The Contract with the Reader

Mar72014

Buried in the 300+ comments on the previous Arrow post is a really good discussion on the contract with the reader. We’ve talked about the romance contract here before, but as Pam pointed out, all stories make contracts with the reader/viewer, not just romances.

Here’s my comment on the promise to the reader:

I’ve been thinking about series storytelling (film and books) and the idea that the first page/scene is a promise you make the reader/viewer. I absolutely believe that: the introduction to a story makes a promise to the reader, says this it what this story is going to be about, here are the people to root for, here’s the genre, the mood, the setting, the tone, everything. And then people read/view that promise and decide whether to sign for the story and by extension, the series. If you’re writing a stand-alone novel, that’s fine, you’ve only locked yourself in for that story. But if you’re writing a series, that’s a long-term promise that I think you almost have to shift. Not break, but gradually steer into the direction you’re finding works better if you begin to see a problem. A lot of long-running series in both books and film never break the promise, but they run the risk of going stale, so evolution is important and change is often good. I think the problem comes when the perception is that the promise is broken, that this is not the story the reader/viewer signed on for, that the writer was doing a kind of bait-and-switch. And I think that’s where the assumption that Arrow is about Oliver-Diggle-Felicity comes in, that the promise this show made was that it would primarily be about Oliver Queen fighting crime. As I remember, the pilot had a lot of relationship stuff going on, too, but I read that (my story-goggles) as subplots, the things that would make Oliver’s life more difficult, not the thing the story was about. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that some people may have seen it as a relationship drama, so that when episodes focus on relationship issues like the Clock King episode did, they don’t see a fragmented story that has gone too far and broken the promise, they see exactly what they’d been promised.

I think that’s why, when you’re telling a story, you have to nail the essence of that story on the first page. The books that start with the protagonist staring out the window thinking about her life, or with the author explaining the character’s back story, miss the opportunity to open the door to the reader and say, “Come on in, this is the kind of party this will be,” and establish it firmly in the reader’s mind so that while the reader can still write her part of the story into the white spaces, she can’t say, “No, it’s not about the main plot, it’s about the subplot.”

Then Sarah B replied

I don’t mind if a story I read or watch doesn’t work out like I want, emotionally speaking, as long as I can believe in the direction the creator has taken it. Buffy and Spike are the couple dearest to my heart, but Joss never let them have their happy ending. But I could understand why he wrote the show the way he did, the characters generally stayed true to themselves, and the resolution had an inner logic and truth that fitted with the world he’d created, even if it made me sad. Stephen Moffat also famously does terrible things to beloved characters, and he’s still a brilliant writer . . . .

It’s all about the narrative for me, even if I love F[elicity] and Diggle more than anything else (except maybe the salmon ladder..;) ). When that the story is working, I’ll accept whatever the writers throw at me. I’ve been a Doctor Who fan all my life, and no other show’s writers are more likely to stomp on your heart! Except Joss Whedon, maybe. So, I don’t need to be happy, just convinced.

I love that last line especially:

I don’t need to be happy, just convinced.

I think it’s the double tap of successful stories: establish a clear contract with the reader/viewer and then tell the story so that it makes sense to that reader/viewer in terms of that contract. I hated it when a character I loved died on Person of Interest, but I understood why it happened, it didn’t violate my contract with that story. Beth dying in Little Women ripped my adolescent heart out and fed it to the cat, but it was part of the contract Alcott established. I think a lot of the controversy over Wash’s death in Serenity was really a discussion of a broken contract because it was by no means implausible that one or more of the Firefly team would die horribly in battle, but it was, I think, an unspoken contract for a lot of people that the deaths would mean something. There’s a difference between “This is plausible within this story world” and “This is the story I signed on for,” and I think a lot of Firefly viewers thought they contracted for a story with innate justice.

But the new thing that came up for me was the idea of story focus as part of the contract. One thing romance writers have to do when they first start a novel is to determine if the romance is the main plot, or a subplot that’s almost equal in importance to the main plot. It’s tempting to try to have both, but you really do have to pick a lane or your plot goes all over the place. You can start with the same basic premise and plot, but that plot told as a mystery with a romance subplot will be different from that plot told as a romance with a mystery subplot. You allocate story real estate differently, the aspects of the plot change with the approach. Again, quoting myself (I have no problem with arrogance):

Leverage established from the beginning, I think, that it was first a show about community and then a show about the cons. The two were inextricably linked, but if the focus had been on the cons, they wouldn’t have pursued Nate’s alcoholism at such depth and would instead have used it as a liability and a complication for the cons. Instead, even though Nate has a raging alcohol problem, it doesn’t affect his ability to run the cons. What it does have an impact on is the team, which is why they try to help him. The center of the story is the team, and the team is explored through the cons, not the other way around.

Or take Person of Interest, which was established as an Equalizer/Crime-of-the-Week story in the first season, which then evolved into a Equalizer-against-secret-government-agency story, which then evolved into a Equalizer-against-forces-beyond-your-wildest-dreams story. There are intense personal relationships within that story, but none of them are romances. (I consider Reese/Zoe a team-member-with-benefits because it’s clear that’s how they consider themselves.) The stories evolved, and as they evolved and the danger grew greater, the team established relationships that went bone-deep, we’ll-die-for-each-other levels, but the show always kept the central promise: this team will fight for the helpless against the powerful forces that try to hurt them. The way they’ve defined “helpless” and “powerful forces” changes, but the promise stays the same, this show is about the fight between good and evil, not about relationships. The fight forms the relationships and drives the relationships, the relationships do not drive the fight.

So I’m thinking that that contract with the reader extends to emphasis, too. It’s not enough to say through the events of the first scene in a novel, “This is a romance and a mystery,” you have to establish, “This is a romance with a mystery subplot” or “This is a mystery with a strong romantic subplot.” Because if you don’t establish that, the reader will decide for you. I screwed this up completely in Wild Ride in spite of my readers and my editors pointing out this very problem, and I will not do it again: Making that contract clear is crucial to the success of your story.

Filed in Writing

250 Comments to 'The Contract with the Reader'

On March 7, 2014 at 4:13 pm Jenny said...

TK wrote: “Hee! This discussion is making me realize that THAT is exactly what everyone does when they open a book, or go to the movies, or turn on their TVs, always in hope to find the story that’ll come into focus. And the stories we see clearly are the ones that become our favorites.”

Exactly. And that’s why people who begin to write stories because vampires are popular or YA dystopian fiction is the new big thing are missing the point. It’s not genre or subject matter that makes a story a success, it’s that clear contract with the reader, establishing a clear promise that THIS STORY will be about THIS and then fulfilling it.

I think sometimes writers try to have it all–”People like ROMANCE and they like MYSTERY and they like COMEDY so if put them ALL in there, my story will be really popular”–and they miss the fact that one of those things has to control the others because if you sign on for what seems to be a mystery in the initial contract only to find it morphing into a romance, the story won’t work for you. As a writer you can’t please everybody and trying to just muddies that initial contract. It isn’t that everybody in the world has to like your story (that’s impossible), it’s that the people who read your story have to like it. So if you promise things you can’t deliver and then don’t deliver, the bad buzz starts and you lose readers.

It’s better to have a hundred readers who signed a clear contract and loved your story, than it is to have a thousand readers who signed a contract that vaguely promised several different things to get several different readers, only to have 500 of those readers throw the book against the wall because the contract was broken. Do you know how much bad buzz 500 angry readers can create?

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On March 7, 2014 at 9:55 pm Sara said...

This is a fantastic post. I just read the entire thing to my husband from my cellphone on the way home from work today.

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On March 7, 2014 at 9:55 pm Jenny said...

And now your husband hates me. Argh.
You were on the train, not driving, right?

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On March 7, 2014 at 10:43 pm Sara said...

Actually, HE was driving. The kids were screaming in the backseat, but I powered through reading the entire post. And then I read through some of the comments I liked. Surprisingly, he played along and talked to me about the points made here. It was really awesome to have this conversation with him…but then I pushed him by bringing up the romance contract post. :) That’s when I lost him. (I don’t refer to you by name, just “this writer I like…” That way it’s not so bad when he doesn’t think I’m obsessed when he sees your books lying around the house.

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On March 7, 2014 at 4:15 pm Sara said...

“I blame myself for my disappointment. I didn’t like Arrow when I started watching it on Netflix… But I blame myself because what the contracted in the beginning with the Laurel Oliver angst must be what they are really about and not the awesome Arrow Fighting Team I thought it turned into.”

–I’ve been thinking about this all morning. Jenny, you talk about this not being your show anymore, and it hit me: when I first watched Arrow, it wasn’t my show either. I met Oliver and thought, “He’s hot…but he’s no fun.” I met Diggle, and thought, “He’s fun, but there’s not enough of him.” I met Laurel, and thought, “Definitely not interested in her.” I heard about the epic love story, and thought, “I don’t buy it.” loved Diggle and Oliver, but something was missing. So I jumped ship.

Then, I heard about Felicity, and it came on Netflix, so I tuned in again. I fell in LOVE–head over heels, this-show-can-do-no-wrong, I-have-a-new-Scooby-gang-LOVE. Team Arrow was IT for me. I could have done without Oliver-Felicity (except they went there, and it was awesome, so then I became a shipper), but Team Arrow, working together, was MY kind of show (the same way Buffy, Firefly, and now, Leverage is my kind of show). I loved the episode when they infiltrated Malcolm Merlyn’s company-Felicity as the delivery girl, Diggle as security, Oliver as himself. I love Oliver fighting crime, but it’s the team stuff that gets me.

What is heartbreaking to me is that I’m realizing I fell in love with what the show became, not the one they set out to create.

Then, there’s this:

“Furthermore, the “Arrow” writers often use Felicity as what one poster has called “human plot spackle”. This means that her main task in many scenes is to retrieve information that moves the plot forward and come up with deus ex machina plot solutions, such as erasing Oliver’s blood sample in the “Odyssey”. So, she is as much a plot-driven character as Laurel…her role in the plot is pretty well defined and not very different from the role of tens of other IT-mavens on television.”

