jedi_of_urth: (elena)
[personal profile] jedi_of_urth posting in [community profile] tori_reviews
If this isn’t the longest review of the season I’d be surprised. Not because it’s an episode I would have expected would have such a long review, but having written it I don’t think any are longer.

This season at least; next season all bets are off.

Arrow 1x21: The Undertaking

Starling City, 2007
Here’s the thing, these are probably my favorite flashbacks of the whole season, and some of my favorites of the whole series (only because I’m not willing to commit right now to saying they’re definitely the best). I think a lot of that is because they get in, tell us what we need to know, and then are done. We don’t have to drag it out week in and week out in a story that rarely had any real planning for how to get from point A to point B.

I’m not quite sure how to reconcile what we see here with what’s been said or implied earlier about the events leading up to sinking the Gambit. I can’t remember if Moira’s involvement fell on the said or implied side of it but I’m pretty sure she’s at least claimed she had a hand in it; and Thea was very clear that Moira and Malcolm were hanging out a lot before it happened. And none of that is implied here; at least in the flashbacks, in the present it seems less innocent. It’s possible that at least a few weeks are covered in this as Robert figures out what to do, and there could be stuff we don’t see, but she puts up almost no resistance to Oliver getting on the yacht and this definitely shifts the blame to Frank.

It’s also one of the very few views we get of what life for this family was like before it got broken apart. Moira seems much happier (that again implies we’re backing away from putting blame on her); even when it comes to Robert’s philandering she doesn’t seem to mind that much as long as it’s not going to be an issue. I waffle on whether she and Walter already had feelings for each other at this point; I don’t think they were doing anything and it could well just be a consequence of hindsight and the general happiness of the time, but they seem...interested.

It’s also interesting that this is one of our rare views of Malcolm and the conspiracy pre-series. I remember at the time I liked that we finally got an explanation for the book and list, though as I’ve pointed out a few times there’s some people who have been on the list that don’t make sense with this explanation (they ended up extorting Robert’s ex-lover Isobel long before she had any power to be exploited?); also if there was any logic, the list would have been an ever growing project which would put Adam Hunt near the end since they only just got to him.

Also, of the people whose reasons we hear, Robert’s reasons for getting into this project were the different one; maybe the Glades took something from all of them but for Robert what they’re doing in an act of penance rather than revenge that sometimes masquerades as justice. I will say this plays along with the way Malcolm was acting a few episodes ago, that he can’t quite help sounding kind of insane when he remembers his wife; it wasn’t quite there when he brought it up with Tommy a couple eps before that though.

I am curious what it was that prompted Malcolm to up the game. Was this always his plan ever since he left the League? Wasn’t that like ten years ago? Tommy said he was only gone about two years, maybe he was on detached service but working out of Starling? Did it suddenly hit him this could be a good investment opportunity by buying up the Glades so he could rebuild it however he wanted? If he’s been putting things in motion for months, why bring the rest of the group in on the idea now? The plan holds together as well any supervillain plan is likely to but the background is still kind of vague.

Laurel/Oliver 2007
I don’t normally split the flashback discussions into sections, but then I don’t normally have reason to. This time Laurel/Oliver stuff is really a separate issue from the plot of the flashbacks and provokes a lot of thought.

For one, as I kind of joked at in passing quite a few episodes ago (when Digg said Oliver spent most of his 20s hungover, and I pointed out Oliver was 22 when the Gambit went down), I sometimes think the writers get a little confused about the characters’ ages in the flashbacks and/or don’t have a clear backstory on when things happened. They write and then perform the characters as younger yes, but the things we’re told happened often don’t fit together well, at least not without reflecting pretty badly on things we’re probably not supposed to think that badly of.

The big one here is, how long have Oliver and Laurel been together at this point? Is in an on-again-off-again thing where she keeps taking him back, or is she unaware that he’s a chronic cheater, or does she know and has already decided she’s going to be Moira about it? I seem to recall that the s2 flashbacks which run parallel to this kind of go with the last option but I might be misremembering. Oliver may be a colossal asshole here, but Laurel comes off as either kind of dumb or at best naïve that this relationship was always going to be terrible.

I do think part of the reason Moira so obviously ships them is because she can see how that relationship is going to work; Oliver is -better- with Laurel than he is without and she makes him happy because she doesn’t actually change him in any other way.

An expanding triangle
I still don’t think Oliver/Felicity entirely clicked with me first time through this episode but I think at this point it would be because the main triangle is fairly distracting from any such possibilities. I do think I was starting to unconsciously notice that ‘if they want to go there there’s definitely potential’ because the chemistry is definitely there; but Felicity never pinged as a temporary love interest and since the show was so obviously set up for Oliver/Laurel I didn’t consider the possibly of that changing and Felicity becoming the main love interest.

When Oliver brings up Casablanca in the scene at Verdant I realize that they are kind of Casablanca, and if they ever did get back together they’d regret it; maybe not that day, maybe not the next, but soon and for the rest of their lives. Except it will only take a couple days (barring the s4 flashback retcon).

