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**UPDATE 9/2/15: My little brother wrote two fabulous review on both Arrow’s third season and The Flash’s first season. I’d be so happy if you guys took the time to read them, because they’re thorough and well-written.**

>> Simon Says Stuff: “My Name is Oliver Queen”

>> Simon Says Stuff: “Fast Enough”


“Arrow” had a fabulous run before launching into season three. It truly did. I took this TV show into my heart and I loved it with all my soul.

And now it’s dead.

Granted, it’s had a few decent episodes: “The Calm,” “The Brave and The Bold,” “Midnight City” and “Nanba Parbat.” I’m personally fond of “Corto Maltese” and “The Magician” because my favorite character Malcolm Merlyn had a strong presence there.

Overall there have been too many filler episodes; they wasted a lot time building up to the big fight between Oliver Queen and Ra’s Al-Ghul. It actually stopped feeling like a build-up after the fourth episode. I just wanted them to move the story along, because it makes no sense for Ra’s to just chill in the Lazarus Pit for months on end. For a show that used to have clear goals in mind, it’s disappointing to see that the writers have no clue what they are doing. It has caused a train-wreck of plot holes, people acting out of character – especially Felicity Smoak – slips of logic (like in “Uprising”) and repetitive archetypes.


1. The Journey to Heroism: Palmer and Laurel

2. How They’re Breaking Characters: Felicity and Diggle

3. The Sexism: Stop Killing Good Women

4. Sloppy Storytelling: Focus on “The Origin of Felicity Smoak,” “Sara,” “The Climb” and “Uprising” (I’ll keep that section brief.)

5. Mistakes in Season 2 Finale


Ray Palmer in (15) "Nanda Parbat."

Ray Palmer in (15) “Nanda Parbat.”

1. The Journey to Heroism: Palmer and Laurel

The writers seem to have forgotten what made Oliver Queen and Sara Lance heroes. It certainly takes a lot more than personal tragedy. Let us remember that Oliver decided to save his city not because he lost his father under horrible circumstances; he became a vigilante to right his father’s wrongs as well making up for all the terrible things he did himself when he was younger. Helping people was his redemption. Similarly, Sara desperately wanted to be something more than a killer. She felt so awful for joining the League of Assassins and committing heinous acts for five years that she couldn’t even face her family. Her path to becoming a hero was when she gradually morphed from Tar-Er Sah-Fer to The Canary.

Ray Palmer decided to build this superhero suit because he witnessed his fiancee dying and there was nothing he could do about it.

Laurel Lance said to Oliver she wants to help people like Sara did, but we all know she’s talking out of her ass; she wants revenge.

Both of these characters are trying to be like Oliver and Sara not due to noble aspirations, but they do it out of grief and anger. They have no clear goal in mind either. Oliver has his list. Sara protects women throughout the city from being beaten and/or raped. Based on her experiences onboard the Amazo, she knows only too well what it’s like to be at the mercy of men.

I would have been more accepting of Palmer’s initial motivation if the writers hadn’t screwed up the relationship between him and Felicity. Let’s get something straight right away: Stalking isn’t cute. Stalking isn’t romantic in any way. At first, Palmer and Felicity bond over the fact that they’re tech nerds – which I am all for – but then it turns creepy. He sends her flowers and candy, calls her, emails her and does so in abundance. He comes her apartment unannounced! He buys the company she works for so that she technically works for him and slyly offers her a job in the Queen’s Consolidated building. Very creepy.

I would have much rather seen them forming a friendship bonding over common interests and genuinely beginning to care for each other on a steady pace. Everything about their relationship feels forced and it’s all happening because Palmer more or less controls the circumstances. For this to work, their relationship has to have a greater sense of team work and respect.

In regards to Laurel, I believe the writers could have created The Black Canary without killing the original Canary. Sara should have trained Laurel; pure and simple. How often do we see one woman supporting another woman on television? Rarely. I think it’s sexist thinking that only a man can teach a woman how to fight. Besides, the reasons behind Sara’s murder don’t even make sense. If you’re going to kill off an amazing character like Sara Lance, you better have damn good reasons; otherwise your story is going to suffer.

2. How They’re Breaking Characters: Felicity and Diggle

Like I said earlier, a lot of people on this show are doing things out of character. Or they’re being plain unintelligent, like someone peed in their cornflakes.

Felicity Smoak: Her heart isn’t in the crime-fighting business like it used to, which I understand. Other than that, she’s been just annoying this season. In ep. 7-“Draw Back Your Bow,” she acted incredibly shallow. First of all, I don’t get why she would feel even remotely affectionate towards Palmer, because he’s a creepy weirdo (he pinged her phone in the next episode!). Second of all, just because he’s handsome and offers her a nice dress and a diamond necklace, they aren’t solid bases for liking him or forgetting that he likes to stalk her. Her little speech at that restaurant about how great Palmer is felt out of place and dishonest. If the motivation is to make Oliver jealous or if she feels torn up and confused about the state of her life, then I would understand her behavior, but we never see her actually handling Oliver’s rejection or addressing it on her own.

