When it comes to inflicting emotional pain on its audience, no one manages to do that quite as well as the Arrow writers who took their episode title at its literal terms.
So on behalf of the Olicity fandom, Arrow writers I have this to say:
While “Broken Hearts” did exactly as it promised – breaking the hearts of Oliver, Felicity, and the Olicity fandom alike – you can’t deny how important and sensational this episode was. It did what Arrow does best and delved into emotional elements that leave you paralyzed but never quite giving up.
Even before this episode aired we knew that we were in for a world of heartache when a photo featuring Oliver and Felicity at the altar was released and promised all of the pain and angst that us Olicity fans survived in season three. But even that couldn’t prepare us for an episode where our hearts were ripped out and literally stepped on as it appeared that Felicity had already given up on them.
But there was no doubt that the talk of the episode is – and will continue to be for the next seven days – Oliver and Felicity’s heartbreaking separation that left us all in tears but never giving up on these two and their love for one another.
So let’s dive right, shall we?
The Long, Painful Journey Back to Each Other, by Oliver Queen and Felicity Smoak
If you thought this was going to be a quick, semi-painless journey back for Oliver and Felicity then I would’ve warned you weeks ago to strap in for the ton of angst that now crushes this fandom. This was never going to be easy. And you bet damn well that the Arrow writers are going to make this as painful as possible.
Following the events of “Taken” – which literally feel like they happened forever ago, though four weeks is a lifetime in television speak – Felicity walked out on Oliver after his lie opened her eyes to the fact that Oliver couldn’t be entirely open with her in life. But that never stopped us from believing that they’d eventually find their way back to each other.
So when we picked up on the events of “Broken Hearts,” we found both Oliver and Felicity handling this breakup in entirely different ways. While Felicity was trying to remain as levelheaded and brave as possible, Oliver, in contrast, was an open book of emotional and physical pain. You could physically feel his pain in this episode. The first scene of these two in this episode came at the loft as Felicity was packing her things, which just made this situation all the more real for Oliver and for us.
Once again enough cannot be said about Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards and the emotional weight in which they carry their roles. These are two characters that are obviously incredibly important to them, and they respect them and their relationship in the same way that the fans do. So as Felicity had to remain levelheaded, Rickards skillfully portrayed Felicity as a woman that was tactfully disguising her pain behind humor and strength. Then you had Amell who always manages to make me feel – but he made me feel physical pain as he portrayed Oliver as someone who will never again try and mask his feelings for the woman he loves. No matter how much it physically hurts him.
Throughout the episode we saw Oliver and Felicity stick to their respective emotional dealings with the situation until they both agreed to partake in a fake wedding to lure Cupid out. That’s when everything changed.
While Felicity appeared to remain firm in her stance to distance herself from Oliver physically and, most importantly, emotionally, you can’t hide your feelings forever. And this fake wedding, however sinister it might’ve appeared in writing, was everything when it came to revealing their true feelings about their future moving forward.
A fake wedding was not going to stop Oliver Queen from professing his love, gratitude, and desire to spend his forever with Felicity Smoak to the love of his life. So as they went along with this fake wedding, Oliver professed his real vows to Felicity that left Felicity emotionally caught off guard and me physically sobbing on the floor.
“Felicity, before I met you, I had a plan. I had a way that I was going to be. Then you walked into my life, or I … I showed up at your cubicle, and you changed everything. I was in darkness. But with your kindness, your generosity, your compassion, your intelligence, your wit and your trust, you brought me into the light. You let me know that I deserved it. You were that light. And I don’t know if I still deserve that trust, if I deserve you — I probably don’t — but whatever has happened, whatever will happen, the way that you make me feel is the best part of my life. You can ask me to say that I don’t love you, but I will never lie to you again. You are my always, and I just want the chance to be yours.”
If you can take one thing away from this show and our titular hero, it is this: Oliver Queen loves Felicity Smoak more than life itself. It’s the reason why he’s become the hero that he is today. And it’s the reason why they will both reunite and live the happiest of lives together. It’s what this show has become reliant on.
When it seemed like all we were going to get was Oliver professing his love for Felicity, Felicity took a stand when Cupid declared that “love is dead.” She marched right up to Cupid and proved her wrong.
If you ever have any doubt about Felicity’s love for Oliver – and how that love will eventually be the driving force behind her finding her way back to him – just listen to her speech about how love isn’t dead:
“Love is real, because love is life itself. And if I die tonight, it will be okay because I was one of those people lucky enough to experience it. From the moment he walked into my life, everything changed… I became the very best version of myself… our love gives my life meaning. It gives my life purpose and it’s worth living for…all of it.”
Regardless of what Felicity would later tell Oliver in the lair – that it doesn’t apply to them – there is no way in hell that Felicity would say those words – those powerful words – if she didn’t believe them.
