‘Arrow’ 8×02 Review: “Welcome to Hong Kong”

Welcome back to Arrow! This week, “Welcome to Hong Kong” introduces us to an episode full of winks to season 3, with Felicity increasingly present in Oliver’s life, and a sample of the emotional development of the characters during these years.

Let’s comment everything!

One of the best interactions that takes place in the episode is between Oliver and Tatsu, because of their emotional background.

Remember that Tatsu met Oliver when she worked for Amanda Waller and ARGUS, and, as a result of that work, her son was killed. She lost her husband and son in the blink of an eye.

Now, Tatsu has seen that glow of blind faith in Oliver’s eyes and is so afraid that it will have drastic consequences again … that she doesn’t hesitate to talk to him. Tatsu not only suffered the loss of her husband and son, but also witnessed Oliver’s fall into darkness. It was the murder of Akio, Tatsu’s little son, that made Oliver embrace the darkness in his heart. It was because of this that he tortured a man for the first time, and assumed Amanda Waller’s methods as his own.

Tatsu witnessed Oliver Queen’s fall to darkness, and it hurt like hell to witness it. Tatsu always loved Oliver, saw him as what he was, a boy within the body of a man, lost within his own demons, trying to find out who he was. And seeing him change so much, seeing him choose the darkness … it hurt, because she never wanted that for him.

Now, years later, Tatsu sees that same look again in Oliver, she sees a lost man, at a crossroads … blindly believing in someone he doesn’t know. He tries to reassure her by telling her that everything is different, but Tatsu sees no difference, sees Oliver on the edge of a cliff … again.

Tatsu reaffirms her thoughts when Oliver’s plan immediately sends them to the past. Everything is too similar, the virus, the risky plan, the possible consequences if everything goes wrong … and that is when Tatsu decides to make things clear.

She more than anyone knows what it is to sacrifice everything, what it is to lose it … and also knows that sometimes it is not worth the sacrifice. She doesn’t want Oliver to suffer what she does, she doesn’t want him to look back and realize that it wasn’t worth it.

But Oliver has his own reasons, with a broken voice, he confesses that he has to believe in the Monitor and that everything is worth it, because it is the only way to be at peace, knowing that his family will be fine is the only way he can bear to lose them, it is the only way he can stay where he is and not go after them. He is able to give anything for them … so he needs to believe that his sacrifice will be worth it, because if he doesn’t, he has nothing … and he would break into so many pieces that he would be irreparable.

Tatsu finally understands the reason for what Oliver is doing. She lost everything and now he has too. Tatsu more than anyone understands how Oliver feels, and there is a new respect in her gaze when she looks at him, the look of someone who admires a person who is capable of giving absolutely everything, even what he doesn’t have, for his loved ones, because she would the same.

After that conversation, Tatsu doesn’t hesitate to follow Oliver and his plan, however risky it may be. In the end, everything goes well, but Tatsu’s life is in serious danger and our Oliver apologizes to her.

The truth is that I’m tired of Oliver apologizing for everything. He was not to blame for what happened to Tatsu, she decided to follow him, knowing the risks. Seriously, they should stop making Oliver apologize almost for breathing.

However, I really like that he reconsiders and gives Tatsu the reason that he trusts Monitor too much. He is able to give everything, but he must think coldly and know if it will really be worth it or not. He must fight to save his family, but also to have a life with them.

Oliver has made a good decision following Tatsu’s advice. He risks too much, he risks his life, his family, his happiness… he bets everything on one card, the Monitor card, and he has to be sure that it’s the right decision and that it’s really worth it. That really, he has no other option. We see here a fighter Oliver, as opposed to the Oliver we saw in the premiere, an Oliver who had surrendered.

Now, Oliver is willing to fight for his life and to return to his family. He is willing to fight for himself, and for them. He is willing to fight to live, and will not wait to die.

It’s a tremendously wonderful and poetic idea since this episode is a tribute to season 3, the season where Oliver was only waiting to die and didn’t fight to live until Felicity asked him to do so. And in this episode, a tribute to season 3 in which Oliver was just waiting for his death to come, Oliver decides to fight for life. This speaks of Oliver’s growth and this reflection of Oliver’s current moment compared with the Oliver of season 3 is totally intentional, and I think it’s a wonderful parallel.

Oliver is still willing to sacrifice himself, without that huge heart that he has he would not be our Oliver, but he is also willing to find another way to save the entire multiverse.

Felicity taught him that there is always another way and that he should look for it. That’s exactly what Oliver is going to do. Felicity … absent but always present in Oliver’s mind and heart, always guiding his actions even though she is not by his side. Felicity is part of Oliver, part of his body, his heart and his soul and the final scene is just a sample of the thousands that have shown us this fact throughout the seasons.

