As far as mid-season finales go, Arrow’s was easily the least unnerving of the core four Arrowverse shows. In fact, you could say it was damn near enjoyable. Twelve glorious minutes of Oliver and Felicity’s wedding celebration? Oh, most definitely enjoyable.
On Supergirl, Kara is in a coma after getting beat down by Reign. On The Flash, Barry is in jail after getting framed for murder. On Legends of Tomorrow, our Legends are still floating through time, which is never a feeling that promotes ease. And honestly, I was expecting Oliver to be arrested in the final moments.
While Oliver, Felicity, and Diggle dealt with the news that one of the newbies had betrayed Oliver — offering to testify that Oliver is the Green Arrow — there was never really a moment where I felt the kind of fear I’ve been inclined to feel in this Arrow mid-season finale. I’m forever scarred by season 4’s “Dark Waters,” and I still cannot listen to “The Little Drummer Boy” without traumatic flashbacks.
If the worst thing to happen in “Irreconcilable Differences” was that Team Arrow disbanded into OTA and Newbies, then things aren’t actually that bad.
Am I supposed to feel nervous? Uneasy because Dinah, Curtis, and Rene left the team? Because I don’t. That stems in my faith for Original Team Arrow. Arrow has severely underestimated my faith in the team that started it all. A team that hasn’t betrayed each other. A team that has proven to be stronger when they work together in tandem. A team that is family.
Mid-season finales serve to set the table for the second half of the season, and this hour did exactly that. It set up Cayden James’ evil posse of supervillains set to help him destroy the world. It set up Cayden’s intentions to turn Team Arrow against each other rather than against his evil posse. And it set up the eventual key to taking Cayden and his group down: Reuniting the full team down the line.
Arrow introducing this OTA vs. Newbies conflict was actually quite interesting. I’m curious to see how they intend to continue this split while also dealing with Samanda Watson’s crusade against Oliver and the team.
But for me, “Irreconcilable Differences” was all about Oliver and Felicity and celebrating their love. You don’t have to like it or agree with it, but Olicity — along with OTA — is why I watch Arrow. Oliver and Felicity’s relationship is the weight that keeps me anchored week in and week out.
In last week’s crossover, we saw Oliver and Felicity get married, alongside their friends Barry and Iris, by their best friend and brother, John Diggle. But Arrow didn’t choose to glide over their wedding like The Flash did. Arrow devoted its first 12 minutes — 12 glorious minutes — to celebrating true love in the form of Olicity. It was something that fans have been waiting for and something we’ve definitely deserved about six years.
Between seeing Olicity and OTA centerstage, it felt like the good ol’ days. The days where Team Arrow was a well-oiled, three-man/woman machine taking on the scum of the city and doing it with style. This midseason finale, surprisingly, had a not-so-cliffhangery-or-heartbreaking ending. Oliver wasn’t arrested, which I was expecting. No one was left for apparent death. No one rode in a limo (seriously, ban limos from midseason finales). No one was playing “The Little Drummer Boy” in the background with the backdrop of happiness disguised as an eventual nightmare.
Team Arrow might be disbanded and Team Cayden James might appear to be rising, but I’ve never felt more at ease heading into a month-long hiatus.
Let’s break down the rest of Arrow’s midseason finale, including Oliver & Felicity’s beautiful wedding celebration, OTA vs. the Newbies, the dog on the team, and what’s a total obvious yet intriguing redemption arc for Black Siren.
Raise a Glass to True Love
While I never needed a wedding reception to be satisfied with Oliver and Felicity’s new marriage (FINALLY), it was nice of the Arrow writers to give the couple some happiness before shit hit the fan. Not to mention a good 12 minutes of happiness complete with the bride’s entrance, cutting of the cake, the tossing of the bouquet, and the first dance. I didn’t need it to feel happy with Oliver and Felicity finally tying the knot, but it was something that I’m glad we got. It was nice for Oliver and Felicity to get a moment of happiness — when they’ve been too far and between — before things heated up.
