To say that I thoroughly enjoyed the latest episode of Arrow would be a gross understatement. This episode reminded me of all of the reasons I love Arrow. And none of them had to do with the wannabes that must never be named again.
“Doppleganger” reminded me of the show that I fell in love with. It reminded me that this — Oliver, Felicity, Diggle, Thea, Roy — this is my Team Arrow. This is the team that I’ve been following since season 1. This is the team I choose to follow. This is the only team that matters.
It’s no secret that shows can lose sight of the things that made them great the further down the line they go. It comes with the territory — with actors leaving (for very good reasons, as Colton Haynes did) and also the producers’ desire to want to bring something fresh to a show that really doesn’t need it.)
Change is inevitable. And it’s inevitable that we won’t always like change. But what can we do but keep on keeping on?
While Arrow has disappointed me more than it’s delighted me over these past two seasons, it’s truly incredible how one episode can make you feel in a way where those thoughts are brushed aside. For one week, this was the Arrow I remember watching three years ago. For one week, I wasn’t overcome with negative feelings about how this show has chosen to handle things. It’s a nice feeling.
I miss the old days. I really do. But there are some good things that have come with where we are now, most notably Oliver and Felicity becoming husband and wife. But it’s nice to take a trip down memory lane to when these characters’ stories were just unfolding. It’s like going back home after you’ve been gone for years. It’s like going back to your high school years after you graduated. There’s this feeling of sadness but understanding. The past is the past. The past happened. You can’t go back, but you can make sure you keep the past alive in your heart and soul. (Damn, I’m making myself emotional again.)
But let me tell you the story of how I died…
“Is that my hood? It looks good on you.”
“I’m not leaving you. I’m not losing you again.”
“Knowing he was out there and that he was okay it made my life better.”
“I want to make sure he’s safe, and I will do whatever it takes to make that happen.”
“I think that maybe you should go with him.”
“You haven’t been the same without him. So maybe you shouldn’t be without him.”
“You’ve seen what having Felicity in my life has done for me. You deserve that same happiness, Speedy. Wherever that is.”
Seriously, I felt like I was watching fanfic there were so many glorious lines between and about these two precious babies. And the best part is? This isn’t the end. We’ve got (at least) another episode before we get to see Thea and Roy ride off into the sunset. Together. It won’t be a sad goodbye. It will be bittersweet. Bitter in that we won’t get to see it. And sweet in that these two will finally be able to live. Together. They haven’t been the same without each other. They belong together. They deserve a happily ever after. Please, for the love of God, Arrow, give it to them.
Theroy owned me in “Doppleganger,” but there were so many other great dynamics on display in this hour — an hour that felt incredibly short due to the Black Siren storyline. Just saying, I wanted more of My Team Arrow.
The things that left a mark on me — Oliver & Felicity, Thea & Roy, Oliver & Diggle, Diggle & Felicity, Oliver & Thea — were on full display. And those relationships reminded me of the importance of crafting these relationships and making an action show about more than just the hero. This is about the characters. The bonds they form with each other. The ups and downs. The love.
While last week’s review focused on all of the things wrong with the wannabee team that must not be named, there was so much that I loved about Arrow that this episode actually gave us. Let’s celebrate these glorious relationships:
Thea & Roy
There’s been a lot of change throughout these past three years on Arrow. One of the most significant ones to this day has been the departure of Roy Harper. It wasn’t necessarily by choice. It was Colton Haynes’ decision — a decision that I respect 100 percent and don’t fault him at all for. But there’s no denying the impact that Roy’s absence left on the show. It was incredibly emotional. It felt like an historic chapter was coming to a close. And it was.
While Roy made a cameo a couple of years ago, there was something about his reappearance in “Doppleganger” that really made me emotional. Maybe it’s because I know that Arrow is coming close to ending its run. Maybe it’s because Roy has been gone for a significant amount of time to the point where, yes, it’s been that long since My Team Arrow was together. Or maybe because I know that this is the final one. The final appearance before the end. (Unless they decide to bring him and Thea back for the series finale, whenever that is.)
