Arrow, Agency, and All Them Daddy Issues

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My current thoughts and feelings about Arrow 

For the past four seasons of Arrow, I have watched Oliver Queen, Felicity Smoak, John Diggle, and other characters populate my screen most Wednesday nights. I have watched these characters grow and discover parts of themselves that had yet to be unearthed or long buried. I have watched these characters transform from vigilantes hunted by the police force to heroes applauded by Star(ling) City’s residents. I have watched these characters fall in love, discover parts of themselves through that love, and in Diggle’s case get remarried and become a father. I have not loved every single moment of Arrow. There have been moments, character(s), and convoluted plot lines that I have disliked. But none have frustrated and disappointed me more than the entirely manufactured storyline that has been the discovery of Oliver Queen’s long lost child. Why? There is not logic to it. Absolutely none. (It’s so bad that I want to throw badly made stilettoes at it!)

Family, as revealed by the executive producers, was going to be one of the central themes of season four. The excitement I had about this revelation was sparkle bomb sized, not as big as T. Swift’s Grammy sparkle bomb, but pretty close. Why? Because of all the implications it had and all the endless possibilities that could be explored within this theme, especially for Felicity and John. And that created a thrum of excitement within me for the season. This season in particular has taken a closer look at the roles and the impacts that fathers not only on the individual but the family unit as well. Fathers and the role they play have had a long and impactful history on Arrow. It was Robert Queen’s suicidal plea to his son to right his wrongs and save Starling City that started Oliver’s journey and the show.

Three Wacky Daddies

We have seen three different father storylines play out this season so far in regards to Ra’s al Ghul, Quentin Lance, Malcolm Merlyn, their children and the issue of agency. I, for one, am hoping we don’t have to revisit these storylines again. Like ever!

For the better part of her life, Nyssa al Ghul had little to no agency. Ra’s al Ghul controlled every aspect of her life, what she did, where she lived, and whom she married. With his death and the dissolution of the League of Assassins, Nyssa was able to wrestle complete agency over herself. She became her only master. While it’s a credible storyline, its placement this season was not one that served it best. Nyssa should have gained complete agency last season with the death of Ra’s and not have it prorogued until the back half of season four.

Quentin Lance, for all his questionable judgements and faults, loves his daughters deeply. He has always strived to protect them, as most fathers do. But it’s within the context of this season that he’s learnt that loving and protecting ones children means letting them go and allowing them complete control over their own destinies. He has his own agency and his daughters have their own. He will be there to help pick them up when they fall, or offer advice when needed, but that’s as far as his fatherly role extends over two adult individuals. I hope it remains that way.

Malcolm Merlyn, mass murder, psychopath, power hungry monger, is a horrible father. His actions outweigh any type of redemption that could possibly occur. His actions this season prove that extraordinary well. When given the opportunity to save his only living child he chose power and prestige over her. Add to the fact that he is now working with an organization that is hell-bent in destroying the city in which his daughter lives and her family, isn’t going to win him the Father of the Year award ever.

John Diggle

John Diggle is arguable the most stable character on Arrow, with the most stable adult relationship as well. Also he has the least amount of daddy issues to tackle. (Thank god!) We saw him become a father and a husband last season and watched in awe as he balanced both sides of his life harmoniously. That has continued this season. He loves being a husband and father and takes to both roles like a fish to water but that doesn’t stop him from going out and kicking some criminals’ ass at night. He understands and respects not only the role that he plays in his marriage and his child’s life but that of Lyla’s too. He has the utmost respect of her character and agency. John is pretty much the exemplary example of how to be a hero and still have a family life. (Pay attention, Oliver!)

That family life was expanded this season with the revelation that his brother, Andy, was alive and working for the Big Bad of the season. This storyline is one that has incredible potential and one that the writers/producers have only started to explore. The reveal that Andy was alive shocked John, rightly so, it also drove forward the rift and dynamic between the two of them. John is Andy’s older brother but he also played the pseudo-father role as well. John berated Andy for his actions but also berated himself for not doing better job of guiding him. John eventually realized, with some help from Lyla, that Andy’s actions were Andy’s and not his. John tried to guide Andy but Andy made his own choices and John accepted that allowing the both of them to retain their own agency is an arcane situation.

John has an agency over himself that Oliver has yet to ascertain. But by showing Oliver his relationship with Andy, by being able to project that, he is better able guide Oliver towards that elusive and total agency that he has. John is not only Oliver’s counsel and confidante but also the fatherly figure that Oliver never truly had with his father. That role has been one of the underlying tenants of the entire show and relationship between the two of them. John and Andy’s storyline was needed this season and I’m excited to see it continue.

Oliver Queen, Felicity Smoak, and The Other Shoe (aka the Baby Mama Drama storyline)

I love Oliver Queen. I love Felicity Smoak. I love them individually and I love them together. I do not doubt the love that each of them has for the other. That is why I absolutely abhor this baby mama drama storyline because of the disservice it does to the characters and the show in general. I absolutely hate it. I hate it as much as people, who hate raisins, hate raisins.

For the past four season, I have watched as Oliver Queen transformed from a harden, cold-blooded murder bent on retribution to a man who loves, immensely, and only raises an eyebrow a pink sparkle bomb engagement invitation and uses a goddamn slow cooker. A goddamn slow cooker! I have watched him make strides to become a better man, a better hero, a better brother and friend, and a better partner in life and in love. His evolution has been central, is the key, to the show. This show is about his transformation to the hero known as the Green Arrow. He may call himself the Green Arrow at the moment but he is not there yet, he is not the fully realized hero that he will be at the end of the series. This is why I do not understand why they have chosen to go the route they have done with this storyline and have Oliver lie and keep secret his son from everyone he loves and cares about, especially Felicity. This doesn’t advance his transformation, but cuts him at his knees.

