Arrow 5×10 Roundtable: 'Who Are You?'

After a month hiatus that left fans grappling with the implications of Arrow‘s midseason finale, Arrow returned with a winter premiere that showed progress and felt promising. We finally got some closure on Laurel’s “return,” which wasn’t even a return so much as it was a plot device, as well as some Oliver and Felicity moments that left us feeling optimistic — but not convinced — of season 5B moving forward. Basically, we were impressed. But we also haven’t forgotten the travesty that was season 5A.

Our Fangirlish writers Alyssa, Lizzie, Lyra, Nora, and Sarah are breaking down Arrow‘s midseason premiere, which has us all feeling cautiously optimistic about the rest of the season.

1. Describe your thoughts about “Who Are You?” using just five words.

Alyssa: Okay, so that was progress!
Lizzie: IT’S ALIVE! IT’S ALIVE! Hallelujah!
Nora: Oh hey, there is Arrow!
Sarah: Hey Arrow there you are!

2. Describe your emotions about “Who Are You?” using a gif.

Alyssa:

Lizzie:

Nora:
Sarah: 

3. We finally got some clarity about Laurel’s “return.” And it wasn’t even Laurel, it was her evil Earth-2 doppleganger Black Siren. What did you think about this storyline?

Alyssa: Was there anyone that actually believed it really was Laurel? Cause this was like the biggest non-shock of the season. And that was even before the spoilery promo that The CW released. Arrow has said that when it killed Laurel that the death was permanent, and I believed them. While that trust is now gone, I still believed that part because they couldn’t be that stupid. Sure, it made for a jaw dropping cliffhanger to have Laurel standing there in the Arrow Cave, but there was never a time where I believed she wasn’t an evil doppleganger or hallucination.

Katie Cassidy plays the bad girl so, so well. Since Black Siren’s introduction on The Flash, she’s been a character that I enjoyed watching. It was a nice juxtaposition when you compared the two Laurels, as well. But what was the purpose of this storyline? To pass the mantle of Black Canary? It doesn’t work because Black Siren isn’t Black Canary. So why? To play with fans’ emotions, both good and bad. What I thought was awful was how the writers duped the Laurel Lance fans into believing it was her. If that was Felicity they were doing that with I’d be beyond pissed. Laurel might not have been my favorite character, but that’s just downright mean to do to a character’s fans.

Lizzie: Look, if anyone was surprised by the fact that that this was Black Siren and not Laurel, I’ve got a bridge I want to sell you, real cheap. So, in that regard, it was stupid at best, and it seemed like bait for the fans of the character. Worst of all, they didn’t even have the decency to give us the actual bad-ass Black Siren we saw on The Flash. Instead we got this version that got kicked around by Prometheus for reasons, whose powers don’t do anything but give Oliver and Felicity a slight headache and whose only saving grace was that she was sassy and could really rock that costume.

So, why did they bring her back? As a way to pass the torch? For nostalgia’s sake? To give us a chance to stare at Amell’s pretty face as he got all emotional? For one final opportunity to pit the Laurel Lance fans against the Felicity Smoak fans? No, really, why?

Nora: Laurel actually being Black Siren is the least surprising thing to ever happen on Arrow. Even before they basically spelled it out in the CW promo, it’s pretty obvious it wasn’t the real Laurel. Her death was permanent and I think that’s the best thing Arrow could’ve done. Laurel’s death holds so much more weight knowing she will never come back. Honestly, presenting Black Siren as our Laurel felt like Arrow baiting the fans of the character and even the characters themselves. Allowing fans to believe Laurel had returned made for a great cliffhanger in the mid-season finale, but I still wonder why they brought her back in the first place. It seemed like it was a way to get Laurel and Felicity to fight and go at it, which just puts us into the “pitting two female characters against each other for fun” category.