I completely agree with this, and I’m a Felicity fan. The difference, for me, is that Felicity is a character who speaks to me, and Laurel wasn’t (which is absolutely my personal preference). Yes, Felicity moves the plot by gathering information, but that IS her character: she’s an IT genius. She’s smart and sweet–brains and heart. Is that trite and done before? Absolutely. But there’s also a reason every show out there that fights crime has a computer person: Garcia in Criminal Minds, Abby in NCIS, Hardison in Leverage, Willow in Buffy, Mac in Veronica Mars, etc. etc. For the life of me, I can’t figure out how Arrow ever thought they were going to create a crime-fighting show without an IT person (How did they not plan to bring someone like Felicity on board from the beginning?).

I loved how the show established early on what Felicity’s role was, in the diner scene. She suggests bugging McKenna’s phone, and Oliver says, “That’s not how I typically get my information.” Felicity asks, “How do you typically do it?” and Oliver replies, “I find the person, and then I put the fear of God in them until they talk. But we can try it your way.”

(If you watch the first few episodes of Season 1, you’ll find Oliver is actually really handy with computers…and personally, I didn’t like it. It made him too perfect. He needed people around him who have different strengths so that he can have weaknesses).

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On March 7, 2014 at 8:16 pm Julie H. said...

I stuck with Arrow from Pilot til now and while I didn’t like certain elements of it, you could see glimmers. The show was wobbly. Even the show runners admitted that, I believe, in later interviews where they talked about working some of the kinks out. I know I could see and feel them dropping things (the housekeeper went bye bye) and rework others early in Season 1. So while I can see the “I made a contract with the show they might not have intended,” in the same breath TV shows themselves ask viewers to give the show a chance to find its groove. A lot of shows, when you go back to look at the Pilot (McGyver springs instantly to mind for some weird reason) and then a “typical” episode later in the season they’re often day and night.

Arrow might have started one way with the season 1 pilot but the writers evolved future episodes to develop certain aspects (Team Arrow, for example). Then they kept building the show around that crime fighting idea to the point even critics were referring to each episode as “bad guy of the week.” That’s not to say that other aspects of Oliver’s life (his past, his family, his love life and friends) don’t factor into those episodes, but I don’t think that having those means that a viewer’s vision or “contract” with the show is skewed by some misplaced understanding of what the show “really was.”

Arrow has always been touted as Oliver Queen’s journey toward becoming the Green Arrow via saving Starling City from evil-doers. They made Diggle and Felicity partners in that journey pretty quickly and they definitely rode that horse all the way into Season 2. The emotional dramas were there but season 2 really, really toned them down for most of the season and now it feels like a sleight of hand to overshadow the crime fighting for the emotional drama. It feels like the show set up a certain expectation of where it was going with City of Heroes and most of this year and now it’s nosediving hard back into the drama. It feels very bait and switch to me and I don’t necessarily know if that’s my “fault” or a bad maneuver by the show.

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On March 7, 2014 at 10:19 pm Erin said...

THIS. Couldn’t agree more. I gave up on Arrow just after the pilot because I didn’t care for Oliver, and I didn’t find a way into the show in a) the crime-fighting (hard to root for a hero you don’t like), b) the romance (hated Laurel), or c) the relationships among the team (because there really wasn’t a team yet). But then I kept hearing about how great it was, so I forced myself to watch several episodes until I started investing in the characters. And for me, the way into the characters, and the show as a whole, was the relationships among Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity. That team dynamic is where it’s at for me — as in Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Leverage, Community to some extent, Fringe, The West Wing, Sherlock, Supernatural… The episode where they infiltrate Merlyn’s company is the perfect example, and I loved Oliver and Felicity in the underground casino (though I missed Digg).

To me, this is a relationship show. Not a romantic relationship show, but a relationship show. And without those relationships, where are the stakes? The only reason we care about Slade is because he plans to hurt the ones Oliver cares about. If Oliver doesn’t have these relationships, or if we as viewers don’t care that they’re threatened, what’s the point? I think this was true of Tommy, too — no matter how much you loved Tommy as a character, his death was important mostly for the way it affected Oliver. I’m holding on to hope that the writers/producers see the importance of these relationships, too, and just are struggling with balancing the relationships and action. Because honestly, if the scenes like storming the freighter are the height of their ambition for the show, it’s just not the show for me. Which will make me sad, because the few glimpses we’ve gotten of these characters working together and caring for each other have been outstanding.

“For the life of me, I can’t figure out how Arrow ever thought they were going to create a crime-fighting show without an IT person”: I secretly suspect that, despite their claims to the contrary, the producers always intended Felicity to be at least a recurring character. I cannot understand why they would introduce her otherwise; if she was just a one-shot character, why both even introducing her with a name and personality and clear purpose for Oliver’s mission? I can’t see the point of creating her character for just one episode.

Btw, Jenny, thank you for your review of this week’s episode. I thought the exact same thing when I watched it — that we weren’t learning anything new — and when I went online to see others’ reactions, I was surprised to see that everyone seemed really happy with it. So I appreciate your validating my reaction. :) I think the difference is that the reviewers who liked it responded to the production value, whereas I was just looking for story. And I think that this is the problem I have with the island flashbacks in general. We already know what happened on the island insofar as it’s important to the protagonist’s journey: Oliver was stranded, tortured and abused, trained to become a fighter, matured, and experienced loss. We’ve known all this for a while, and I don’t really understand the point of having more island flashbacks. Which is why my heart sinks when I read that the producers plan to keep having island flashbacks through the fifth season (to equal all five years on the island). I just can’t see the point, from a story perspective.

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On March 9, 2014 at 7:45 pm Corrina said...

I tend to get the comic geek reaction to Arrow where I hang out online, and it’s very positive because, well, it’s a good superhero noir show and it has great fight scenes plus all sorts of hidden goodies for fanboys.
SHIELD, however, they hate because they thought they were getting a superhero show and it’s basically a family-oriented spy-type show. I think the quality overall is similar, now that SHIELD has hit its stride (took about half a season, same as Arrow). There are similar ridiculous plot elements, for instance. Arrow is given a pass for stuff like Moira running for Mayor, while SHIELD is slammed for something less outrageous.

Which is all a long-winded way of saying the fanboys were expecting something from each show. With Arrow, they got it. With SHIELD, they haven’t yet and so they still hate it, even though the quality of the writing is improving each week.

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On March 9, 2014 at 8:16 pm Jenny said...

I gave up on SHIELD after episode four. And Arrow still is a good superhero show when it remembers it’s a superhero show.

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On March 9, 2014 at 9:08 pm Julie H. said...

I made it 20 minutes into SHIELD’s pilot before I realized I was actively having to try to make myself like anything in it. I really thought I’d like SHIELD and hate Arrow, so I was surprised when it flip-flopped places. And I still like Arrow.

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On March 10, 2014 at 11:43 am Corrina said...

Yep, SHIELD was definitely still not good then.

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On March 7, 2014 at 4:25 pm Paula said...

I had an ah-ha moment reading this post. I didn’t make much of a contract with the original Arrow. It really wasn’t until Team Arrow started clicking and working together that I made that contract, so maybe I really didn’t make a contract with Arrow after all. Maybe what we have now is the “real” Arrow, and what I thought we had was actually not the real thing at all. (Does that make sense? It makes sense in my head, but I’m not sure I articulated it all that well.)

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On March 7, 2014 at 4:57 pm TK said...

I really do admire TV writers having to constantly shift narrative goals because of external influences, be it audience reaction and ratings, or studio/network notes, or, you know, sometimes your main actress gets pregnant and then Scully ended up abducted by aliens and that kind of mytharc storytelling trumped the previous monster-of-the-week thing The X-Files was doing.

I wish we knew how much of their original plan for Arrow was thrown away because Felicity came along, or due to the majority of the audience rejecting Laurel, for example. I’m pretty sure it was always the plan to get Diggle on the inside, but Felicity was a happy accident, so I do realize that Team Arrow as the new story contract isn’t something they planned from the start. However, they put it onto the screen and spent a long time developing Team Arrow, so I also realize that it IS the new contract, or at least it was from The Odyssey last season, to right before the lunge in Heir of the Demon.

Someone on the other thread mentioned that when Barry was brought into the Arrowcave, it didn’t disrupt Team Arrow the way Sara is doing now, and that just makes it even more confused as to WHAT IS THE GOAL with Sara. I know some people have problems with the actress, but I don’t, not really. I’m starting to think that I see Sara as the personification of the story contract being broken for me. I love it that Jenny called her the “usurper”, because it’s like she’s really robbing ME from the story I thought I was following, but now I’m not anymore.

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On March 7, 2014 at 5:19 pm Paula said...

That’s it! Instead of organically making her part of the team, they crowned her the de facto leader. They could have convinced me with some more complete storytelling, but they didn’t even try. They didn’t really build a relationship: romantic, friendship, crime fighting, etc. There was so much potential even with an actress of limited range (play to her strengths), but they tried to cram too much in, rushed the story, and broke the contract I thought we’d made.

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On March 7, 2014 at 5:34 pm TK said...

And I really like Sara before the lunge too, so it also bums me out that I was so annoyed by her in the last two episodes.

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On March 7, 2014 at 7:58 pm Christie said...

What’s missing in Team Arrow’s dynamic is Oliver. He put this team together. He chose his team carefully and focused on how each member would fulfill their role, including Quentin, who’s an outside member (a police liaison through Felicity). That’s why he was so upset when Felicity told Barry about his secret without his knowledge. Oliver is usually the one who sets the parameters.

The way he introduced Sara to the team in 2×05 was organic. She blended in well. Sara even said to Diggle “You three are quite the team.” Now, after she and Oliver hooked up, he hasn’t set the normal boundaries with her like he did with Roy. Oliver should’ve told her “even though we’re in a relationship we can’t let it affect the team. We are all partners here.” But he’s too unfocused. It seems to happen whenever he’s involved with someone. He brought Helena in (1×08), ignoring Diggle’s objections. He chose to go after the guy threatening Laurel (and her client’s son), leaving Diggle to fend for himself against Deadshot (1×20). He’s doing it again with Sara. This is another reason why Oliver and Felicity are a better fit. She wouldn’t let his romantic feelings cloud his judgement when it comes to Arrow business. She would’ve insisted that everyone in the team is treated equally and in a way that enhances everyone’s strengths. Sara has this “I was one of the League of Assassins and that justifies me being second in command” vibe to her now. It’s throwing the team’s balance way off. The only person I think can reign her in to become a true team player is Oliver.

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On March 7, 2014 at 9:01 pm Julie H. said...