I have tried to reason, tried to find the logic behind the choice as to why they went about this route with this storyline, but I can’t find it. Is it because they have so many episodes to fill and they needed to fill it? Did they spend too much time on trying to figure out how the hell to make Legends of Tomorrow work that they couldn’t come up with a more logical and reasonable storyline? Are they creating drama for drama’s sake? To prolong the impending wedding between Oliver and Felicity? Did they really need to regress the character in order to progress his journey further? Because they could have handled this storyline in a more logical, more reasonable, more true to its characters way than have Oliver Queen lie to everyone. Hell, I’ve read it in plenty of Olicity fan fictions that handle the revelation that Oliver fathered a son better.

Oliver Queen has yet to master complete agency when it comes to himself. His past will always be his past but at the moment it is not inferring but defining his present. He is regressing to the point where he is lying to the woman he loves, his partner in every facet of his life, one of the most important people in his life, for what? To keep a promise to a woman he barely knows who for the past nine/ten years has hidden the fact that he is the father of her child? I don’t need nor want to get into the psyche of Samantha Clayton because frankly I do not care. She is ephemeral to the story. The revelation that Oliver has a son should have progressed his transformation and mastery of agency but it hasn’t. It’s thrown his character for a loop and degraded the work that has gone into his transformation.

The fact that Thea validated Oliver’s continued falsehood and secret keeping frustrates me to no end. Thea, above everyone else, should understand what happens when you keep secrets and tell lies within a family and the heartbreak, betrayal, and loss of agency it can cause. This is the same woman who signed away her entire family’s fortune when she discovered her true paternity and the length of time it had been kept and who had kept it from her. It honestly makes no sense. No fucking sense!

Do you know who is not ephemeral to the story and Oliver’s transformation? Felicity Smoak. Felicity Smoak is central to Oliver Queen’s transformation from harden killer bent on retribution to the hero he is becoming today. Felicity who kept Oliver’s secret, who stood by his side, who has guided him, pushed him, trusted him, believed in him, loved him, implicitly, even when he was at his worst. And that what hurts the most. Felicity has bared her soul, her heart, and has opened every aspect to her life to become a hero and join Oliver’s crusade and he hasn’t done the same. Yes, there are aspects of Oliver’s past, especially those five years that he probably hasn’t told Felicity about but none can compare to hiding his child from her, to lying to her face not once but twice.

Felicity is arguably the strongest character on Arrow. But that kind of strength does come easily, that kind of strength is built over time and paved over deep wounds. I’ve said in a previous post that the presence of Noah Kuttler has been felt throughout the series, even prior to his introduction last episode. The trauma and the damage that he created when he abandoned Felicity and her mother when she was seven years old continues to linger. He was the first man to break her heart, to make her doubt herself, to make her hate herself, who made her believe that she was not worthy or loveable. Those kinds of wounds are deep and profound. And they were only compounded by Cooper’s apparent suicide when Felicity was a MIT. These two men caused irreparable pain and heartbreak for Felicity, but she overcame it, she overcame them and became stronger because of them. But she has opened up her heart in a way she has never done before with Oliver and this lie is going to reopen every one of those wounds and magnify them. And it is going to hurt, in a way that Felicity has never hurt before.

I’m ready for Oliver and Felicity to break up. I’m ready for Felicity to hand back that beautiful engagement ring and walk away from Oliver for the time being. Why? Because they both need it. Staying in a relationship with Oliver after the revelation that he has lied to her about his son will be a disservice to her character. Felicity is stronger than that. It’s going to hurt like hell, for them and everyone watching, but it is needed. By breaking up with Oliver, she will be taking back her agency. She will be able to lay everything out on the table, see everything and come to her own conclusion. Her own and no one else’s. It’s going to be hard and painful and probably devastating, but she will come out stronger on the other side. And that is something that I need to see above everything else. I need to see that.

Oliver needs to see that too. He needs to realizes the mistakes he made, the damage he has caused, and the regression in his character that he caused when he chose not to reveal that he had a son to the woman he loves most in the world. As Cristina Yang says, “Being aware of your crap and actually overcoming your crap are two very different things.” And I need Oliver to do both before there is any type for reconciliation between Oliver and Felicity. Oliver broke Felicity’s trust, and the trust that the two of them have has been central to their entire relationship, even before it became romantic. Oliver is going to need to earn that trust back. He needs to prove to Felicity, and himself, that the trust they have between the two of them is something that can never be toyed with or disregarded because of something like a surprise sperm child.

Do I think Oliver and Felicity will reconcile? Yes, the love that these two have for each other is the stuff of fairy tales. It’s a love like no other. But they need to repair and rebuild that trust that has been broken before anything can happen. They will emerge together, stronger than ever before, like a phoenix rising from the fiery ashes that Oliver Queen created.

Do I think that the reconciliation will occur before the end of the season? I honestly don’t know. The writers and producers have put themselves into a corner that I hope they can write themselves out of that does justice for both Felicity and Oliver’s character.

Conclusion

Arrow and Olicity hold a special place in my heart. I have watched this show and this relationship blossom and become bigger and better each most Wednesdays for the past four years. The writers and producers started off the fourth season beautifully and made me fall more in love with the show, I hope they can return to that place by the end of the season. They need to handle this baby mama drama storyline with care and logic. This show is built on transformation, especially that of Oliver’s. They need to continue with that progression and not slide backwards for the sake of drama. The show needs to return to what makes it awesome and trim the fat that makes it not.

More Olicity, more OTA, and less bullshit.

Thanks for reading my very long rant. All the opinions expressed are my own. You don’t have to agree with them, you don’t have to like them. 😘

 

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