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Arrow: Living Proof

“Need some help?”

It’s an interesting choice to have your main protagonist spend the season’s penultimate episode undergoing an existential crisis.  For me, and I suspect many other long-time fans, they hit it out of the park.  And just for the record, last week, when I mentioned that Oliver’s predicament reminded me of Tommy I did not see that coming...

Tommy is the perfect choice for the manifestation of Ollie’s conscience.  For all of their faults, Oliver and Tommy’s friendship represents the best of both of them.  It was based on a loyalty and love untarnished by their parents’ many transgressions.  This is why it was ultimately Tommy’s death and not his father’s that set Oliver on his hero’s journey.  Robert’s legacy amounted to a violent guilt trip whereas Tommy’s was an inspiration to be something better than a vigilante. 

Here, Tommy represents a literal wake up call.  As with Tommy’s last posthumous appearance, Oliver is faced with a life-defining choice.  Will he revert to the death-dealing vigilante and kill his sister or break his family’s cycle of lies and violence and finally live up to his promise?  Oliver’s tunnel vision regarding Emiko makes it a hard sell. 

In Oliver’s view, Tommy is a figment of his imagination sent to test him.  After years of believing the best of his parents only to be proven wrong time and again, Oliver believes giving Emiko the benefit of the doubt is a mark of weakness.  The fact that a belief in his father’s innocence led to Tommy’s untimely death is further proof. Being trapped in the building that Emiko had hoped would kill Oliver cements his opinion.  Emiko has made her choice and now must suffer the consequences. 

Tommy argues that both he and Oliver are trapped in their personalized versions of Daddy Issues Hell.  Tommy continually put his faith in his father despite mounting evidence of his father’s villainy.  Oliver perpetuates a cycle of violence and lies spawned by fear. 

Fear for his reputation led Robert to cover up the death of a councilman which led to his alliance with Merlyn which led to the destruction of the Queen’s Gambit.  Fear of Moira’s reprisals led to him disowning his daughter, which led to Emiko’s refusal to save Robert when she had the chance.  Now the fear of what Emiko could do to Oliver’s wife and children is leading him down the same path. 

Tommy knows Oliver’s intention to kill Emiko just as he knows it would break the vow Oliver made when he died. There is a cost to Oliver justifying his actions to Tommy’s face that would not be paid were it anyone else.  Tommy also has a lifetime of shared history at his disposal.  So when he points out Oliver’s stubborn belief he is the only answer to every problem, that he knows the best way to escape a deteriorating building, that he has to get out to save his team, that he knows killing Emiko is the only way to keep his family safe, it gives Oliver pause but it does not change his mind.

So Tommy takes another tack.  Oliver’s vow to be as ruthless to her as she was to their father frees him from the building, but only to show him that his need to end Emiko may only bring about the destruction of Team Arrow.  It takes the image of his team lying dead at his feet shown to him by the embodiment of his best friend to finally break through.

Roy is going through his own crucible.   In many ways, Roy is what Oliver aspires to, rage issues aside.  His first impulse is to protect where Oliver’s is to punish and Roy believes in accountability where Oliver suffers from a sense of entitlement.   Roy committed a heinous act and his conscience demands atonement.  Whether that be admitting his deeds to the police, or sacrificing himself to save the team, amends must be made.  However, the line between doing the right thing and taking the easy way out can be remarkably thin.  And Dinah pushes past her own frustration and anger to remind Roy that dying is easy, redemption is harder.

Like Oliver, Felicity has a decision to make.  Her choices led her to marry the man of her dreams and gave her the opportunity to use her many gifts to help people but it is as she’s put it “deeply dangerous.”  In one evening, she nearly lost her husband in a collapsed warehouse full of deadly chemicals, she resisted arrest and is now a wanted criminal, and her life was threatened by her sister-in-law.   Her calculus has changed.  She may be willing to risk her life but not the lives of her children. 

Felicity of the future hasn’t changed much.  She still puts the safety of her children above all else.  Unfortunately, neither of her children realize it.  As Mia gained an understanding of the danger of standing on the sidelines, she has made her peace with her mother’s decisions.  William never had qualms about his parents’ desire to save the city.  He views Felicity’s efforts to keep him safe through the lens of abandonment.  This is another attempt to push him out of her life.  As an adult, he has the option of taking matters into his own hands. 

This leads us to danger all around.  William and Rene captured in Keven Dale’s office.  The Canaries’ remaining hideout compromised.  And in the present Team Arrow wanted for murder and surrounded by the SCPD.  It must be finale time!

4.5 out of 5 Plan Bs

Parting Thoughts:

The other emblem of Oliver’s state of mind is his bow. Merlyn broke it in the first season when Oliver had lost faith in his ability to save the city. Tommy points out that Oliver’s bow has been destroyed when Oliver rejects his relationship with Emiko.

If there were any doubts about Alena’s role in Galaxy One’s possession of Archer we now have confirmation.


Alena: “What the hell was that?”
Felicity: “Oh, it’s part of my new security system, a remote-detonated nonelectric pulse that I built into the ceiling.”
Alena: “Remind me to never get on your bad side.”

Tommy: “You have Oliver Angry Face on right now. Just saying.”

Tommy: “It is insane that we both had secret half sisters.”
Oliver: “Well, yours didn’t try to kill you, did she?”
Tommy: “You should give Thea some credit. I died before she had the chance to try.”

Tommy: “What about Emiko? What kind of solution are you planning for her?”
Oliver: “The one she deserves.”

Mia: “Looks like your mystery contact is as good at covering their tracks as you are.”
Felicity: “I know, which is why she’s so dangerous. And annoying.”

William: “And after everything that happened, you still stayed away. Like – like I wasn’t even part of this family.”
Mia: “Oh, and I thought we had problems. I’m just going to go... do anything else.”

Dinah: “It’s better one of us takes the fall than the rest of us spends our lives as fugitives.”

Felicity: “Flammable chemicals plus sparks equals really big boom.”

Tommy: “Again, I would like to point out how structurally unsound this building appears to be, so maybe upping the payload is not the best idea.”

Oliver: “After this I’m out of options.”
Tommy: “Are you, or is this just typical Oliver.”

Alena: “I don’t know how you ever breathe on this job.”
Felicity: “I don’t.”

Oliver: “To stop Emiko, if I need to be as ruthless to her as she was to my father, so be it.”

Alena: “Are you OK?”
Felicity: “Almost dying? Nothing I haven’t done a hundred times before. Am I right?”

William: “I didn’t need her money, Mia. I needed a mother.”

Mia: “So you’re the fool who’s responsible for all this whole Archer mess.”
Alena: “You’re the kid Felicity when into hiding for.”

Tommy: “You are living proof that people can change, and you’ve got to find a way to see that in her, too.”

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

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