Christie, I find myself coming back to circle around your post because something you said early in it keeps poking at my brain. I think it was this part:

“What’s missing in Team Arrow’s dynamic is Oliver. He put this team together. He chose his team carefully and focused on how each member would fulfill their role, including Quentin…”

Because now I’m thinking about that 5 man band thing. Oliver, Diggle, Felicity, Quentin and… Is there a 5th to this? I’m trying to think if there was a 5th player established. I think maybe that’s partly my problem. Arrow has several people who could fill the 5th position of the 5 man band thing but they keep rotating people through it — Roy, Laurel, Sara… But that was the team I liked best: Oliver, Diggle, Felicity, Quentin. For me they all function in different roles and serve unique purposes that make the team cohesive.

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On March 7, 2014 at 9:52 pm Jenny said...

They’re all likable characters, with the possible exception of Oliver at the moment. That’s big, actually being happy when the character walks into the frame.

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On March 7, 2014 at 9:31 pm Christie said...

Julie, I think Roy can be that 5th man. He can provide a different perspective as the youngest guy on the team who actually lives in the Glades. Maybe he has other abilities, other than his superhuman strength, the team can discover. However, we’re not getting a chance to see that since Sara has swooped in and taken over screen time.

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On March 8, 2014 at 5:50 pm Julie H. said...

Julie, I think Roy can be that 5th man.
- Christie

I would have said so, too, Christie, I think if Roy was left more Season 1 Roy and taken the direction more of “street rat.” I was thinking about the community of Team Arrow and what each brings and what skill set they’re lacking to make someone really stand out and I think it’s that person with the shady, street-level connections. The one who can walk by someone and lift a wallet or smooth talk their way into and out of a room. I think Roy could have been that (maybe still can) but I think the super strength thing kind of overshadows the original Street Rat/Gang Thug thing they started with.

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On March 7, 2014 at 5:28 pm Jenny said...

Yes, but we knew Barry was temporary because we all knew the info from the outside that he was a spin-off character. That meant he was never a threat. If they hadn’t wanted to spin-off the Flash, he’d never have been on there because he really didn’t do anything in the plot that Felicity couldn’t have done. He was fun, I’m glad he was there, but he was never really a team member.

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On March 7, 2014 at 5:46 pm TK said...

Hmm, you’re right, Barry disrupted the team way more when he was in a coma than when he was in the Arrowcave. But that brought great character development for both Oliver and Felicity, while Sara’s presence only brought regression.

Another thing that Sara and the Lance family drama kneecapped for me was Roy being brought into the team. I was looking forward to that, but they cut his one scene in HttD because the episode ran too long, and then he skipped The Clock King, and now he’s already training at the Arrowcave. It feels like quite some character development happening off-screen. Back in Smallville fandom people used to joke that some great things happened in Offscreenville, we just couldn’t see it.

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On March 7, 2014 at 5:48 pm Jenny said...

And Oliver as a mentor could have been another dimension to a character we’ve seen pretty much as hero-lover-brother-son. Those are all good dimensions, but the mentor thing would be a new kind of relationship.

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On March 7, 2014 at 10:06 pm el7 said...

There is a name for the Usurper in fanfic. She’s called a Mary Sue (named after a long ago Trek fanfic character who saved the Enterprise with a bobby pin). She is basically a wish-fulfillment character on steroids, but what sets her apart from popular wish fulfillment characters like Bella Swann is that she breaks a contract. The fanfic read contracted to read about the licensed characters in an expanded universe setting. They didn’t contract to read about the Mary Sue being adored by the licensed characters. That sounds like what is happening with Sara’s character arc on this show. She is being shoehorned into situations that the previously established characters used to call their domain and it irks the viewer.

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On March 7, 2014 at 10:09 pm Jenny said...

Whoa, I did not know that about the Mary Sue. (Which is also a great website.) I thought she was the vanilla good girl, like the woman Riley married on Buffy.

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On March 7, 2014 at 4:35 pm Jenny said...

marre wrote:
“I think that this will be my last contribution to this thread, because I’m pretty sure that no matter what I write I will not be able to convince the regular posters on this site that Laurel is as worthy of screen time and development as Felicity or any other character on Arrow.”

We’re actually not about convincing each other of anything. We’re big on arguing ideas and opinions, but I don’t think we try to change anybody. I’m not going to change new guy’s opinion that the comic canon is important in Arrow anymore than he’s going to convince me that it is, but we’re good with occupying the same space and he’s taught me a lot while we’ve argued. (No idea what I’ve done for him, probably just annoyed the crap out of him.) So if you came here to convince people of anything, yeah, you’re in the wrong place, we’re not about that.

But as long as we’re on Laurel, I think she’s gotten the lousiest writing of any character on this show. Zooey Deschanel couldn’t have made Laurel charming with those scripts. Her calling on Oliver for help never struck me as a weakness; lawyers often hire private detective to get information, so I saw him as a super-sized version of that. And as for her being a victim, everybody on this show turns into a victim when the story needs Oliver to save somebody. That she’s obviously not was clear in that scene in the party where she kicked the asses of the guys threatening Tommy and Oliver. It’s another weird disconnect in the script that they wanted her tough enough to be the Black Canary but still need rescued, which I bet you anything is a holdover from the comics (newguy, where are you?).
So basically, we’d like you to stay, but if you’re trying to convince us as a group to think the way you do, you’re doomed. I can’t even convince everybody here to think the way I do, and I run the blog. (Although I’m sure CJ will come around on the Drax/Rocket Raccoon thing as soon as she actually sees the movie.)

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On March 7, 2014 at 4:56 pm CJ said...

Never!

Drax > Rocket Raccoon

Also, Oliver needed rescuing by the Canary sometimes in the comics. I don’t think either of them needing rescuing makes them look weak anyway. I just don’t understand why anyone has to belittle one female or excuse another for needing rescuing because no one ever feels the need to do the same when a male character needs rescuing.

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On March 7, 2014 at 5:32 pm Jenny said...

I didn’t realize that male heroes ever needed rescued in the comics, at least not by a woman. Cool.

I think a lot of this comes from the Laurel vs. Felicity wars which I’m not interested in. You have one character that the writers gave a complex, emotionally-laden back story to and forgot to add the vulnerability, and another character the writers made vulnerable who has had two lines of back story in a year and a half. And then you have viewers who signed onto two different contracts filling in the blanks. People who love Laurel write in her vulnerability (which she’s been showing this year, finally) and people who root for Felicity write in her back story. My only investment in either at this point is that they’re both too good for Oliver.

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On March 7, 2014 at 7:44 pm Julie H. said...

Right there with you, CJ, on the picking on/belitting female characters for needing rescue when the men need rescuing too. It’s why when people are like Felicity’s a damsel in distress! I like to point out Oliver has needed rescuing multiple times (many by Felicity) at several points in time by several different people and nobody goes around calling him weak. I always debate this with friends. Characters who rescue themselves in stories all the time are boring. If nobody needed rescuing, Oliver wouldn’t even be needed in Starling. LOL.

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On March 7, 2014 at 4:51 pm CJ said...

This is from Chris on the other thread about Laurel – “She also rarely brought in any new cases – most of the people she went after were already on Oliver’s list. The people who did get Oliver to look at bad guys who weren’t in the notebook were Diggle and Joanna, not Laurel.She also rarely brought in any new cases – most of the people she went after were already on Oliver’s list. The people who did get Oliver to look at bad guys who weren’t in the notebook were Diggle and Joanna, not Laurel.”

She rarely brought in any new cases? Really? There were three people on The List that were connected to Laurel as a lawyer and two of them were involved in cases she was trying that had nothing to do with Oliver until he realized, hey, they are on the list.

http://arrow.wikia.com/wiki/The_List

Laurel was already suing Adam Hunt on behalf of the people he stole from before she even knew Oliver was alive. She was trying Martin Somers for murder when Oliver decided to get involved because China White came to town to help Somers out. Jason Brodeur is the only one that she had anything to do with strictly because of Oliver and that’s because Oliver wanted Laurel to help the guy Brodeur framed for murder.

“And she needed Tommy’s help to even keep her little legal aid clinic going.”

Yeah, and? CNRI is a non-profit organization that relies on donations. How is Laurel, at Joanna’s urging let’s not forget, letting Tommy (her billionaire friend) throw them a fundraiser a bad thing?

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On March 7, 2014 at 5:11 pm Ero said...

You’ve reminded me of yet another reason why I found Laurel so relentlessly unpleasant, CJ. She practically had to be forced to accept Tommy’s throwing a fundraiser for CNRI. She refused her billionaire friend’s help, because according to her, he was doing it to get in her pants. Never mind that Tommy had more money than he knew what to do with, and CNRI desperately needed the cash.

Once again, it’s all about Laurel. With that kind of writing, she never stood a chance.

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On March 7, 2014 at 5:22 pm Jenny said...

I think she did that on instinct because she knew that was, in fact, why he was doing it. She wasn’t wrong in that assumption. And when her friend said, “Hey, you’re letting your personal life get in the way of what we’re doing here,” she thanked him and accepted the offer. That established that Laurel’s experience of Tommy was that he couldn’t be trusted, which Tommy readily admitted was true in the past. And it didn’t take Laurel a week to figure it out, she accepted her friend’s gentle criticism and did the right thing.

I don’t think it was ever “all about Laurel.” I think it was about Laurel who’d gotten hard and cold because of the hell the past five years had been for her. Emotional trauma can actually be a lot harder to recover from than physical trauma, and she’s been through a lot. Where the writers fell down, I think, was in not making her vulnerable, so that all viewers saw was the cold and hard part of her, and not the ache inside. She could have been written as a magnificent character, somebody who’d tried to hold her family together after the loss of a sister she loved, a sister who’d betrayed her (and that paradox alone would have made her sympathetic), who’d coped with her mother deserting the family, who’d held her father together by herself while getting her law degree, who chose to work for poor people instead of for a fancy law firm . . . if you look at Laurel as a character, she could have been magnificent. But they just told people about her back story, they never gave her anything on the page so we could see the vulnerability. I think that’s most betrayed by that scene with Oliver in the hall when they pretty clearly thought the viewers would be on his side even though what he was saying was grossly unfair.

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On March 7, 2014 at 5:49 pm Ero said...

I can certainly understand the instinct, especially since yes, that is exactly what Tommy was trying to do. But when your are offered an opportunity like that for your desperately-in-need-of-cash non-profit, you swallow your pride, set your feelings aside and take the offer of help. That would have made more sense to me, given that I’m pretty sure we were supposed to see Laurel as a morally upright compassionate character who dedicates her life (and forgoes the fat salary she could have gotten in a for-profit law firm) to helping the disenfranchised.

