Arrow: The Calm
October 8, 2014 7:49 PM - Season 3, Episode 1 - Subscribe

With crime at an all-time low, Oliver lets his guard down and is taken by surprise by a new villain.
posted by oh yeah! (28 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Ugh. I had no idea that they were going to do that to Sara. I had such fun at the Arrow panels at Dragoncon last month, I forgot how miserable this show gets. Boo.

I'm sure there were things I liked about this episode, but, I'm too annoyed now to remember them.
posted by oh yeah! at 8:02 PM on October 8, 2014

I have so many emotions about this episode. The primary one being FUCK. I was so fucking thrilled last season that the queer ladies Sara and Nyssa made it unscathed through the season finale. But apparently in DC TV there can be only one living bisexual at a time. GODDAMN YOU, BARBARA ON GOTHAM!

Other gripes-wise, it was great to see Roy as Arsenal, but it felt like he was barely in the episode aside from twitching whenever Thea was mentioned.

All I want for Christmas is Lazarus-Pitted Sara and Tommy the undead assassins, Santa. I've been so good this year.

I'm putting the stuff I liked about the episode in another comment so I can ignore the Numb Over Sara bits to feel anything else.
posted by nicebookrack at 8:38 PM on October 8, 2014

I am going to laugh and laugh when Laurel eventually goes, "I can't tell Aunt May Daddy Lance that I'm Spider-Man Black Canary II! SHe has a HEART CONDITION!"

I LOVED Stephen Amell as Oliver talking to Felicity in the restaurant. He triggered my "must hide from naked displays of emotion on TV!" avoidance instinct, which is a compliment. Amell's never been a bad actor, just a little wooden. But the growth of Amell/Oliver since grimdark Oliver of season 1 has been great fun. He reminds me of David Boreanaz as Angel--and oh, does Arrow ever hit my Angel: The Series kinks--I know they'll never win Emmys, but I can't imagine anyone else as the character of Angel/Ollie. Just leave Green Arrow out, Justice League movie!

I can definitely see why the Oliver/Felicity romantic ship has taken off with such force, because the characters play off each other with such charm. (Again, Angel and Cordelia!) Felicity-induced awkward babbling flirty Oliver is the most endearing his character's ever been. Kudos to the writers for Oliver's meta-commentary on how his life changed upon meeting Felicity. Arrow and Oliver would be so unimaginably different if the writers hadn't written in a one-episode techgeek bit part who suddenly took on a life of her own. In season 1, bit-part techgeek Felicity was the first person still-kinda-wooden Oliver genuinely smiled at, and it gave them immediate rapport.
posted by nicebookrack at 9:15 PM on October 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'm still anti-olicity, but I do enjoy Felicity talking about Oliver shirtless.

I'm also very unhappy about what they seem to be doing with Sara. I have no allegiance to the comics myself, so it's especially frustrating watching them kill a great character so that the less great character with the right name can become Black Canary. I have no particular interest in seeing Laurel become a superhero and a great deal of interest in Sara staying around.

I'm not sold on the new CEO guy yet, but we'll see where it goes with him. Another comics thing I don't care about: changing the name of the city to match the books. Why would a city go along with that?

Mostly good episode though.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 12:21 AM on October 9, 2014

I'm also very unhappy about what they seem to be doing with Sara. I have no allegiance to the comics myself, so it's especially frustrating watching them kill a great character so that the less great character with the right name can become Black Canary. I have no particular interest in seeing Laurel become a superhero and a great deal of interest in Sara staying around.

Agreed. Sara was much more interesting and still had a lot of backstory to be revealed. Lame.

I wonder if another reason besides the name is that they're going to give Laurel the sonic scream from the comic, which Sara didn't have. I don't remember if Laurel was anywhere near that particle accelerator meltdown that gave Flash his powers, but if so they might use that as the explanation for where it came from.
posted by homunculus at 12:52 AM on October 9, 2014

That was like the dumbest way to kill off Sara ever. I am super pissed about it--what a waste of a great character. She and Felicity were my favorites and now I am way more MEH about the show.
posted by leesh at 6:25 AM on October 9, 2014

ALSO who is working on Felicity's wardrobe? They need to be fired immediately. Why is she wearing club dresses to hang out in Oliver's lair? (Does she dress like that to get his attention? Does she really need a boob window for that?) I mean, the dress she wears on their date is more sedate than her casual, hanging-out dresses. It just bugged me, and I'm someone who wears dresses/skirts just about every day.
posted by leesh at 6:36 AM on October 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

It bugged me too leesh. I loved that she was so down to earth in the earlier seasons, but they ramped up her sexiness recently. It makes me sad.
posted by royalsong at 7:00 AM on October 9, 2014

I was kind of let down by last night's premier, as was my wife. We thought the return of the Count, and death of the Count, wasn't really needed outside of the fact that the writers wanted a way to visually force Oliver and the viewer to understand Ollie's current hang ups. It was kind of a waste of Peter Stormare in that role. He's a fun actor and would have been fun to keep around.

