‘Arrow’ 7×08 Review: ‘Unmasked’

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Arrow’s “mid-season” finale did everything it needed to do heading into its winter hiatus. Which is weird, given that the crossover event is next week. But on the strictly Arrow front, we’re done until January.

Oliver returned home from Slabside to a life that was the same but yet not so much the same. He learned that Felicity was forced to, in his absence, to change in order to protect herself and William, which shocked him and also set the stage for some angst in the next half of the season. But you know what, I’ve grown to appreciate the angst now. We all know where it leads: Olicity stronger than ever.

We also met two new characters that are each going to play integral roles in the latter half of season 7. The new Green Arrow is, of course, none other than Emiko Queen, Robert Queen’s secret child and Oliver’s half sister. So why is she here now? And what does she want?

Then you have street fighter Maya, whose identity was more secretive, but who could be no one other than Oliver and Felicity’s daughter. It’s just too obvious. Too perfect. Too right. She’s a badass like her dad and gorgeous like her mom. And her reaction to hearing Felicity is “dead” (yeah right) says it all. Oh, and William foreshadowing the truth. Basically, I want more, I need more Maya.

Let’s talk about Oliver’s new chapter of heroism, Oliver and Felicity being on a two-way street, what’s next for Olicity, how Maya is totally Oliver and Felicity’s daughter, and the introduction of Emiko Queen.


A New Chapter of Justice

Arrow — “Unmasked” — Image Number: AR708a_0300b — Pictured (L-R): Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen/Green Arrow and Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak — Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW — © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

From vigilante to hero to inmate to SCPD? Oliver Queen has certainly had quite the journey in his seven-year story on Arrow. But this is a new chapter that presents some intriguing storylines to explore.

Oliver is out as the Green Arrow. And he suited up — minus the mask and hood — to prove it. Teaming up with the SCPD to stop a murderer (oh, hi Max Fuller!) we saw the beginning of Oliver’s new chapter as the Green Arrow.

Oliver Queen has always been a hero. Even when this show has told us otherwise. People love to hate on Oliver even when he’s out here sacrificing himself for those assholes. Anyway, Oliver returned home, and it was obvious there was a disconnect all around. Whether it was how Felicity has changed since he’s been away or his uncertainty of what does he do now to help this city now that he can’t be the Green Arrow.

I guess it helps having Dinah as police captain because she can enforce things like Oliver working with the SCPD so that it makes it legal for him to be the Green Arrow. Huh. Convenient. But so smart.

It’ll be interesting to see where this new chapter takes Oliver. Because even seven seasons in, Oliver constantly is learning how to become a better hero or learning something new. I’m curious as to how this storyline will evolve him in his journey. It’ll be new. Seeing a hero openly unmasked and fighting alongside the police.


Two-Way Street

Arrow — “Unmasked” — Image Number: AR708a_0398b — Pictured (L-R): Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen/Green Arrow and Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak — Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW — © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Happy anniversary, Oliver and Felicity!

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A little anniversary sex was one of the lone bright spots for our lovely couple, but then again this is exactly what we were expecting given everything that happened in the season finale and this season. But I’m curious to see how Beth Schwartz manages to use this angst as a means to grow Oliver and Felicity rather than just for drama for the sake of drama, like showrunners past.

When Oliver returned home from Slabside, he returned to a changed Felicity. A hardened Felicity. Much like Oliver returned from Lian Yu a hardened version of himself because he was forced to change. Felicity is still the Felicity we all know and love. Just different. Hardened. Experienced. Tougher. Because circumstances forced her to be as much.

Much like we’ve seen Felicity learn to love all sides of Oliver — the good, the bad, the light, the dark — Oliver is going to have to do the same for Felicity. That’s what partners, teammates do. They’ve loved each other through the good, through the bad, through the unthinkable, through the unspeakable.

Their latest challenge doesn’t really seem like a challenge after everything they’ve been through in the past. I feel like I’m now beginning to appreciate these moments where these characters can grow and evolve in their circumstances and how it always strengthens their love and respect for each other.

While Oliver was initially shocked and disturbed by the image of Felicity holding a gun and shooting the man that had just tried to kill them, the fact of the matter is, as Felicity tells him, he has no right to judge her. Oliver has done the unspeakable at times. When he was forced to. And just because Oliver doesn’t like seeing Felicity like this doesn’t mean she’s in the wrong.

Felicity has spent the majority of five seasons being protected by Oliver or Diggle or a member of Team Arrow. But this season forced her into the unique position to have to protect herself — and William. That forced her to toughen up, to make decisions that sent her down a dark path, to do what it takes to protect herself and her family. So when this man comes shooting up their apartment, you’re damn right she’s going to pull a gun on him to protect her house.

When Oliver wondered what happened that made Felicity change, you’d think he’d know the answer. It was him. The situation he left Felicity in. After sacrificing himself and leaving Felicity and William defenseless and at the mercy of Diaz, what did he expect to happen? If Felicity didn’t change like she did, she’d be dead. So what’s worse, Oliver?

