As long as Arrow wants to focus on the past — by bringing in Emiko Queen and reviving the Suicide Squad, sorry “Ghost Initiative” — let’s talk about the past.
I remember when I used to look forward to Arrow. Live Arrow. On Wednesdays. If you ask me, the shift from Wednesdays was the dagger.
But believe it or not there was a time when Arrow was the entertainment highlight of my week. I even skipped class once because I just couldn’t afford to miss it live. And if you don’t know me, that’s a big deal.
There was also a time when I had complete and utter faith in the direction of this show and its characters. Where I never had to worry about getting Oliver, Felicity, and Diggle scenes because the writers were smart enough to include the very thing that catapulted their show to a different level that wasn’t just defined by the superhero of it all.
But those times are gone. Gone are the times when I’d jump for joy when sneak peeks and promotional photos were released. Gone are the times when I’d skip class to watch live. Now, I watch the next morning. And the only reason it’s that soon is because I have to write these timely reviews.
Arrow has lost the spark that made me gravitate toward it in the first place. There was a magic about it. There was faith that these characters would be done justice. There wasn’t a hype that had made the producers cocky and they took huge swings that were blatant strikes.
I miss Arrow. I often wonder if I’ll ever get that Arrow back. I often believe that I won’t. I just hope I can find enough of what made me love this show in the first place.
Let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and the so-so from “Past Sins”:
Oliver is Not His Father
As someone who’s grown accustomed to Arrow and other DCTV shows bashing Oliver Queen and failing to see the hero he really is, I found myself pleasantly surprised — okay, not surprised. Downright floored — when this show went out of its way to show that Oliver is not like his father. To show that, even in the light of day, he is a hero. Most of this episode centered on Oliver’s struggle with Emiko’s declaration that all Queens are the same. Robert Queen was a selfish ass, thus Oliver Queen must be. I want to focus on the fact that this show honored Oliver’s heroism so I won’t point out this is a storyline — minus the new half-sister — that’s been rehashed before.
But one thing that really stood out was how Oliver used this experience as an opportunity for growth. New growth. “Transparency is about more than just wearing a mask,” he says. HONESTY. Telling the truth. There’s a novel concept! But again, this is Oliver. He’s always needed a little help in that department. But that’s character growth. Going on television and being honest not only about the real man his father was but the man that he himself is was brave. It was encouraging to see action. But, I would like to continue to see this. I don’t want to just hear it. I want Oliver to make concerted efforts to be transparent in all facets of his life. I want action, not words.
Oliver & Felicity
I’ll repeat it until it becomes a lie (which will be never): Olicity is the only thing that has me invested in this show. Not even OTA. Mostly because there is no OTA right now. This show, once again, has failed to ignore the heart of the show as it spirals into the category of “Shows That Overstayed Its Welcome.” I’m running out of adjectives. And I’m running out of excuses. All of these showrunners think the same. They’re enchanted by the Newbies.
But Oliver and Felicity remain my favorite thing about Arrow this season. If only this show gave us more of them. I guess those little moments of support and “I love you” are appreciated. But if this show even devoted half of the effort it does to Olicity that it does toward Diaz and the mess of the Newbies then maybe I’d be watching this show live.
The Idea of Ghost Initiative
Back when Arrow was must-watch television, the Suicide Squad was something completely captivating. We’ve gotten little bits of it here and there, and it returned in the form of “The Ghost Initiative,” because WB Studios surely won’t let them refer to it as the Suicide Squad anymore. Even though it was much better than the movie. Sorry not sorry.
Now, the “idea” and “execution” of The Ghost Initiative are two separate things. And I’ll be discussing both. The good part of this equation has to do more with the “idea” of the Ghost Initiative. Reviving the Suicide Squad, including Carrie Cutter? Sign me up! But then they had to contractually force a spot for the lizard. And then it got bad. The one good thing? They’re not shooting the Ghost Initiative down. So there’s progress that can be made. Progress I pray is made.
If there’s one constant on Arrow it’s that it has never known what to do with Laurel Lance. Laurel of Earth-1. Earth-2. You name it. They just have no idea. And I’d had a little bit of faith — silly me — that maybe they’d get it right with this Black Siren reincarnation of Laurel Lance. The thing is, they probably killed any chance they had of properly redeeming Laurel of Earth-2 before this redemption arc even began. Back when Black Siren was killing and killing and killing to the point of no return. The show was so focused on making this villain such a threat that they didn’t think of how that would affect their desire to redeem her. Not that no one on this show has killed and been redeemed before. But Laurel ruthlessly killed. And she hasn’t paid the consequences. That’s the thing, more than anything, that irks me.
And yet, Laurel has been one of the better things for me this season on Arrow. I’ve enjoyed her scenes with Felicity and watching how her character’s demeanor is changing as she sees that there are people that care about her. I was even intrigued by getting some of her backstory. I just would’ve loved for it to have been better.
We finally learned what happened to Laurel’s father: He was killed by a drunk driver on the night of her 13th birthday. See, the show could’ve stopped there. But no, it had to throw in the gruesome details about how he died because she threw a tantrum because she got no cake and forced him to go back out and get a cake. Seriously? That’s the best you can do? REALLY A CAKE? Also, let’s not forget all the killing Laurel goes on to do. You telling me that’s all because her dad died getting her a cake when she was 13? Not buying it. Stop with the lazy storytelling.
Oliver Working at SCPD
Not much needs to be said other than it’s boring. It’s forcing Dinah on my screen when I don’t want nor need her on my screen. Oliver fighting crime only works when he’s wearing the Green Arrow costume — hood and all — and working with his team. Where Felicity is in his ear guiding him. Where Diggle has his back in the field. Without that I’m just not invested. At all. Please put us out of our misery already.
Lack of Diggle
For a David Ramsey-directed episode there was a severe lack of John Diggle in this episode. Arrow never changes. Diggle has been one of the most underutilized characters I’ve ever seen. This show really has no idea what they have in him. And when he is on our screen, he’s being used to prop up other characters or their storylines. This episode with the Suicide Squad — sorry, Ghost Initiative — you’d think would have a Diggle focus as the others had. But of course, this is Arrow. And if only David Ramsey had written and directed this.
Felicity and Laurel Friendship
If you’d have told me that Arrow would have me loving a Felicity and Laurel friendship — one where they actually put emphasis and focus on — I’d have told you that you were nuts. And yet, here we are. The thing is, I like the friendship. But also, I don’t like the friendship. I guess I like the idea of a female friendship like Felicity and Laurel, but then I think about how this show has failed to make Laurel atone for all of the horrible stuff she’s done — killing — and it’s hard to get past it.
Felicity has been the one that has managed to harness the light inside of others. Oliver. Sara. Earth-1 Laurel. Now Earth-2 Laurel. It’s fitting, really, but I guess it falls in the so-so category because I’m not sure that I trust that this is going to work out. And also, how they’ve chosen to handle Laurel’s lack of consequences for her actions. But I like how it hasn’t just been one-way with Felicity helping Laurel. Laurel helped Felicity and there also seems to be a genuine friendship there. I just don’t trust it. Arrow.
The Execution of Ghost Initiative
Diaz. Really? Curtis. Really? Sure, let’s just forget this was a Diggle/Lyla thing or that they had Carrie Cutter to play with. Let’s just give this whole thing to Curtis and Diaz. What a waste. The idea of the Suicide Squad — sorry, Ghost Initiative — was a good one, but the execution was a complete failure.
Arrow airs Mondays at 8/7c on The CW.