Brandon Routh - He's back! I liked his character and he brought a noticeable amount of charisma to the screen, albeit, contrasted with the serious and moody Oliver who was around when Routh was about. I look forward to seeing more of him.

Killing Sarah. Really? That's how you do it? At least bring her back for an entire episode before you knock her off. My wife and I had avoided spoilers, so it was a shock, but a shock laced with, 'REALLY?!" Given the expected season long bad guy, one would expect that his daughter would be around, and they would love that dynamic with Sarah - unless they felt it was played out last season. C+ on this character killing.

Captain Lance - promoted, hurray! Looks weird with a clean shave and a shaved head, hurray? His participation in the episode was fine and I suppose I'm happy they didn't just wave a wand and claim he was cured of the problem that nearly killed him last season. Just let his hair grow back in, on his head and on his face, please.

Diggle and Daughter. ENOUGH SAID.

The Oliver and Felicity romance, I was and remain anti-relationship, and was relieved that they set it up, just so they could knock it down for a while. I would rather everything remain in the passive position, than just out there. Smoulder, don't set to flame!

Roy. Well. Look, he can do some of those acrobatic leg moves....good for him.

The question. Was it Merlin who killed Sarah? Was it an assassin from the League of Assassins? Huh. Is it Oliver's sister gone batty under Merlin?
posted by Atreides at 8:41 AM on October 9, 2014

ALSO who is working on Felicity's wardrobe? They need to be fired immediately. Why is she wearing club dresses to hang out in Oliver's lair? (Does she dress like that to get his attention? Does she really need a boob window for that?)

If they're going to start introducing boob windows, then one of the men should get one of these.
posted by homunculus at 10:12 AM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

The question. Was it Merlin who killed Sarah? Was it an assassin from the League of Assassins? Huh. Is it Oliver's sister gone batty under Merlin?

This was my first thought as well, after I pulled my jaw up off the floor following Sara's death. I'm inclined to think, though, that it's either one of the League of Assassins, or even Ra's al Ghul himself.

On a more humorous note, I now cannot get the idea of "porcupine flatulence" out of my mind. Oh Felicity.
posted by Telpethoron at 4:31 PM on October 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm guessing whoever it was wants Nyssa to blame Oliver and set them against each other. If so then it could be either Merlin trying to kill two birds with one stone, or Ra's himself trying to harden his daughter.
posted by homunculus at 5:20 PM on October 9, 2014

Just spitballing here, but did everything at the end of the episode actually happen? Or are we still seeing Ollie under the effects of vertigo? I know he said he made his decision and he thinks he's okay with it when he really isn't. That's one of those comic book staples where the hero sees everybody he cares about slip away and vanish before his eyes and he's left alone. (I seem to recall at least one Batman/Hugo Strange, or maybe Batman/Scarecrow, arc with that plot.)

The only reason I started to suspect this might be a possibility was that scene at the hospital set up some red flags for me: the doctor implied the baby wasn't due that soon, the co-incidence of the baby coming the same night Ollie sent Digg home, Digg's "you're right" speech to Ollie, etc. The whole thing just felt slightly off to me, and then from there, everything that followed had that equally forced feeling. I'm probably way off base here, but that would at least leave the possibility open that Canary didn't take that (Ra's?) induced swan dive.

Of course the simple answer to why things felt off is that the writers and actors are just rusty after the break.

Also please don't tell me that they're setting up Capt. Lance for a painkiller addiction plot with all those pill popping shots.
posted by sardonyx at 9:03 PM on October 9, 2014

They're setting up Lance for a painkiller addiction plot. Yes, it's going to be tiresome and awful.
posted by Justinian at 12:39 AM on October 10, 2014

I won't really mind if they have Lance Vs painkiller addiction. A lot of Laurel's season 2 addiction storyline was awful, but I liked that they acknowledged Lance's addiction too, and that even after Laurel "recovered" she and Lance kept going to AA meetings together. It's not necessarily a bad thing for a series to portray addiction as an ongoing thing that sympathetic characters struggle with, fail at, get up and struggle with more.
posted by nicebookrack at 11:25 AM on October 10, 2014

My understanding was that the pills were for his heart condition, not painkillers. So I'm hereby stating they're not setting him up for a pill poppin' storyline.