One of the most special moments of the episode has been when Oliver has put the wedding ring back on. It was a precious moment and I’m glad Stephen suggested something like that. A magical moment within the episode that says so many things, while the scene goes on in complete silence.

When he was on earth 2, Oliver couldn’t wear his wedding ring for obvious reasons, but now he can put it back on. That ring represents so much … it is a symbol of his whole life. A symbol of love and commitment to Felicity and his whole family,  a symbol of the reason why he fights. A constant reminder of what he has had, has lost and struggles to safeguard. The antidote and the poison … but he can bear that poison in order to feel Felicity and his children closer, in order to feel them with him. Oliver felt naked without that ring, it is a ring that connects him with Felicity and the life he had to leave behind, it is a ring that connects him with a part of himself that until Felicity, he never thought could exist.

Stephen’s interpretation is magnificent in all the details of the scene. When putting on the ring, Oliver sighs, relieved, as if a part of  his soul returned to his body, a part that he felt lost without. 

After putting on the ring, Oliver closes his eyes and squeezes them hard, remembering what that ring means, so many moments lived alongside the love of his life and, at the same time, so many moments that they may never be able to live together. Trying to hold back the tears, to remember that he does everything for them … but a tear, only a tear escapes his control. It is a tear that speaks of suffering, of loss, of longing … but also of love. He knows that he may not be able to see the love of his life or his beautiful family again, but he also knows that he would not change anything he lived with them, would not change getting to know and love Felicity, or have a life and a family with her.

In the future, the story continues to develop too slowly, which slightly breaks the pace of the episode. However, they show us very interesting and promising nuances in the relationship between JJ and his brother Connor. Connor still believes in his brother, to such an extent that he sees his possible redemption despite all JJ does.

He didn’t kill Mia when he could do, and that for Connor is proof that his brother is not completely lost. Mia disagrees and gets mad at Connor for thinking like that, but in the end she understands, Connor just wants his brother to be his brother again. They were so close … that he is not resigned to losing him, just as his father didn’t resign himself to losing Andy, or Oliver didn’t do so with Emiko.

Also, Connor feels guilty about the path his brother took, but Mia is right in saying that he made his own decisions. Our circumstances mark us, but it is our reactions and decisions that define us. Although later, during the conversation between JJ and Connor, we learn that there is much more history to tell in this matter and that not everything is black or white.

Following the significant exchanges between brothers, we have one to which Mia is added. I think JJ admires Mia’s courage, and that is why he makes his soldiers lower their weapons … but he also loves to challenge her, hence that look of superiority when Connor has exposed her, and agreed to meet his brother. Does anyone else see a love triangle for the spin-off?

As I was telling you, in the conversation between brothers we understand much better what’s really going on with this story and why Connor feels so guilty. At first, everything was the other way around, Connor was the one who was going astray and JJ tried to help him … but he didn’t manage it. That frustrated him, and he felt Diggle blame him for it, so he decided to hide everything he felt under that hard facade, becoming who he is today. And Connor, in turn, feels guilty for not having reacted in time, and caused the distancing of JJ.

The truth is that I don’t see Diggle blaming JJ for something like that, but I do believe he could perceive a reproach in his father’s pain and that, coupled with his own guilt and pain, led him to hide everything he felt under a big lie that got bigger and bigger, and the Deadstroke monster was created. The question is, is it too late or is Connor right and can JJ be redeemed?

As a final note regarding the future, I LOVE the way in which Mia defends William.

Now, let’s talk about Laurel. I will never understand that Laurel blames Oliver for … doing exactly what? Trying to save her land, the entire multiverse and the lives of Barry and Kara, having had to sacrifice his family in the process? Because it’s the only thing Oliver has done. It makes no sense that Laurel tells him that what has happened on Earth 2 is his fault. Oliver’s mission was to try to stop what is happening. He didn’t succeed, but that is not his fault. 

So I don’t know what Laurel’s accusation is about. She is hurt, but that doesn’t excuse the way she treats Oliver, making him feel bad and blaming him for things he has no control. Oliver doesn’t want to be there. Oliver would do everything to not be there, and return to his family, but he sacrificed himself for everyone and now Laurel comes to unfairly accuse him of things that make no sense. That same Laurel who tried to kill him and his family several times. This leads me to reaffirm that people like Barry or Laurel don’t deserve Oliver Queen, and his sacrifice. Oliver would not be our Oliver if he didn’t put the weight of the world on his shoulders. That is why he thinks Laurel is right. He knows that he got too involved in that other reality instead of being attentive to his mission, he wanted to participate actively, he got emotionally involved … but it’s normal. Oliver is human and those people … they were people he loved.