Let’s raise a glass to true love — to Mr. & Mrs. Queen.
Oliver and Felicity weren’t supposed to happen. They weren’t supposed to become friends. They weren’t supposed to become partners. They weren’t supposed to become romantic partners. They weren’t supposed to be endgame.
Sometimes, the best love stories are the ones you don’t see coming. The ones that aren’t planned. The ones that sneak up on you. And that’s been the epitome of Oliver and Felicity’s love story.
Oliver and Felicity are proof why you don’t try to force things, like couples that don’t work on screen (ahem, Lauriver.) The very nature of Olicity’s dynamic was the very honest and organic nature of their relationship from the very beginning. Early on in season 1, I didn’t know that I hipped them as much as all I knew was that I needed to see more of them together. I didn’t care how. I just wanted to see more interactions because there was always this electricity between the two of them. One that was undeniable and one that carried their relationship through a six-year journey that has brought them to marriage.
It allowed these writers to really develop the foundation of their relationship — the trust, the friendship, the respect, the love — before transitioning to the next, obvious step. Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards pretty much guaranteed, with their electric chemistry, that Olicity was going to be endgame.
Goodness, I’ll forever not be over the way they looked at each other as Felicity entered the room…
You can’t fake that kind of chemistry. That’s magic. That’s lightning in a bottle that you always hope to capture, but most of the time never do.
There was so much to love in those 12 minutes. The little things like their first dance, the bouquet toss, the cutting of the cake, the way they could not stop beaming at each other throughout the entire thing. But it was when Rene stepped up to give his speech about Oliver and Felicity’s love, that’s what really got me.
We always dream about finding true love. The kind of love that makes you feel complete. So when you see a couple that has found that kind of love, it serves as a reminder that true love is possible.
Oliver and Felicity have been the personification of “true love.” The kind of love that doesn’t come easy. The kind of love that must be fought for. The kind of love that inspires others. The kind of love that always lasts.
Oliver and Felicity’s journey hasn’t been perfect. They’re had to face countless struggles over the past six years. Times when it felt like true love wouldn’t win out. But the thing is, they were always able to overcome those obstacles. Those challenges didn’t weaken them. They strengthened them. Relationships aren’t about perfection. They’re about working together as a team against any obstacle thrown your way. It’s not always pretty. But at the end of the day, true love always wins.
With that said, Oliver and Felicity are two people that genuinely deserve happiness. For so long, Oliver believed that he was incapable of finding happiness. He exiled himself to his inner world of pain and loneliness. But it was Felicity that showed him that he can have happiness. He can feel complete. Likewise, Felicity has always feared abandonment, which stems back to her father. Oliver brought a sense of safety and completeness in her life. He showed her that she can also find happiness. She can also feel complete. As Donna once said, Oliver and Felicity found themselves in each other.
And the beautiful thing is that this isn’t an end. It’s only a beginning.
OTA vs. Newbies
Talk about a team divided. Team Arrow faced an issue of trust in an episode so perfectly titled “Irreconcilable Differences” that has altered the face of Team Arrow the foreseeable future. It’s OTA (Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity) against NTA (Rene, Dinah, and Curtis). And that’s exactly what Cayden James and his evil posse want.
As Oliver faces trouble in the form of the FBI and Samanda Watson, a new challenge arose in the form of a promised testimony that would confirm Oliver as the Green Arrow. Worse, it would come from a member of his own team.
In an effort to figure out who would betray the team’s trust, OTA spied on Rene, Dinah, and Curtis to get a feel as to who threatened to out Oliver. But it was when their actions were brought to life that the real fallout began. It wasn’t just OTA against the person that betrayed them. It was now the originals versus the newbies.