I would like to think that the end of the episode was all part of an Ollie hallucination, particularly because, hey, the Canary just happens to return out of nowhere! However, given that the preview for next episode included a funeral scene for Sarah, I'm thinking the writers just got lazy or distracted with the Flash.

I'm guessing whoever it was wants Nyssa to blame Oliver and set them against each other. If so then it could be either Merlin trying to kill two birds with one stone, or Ra's himself trying to harden his daughter.

That would be a good motivation for killing her.
posted by Atreides at 12:07 PM on October 10, 2014

I agree, I've read it more as nitroglycerin than pain killers.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 5:43 PM on October 10, 2014

Did Peter Stormare move to the US and get a bunch of TV deals?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:56 PM on October 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Fantastic episode! One of my favorites of the series, frankly.

I agree, sardonyx, the scene of some other random playboy CEO yanking QC out from under Oliver (which Oliver claimed was for the best), followed by the scene of Diggle saying he'd have to quit super-hero-ing now that he has a baby (which Oliver also claimed was for the best/demanded), followed by Felicity being like F-you to Oliver for being a tease (which Oliver also claimed was for the best/requested), seemed a little much too much like [ominous voice] "you're alooooooooone now, Oliver! just like you begggggggggged for." Especially since that was combined with the flashback of Oliver being told he has to be the Arrow and nothing else or else everyone around him, even children, would be murdered. And ESPECIALLY since that was all RIGHT after he'd been injected with a drug that supposedly showed his biggest fears.

I don't think that Sara's death was part of that maybe-hallucination in any case, though, because Oliver wasn't even on the scene for that. I also think that Sara was likely killed by someone else in the League. Laurel saying she didn't think that Sara could just jet over into town and shirk off her League duties was maybe not just a throwaway line. Sara was maybe on the run from them or trying to quit the League for some reason. I don't think she left them on good terms, in any case. (I don't know anything about the comics, so I have no idea of that's already a given or already clearly impossible or something, though).

I'm actually 100% fine with Sara being killed, especially because it was in such a brutal and gut-punch kind of way (which I thought was appropriate and appropriately horrifying). Her character *should* have been interesting, she has every reason to be interesting, but I just haven't ever been able to feel interest in her regardless. Her best scenes, imo, have been when she and Oliver have argued about how to interpret their time on the island and when they've clashed because they've grown in different directions philosophically/emotionally since then. I liked her as Oliver's foil, I guess? But in her own right, I just never connected with her for some reason. She never felt convincing to me as someone who was tough-minded and just a bit too ruthless and maybe even a bit unhinged in the way the character seemed meant to be. Thea is more convincing in those ways, imo.

So, I'm also OK with the idea of Thea taking up the mantel of sorta-intimate-antagonist-sorta-ally to Oliver, even if that means that Sara had to get pushed out to make room for her. I also like Katie Cassidy in general -- even though Laurel has suffered from some bad writing and hasn't quite gelled as a character so far -- so I'm hopeful that she'll be able to pull off having a larger and more complex role than the one she's had to play up till now.

I've never cared much about Oliver and Felicity getting together, and to be honest I never even seriously considered that they would, but I actually really liked the incredibly-awkward ask out and date, and was really feeling their chemistry in this episode. Felicity was absolutely adorable with her "it wouldn't mix well with the three benzos I took"and her looooong thoughtful pause that I thought was her thinking about something Serious and GrimDark and that she broke by saying that she'd seen Oliver shirtless "MULTIPLE times." LOL. I also found it endearing that she's working in a Best Buy and has to wear a terrible blue polo and still manages to use the company computer to hack into some kind of surveillance network and help the Arrow on the fly. Now officially shipping for them, maybe? Oliver also best try to win Felicity back, because his dating skills are TERRIBLE and she's really the only person who's likely to put up with them. I mean, please don't talk about That Time You Were Tortured and Became a Murderer on your first dates, not going to go over well, FYI. Felicity just has a flaming crush already, so she's OK with it, but there are seriously zero other people who would be.

