Oliver Queen isn’t real big on opening up to people. Sure, he’ll do it in season finales and on other such momentous occasions, but sometimes he needs to have his true feelings dragged out of him. Left to his own devices, he’d just sit in the Arrow cave, brood and periodically flash back to his time on pointless island, and then he’d brood even more because his flashbacks would just remind him of all the people he’s failed to save. Occasionally he’d eat. I mean I assume he eats, right? We know he can cook.
Anyway, when Oliver falls into an emotional rut the writers like to inject Amy Gumenick’s wonderfully unhinged Cupid into the action to manipulate our taciturn hero into an honest declaration of his feelings. Last season, Cupid’s first appearance (“Draw Back Your Bow”) came at a time when Felicity was on the verge of starting something with Ray Palmer, and it was absolutely gutting Oliver, not that he’d talk to anyone about it despite Digg’s ever-present advice, “Dude, just talk to her about it.”
The conflict with Cupid forced Oliver to address all of this, telling his psychotic stalker, “I know what it’s like to want to be with someone but not be able to be with them. How you wish things could be different, but they can’t [camera cuts to sad Felicity overhearing all of this back in the Arrow cave and then back to Oliver]. I can’t be with you. I can’t be with anyone. I have to be alone.”
Wow. Season 3 Oliver was such a freakin’ drag. By comparison, here’s what he directly told Felicity in “Broken Hearts” after a heartbroken Cupid’s killing spree of famous couples led them to stage an impromptu wedding as a trap: “I will never lie to you again. You are my always, and I just want the chance to be yours.”
Aww, you guys. Our little Oliver is growing up. Look at him being so emotionally available.
What the hell you say? He only made that speech because Cupid put him in that situation. Diggle and Thea both told him to pour his heart out to Felicity, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it until extreme circumstances forced it on him.
Yeah, but look at how dour he was last year in a similar situation, and how hopeful he was this time around. This version of Oliver is at least more fun to be around.
Can we get back to the review now, please?
Sorry. By all means, carry on.
We begin “Broken Hearts” with Felicity gathering her items and planning the specifics of her exit from Oliver’s apartment, and we end with her seemingly also moving out of the Arrow cave (that part wasn’t totally clear), not only rejecting Oliver as a romantic partner but also a partner in crime fighting. In-between all of that, Cupid inspires not just Oliver but also Felicity to open up. Turns out, these two crazy kids really do love each other, but Felicity meant everything she previously said about not being able to trust him.
This is the Olicity break-up episode where she restates her reasons for leaving, but he refuses to accept that it’s over even as she walks straight out of his life in more ways than one. I’m still inclined to reject the entire premise. It comes down to trust, but the method of forcing Oliver to lie in order to see his son came off so poorly. However, I take solace that this is all happening to an Oliver who is at least trying to embrace life and love instead of actively retreating from them as he was last season.
But, honestly, I was far more interested in Laurel’s trial of Damien Darhk. Sure, it presented a litany of logical stumbling blocks (explored further at the bottom of the review in The Notes section), but it was at least something new. Laurel and Quentin waged war with Damien in court, and it had absolutely nothing to do with Oliver and Felicity’s love life or sudden lack thereof. Unlike poor Thea and Diggle, they weren’t sucked into the Olicity tornado, not reduced to merely offering emotional support to friends. Instead, Laurel and Quentin had their own emotional drama, throwing more evidence on the pile that Quentin will be the one to end up in the grave. Plus, with Oliver’s mayoral campaign over none of these characters seem to have external lives away from Team Arrow. As such, seeing Laurel actually working her day job felt like a sudden and desperately needed return to something resembling normalcy.
Collider’s Dave Trumbore argued in his panning of the episode, “It’s unfortunate that the Arrow writers seem to have written themselves into a corner and have worn a rut into it by pacing back and forth over the same plot, beat by beat. There’s something tired and predictable about the action lately, and the same can be said for the drama.” I was generally more okay with “Broken Hearts” because I accepted the inevitability of it being an Olicity break-up episode, and quite enjoy Amy Gumenick’s Cupid. However, at this point the season would do well to ease up on Olicity and get back to the business at hand. What that is, though, remains unclear. Trumbore might ultimately be right – they have written themselves into a corner, and the rut they’re stuck in with Damien Darhk is saved only by Neal McDonough’s performance.
1. Weekly Update from Pointless Island: Oliver and that one girl stole the prop department’s best version of “generic mystical doohickey” from that one guy, and then easily tricked several soldiers and stole their guns
2. Favorite Line: Thea: [After identifying the first two victims as a celebrity couple] “Really guys? Come on. It’s the [shameful pause] wedding of the decade.” Much of Thea’s dialogue in this episode came off like meta-jokes about Arrow’s shippers, but I greatly enjoyed the revelation that she reads gossip sights and keeps up on the city’s celebrity couples. Similar to Laurel in court, it normalized her. Look at that – Thea has some interests away from Team Arrow. Plus, Willa Holland perfectly played Thea’s annoyance that she’s somehow the only one who had heard of these people.
3. Nitpicks: The Trial – What were the specific charges against Damien Darhk other than “being Damien Darhk”? Don’t they only have him on kidnapping charges since that’s where he was arrested? If so, wouldn’t they need Oliver’s ex and their son around in some capacity to corroborate the charges? Or did that happen off-screen before Oliver sent them away? Would a judge seriously persist with referring to him as “Mr. Darhk” when the legal record shows him to have a different name? Isn’t it a conflict of interest for Laurel Lance to be trying a case against a man who allegedly threatened her life as a successful coercion tactic which resulted in her father committing illegal activities?
4. Nitpicks: Cupid – She was pretty darn up close and personal with Oliver during their big fight scene last season, staring straight into his face and declaring, “I knew you loved me” after he saved her from the train. After undoubtedly getting such a good luck at his face would she have seriously bought the cover story that Roy Harper was actually the Arrow? I know I’m ultimately crapping on genre convention here, and anything logic-based with Cupid can be explained away with, “Well, she’s crazy.” I guess it ultimately works better for this episode to feature a heartbroken Cupid instead of a version of her who comes back to reconnect with Oliver since she knows Green Arrow and Arrow are one in the same.
5. Nitpicks: Felicity – A couple of episodes ago Felicity was assuring her mom that Quentin lying to her was a sign of how much he loved her. Now she’s all up in arms about Oliver’s lies? Sure, but lying to keep someone save versus lying about a secret lovechild seem like different situations.