‘Arrow’ 4×16 Roundtable: Discussing ‘Broken Hearts’

Every week, Fangirlish writers will be discussing new episodes of Arrow and sharing their thoughts, feelings, and speculation about the hour’s hot topics in a little something we like to call Fangirlish Roundtables.

Today, we’re breaking down episode 4×16 of Arrow, “Broken Hearts,” where we discuss the fallout from Felicity’s breakup with Oliver, how Felicity was justified, what Oliver needs to do to earn her trust back, and how Laurel certainly marked for the grave after her run-in with Damien Darhk.

What were your overall thoughts on “Broken Hearts?”

ALYSSA

Well going into this episode I knew it was going to hurt – that’s what you get when the episode is called “Broken Hearts.” It broke Oliver’s heart, Felicity’s heart, Team Arrow’s heart, Cupid’s heart, our hearts. It was just messy all around. But as a whole the episode was really solid as it brought back Cupid and linked that with Oliver and Felicity’s breakup, which was really smart. We should know that every time Cupid comes around that bad stuff is going to happen with Olicity. I absolutely loved the start of Damien Darhk’s trial and Laurel leading the charge. That’s the Laurel that I’ve wanted to see more of. It’s a shame because she’s been a lawyer for all four years of this show and we haven’t gotten nearly enough of her in the courtroom. Overall it’s an episode that will go down in my book as probably the most painful one as an Olicity fan that I’ve experienced yet – and should be the most pain we should ever expect to feel. Things can only go up from here, right?

LIZZIE:

Well, I mean, it was a painful episode. I expected it, but still. PAIN. But that was good – or, not good, but necessary, so I’m not going to judge the whole episode by the level of angst. The plot was good, and the pacing wasn’t as bad as some other episodes, but I had a lot of characterization issues with just about everyone BUT Felicity and Oliver in this episode. Well, and Cupid. She was dead on.

So, I’m going to say this episode gets a 7/10. It was better in the things I always complain about, but did it drop the ball with the breakup storyline when it came to everyone else but the two people directly involved in the breakup.

LYRA

I think it was a good mix between progressing the story, bringing a baddie we love back, and dealing with the elephant in the room. This elephant just so happened to be the Olicity breakup that we can’t believe actually happened! It also had bucket loads of foreshadowing for what’s to come. Laurel Lance is totes ma goats going to die and the Olicity wedding will unfold before us in it’s angst free glory SOMEDAY in the future. Currently, I’m over the moon at the thought of two wedding dresses and tuxedos because *swoon alert* they both looked HOT!

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I think it was a good mix between progressing the story, bringing a baddie we love back, and dealing with the elephant in the room. This elephant just so happened to be the Olicity breakup that we can’t believe actually happened! It also had bucket loads of foreshadowing for what’s to come. Laurel Lance is totes ma goats going to die and the Olicity wedding will unfold before us in it’s angst free glory SOMEDAY in the future. Currently, I’m over the moon at the thought of two wedding dresses and tuxedos because *swoon alert* they both looked HOT!_
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// ]]>Arrow -- "Broken Hearts" -- Image AR416a_0076b.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak and Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen -- Photo: Katie Yu /The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

This episode saw the fallout of Oliver and Felicity’s breakup. What are your thoughts on this storyline that has already proven to be emotionally traumatizing for characters and fans alike?

ALYSSA

I’ve made it no secret that I’m not a fan of the journey that got us to this point with the whole drama for the sake of drama thing. But with that said I’m going to let this storyline run its course. We know that Oliver and Felicity will be together by season’s end – as the season premiere and season finale always mirror each other. But that doesn’t mean that this doesn’t hurt right now. Because it hurts a lot. This is the first – and hopefully only – time that we’re experiencing Oliver and Felicity breaking up and what that means for their team dynamic. We saw how they both tried to make things work in the beginning – how Felicity knew she was always a part of this team before they were together and how Oliver took her staying as optimistic, which he should. Then everything changed.

