jedi_of_urth: (dw stargazing)
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Arrow 1x17: The Huntress Returns

First, you find someone you don’t have to apologize too
I want to start talking about this line from McKenna, because I have like four thoughts just from this moment. Starting with the fact that it sounds like solid relationship advice but isn’t actually very useful. It’s especially not very useful to someone like Oliver whose life is so complicated. If you want an uncomplicated relationship sure, someone who’s as accommodating as McKenna had been lately can be okay, but as such it could be said this is setup for McKenna’s choice at the end to get out before it becomes complicated.

On the other side I actually made a note earlier in the episode that we get a lot of scenes this season of Tommy coming to apologize to Laurel for screwing up. And maybe that isn’t exactly healthy either, but they’re an actual couple dealing with issues that complicate their relationship. Tommy doesn’t have the words the Felicity will eventually use but what’s bothering him isn’t his secret to tell so all he can do is apologize for being withdrawn and moody. And it’s not great that this hits at a time when he needs to be present and sympathetic because of what Laurel’s going through with her family, but it’s nobody’s fault exactly (except Malcolm, who’s the reason Sara’s dead for those problems to happen, and for everything he’s got in motion that set off the chain of events leading to Oliver needing to out himself to Tommy).

The other weird thing about that line is how it feels like it comes from the same school of semi-wise words that we got at the end of Helena’s first episodes. I was surprised to realize they weren’t written by the same people because it kind of felt, and not just in that regard, that this was a script that might have been sitting around since those episodes and just updated with fresh plot points.

It’s awfully convenient that Tommy already knows the truth when Helena drags him down to the Arrow-cave isn’t it? Helena shows up a week earlier, or grabs Laurel instead of Tommy and this plays out very differently. Especially since I don’t think Helena knows that Tommy knows the truth.

I feel like I just talked about this, but Oliver doesn’t usually go for the idea that he doesn’t tell people the truth “to protect them” though he does pull that some with Tommy. As I said, it does protect them from having to being accomplices with a wanted vigilante, and protects them from having to deal with what Tommy’s struggling with here (both that secret keeping causes a rift between him and Laurel, and with the fact that his best friend is a killer). With Oliver it feels very untrue that he does it to protect others, he’s protecting himself; he even tries to play the “lying is so hard on me” card at the end and it doesn’t ring true.

Vigilante Club
So we need to talk about Lance’s unwillingness to realize who the vigilante is. On one hand, not jumping all over Helena’s implication of Oliver isn’t unreasonable; Helena does seem kind of unhinged and into crazy ex-girlfriend territory while taunting McKenna. But at the same time, he does refer to Helena as the vigilante’s girlfriend knowing she was at least briefly dating Oliver. If Lance weren’t moving towards his ‘I don’t want to know’ phase I think he’d at least start to reconsider Oliver as a suspect, though perhaps not rushing to a conclusion this time around.

When it gets silly is when Sara comes back and also dates Oliver. By that point Quentin is deep into ‘What I don’t know I can’t do anything about’ territory, which can be basically the only reason not to point out that Oliver has a thing for the Arrow’s girlfriends.

Helena does seem like a rather different character than she did in her first episodes, some of which makes sense in character and some of which doesn’t really. She does seem to have kind of snapped when Oliver stopped her original revenge plan and I don’t want to say she’s exactly out of character since we only knew her briefly, but it does seem pretty different.

First off, I might as well address this here, but why did they decide to name mama-Lance ‘Dinah’? Doesn’t that just confuse things even more when Laurel doesn’t use the name? In character it doesn’t even bug me; so the family wanted to name their first born after the parents (Laurel from Quentin’s middle name Larry), and to avoid confusion they always called her by her middle name; I would not be surprised if Sara was named after like her grandmothers or something. But on a meta-text (can’t just say ‘meta’ I suppose) level, why do it? Dinah Lance is a specific reference, that’s why Laurel’s first name is Dinah to begin with and why it was so clunkily dropped in the first episode, and it doesn’t refer to mama-Dinah.

And, cards on the table, I was somewhat predisposed to dislike Dinah because she’s played by Alex Kingston. At the time especially the wounds of why I walked away from Doctor Who were pretty fresh, and River was kind of the poster child of Moffat-ness. Whether or not River was the problem (debatable), or if Kingston was even the problem with River (probably not so much), she got my hackles up. I can say that by the time we get to Legends I definitely don’t have that reaction to Darville, but then Rory was never as much a problem for me and there was more distance.

That bias acknowledged, Dinah does not come off well. Whether or not it’s fair or even carried through to stuff we find out later, Dinah seems framed as the weak link to Lance family. I know there are a lot of stats out there on how likely it is for parents who lose a child to end up divorced so between that and who knows when Quentin started drinking heavily, their failed relationship doesn’t really make her look too bad. But the fact that to all appearances she has abandoned having a relationship with Laurel is a rather large problem. It casts her as the one who left and let go, where even though Quentin and Laurel also buried themselves in their work, they’ve held on enough to still have a relationship.

She also isn’t helped by the fact that she comes off as...lost and deluded when it comes to this idea that Sara may still be alive. Not so much in her general reasons to think they might be allowed hope (it’s a reasonable reaction to finding that Oliver managed to survive to hope and wish that there’s another miracle out there, and now they might at least know where to look) but her specific reasons don’t hold a lot of water. And she’s trying to use that weak evidence to push in on people who are just as damaged by what happened as she is and drag them all through the entirely likely prospect of having their hearts broken again.

Also not helped, and this will be even more relevant next time, by the fact that we’re dealing with someone who looks like not-Sara. This plot point doesn’t age all that well.

They were just kids in love
As much as I’ve discussed Tommy and Tommy/Laurel on this rewatch you might be surprised that I rarely considered myself a shipper first time through. They had CW-collateral ship written all over them; I didn’t like that fact but I refused to invest in something I was pretty sure the writers were going to screw over in the name of a ship I never liked but had plot-destiny written all over them. I ship Tommy/Laurel now, I count them as maybe my fourth or fifth favorite ship on the show, but I only let myself admit it after the fact.

I bring this up because Thea/Roy was as far as I recall actually my first real ship on this show, which is surprising because due to their ages and the fact that Thea has always been a very CW-drama character they are even more CW-esque than just about any other couple on the show. Going beyond my ‘I kind of ship it I guess’ that I had with Moira/Walter and Digg/Felicity and sometimes Ollie/Digg and a few others, or ‘mostly I just ship it because it isn’t Ollie/Laurel’ that I had with Oliver/Helena and Oliver/McKenna.

Thea and Roy are just cute together, I have no preconceived notion of whether or not it’s going to work out, and being so divorced from the bigger plots going on it doesn’t start off swimming in angst and drama, it’s just its own thing. It doesn’t exactly stay that way, but you can’t really expect that for any relationship or character on this show not to eventually get dragged into the bigger stuff going on.

But, while I don’t think it smacked me at the time, on rewatch this episode is probably the first episode that rang Olicity bells with me. Oliver’s attitude towards Helena’s tactics is escalating throughout the episode, and you can just read it as the straw that broke the camel’s back but you can also see that when Helena goes for Felicity is when Oliver decides to go for any means necessary.

Lian Yu
The flashbacks have lapsed back into meh territory. They’re not bad scenes and the story is moving forward some, but stringing out the plot often feels pretty thin in individual episodes, and this is definitely one of thin.

And yet I felt the need to comment on that fact.

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