When it comes to being a hero it’s far from easy. If it were easy everyone would be doing it. But it takes a special kind of person – special kind of people to embrace that life and put others’ well being before their own. It’s the hallmark of the heroes on Arrow, and it’s not something you can just shut off. It’s a part of you.
“Beacon of Hope” was a thrilling hour of television that saw the return of Felicity’s unbee-lievable nemesis with enough bee puns and pop culture references to make you grin like a dork. Like, for real I’m still recovering from the fact that Oliver Queen has read Harry Potter and made a pop culture reference.
This episode focused on heroism and representing a beacon of hope in a world where sometimes it might be easier to just accept the darkness for what it is. We saw that with Felicity as she tried to escape that darkness and with Oliver as he nearly lost himself in that darkness once again. But ultimately that heroism prevailed and showed while it’s still possible to have hope in a world of darkness.
With this episode leading into next week’s game-changing episode that will see a major character bid the show farewell, this was the last episode before everything as we know it changes. And all hell is about to break loose.
But let us bask in the glory of an episode that had me feeling all of the Felicity feels, Curtis feels, Olicity feels, Thelicity feels, and feels about David Ramsey’s massive arms. Seriously, can Diggle’s costume just be him in a tank top or, um, shirtless?
Becoming a Beacon of Hope: Felicity Smoak
While Felicity may have taken a step back from life on Team Arrow, the girl just cannot escape the crazy superhero life that, no matter how hard she tries to shy away from, she’ll always be a part of.
In this episode we saw Felicity sort of doubt her significance when it comes to being that beacon of hope that Thea spoke of. She was quick to assert that Thea – and people like Oliver, Diggle, and Laurel – are representative of that, but that’s just not the case. Felicity is just as, if not more, of a symbol of hope. So this wasn’t just about the Oliver of it all – and her being unable to work alongside him and not miss him and want to be with him – this was about Felicity. But this life – what she does on Team Arrow – is what gives her purpose, and she’s just hurting right now.
Felicity also mentioned something interesting about now being out of “that life” and seeing the world differently. While Felicity may be content right now with having a life that isn’t almost always on the line, this is just like when her and Oliver were away during summer hiatus. Eventually that desire to protect the city will return as it did in the season premiere. There’s only so long that Felicity can hide from her destiny, and it sounds like she might be returning under the not-so-best circumstances with next week’s big death. But Felicity can’t change the fact that she’s a hero, and that whatever happens that part of her will always remain unfulfilled when she’s not living her destiny.
While Felicity’s destiny will always be to serve on Team Arrow, it was nice to see Felicity begin to try and make a difference – to serve as a beacon of hope – in the light of day through Palmer Technologies. She remains dedicated to finding a way to mass produce this bio-chip in an affordable fashion so that those victims of paralysis can find a way to walk again, like she has. It’s inspiring and once again shows the dual heroics of one Felicity Smoak.
Something that we’ve been begging for since the beginning of this show has been development between Felicity and Thea, which we got in spades for the very first time in this episode. We saw Thea approach Felicity solo for the first time this series. What started as a means to get her boyfriend Alex a job soon turned into a bonding experience for Felicity and Thea as they, along with Donna, were subjected to the always bee-utiful Brie Larven, who hacked her way out of prison and brought her buzzy, little friends as back-up in order to retrieve the bio-chip that was implanted in Felicity’s spine.
While Felicity and Thea have never been particularly close – even with them nearly becoming sisters-in-law (and that’s still happening, btw) – this episode showed us the beginnings of what can become a beautiful friendship. Thea, while obviously blinded by some selfish reasons, encouraged Felicity to come back to the team repetitively. But when these two lovely ladies were in the direct line of fire of Larven, they protected each other; they stood tall next to one another.
And when all was said and done – and Brie was in a bee-induced coma – Felicity and Thea had a little bonding time at Palmer Tech, which gave us a taste of what is to come.
Curtis Joins Team Arrow
It was only a matter of time before Mr. Terrific joined the forces of Team Arrow, and it took his protective instincts and intuitive skills for him to make his grand introduction. When Curtis saw that Felicity was in danger – stuck at Palmer Tech surrounded by those robotic bees – he immediately leapt into protective mode as he tracked down the Green Arrow to help her. This was where we began to see the heroics within Curtis as he gradually grows into Mr. Terrific. But in the process he also walked right into the Arrow lair where Oliver, Diggle, Laurel, and Lance were discussing where to begin with Operation Save Felicity and Thea.
When Felicity walked away from Team Arrow last week – albeit temporary, as we know – it was setting up Curtis’ position as a Team Arrow freelancer. And it certainly didn’t disappoint. From the moment the elevator doors opened and Curtis walked into that bunker it was simply magic. Curtis literally fanboyed over learning the identities of the Green Arrow, Spartan, Black Canary, and Lance all the while geeking out over the amazing tech Felicity-style. Echo Kellum breathes life into this fan-favorite character that never has to try too hard to come off as relatable and lovable. Curtis is one of those characters who is so easy to love and yet it’s never really enough for someone as amazing as him.
