Arrow: Fundamentals

“Why does everyone keep leaving me?”

What does it mean to be a hero and what is required to be a successful one? If the exploration of these questions is how the Green Arrow gets back to basics, I'm all in. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that it is.

I often think of episodes as opportunities for The Powers That Be to comment on their view of the world both as it is and as it should be. This is a prime example. We are treated to the various arguments Oliver has had with himself over the years regarding his approach to saving the city. Does he deserve to be happy? Can he have a family? Should he work alone? I believe TPTB give a clear indication which side they come down on even if Oliver doesn't see it that way.

After Oliver is dosed with the remaining vial of Vertigo, he is visited by his own version of the ghosts of past and present. All of whom find fault with him. Adrian claims that he's gotten so good at being Oliver Queen that he has compromised his mission as the Green Arrow while Fake Felicity argues the opposite, that Oliver is bringing the violence of the Green Arrow into their home and putting his son at risk. Laurel blames Oliver for her death and Rene blames him for his injuries. Diaz claims that Oliver is spread so thin he cannot protect the people he cares about. And the earlier version of himself accuses him of losing focus on what really matters stating that working with others was never part of the mission.

This is contrasted with real live people. Felicity may be upset that Oliver lost his temper but she has no intention of abandoning him. Additionally, she continues to make the argument that it's possible to defeat Diaz but he can't do it on his own. Quentin claims that Oliver is a better person than the Oliver that came back from Lian Yu and the people complaining about him have their own issues which they are laying at Oliver's feet. He just needs to stay the course. And when Felicity "Parent Traps" Oliver and Diggle, and reminds them that Diaz is the real threat and they both have the same goal, Diggle does not argue.  He even offers a tentative olive branch before Oliver slaps it away.

Oliver comes away from this experience believing he needs to get back to basics. Since I'm assuming he does not mean going back to crossing names off "The List," I'm not sure what getting back to basics means in this context. Does it simply mean working alone? He's been doing that. Does he mean the more violent version of himself? He's kind of been doing that too. And if he's talking about his "mission," which I've always taken to mean saving his city, when has he stopped?

I applaud the idea of getting back to basics in the sense that an Oliver unencumbered with governing the city creates new avenues of storytelling. And since I enjoy the morally grey version of Oliver, so the idea of getting closer to where he was in the first season appeals to me. Then again, it also negates the last five seasons of character growth, so I don't think it's the right move on a narrative level. From an in-universe perspective, why deliberately hamstring yourself by not using Felicity’s technical skills? I don’t see how any of this leads to Diaz’s ultimate defeat.

What's more, I think The Powers That Be agree with me. If Oliver’s isolation was the right path, then Adrian Chase would not have been the one making the argument. It would have come from someone who cared about him and preferably from someone who was not a hallucination. And the episode would not have been resolved by Felicity convincing Oliver to beat a hasty retreat instead of trying to take on an army of police officers by his lonesome. Just saying.

Character exploration aside, the only plot progression was Oliver's impeachment. There's always a chance that when the corruption of the SCPD and City Council is revealed he could be asked back.  However, I believe this is, as I said above, the writers' way of clearing the deck to tell different types of stories next season. Besides the idea of Mayor Lance seems oddly fitting.  It keeps a Green Arrow ally in the ranks of government without having Oliver tied up in politics.

This is not the first time that Oliver has looked at all the facts and come up with the wrong answer and since Arrow has been picked up for next season, it certainly won't be the last.  However, John and the NTA show no signs of changing their opinions about Oliver, and Diaz's grip on Star City remains absolute. The stage is set for the Grand Show Down, and while I have no doubt that Oliver will defeat Diaz in the end, I haven't the foggiest idea how he'll pull it off.

Another strong outing.

4 out of 5 hallucinations

Parting Thoughts:

You know the world is screwy when Oliver has a choice between his bow and a gun and picks up the gun.

Is the fact that Oliver "killed" Adrian proof that he's regressed?

If the tapping indicated when Oliver was hallucinating, then why was there tapping when Quentin appeared in the Bunker? We know that was real because Oliver handed Quentin the flash drive and Quentin returned it during the Council meeting.

Since Adrian was a hallucination, I’ll forgive the fact that he fired over 20 bullets from a revolver.

It was nice to see the Queen Mansion again.

I loved the small touches that let you know when you weren’t in reality. Oliver’s disappearing wounds, Laurel's outfit from when she saw him off on the Gambit, the season 4 Green Arrow suit when Laurel was in the hospital, and Team Arrow’s uniforms on the dummies in the Bunker.

How is vertigo such a popular drug? Even if I were inclined to do drugs, the idea of reliving my greatest fears doesn’t sound like any fun.

Does this mean Agent Watson’s going to make another appearance sometime soon?

Mayor Lance!

Quotes:

Felicity: “If you’re thinking what I think you’re thinking, you need to stop thinking it right now.”

Felicity: “You need help.”
Oliver: “All of our help quit.”

Oliver: “I’ve listened to your advice for six years. I think I’ve earned a reprieve.

Oliver: “John, Curtis, Rene, Dinah. Why haven’t you quit?”
Quentin: “The promise of a raise.”

Oliver: “Kullens.”
Adrian: “Friend of yours?”
Oliver: “Apparently not.”

Adrian: “ When it comes to destroying you, Oliver, we all come in second place. You’re the one enemy you can’t defeat.”

Diaz: “You’re more dangerous as a martyr than the Green Arrow.”

Green Arrow: “You were never supposed to have partners. There was never supposed to be a John Diggle, a Felicity Smoak, a Team Arrow."

Kullens: “How did you get this purported evidence against our former police captain and district attorney?”
Oliver: “The Green Arrow gave it to me.”

Quentin: “I’m gonna go in there and tell them you’ve got a family emergency.”
Oliver: “You might not be wrong.”

Adrian: “For what it’s worth, I always thought that you were a halfway decent mayor. Not a great track record when it comes to hiring D.A.s though.”

William: “Where’s Dad?”
Felicity: “Buying us expensive gifts if he knows what’s good for him.”

Felicity: “Do not smell it. Just drink it.”

Oliver: “I need to bring the mission back to basics.”

Shari loves sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural, and anything with a cape.

2 comments:

Patryk said...

Wonder how will Oliver do anything without Overwatch's mission control. Sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Shari Houtman said...

Thank You! I think the boy has lost his mind. I'm just waiting for Felicity to have the Moonstruck moment where she slaps him and tells him to "Snap out of it!"