Arrow 5×12 Roundtable: 'Bratva'

Arrow returned to Russia in its episode titled “Bratva,” which reminded us that Original Team Arrow is the heart of Arrow and played with our emotions as we ponder whether Arrow can truly redeem itself this season.

Our Fangirlish writers Alyssa, Lizzie, Nora, and Sarah are breaking down this week’s Arrow, which has us all still feeling cautiously optimistic about the rest of the season.

Describe your thoughts about “Bratva” using just five words.

Alyssa: The best episode this season.
Lizzie: The good won’t last, right?
Nora: Original Team Arrow pulls through again.
Sarah: What did I just watch?

Describe your thoughts on the first 40 minutes of “Bratva” using a gif.





Describe your thoughts on the last 5 minutes of “Bratva” using a gif.





This episode really allowed for some great Original Team Arrow moments, including a beautiful scene where Oliver told Diggle and Felicity that he would rather cross the line so they don’t have to. What were your thoughts on OTA?

Alyssa: Original Team Arrow is the beating heart of Arrow. All this show has ever done is prove that. Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity have made Arrow so much more than your prototypical superhero show. This dynamic has given this show a soul. It’s what has always made the earlier seasons so much sweeter because the writers were capitalizing on that dynamic. But as the seasons go on — and new characters are introduced — we don’t get to see that as often as we used to. It makes Arrow feel like a different show. And not in a good way.

“Bratva” really returned to Arrow’s roots as OTA was once again in Russia (although with some friends.) But it was how the show allowed for some personal moments between Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity that really made this hour resonate. But it was one scene in particular that captured OTA’s essence. When Oliver got wind of Felicity crossing the line after seeing Diggle beginning to lose control, he had a profound discussion with them when he let them know that he would rather cross the line than have either one of them do it. Even though Oliver has worked so hard to put that darkness behind him. If it meant that Diggle and Felicity wouldn’t be tainted by darkness, then he would gladly (and without hesitation) take that darkness for them.

Oliver has always believed that Diggle and Felicity are better than him. He’s always looked at them as the light and him as the dark. But the beauty of OTA has been how these three have made each other better, which is what Diggle tells Oliver. And he couldn’t be more right.

Lizzie: Obviously I enjoy Original Team Arrow. Original Team Arrow is the reason why I’ve stayed for so long, the trio of Oliver, Diggle and Felicity are the reason why I’ve continued watching through this hellish season. And we got some great moments for them this episode, we did. I just think they’re still writing them in a very uneven way. Put it all on the line for each other, fine, but Felicity can’t even give Diggle a hug after he comes back from jail? Give me a break. The little moments used to sell it on Arrow before, now it all feels forced and that just makes me sad and, in a way, it makes me invest a little less.

With all that being said, this was the most heartfelt episode for them in ages and it was a nice callback to the team they make and why they always worked, while, in a way, serving as a nice setup to moving Oliver’s journey forward, to Oliver finally finding a way to be the light for others. And, honestly, I just enjoy every time the three of them get to be on a scene together. Can we get more of that, please?

Nora: I really enjoyed having Original Team Arrow as the center for the this episode. I love that whenever we go to Russia in Arrow we get these intimate and real moments between these three characters. Oliver, Felicity and Diggle really make this episode stick out because we finally get moments between them. My favorite OTA moment from this episode has to be when Oliver tells Diggle and Felicity that he would rather cross the line so they don’t have to. I really enjoyed the almost role reversal with OTA in this episode. Diggle crosses the line and beats up Walker and Felicity uses the information she was handed last week to gain information in Russia. Having Diggle and Felicity crossing the line and Oliver bringing them back was a great moment. We don’t get to see a lot of OTA as the seasons have gone on, but when we do get these moments we’re reminded of the Arrow we fell in love with. While new characters are essential to keep a show fresh, neglecting your fan-favorites is never good and Arrow does this. I hope as season five progresses, we get more OTA because this is where the show thrives.

Sarah: Seeing Original Team Arrow get some decent heartfelt scenes reminded me why I fell in love with this show in the first place. As much as I love the newbies the glue of this show to me has always been about Oliver, Felicity and Diggle. Oliver would risk getting his hands dirty a thousand times before letting any of that darkness ever touch Felicity or Diggle. (If he only knew…) Later on if there’s one thing I do agree with was when Diggle said they make each other better. A true but empty sentiment when it doesn’t really seem they’re actually communicating with each other right now, so that happens on their own weirdly separated storylines. Can we please fix that Arrow writers?