Rene came clean that he’d made a deal with Watson — that he would get to see his daughter and that he wouldn’t be outted as Wild Dog. He tried to justify himself by saying that Watson said she was going to arrest Oliver anyway, and that he was doing it for his daughter. But betraying a teammate — someone you called a friend not some few hours ago — is a tough thing to swallow. And the worst part is that he did it with only his selfish intentions in mind.
Though I have to admit that I was incredibly proud of Oliver for admitting that he’d done the same thing when it came to William. He’d kept a secret. He’d betrayed trust. But he didn’t sell out someone on his own team like Rene did. That’s a complete loss of trust that would take time — if ever — to develop again.
But trust goes both ways. Not only do Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity need to trust their team, but the other members need to be able to trust them. That’s huge when you’re a part of a team where you’re literally putting your life on the line every night — with your life in other people’s hands. And, while I love them more than words, OTA did betray the newbie’s trust when they spied on them. Two wrongs don’t make a right, after all.
While the team was able to put the issue off long enough to rescue Quentin, when they returned to the bunker things began to unravel. Rene — again — betrayed Oliver’s trust when he elected not to follow orders. The difference is, this time he didn’t trust Rene. So he kicked Rene out. It wasn’t long before Dinah and Curtis each said their peace and excused themselves from the team because that trust wasn’t there for them either.
Suddenly, we were back to where it all started. Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity.
And selfishly, I’m thrilled. I’ve loved OTA since the very beginning, and they’ve been one of my very favorite things about this show. Since Arrow has expanded, we haven’t gotten nearly enough OTA scenes featuring just the three of them; the three of them working so in sync with one another.
I have to admit I’m intrigued by this whole Original Team Arrow vs. New Team Arrow, where each member is a nice parallel of another. They all have the same intention: save the people of this city and taking out the threat that is Cayden James. But will their split help or hurt them in the long run? Cayden is counting on the latter as he’s now assembled his evil posse to help him in the destruction of the world. Just in time for the holidays!
The Rene Problem
Just when I’m close to moving past tolerating Rene to starting to like him as a character, he goes ahead and does something that reiterates the feelings I felt from the first moment he appeared on screen. Rene is problematic.
When it comes to characters — especially your heroes — it’s your job to make them as relatable and endearing and sympathetic as possible. You want your audience to connect with them. You want your audience to give a damn about them. So you relate to their human side and you show gradual growth that shows you they’re worth believing in.
Rene hasn’t been that character. He has two modes: likeable and intolerable. You know, kind of like in this episode where he was raving about Oliver, Felicity, and true love only to later betray Oliver and the team.
There needs to be a happy medium. That’s not to say he has to be perfect. But at this point, he should be making substantial growth as a character. He shouldn’t be betraying his team — that’s so last season. He needs to be communicating and trusting in a team he’s spent now two years with.
Here’s the thing, I understand why Rene did it. He did it for his daughter. He did it so he could be with this daughter. And as a parent, there’s nothing you wouldn’t do to protect your child. Hell, even Oliver understood because he’d done the same thing.
But it was Rene’s second betrayal — the one in the field — that seemed to be the proverbial final straw. He had an opportunity to earn back Oliver’s trust by following his orders. But Rene chose to act out of line, as he usually does, to find Quentin. Oliver knows that’s the kind of guy Rene is. But the difference is, when Rene had done those things before, Oliver had trusted him. That trust was gone with the ability to be earned back. But he betrayed that trust. Again.
All I want is for Rene to be a well-balanced character. I don’t like not liking him. Especially because I love Rick Gonzalez. But Arrow needs to be careful when writing his character. Yes, he’s a rebel. Yes, he doesn’t play by the rules. But you have to make sure you’re not alienating that character with your audience. He is, after all, one of your heroes on the show.
Redemption for Black Siren
If there’s one theme that Arrow has preached from the start, it’s that anyone is capable of redemption. So long as they want it. And from the looks of this mid-season finale, it appears as if Black Siren might be headed down that road to redemption — courtesy of Quentin Lance.