Then we had the fake wedding, which didn’t hurt so much as it did emotionally touch me at my core. I just knew Oliver was going to say his real vows to Felicity, and I just knew it was going to emotionally gut me. And I just knew that Felicity was going to have a response. You have to give it up to her because despite the emotions that this fake wedding brought out in her – how much she did want to reconcile with Oliver – she was strong enough to do what was right for her. And that was walk away. That’s twice that we’ve watched Felicity walk away after giving her ring back to Oliver. And that’s twice where she’s been strong enough to do so.

Obviously this isn’t the end of Oliver and Felicity, although there are some delusional fans that might want to believe so. We now have seven episodes left this season for the two to reconcile and find their way back to one another. It’s not going to be easy. Oliver’s going to need to show Felicity that she can trust him again, but to quote Oliver: “Nothing worthwhile comes easy.”

LIZZIE:

Let’s be honest, the way they got here is BS. It wasn’t earned, it didn’t make any sense, and it was just drama for the sake of drama, to put it simply. The writers wanted to give us angst in the middle of the season, so hey, why not break up the main couple by having Oliver do something this new Oliver would probably never do? It’s absurd, and frankly, a little insulting.

That being said, the way they’re handling the breakup? I have no problem with that. It’s clear at the end of this episode that Oliver, for all his pretty words, doesn’t really UNDERSTAND what he did wrong, and therefore, his promises are empty. We can’t change unless we see what the problem is. He doesn’t recognize it, but Felicity does, and she smartly choses self-preservation. She can’t and shouldn’t forgive him so easily. Love is not the cure to every problem – we know this already.

Now, I don’t think this means Felicity and Oliver are done for good, not by a longshot. I think it means Oliver had to PROVE that he means what he said, that he’s ready for Felicity be his partner in every respect. I think it means it’s Oliver’s turn to prove to her that yes, they can be a couple and vigilantes, that they can BOTH have it all, that it’s possible. It’s HIS turn to play the role Felicity has played in his life over and over, and that’s a good thing. This is not just about Oliver’s journey, and relationships are not just about one person’s needs. Yes, Oliver is the hero of this thing, but we don’t want a hero that always puts his needs above everyone else’s, do we?

Felicity did the right thing by walking away – the writers did the right thing by making her walk away. Now Oliver, and the writers, have to fix the mess. And they will. I’m 100% sure.

LYRA

There’s no other way to go. Oliver made his decision to keep secrets. This is the blowback. He needs to use this time to reflect and realise that keeping the woman he wants to be his partner in life and death, out of the circle of truth, is a big no no. And kudos for Felicity stepping up and telling him no. She’s not a doormat. No matter how pretty, brooding, and badass Oliver is she’s not going to fall for him again until he commits to her. Is that too much to ask for? A man who loves you and tells you all because the life you lead affords no secrets? No. It’s not too much to ask for. Felicity is a great role model of a human being (not just a woman) that will not let anyone else treat her any less than she deserves because she knows her value. You’ve only got one life. Better make it the best one.

Oliver made no attempt to hide his love or desire to get back together with Felicity, but she made it clear it’s not going to be easy to accomplish. What does Oliver need to do to earn Felicity’s trust back?

ALYSSA

While it was physically painful to watch Oliver’s pain so clearly written over every fiber of his being – from the way he carried himself, to the way he spoke, to glassiness of his eyes – I really liked that we got to see it. If you had any doubt in your mind that Oliver Queen will only be with one woman for the rest of his life – and that woman is Felicity Smoak – then this episode was enough to show you why. Since the end of season two it’s only been Felicity for Oliver. He’s suffered without her, he’s been happy with her, and right now he finds himself suffering because of his own mistakes. He hasn’t been able to fully let Felicity in to this point. He just hasn’t realized that. Because while he has been open with Felicity – the most he’s ever been open with a person – it still isn’t to the full extent that he needs to be. That’s something Oliver hasn’t been able to do in his life, so this is partially new to him. But he’s going to learn from this. That’s the lesson he’ll learn this season. And it’s going to lead him back to Felicity.