We really got to see the start of Felicity’s dark spiral in this episode as she crossed the line in order to get what she needed. What are your thoughts on Felicity’s dark journey? How would you like to see this play out?

Alyssa: I’m not going to lie, I’m enjoying dark Felicity. Everyone has their own darkness inside of them, and it looks different than others. Felicity isn’t like Oliver, who would resort to killing with her bare hands. But her personal darkness is still darkness. So instead of killing, Felicity is threatening people in order to get what she wants. This is what is looks like when Felicity crosses the line. I definitely think Felicity is going to control to spiral deeper and deeper down the Helix rabbit hole. She’s in a mindset where she can’t see the line like she has been able to before. She’s not concerned about herself as much as she’s concerned about taking down the bad people, like Prometheus. Her style of thinking was kind of like Oliver’s. What does it matter if she’s doing these kinds of things to people that deserve them? That hasn’t been her style, but as we’re beginning to see this is what we should expect moving through Felicity’s island this season.

As I mentioned before, Oliver told Diggle and Felicity that he didn’t want them to cross the line. He wanted to be the one to do it so they don’t have to. We saw that he’s in the clear with Diggle, who was able to battle back from the edge. But Oliver is beginning to see that something is going on with Felicity. And he has no idea the extent of it. But when he finds out what Felicity has gotten involved in, it’s going to crush him. For as long as Oliver has known Felicity, she has been the light. She’s been the light of the team, she’s inspired light in him, and she’s always managed to stand on the right side of the line. But things are changing. That’s not a constant anymore. Felicity is going to become that darkness, and now she’s going to need help overcoming it.

Lizzie: Now, this is more like it. I was afraid that they were going to sell “dark storyline” without really going dark, but hey, I’m glad they’re taking the plunge and really offering Emily Bett Rickards, a more than capable actress, her chance to shine. The way she says the very un-Felicity line about fighting fire with fire sort of exemplifies where this storyline is going and why it makes sense for it to go there. I mean, Felicity has been around for a most of Oliver’s journey as the Green Arrow, and she’s seen his methods work. She might not be consciously trying to imitate Oliver, but a part of her clearly feels like why shouldn’t she?

Which is why this is the obvious and perfect setup for the role reversal that we’ve needed if Oliver’s journey was going to be complete. I get that. I’m even looking forward to him having to pull her out of it, or try to coax her back to the light. I just want the rest of this journey to be about her and her issues and her exploration of who she is and how far she’s willing to go. That’s what I want. For this storyline to be wholly Felicity’s, not just a prelude to Olicity. I wouldn’t mind the last part one bit, I just want her to get her due first.

Nora: I am really enjoying Felicity’s darker storyline so far. I think it’s a great path we’re taking her down and I’m hopeful this will be a great storyline that continues to develop in season 5B. One of the reasons I’m already enjoying this Felicity storyline is that she’s finally getting to run her own storyline. While Rickards has created an amazing, strong character, Felicity has never truly run her own storyline. She’s often attached to Oliver or Diggle’s. I think this a refreshing “darker” storyline for Arrow. Felicity won’t resort to killing in order to get her way. She’s going to use hacking to bring justice. Felicity is also the light that gets Oliver’s out of darker situations. The way Felicity’s storyline is working out, it looks like Oliver will have to be the light to pull her out of the darkness. We’re already seeing this dynamic shift when Oliver tells Felicity he crosses the line so she doesn’t have to.

I’m really excited for Felicity to figure out how she can be her own definition of a superhero. Right now, she’s exploring the darknet and using hacking to achieve the greater good. I think this storyline has a lot of potential and I hope Arrow won’t screw it up. I also had high hopes for Felicity’s Havenrock storyline and that fell very flat in 5A. I’m excited to see where Rickards takes this darker storyline for Felicity and how it affects the rest of Team Arrow. Felicity has always taken care of everyone and now I’m excited to see Team Arrow rally for her.

Sarah: As much as I’m not personally a big fan of my favorite characters going dark, Felicity’s story is unfolding in a way that makes me more excited than usual to see how she handles this journey. After all this time of watching her teammates deal with their own murky lines of what and what not to cross she’s about to learn herself firsthand. Her steps are being driven by what she’s always believed in, helping people.

However “Dark Felicity” is on a whole new level of how and truthfully I see those methods getting even more questionable the further she sinks into her hacktivist world with Pandora. I personally believe it’ll take a lot for her to reach the edge and when she gets there it’ll take a big effort (from Oliver I pray) to pull her back from it. More than anything I can’t wait to see how EBR kills it during this dark turn and what kind of effect it’ll have on her character’s journey (and possibly relationship with the rest of the team, especially Oliver.)