Katie Cassidy did an excellent job in this episode above all. I enjoy her as Black Siren a lot and I’m glad she was able to play this character outside of The Flash. Cassidy plays the bad character so well and that goes back to her days on Supernatural and Gossip Girl. Now that we’ve seen her in Arrow I hope she does reprise her Black Siren role again, I just hope it’s not just because they want to continue to string out the Felicity vs. Laurel ship war that’s gone on. I miss Cassidy and I’m glad she could come back to Arrow in some way, I just think it was unfair to give Laurel/Oliver fans a glimmer of hope, so close to her death last season.

Sarah:  Honestly if it had truly been Laurel miraculously returned, *that* would have surprised me more than what actually happened. I figured there was a twist but man was that a knife to the gut. Katie Cassidy played the hell out of Black Siren, and as much as I enjoyed seeing KC on my screen again what I didn’t appreciate is that they dangled this mystery in front of the fans faces only for the reveal to be kind of…anticlimactic? After the introduction of doppelgangers and multiple Earths I doubt it took anyone long to come up with what actually was going to happen with Laurel dropping in at the last minute and coming back here.

4. Something that this episode did was pit Felicity and Laurel against each other. What were your thoughts on this Felicity vs. Laurel storyline?

Alyssa: Here’s the thing, while I’m angry over how Arrow appeared to pit Felicity and Laurel fans against each other with these characters going at it, there’s also a part of me that is just so damn proud of how Felicity was the only one who figured this out. Felicity got to be badass in all the right ways. We saw, once again, why she is the unofficial leader of Team Arrow, even if Oliver appears to be. We saw what happens when your judgment isn’t easily clouded (like Oliver and his blinders). And we saw what happens when you listen to your ex-fiance about keeping your wrist straight when delivering a punch.

But focusing on the question itself, this whole women attacking women thing on television is getting old. It’s not only getting old it’s getting annoying. Women do not exist in order to belittle other women. They serve larger purposes. More than that, they have girlfriends, which is something we don’t really see in DC television. It’s prevalent on Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and even Supergirl. There are not nearly enough female friendships, which is made even more infuriating when there are so many amazing women on these shows. I really need DC television to start respecting its female audience and its female characters.

Lizzie: Plot-wise, it made sense for Felicity to be the one to figure it out, I’ll give them that. But then again, Felicity hasn’t really been Felicity at all this season, so if they’d had Felicity conveniently leave her brain in a closet this episode, that wouldn’t have surprised me either. And, in a way, the fact that they chose this cheap ploy of woman vs. woman doesn’t surprise me, either. It just disappoints me. And you’d think at this point, I’d be above being disappointed by Arrow, but this the way of things.

It’s not just an Arrow thing – DCTV in general has no idea what to do when there’s more than one woman on screen, or when, GOD FORBID, a woman’s storyline revolves around something other than her love life. Take Caitlin and Iris on The Flash. Remember when they had that nice conversation? No? That might be because they NEVER TALK TO EACH OTHER. It’s like they exist around each other. Female friendships? HA. Two woman can only be nice/supportive if they’re RELATED. If not, that’s left for the guys. And, as I said before, it’s terribly, terribly disappointing.

Nora: In terms of the plot for the overall episode, I enjoyed Felicity’s character arc that came out of Black Siren showing up. Felicity’s characterization was all of the place in 5A and I didn’t even recognize my favorite character, which was very sad. This episode she got to show her badass side and she took stopping Black Siren into her own hands. We got to see her take charge in the Arrow cave and it’s something I’ve wanted to see basically since Felicity was introduced. What tainted her storyline in this episode, was the fact we pitted her against Laurel. It’s like Arrow couldn’t come up with a way to give Felicity her own plotline so they dropped down to the female vs. female TV trope. It disappointed me.




