Arrow and The Flash are having a baby. They’ve already picked out a name: Legends of Tomorrow. Awww, how adorable! They’re still figuring out which bedroom (translation: CW timeslot) to put it in, and before it arrives they have some serious redecorating to do.
That’s not how this normally goes, though. TV shows don’t fall in love and have babies. Of course not – they’re TV shows, not people, but stick me my metaphor for just a bit longer. TV shows normally reproduce asexually. When a show is popular enough it gets a spin-off, maybe more than one. Some of the spin-offs might even get their own spin-offs.
In practice, this means a young CSI from nearby Central City popping over to assist Oliver, Felicity and Diggle in an investigation for two Arrow episodes and then getting struck by lightning, finally coming out of his coma in The Flash pilot.
That’s how it works- one show sets up another. However, both Arrow and The Flash are setting up Legends of Tomorrow. So, here’s an entire episode about Captain Cold’s tragic family history followed by an episode about Professor Stein finding a new Firestorm partner on The Flash, and then over on Arrow here’s an episode (or two) all about resurrecting Sara Lance followed by the surprise return and hasty exit of Ray Palmer.
It seems that most of us have a good-natured sense of humor about it. Why do these characters keep coming back only to almost immediately go away? Because they have their own spin-off to get to. Duh. Sure, it’s been kind of abrupt at times, and there’s no real dramatic tension to the “Will Laurel Lance and Thea Queen resurrect Sara” storyline when the CW released a trailer highlighting Caitly Lotz as the White Canary in Legends of Tomorrow last May. But, eh, maybe not everyone watched that trailer.
“Lost Souls” was one of the more interesting cases of Legends of Tomorrow set-up, though. On paper, this would appear to be the most Legends of Tomorrow-y episode either show has done to this point. Felicity discovers Ray is still alive, and Team Arrow rallies to rescue him just in time for him transition to a different TV show. Meanwhile, Sara has yet another tearful “I’m not dead” chat with her mom on the phone, tries to slip back into Black Canary business as usual before killing someone due to her blood lust. That gives her a mad case of “Oh shit, I need to go somewhere else right away to figure this out,” and we all nod and politely ponder the time travel shenanigans she’ll get up to on Legends of Tomorrow.
However, Arrow’s writers somehow managed to make “Lost Souls” feel like an Arrow episode first, Legends of Tomorrow set-up second. Frankly, the episode feels so barely committed to Sara’s part of the story that it doesn’t even really register, coming off as a familiar re-telling of the same bloodlust drama Thea is going through. The more interesting part is the way they used Ray’s return not as an excuse to give him any more character development to entice us into wanting to see his continued adventures elsewhere. Instead, Ray was more or less a teensy, tiny prop used to advance the notion that Damien Darhk is delightfully evil. He also helped turn “Lost Souls” into the first real Olicity episode of the season.
As Vulture’s Arrow recapper argued, “I’m glad the show has mostly taken a church-and-state approach to Olicity and Team Arrow.” Beyond the season premiere, there’s been a matter-of-fact quality to their relationship thus far, little hints of intimacy here and there, open and honest conversations together at their apartment, not enough to pull focus from the bigger storylines at play. “Lost Souls” was essentially the time for their first big fight as a couple, the first time we got to see what happens when they fail to keep their work lives and personal lives separate. Prior to this, their relationship status hasn’t fundamentally changed anything Team Arrow does. However, after Oliver over-stepped and over-stressed Felicity by inviting Mama Smoak to town we were treated to the two of them bickering over the Team Arrow coms, unaware the rest of the team could hear them.
After that, the women of the group seemed to instantly know just how much trouble Oliver was in, although we’re mostly assuming that at some point someone told Sara, “Oh, btw, Oliver is dating Felicity now. Hope that’s not weird for you. Laurel seems cool with it”:
Really, the episode was Olicity comedy gold, such as Diggle’s facial expressions when seated between the two of them while they argued or Oliver’s reaction to that really sad Chicken Cordon Blue Mama Smoak tried to make. It was deeply amusing to see how scared Oliver AND Diggle were of Felicity when she was at her most peeved.
Was all of the melodrama a bit contrived, though? Like I said, Oliver and Felicity’s relationship has been background noise since the premiere, and now here’s Felicity begging him for some space and crying to her mom about how scared she is of losing herself in him. The AVClub argued:
Honestly, I’m not totally sure how well this plotline works. To some extent, Felicity’s issues here are an extension of what we learned in the season premiere, as once again she reveals herself to be the one who wants something more than just to be happy with Oliver. The actual chain of cause and effect is a little difficult to hold in one’s head, but it all sort of works: Felicity realizes she wasn’t there for Ray in the aftermath of his accident because she had already moved on to Oliver, and the only reason she was able to make peace with Ray’s apparent death in the first place was because she had allowed herself to get lost in Oliver. To the show’s credit, this is a rather more nuanced emotional argument than a lot of previous internal conflicts the show has trotted out, yet the episode struggles a little to figure out just how Oliver himself ought to fit into this.
I would add that maybe the show was trying to re-address that part of the season 3 finale where Felicity instantly quit her job and ran away with Oliver even though she had no idea where they were going, which seemed entirely out of character for her. As I wrote at that time, “There’s a part of me that flashes back to the moment in season 2 when Felicity yelled at Oliver for making her his personal assistant, practically slamming her fist on a table and emphasizing how hard she had worked to get where she was in IT and how little interest she had to now spend her days getting him coffee. Looking back at that version of Felicity, I have a kneejerk reaction against the idea of her now just dropping her high-paying corporate gig with a corner office and a boss who granted her more patience than any boss ever logically should.”
What I didn’t anticipate is that the season 4 premiere would argue Felicity had simply kept working for Palmer Tech remotely, but I like the idea that Felicity has reached a point in the relationship where she’s actually scared of how much she loves Oliver. His side of the equation, specifically his insecurities about being an inferior match for her compared to Ray, may not have been nearly as interesting, but it did give us this, which was awesome:
And if you’re going to do a comic book romance why not go full on Spider-Man:
NEITHER HERE NOR THERE
1. Did they really need the whole team to break into Kord Industries?
2. So, is Curtis a member of Team Arrow now?
3. Oh, come on, Curtis dismissed his theory about Oliver being the Green Arrow far too quickly.
4. The internet seems divided as to whether or not Quentin and Mama Smoak hooking up means he is more or less likely to be the dead man in the grave now.
5. Yes, Sara has killed many before as part of the League of Assassins, but there’s a difference between killing as you’ve been trained and killing because you literally can’t stop yourself. So, I buy her being freaked out over this.
6. Seems like Nyssa and Sara should have a scene together again and soon. No idea if that will be on Arrow or Legends of Tomorrow or maybe never at all.