That attitude, to me, is yet another in a long list that doesn’t seem to fit with the way the writers want(ed) me to see Laurel. It’s contradictory.

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On March 7, 2014 at 5:54 pm Jenny said...

But she reversed herself immediately, not the next day (as I remember, could be wrong). She made an impulsive mistake and corrected it immediately.

I’m not a Laurel fan, I think she was very poorly written, and I absolutely agree with you on contradictory aspects of the way she was written, but I’d defend that one because she made a mistake and she fixed it. If the writers had put her vulnerability on the page, it would have been a moment like Oliver apologizing to Felicity; that one worked because we knew why Oliver was being a jerk and because several hours later he apologized. Laurel apologized immediately, but because we couldn’t see why she’d said what she did, she came across as selfish and cold. The only evidence we have that she isn’t a jerk is that she’s compassionate and driven to help people in all the other scenes (barring the ones with Sara and Oliver and really, I get that), but the evidence should have been there in that scene, too.

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On March 7, 2014 at 5:12 pm Jenny said...

Plus, I think it’s a given that every case Laurel tried was not shown on the show. It reminds me of the criticism that every case Nick and Hank have to solve on Grimm involves a Wesen. No, just every case on the show. It’s probably a good bet that they get more than 22 cases a year, just as Laurel undoubtedly had a case load that far exceeded the cases that were shown. I don’t think that’s writing between the lines any more than saying that Oliver’s eaten nothing but Big Belly Burgers since the show started; it’s a given that he’s had more dinners than are shown. There are some things that can be logically deduced without venturing into the realm of projecting on the script.

The one aspect of the Laurel character that I think the writers didn’t screw up was not making her just an extension of Oliver and his work, which is something they’ve done with Felicity.

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On March 7, 2014 at 6:12 pm Ero said...

The way I saw it, she didn’t correct it on her own, she was practically coerced by Joanna (her law partner/friend? I think that was her name) to accept his offer of hosting a fundraiser, and she did it quite ungraciously. She was practically rolling her eyes (yes, I am exaggerating) when she repeated Joanna’s exact words to Tommy, almost in a sing-song voice, like they were something she had learned by rote. (I’m not saying that very well, and having a hard time describing it as I saw it. If I find a clip on youtube, I’ll post a link here.)

I can accept that I might be seeing a lot of Laurel through the goggles of my dislike, but I don’t think that was the case here.

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On March 7, 2014 at 6:39 pm Jenny said...

You’re right, it wasn’t gracious at all. You’re goggle-free on that one.

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On March 7, 2014 at 6:40 pm CJ said...

So, since Tommy was essentially trying to get in Laurel’s pants, what would your opinion of her have been if she’d accepted his offer right away w/out “being coerced by Joanna”? I’ll tell you what I saw a lot of based off the situation as it actually happened. I saw a lot of people essentially calling her a whore for accepting the offer anyway.

I mean, really? Half the detractors see her as being a bitch to Tommy by initially refusing the offer and the other half saw her as a whore for accepting the offer. The problem isn’t Laurel here LOL.

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On March 7, 2014 at 6:57 pm Ero said...

If she had accepted the offer right off the bat, I would have been pleasantly surprised. And from where I stand, Laurel IS the problem here, and I’ll continue believing that no matter how many times you try to convince me she isn’t. I see what I see, you see what you see, and never the twain shall meet.

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On March 7, 2014 at 7:03 pm Jenny said...

Don’t say never. Stranger things have happened here.

And again, we’re not trying to convince anybody of anything. It’s the discussion that leads to insight not agreement. We’re not negotiating a contract, we’re talking about story.

And this discussion has made me think about how I’d rewrite Laurel because once I started talking about her back story, I realized she could have been amazing.

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On March 7, 2014 at 10:18 pm Jenny said...

You’re kidding. They thought she was a whore for accepting a fundraiser without promising him sex? Hell, even if she had promised sex, it was for a good cause.
This is why I don’t read the Arrow fan boards.

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On March 7, 2014 at 5:13 pm Chris said...

CJ -

I certainly never suggested that throwing a fundraiser for a non-profit organization is a bad thing. I’m saying that the non-profit organization was in trouble, and Laurel couldn’t raise the funds herself or throw a fundraiser on her own even though she’s on good terms with not one but two billionaires.

My point regarding Laurel’s cases is this: did she ever bring a case to Oliver/the Hood that he would not have gone after on his own because said person was already on the list? As far as I remember, the answer is mostly no. Diggle got Oliver to go after the bank robbers. Laurel did get Oliver to start investigating the firemen – but only after Joanna came to Laurel. Otherwise, the targets were on the list.

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On March 7, 2014 at 5:23 pm Jenny said...

Yes, but Laurel didn’t know about the list. She brought cases to Oliver because she needed help. The fact that they weren’t on the list isn’t Laurel’s fault, it’s the writers.

And if I were Laurel, it would be a cold day in hell before I ever went to Oliver Queen for anything after that betrayal.

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On March 7, 2014 at 5:33 pm Chris said...

Fair enough about Laurel not knowing about the list.

But this comes back to the response to the commentator saying that Laurel was made into an attorney in order to be Oliver’s crime fighting partner. Great idea, except that in the execution, it didn’t contribute to Oliver’s crime fighting at all, because Oliver would have fought those guys anyway no matter what Laurel did.

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On March 7, 2014 at 5:45 pm Jenny said...

Oh, you mean the writers didn’t need her to write Oliver’s action plots?

I think that’s true somewhat, although she did have access to places he didn’t, information he needed before he got Felicity, the I-Can-Hack-Anything Girl. Actually when I look at it like that, she did have a function, the writers just changed Oliver’s information monkey from Laurel to Felicity. That made her important to the stories both as a source of information and as a love interest, so I think that works.

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On March 7, 2014 at 6:43 pm CJ said...

Her job wasn’t to bring Oliver/The Hood anything! Her job was to be a lawyer and she was. And, again, three people were actually list related and two of those didn’t have anything to do with her bringing them to him or him bringing them to him. They just happened to be working them at the same time.

She did bring him other cases but those cases had nothing to do with the list.

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On March 7, 2014 at 7:48 pm Julie H. said...

I think, CJ, Jenny meant the “job” of the character in the story (i.e. her story “function”) not Laurel as a character’s job-job.

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On March 7, 2014 at 10:23 pm Jenny said...

Sorry, I see everything in terms of writing story, not as what’s happening in the story. Writer goggles. I meant, as Julie said, the function her character serves in the plot, the way the protagonist drives the story and the antagonist shapes the story, what is the function of Laurel in the plot. She’s a complication for Oliver (or was), but she’s also a source of information for his missions and a method of getting back story in the now and the reason Quentin-the-Cop hates him in the beginning . . . as a writer, you make sure your characters serve as many functions as possible because otherwise they’re just swanning around on the page, taking up real estate and oxygen the rest of the story needs.

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On March 7, 2014 at 4:53 pm Chris said...

I did want to address the last comment on the last post, assuming that commenter returns, who ended her comment by saying that she didn’t think she could convince others here that Laurel was worthy of more screentime and development.

I started off the show assuming that Laurel was worthy of screentime, or would be, and was certainly worthy of development. And here we are, several episodes later, and although Laurel’s gotten screentime, she hasn’t gotten development.

Why am saying this? Because in the very next episode that features Laurel, Birds of Prey, we are, according to episode descriptions, going to see her try a case and once again need help from other people and need to be rescued.

Which is exactly what she was doing in the pilot episode.

No other character on the show, villain or hero, has ended up exactly where they started in the pilot. Moira escaped from the Undertaking and is now running for mayor; Thea’s now running a nightclub; Diggle is now Oliver’s partner (although his character growth does seem to have stopped there); Walter is now running a bank and becoming a political mastermind. Even Joanna managed to work her way up into a better paid position even if she didn’t sound thrilled with the job. Even Oliver, despite, in my opinion, regressing in the last few episodes, has managed to let people into his life and took up the CEO role and has stopped being a serial killer.

(And poor Tommy ended up dead, but before that he did have the chance to start working and be a hero, so there’s something.)

So contrary from thinking that Laurel doesn’t deserve character development, I would WELCOME that. I have my fingers crossed that Birds of Prey will be that starting point, but I thought the same thing when I watched the pilot episode.

I’m also hoping that this is the very very last episode where she gets kidnapped, because three times in one season was already too much.

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On March 7, 2014 at 5:09 pm CJ said...

Who on this show has gotten any development, though?

Oliver is still a douche. Moira’s still this scheming woman. Thea is a prop for Roy and for Oliver and Moira’s little fight. Diggle has been reduced to propping up Olicity. Felicity got a dad and a mom but only because she told us so. Sara’s still a selfish brat who puts her own happiness before everyone else.

How is that development? Seems more like regression to me.

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On March 7, 2014 at 5:20 pm Ero said...

To name two examples, Thea went from being a spoiled brat with a drug problem, to a responsible young adult who was running her own business, and Felicity went from stammering innuendos and being startled when Oliver barked out her name, to someone who stood up to him and gave him what-for when he was being a douche-nozzle (and also isn’t making as many unintended sexual innuendos).

Sounds like development to me, but maybe I don’t know exactly what constitutes character development.

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On March 7, 2014 at 5:42 pm Jenny said...

Character development: a clear arc on the page or screen that shows character change due to events in the story.

Felicity has gained confidence from working with Oliver and Diggle, but she’s still rubbing her cheek on Oliver’s hand when he tells her she’ll always be his girl and we still don’t know who she is when she’s not with the team, which is very one-dimensional characterization.

Laurel’s character development was the downward spiral as all the tragedy in her life she’d been ignoring broke open and consumed her. Her rejection of pills and invitation to dinner showed that she was pulling herself together; “development” will depend if she reinvents herself and sheds the past or slides back into the person she was.

Thea’s had a good character development, I think.

I don’t think Moira arcs, I think she’s a survivor, but I don’t care, I love seeing Moira on the screen.

Sara strikes me as pretty much the same person who got on the yacht in the first place; she’s acquired skills and a darker knowledge of the world, but she doesn’t seem to have noticed that she owes her sister an apology, and she’s still pretty superficial in her relationships.

So I think it depends on the character as written. Some have arced, some haven’t.

Don’t ask me about Oliver, he’s all over the place. I think they’re going to make him a pirate next.