Now, as for what Oliver needs to do to earn Felicity’s trust back? Simple: show her that she can. We saw Oliver swear – and profess that promise in his vows – that he would never lie to her. But words can be pretty, and words can be false promises. Felicity has learned that the hard way. Oliver has taken a huge step in being able to voice his feelings – and to verbally acknowledge what he wants, which is to earn her trust back and be with her. But now it’s time for the next step: he needs to show her. Anyone can promise anything, but showing that you mean that promise is something else entirely. I don’t even know if Felicity knows that’s what she needs to see, but deep down I believe the more she sees Oliver fighting for their relationship and proving that he can change that it’ll be the catalyst for their reunion.

LIZZIE:

I think it’s not as easy as it sounds – because Felicity KNOWS Oliver loves her and she knows he wants to change; she just doesn’t believe he can. So Oliver can’t really prove to her that he has changed, that he gets it, unless he’s put in a high pressure situation again, a situation where Island Oliver would default do going at it alone, and then he chooses to confide in her. There really isn’t much Oliver can do on the regular days, and that’s probably a good thing, because there are hardly any regular days for Team Arrow. Oliver will get that chance to prove to Felicity that she IS his partner, and that she CAN be Overwatch and Felicity Smoak, just as he can be Oliver Queen and the Green Arrow. It just won’t be easy or quick – which is a good thing.

LYRA

He needs to start from square one. And I know in the question below I’m going to go on and on about Felicity needing her space, but that was as a couple and member of Team Arrow. Doesn’t mean they can’t be friends. If he wants any chance with Felicity ever again he’s going to have to go back to the beginning, when their relationship was just blossoming, to understand what he needs to do. It will give him clarity, which I don’t see how he has already, into how to move differently this time around. Oliver needs to show her that he trusts her, her opinions, her worries. All of it! He needs to make her a priority in this life because she needs proof that he wants to be an equal partner to her. Only then can we start seeing some progress between Oliver and Felicity. Basically, give me actions Oliver. Pretty words will break my heart and make me cry everyone like an angry baby but…they’re still pretty words. Those can only get Felicity, and the people watching the show, so far. 

Arrow -- "Broken Hearts" -- Image AR416a_0221b.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Amy Gumenick as Carrie Cutter/Cupid and Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak -- Photo: Katie Yu/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

While Felicity was able to be appear casual and controlled on the surface you could see that this breakup was tearing her apart inside. What are your thoughts on Felicity’s decision to step back from Oliver and Team Arrow?

ALYSSA

I really enjoyed the paralleling approaches we saw with how Felicity and Oliver were taking the breakup. While Oliver made no attempt to hide his pain and wanting to be with her, Felicity – being the one that ended things – had to remain strong on the outside while on the inside she was hurting. You could see it in her eyes – those fleeting moments where you could see her desire want to break through her self-control. It was hard to watch because you could feel that pain. Emily Bett Rickards continues to prove how well she knows this character, and she’s a pro at making us feel the physical pain that Felicity is feeling. She did a really good job of masking her pain early on in the episode until it came to the wedding.

Felicity finally began to feel the effects of this break-up and wanting so desperately to be with Oliver but knowing she can’t be. At least right now. So she decided to leave Team Arrow. And while some fans were quick to jump on her and call her selfish and such, this is what Felicity needs. In no way is she obligated to do what Oliver or the team wants her to do. She’s a grown-ass adult who knows how to look out for herself. So if she needs to leave the team then she needs to leave the team. And good on her for being strong enough to do that. We know how important being a part of Team Arrow and this mission is to her so it’s definitely something that wasn’t easy to do, but in her mind it was necessary so that she could attempt to move on and let Oliver do the same.

A lot of people were so quick to jump on Oliver’s pain, but what about Felicity’s? She was the one who had to find her inner strength to do something that she didn’t necessarily want to do but what she had to do for herself – for both of them, which will eventually strengthen their relationship. Oliver isn’t the only one hurting here. And if my prediction is correct then Felicity is going to be blaming herself for whoever dies in episode 18 because she wasn’t there for the team. And then Oliver will be the one to bring her back into the light like she’s done so many times before for him.

