jedi_of_urth: (arya)
[personal profile] jedi_of_urth posting in [community profile] tori_reviews
Arrow 1x08: Vendetta

QC Investigations
When I first watched this plotline, I was seeing things mostly as a Walter story, which it is, but it has always influenced the way I saw Felicity’s introduction; because even though she does help Oliver on occasion she’s mostly Walter’s sidekick in these early eps. But taking the long view I’m quite interested in how this fits as Felicity’s own story; how having Walter recognize her capability and trusting her (eventually) with what he’s looking into is her first opportunity to merge her youthful identity with the one she’s disappeared into since Cooper. She can use her hacker skills but under the permission of her corporate job; so it makes total sense why it’s for Walter that she’s initially willing to pull those skills entirely out of storage, though at that point she really can’t put them away again.

Old Friends
I don’t think it’s ever really occurred to me, but Oliver clearly knew where Sara’s grave was. That’s not exactly hard to believe, he’s been back for weeks if not months now and he probably made a point to find out where her (empty) grave was at some point. Again, these days I care more about that relationship than I than I ever would have thought when I first saw this episode, probably even more than I did the last time I watched it.

But mainly talking about old friends I’m going to talk about the dinner scene and a lot on Tommy. That whole plot point does feel very forced, partly for CW style relationship drama and trying to compact about three episodes of material for Oliver/Helena into one episode (that part we’ll be discussing later). Helena’s reaction is very forced but Tommy’s seems less so once given some thought; he hasn’t really flipped out about having been financially cut off since it happened, he’s kind of been in denial about how he’s going to deal with it, and he does have a ton of insecurity about where Oliver and Laurel stand that comes from having always been with them while they were together. And it’s really only the stuff at the restaurant that’s forced relationship drama, the Tommy/Laurel make-up scene swings really far the other direction, Laurel in particular seems to be trying really hard not to be a CW mid-point in a love triangle.

But then I have to talk about Oliver and Tommy, a relationship that while I always cared about it I never gave it nearly this much thought before. Because I think part of the reason Tommy hesitates to go to Oliver with the idea of working together is because “working” together isn’t really a thing they do and they mostly each see the other and their relationship as stuck where it was five years ago. But where I think Tommy having that attitude is largely born of compassion (Oliver just got back from years of isolation, he probably needs the familiar and time to adjust), Oliver’s attitude feels...more willfully ignorant. There’s something really annoying about Oliver holding onto his old ideas of his friends and family when he knows how much he changed in those years; maybe the reason this has gotten more noticeable over the years is the backstory has ultimately not given Oliver as many reasons as expected that he would have held on to an idea of home that didn’t change.

On one hand I was considering making a point that, given what happened in Hong Kong, why isn’t Oliver more upset that China White is operating in Starling? On the other...maybe that explains some of his attitude in the final fight. Yes, much like when it comes to Thea and Malcolm, Oliver has a weird (but consistent) attitude on people being responsible for their evil parents’ downfall; and yes, if the Hood hadn’t interfered there was every chance the gang war just escalates after this, so even with all the people who died this way it could have been worse. But he also may have liked having an excuse to go up against China White and the Triads again.

But the big point of this is Oliver and Helena and, like I said above, this feels like it needs at least one, maybe two more episodes to really cover the story well. The relationship moves through stages so quickly nothing feels natural within it. Less so with Oliver, but he also gets the lion’s share of actual analysis regarding why the relationship is pushed so quickly. The best I can say about Helena’s reasons is that she was never interested in being saved from the road she’s on and only followed Oliver when it seemed he was a shortcut to her goals rather than changing anything.

Oliver...well I think this episode in some ways works better now than it did at the time. Because first time through it isn’t clear if the writers are entirely aware of how hypocritical he’s being, and to be fair I still don’t know what they were thinking at the time, but the framing we’ve gotten since gives this some pretty clear context. Next season he’ll openly acknowledge that he had no idea what he was doing trying to help her find a different path; it’s not like his path right now is really that different from hers. And going further it becomes all the clearer that him trying to save her from this path has a lot to do with hoping there’s a chance for him to come back from the darkness.

But...that really makes both his and Digg’s attitude towards her even more uncomfortable. Digg talks about how Oliver can’t change Helena because she’s already changed; but Digg will always believe Oliver can keep changing into a better man but doesn’t extend any of that to Helena when he doesn’t really know Oliver that much better than her at this point. Oliver talks about how Helena’s gone over the edge and he can’t help her, when part of his whole issue here is that he has to believe a person can come back from over the edge and control their inner monster and regain their humanity. Yes Helena is a dangerous, uncertain quantity; and yes, Oliver’s loneliness is making him want this to work so much more than it was ever likely to, especially moving it so fast, but to keep saying she’s already definitively the bad guy of the story doesn’t work in context with Oliver.

Also, I’ve been putting off getting into this, but Oliver has got to be calling in favors from somewhere. I don’t know if he’s patched into ARGUS systems or has a line on the dark web or something for how he always has the intel he needs; but for such a super quick turn around on Huntress’ crossbow and costume they have to come from somewhere.

A couple thoughts on the last Oliver and Digg scene too. For one, Digg’s platitude about love not being about changing a person but finding the person that’s a right fit...considering he’s going to captain the Olicity ship I’m not sure he 100% believes that. Also he does mention being ready when the right person comes along just before the scene cuts to Felicity; I don’t believe for a second that was supposed to foreshadow anything, but it is interesting.


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