Laurel thinks that for Oliver they were only reflections of the people he loved, but it was never so for Oliver, that was the real problem, for him they were real people, the people he loved, in another world, in another reality, but they were and they were alive … so he tried to fix with them what he couldn’t fix when they were alive on Earth 1.

Oliver never felt his mother or Tommy as a reflection of themselves, if not as themselves, that’s why he wanted to help them, say goodbye to them, learn from them, tell them all the things that remained unsaid on Earth 1 … that’s why it took so much to let them go. And watch them die like that, again, in front of his eyes, just watch them disappear as if they never existed … that’s something Oliver can never forget.

As always, Diggle is there to support Oliver and make him see that he should not blame himself. He is human and those people were his mother and his best friend, they were people who had marked him, for better or worse, and he had pending issues with them. In addition, he is a hero, he cannot see the city in danger, on fire, about to burn forever and do absolutely nothing, that is not in his DNA. Oliver Queen isn’t like that.

Oliver shouldn’t blame himself for being the way he is, he shouldn’t blame himself for being a hero. I loved this conversation with Diggle, where it is made clear who Oliver is at his core, and how he has to blame himself for all the evils of the universe when he has no fault of them. Oliver’s response, with that half smile, cannot be more enlightening: it shouldn’t surprise us. Guilt is included in Oliver’s DNA, as much as his heroism.

It is a recognition of his entire history, his entire journey, which began with Oliver carrying a great guilt on his shoulders. I couldn’t help smiling with Oliver. Yes, Oliver’s obsession with blaming himself for everything makes me crazy, but that’s the way he is and that’s how we love him.

After his fight with Oliver, Laurel decides to go on her own, in every sense of the word. When Lyla appears to try to help her, she is again the Laurel we met at the beginning, locked in herself, and in her own pain without letting anyone help her. But, how could it be otherwise, that doesn’t take her anywhere.

She still has the hope that her Earth has survived what happened, so much so that she doesn’t hesitate to threaten and almost shoot a man because of it.

However, it is noted that this time it is not moved by a desire to kill or really harm, if not pushed by her pain and despair. And here I will make a subsection to say that it is difficult to fit the Black Siren we met (a ruthless murderer) with this Black Siren full of suffering for her Earth, and for those who lived there.

The truth is that Laurel’s position and pain are more understood later. She left her earth as an evil person but returned to it as someone redeemed, wanting to build something, not destroy it. Her earth represented for her a hope, her redemption, the proof that she had changed and that she could fight for a better world, and now all that has … gone. Losing Earth 2 for Laurel has been like losing a part of herself that she had just recovered.

But, as Lyla tells her, she can’t let go, she must fight so that what has happened on her earth doesn’t happen anymore, so that no one else suffers what she is suffering. Lyla gives her an advice: “fight to live,” which is a reflection of what Felicity told Oliver in the past, and that he is putting into practice now.

Speaking of Lyla, from the beginning, when she questions Laurel about whether he has any idea of ​​what can be found on Earth 2, it is clear that she knows more about that Crisis than it appears.

Indeed, the suspicions are confirmed at the end of the episode in which we see that she is working with Monitor in secret, to help Oliver prepare for the Crisis … although for this there must be collateral damage, like Earth 2. And I have mixed feelings here.

It is not the first time that Lyla works in secret and has to make such difficult decisions. She didn’t know what was going to happen on Earth 2, but accepted that it was necessary, as the Monitor tells her, while comforting Laurel for the loss of that same Earth.

I don’t believe that acting in secret is a solution in this regard. Laurel more than ever needs someone to lean on, and when she finds out that who was by her side somehow agreed with the sacrifice of her home, it will be a blow for her. The same goes for Oliver, both he and Diggle deserve the truth.

I understand Lyla’s position of acting for a greater good, just as she does in ARGUS, but her family deserves more than half secrets and lies.

As for the stunts, the truth is that they have been impressive. They have had a lot of quality, with nothing to envy to those of the previous episode. The most prominent are those of Tatsu, Oliver and China in their respective struggles. I have not been able to stop shouting “whoa!”

In conclusion, if the previous week we asked the show to give us more, this week they have done it. Although there are points that still don’t totally work, nothing in this life is perfect and the truth is that in this episode the message they wanted to convey has been much clearer, the winks to previous seasons and the current situation of the characters, connecting the story not only to the past in the form of a tribute, if not to the emotional present of the characters, who prepare for what is coming.

In this way, an episode is not an isolated tribute without a clear connecting element, but it honors past seasons and, at the same time, connects with the plot that we were presented at the end of last season, and develops in this season. That is, they have managed to fill fans with nostalgia and move forward in the current plot, making it feel much more real.

Agree? Disagree? Don’t hesitate to discuss everything with us in the comments below! We’ll back next week with 8×03 “Leap of faith”.

Arrow airs on Tuesday on The CW at 9 pm.

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