I know I’m sticking to a love fest in this review, but I need to rant — briefly — about one thing. This episode reminded me of just how much Arrow has wasted the character of Thea Queen since season 4, when she became irrelevant. It makes me angry. We were robbed of character growth when it came to Thea’s journey as Speedy. We were robbed of getting to watch Thea go from reluctant hero to self-assumed villain back to hero again. Instead, we got whiny, useless reporters and a team of wannabe heroes that is as boring as a glass of water in a bar.
So it was beyond satisfying to watch Thea suit up as Speedy. After so long. Again, it reminded me of the Arrow I used to watch. As I watched I kept asking, Where has this been? Why has it taken this long? Why is it so close to the end? We deserved better. Sorry, Thea Queen deserved better.
We’ve gotten to watch both of these characters grow from lost teenagers to full-fledged heroes dealing with personal demons while never managing to compromise who they truly are. It’s been truly satisfying to watch as a viewer, as a fan of both of these characters.
One of the beautiful things about Thea and Roy is that they grew up together. Not actually grew up together over a significant period of time. But when it came to growing as people, as heroes, they did it alongside each other. Just like I know — and hope — they’ll eventually ride off into the sunset together. Like they both deserve.
That’s why it’s easy to love Theroy. That’s why their relationship is so significant. That’s why Thea was willing to risk anything and everything to save Roy. That’s why he’d do the same for her in a heartbeat.
When Roy left, it wasn’t by choice. He sacrificed himself to save Oliver from being outed as the Arrow. Roy gave up his entire life — his future as a hero, his future with Thea — to protect the man that saved him; to protect the man that became his brother; to protect the man that gave him a purpose in life.
So Thea didn’t go with him when he left. She never had the chance to. Roy was forced to leave immediately and abruptly that Roy and Thea never got to say goodbye. It’s terrifying to imagine that. To imagine someone you love being ripped away from you without the chance to tell them goodbye; without the chance to tell them how much you love them; without the chance to tell them that they’ve made your life better just by being in it.
So when Thea sees that Roy is in danger, she doesn’t even hesitate. Go after Roy? Obvious. Put the hood back on? Of course. Like she said, she’ll do whatever it takes to ensure he’s safe.
And that reunion? That was everything. There was initial shock and then realization that they had found each other again. It was an emotion that overtook them like a tidal wave. They couldn’t think. They just acted on instinct. Run to each other. Kiss each other. Memorize each other’s face because they didn’t know if it would be the last time.
Even as My Team Arrow is racing to save Roy through the majority of this episode, we saw Thea never waver. She’s willing to do whatever it takes. As she told Roy, she can’t lose him again. As she told Oliver, she hasn’t been the same since she first lost him.
In a beautiful conversation (which I’ll gush about later in this review), Oliver straight up tells Thea that, when they get Roy back, that she should leave with him. Not that he wants his little sister to leave town. But if there’s anyone that understands the effect that love can have on a person — love lost and love gained — it’s Oliver Queen. Oliver wants Thea to be as happy as he is. She deserves it just as much as he does.
So it’s safe to assume that Thea and Roy will leave town together. Eventually. While I cannot wait for them to get their moment in the sun and their rightfully earned happy ending, I do hope that we get several more episodes of Thea and Roy united with Oliver, Felicity, and Diggle. I need My Team Arrow. One last time.
One last thing I have to ask: WHAT IS THE POINT OF HAVING THIS SHOW AIRING AT 9PM IF WE DON’T GET TO SEE THE GOODS? (cough, cough)
Oliver & Felicity
While Arrow has certainly changed over the past three years, the one great thing to come out of it was Oliver and Felicity getting married and getting to see them handle life as partners in life and in work. It’s a nice balance that Arrow has done pretty good with this season (although I could do with more of them and less of those wannabes that shall not be named.)
“Doppleganger” was all about Thea and Roy, and rightfully so. But that didn’t stop Arrow from reminding us of how things used to be, which certainly includes Oliver and Felicity. Granted they weren’t married back then, but they’ve been making heart eyes at each other since episode 3 of season 1. Some things never change.
This episode did a good job of reminding us that Felicity is Oliver’s rock. She is the one that he goes to when he needs guidance and reassurance. Felicity has always done such an amazing job at being wise and nurturing at the same time. And it’s always what Oliver needs.
