'Arrow' 6×11 Review: ‘We Fall’

We all watch television for different reasons. Some of us want to be entertained; some of us want a good laugh; and some of us want to feel, whether that’s happiness or sadness or a mixture of both.

I’ve always been someone that has invested in television shows, movies, and books because of the characters and the connection that I feel. I watch television to feel. That doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a good laugh or enjoy entertaining storylines that jump off the screen. But the reason that I’m watching is because I care about these characters, which means that I appreciate and gravitate towards episodes that are more centered on the characters than the plot.

Arrow’s latest hour, “We Fall,” is the perfect example of that. In fact, it was kind of the trifecta. It was compelling, got a few laughs out of me, but most importantly it was all about heart. “We Fall” is the kind of episode that makes my favorites list.

If only New Team Arrow, I mean New Team Assholes, didn’t hog the screen. Then this episode would’ve been near perfect. (Seriously, I don’t how they managed to get more annoying than last week’s whine fest. I thought the ego from them in that episode was enough to fill an entire season. Guess I was wrong.)

The focus on Oliver Queen, the man, and his family was the kind of episode that a show like this needs. This show may be called Arrow, but it’s as much — if not more — about Oliver Queen the man. He’s the reason that we watch. He’s the reason that we care. He’s the reason that Arrow exists.

The stark contrast between last week’s “Divided” and this week’s “We Fall” is astounding. Last week’s episode was a massive letdown and missed the mark entirely. Whereas this week’s episode hit the bulls-eye — something that Oliver couldn’t do with a toy bow and arrow. (It was still hilarious and cute.)

It shows me that Arrow is capable of the kind of episodes that it delivered in year’s past — the kind that elicit a strong emotional reaction from its audience. But it also shows me that sometimes Arrow can forget what it is. This is a show that, from the beginning, has thrived off of its ability to deliver a grounded reality that was fueled by the heart of its characters. The characters have always been the strength of this show. But it hasn’t always shown that.

It’s no secret that Arrow’s fifth season was a disappointment in my eyes, but I have to say that its sixth season has brought an interesting mix of storylines. From Olicity becoming a family to Diggle’s nerve damage to a Big Bad that employs a brigade of villains, there have been plenty of moments that have drawn me in emotionally and make it exciting for Thursday nights.

Arrow started it all. This massive DCTV universe that we now have. It’s a beautiful thing — there are so many heroes of different races, genders, personalities, and ideologies that everyone can find a way to relate and a reason to care. Watching Arrow in its sixth season, it’s amazing to believe how far this show has come. It still feels like yesterday when I was watching season 2 and imagining where these characters would be several years down the line. The reason I stayed — through the tough times — is because these characters will forever have a piece of my heart. And that is why I watch.

Let’s break down “We Fall,” which included a beautiful focus on Oliver, Felicity & William and the continued annoyance of the Newbies.

New Team Assholes is Still Annoying

The CW

Perhaps the most frustrating part of Arrow right now is knowing how much I could be enjoying this show more than I already am. But the way that the Newbies have been written lately has made it hard to enjoy an entire episode of this show. I don’t know between Rene and Curtis who is the most annoying character on this show. Or which one I dislike more. But if I’d thought — and I did — that these Newbies couldn’t get more annoying, then I was sorely mistaken.

It’s not easy to live up to the hype and glory that is Original Team Arrow. That’s forever been a staple of this show since season one, and it’s not something you can ever change or top. But the problem with New Team Arrow isn’t that they’re not OTA. The problem is that they’re not just likeable. They come off as rude, immature, and full of shit. (Though mostly it’s Rene and Curtis. Honestly, Dinah could do so much better than them.)

Last week, with tensions running high, Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity took the high road in apologizing to the Newbies and offering to reunite their team. But instead, New Team Assholes (because that’s the nickname they deserve) decided to act like children, throw a temper tantrum, blame mom and dad, and go off and form their own team. (Seriously, my 5th grade students are more mature than how NTA is acting.)

There’s a complete lack of gratitude when it comes to the Newbies understanding how they got to this point in their lives. Oliver, this team, saved them. It gave them a purpose. They’re heroes because of him and this team. And yet, they’re so quick to embrace a cockiness that’s as ugly as sin. They’ve gotten to a point where they feel they don’t need Oliver, Diggle, or Felicity anymore. So they decided to branch off so that they could be in control rather than remaining on a team that does a lot of good together.

Dinah isn’t the one that annoys me on New Team Assholes. It’s just an unfortunate circumstance that she has to be lumped in with them. Dinah’s problem is that she’s trusting the wrong person. And she’s not taking the hints. She’s someone that’s so quick to want to forgive — to want to believe that there’s goodness in the man that she used to love. She wants to open her heart because it’s been closed off for so long. Can’t fault the girl for that, but it’s incredibly frustrating to see her continually place her trust in a man that’s clearly playing her like a fiddle.