It’s a bit funny to me was that both Laurel and Moira meet Felicity this episode, and I think they both hate her on sight, though for different reasons. I think Moira’s first reaction is that Walter was cheating on her with this young employee who randomly shows up (they were just investigating Moira behind her back); so even when Oliver glues himself to Felicity’s side Moira doesn’t quite get her head moved to ‘future-daughter-in-law’ with everything else going on; it’s not a great start, and they don’t get better. With Laurel it is about Oliver; why is this chirpy blonde hanging around the club in the morning if Oliver isn’t seeing her? Laurel doesn’t exactly think Oliver is capable of having female friends, a belief that is hardy without cause, even at present when he’s not yet in love with Felicity.

I want to say I think there’s more to Tommy’s reasons for breaking up with Laurel than he tells her, but I don’t know exactly what they would be; because “you belong with Oliver” is just not a good reason. It’s a very CW reason, making a person’s (usually a woman’s) romantic choice for them because of another person (usually a man) decides what they must want. But where on another show I would get mad at the characters, here I’m just confused. Because this hasn’t been Tommy all season (as opposed to, say, the guys on TVD), it hasn’t really been any of them all season and yet suddenly the show remembers what network it’s on so it resorts to this. If they’d done it earlier and/or implied it had to do with Malcolm’s influence it would have been all the more Spiderman but at least it would have been a reason for him to turn like this. When Eddie is in this position it’s at least because he’s been told by someone from the future that he and Iris aren’t meant to be.

At the time I started this novel of a review I had some thoughts on comparing/contrasting the “I have enough lies in my life” scene we get here between Oliver and Laurel and the “Don’t ask me to say that I don’t love you” scene with Oliver and Felicity down the road. Both take place in hospital corridors, and both involve Oliver being kind of a dick to the woman he loves (or at least we’re supposed to think he does here) but “just wants her to be happy.” But in spite of the fact that all of his decisions in 3x01 are quite selfish, somehow this feels even worse. In a way that I can’t quite nail down, and it may just be shipping preference, and partly that there is another relationship to actually consider in this case (two if you count Oliver-Tommy), but that was my reaction.

Though as an aside, Jake Coburn has a writing credit on both this and 3x01.

Walter
I have a lot of issues with this plot. It does feel very much like a loose thread that needed to be tied up before getting to the meat of the finale, down to the fact that Thea even mentions ‘hey, we haven’t talked about Walter in a while.’

Oliver claims at the beginning that Felicity is supposed to go through the laptop and get the money returned to its rightful owners...you mean the millionaires who paid the guy? I doubt this guy has records of all the people the money had been extorted from before it got into these secret accounts, which the best I can explain Oliver’s intention. Maybe they were going to see about dumping it into some charities, but it still doesn’t really work.

Then I have issues with the casino plot. I admit I could be mistaken and have to make allowances for this being an underground casino, but what was Felicity doing to get in trouble? Just being able to be smart at blackjack because you understand probability isn’t a problem. She wasn’t manipulating the cards in any way which would be a problem. Maybe they noticed her ear piece, because card counting schemes are something that will get people in trouble, but being able to as solo act win a few hands...well, if anything, a pretty young lady winning at cards might be seen as a good thing.

Also, Oliver does not seem to be wearing the Arrow-suit when they head to the casino or while he’s lurking outside. But he bursts in in full gear...and clearly visible face considering he assumed these people would know him on sight. Also, I can’t help but feeling that after they get the answer about Walter, he and Felicity either need to hug or leg it, standing around seems a like a bad choice.

Then there’s the Walter rescue itself. We’ve never found out who was flying the plane he used, is s6 going to be about filling in plotholes like this from s1? Then, what the process of getting him back to Starling? Did they go to the police in Bludhaven, why not the hospital there? If so, how did the Bludhaven police react to the Starling City vigilante coming to town? If not, did the Hood escort Walter all the way back? Did he bring the otherwise non-existent Arrow-mobile or did he make Walter ride the bike? How did Oliver get back for that matter?

At the hospital it seems like hardly anyone is acting quite right. As cute as it kind of is for Felicity to seem like part of the family so long before she is, she can’t have needed to come right then. Malcolm seems too flustered; not that I don’t think he would be flustered, but he’s too obvious about it. Walter sure isn’t acting like he’s already figured out that Moira was involved in his captivity. It doesn’t seem like that big a step at this point to start suspecting Oliver of being the vigilante again since the only 1%-ers the Hood ever helps are the Queens and the Merlyns, and he goes out of his way for them; and everyone knows it’s not Tommy.

Team Arrow dynamics
I can’t remember if I ever OT3-ed Oliver/Digg/Felicity. I have at various times shipped each pairing possible within them and they do obviously work well as a unit; and as we’re shown here and at other times in the series that any pair within them still needs the third party to smooth things out sometimes. And yet I don’t think I ever entertained them as an OT3. Partly because though it takes me a while to start (as discussed already), when I do jump on shipping Olicity I fall for it *hard* and about that time Digg and Lyla get back together and I like them as a pair, so there’s reasons why I didn’t OTA-OT3.

The way Oliver and Felicity interact without Digg always kind of reminds me of times in Harry Potter when Harry and Ron fight. Just Oliver and Felicity work, they get shit done, and they’re fine; but their group is clearly not whole. Felicity trying to get Digg to make the first move foreshadows all the times Digg will try to get Oliver and Felicity moving back together in s3. And in the end Oliver does finally make the apologies to Digg he should have several times in recent episodes, finally realized/remembered just how much he needs Digg’s advice and guidance, long before Digg became a hero with a costume.


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