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On March 7, 2014 at 5:58 pm Ero said...

Felicity was completely stoned and dopey when she pressed her cheek into Oliver’s hand, though, almost using it like a pillow, and practically nodding off. If you look closely, he jerks his hand a little against her face when he says “hey”, almost as if he is trying to wake her up/get her attention.

If she hadn’t been doped up to her eyeballs, I would have found that scene a bit nauseating, but since she was, I didn’t really perceive it like you do.

As for not knowing who she is when she’s not with the team…you got me there.

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On March 7, 2014 at 7:49 pm Julie H. said...

Yo ho ho.

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On March 7, 2014 at 8:18 pm Kelly said...

I’m probably still seeing Laurel through my I don’t like you glasses. And with all due respect to the people who saw this differently, but I didn’t see her arcing positively during that dinner scene.

When she put down the pill container, I didn’t see her making a choice because she realized she was trashing her life and hurting the people who care about her. I saw her putting it down because she was getting what she wanted. Her father and mother possibly back together.

During the dinner scene when Quentin is hoping that Dinah will come back to Starling City and him, Laurel figures out that Sara and Oliver are back together. (Oliver and Sara do not get a free pass in this scene they were rude, disrespectful and clueless) But at that moment her father is hurting and Laurel knows it but she starts screaming. It wasn’t her moment, it wasn’t about her. Someone else is in pain. You pull your big girl panties on and suck it up and then wait to confront Oliver and Sara when you are alone with them. Go to the bathroom and cry if you have to but you do not steal the spotlight from your Father. You support him, fill in the conversation, give a sympathetic look, maybe a hand squeeze under the table.

Out in the hall Oliver was completely out of line. But because the next scene we see of Laurel she is at an AA meeting it looks like what Oliver said to her is the reason she went. That him being “done” with her is what brought her to a breaking point.

I have a huge problem with characters not motivating themselves to change. A friend or a love one pointing out what is wrong is both helpful and important but it should not be WHY you are changing. If you want me to cheer for you, you need to self motivate. Take a look at what your doing and go, “dammit I’m done with this” and then I’m all for it. As it stands now, at least in my mind, whatever Laurel becomes after this is because Oliver said he was done. Loosing him was her rock bottom and whether she rises back up as the Black Canary, or a kick ass lawyer or the janitor of her building, it will because of Oliver Queen. Which ruins her redemption arc for me.

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On March 7, 2014 at 8:48 pm Jenny said...

I don’t see Oliver as helping her.

Laurel hits bottom, and Oliver delivers a hypocritical speech condemning her for reacting to two people who betrayed her (one of which was him) and telling her his pain is worse than hers (because the mother he’s been lying to all through the series lied to him, after which he instructed her to keep on lying). I want her to pick herself up, become the Black Canary by yanking that mask off Sara, and then kick Oliver’s ass all over Starling City. And I’m not a Laurel fan as CJ will cheerfully attest. It’s like the writers put a “Kick Me” sign on her back.

If I ever wrote fan fiction for this series, that would be the story I’d tell. (But I’m not writing fan fiction because I have to pay the electric bill by writing Crusie fiction.)

You know that speech really damaged Oliver for me. And because Oliver is the show . . .

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On March 7, 2014 at 5:25 pm Jenny said...

Hey, don’t pick on Moira. I’m still trying to decide whether she or Rocket Raccoon is my spirit animal.

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On March 7, 2014 at 9:05 pm Julie H. said...

LOL say this really fast, Jenny: Crusie Fiction. That totally sounds like something completely different and just made me snort.

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On March 7, 2014 at 9:14 pm Kelly said...

Sorry Julie for some reason I’m not getting a Reply option under Ms. Crusie’s comment to me so I’m going to reply to you so it stays in this thread. Forgive me!

I don’t think Oliver helped Laurel in that speech. I think he was presented as the catalyst for her change. And that to me ruins the whole point of her redemption arc. She should be redeeming herself. She didn’t change when she lost her job, or found out the bar was considering disciplinary action or her father begged her to stop or when she got her DUI, it was when Oliver said he was done.

And please please please never stop writing Crusie fiction. I love your Arrow and story analysis and it motivated me to stop lurking on your blog and actually post here but without Crusie fiction my bookshelves would be sadly uninspiring!

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On March 7, 2014 at 9:51 pm Jenny said...

OH, I missed your point. I apologize, Kelly. (You can’t reply to me because the comments stop nesting after awhile, which I can’t see because I answer on the dashboard. God knows where this will end up.)

I am not a psychologist, nor do I play one on TV, but when I lecture about character change in fiction, I point out there are two steps to change for people.

The first step is something happens to jar them out of their perception of the way the world works. A piano falls in front of them. They find out they have a life-threatening disease. An ex-boyfriend rants about how selfish they are.

However that event is meaningless until the character acts. It’s the act that makes the change, not the recognition.

For example, I go into dressing rooms and I try something on and I see myself in that unflattering light, and I think, “I really have to lose twenty pounds.” Because of the unfamiliar surroundings and the unflattering light, I’m forced to realize that I’m carrying too much weight. (And I need to start using face cream, but let’s not muddle the example.) Then I go to the grocery and buy doughnuts because once I’m out of the dressing room, I can rationalize the event away.

A character can be hit with any number of catalysts for change, but those events are meaningless if she doesn’t act on them. It’s the action she takes that determines her redemption. I’d go so far as to say that self-redemption is the only form of redemption: You can’t be redeemed against your will or without your collaboration.

So you’re right, none of the things you mentioned made Laurel change, and neither will Oliver’s speech if she doesn’t choose to change. If she chooses to change, she’s responsible for her redemption. If she doesn’t choose to change, she’s responsible for that, too; Oliver is no way responsible for her failure if she fails.

At least that’s what I tell my writing students.

Oh and thank you for the compliment and feel free to call me Jenny. It’s Argh, we’re very informal here.

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On March 7, 2014 at 9:54 pm Jenny said...

It gets better; they used to refer to me as JC on the fan boards.

And that was supposed to go under Julie’s “Crusie Fiction” reply.

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On March 7, 2014 at 5:23 pm Chris said...

“Development” doesn’t always mean “nicer” or even “better person.” But I’d argue we’ve seen that in the show too. I’ll agree that Thea’s been criminally underused this season, but still, she went from a drug using party girl to running a nightclub. That’s a pretty significant development. Roy went from a street kid to having superpowers. That’s a huge development. Moira, sure, is still scheming, but she’s doing different scheming, running openly for mayor instead of conspiring to destroy the city behind the scenes.

Sara – I’m trying to figure out what’s going on, because as I noted in the last post, it seems that the show is now blithely unaware that Sara has done a lot of really, truly, horrible things, probably more than anyone else on the show (Oliver may have outdone her on the body count; I’m not sure.) That does bug me, a lot, but not for character development reasons.

You’ve got me on Oliver, though :) Up until episode 12 and maybe even 13 I would have said he was developing, but apart from the, well, he’s no longer killing mooks, just injuring them, it’s now a much harder case to make.

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On March 7, 2014 at 6:09 pm TK said...

Because the show is married to the format of telling stories both in present time and in flashback in every single episode, I have a feeling that for these writers, character development = back story. The Diggle/Suicide Squad episode is gonna flashback to his time in Afeghanistan to show us the story of how he had to protect the local warlord. Which is yet another story we already know because he told it in present time. I’m looking forward to the Squad because I love Amanda Waller, and Ben Browder is gonna be in the flashbacks, but I’m now seriously doubting we’re gonna learn anything new about Diggle.

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On March 7, 2014 at 7:22 pm fiveandfour said...

I think I recall Joss Whedon saying that he followed a guideline of using each of the first six episodes of a series to establish the show and its goals so that people checking out the show after the pilot would have a chance to get their hooks in and not feel like they’ve missed anything important. People could watch the first few episodes out of order, or even miss them all together, and still find an entrance. I don’t know if anyone else follows this philosophy, but I think it’s been in my mind ever since so that I’m looking at the first few episodes of any new show to get the lay of the land, not just the pilot episode.

I can see how people would think there’s real danger in not hitting the ground running and just letting the plot take off for the atmosphere, but to me this idea of a “soft start” has the advantage of allowing the writers and the actors to work on things like chemistry and pacing, see how written words are translating to spoken, pick up on nuances that they find are more or less important than originally intended, etc. so that they can make adjustments before completely committing themselves into the framework we’re all going to live by.

I’m starting to think that because I approached Arrow with this idea in my head that the story was being, at least in part, organically driven by things they were discovering as the production of episodes continued, I picked up a completely different contract than the one the writers actually intended. I didn’t even like Oliver in the first couple of episodes. But as I watched a few more, I saw the development of Team Arrow with Oliver, Diggle and Felicity at its center as the contract, and Oliver becoming a person worthy of Laurel’s forgiveness as a codicil. Oliver became someone I could like via his interactions with Diggle and Felicity, otherwise I would’ve counted him as too grim, humorless and boring to care. (I also saw a potential for an Oliver-Felicity romantic pairing, but would have been just fine had that relationship never developed romantically.)

Now I’m thinking I was completely wrong with what I was assuming and how I interpreted what I saw. I’m now thinking that the writers were trying to put out a contract that said, “we’re here to bring the canon comics to life through the medium of television” and while things like the development of Oliver-Diggle-Felicity as a team are nice enough in their eyes, they aren’t canon, so they won’t be allowed to grow organically in the way I was expecting/hoping/tuning in to see.

After watching (and giving up on) Smallville, I came to the conclusion that tying a tv show to comics canon too closely puts a real stranglehold on the development of the tv show. Sticking faithfully to canon means that the television show has to ignore things like intra-personal chemistry between actors, audience opinion on who’s believable in their roles and who can’t act their way out of a paper bag, and natural developments in story-telling that happen when certain themes, motifs, story arcs, and character developments strike a chord.

The problem, to me, is that these shows never just go out and copy the comics frame-by-frame, which means they are starting already from a “non-canon” place. Plus which, the comics themselves have “re-booted” and re-created their canons – so obviously they know when something isn’t workable. So why is it sooooo important for the tv version to stick to canon? I honestly don’t get it.

When it comes down to it, I think that this complete lack of understanding in my mind as to why the writers of Arrow are so thoroughly devoted to canon is the root of my problem. I came in to this show assuming they were going to make Arrow work on its own merits and not be so married to canon that they would try to make a square peg fit into a round hole. But the last few episodes seem more and more like they are trying to shave off some of those hard edges so they can get that peg crammed in there.