Curtis, on the other hand, is proving that there is in fact a walking definition of hypocrisy. For someone that likes to bitch about OTA and betrayal of trust, he’s going behind his own team’s backs. For someone that was such a pleasant surprise in season four, Curtis has evolved into something else…and it’s not an endearing character.

I’ll take “hypocritical asshole” for $500, Alex.

Curtis is more concerned with his suit or his team’s new “name” or trashing on OTA than he is concerned with actually saving the city. He’s become a problem; a problem that this show can’t seem to get rid of. He’s

Can we talk about the fact that Rene is the one that betrayed Oliver?

Because that’s something that has gotten lost in translation. This entire thing — the bugging, the split — stems from Rene’s betrayal in giving Oliver up to the FBI. And yet Rene spent a good chunk of this hour just pissing on Oliver’s character and demeaning him to the degree that he’s like the bad guys they face.

It’s as if Rene is justifying his betrayal — I did it for my daughter. While that’s noble and all, you still have to take ownership of the fact that you did betray the man that gave you a second chance at living a fulfilling life. But instead you recycle snide remarks about Oliver like empty cans of Diet Coke. But instead you choose to blame everyone except yourself.

“How very Oliver Queen of you.”

Hey, asshole, did you forget what you did to Oliver Queen? The man that gave you a purpose in this life. The man that made it possible for you to get your daughter back. The man that saved your life. Stop acting like a child in this situation and pointing the finger everywhere but yourself. You set this mess in motion. Pot, meet kettle.

I’m not saying Oliver is perfect. Hell, he’s far from it. His instinct is to fold into himself — keep secrets in a way to protect others and himself. But he’s owned up to it. He’s proven that he’s worthy of forgiveness in those instances. He didn’t go around whining and pointing the finger at others. He acted like a man — even when sometimes it felt like he wasn’t — and took ownership. You know, something you, Rene, have never done.

“(Felicity) isn’t bugging us again is she?”

Shut. The. Hell. Up. Stop acting like you don’t need help, you dog. The problem with Team New Assholes is that they’re completely missing the point of their separation from OTA. Their stance was because they didn’t feel they could trust them. And yet, here they are getting help from Felicity and the team and still have the audacity to make snide remarks in a way that paints them as “all holy” compared to Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity. Who died and made you queen? Haven’t you heard, this show already has Queens. Bow the hell down.

Honestly, I’d be fine if Arrow wanted to keep OTA and NTA separate. In fact, I’d prefer it. OTA have proven that they’re more effective as a three-person unit where everyone has a role, everyone trusts each other, and everyone excels. NTA is inexperienced, a loose canon, and trusts the wrong people. And yet, they work. The three of them. Let them handle street crime while OTA takes care of business, like they’ve been doing for years — without you ungrateful assholes.

While it would be nice, I doubt that we’ll get a permanent OTA. Eventually this show will reunite the two units — probably at the expense of OTA because you know those NT-Assholes are incapable of accountability.

The New Queen Family Dynamic

This stepmom-in-training is rocking it (amanitacaplan)

When Oliver and Felicity tied the knot — and made it official in the midseason finale — I was eagerly awaiting storylines where we’d get to see the newlyweds tackle issues as a team. With the overwhelming theme of this season being “family,” it was great to see a focus on the Queen family’s new dynamic.

This was a big episode for William — William and his relationship with his dad; and William and his relationship with his stepmom. And it was executed beautifully in a way that actually made me excited for more of this storyline moving forward.

It’s hard to believe there was a time when William was an overwhelming annoyance. Not to mention it’s always a struggle to incorporate a kid onto a show — especially a show like this. But Arrow has managed to find a suitable way to weave William into the storyline that’s actually eliciting an emotional reaction out of myself and others that didn’t think it possible.

This was the episode where William learned the truth — that his father had been lying to him; that he hadn’t stopped being the Green Arrow. Well, not entirely. In Oliver’s defense, he did stop for a good while, until John got hurt and now the team divided. But that didn’t stop William from reacting the way he did. The way he was hurt; the way those emotions, including fear, came flooding back. Dealing with William’s reaction was a significant part of this episode, and it was one that was actually quite compelling. Oliver and Felicity as a parenting team is everything I’ve ever wanted. Oliver and Felicity as a team is everything I’ve ever wanted and everything that I’ll always appreciate.

Felicity giving Oliver advice on talking to William and being all lovey while doing it = totally married. (And now they actually are.) But in all fairness, Felicity was just on fire tonight spilling truth tea and sound advice to anyone and everyone that would listen. No wonder Emily Bett Rickards received accolades for her performance in this episode from from on-screen husband Stephen Amell.

Felicity has some experience when it comes to fathers; when it comes to a father lying to his kid. She explained to Oliver that, honestly, all William wants is the truth. Whether it’s good, bad, or ugly, he wants all truth and no lies. But Oliver wasn’t sure if William could handle it. Felicity insisted that he could. It was so nice seeing such a genuine conversation between these two characters as they navigate a new life as husband and wife.