Right now, the obstacle for Oliver and Felicity is getting back to where they were. But it won’t ever be the same. This whole Diaz/Slabside situation has changed them both. But change isn’t necessarily bad. And obstacles aren’t necessarily bad, either.


What’s Next For Olicity?

Arrow — “Unmasked” — Image Number: AR708a_0307b — Pictured (L-R): Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen/Green Arrow, Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak and Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance/Black Siren — Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW — © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

“I just don’t know if what’s best for me right now is what’s best for us.”

Ah, there’s nothing like some good ol’ angst. Especially when it’s the kind that leads to growth.

So for any Olicity fans — or non-Olicity fans — that believe that this is the beginning of the end of Oliver and Felicity, relax. Because it’s not. The beautiful thing about any relationship is that there’s always something to learn, something to teach. You’re constantly growing with each other and working as a team to handle the obstacles that come your way.

Now, I don’t exactly agree with Felicity insinuating that her questionable morality can’t exist alongside her relationship with Oliver. I’m looking forward to seeing more to this conversation and having these two talk it out with each other. For Oliver to interject some of his first hand experience on the matter. Because right now, it’s almost like they’ve changed places. Oliver is standing more in the light and Felicity is standing in the dark. And I’m kinda digging this parallel.

This is exactly what I wanted to see. To see how Oliver and Felicity each deal with the repercussions of Oliver’s decision to sacrifice himself — without consulting his family — and how it affected Oliver and Felicity and individuals (which we’ve seen) and also, now, how it’ll affect them as husband and wife.

And make no mistake, it’s going to affect them. We saw as much in this midseason finale. There’s tension on both sides. Oliver didn’t realize how his absence has changed Felicity. Felicity is realizing that she has changed and that it’s going to affect their relationship. But the fun part starts now. Now we get to see these two work through their issues to come to an understanding.

Oliver and Felicity have always represented the best in each other. Felicity has been Oliver’s light in the pitch black. And now, Felicity needs Oliver to be her light. These two love each other more than words, and that love is — and has always been — strong enough to overcome any darkness. That’s what this show has shown us in seven seasons.


Let’s Talk About Maya

So I honestly thought we’d get the “Maya is Oliver and Felicity’s daughter” reveal in this midseason finale. But I guess we’ll have to just hang on the striking resemblance to Oliver and Felicity and the whole “Sounds like you two had a lot in common” that was as obvious foreshadowing as I’ve ever seen on this show.

When we meet Maya, she’s a street fighter by the name of Blackstar, who was the last person that Felicity contacted before she “died.” (Yeah, still not buying that either.) She also had the plans that William, Roy, Dinah, and Zoe found in Felicity’s old office. And from the sound of it, she plans to go forward with the plans. But something tells me this isn’t as black and white and cut and dry as it seems. Something else is going on here.

So Maya is a badass like her father and a looker like her mother. This show couldn’t be more obvious that Maya is a Oliver and Felicity’s daughter. Also: Maya’s reaction to Felicity “dying” is all the proof you need to see that relationship isn’t business. It’s personal. It’s familial.


Being the Green Arrow Runs in the Family

Well, I wish I could say I was surprised to learn that the new Green Arrow is none other than Emiko Queen, Robert Queen’s secret child and Oliver’s half sister. But even though I’m not surprised, I am intrigued as to where this storyline will take Oliver’s character and Emiko.

In the final scene of the midseason finale, we saw the woman that was dressing up as the new Green Arrow kneeling at Robert Queen’s grave and calling him father and saying how similar she and Oliver are. This scene did what it needed to do: It introduced her character in a way that both intrigues you and stuns you. Because honestly I don’t know where they’re headed with her character.

She seems to be on the right side of the law. She’s saving the city. So why is she in Star City? Where has she been? Why does she want to save Star City?


Say What Now, Diggles?

Arrow — “Unmasked” — Image Number: AR708a_0321b — Pictured (L-R): David Ramsey as John Diggle/Spartan and Audrey Marie Anderson as Lyla Michaels — Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW — © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

John and Lyla went to Diaz. For help. And I’m at a loss for words. I mean, sure they’re trying to bring down the Longbow Hunters. But Diaz? Seriously? Was this the only way for Arrow to keep this lizard employed? At the sake of Diggle’s character?

It’s funny because I’m not even a tad concerned about Oliver and Felicity. I’m more concerned with what Arrow is doing to John Diggle. How they’ve essentially rewritten his character as one that has gone against his values and those he loves.

What reason could Diggle possibly have for working with Diaz, the man that has tried to kill Oliver, Felicity, him, and others he cares about? Well, I know what. ARGUS stuff. Blah, blah,m blah. But how is this more important than the cost of your soul? And people are worried about Felicity going dark?

Hey, Arrow. Give me John Diggle back. Not this knockoff version that doesn’t resemble the John Diggle we all know and love. If this is the best you can do with his character, then shame on you.


Arrow airs Mondays at 8/7c on The CW.


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