There were some other moments when Felicity said things that made me think, “Who are you???” For instance, in ep. 9-“The Climb” she says she’s afraid that Oliver won’t kill Ra’s. In what universe would she encourage him to fall back on that habit? When he killed the Count on her account, Felicity apologized to Oliver for putting him in that position. Why are we falling back on this ‘To Kill or Not to Kill’ issue anyway? It was resolved in the last season finale.

Another moment that stands out to me is when Felicity tries to comfort Laurel after a nasty Vertigo dose (ep. 13-“Canaries”): Felicity argues that Laurel can be a hero, because “unlike Sara,” Laurel has a light inside of her. What happened to “once you let the darkness inside, it never comes out”? What happened to Laurel assuring her little sister that she’s a good person at heart? Sara proved that she’s not a killer anymore at the end of season two, like Oliver did! I’m all for women bonding, but the nature of that exchange makes me cringe.


* John Diggle: Let’s just face it, the writers don’t care about Diggle any more. Pretty quickly, they moved his plot line on embracing fatherhood and starting over with Lyla Michaels to the back-burner. Frankly, there hasn’t been enough good ol’ Dig wisdom in this season. Whenever he has given someone advice, he’s come across as a grumpy old dude rather than the Yoda-type of counselor we know. When Roy claimed he was Sara’s killer, Dig was an asshole; he should have known that Roy was starting to remember that time he was high on Mirakuru and killed that police officer. Instead Dig seemed to believe it fully and said Oliver should kick Roy out of the team. Where did that hostility come from?

Then when Oliver said he doesn’t want to die like Sara did, Dig urges him to talk to Felicity: “Tell her how you feel.” This is mostly a case of bad wording: She knows how he feels. Slade Wilson, who’s stuck in an underground cell at the end of the world, knows how Oliver Queen feels about Felicity Smoak. Dig should have said something along the lines, “Let Felicity know that. Tell her you’ve changed your mind, that you want to be with her, and that you’re going to be invested in your relationship.”

Three of these women are no longer with us (borrowed from summer-glau.com).

Three of these women are no longer with us (borrowed from summer-glau.com).

3. The Sexism: Stop Killing Good Women

I don’t know how many of you saw “Flash vs. Arrow,” but there’s a scene between Felicity and Caitlin Snow where they come up with a solution how to fight Prism’s ability to make people enraged. At one point Caitlin says, “It’s so nice to have another woman to talk to,” and Felicity enthusiastically answers, “I know!”

Yeah. There are not a lot of women on Arrow, but the writers have no problem killing off the few ones they have (Isabel Rochev) or removing them from the picture somehow (Mckenna Hall, Helena Bertinelli). It seems hardly fair. I understand why they killed off Moira Queen; that had to happen for Oliver to start having serious self-doubts and it went along with Slade’s promise to ruin his life. But I think they should have kept Isabel alive and imprisoned her along with Slade. I’ll expand on that later.

Additionally, consider how many times they create a conflict founded in a woman’s death:

* Malcolm Merlyn wants to level the Glades, because his wife Rebecca was murdered and no one tried to save her.

* Slade Wilson lost his mind when Shado died.

* Ray Palmer began building the suit because of his dead fiancee.

* Quentin Lance picked up a drinking problem because his daughter died/disappeared. His marriage also fell apart.


Laurel Lance in “Midnight City” (season 3).


“Woman dies and all hell breaks loose.”

It’s is a story trope that’s been done to death, especially on this show. Back in October, I hoped that they were going to take a new route. In fact they stated that season 3 was going to deal with identity issues, but as soon as they kicked the Canary off a rooftop, that topic got lost in the Who-Dun-It?

Maybe you can argue that getting Sara killed would cause Laurel to deal with the same problem – identity – but I think that’s demeaning. Laurel becoming the Black Canary should be something empowering, not an outlet for her baggage. The two sisters deserved better.


Sara Lance in "Heir to the Demon" (season 2).

Sara Lance in “Heir to the Demon” (season 2).

4. Sloppy Storytelling: Focus on the four following episodes

“The Origin of Felicity Smoak” (ep. 5)

* Unlike what they do for Oliver, it seems like the writers just wanted to get Felicity’s background out of the way. Bringing up two big issues from her past was too much for one episode, because you can’t run full circle with both at once. I think having her ex-boyfriend return would have been enough, because it raised the topic of suicide, which is what Felicity believes Oliver committing by not trying to have a life outside the foundry. They nearly made that theme in bag, except neither Felicity nor Oliver addressed the elephant in the room. (So close.)