DCTV has an aversion to having female friendships. On The Flash, Iris and Caitlin have NEVER talked to each other for more than a minute (if that). On Legends, Sara and Kendra and Sara and Amaya have blossoming friendships, but again, it’s sidelined by Sara’s friendships with the boys. And Supergirl is the best because of the Kara and Alex sister relationship. Arrow has not once let a female friendship flourish, especially with Felicity and Laurel. They have never been able to grow that relationships because they were too preoccupied pitting the two ships against each other. Even Felicity and Thea have not had a proper friendship on screen. All of their bonding happens OFF screen. Female characters can be more than the girlfriend, the mother and/or the wife and they can have friendships with other women. I hope Arrow and DCTV can see this.

Sarah: Felicity, I was not surprised figured out what was going with this version of Laurel, since she’s a genius and knew the real Laurel well enough before she died that there was something off. How it ended going though just didn’t sit well with me since I know the writer’s could have gone a different less typical route. It wasn’t executed horribly, but I just didn’t like it for the sake of female vs female is so overused in dramas I was disappointed they fell back on that trope in regards to Black Siren/Faux Laurel’s return.

If they decide to bring in Faux Laurel back (and since she’s locked up at Argus) I’m betting they will maybe less overused cliched drama (*cough like all of 5A cough*) and more fresh wow that was surprising and really engaging writing for the ladies on Arrow.

5. Describe your Olicity feelings after “Who Are You?” using a gif.

Alyssa:

Lizzie:

Nora:
Sarah: 

6. There was a lot more Olicity in this episode than we’ve been used to this season. What do you think happened?

Alyssa: The writers realized that they screwed up not catering to the elements of the show that make it work, and this was the first episode that it appears they could implement the changes. Let’s face it, season 5A was already written and mostly filmed when the season premiered on television and the criticism and low ratings came flying in. Let’s be honest, the writers were catering to the comic book fans with season 5A, which is all fine and dandy but they don’t make up the majority of your audience. This is a television show — that has been on the air for now five years — which has grown with its own audience that is made up of probably less than 30 percent of comic book fans. When they decided to betray the show fans, that’s when things went wrong.

Like it or not, Olicity is the biggest part of Arrow. It’s just a fact. When there’s buzz it’s typically the Olicity fan creating it. And that’s not a bad thing, unless you’re a man who thinks romance in comics is stupid even though it already pre exists in said comics. The writers realized that they tried and failed with trying to take Arrow in a different direction and appear to now be returning to the elements that define the show. The sheer amount of Olicity in this episode was proof. Because, honestly, it felt like the writers did everything they could to limit Oliver and Felicity’s interactions in 5A because of that natural chemistry between Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards. They knew that and the characters’ pasts would overshadow other romances they were trying to force on us. And this episode, the writers did everything they could to increase Oliver and Felicity’s interactions, which was brilliant. As a result we got some more fluid and compelling scenes between Oliver and Felicity that a) made this show feel like Arrow again, and b) gave me hope for this show and Olicity moving forward.

Lizzie: I think the bottom-line prevailed, and by the bottom-line I mean that someone on the CW went: THIS IS WHAT WORKS WHY ARE YOU WRITING AWAY FROM WHAT WORKS ARE YOU IDIOTS OR WHAT? Or something along those lines but nicer. The ratings have been down. The buzz has been non-existent. I’m not saying Olicity IS Arrow, I’m saying that when you sell a story for 4 years and then do a complete 180 in year 5, people can’t be expected to react well. People invest in the story. If they’d been selling another story from the start, then fine. But 5 years in, you better stick to the story you made us love, Arrow. Otherwise, what is even the point?

Nora: I feel like someone finally shook the Arrow writers and told them that pushing so far against Felicity and Oliver’s relationship that it wasn’t making the character dynamics work anymore. Having them be apart actually felt more awkward than having them work together after the bad breakup. This week’s Olicity dynamic felt natural and a great step towards them getting back the friendship that made season 1 and 2 of Arrow so memorable.