Describe how you feel about Arrow taking Rory away from us using a gif.





Rory, while not dead, has left Team Arrow after he sacrificed himself and his rags to prevent a massive explosion. Let your Rory feelings out!

Alyssa: Well, I guess we can focus on the one good thing in this entire situation, which is that Rory isn’t dead. Because when I heard rumblings that Rory wouldn’t be in some upcoming episodes I feared that he was going to die. So the only good thing I can think of is that he’s very much alive. But I am beyond angry that Rory has been axed — whether it’s temporarily or permanently — from Arrow. He was the one newbie that I actually saw a purpose for. He was the one newbie that I’ve actually grown to really love. He had a connection to the team through Felicity; he’d been a great friend for her; their relationship had been really meaningful; he never took over the focus of the show. And now he’s gone.

Rory did what he knew to be right. He sacrificed himself — specifically his rags — to save his friends and teammates, as well as a good chunk of Russian area. He has become what his father inspired him to be. He has become a hero. And his story isn’t done. There’s no way it’s done. I refuse to believe that.

Lizzie:  Fuck you, Arrow. This is the one newbie I like and you take him away from me? At this point I’m legit considering any emotional investments in these characters. I’m reaching Game of Thrones territory here. Why should I even care if you’re just going to rip my heart out later? It’s way easier when you watch with a sense of detachment.

And I’m not even saying I don’t understand Rory’s reasoning for leaving – it makes sense, and I’m not saying I don’t expect him to come back – with such an open-ended goodbye he’s sure to come back at some point, it’s that I don’t like it because my feelings were involved and I don’t even care that he came full circle and he became the hero and in a way prevented another tragedy like the one that robbed him of his family. I DON’T CARE. I just want him back.

Nora: I’m starting to wonder if Arrow even wants us to like any of these new characters they throw in front of us. Rory was the one new member of Team Arrow I love right from the start. I think Joe Dinicol add a great dynamic to Arrow and I’m really upset he’s gone. Although he’s not dead and could come back, I wish he could’ve remained part of the team. Like Alyssa, I also had a fear they wear going to kill off Rory, so this is a pleasant surprise, but I still miss him. Rory was the new member that I genuinely wanted to know more about. I loved that he built himself up from tragedy and was using his identity as Ragman to prevent any other tragedies like Havenrock. I’m also just really going to miss Rory and Felicity’s dynamic. I think they had a great friendship and I’m sad it won’t have a chance to grow anymore. Rory and Felicity’s friendship reminded me a lot of the Felicity and Roy dynamic and I was excited for Felicity to have a friendship like that again. Honestly, I think it was a poor decision to get rid of Rory and I hope he comes back ASAP. I refuse to believe this is where Rory’s storyline ends.

Sarah: Rory, God love you for being your heroic self and saving all those people. Arrow writers, please WHY does honest to god heroics get “rewarded” with my favorite newbie leaving?! Nothing against Mad Dog or Curtis, but Rory was the one I just was attached to the most from his story and everything he’d been through out of the new members. I understand why he decided to leave, it wasn’t out of an overly dramatic proclamation or weird reasoning but out of a desire to not pretend he could fight the same way since the rags were depowered by the explosion.

But it makes me wonder what the writer’s long term plans are with these newbies. After Evelyn’s betrayal and now Rory leaving is there a point to what they’re doing? Are they just trying to make the show as dramatic as possible in yanking them away slowly? I’m not sure but either way I’m really going to miss Rory and especially his friendship with Felicity. (Especially when he called her out for going over the line with the fake Bratva blackmail routine) Please come back sooner rather than later Rory!

This week brought us an odd pairing with Rene and Quentin. What did you think of their dynamic and that surprising backstory?

Alyssa: Honestly, I don’t like Wild Dog. Out of all of the newbies, including our most recent in Dinah/Tina, he’s the one I like the least. It’s definitely related to his unappreciative and dickish attitude that he’s carried since day one. There’s been a ton of focus on him that hasn’t really felt warranted. I just don’t like him. But I actually enjoyed the scenes with Rene and Quentin in this episode, as well as the surprising history with them. I loved watching Rene help Quentin work through some tough emotional issues that he’s clearly not over. I loved watching Rene come clean — and thank him — for not arresting him many years ago as a young man. There was honesty in their dynamic that I really enjoyed.