Including Laurel. (I also really, really doubt that Oliver and Laurel are going to get back together, and definitely not any time soon. They seem good as buddies and I like them as "business" partners -- I would say "colleagues" rather than "business partners" since they don't have a business together, but then I guess I'm more of a stickler with that sort of thing than the show's resident lawyer? -- so hopefully they'll stay that way. Even if they get together in the comics and so might be assumed to be "endgame," the show could go so slowly on that front that they never actually become a couple again onscreen before the show ends entirely. I don't think either of them will be killed off or anything really decisive like that, but I also don't think the show is in any rush to push them into couplehood (for like the fortieth time at this point), either).
posted by rue72 at 11:38 AM on October 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

I managed to stay unspoiled to not know about the end of the episode. On the one hand, I'm appalled, but on the other hand, the cast is too big and I don't want Diggle or Felicity to go (though I suspect the will-they-won't-they Ollicity with Palmer as complication is going to get tiresome very quickly). At our house, we suspect the Merlyns, either Malcolm or Thea, but that totally reads a setup to pit Nyssa against Oliver.

I hadn't considered the idea that Ollie was hallucinating part of the ending, not counting Sara, but I like it. It makes sense. Also, I was getting a real Scarecrow vibe off the short-lived new Vertigo, which I daresay counts toward at least some of the ending maybe being a fakeout.
posted by immlass at 12:36 PM on October 12, 2014

Something else I thought was funny/strange about the Playboy-CEO-Replacement-Out-Olivers-Oliver-at-the-QC-meeting scene (which was supposedly just an hour or so after Oliver got the second terror!vertigo dose) was that Felicity was practically salivating over the new guy. That also made me think that we were maybe seeing things through Oliver's eyes/in his mind rather than in a really objective view. Because while it's possible that Felicity has a ~mysterious past~ with New Playboy CEO, that seemed really connected to Oliver's idea that: "I can ONLY BE THE ARROW and never Oliver Queen, and who Felicity would want to be with is Oliver Queen, so OLICITY IS OBVS IMPOSSIBLE."

In Oliver's head I guess QC!Oliver and Arrow!Oliver are wholly separate identities, so he doesn't think of it like, "Felicity is into the whole package of ~him~," he assumes that Felicity is into either one "identity" or the other. I think that Felicity pretty obviously has a crush on Oliver in general, not just one "identity" of his, but I think in Oliver's POV the identities of "The Arrow" and "Oliver Queen, Person" are so distinct that that's not even possible, that her having a crush on both "versions" of him is tantamount to her having a crush on two different men.

I do feel bad for Oliver, because when he told Felicity (during their dinner date) that he saw threats everywhere, I didn't actually think he meant EVERYWHERE, as in, even in the mirror. But apparently he did? And then after the second dose of the drug, he decided that Oliver-Queen-the-Person is just too dangerous to have around and that identity and all of "his" relationships have to be destroyed for safety's sake. I guess he thinks that if he is Oliver-Queen-the-Person sometimes he's just setting up everyone to be killed? (Which was why he was having the flashback to that family who Amanda Palmer threatened?). Felicity also told him that the bomb wasn't his fault, but he was still clearly reeling afterward.

I guess he thought the bomb was a punishment/threat for him trying to take on the Oliver-Queen-the-Person identity sometimes, and not having the Arrow as his *sole* identity. The guy in his flashback was telling him he could only have one identity, and that he didn't have any choice, and I guess the bomb reminded him of that idea and reinforced it?

See, that's the sort of thing that gives me some doubts about Olicity and makes me hesitant to root for them as a couple, even though I liked their chemistry and found Felicity's enormous crush endearing despite myself. If Oliver isn't sure that he's "allowed" to be a person sometimes, and that by taking a night off from being the Arrow he's risking the horrific murder of everyone around him, then maybe uhhhh he's not ready to date? Felicity is good at ignoring or minimizing that Oliver is pretty much nuts, but seriously, it is a BAD SIGN when the first date dinner conversation immediately turns to how the dude was tortured and coerced into becoming a murderer but is finally becoming cautiously optimistic that he doesn't have to be vigilant literally always. Especially since the date is interrupted by a bombing *and* him receiving a double dose of terror!vertigo.