Arrow has grown a lot in the 5 seasons it’s been on the air and so far in season 5, I don’t recognize the character relationships I’ve grown to love. They got Olicity together quicker than they would’ve liked and then basically punished the viewers for it. After a breakup there should be awkward tension, they should mention that they were ENGAGED and wanting to spend the rest of their lives together. 5A gave us NO indication they were EVER in a relationship and that was extremely frustrating. As of right now, Felicity and Oliver are starting to get their dynamic back. Olicity is starting to move forward and that’s something I’ve been waiting for since season 5 started. This week’s episode I really enjoyed the Olicity moments, they are working through their problems and I think this is something we should’ve seen in 5A, but I’m glad we are getting it now.

Sarah:  I’m not sure if it was the quietness of the internet that used to be loud and clear when it came to that part of the Arrow fanbase or the writer’s figuring out ignoring a relationship they had built up over several seasons was a BAD IDEA, but I was just relieved. It was like sitting down with my favorite cup of tea that I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to enjoy again watching Oliver and Felicity interact like the days of old. I’ve shipped these two since the day they met at Felicity’s office back in season one, and loved the story they had told & naturally built up through the first four seasons. If this episode signaled a beginning back to what they did pretty well overall the last four years (I hope), the shipper in me will be happy to internally scream my way through Arrow again.

7. I don’t know about you, but I’m severely missing Diggle with Team Arrow this season. This week we got a glimpse of the trouble that lies ahead for Dig. How do you foresee this being resolved?

Alyssa: Don’t get me wrong, I’m super excited for Diggle’s upcoming storyline (especially since it sounds like it’ll be Diggle/Felicity centric), but for the love of all that is holy I just want Diggle reunited with his wife and daughter son, as well as Oliver and Felicity. The Arrow Cave just doesn’t feel the same without him. But, like I said, I’m really excited for Diggle to get this storyline because it’s something that’s going to test him morally and help him come back from the situation with his brother. As for how I see it being resolved? Well, since Adrian Chase has been assigned to help Diggle out I feel like he’ll have a hand in it. But then you also have Felicity who’s going to be trying to get Dig out of there. But this has to be resolved in a way that is actually resolved and not just another prison break. Diggle isn’t going to be able to live in secret anymore. No, however this is resolved it’ll be permanent. Whatever that may be.

Lizzie: I know I’m the only one excited for this, but I legit think we’re gonna get some fancy lawyering to get Diggle out of this, and I’M HERE FOR THIS. There will probably be some evidence that they need to get at some point, so the team will need to get involved and all that, but …FANCY LAWYERING. On Arrow. I dig it.

Hopefully it doesn’t take long, though. I miss Diggle.

Nora: I’m really excited about Diggle’s storyline coming up. I think it will evoke some great acting from David Ramsey and Emily Bett Rickards because from what I can tell it will be a very big Diggle/Felicity storyline. That being said, I do miss Diggle in the Arrow Cave suiting up with the team. There’s a missing dynamic on Team Arrow and it’s because Diggle isn’t down there. I hope we get some great moments with Diggle and Lyla out of this storyline as well. This might be my favorite B storyline Arrow has produced in quite sometime and I hope it doesn’t disappoint. I’m excited to see how they get Diggle out of this, with the help of Adrian Chase, and his eventual return to the Arrow Cave will be all the more sweeter.

Sarah: I’m glad that Diggle is getting his own juicy storyline that looks to involve courtroom drama, but in all honesty I really miss the days when it was just him, Felicity and Oliver down in the Arrow cave. The new guys have grown on me a lot (especially Curtis), but there’s something about having the original trio working together that always makes me more excited to watch an hour of Arrow than anything else. So awesome stories for Diggle are welcome, but mostly I’m just waiting for it to resolve his troubles to where he doesn’t have to live in secret and can openly suit up (well sort of haha) with the team again.

8. Describe your reaction to seeing the new Black Canary using a gif.

Alyssa:
Lizzie:
Nora:
Sarah: interested

Join us for another Arrow roundtable next Wednesday!
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.

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