I guess I’ll know soon enough whether the place Arrow is going is a place I want to visit… (C’mon Diggle, don’t let me down!)

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On March 7, 2014 at 7:34 pm Jenny said...

That’s a good point about using the first half dozen episodes to establish the world, although it depends on how long the series is. Sherlock pretty much had to establish everything in “A Study in Pink” so they could show the arc in the next two. The UK Life on Mars had seasons that were eight episodes long.

To translate that into novel-writing terms, I think you have the first page to set the protagonist and the mood, the first scene to set genre, conflict, and the general terms of the story contract, the first chapter to build on that, and then the first act to establish everything else and show the beginnings of the character arc. Then after the first act, everything has been set up and the rest of the story is how everything changed.

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On March 7, 2014 at 7:53 pm fiveandfour said...

I think the Sherlock example is a really good one as respects naming a show that’s got a very well-known canon (one which is practically a religion to some people!) but which has been allowed to develop in its own direction. This isn’t to say that I think Sherlock is exactly perfect in how they’ve been developing/regressing with character and story development, only that they haven’t been causing themselves problems by being completely married to canon.

This may be why I’m struggling with Arrow: I’ve seen that it’s possible to go off book while still honoring the spirit of the original so my expectations aren’t in sync with reality.

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On March 7, 2014 at 10:47 pm Sarah B said...

I read that Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss agreed from the start that they would not create new, regular characters that were non-canon, even though they were giving the story a modern setting. Then the actress who played Molly, who was meant to be a one off character, blew them away, made the fans love her, and so they had to rethink their plan. So she became a more important character in the show, used, IMO, to show a more human side of Sherlock, who was in danger of being just too unpleasant and cold, even for him.

When I read that, I thought of Felicity. I was very so-so about Arrow at first, as I really disliked Laurel, thought the actress was hopeless (now I think it’s more about the way she was written than how she was played), and saw the show as being too much about the emotional drama between Oliver and the Lance sisters, with which I felt no connection, rather than the superhero story. So that viewer / story contract was not something I wanted to sign.

But when Felicity appeared, and then Team Arrow was born, I sat up, paid attention and decided that, yes, I wanted to go on that journey with them. From then on, until ‘Heir’, I was hooked and started to adore this show. But now it looks like they are returning to the Arrowverse of those first episodes in S1. Maybe that was the plan all along and some fans will be happy with that. But that’s not a place I liked and that version of the characters didn’t resonate with me. I don’t understand why they changed direction for so long and now want to go backwards. I do feel cheated because, while I definitely have my own story goggles, I don’t think I just imagined all the things I loved, like the developing closeness between Oliver and Felicity, the way Oliver was becoming a more human and heroic man or the strong Team Arrow dynamic that added much needed heart and like-ability to the show.

So they suddenly changed the reader contract terms again, and it’s not what I, personally, signed up for. Maybe those who liked the early ‘version’ of the show are happy to see it go back to that, especially if it becomes more comic canon adjacent. That’s perfectly ok, as everyone’s opinion is valid, and no story can please all the audience. But, for this viewer, I’ll be walking away if things continue on this path, as I am just not convinced by the story being told at this point.

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On March 7, 2014 at 7:31 pm fiveandfour said...

Oh! Just realized I was unclear about what, specifically, is the “canon” that’s messing with my head: I’m referring to things such as the “epic love” between Laurel and Oliver (which I’ve never believed in for even a nano-second, even without the cheating-with-the-sister element) and the Birds of Prey/Black Canary business. It seems to me that worrying about working those things into this story have been causing havoc with this show’s own natural and organic growth from the outset. Now it feels like every time a vine quite naturally starts growing towards the sun, the writers hack it off or try to make us believe it was growing a completely different direction all along.

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On March 7, 2014 at 7:54 pm Julie H. said...

“Julie, if you’re still reading, could you tell me where you find those 7 day adjusted ratings? I’ve sort of been keepting track of Arrow ratings since I am (still) invested in the show’s success, and I couldn’t find anything on Google. TV by the Numbers isn’t clear (to me) on those adjusted ratings. Arrow seems to have dropped off their report, which I think Newguy (or was it someone else?) indicated meant they weren’t seeing the huge increases in post-live viewing numbers that they used to. I’m curious to see those numbers myself.”
- Ero

It’s very hit or miss. I had to poke around a few different sites like TV By The Numbers, Futon Critic, Green Arrow TV, TVLine, etc, etc. They don’t always consistently report the adjustments and when they do it’s not always the viewership # but sometimes the demo % changes, which aren’t really helpful.

I did find one recently for the episode Tremors. Live/Same Day it was 2.95 million. Once they adjusted for 7 Day it apparently became 4.291. A lot can change in 7 days. That’s why I’m waiting to see if The Promise’s numbers go up.

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On March 7, 2014 at 8:36 pm Ash said...

Great discussion – For me I have come to realize that most of the ‘promises/contract’ Season 2 Arrow 1-12 made with me have been broken through either character regression or the arcs/characters they have chosen to highlight on the screen.

For example, as a Diggle fan, I am pleased he is going to have the spotlight thrown on him in the Sucide Squad. However to give him the spotlight the writers need to move him into a completely different team (I am Trio Team Arrow).

I am still wanting to watch the episode though. Which I guess is curious in its own right that a number of us seem willing to give Arrow one more episode/end of the season in the hopes of either buying into a new contract or that we get a glimmer of the one we signed up for.

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On March 7, 2014 at 8:43 pm Jenny said...

If they weren’t promising me the Suicide Squad, I wouldn’t be there. I love the 2011 Suicide Squad comics. Same thing with Birds of Prey. And if they ever do a Sirens episode, I will come back for that with a party hat on.

Plus the next episode is Diggle. Is there anybody who doesn’t love Diggle?

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On March 7, 2014 at 10:39 pm Julie H. said...

Jenny, you asked about which Arrow people had left the show to work on Flash. I just read the answer in a new article about the Flash, I thought I’d share it. All of the names mentioned below work on Arrow.

“Arrow’s Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg and director David Nutter will serve as executive producers on Warner Bros. TV’s eyed spinoff. Berlanti, Kreisberg and DC Entertainment’s Geoff Johns will write the pilot script, with Nutter directing. Melissa Kellner Berman will serve as co-executive producer.”

From my understanding of their place on Arrow, they are:
Berlanti – Series Developer (writer credits), Executive Producer
Kreisberg – Developer (writer credits) & Producer
Nutter – Director (pilot)
Johns – Writer
Berman – Co-Executive Producer

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/flash-patrick-sabongui-joins-as-686729

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On March 8, 2014 at 12:09 am TK said...

Berlanti, Kreisberg and Guggenheim are Executive Producers on Arrow; Kreisberg and Guggenheim also act as showrunners, which is not really an official title you can find on IMDb, for example, but it means they are the head writers and responsible for overweeing the entire writing process, as well as the day to day producing. ["Developer" is usually meant as the people who created the show. Creators and showrunners can be the same person, but somtimes a show will hire a showrunner because the creator is a great writer but a crappy producer.]

Geoff Johns is not a staff writer, he’s one of the heads of DC Comics. He writes the occasional Arrow episode just as he wrote some Smallville episodes. [He's a brilliant writer IMO, and I wish he had a bigger role on Arrow.] And he is co-writing the Flash pilot — like he wrote Barry’s episodes — because he’s been the main writer of the Flash comics for the past few years.

If the Flash goes to series, I have no idea who will be the actual showrunner. I doubt it’s gonna be Berlanti because he’s got like, three other shows in development right now. I’m hoping they end uo getting different showrunners so Kreisberg can go back to overseeing the Arrow writers along with Guggenheim.

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On March 8, 2014 at 6:03 pm Julie H. said...

Yeah, I figured Berlanti didn’t have much day-to-day hands on stuff since he sounds like more of the production company than anything. It’s funny you brought up Golden Boy, TK. Once you made that connection, I spent a lot of today thinking about that show vs. Arrow. I really, really, really *hated* Golden Boy. The writing was good and everything & I thought the overall concept was good (rookie cop does something ultra heroic that results in him being able to ‘write his own career ticket’ so he picks homicide and then it gets complicated) but they almost instantly swerved the lead into territory I wasn’t comfortable with when they made him believe he was smarter and right than doing the job the way it was supposed to be, resulting in him being willing to frame someone (an innocent person it turned out) all because the hero *thought* he was right and *thought* he knew better and *thought* because he was so smart the person must be guilty. That’s when it lost me and I turned it off. I think that was maybe episode 2 or 3. So now I’m thinking about that character and looking at Oliver wondering if they’re similarly built characters.

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On March 7, 2014 at 11:02 pm Paula said...

I love this blog because I learn so much. I’d never heard the term Mary Sue before the comment above. After reading the link below, I agree Sara is a Mary Sue:

http://www.springhole.net/writing/whatisamarysue.htm

There’s also a Mary Sue litmus test:

http://www.springhole.net/writing/marysue.htm

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On March 7, 2014 at 11:45 pm Jenny said...

That’s hysterical. And yep, Sara’s a Mary Sue. Thank you, El and Paula.

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On March 8, 2014 at 8:53 am Paula said...

Here’s an interview with the woman who coined the term Mary Sue: http://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc/article/view/243/205

Some great points including the fact that most people don’t find male versions of Mary Sue as annoying.

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On March 8, 2014 at 12:20 am Katie said...

After reading that, I agree, Sara is definitely a Mary Sue. It occurs to me she isn’t just a Mary Sue character for the show, she’s basically been the Mary Sue of Laurel’s life for the past few weeks. At the time, I wanted Laurel to be a little glad her sister wasn’t dead along with the rage, but now I totally approve of the glass throwing.

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On March 8, 2014 at 12:43 am Jenny said...

Huh. Laurel even lampshades that. Doesn’t she have a speech where she repeats, “But it’s okay because it’s Sara“?

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On March 8, 2014 at 1:44 am Katie said...

When she kicks her out and throws the glass. That’s what the Mary Sue stuff reminded me of.

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On March 7, 2014 at 11:19 pm Claire Rose said...

Is GB coming back to Arrow? I saw the twitter that AK was returning. GB seems like the one who can return order — AK too but definitely GB

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On March 7, 2014 at 11:26 pm Julie H. said...