* The mother didn’t have to be there. She could have showed up for another episode if you ask me. For one, they didn’t really dwell deep enough into the problems the two were having – the problems they brought up was a lot of superficial stuff. The comments about the father did not click with me either. Why did he leave? How come these women can’t get along? Does Felicity subconsciously blame her mother for “driving Daddy away” and that’s why she wants to be nothing like her?

* I don’t buy the resolved mother-daughter relationship at the end. A life-long conflict doesn’t get resolved by putting the people in a near-death situation. It will make them appreciate each other more, but you won’t see them walk arm-in-arm, giggling like little girls. It doesn’t happen.

“Sara” (ep. 2)

Laurel has showed the world once she’s capable of murder. So when she chased Simon Lacroix like a madwoman, none of us were surprised. It annoys me, though, that Oliver’s reaction was simply, “At least you didn’t kill him.” Yes, because he took the bullets out, but that’s not the point. She pulled the trigger. She made a decision to kill. The whole point of him urging her to back away was to stop her from becoming a killer. He failed and he doesn’t face that fact for even a second.

Oliver’s a hypocrite, too. He told her, “If you do this, you can never come back from it.” Didn’t he come back from that? Hello? It was the theme of season two.



“The Climb” (ep. 9)

* The red herring was unnecessary: “Oh, the blood matches Oliver’s somewhat…” No, we know that Oliver didn’t kill Sara (he’s got an alibi for crying out loud, ask Barry Allen) so why even go there? It doesn’t make sense scientifically either, because the blood sample can’t match Oliver’s; it can be similar genetically, but it can’t match. If Felicity really compared the sample to people who had been arrested for a felony in the past two years, Thea Queen would have showed up. DUI, remember?

* The reasons behind Sara’s murder are indeed illogical: Merlyn has worked so hard to stay in hiding so why would he make himself a target and risk enduring Nyssa’s rage? I can see this plot working out only if Merlyn had corrupted Thea so badly to the point that she chose to kill Sara, for whatever reason you may cook up or whatever encouragement Merlyn may give her.

* Don’t try to tell me Merlyn seriously believed Oliver could beat Ra’s, that’s absurd. If only the student has hope of beating the master, then Merlyn places in that role, not Oliver.

"The Climb"

“The Climb”

“Uprising” (ep. 12)

* They did a lot of telling instead of showing: Sure, Thea can help redeem Merlyn as a person, but he shouldn’t be aware of that. Even if he truly wants to be a better man, show us how she makes him a better man, let the change be subtle. Please don’t tell the audience what to expect; we can figure it out.

* There’s one huge plot hole that bothers me: In this scenario, Merlyn leaves Starling City after killing a man, but back in the second season, Merlyn told Moira Queen that he left after their one-night stand. He said that he felt so guilty for betraying Rebecca’s memory that he couldn’t bare staying around. What, did the writers forget that happened?

* I don’t like that they changed the reasons why Merlyn wanted to destroy the Glades. It wasn’t just that his wife died, it was that people walked by and never tried to help her. That little piece of information made him believe that the Glades was inherently sick and that nothing could change the people living there.

I could go on and go about this episode – didn’t like it one bit, even Brick lost his appeal – but I’ll leave it here.

Isabel Rochev in "Unthinkable" (season 2).

Isabel Rochev in “Unthinkable” (season 2).

5. Mistakes in Season 2 Finale

The last season finale was phenomenal, no question. However, one thing didn’t sit well with me: They killed off Isabel Rochev and Sebastian Blood way too early. Of course, I get that they can’t change this, but I want to point out that they missed two really cool opportunities. They’re both power-hungry characters, one loves using money to get what she wants and the other loves wielding political power. Erasing them wastes potential conflicts.

Honestly, I’m not sure what you could have done with Isabel, but keeping her prisoner on Lian Yu seems more interesting than having Nyssa snap her neck.

In regards to Blood, I loved that character and I think they could have easily used him for the third season. He said to Oliver, “If you tell anyone about my mask, I will tell them about yours.” Imagine having a mayor who was secretly a villain and you’re Oliver, having to keep your cool so that this a-hole doesn’t reveal your identity. I would have loved to see that! It never made sense to me that Blood would stick around in City Hall only to be killed by Ravager (a.k.a. Isabel). Plus, they turned the mayor election into such a huge deal that season, but this time, they threw someone in the fray without a fuss.

The writers may have thought they made it easy for themselves by crossing these two names off their list while in actuality, they started digging their own grave.