LIZZIE:

I’m proud of Felicity for taking time off. I know in Arrow these decisions come with consequences and I’m pretty sure Felicity is going to be feeling very guilt about the upcoming death because, as much as she wants to believe that the team doesn’t need her, they do. But Felicity made the right decision for herself, and that’s a big deal. Women are taught to think of others first in almost every aspect of our lives, and sometimes we end up sacrificing the things that would make US better because that’s what society expects of us. Could Felicity have taken Oliver at his word at the end of the episode? Yes? Was that the best thing for her or for their relationship? No. It wasn’t. Felicity accepting Oliver as he is, as romantic as it sounds, is the one thing preventing him from growing. He needs to be shaken out of his default mode, which is going at it alone. He needs to understand; he needs a swift kick in the behind. This is it.

But more than that, Felicity needs space. She’s had her trust broken, her confidence shaken. She needs some time to put herself back together. Being around Oliver is simply too hard for her – and put yourself in her place, it would be too hard for you too. Some people have told me Felicity’s decision is selfish, and say, so what if it is? If YOU don’t put yourself first, who’s going to do it? Oliver certainly didn’t consider Felicity’s feelings when he was keeping William from her. She was in a relationship with a man that she loved, and she felt safe in that relationship because she figured Oliver would consider what was best for BOTH of them while making his decisions. He didn’t. So why should SHE pay him back with that courtesy? Right now, Felicity is thinking of herself, and she should be.

Ultimately, this is what relationships are all about, about two people growing together. That doesn’t always mean growing while they ARE together, but it does mean growing into people that can fit together, and that’s what’s going on here. There are two people in this relationship, and they both need to find their way alone before they can make it back to each other.

LYRA

I think it’s the right decision for Felicity. It’s not going to be the end of it all. She loves Oliver, John, and the work that they do wayyyyy to much. But she needs a break, they all do. It’s time for Felicity to collect herself and try to process the breakup and where they go from here. She needs to look at it straight in the face and weigh in on what she wants to fight for and keep. Decisions this grand aren’t made in a flash (Sorry, Barry. Couldn’t resist.) They take time and thought. That’s why she had to go.

Let’s talk about her passive aggressive nature this entire episode. Felicity was controlling herself, no doubt about that. But she was also baiting Oliver. Subtly of course. She wanted a fight. She wanted to yell, scream, and argue with Oliver. To get it all out. Oliver did budge at all because he feels like he deserves it. Well buck up Oliver. Poking the bear like that means there are still strong feelings there. You’ve got to fight and lay it all out.

Arrow -- "Broken Hearts" -- Image AR416b_0055b.jpg -- Pictured: Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance -- Photo: Diyah Pera /The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Laurel headed up the trial against Damien Darhk, which basically put her in Darhk’s direct line of fire. How confident are you that it’s Laurel in the grave after this?

ALYSSA

Let’s be honest, it’s all but guaranteed at this point. Long before this episode – and even those spoilers from the funeral episode – Laurel was marked for death. But this episode solidified it for even the most delusional of fans. Laurel is a goner. Laurel took the fight directly to Darhk and painted a target on her back. While she and the team might be confident that they can protect her – let’s be real, Darhk has a target on everyone on Team Arrow – all it takes is one moment for everything to change. And that’s what we’re going to get with this death. Not even taking into account the evidence off-screen that she’s the one in the grave, Arrow has been setting up her demise from the start of this season. She entered season four having fully achieved hero status as Black Canary, which meant that her journey was done. Not to mention how her only significant storyline involved Sara’s resurrection – which was to set up Legends of Tomorrow – and Laurel has just been standing in the background. Not to mention the continued “I can protect myself” and “She can protect herself” and “I don’t know what I’d do if something happened to you” and the hints are there if you’re willing to look.

While Laurel hasn’t been my favorite character it’s a shame when you reflect on the missed opportunity with her character. More than anything it was the way Laurel’s been written that has spelled her downfall. But this season Laurel has been at her best, in my opinion, that we’ve seen on this show other than season one. I loved this Laurel that we got in this episode: the hero in the light of day in the courtroom. That was something that we were teased but never really got. It’s a shame, really.