I got the impression they were all coming back.

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On March 8, 2014 at 12:19 am TK said...

Berlanti is much more of a true Exectuve Producer: i.e. the money guy, and the person who oversees the entire production process, than someone who’s in the writers room everyday. He didn’t really leave Arrow for The Flash pilot, his main job is to develop new shows. Arrow isn’t even his only show on TV right now — he also currently co-executive produces The Tomorrow People. Last year, besides Arrow, he was exec producing Golden Boy as well. And The Flash is not the only pilot he’s working on: he’s also developing a pilot called The Mysteries of Laura that just started casting this past month.

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On March 8, 2014 at 12:14 am Katie said...

I should probably watch the pilot again before commenting on the emphasis contract, but I didn’t really like it enough for another re-watch (I saw it again a few months ago when I was introducing a friend to the show). What I got out of it was, this is a show about Oliver’s arc from selfish playboy to hero while he fights crime. I saw his relationship with Laurel as a romantic subplot (one I was not interested in, but could live with since it wasn’t the primary focus).

I loved Diggle from the start, and I liked Oliver much better as a character when he was with Diggle. I don’t just mean after he found out and joined up, I mean when Oliver was ditching him to do vigilante stuff and he started getting suspicious. For one thing, Oliver showed hints of a sense of humor, and that was badly needed. Digg commenting on Oliver throwing the kitchen knife with perfect technique at Laurel’s place showed me he was smart enough to see there was more to Oliver when other people weren’t catching on. If it had just been Oliver and Diggle in the cave, no Felicity, I would have stayed just for them.

And giving Oliver someone who didn’t know him before the island was important; I think that’s one of the reasons Diggle makes him better. He sees Oliver for who he is now, with no baggage from before. Felicity too, but Diggle was there first. Maybe that’s part of why his relationships with them work better for me than those with Laurel or Sara. The Team Arrow stuff was advancing his character arc; Diggle and Felicity see him as a better person than he was before because that’s all they know, and they push him to continue getting better. For me, that’s what the show is about. That’s the promise they made me. Laurel and Sara and the back story they come with cause his character arc to regress, which breaks the promise they made me. That’s why Felicity was my pick for his love interest – a relationship with her would move the story I was seeing forward.

I don’t think it necessarily had to be that way. If Laurel had been involved with his vigilante activities to the same degree Diggle was in season one (knowing Oliver was the Hood, knowing about the list), and working together that way had helped them repair their relationship, I might have been on board with that. They could have tied that to Laurel’s arc into Black Canary, her getting more willing to go outside the law for justice. They could have arced them together, and I might have forgiven the toxic back story if they did it convincingly.

Instead they went the CW route of emphasizing the toxic back story as an obstacle to the romance, probably as a way to keep them apart for as long as possible, and they kept Laurel in the dark, never making her a full and equal partner the way they did with Diggle and Felicity. Yes, she was involved, but she didn’t know everything, didn’t know who the vigilante really was, so she wasn’t his partner, not really. Sara was his partner almost immediately after they introduced her in terms of the crime-fighting, and that worked great. But the attempt at romance with her hurts Oliver’s character, so that breaks the promise I saw. I want them to stop focusing on his love life with the Lances and get back to Team Arrow because that’s what pushed the Oliver-redemption-story forward, and that’s the story I signed up for. If they could make a love story with Laurel work for that, I wouldn’t have a problem with it, but the stuff with Sara in the last few episodes means I will never be able to buy them getting back together. She deserves so much better.

This is really long, so I’m going to wind it up now. I’m in for Suicide Squad, and if they don’t screw that up, for the rest of the season. If it’s not working for me at the end of the finale, I may have to stop.

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On March 8, 2014 at 12:41 am Jenny said...

That’s an excellent point. If they’d made Laurel part of the Arrow team from the beginning and cut her free from all that anger and bitterness, she could have been great.

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On March 8, 2014 at 8:29 am Paula said...

Can you imagine how Laurel will feel at some future date when she finds out Oliver is the Arrow? He betrayed her with her sister, then betrayed his friend with her, then hooked with the sister again while being very critical of her….IF she can get over all that, I would think she’d feel betrayed again. Really, at this point how could Oliver and Laurel ever be together?

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On March 8, 2014 at 11:05 am Julie H. said...

I think that vibe of detachment affected a lot of things in season 1. I recall reading, before season 2 started, that the show runners recognized that certain characters felt too removed from Oliver’s main story so they were shuffling the decks a bit to make people circle him in a “tighter” fashion. That’s when Laurel became a DA (which, did that help? I’m not sure. I never felt they really used that enough in any meaningful way), Quentin was bumped down to street cop (which worked for me), Felicity became his executive assistant (which worked for me too), they made Thea manage Oliver’s club, brought Roy in to work there, etc. Everything was knitted physically much closer to the core areas of Oliver’s life (QC/Queen Home/ClubLair).

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On March 8, 2014 at 12:58 am TK said...

I never understood why they went the triangle-for-two route with Laurel and Oliver. It makes perfect sense for Lois/Clark because 1. Lois and Clark don’t have a toxic past where he slept with her sister — in fact they enter the story as equal reporters [in a bunch of versions Lois is even his senior at the Daily Planet] and 2. Lois’ attraction to both Supes and Clark before discovering they’re the same is almost always played as romantic comedy. So it’s fun to watch, instead of the audience getting frustrated that Lois can’t realize they’re the same person, or Clark feels too guilty for deceiving her.

Arrow lacks all of these things. So the fact that they chose a route for Laurel where she was both betrayed by Oliver, AND doesn’t know about his alter-ego might have been one too many obstacles from the get go.

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On March 8, 2014 at 11:09 am Julie H. said...

I’m sticking with the Box of Pain til the end of the season.

https://twitter.com/brittcb4/status/243497347798138880/photo/1/large

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On March 8, 2014 at 1:13 pm Jenny said...

That’s hysterical. I love the Box of Pain and story goggles. And the commenters on Argh.

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On March 8, 2014 at 12:27 am Katie said...

Suicide Quad preview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMn9AEhADdY

Oliver appears to be on a rampage to find Slade, which looks promising. And Deadshot has a callback to “Keep Your Enemies Closer,” easily my favorite episode this season. I have hope. For one thing, I didn’t see any Lances.

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On March 8, 2014 at 12:28 am Katie said...

*Squad. Must get better at proof reading comments…

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On March 8, 2014 at 8:34 am Paula said...

I don’t expect to see Laurel, but I do expect to see Sara. Somewhere (3 minute trailer?) Oliver was telling Sara that they can’t be together because it puts her in danger. My response is PLEASE, PLEASE let this be the end of the “romance.” Make it the beginning of Oliver, the Monk.

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On March 8, 2014 at 8:49 am Christie said...

Unfortunately, the Oliver/Sara “romance” will continue until 2×18, when Isabel Rochev returns.

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On March 8, 2014 at 8:56 am Paula said...

Do you know if it will end in 2.18? I can hold on if there’s an end in sight to Sara’s domination of the show. If they make Caity Lotz a regular, I’m done.

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On March 8, 2014 at 10:27 am Chris said...

Paula, an interview published right after Heir to the Demon stated that the producers would be exploring the Oliver/Sara relationship over a five episode arc, with the characters working out whether or not they wanted to be together. That suggests that the relationship might end in episode 18 or 19, or Sara/Oliver might decide they are great together. Since Amell has said in interviews that Sara and Roy are just “visitors” to the Arrow Cave, I’ve assumed the relationship is going to end. Which to me makes it all the more annoying – why change a great platonic relationship if you aren’t going to make it last? (I have the same feeling about Oliver/Felicity.)

What I find odd about this is that I’m not seeing any actual exploration of the relationship: it’s just they lunged together, then, in the next episode, they’re an accepted couple, with no discussion about it, and then in the next episode, they were barely on screen together in the present day timeline, and when they were, it was just to confront Slade. Moira and Slade had more tender moments.

I find this odd mostly because even the Flavours of the Week relationships – Helena, McKenna and Isobel – got more in character discussion: is this a good idea, where are we going, and even with Isobel “Do we need to talk about this?” We also got explanations for all of those relationships – Helena and Oliver connected through the darkness; Oliver liked McKenna enough to risk the whole cop thing; Isobel and Oliver were lonely. Got it. Didn’t take much to set all of that up, either.

So I’m at a loss to explain why those clearly temporary relationships apparently deserved more screentime/explanation than the Sara/Oliver relationship. which is far bigger on a meta level – hey, Green Arrow is finally with Black Canary – and affects more of the characters. Especially since this changes the Team Arrow dynamic, and every other change in the Team Arrow dynamic got conversation – Diggle, Helena, Felicity, Barry and Roy and even Sara’s first appearance got conversation, but Sara suddenly joining on a seemingly permanent basis doesn’t?

Grr.

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On March 8, 2014 at 10:50 am Julie H. said...

…why change a great platonic relationship if you aren’t going to make it last?
- Chris

Same reason, I think, lots of shows do it: plot driven needs vs. character. Though I’m not at all assuming this relationship going to end or be limited to the 5 episodes. Though, stepping back to look at it, I’m wondering from a storytelling standpoint…

If I wanted to make Oliver a monk… and if I wanted to cool engine jets on romantic relationships for him in a ‘believable way’… and if I needed to give him more angst for his box of pain… and if I wanted to use the death of chick to achieve that… and if I knew I’d already be killing Sara off (which I’m making a big assumption there because they’re dropping the ‘I’m so hard to kill anvils’ left and now it just feels like the character’s tempting fate and if she dies at Slade’s hand it might encourage the League of Assassins/Nyssa to team up with Oliver to avenge her)… would the easiest way to do that just be to hook her and Oliver up and then kill her?

I mean, as a show, I clearly don’t want to kill Laurel or Felicity. Isabel wouldn’t work because he doesn’t care about her. Moira or Thea wouldn’t be the same. Plus it does the whole Oliver thinks he can be happy and then somebody takes a flamethrower to his life thus making him believe he can never have this again. It also could be seen as satisfying the GA/BC canon thing, potentially freeing the show from “having” to do that in future seasons.

I can see the function of making this hook up choice but, again, that’s making a lot of assumptions. A lot of people thought they knew how the Tommy/Oliver thing was going to end in season one, too.

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On March 8, 2014 at 10:41 am Sara said...