As Oliver fell to his default — blaming himself for bad things happening to others. In this case, Oliver blamed himself for not going in that hotel room after Roy. He thought he didn’t do it because he couldn’t bear the responsibility if something went bad. But Felicity reminded him that Oliver acted on — and has always acted on — his gut instinct to guide him. He didn’t go into that hotel room because he knew that it was what was best to keep Roy and himself alive.
Felicity also reminded Oliver that he needs to learn to stop blaming himself for what happens to others. Not because she believed that he could do that as easily as flipping a switch. But it’s important to keep reminding him of that because he really does take the brunt of the blame and weight on himself.
It’s so important for Oliver — for anyone really — to be able to talk about what they’re feeling. With whoever they feel comfortable doing that with. Which led us to Oliver confiding in Felicity about his uncertainty about not relinquishing the hood to Diggle. Is it that it’s not the right time? Oliver isn’t so sure. But when it comes to voicing feelings, it’s not always about answers. It’s about being able to express these thoughts and not letting them eat you up inside. Knowing that you don’t need to handle things by yourself. Knowing that you can and should reach out to others for help. And Oliver has gotten really good at doing that with Felicity.
It also managed to perfectly parallel the Queen siblings and their rough lives and how they get their happy endings. Oliver has been through hell and back. Thea has been through death and back. Both are damaged. Both have struggled with their demons. But both have managed to find a way out of that darkness. They’ve fought darkness with love. Oliver with Felicity. Thea with Roy. Things haven’t always been perfect, but that love has always been there.
Oliver is in perhaps the best place he’s ever been in on this show. He’s holding no secrets from the people he loves. He’s surrounded by the people he loves. He’s building a family with Felicity and William. He’s happy. Felicity has made him happy. She’s made him complete. It’s truly beautiful to watch this tragic character get to a point in his life where he can be this happy even as he faces an FBI investigation and the annual threat of big bads.
Don’t you dare tell me that romance isn’t important in superhero shows. Or life for that matter. Love is the basis of everything. It’s why wars are waged. It’s why battles are fought. It’s why we keep pushing even in the most adverse of circumstances. Love is always worth fighting for.
Oliver and Felicity’s love has been beautiful and inspiring since the very beginning. They found a home with each other. They found a love that is so deep and wide that it could span oceans. They’ve had their share of ups and downs. But they’ve grown stronger as a result. When it’s true love, you just know. And it’s true love.
Oliver & Thea
There’s nothing more important than family. And before Oliver had Felicity, Diggle, and William, he had Thea. Oliver and Thea’s relationship has been integral to this series since the pilot. And we’ve only seen that grow throughout the seasons. Watched the lengths that these two will go to for each other. Watched the ups and downs affect them. Watched the beauty of what it means to be brother and sister — even on a superhero show.
Again, Thea’s absence over these past two seasons has caused an unbalance in certain areas. One of them has been Oliver and Thea’s relationship, which I felt like we haven’t gotten nearly enough of in these past two seasons. Oliver and Thea’s bond is a thing of beauty. One that cannot be broken. Even when it seems like it could be.
But this episode served to highlight the similarities between these siblings in their lives. While they’ve experienced different things, there’s no denying that both Oliver and Thea have experienced an unhealthy amount of pain and heartbreak. They have darkness inside of them that is always there just waiting to strike. So how do you combat darkness? With light. And love.
Arrow has done a great job paralleling Oliver and Thea’s journeys in a way that remains true to their characters. Different experiences, similar responses. It wasn’t too long ago when we saw Oliver lost in darkness. It wasn’t until Felicity that Oliver was able to go into the light. Where he was finally able to be happy. And it really shows just how much he’s learned and how much he’s grown that he recognizes something similar happening with Thea.
In some big brother advice that’s been overdue, Oliver tells Thea that when they find Roy that he believes she should go with him. Wherever that is. She hasn’t been the same without Roy. “So maybe you shouldn’t be without him.”
Oliver tells Thea that she deserves happiness. The same happiness that she’s seen her big brother have now being with Felicity. Thea deserves that happiness. Wherever that may take her. Loving and being loved is something truly incredible. It’s powerful beyond all words. Even in your darkest of times it can lift you up. It gives you something worth fighting for. It gives your life meaning. And Thea deserves to have that with Roy. No more depriving herself.
