This Week’s Arrow: “Heir to the Demon”

MV5BMTYzNDYxMTkzOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODUzMjMxMDE@._V1_SX640_SY720_OK, so there was a LOT going on in this episode.  Crazy fight scenes, but mostly people saying real stuff – a lot of which was hard to hear because it was partly true, and also hard to hear, because it was partly untrue (or unfair).

For a full recap, you guys really should hop over to io9 which comes complete with a crying guide.  Seriously, I had no idea that I could get so emotionally worked up over an episode which not once but frequently involves the phrase “Tibetan Pit Viper Venom”.

So now that you are all back from reading the full-length io9 recap that I am not recapping, let’s talk about four big scenes SPOILERS DUH!  In these scenes, we see why a show that is so very fun and amazingly ridiculous (Tibetan Pit Viper!) is also emotionally engaging – the characters have layers.  They have actual motivations that make sense given their circumstances, even when their circumstances are “fell in love with the daughter of an assassin who is also an assassin and a very good one at that”.  They make mistakes and achieve triumphs that fit the complicated, flawed people that they are – and they are often right and wrong at the same time.  So here goes:

1.  Felicity tells Ollie Moira’s big secret.

Is it any of Felicity’s business who Thea’s father is?  Nope.  Should Felicity expose Moira’s secret to Ollie?  Not on the basis of paternity alone – it’s nobody’s business but Moira’s and Thea’s.  But here’s where things suddenly become Ollie’s business – Ollie is running the family company and publicly supporting his mother’s campaign for Mayor (I’m still not over how bizarre it is that Moira is running for Mayor).  Moira is a corrupt politician.  Bribing someone with large amounts of money in secret is corrupt.  Moira has a history of secret corruption.  So on the face of it, Felicity is so over the line.  But in terms of the fact that Moira could be drag  the company Felicity works for and everyone Felicity cares about into a pit of illegal corrupt activity – Felicity is absolutely right to tell Ollie.  Hell yeah.

2.  Ollie is furious with Moira.

So Moira had an affair (that she admitted to) ages ago and had a daughter with a psycho guy (that she hadn’t admitted to but was smart to keep secret given how abysmal a parent psycho guy was to his son).  Ollie’s rage that his mother lied is both totally off the scale considering what she actually did and breathtakingly hypocritical.  Really Ollie?  You’re going to be angry at someone about lying?  You, who refuse to tell your mom or Thea about your crime fighting life?  Jesus, guy.

I think that Ollie’s anger with his Mom has nothing to do with the affair (he took it pretty well when he heard about it earlier this season).  It has to do with all of last season, which basically consisted of Ollie defending his mom while with every episode her complicity in crimes against him, his father, and his city grew more and more obvious.  Ollie is right that Moira doesn’t lie to protect Thea – she lies because it what she does.  In a series about how people learn to survive, Moira has learned to survive by lying all the time, to everyone.  And Ollie doesn’t want to get sucked back into a whole other season/lifetime of trying to cover up his mom’s lies.

Is Ollie’s outrage fair, given that Ollie is scarcely forthright and forthcoming?  Nope.  He survives by lying, too.  Is his anger in character, especially given what his mom’s duplicity has already put him through?  Yup.

Speaking of lying, I’m rooting for Thea to finally find out that basically no one treats her as a person.  Everyone lies to her constantly because they think she’s a fragile decorative item, and I hope she responds by becoming a supervillian,  and I hope she kicks everyone ass.

3.  Laurel is furious with Sara.

This is another case of someone being both unfair and yet completely in character and at least somewhat justified.  Sara was the family flake.  Then she did a really bad thing (betrayed Laurel by cheating with Ollie).  She then let her family believe she was dead for years.  Sara has paid a disproportionate price – but Laurel doesn’t know that.  What Laurel does know is that when Sara left her parents stopped parenting.  Laurel’s mom left and her dad became an alcoholic.  We never seen alcoholic Quentin, so we think of him as dad of the year.  But anyone who’s lived with an alcoholic parent knows that practicing alcoholics are not parents, they are big, heavy, puking babies.  And who took care of everything and cleaned up all that barf while also saving the downtrodden of Starling City from injustice?  Laurel.

Now here comes Sara, and she seems to have it all together (she doesn’t but Laurel can’t see that).  What Laurel sees is that suddenly she, Laurel is the screw-up, and the person who actually screwed everything upon the first place is being hailed as the prodigal daughter and trying to fix Laurel up.  If I were Laurel, I’d be pissed, too.

But alas, although Laurel has a point, Laurel is also wrong, because this show is about how people survive, and Laurel chose to survive by numbing her pain with alcohol and drugs.  That was her choice (her Dad made the same choice, but eventually chose to work a program of sobriety).  Laurel blames Sara for her current state, but Laurel is the one who chose the bottle and who has chosen to refuse all offers of help.  Sara, Quentin, and Ollie have all taken some degree of responsibility for their past destructive and self-destructive choices but Laurel has not.

4. Ollie and Sara have sex.

I know all you Felicity/Ollie shippers are freaking out, but I think Ollie sees sex as a recreational activity and I think Sara does too.   They have a real bond, they care about each other, but I see this as more of a Friends With Benefits situation.  Ollie has told Felicity that he can’t have a romantic relationship given his crazy life – hence the sex with Isobel (I miss Isobel!)  We’ll see where this goes, but my money is on mutual affection, not true love.

Tragically, there’s no Arrow for two weeks because of the Olympics.  If you haven’t been watching the shown here’s a great essay by Jennifer Crusie about why it works so well.  Read it and enjoy, and we’ll see you in two weeks!