While it was something that was so incredibly predictable, it’s something that I’m actually intrigued about. Obviously it was going to be founded in Evil Laurel and Quentin’s super weird connection and dynamic. There hadn’t really been any indication that Evil Laurel gave a damn about Quentin before. Until now.
After Black Siren had abducted Quentin, he sparked a conversation about their doppelgangers. A conversation that led to some insight about Evil Laurel’s father on Earth-2, who had passed away when she was only 13. He was out getting her birthday cake as he did every year — just as our Quentin had done for his Laurel — when a drunk driver hit him in a head-on collision and killed him.
So Laurel didn’t really grow up with her father. Perhaps that’s what made it so easy for her to turn that side of her off when confronted by her dad’s doppelganger. But as Quentin began to break down her walls, we saw that she cared very much.
Just in case you didn’t get the memo that Black Siren is headed down that road to redemption, Arrow wrote the letters in flashing neon lights when she chose to let Quentin go instead of killing him as instructed. Clearly she felt something towards him; feelings that she didn’t understand.
It’ll be interesting to see just exactly how Quentin and Black Siren’s dynamic unravels and if or when she’s able to come back from the darkness. If Evil Laurel was ever going to be saved, it was going to be by her father. Or the man that resembles him.
16 Things About “Irreconcilable Differences”
- Well, I feel surprisingly at ease following that mid-season finale. Weird feeling.
- I get Arrow wants me to feel uneasy about Team Arrow dividing, but I’ve never felt more at ease with OTA ready to step up.
- Thank you, Arrow, for giving us 12 glorious minutes of celebrating Oliver and Felicity’s love. I know you could’ve glossed over it, but it was important to a part of the fandom that we get to see them happy. We don’t get to experience that often. Or lately.
- Oliver’s face when he saw Felicity walk into the reception, I was actually screaming. These two have all of the chemistry in the world. And then some.
- I love watching Oliver and Felicity be happy.
- Curtis got drunk and ranted about how love doesn’t exist and how marriage is a sham. Yet Oliver and Felicity just shrugged it off because nothing could ruin their happiness — all they care about is being happy with each other, not what others think. The Flash writers could take a page from the Arrow writers’ book.
- How amazing was it that the Ivy Town couple made the trip for Olicity’s wedding? Such an amazing callback to the season 4 premiere.
- Can we talk about how Quentin basically views Oliver as a son? That dynamic has evolved so much into something so beautiful. I live for these moments.
- Not gonna lie, I was seriously disappointed when Roy didn’t show up to the wedding. Especially when Thea mentioned him. I thought for sure. Hey, maybe in the mid-season premiere now that OTA needs some help.
- Not surprising that Black Siren is about to get a redemption arc. Predictable, yes. Intriguing, yes. Though I do love watching Katie Cassidy slay as the villain.
- I’ve disliked Rene since the first moment he stepped on screen. And I dislike him even more for his betrayal — not once, but twice — and how he has a disregard for honor and how being on a team works.
- Which is why it sucks that I dislike him — because I love Rick Gonzalez and because Rene delivered a truly beautiful speech honoring Oliver and Felicity’s love at their reception.
- Oliver has grown so much as a character. I could not be prouder. He’s owning up to his mistakes, taking ownership of his decisions, and trying to see things from other people’s perspective. Not something you’d see even two years ago.
- Oh, Dinah, honey. Don’t trust Vince. You’ve gotta know he’s playing you. Honestly, she did before. But now that the team is divided, she has no one else to turn to. She’s playing right into his hands.
- Curtis got drunk and ranted about how love doesn’t exist and how marriage is a sham. Yet Oliver and Felicity just shrugged it off because nothing could ruin their happiness — all they care about is being happy with each other, not what others think.
- So Cayden James has an evil posse. Of course he does. Should I be worried? Because I don’t feel worried.