I’m going to eschew the usual recap-and-review format to address the elephant in the room. One of the big issues I’ve had with this shared TV universe, between Arrow and The Flash in particular, Legends of Tomorrow to a lesser extent (so far), and I guess Supergirl now that the crossover is scheduled, confirming that National City isn’t that far from Central City and Star City, is this idea that people–traditionally the men in the leading and supporting roles–are justified in their lying and secret-keeping in order to protect those fragile women and children in their lives.
Ollie has been doing so from day one of his return to Starling City. He has lied to everyone on the team (let’s call it “everyone on the show that he’s interacted with”) at one point or another to varying degrees. Why? Because keeping secrets from the ones we care about is supposed to keep them safe. And by “safe” we mean Moira being killed by Slade Wilson, Thea getting stabbed by Ra’s al Ghul, Felicity being paralyzed, Sarah being killed, Lyla being abducted, the whole team being gassed by Ra’s al Ghul, Diggle being put in harm’s way time after time… the list goes on and on.
Ah, but he’s a secret vigilante. That’s violent work. Okay, let’s take a look at Barry Allen. He spent the entirety of season one lying to Iris (with Joe implicit in the deception), then spent the first half of season two lying to Patty Spivot (even though she figured out Barry’s secret and called him on it). Why? Because the weaker… uh, fairer sex needs to be protected from the boogeymen in the world.
So, what’s with this “noble sacrifice” crap that the teams behind these shows are shoving down our throats? You’d have thought that Quentin would have had enough of this line of thinking after working for HIVE in order to secretly protect Laurel earlier this season. But no, this episode is about Quentin lying to Donna to protect her. Ugh… I think I’m going to puke.
To her credit, Donna calls Quentin’s BS and ends their relationship. You see, she’s not some young, doe-eyed object of the hero’s affection. She’s a grown woman who’s made her living on the Vegas strip. She’s been hurt and she’s done what she’s had to in order to raise her daughter the best way she knew how in a single-parent home. In Donna’s words, her BS detector is well refined and if Quentin can’t resepct her enough to tell her the truth, then she doesn’t need him.
By episode’s end, Quentin comes clean and tells Donna everything. Not just that he was lying to protect her because he’s on HIVE’s hit list, but everything. How he worked for HIVE in order to protect Laurel. All of it. And Donna forgives Quentin, because she’s a grown woman who’s learned to forgive when the person you care about asks for forgiveness and means it.
Then there’s Ollie…
How many times over the course of the episode did we hear about how wonderful Ollie and Felicity’s relationship is? Because Ollie has someone he doesn’t have to keep secrets from. Because Ollie would never keep secrets from Felicity. Over and over. We all know where this is heading, even before Greg moved his head and we got the sneak peak at next week’s episode.
Surprisingly, Ollie didn’t try to hide the truth from Thea once she did a little digging into Ollie’s past. Yeah, he had lied to Thea about Samantha and the million dollar check earlier in the episode, but when confronted with the truth, Ollie owned up to it. But, we all know that if Thea hadn’t dropped it in Ollie’s lap that he would have kept on denying the truth.
What’s worse is that, like Joe West told Barry Allen, Thea tells Ollie that he is doing the right thing by lying to protect the ones he loves. Really? And in trying to get Donna and Quentin back together, Felicity says essentially the same thing to Donna. Maybe Quentin is lying to protect Donna. That would be okay, wouldn’t it? It’ll be interesting to see whether Felicity still thinks it’s okay to withhold life-changing information from the one you love when she’s on the receiving end of Ollie’s silence about his son, William.
I understand that Ollie is supposed to be a broken person. We know that he’s not good at healthy, adult relationships. But, in the show’s fourth season, he’s supposed to be trying to do things differently. He’s not a killer (unless the plot needs him to be). He’s out in the open, fighting for Star City in the light of day. It’s time for Oliver Queen to grow up and start trying to be a better person toward those he cares about.
And there has never been an excuse to make Barry Allen into an Ollie-lite jerk.
One last gripe with the episode before we get to all the awesomeness… I get that the innuendo-laden conversations between Ollie and Ruve are supposed to be little winks to us, reminding us that Ollie knows more about Ruve than she does him. He’s trying to rattle her. That’s all fine, but seriously, he might as well walk up to her, shake her hand, and introduce himself as the Green Arrow. He’s not that subtle, but apparently she’s not that bright not to have put any of this together. Where’s Patty Spivot to figure things out when you need her?
Don’t get me wrong. There was a ton of good stuff in this episode. Exploding glitter bombs as wedding announcements. Malcolm having worked his way into the HIVE’s braintrust. Darhk having William stay with his family for a while. A team that fights with sledgehammers and nail guns. Top-notch stunt and fight camera work and choreography, from the scene early in the episode with the team tailing Ruve’s car to the melee in the debate hall. The line, “Curtis, you’re terrific.” So much goodness here that, unfortunately, is dragged down under the weight of the same issues over and over again.
Here’s hoping that Ollie and the rest of the team learn their lesson about telling lies and keeping secrets next week when Darhk reveals that he has William. If not, then at least we’re going to get Vixen called up from CW Seed to prime time.