As if that wasn’t enough, Felicity gave the speech of the year to William as Oliver fought to protect the people in the city that need him. William has every right to be angry; he has every right to feel the way he does. But he also needs to understand his dad’s perspective, as well.

Here’s Felicity’s speech in full because I can’t possibly do it justice on my own:

“But this is what he does best. No one does it better. What your dad does is very dangerous and the heroes don’t always make it home – I never forget that, but you know, I have loved your dad since the first time he brought me a bullet-ridden computer which means I’ve loved him for a long time – remind me to tell you about that sometime – but it means I’ve worried about him for a long time…he’s not perfect, but he makes his sacrifices so we have to make ours…we can’t take things for granted we have to live with the uncertainty, but that’s the price we pay for loving the people we love…everything he does he does for a good reason or what he thinks is a good reason so you can worry about your dad, but you have to believe he is going to be okay. Okay? Now, watch…after he takes these two down he’s going to spin, kick…use the arrow…oh, you probably shouldn’t have been allowed to watch that, that’s parenting 101.”

Speechless. But because I am writing a review, I’m not forced to find words to describe this glorious dialogue.

Felicity really hit on an important truth that extends to all of the DCTV shows: Heroes don’t always make it home — and it’s something that those that love them have to live with every time they go out and put their life on the line. Heroes make sacrifices, and to love a hero, you have to make sacrifices, too. It’s about give and take. Only not under ordinary circumstances.

But perhaps the most important thing that comes from this is that no one is promised tomorrow. You have to live your life to the fullest. Don’t ever take a single moment for granted. Tomorrow isn’t promised — especially for people that throw themselves into the fire on a daily basis. But that’s the price that comes with loving someone in that line of work. Hell, that’s the price anyone pays for loving someone. Love is about putting your heart out there knowing that there’s a chance that it can get broken. Love isn’t easy. But then again, nothing truly worthwhile ever is.

For the loved ones of heroes, they have to live with the uncertainty every time their hero goes out there. But they can’t dwell on the negative thoughts. If they did, it would darken them. They have to believe — always — that their loved one will be okay; they have to believe that they’ll come walking through that door at the end of the night.

Later at what I hope is the first of many Queen family meetings, Oliver and Felicity sit down with William to talk things through.

William’s desire for his dad to not be the Green Arrow didn’t stem from petty selfishness. It stemmed from the fear that came with ending up alone in this world. He already lost his mother. If he lost his dad, he’d be an orphan all alone in this world.

But things have changed since that initial conversation earlier in the season. His dad got married; he got an amazing stepmom; and he’s grown up in the process. William realizes, now, that the city needs him. And while that fear of losing his dad is still in the back of his mind, it’s not as suffocating as before.

“It’s different now. I have Felicity.”

While William lost his mother, he’s since gained a father and a stepmother. He has someone else in his life now aside from his dad — Felicity. Someone that he clearly feels safe and supported around. They’ve built themselves a nice little family. Something that none of them probably expected. But that’s part of what makes it so beautiful. They’ve built it — and will continue to build it together.

And there you have it. The circumstances have changed. The new circumstances have made it possible for Oliver to continue being the Green Arrow, something that he loves very much. It’s a part of him. Just as Felicity and William are. Who says he can’t have it all? He already learned that lesson a long time ago.

15 Things About “We Fall”

Can all mornings be like this? (anthfan)
  1. Domestic Oliver and Felicity was everything. More of that please. Don’t forget that they’re newlyweds who are head over heels in love with each other.
  2. Oliver getting annoyed because he can’t fire a toy bow was the cutest thing.
  3. We already played the whole “killed my father” bit last season; now it’s the whole “killed my son” bit. These villains have very similar motives. But I’m enjoying them both.
  4. Emily Bett Rickards was flawless in her speech to William. Speech of the year. So well said. So well understood. And damn right she’s loved Oliver since 1×03.
  5. Diggle got a new suit! And he’s back in the field! It’s all so glorious!
  6. Damn right William’s new mom is hot. But I don’t whether to be flattered or disgusted at that little creep on the bus.
  7. How is possible that I’m not only tolerating but loving this William storyline now? Especially his relationship with Felicity. Maybe you’ve still got it, Arrow.
  8. Thea is a f***ing goddess and badass. Girl doesn’t get enough credit or screen time.
  9. No way in hell Vincent isn’t playing Dinah right now. I don’t trust him for a second.
  10. “How very Oliver Queen of you.” F*** you, Rene. You’re not a damn saint.
  11. Cayden James was effectively terrifying tonight. Nicely done.
  12. I would like to attend Queen family meetings.
  13. Petition for Dinah to form her own team devoid of Curtis and Rene. They’re just bringing her down.
  14. Seriously, who is the more infuriating character: Curtis or Rene?
  15. Can we keep OTA and NTA separated forever? Please?!

Arrow airs Thursdays at 9/8c on The CW.

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