TV Recap: Arrow, “Code of Silence”

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Code of Silence Plot Summary:

As the mayoral debate and the engagement party grow closer, Oliver (Stephen Amell) wonders if he’s making a mistake by not telling Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) about his son William (Jack Moore).

Hello loyal readers, I just wanted to let you know up front that I’ll be skipping Arrow Death Watch this week. Nothing about the episode particularly altered my rankings: Quentin (Paul Blackthorne) is still a strong possibility, Diggle (David Ramsey) is too and I’m pulling for Roy (Colton Haynes). I’d much rather talk about how stupid Oliver is.

I have been criticizing his decision to hide William from Felicity for months and this episode finally dealt with it head on. There are a lot of reasons Samantha’s (Anna Hopkins) demand and Oliver’s decision to follow it are absolute nonsense (it’s unrealistic long-term, Felicity can keep a secret) but the most important of all is the one Oliver himself voiced: you cannot marry someone knowing you are hiding that much of yourself. I’m not saying marriage means you know everything about your spouse. That’s impossible. I’m saying that a relationship cannot last longterm if it is built on a lie that fundamental. And while the writers tried very hard to justify Oliver’s decision throughout the episode, they also to realize it’s a massive betrayal of trust.

The whole episode was sort of structured like a horror movie. Every moment seemed to move us closer to the big, heartbreaking reveal. Nearly every character complimented either Oliver or Felicity on the fact that their relationship contains absolutely zero lying, ratcheting up the dramatic irony each time. Perhaps most painful of all was Felicity’s conversation with her mother about Quentin’s clear lying. As Felicity encouraged Donna (Charlotte Ross) to give Quentin the benefit of the doubt and consider that he was lying for a reason, we all knew she’d be eating those words soon enough. Regardless, it was a really strong scene for both characters, especially in comparison to the complete trash bag of a scene between Oliver and Thea (Willa Holland) that came later.

Let’s just pretend I believe Thea–who spent a huge chunk of last season punishing her brother for lying and then was in turn punished for her own lying through her father’s actions–would agree that Oliver was right to keep William secret. Even in a world where that completely nonsensical thing happens, Thea is still wrong. Periodic, mysterious trips to Central City would have drawn attention eventually. Malcolm (John Barrowman) just happened to be the one to figure out the truth first, but it could have just as easily been Felicity. The longer Oliver visited William secretly, the more he would have to hide from her and she’s just too observant and too on-the-lookout for lying in the men she dates not to notice. It wouldn’t have been cheating, but it would have required the same flavor of betrayal and conceit.

Unfortunately, by repeating Oliver’s justifications back to him, she told him exactly what he needed to hear. However, just because he needed to hear what she said to continue on doesn’t mean he’s in the right. Nearly every character on this show has compromised themselves for the sake of protecting their child. And in every instance, that decision has backfired and injured both parent and child. That Thea and Oliver–who have both suffered thanks to that kind of behavior–still believe that justification has any truth, shows that they have not evolved one bit since the day we met them. That shouldn’t be true. It doesn’t feel true to the characters we know. And that’s because their actions are not grounded in character fidelity. They’re grounded in lazy writing that’s so focused on the end, that the means aren’t getting the attention they desperately need to feel real.

Oliver and Felicity will probably recover from this blow to their relationship. Felicity is nothing if not empathetic and forgiving. But if the couple loses some of their shine after that, it won’t be surprising. And it won’t be Oliver’s fault. It won’t be Felicity’s or Damien Darhk’s or even Samantha’s. It will be the writers for not doing their jobs.

By day, Marisa Carpico stresses over America’s election system. By night, she becomes a pop culture obsessive. Whether it’s movies, TV or music, she watches and listens to it all so you don’t have to.