Felicity does need time, as Diggle pointed out. But she also needs Oliver to prove to her that she can give her heart to him once more and not risk feeling this way when he lets her down. That’s something that I took out of this situation is that it’s not about the heartbreak – because that’s inevitable with any couple and in any relationship – it’s about her belief that she’s willing to have her heart broken by him and knowing that they can and they will come back from that. And they will get to that point. But not before Oliver shows her that she can have that kind of trust in him.
When Diggle and Thea told Oliver that he needed to tell Felicity where he stands — that he wants to be with her — they said that she needs to hear the words. But that’s not what she needs. She needs to see what Oliver is saying is true, and that can only be done through actions.
While Oliver swore that he would never lie to Felicity again, that wasn’t enough for her. Because while words sound pretty and can even be quite comforting, Felicity has already learned that words are just that: words. And in her experience – and ours – words have been false promises.
You know the phrase, “show, don’t tell.” It’s something that writers live and die by. As a writer you can tell your readers something, but seeing is believing. And that is what applies to Oliver and Felicity. Oliver needs to show Felicity that he is worthy of her trust and her heart. That’s going to come through his actions and how he deals with certain situations, whether it’s next week’s episode when it appears he puts his life on the line to save her or when the death happens and how Oliver deals with that. Once Felicity sees for herself what Oliver has promised her and believes it herself, that is when she will let him back into her heart and her open arms.
And quite frankly, that’s something we as an audience need to see, too. We need for Oliver to show us that he can change; that he can do what he has promised Felicity he will do which is let her in 100 percent.
I understand the focus on Oliver’s emotional reaction to the situation – this is his show – but Felicity’s reaction and how she’s handling this is just as important. She’s not someone who’s willing to sit by and do nothing.
So Felicity made the difficult decision to leave Team Arrow, though we all know this is only temporary. After all, we know that there are two things in her life that give her meaning (as she’s said): Oliver and this mission. And right now Felicity is going to experience life without those two things for a little bit until something forces her back. I’m thinking that the “death” is going to be the catalyst in bringing her back to the team. Perhaps she blames herself for who dies because she wasn’t there to help? Regardless, it’s all about her in that journey. She’s so much more than a love interest.
“You two give the rest of us hope.” Those were the words that Cupid, a woman who has been obsessed with love since her introduction on Arrow, said following an hour where she was hell-bent on destroying anyone in love that were poster children for happily ever after. Even Cupid believes in Oliver and Felicity. Their love will conquer all – the lies, the pain, the heartbreak. But it’s not going to come easy. Nothing worth fighting for ever does. As Oliver told Felicity in the season premiere:
Dead. Physically dead on the ground. Yep, that’s me. An adult woman physically sobbing at two fictional characters’ relationship.
The Beginning of the End
Though the focus of the episode was on Oliver and Felicity, their love, and how the Olicity fandom will have to suffer a little bit until they find their way back to each other, there was another significant storyline happening right alongside it. Though it didn’t cause me as much physical pain as the latter.
The last time we left Damien Darhk he had been wiped clean of his mystical voodoo and captured by the authorities. So we pick up this episode with the start of his trial led by Laurel Lance, who once again reminded me how much I love her when she’s in a courtroom and how much we’ve really missed out on with her character as the show veered away from that.
While things didn’t appear so comforting early on as there was virtually no evidence to indict Darhk of being the vicious, cruel monster that he is, things soon got better once Captain Lance put his career on the line as he took the stand and came clean about all of the dark happenings that he helped Darhk with.
While Lance didn’t have any proof, he did put his reputation and career on the line by admitting that he was involved in some pretty bad stuff. So why would he confess all of this if it weren’t true? So ultimately it was Lance’s word and his stance as police captain that was enough to push Darhk into trial – and force him to be locked up in Iron Heights in the meantime. Though I infer from his sinister grin from within his cell – and that ring – that he’s plotting horrific things. What else is new?
Now, as we near the “death” episode – which would be episode 4×18 “Eleven-Fifty-Nine,” which airs April 6 – these are the final episodes before that death and the events that come after. This is when you really need to start paying attention. Though you should’ve been paying attention since the very beginning when it was clear even then: This is the beginning of the end of Laurel Lance.
It’s as clear as ever that Laurel is the one that’s in the grave as she put herself in the direct line of fire of one Damien Darhk as she took on the role of prosecuting attorney. While Damien might hate Lance for all that he’s done in implicating him, you know damn well that he’s going to take out his anger on Laurel. Or have someone take her out for him. Because he can kill two birds with one stone: take out the woman that put him away and hurt the man that ratted him out in the process.
This storyline with Damien Darhk’s trial is going to both kill Laurel’s character (physically) and save her character (metaphorically). Laurel has been a character that has been overtly criticized from the beginning, and a lot of that had to do with how the character was written. In a way I feel like we were robbed from the Laurel that we could’ve had. But that’s the past. And there’s no going back.
But it’s not too late to save Laurel’s character. This is the storyline that will ultimately give her the hero’s death that will have a lasting impact on these characters and ultimately bring a stop to this sinister evil that has threatened their city.
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.