Well Arrow fans, I was wrong. Oliver (Stephen Amell) did not sleep with that journalist tonight. Wait, what? You think more important things happened this episode? Well, you’re wrong. Fine, name one. Really? That’s what you’re going with? The latest dark archer learned that Oliver is the Arrow? Come on. That’s not important. That’s not even interesting. I mean, I realize the show made it seem important by giving it the coveted last scene of the episode spot, but let’s get real: there’s a 90% chance whoever is under that mask already knows that information.
Nearly every villain on this show goes after the Green Arrow precisely because he’s secretly Oliver Queen. There’s no reason this one will be different. Granted, after five years fighting crime in Star City, the Green Arrow probably has a few people who resent him by now too. There’s a small chance the new DA (Josh Segarra) is the man behind the mask, but that’s too obvious. Arrow may be predictable, but it’s at least smart enough to avoid going the obvious route most of the time.
*sigh* You really want to talk about this don’t you? Fine, but remember you asked for this. See, part of the reason I don’t want to talk about the dark archer storyline is because every event leading up to that final plot twist was so completely asinine.
Let’s start with reliable old Wild Dog (Rick Gonzalez). It’s official, this guy is the show’s worst character ever. He seems to exist solely as a plot device—and a negative one at that. This kid has been endangering the team since day one and this is just one step too far. What is Oliver supposed to learn from this? Not to trust people? That being a vigilante is dangerous? If recent history is any indication, he’ll learn exactly nothing because this show doesn’t care about character development anymore, especially Oliver’s.
Honestly, the show seems to care so little about Oliver’s development now that it’s not even bothering to try to make his actions logical or consistent. Case-in-point: his entire relationship with the journalist. You see…wait, seriously? You still want to talk about the stupid superhero plot? Jesus, what is wrong with you? Fine, fine, fine, don’t get so offended. I want you to be happy and as it happens, the superhero plot was just as illogical. In the first episode of the season, Oliver and the rest of the characters made a big deal about his decision to kill people when absolutely necessary. Then, that translated into Oliver cavalierly killing some nameless lackey just because the guy knew he had fighting skills. And yet, in this episode, he decided not to kill Tobias Church (Chad L. Coleman), a villain who actively hates him and wouldn’t hesitate to tell everyone Oliver’s secret in hopes it would get the Green Arrow killed. Yeah, OK, that makes a lot of sense.
Now can we talk about the journalist storyline? Thank you. Now, before I begin, I just want to make it clear that I don’t think Oliver’s budding flirtation with Susan Walters (Carly Pope) is a good idea. On the contrary, it’s important precisely because of how stupid it is. Let’s start with the obvious reason: why does every fictional female journalist have to sleep with her source? It was bad enough listening to rich white boy Oliver Queen–a man who has never publicly shown much concern for his city, let alone made a real effort to improve it–mansplain to an allegedly very qualified journalist how she should do her job, but it was even more crushing to watch her hand him her number at the end of it. Maybe that kind of casual, pervasive sexism would have been easier to ignore in another election year, but the scales have fallen from our eyes and there’s no going back.
However, the real problem with this storyline isn’t how cliché it is, it’s that it makes no sense as the next step in Oliver’s character development. Television tropes demand that after breaking up, the members of an epic love story must date other people to make the audience think there’s no chance of reconciliation. Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) has been hard at work on that storyline for weeks, but her moving on makes sense. She has always argued–often directly into Oliver’s face–that past trauma is no reason to stop living and her trying to move on from their relationship fits with her past behavior. Not so with Oliver.
During their fake wedding last season, Oliver called Felicity his “always” and while she rebuffed him then, Oliver was still all in on their relationship even as late as two weeks ago. So, it is almost ridiculous that he told her he needed to start thinking about his future outside of the hood this episode. It’s especially absurd considering his behavior over the past four seasons. In every previous circumstance, when Oliver’s actions lead to someone he loves getting hurt, he pulls back and swears off emotional attachments completely—either as a liability to his vigilante life or because he doesn’t want to risk hurting anyone else. Losing Felicity should make him swear off romance forever, either turning him into a monk or regressing him back to his pre-island man-whore days. Instead, after one speech from some guy he met five years ago, Oliver finally learned the lesson four years of speeches from all his closest friends and family members couldn’t teach him: he has to choose to live. Has any piece of character development ever felt less earned? THAT is why Oliver’s relationship with that journalist is the most important thing that happened last night. It illustrates exactly how far this show has fallen.