Lizzie: This was probably one of my favorite part of the episode. GASP. Like, Quentin and Rene and I liked it. I don’t even recognize myself. In general, I don’t like Wild Idiot, because he’s an entitled brat who needs a serious attitude adjustment and I don’t even know why he acts the way he acts so I don’t care. At this point, even with his backstory, I’m not sure I could care. That being said, maybe this episode proved that wrong. Maybe I can care. I just don’t think I can care as much as I cared about Rory, and there won’t always be Lance there to talk to Wild Idiot and make me relate.

Nora: I’m not the biggest fan of Wild Dog and I honestly think I would like him better if we already knew his backstory. I think it was a poor decision for Arrow to wait until next week’s episode to give us Wild Dog’s backstory. I haven’t been able to connect with him and I think that’s why he’s my least favorite new member of Team Arrow. Wild Dog has been given a lot of the main storylines for the new members and I don’t understand why. Curtis, who was a great addition last season, has barely gotten a storyline. Maybe his upcoming backstory episode will change my mind, but I don’t know. That being said, I thought the pairing between Rene and Quentin was a little odd, but I didn’t hate it. I think it was great to see a softer side to Rene and I liked the moment where Rene told Quentin about when Quentin picked him up on the street as a kid. That’s the kind of backstory I’ve been waiting to hear about. The thing that I didn’t enjoy about this storyline is that Quentin just really hasn’t had a storyline this season. I miss Paul Blackthorne and I want him to have a greater part in 5B.

Sarah: Wild Dog has never been someone I’ve particularly cared for on Arrow. Not to say I dislike him as a character, but out of everyone there he’s pretty much the one I’ve been least invested in. Seeing him with Quentin though was different, and I liked that it gave way to a part of Rene’s backstory that I actually connected with. It was also good writing to have his character get the chance to interact with people outside the Team Arrow cave since we don’t get a ton of personal focus on the newbies as much as do/did OTA. So if we got more of this, I wouldn’t mind and it might even help me like Wild Dog more than I have…well all season.

Describe your thoughts on Susan Williams using a gif.





With confirmation that Susan Williams is using Oliver for a big story — knowing his Green Arrow identity — how do you foresee this playing out?

Alyssa: Well, this is confirmation that Susan Williams is on her way out. I don’t know if I’m convinced she’s a villain in this story, but she’s clearly out to better herself by using Oliver for information or a story. How quickly we’ve forgotten — in the middle of our rage — that she has been looking into Oliver’s past. Now she knows that he was in Russia. But now she also knows that he is the Green Arrow. Hopefully it doesn’t come down to Susan revealing to the world Oliver’s secret. If and when that ever happens, I’d like it to be Oliver’s decision. That he would feel ready to share that part of him with his city. Basically, I think someone (hopefully Felicity and Thea) will discover Susan’s intentions and take the bitch down. I don’t want it. I need it.

Lizzie: I never expected Susan WIlliams to last, I’m just disgusted that we had to get this story-line in the first place. Look, Oliver’s an idiot, but even though he is one, I still don’t like this story-line with the show using him (and his body, really) as a way for Susan to get information. It makes both characters look awful, it ONCE AGAIN raises the question of if the Arrow writers know that female characters can be more than stereotypes and did I mention it was just stupid? Because it was.

But yeah, she’s gonna die. Not go away, no, die. For reasons. (Aka this is Arrow and she’s a woman). I’m not even going to mourn her. I’m going to mourn the possibility of a good story-line.

Nora: I hope this will lead to Susan Williams leaving shortly. It’s not because I’m an Olicity shipper, it’s just I’m not a fan of Susan and the dynamic she has brought. Clearly she’s using Oliver and their relationship to expose the Green Arrow, so I don’t feel bad disliking her now. She’s clearly the villain and I’m waiting for the bigger shoe to drop now that we know she’s figured out Oliver’s the Green Arrow. I’m curious how this will play out with Oliver and how he will deal with this betrayal. Like Alyssa, I hope this leads to Felicity and Thea discovering what Susan is really up to. As much as I would like Felicity to do this, I think this would be a great Thea storyline. She’s been all but absent in season 5 and I need her to have a bigger role. Thea taking down Susan Williams would be a great way to bring her back onto Arrow.

Sarah: As happy as I am to have her confirmed as evil, or at the very least definitely a self interested bitch, it pisses me off that: one Oliver is being used and lied to (again) two the arrow writers ditched the wonderful and slow burn romance they’d built up over the last few years (cough Olicity cough) for this?! I mean come on, now I just feel embarrassed for Oliver and I never thought I’d ever say that. For the sake of the show, fans and Oliver’s character get this bitch out of his life and if she dies in the process I’ll probably be more sad this story happened than her actually dying.

Stay tuned for another Arrow roundtable next Wednesday.
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.

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