Though I also think it's funny and like the idea that when Oliver gets the second dose of terror!vertigo he's already so freaked out that he doesn't even notice a difference between his usual sober POV and his drugged POV. Like, regular-world and nightmare-world are already pretty much the same to him, so he's weirdly immune to the drug's effects. It sort of makes me think of how in the Avengers series, Bruce Banner seems so utterly chilled out and to have complete control over hulking out, and he's like, that's only because his baseline is to be super angry anyway. Like, OK, Oliver, I guess you can handle terror!vertigo nbd because you're already terrified, so what's the difference really.

I *still* would like to see them try to date, because I would actually be interested in how Felicity's crush would evolve if she were to actually try to make it work with Oliver and actually have to deal with Oliver being basically incapable of intimacy or trust regardless of how much he loves her. I mean, that has obviously already been an issue between him and *everyone,* but Felicity more than anyone else has been able to sort of put on her rose-colored glasses and handwave those problems away because she's had this enormous crush since day one and sees the best in Oliver. But if they were actually to try to be a couple, she'd for real have to deal with Oliver's limitations and figure out whether he's actually capable of giving her what she needs (as a partner/boyfriend). Plus, Felicity is so primed for co-dependence yet also pretty direct and mentally tough, so imo it would be interesting to see her try to sort out her own feelings about getting what she's ostensibly wanted (to be with Oliver) but still finding the relationship dissatisfying.
posted by rue72 at 2:13 PM on October 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ray Palmer isn't just any old corporate raider.

I was definitely surprised when Sara showed up out of nowhere. And then appalled and disappointed when I saw that she was making an appearance to be killed. Killed while putting her super League of Assassins training up on the shelf to watch her killer notch an arrow, maybe also pull out and light a cigarette with the time Sara gave them, then aim slowly and carefully and finally shoot, then shoot two more quickly just because. Seems like Sara had to don the opposite of plot armor.
posted by ursus_comiter at 5:44 PM on October 12, 2014

Bummed out about Sara. The things I most appreciate about Arrow are the action sequences and the complex networks of relationships the characters have amongst each other. Sara was great for both of those categories. She was also the only person who knew Ollie pre-Island, on-Island, and post-Island, and was arguably the person who knew him best of all. It sucks to lose a character who could provide a lot of insight into Ollie's psyche. And if they were going to kill her off, she deserved a better death than the helpless deer-in-the-headlights ending she got.

It's hard to muster up much interest in the rest of the show, but I gotta hand it to the writers for giving the Olicity shippers exactly what they want (an unambiguous declaration of love, a kiss) in a situation in which those are really dickish things for Ollie to do.

The "can't be in a relationship because my life is too dangerous" thread is wearing pretty thin. I think I'd rather that the show explored the idea that Ollie has no idea how to be a good boyfriend in a normal relationship, since he wasn't one pre-shipwreck, and nothing that happened since then would be helpful, either.

I did enjoy Felicity's multi-tasking at work, and Diggle's moment with his baby.
posted by creepygirl at 9:10 PM on October 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think it's likely we'll still see Sara in flashback scenes, so maybe the character's not totally gone.
posted by transient at 9:19 AM on October 16, 2014

I wonder if another reason besides the name is that they're going to give Laurel the sonic scream from the comic, which Sara didn't have.

She did, actually. Kind of. She had a little handheld device that shatter glass, she used it a couple of times in the last season.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 12:01 PM on October 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Can we talk about the time portal that Oliver apparently fell through to land in Hong Kong circa 1942?

Seriously, actual Hong Kong is a dense, modern city. What the hell is this bamboo shack nonsense? It looks like they're reusing sets from a WW2 Shanghai period film.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 12:04 PM on October 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I had a 'Usual Suspects' realization about something Caity Lotz said at one of the Dragoncon panels last month - since filming of the season was already happening, someone asked what her favorite action sequence was so far. She dodged the question by telling Kaitie Cassidy how cool her recent action scene was.
posted by oh yeah! at 8:36 AM on October 18, 2014

Killing Sara off was some serious nonsense. The character deserved better than to be expended as a plot device.

I really like Oliver and Felicity together, and it's kind of a drag that they're apparently throttling that dynamic way would have been more interesting to keep it going, I think. Even the ending of their brief dating relationship revealed a part of what I like about it: Felicity's apparently unique ability to talk to Oliver directly and cut through his Wall of Stoicism. Seriously, this is good dialogue:

“Maybe not ever.”
“Then say never. Stop dangling maybes.”
posted by Ipsifendus at 6:55 AM on September 21, 2021

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