calls the “Argus Supermax on the island,” and that his story continues through the season. He says Oliver “has done a great job of bottling up his demons both figuratively and literally” and that there is “always a chance for them to come out.”

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For all the characters, whether it’s Oliver, Felicity or Digg, past mistakes that they have made end up “sort of catching up to them.” Roy, for example, did some very ugly things last season under the influence of the Mirakuru which are going to rear their ugly heads in season 3.

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He describes that one of the two big ideas they had when they made the pilot was that Sara would still be alive, and that the other would be that Oliver would wake up at the end of S2 “not on the island” in the flashbacks. The flashbacks are exciting this year, he explains, because previously they worried that locking into that one place and limiting the cast to the “island repertory players” would become stagnant. I don’t think that will be a problem this year.

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So this year they will introduce both Karl Yeun as Masseo, and Amanda Waller to those scenes, as well as some old familiar faces “in new and surprising ways” makes those scenes “richer and grander.”

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They will also use the flashbacks to explain how the Suicide Squad was created, because they are both a “fan and a writer favorite”.

He also touches on the Flash/Arrow crossover event, saying that having met Barry in Arrow last season, we know what a fan he was and that working with the Arrow is sort of a dream come true for him.

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However, they have announced that the name for that episode will be “Flash vs. Arrow,” so in his words “obviously that partnership is going to have some quirks in it.” He says if you love these shows, seeing the nods and crossovers makes it feel like “one complete experience.” So for example you are reading a Superman comic and Batman shows up on the last splash page, you are like, “wow, that is so cool,” seeing who is going to get together. So rather than putting it off, they just want to “get to the good stuff” sooner.

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Finally, Andy says they feel they “have worked out the kinks and figured out what works on the show” and that this season is “even more epic…

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even more romantic…

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…even more heartbreaking…

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and even more hilarious than the previous two seasons” and that they are “so excited to show everybody where Oliver Queen’s adventures take him next.”

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