Arrow Season 5 Episode 8 – TV Review
I did watch the entirety of the crossover week. And it was pretty damn good.
It’s just a shame that this very personal, gratifying, hundredth episode of Arrow, the show that started it all, had to get awkwardly sandwiched into the whole affair.
Dat Laurel, tho.
TL;DR Oliver, Sara, Thea, Diggle, and Ray are trapped in an alien-induced dreamworld, and wrestle with their acceptance of the fantasy; emotional highs are reached; Felicity leads the recruits to find a way to rescue them; Barry, Supergirl, and some of the Legends also step in.
Artemis doesn’t show up, though. She must be too busy meeting Prometheus for vague exchanges on rooftops.
So we’re following on from The Flash’s leg of the crossover, which saw the Arrow Five get beamed up, and now they find themselves in some oddly perfect alternate reality where Oliver and Sara never ended up on Lian Yu, so Oliver and the people around him never lived their vigilante lives. Except Diggle, who is the Hood in this reality, with Felicity as tech support. Oliver is due to marry Laurel, returning in epic form (even if she is a perfected fake apparition), but flashes of his real past get stronger and stronger until he, and rest of the Five, must decide whether to submit to this wish fulfilment, or return to the struggle of reality. They all do (Thea initially baulks, but she gets there), and they have an honestly spectacular fight against their personal villains on the Queen Manor lawn before bidding a crushing farewell to Laurel, and all the ghosts of Oliver’s past. Meanwhile, Felicity, with aid from Cisco, the recruits, Barry, and Supergirl, tries to find out where the Five got beamed to. They tussle with some unnecessary villain of the week unrelated to the Dominators because plot, and are all then weirdly shocked to discover the aliens used a spaceship beam to, gasp, beam them into a spaceship. The Legends pick them up on the Waverider, and it’s on to Legends of Tomorrow to complete the defeat of the Dominators.
There’s also a bizarre subplot about how Wild Dog is racist towards metahumans and aliens. Wild Dog just can’t do anything right, can he?
Again, I’ll reiterate that it’s a shame this episode had to cram in all the crossover/alien stuff (and that Wild Dog subplot). Sure, the Dominators’ alternate reality pods were a good weasel to facilitate the dreamworld thing, but God, the Arrow-specific stuff was so good that I wanted more.
And seriously, can Curtis just fucking die, already? Or at least get his tongue cut out or something. What are you doing here?
Why I hate this episode:
Considering how full-force Arrow has backpedalled away from the utter, utter garbage of what we saw last season, I can’t imagine why they’ve decided to have Curtis remain in Season 4 mode. Even Felicity, Mother Trash Fire herself, got a personality makeover. Why is Curtis still so grating?
The images they used for Oliver’s final look back at the people he’s left behind were jarringly poor quality. The one of Roy was obviously Colton Haynes’ face slapped onto something else’s body. What the hell? I know the CGI budget was stretched, but these are still images, people. Figure it out.
Can’t we take Laurel with us into the real world? Sigh.
The villain of the week, some tech-enhanced thief scientist, didn’t need to be there. She was only there to give Barry and Supergirl, and Wild Dog, something to do. And that something was the “Wild Dog is meta-racist” subplot. Blech. Should have been skipped.
Oh, and we got Deathstroke back, but only a masked, stuntman version of him. Couldn’t Manu Bennett have at least phoned in some voiceover or something?
But it’s not all bad:
Still, Deathstroke. And after the dream sends him to attack Oliver and Diggle, Sara suddenly gets her assassin reflexes back and kills him similarly to how he stabbed Moira. Cool.
But that’s not the only fight scene, baby. The action centrepiece of the episode comes after the Arrow Five have accepted that they’ll need to fight their way out of the dream, and are confronted by their own personal villains on the Queen Manor lawn. Oliver is up against Deathstroke; Thea takes on Malcolm; Sara gets her chance at revenge on Damien Darhk (one that won’t fuck up the timeline); Diggle battles some Ghosts as a reminder of Andy; and Ray rumbles with Slade’s goons that killed his fiancè. Fucking cool.
It would be redundant to talk at too much length about the fight; just go watch it. But there is a moment where Thea beats down Malcolm, steals his bow, shoots an arrow for Sara to catch, and Sara stabs Damien just like he stabbed Laurel. My mouth was literally agape. How far this show has fucking come since that fateful episode, hey?
As skyscraping as that fight scene was, it’s not even what makes the episode so great. It’s the return of Laurel; of Moira (and Robert, I suppose); and the return of Queen Manor, a crucial touchstone from those first two seasons that has vanished (replaced by the crappy loft set. Pfft). This looks and feels like the Arrow we started with. A lavish party at Queen Manor is my jam.
I’ll get to Oliver’s heartbreaking interactions with Laurel momentarily, but the real tearjerker goes to his scene with Thea. Thea has realised what’s going on and that it’s all an illusion, but she would rather stay. Oliver’s pained acceptance, and the sob he chokes back while hugging her goodbye, is truly affecting. The CW does do a good “hot guy crying.”
Oliver also gets the episode’s second best line during this exchange: “I’m begging you to come with me because I cannot do it alone.” And you know that’s the kind of line I like.
And now onto my Katie Cassidy. My queen. My everything. Even with all the proud strides Season 5 has made to return to quality, Arrow still isn’t quite Arrow without Laurel Lance. Forget that awful deathbed Olicity shilling insult: Laurel is Oliver’s true love. He barely even acknowledges Felicity when he sees her in the dreamworld, but his love for Laurel is unmistakable. It’s her. It’s always been her. #YesLaurelYesArrow
Oliver snags himself the episode’s best line when he’s still struggling to make sense of what’s real and what isn’t, and despite the confusion, he knows the one thing, the one person, he does want: “The only thing in the world that makes sense to me right now is that I love you.” I wonder how the Olicity fans are doing?
Ray doesn’t get a lot to do, but I thought it was funny, and another dig at Felicity, when he realised that Felicity was never his fiancè.
Real Felicity actually does a decent job of leading the team in Oliver’s absence, so I’ll give her that.
Moira and Robert Queen are alive and well in the dreamworld, and Jesus fucking fuck, Moira is even more stunning that I remember. Like, fuck, man. Wow.
Oliver also gets weepy when he has to say goodbye to them, too. Arrow doesn’t let Stephen Amell of the Stoic Leash too often, but he makes it count when they do.
I’m not kidding about Queen Manor. I didn’t notice how important it was to the identity of the show until I saw it again this episode.
Oh, and Sara gets to spend some time with Laurel, too, and they feel so right together. I’m still down for Sara just murdering Damien Dahrk via time travel. Fucking wing it, girl. Give it a go.