This was the origin of Curtis’ superhero story, the very beginnings of it. This was the episode where he realized that he could serve a purpose even greater than himself: helping people, taking down the bad guys, and it bringing a sense of belonging to his life. While his actual foray into the world of Team Arrow will most likely be that of a tragic event – as in the comics a certain death sets his hero journey into motion – right now I’m just basking in the glory that is Curtis Holt as a member of Team Arrow and the purpose it brought to his life.
The simple matter of fact is this: Team Arrow wouldn’t have been able to take down Brie Larven without the assistance of Curtis. With Felicity stuck inside Palmer Tech unable to fully work her magic, it was up to her friend to step in and save the day. It was a great moment for Curtis’ character moving forward.
At the end of the episode Curtis returned home after fighting that crazy bee-yotch and her army of robotic bees and got into a little argument with his husband, Paul, about where Curtis had run off to. So Curtis lied about chasing down a police matter – which was kind of like a half truth – but that it made him realize something: the only thing that matters is how he feels when he’s with Paul.
While I know that Curtis loves Paul with all of his heart, there’s also a part of me that knows Curtis cannot stop thinking about what he did tonight. He used his intelligence to help save someone he cared about; he was a hero. And once you get that feeling it’s nearly impossible to shake.
Hope for Oliver and Felicity
Following last week’s heartbreaking focus on Oliver and Felicity’s (temporary) separation it was interesting to see where these two characters went without each other. There was obviously a part of them missing – clearly gone with the other person. But this episode gave me hope for Oliver and Felicity’s relationship and reunion by season’s end.
Make no mistake, Oliver and Felicity will get back together. They are the epic love story of this superhero drama that breathes life and emotion into a show that cannot exist as a nonstop action movie. But this is television and television craves drama like we crave Stephen Amell shirtless.
While Oliver and Felicity didn’t interact until near the end of this episode, when they did interact it was meaningful. When Felicity’s life is on the line you know damn well that Oliver is going to do whatever it takes to save her. While these two might not be together at present, it’s clear they will always love each other.
Also when they’re in danger their first instinct is to protect each other. Felicity saved Oliver and Oliver saved her. “You never have to thank me,” Oliver told her. Because it’s never a question. He would give his life for her every time.
So while the two aren’t exactly mending fences just yet, they do seem to be heading in the right direction. Felicity began to see Oliver show why she can trust him again. It was subtle and clearly he still has a far way to go, but it was a start. And if there is any couple that will get there it’s Oliver and Felicity.
A Beacon of Hope: Oliver Queen
With the heartache of Felicity’s break-up with Oliver you could say that Oliver was a lost shell of a man that chose to wallow in the darkness that he’s always believed he was destined for. But while that heartache shouldn’t last much longer – as things are set to get better between Oliver and Felicity as the season comes to a close – this was the first time that we saw Oliver forced to operate without his very own beacon of hope, Felicity.
So, naturally it brought him to a dark place, which caused him to snap at the lovable Curtis who was simply trying to breathe some good morale into the team with Felicity and Thea being in danger. Arrow certainly ramped up the Oliver and Laurel interaction this episode as Laurel stepped in as the friend she is to help Oliver through a rough patch where he would normally turn to Felicity. Oliver reflected back upon the time when he was out of this superhero life and happy – with Felicity. As we know the only reason he returned was because Felicity wanted to continue to help the team. And there’s nothing that Oliver wouldn’t do for Felicity. Hell, if Oliver had his way he and Felicity would still be content in Ivy Town right about now.
While Felicity had insisted that they could remain happy and live this life at the same time, Oliver attributes their separation to that inability to achieve that balance that Felicity believed they could have. And leave it to Laurel to be the voice of reason as she so clearly pointed out that Green Arrow isn’t the problem here – Oliver Queen is. It was Oliver who lied about his son and who hasn’t been able to fully let Felicity in. But with six episodes left this season I have no doubt that Oliver will be able to do so as he reunites with Felicity.
The Oliver and Laurel interaction seems to be a parting gift for L*uriver fans as it’s been made damn clear that one half of that questionable pairing bids adieu in next week’s “Eleven-Fifty-Nine.” And it’s definitely not Oliver. While those, dare I say delusional, fans will be quick to classify their interaction as “romantic” it was as clear as ever that Laurel was a close friend coming to the aid of her friend that was hurting, and she helped him get back on the right path – the path that he has always been destined to achieve: balance and happiness.
A Surprising Betrayal?
With next week’s big death on the way there’s an ominous sense of uncertainty surrounding the big questions with this death: who’s in the grave? (Although I think we all know at this point), but also of significant importance: Who did it?
While this season of Arrow has dealt with two big bads in Damien Darhk and Malcolm Merlyn there has been a sense that perhaps they are not alone in H.I.V.E.’s plans for Genesis. With Darhk rotting in prison, apparently H.I.V.E. has decided to move on from him because of his controversy and his tendency to kill people at his will. But as we saw in the episode’s final scene, Merlyn turned to someone who Darhk referred to as his “ace in the hole,” who happened to be none other than Andy Diggle.
So obviously the question becomes: Is Andy Diggle really a traitor? We’ve been in this place before and from a different angle. When we were hesitant about whether Andy would betray his brother he proved his loyalty. So now that Andy seems to have regained his brother’s trust can we really trust him? Or is he destined to betray his brother once again. Could Andy be the “he” in this whole Oliver needing to kill this “he?” Strap in, folks.
NEXT TIME ON “ARROW”
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.