Though I cannot say how much I’m going to miss Oliver and Thea’s talks when she does ride off into the sunset with Roy. I love the Queen siblings. I love their relationship. And I love that they respect and promote what’s best for one another.
Oliver & Diggle
The original bromance. Oliver and Diggle have been brothers for as long as I can remmber now. They’ve been through hell and back, and still their relationship is as strong as other. There’s a genuine love and care that transcends most friendships we get to see on television. Just listening to these two talk is enough for me. I’d watch that all day, any day. They rely on each other as an outlet of emotion; they rely on each other for a source of strength; they rely on each other like the family they are.
Even when their relationship isn’t prominent, it’s a focal point of the show. Anytime these two men are standing side-by-side in the field or in the bunker, there’s so much understanding between them. But perhaps the one misunderstanding rests with that green hood.
After William asked Oliver to give up being the Green Arrow (so he wouldn’t become an orphan), Oliver turned to Diggle in carrying on the Green Arrow mantle. And he did. For quite awhile in TV land. But when Diggle’s injury sidelined him and things amped up, Oliver was forced back into action. He’s worn that hood for the past # episodes.
So when Diggle asks Oliver about him taking over the Green Arrow mantle again, Oliver isn’t quite sure what to say. It was as he also forgot that this was supposed to be a temporary situation. Only Oliver got a taste of what it felt like to be the Green Arrow again. And a part of it completed him.
There was never really a question of “When would Oliver take the hood off?” until Diggle asked him in this episode. It was easy to forget that this wasn’t the way things were just a few episodes ago. It’s a good question. But it’s also one we know the answer to, right? Oliver can’t give up being the Green Arrow. Well, not yet. You know, not until the series finale.
Felicity & Diggle
It might’ve been a brief moment, but I enjoy any and every moment shared between Felicity and Diggle. I don’t know who I have to pay to get more Delicity moments — scenes where they confide in each other, just talk to each other — but I’m willing to. I love this friendship so much, and it’s infuriating that we’re not getting to see it.
I’ve always loved the sense of honesty between Felicity and Diggle. They reach out to each other for advice. For a shoulder to lean on. When they need an opinion that matters. In this case, Diggle went to Felicity about Oliver and his situation as the Green Arrow. Not only does Felicity know Oliver better than anyone, but she’s got a good handle on emotions and what’s happening. She doesn’t think he’s ready to give up the hood because the timing of things. And she might be right. But there might be something more.
It’s easy to forget that before all of this that Oliver had given up being the Green Arrow to just live life as a husband, father, and Mayor of Star City. He thought he could just give it up and not go back. And it was easy for awhile. Easy when he could avoid going out there in the field. But once he had to put the hood back on to help Team Arrow, things became a lot more complicated.
I truly believe that Oliver wants to be content with hanging up the hood and just being a husband, father, and mayor. But I don’t actually believe that Oliver would be content with doing that. Not just yet. I still feel like he believes that he still has work to do. Not to the extent where it’ll become his entire life (although it’s a pretty huge part of it.) But Oliver, no matter how much he tried to tell himself, isn’t ready to give up the hood just yet.
Felicity suggested it might be because the time wasn’t right. But Oliver doesn’t know. Which tells me he knows. Deep down. He doesn’t want to give up being the Green Arrow. But he’s not ready to admit that just yet.
Felicity & Thea
While it was the absolute briefest of moments, getting even a two-second shot of sisters-in-law Felicity and Thea just talking and laughing with each other was enough to make me start grinning madly. If there’s one thing that I’ve wanted for so long — and one thing that has been deprived of me — is a Felicity and Thea friendship. And I don’t just mean a friendship that’s presumed. I mean a friendship that I can watch unfold in front of me.
These DCTV shows have a really hard time crafting female friendships. When we say that we want female friendships, we mean we want to see these women interacting. We want to see them going to each other for help, hearing that conversation, and watching that bond develop as they open up a part of themselves. Don’t tell me, show me.
And that’s the thing that pisses me off. Knowing that Thea’s time on this show is nearing its end. Knowing that Arrow is nearing an eventual end. We’re never going to get that Felicity and Thea friendship we deserved. If only Arrow had recognized what it had before it wasted it.
Arrow returns with new episodes Thursday, March 29 at 9/8c on The CW.