Arrow “Who Are You?” Review (Season 5, Episode 10)

Sometimes, it’s quite difficult to see the good in people when you’re constantly confronted with the bad. It’s difficult to remain hopeful when experience has demonstrated time and time again that hope gets you hurt. But, as Andy reminds us in The Shawshank Redemption, hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things. That’s the message Oliver was trying to convey to Felicity, and one he probably has to keep reminding himself too.

This Arrow picks up right where the mid-season finale left off. Oliver discovering Laurel in Team Arrow HQ. I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of being subjected to more of Laurel, and I’m glad the show didn’t try to bring her back yet again. Not only does it diminish the impact of her death, I’m just SO over Laurel. This was just an alternate universe Black Canary and it doesn’t look like she’s sticking around. She was mostly just a means to an end anyway. She was simply there to remind us that Prometheus wants Oliver to die a slow, painful death and Oliver is the broodiest brooder to ever brood.

Despite evil Black Canary destroying Team Arrow HQ, helping Prometheus advance his plan to destroy Oliver, and attempting to kill Felicity; Oliver steadfastly believes that good Laurel is still somewhere inside evil Laurel. All it’ll take is a little patience and love to bring her around. Part of that is Oliver desperately trying to make amends for, in his mind, failing Laurel and leading to her demise. But a bigger part of it is Oliver desperately trying to find redemption for himself. Oliver has done some horrible things and made some epic mistakes. Most recently, he’s responsible for Billy’s death which has led Oliver to question his own relative goodness. Is he just a murderer masquerading as a hero? Is he really a good man who has just had one bad situation after another thrown at him? Is he light or has the darkness consumed him? These are questions he’s asking himself, and evil Black Canary’s appearance gives Oliver a chance to figure out whether he’s past saving.

If Oliver can “save” Laurel, then that means he isn’t beyond saving either. But what Oliver’s logic fails to factor in is choice. Yes. Circumstances have a great impact on our lives and the choices we make. Yes. Our nature also has a great impact on our lives and the choices we make. But the common denominator is choice, and that what Oliver’s logic fails to include. Evil Black Canary is who she is partially because of her situation, partially because of her nature, but mostly because of her own choices. The same is true of Oliver. He’s responsible for Billy’s death because he chose to confront Prometheus on his own despite having a team ready and willing to help him. He’s responsible for Billy’s death because he continually chooses not to listen to anyone’s counsel but his own. Oliver thinks that by saving evil Black Canary he can save himself, but the truth is, the only way for Oliver to save himself is to make better choices. Besides, evil Black Canary has already told Oliver that the Laurel he’s looking to find in her doesn’t exist and, to paraphrase Dr. Maya Angelou, when people tell you who they are, believe them.

Felicity didn’t have the same problem seeing through evil Black Canary. Ordinarily, I would applaud Felicity being on her game enough to recognize that Laurel suddenly returning from the dead wasn’t a good thing. Ordinarily, I would applaud Felicity being smart enough to surrepticiously obtain Laurel’s DNA so she could confirm her identity. Ordinarily, I would applaud Felicity slapping some sense into Oliver when he automatically trusts her with no questions asked. However, despite how please I was to see Felicity being smart again, she turned right around and ruined it by being stupid.

Every time Team Arrow goes out on a mission, it’s a dangerous situation. It’s important for everyone to follow orders and do their jobs so that everyone can come back home in one piece. That’s one of the reasons I don’t like Rene. He never follows orders, and his failure to do so has gotten people hurt. That’s why I have never been more frustrated by Felicity than when she went on a different channel to give Rene, Curtis, and Rory different orders after Oliver told them to hold position. Considering how frustrated I’ve been by Felicity for the last season and a half, that’s saying a lot. It wasn’t just a stupid thing to do. That was a dangerous thing to do, and it could’ve gotten Oliver and everyone else hurt and/or killed. There is one leader of Team Arrow, and that’s Oliver. It’s especially not someone who isn’t in the field and doesn’t have the total picture of what’s going on. Then, to add insult to injury, the narrative validated Felicity’s bad behavior by Oliver basically saying, ‘yeah, you released a dangerous sociopath out into the world, you put me and the rest of the team at risk, you almost cost two security guards their lives, but it’s cool because we almost got Prometheus.’ Um….what?!

It’s nothing new that Felicity stood up to Oliver. She’s never held her tongue when she believes Oliver is in the wrong, and that’s actually saved Oliver’s life on more than one occasion. However, she’s also always understood the dangers Oliver faced while he was out doing his thing. So whenever she’s had beef with him, she waited until he was safely back at HQ to give him the dressing down he deserved. For her to not only give the team orders contrary to Oliver’s, but to also go behind Oliver’s back to let evil Black Canary go was not only frustrating, it was out of character. I’m guessing this behavior was supposed to demonstrate how off Felicity is because of Billy’s death, but the narrative did not do a good job of showing that at all. Felicity just came off as overbearing and self-righteous.