LIZZIE:

There’s foreshadowing and there’s smacking you on the head with truth, which is what Arrow is doing now. The return of Lawyer Laurel is just another piece of the puzzle. Most Arrow fans enjoyed Laurel as a lawyer. Most Arrow fans missed this side of her. Bringing it back is like bringing her back to the beginning, which sounds like a good thing, but it isn’t. When a character comes full circle it means the show is over or the character is going to die. Why keep her around if she’s already learned all she can learn, if she’s done all she could do? Laurel’s destiny appears to be to die for the father she so loves and for the team she has become a full-fledged member of. I just hope that, when that happens, we get to see her go out on top. Laurel has gotten mistreated by the writer’s time and time again, and if so many people don’t like the character, it’s mostly on them, so, it would be fitting to, at least, give her a chance to go out a hero.

Odds of it being Laurel in the grave? It’s a done deal. If it isn’t her I’ll …wait, no. There’s no way it isn’t her. Just no way.

LYRA

100% in the grave. It was nice seeing Laurel back in the courtroom. It’s where she belongs, where she flourishes. Laurel’s return to something of the past also brings her journey full circle. She has her sister and father back. She’s found a place on Team Arrow. And she’s finally found the strength in herself to let go of her anger and become a hero. It’s the perfect time to cut her down. I don’t say this because I love/hate Laurel. I have no particular feelings for her. Laurel Lance will die because it’s a common trope to destroy the hero when they have reached the pinnacle of their journey, not as punishment, but as a lesson to others. This lesson could be what mistakes not to make or how true heroes blow this popsticle stand. Either way her time has come and it’s ok. She’s not going to fade away into the darkness. She’s left a mark and it’s not going to be forgotten, no matter how much people grumble that they’re happy to see her gone.

This season has evolved into one with multiple big bads. Right now we have Damien Darhk and Malcolm Merlyn leading the charge against Team Arrow. But do you think there could be someone else calling the shots?

ALYSSA

Ever since Marc Guggenheim teased that we’d see something with the big bad this season that we hadn’t seen before I’ve always been wondering if perhaps Damien Darhk wasn’t the big bad but Malcolm Merlyn. But we’ve also come to realize that Damien Darhk isn’t the central threat here – H.I.V.E. is. For so long I’ve believed Darhk was the leader of H.I.V.E., but perhaps there is someone else calling the shots that we haven’t met yet. But if that were the case I’d expect to meet them soon. And I’d expect that person to be a target of Merlyn’s because Merlyn is someone who needs to be in control. And H.I.V.E. would be ripe for the taking. But I still believe that Darhk and Meryln are working as a duo heading into the end of this season. One of them won’t make it out of the season alive, most likely, and I give you three guesses who that it. Malcolm Merlyn is a cockroach that won’t die. But luckily we love John Barrowman.

LIZZIE:

It almost seems like there is, doesn’t it? I mean, at this point, I don’t even know how we can survive this season without offing Malcolm at last, which is a shame, because I love John Barrowman, but also, more than overdue. Someone else calling the shots sets up not only a big bad for Season 5 that could, potentially, connect with the only storyline we have yet to see in the flashbacks -full dark Oliver in Russia, and also contrast with what I imagine will be almost realized Green Arrow in the present. Once this Olicity breakup is handled, and it will be, Oliver will be ready to be the light in the present, just as he’s turning 100% dark in the past. So, maybe it’s just wistful thinking, but can we have someone like that be pulling Malcolm and Damien’s strings?

Though maybe that’s just going too far with the speculation. Maybe it’s just DD’s wife. I don’t think so, though. There are bigger things at play her, an organization for which Damien works for, and which could, potentially, be the scariest thing Team Arrow has ever faced.

LYRA

Absolutely. There is no way that Damien Darhk is doing this by himself. The operation he has going, is one day hoping to reach a global scale. And let’s not forget the council meeting he had and that creepy field of corn. There is nothing normal about that amount of corn in that location. Man’s up to something. Then there’s his wife. I think she’s in charge of Damien. He makes himself the target so all eyes are on him and his wife is free to skip about town doing whatever she likes. Even planting mysterious plots of corn for all we know. It’s too suspicious and convenient that we know all the players in this game. Surprises are coming that will reveal the true hand of this (corn growing) villain. 

What are your thoughts on “Broken Hearts?” Sound off in the comments to keep the discussion going!

Join us for another Arrow roundtable next Tuesday.

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

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