One aspect this episode did a pretty decent job with was Curtis. In my review of the mid-season finale, I mentioned how out of the blue Paul walking out on Curtis felt. In the first half of the season, we may have seen Paul once. But in the mid-season finale, Paul talks about all the problems that have apparently been building in his and Curtis’ marriage. All of that, sadly, took place off screen. It was so bad that for a little while there, I forgot that Curtis was even married. However, this episode spent almost the entirety of Curtis’ screen time focusing on him attempting to deal with Paul leaving him. Curtis clearly loves Paul, but he also loves his home and wants to protect it. Paul’s issue with Curtis being Mr. Terrific isn’t, as Curtis says, that he tried to be a hero. It’s that Curtis a) lied to him about what he was doing and b) nearly got himself killed more than once. For someone who loves Curtis as much as Paul clearly does, it can’t have been easy to see your spouse come home at all hours beat up, stabbed, etc. Curtis is an engineer and computer geek. He’s smart and he’s more than capable of learning to defend himself physically, but he’s not a soldier. He doesn’t have that in him, and that’s ok. There are more ways to be a hero than being out in the thick of battle. This episode helped Curtis realize that he’s got better skills that he can offer to Team Arrow, and I hope he’ll spend more time focusing on those. It would be interesting to see what kind of tech he can create for the team, but it may also be a way for him to save his marriage. It allows Curtis to continue his hero work without constantly putting himself in harm’s way. It might be a compromise Paul can live with and come back.

All in all, this was a rather lackluster episode. The fight sequences were ok, but lacked any real intensity. It was kind of odd to see Rene reach out to Curtis, but in the end it seemed to help Curtis figure out where he fit. Oliver has been brooding over the same questions for the last season and a half, and it’s starting to wear a bit thin. It would be nice to see some lasting character grown from him so he can move on to brooding about new issues. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like every time we take a step forward with him, it’s four or five steps back. John’s situation is pretty precarious at the moment. They did some lazy writing to get him locked back up, but I’m kinda digging his legal counsel. There are times I’m pretty certain the new DA is the other masked vigilante, but I’m still liking him. He seems like he’s a pretty decent guy, but he also seems like he’s kind of dangerous and/or quietly crazy. I’m really intrigued. Hopefully, he’s on the up and up though because John is pretty much screwed if he isn’t. One very positive thing to come out of this episode was the destruction of that ridiculous Black Canary statute. I can’t be the only one who thought it was completely cheesy. Next week’s episode finds Team Arrow looking to add another Black Canary to their ranks. Let’s hope she works out better than Evelyn. So what did y’all think of this week’s Arrow?

  • Kathleen Kervin

    What do you do when the person responsible for the organization is making bad decisions? What Diggle does is go his own way, whether it’s in season 1 when Oliver was blinded by Laurel and failed in his promise to back Diggle up, or in season 4 when he couldn’t forgive Oliver for kidnapping Lyla and leaving baby Sara (Sara! I miss you!) alone. Laurel also ignored Oliver’s instructions and became the Black Canary. Thea straight out lied to him about seeing Malcolm and training with him.

    So what is Felicity to do? As you wrote “. He’s responsible for Billy’s death because he chose to confront Prometheus on his own despite having a team ready and willing to help him. He’s responsible for Billy’s death because he continually chooses not to listen to anyone’s counsel but his own.” So when Felicity sees Oliver making a mistake with the Black Siren because he so desperately wants to redeem himself through her, what is Felicity to do?

    For four years, she’s backed up Oliver every time out in the field. Unlike Rene, she listens and supports Oliver but should she always? She used Oliver’s own trick trick in letting Black Siren go with nanites in her, but she did it behind his back because Oliver wasn’t listening when she argued her point to his face because he was caught up in his personal hang-ups. You should support your leader but if he’s making bad decisions, are you justified in going against him? That was the position Felicity was in (and one the people of the U.S. might find themselves in soon).

    I liked this episode because it moved past the fixation on masks & fights of the first part of the season and got into more complex philosophical questions.

    • Jessica Breaux

      I’m not saying she shouldn’t have called Oliver out and confronted him for making yet another bad choice. Of course she should. That’s one of the things I liked most about Felicity in the earlier seasons. She wasn’t fooled by Oliver’s crap, and she let him know it. What I’m saying is the when and the how weren’t appropriate. Oliver and Co. were in the middle of an operation. Oliver had given an order. An order that Felicity didn’t agree with, but that in all likelihood wasn’t going to put anyone in jeopardy. Instead of letting the scene play out, Felicity went on another channel, overrode Oliver’s orders, and escalated a situation that shouldn’t have been escalated. That was a poor decision on Felicity’s part.