“There was a comment Amell made, that I thought was charming, that the thing with Felicity happened all the time in real life, something about guys taking somebody for granted until somebody else liked her. That’s not the quote, he said it much better, but it was on the page.”

FOUND IT!

TV Scoop Team: Prepare for all of the Olicity feels when Arrow returns on Wednesday as Stephen Amell tells us, “That relationship is really moving in a new direction. It’s one of those things where, guys do this all the time, you don’t realize the depths and levels of your feelings for someone until someone else likes them.” And we can tell you Oliver definitely is copping some ‘tude towards the tech whiz after she takes a trip to a certain city to check on a certain someone who’s been struck by a bolt of lightning.
(http://arrow-flash.com/stephen-amell-shares-changes-are-ahead-for-olicity/)

AND

There is more to come before that episode airs though, and that includes more romance between Felicity and Oliver. Amell teased more about tomorrow’s night all new episode to E! Online, and he said that Oliver will definitely deal with some new feelings where Felicity is concerned.

He revealed the relationship for the pair will head in a ‘new direction.’ Oliver will not realize just how strongly he feels for her until someone else is in the picture. On tomorrow night’s episode, Felicity will leave Starling City for a trip to visit Barry Allen. He was struck by lightning at the end of the mid-season finale.

(http://www.examiner.com/article/arrow-shirtless-set-photo-stephen-amell-talks-olicity)

So, apparently, Oliver and Felicity went from working together and being just friends to a “new direction” and now…wait…aren’t they still working together and just friends?

The white noise (interviews, etc.) surrounding this show are supposed to make things clearer, not muddy up what we’re seeing on screen!

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On March 8, 2014 at 10:43 am Sarah said...

Yup, I think that’ll be it for me, too. They never integrated Sara into the present day story properly.

It’s the ease that she’s taken over with, that’s what devalues all the growing pains that Oliver and Diggle went through at the beginning of his introduction to the team, when Dig was pushing Oliver to help this city outside the list. Or when Felicity joined and they had that great scene when she locks him to tell him to not go out orphaning kids (hints of her backstory, along with her staying to help find the missing father – Walter).
It’s the first time she sees him without his charming, playboy mask on and he sees her as more than just a girl doing what he asks and trying to impress him. Those little bumps made the payoff of having them be so close now all the more deserved and enjoyable. Mind you, they haven’t stopped. In Ep 2 this season, when she refused to be his secretary, and she forced him to stop being so self-centered and pay attention to Dig. She and Dig take one for the team, being his driver and secretary. They’ve sacrificed for the team, they’ve earned their place.
Roy and Sara just coming in and sailing through like they did, it devalues all that wonderful growing the team did together. The members had to rub each other the wrong way a few times and challenge each other to each settle into their own niche inside the team, to each know what they were to the others, to find their place.

Sara and Roy haven’t earned their place or our investment in them as team members. Roy was needed but not trusted or welcomed, Sara came in by virtue of knowing the team existed and just settled in.

If she’s on for season regular for S3, I don’t think I’ll stick around, unless they remedy this problem.
I’m staying for Suicide Squad, I might stay for Birds of Prey… but I’m still hoping that this ratings dive, when the producers seemed to expect the highest rated episode of the season, will be enough to jerk them out of this path they’re following and fix their trajectory by season’s end. But I’m starting to wonder if it’s too late for that now.

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On March 8, 2014 at 11:16 am Paula said...

Exactly. If they wanted to add both Roy and Sara, don’t do it at the same time. And set it up! They started the Roy set up pretty well, and then trashed it in favor of the Sisters Lance. They spent so much time on the sister drama that they didn’t bother to develop the new team dynamic. I think there’s still hope to build that dynamic with Roy, but I don’t think there’s any hope for Sara. They went too far with the Mary Sue thing. In the beginning, she was flawed, vulnerable, and likable. Now, however, she’s entitled, indestructible, and brilliant. She can’t go away soon enough to make me happy. Roy, however, I could still enjoy. Watching him improve with guidance from Diggle, Felicity & Oliver could be fun if they bother to invest in the story.

I agree with Julie H. With any other show, I would say they are setting Sara up to be killed and add to Oliver’s Box of Pain, but this show is too hard to predict – and I don’t mean that in a good way.

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On March 8, 2014 at 11:18 am Abby said...

“But I’m starting to wonder if it’s too late for that now.”

They’re filming episode 20 right now. They’ve only got three left after that for this season, so it might be too late to make any substantial changes because they’ve already got everything planned out up to the season finale.

What I thought was interesting was that Andrew Kreisberg said a few weeks ago that one of the reasons that they had Sara be released from the LoA, at least for now, was so that she could fully become BC and everything that went along with that. The way he said “at least for now” made me think that it was just a temporary thing and that they were going to make the most of having BC on the show because at some point they were going to have the LoA after her again and she’d have to leave SC, especially since they said they were bringing Nyssa back sometime after episode 18. I’m really hoping that’s still the plan because I signed up for Arrow and the story of Oliver Queen becoming a hero, not for the “Ollie and Sara” show where it’s all GA/BC all the time.

And the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that the writers came up with this “brilliant” idea while doing bong shots which is why nothing is making sense and suddenly we’ve gone from Felicity being built up as Oliver’s love interest and him being jealous of Barry to “Ha ha. Is that what you guys thought was happening? No. The truth is Oliver ran out of Snickers during the first half of the season, and like the commercial says, he wasn’t himself cause he was hungry. He wasn’t jealous AT ALL. Oliver and Felicity are just friends. Pshh. As if.”

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On March 8, 2014 at 11:52 am Paula said...

Abby, I like your theory if their inspiration. It’s the only theory that makes the most sense.

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On March 8, 2014 at 12:02 pm Sarah said...

Haha, he ran out of Snickers. That’s as valid an explanation as anything else, sad as it is to admit.
You’re right, I think Sara will be taken back by Nyssa and LoA, if not Ra’s himself. That left them with… ‘with the little we have, we have to get them as together as possible in as little time as possible’. And they seem to be more invested in having CA & BC as action partners rather than develop them as romantic or even platonic partners.
Which, all the more, makes me believe that this show feels like gearing itself towards action is the way to go… but it’s not. They’re no point to action without a believable story and characters to root for. I fully want Slade to kick Oliver’s ass. No kidding.
Putting aside Slade’s flawed motivation to avenge the woman he stared at longingly and never forgot about for the following half decade… I just want Oliver to be knocked down a few pegs. Because if Oliver and his team succeed as the divided mess they are now… I think that the producers don’t want us to care if the team is a cohesive unit or not.
The way they’re heading, it’s as if it doesn’t matter who’s fighting for what and with what resolve… as long as we get action scenes… That, more than anything else, is too much.

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On March 8, 2014 at 12:15 pm Paula said...

Sarah, I’m with you. I want Slade to hand Oliver his ass on a silver platter; yet, I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to be rooting for Oliver and Sara. There’s a huge problem with your hero when you vastly prefer the psycho.

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On March 8, 2014 at 1:09 pm Christie said...

“There’s a huge problem with your hero when you vastly prefer the psycho.”

Paula, I think it’s because the psycho has shown to have more honor than the supposed heroes right now. Sara convincing Oliver to kill Ivo behind Slade’s back? Dumping more pain and betrayal on a sister/ex-girlfriend still suffering from alcoholic/substance abuse? I get there’s room for flawed heroes, but this is too much of a stretch.

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On March 8, 2014 at 1:16 pm Jenny said...

But if the League takes her, doesn’t Oliver have to go save The Woman He Loves Because He’s A Hero?

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On March 8, 2014 at 4:24 pm Christie said...

Jenny, I thinking “Hero” as in having virtue, honor, being trustworthy, being selfless. In Oliver’s actions (saving Sara from the LoA), yes, he is a hero. In terms of his moral character, he has a long way to go, especially if he keeps letting Sara influence his decisions. I guess what I’m saying is “The Arrow” has more of a code of honor than “Oliver” does right now.

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On March 8, 2014 at 6:17 pm Julie H. said...

Yep, which is why I think she’ll die. I’m wondering if we’re going to see all these side groups & characters pull together with Oliver & Team Arrow to form an uneasy alliance in order to stop Slade, Blood, and any super soldiers they create. Nyssa could even return to help Sara. Sara dies. Nyssa dies. Oliver’s box of pain grows. And Ras al ghul (did I spell that right? I don’t know) can then come in for Season 3 blaming Oliver for getting his daughter killed. It reminds me of war in the X-Men story where enemies hooked up on the same side for a united front against the Greater Evil.

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On March 8, 2014 at 1:40 pm Abby said...

“That left them with… ‘with the little we have, we have to get them as together as possible in as little time as possible’.”

Yes, the rate at which they’re shoving Sara at us does make it seem like there’s a “use by” date next to her character’s name and they’re trying to make the most out of having her there. I don’t think they’re going to kill her off, but I do hope that they use her sparingly going forward because a little Sara goes a long way. She can show up for little arcs here and there, but really, she’s not needed as far as Team Arrow goes because we’ve already got Oliver, Roy, and Diggle to do the heavy lifting… and Malcolm was part of the LoA as well, so she’s not the only character who can incorporate them into the story.

The producers themselves called her “the female Oliver” so why would they want to make her a regular presence on the show or keep her in a relationship with her male counterpart? Talk about being redundant. We don’t need two Olivers. In fact, right now I could use a break from the one we do have. Give me an episode of Felicity, Diggle, and Quentin teaming up to hunt down a bad guy while Oliver is nursing a broken ankle or something. I bet I’d enjoy that more than anything they have coming up in the next few episodes.

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On March 8, 2014 at 12:37 pm Christie said...

“we’ve gone from Felicity being built up as Oliver’s love interest and him being jealous of Barry to ‘Ha ha. Is that what you guys thought was happening? No. The truth is Oliver ran out of Snickers during the first half of the season, and like the commercial says, he wasn’t himself cause he was hungry. He wasn’t jealous AT ALL. Oliver and Felicity are just friends. Pshh. As if.’”

Ha ha! I pictured that clearly in my head as I read that! Good one!

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On March 8, 2014 at 1:00 pm Sarah said...

Yeah, it’s bothering me more the more I think about it. How can they possibly say there weren’t romantic undertones for Oliver & Felicity the first half of the season. Nearly every character has pointed out that Felicity has a thing for Oliver (Barry, Moira, Dig, frankly Felicity makes that plenty clear all on her own as well).
Okay, you say, that doesn’t mean Oliver reciprocates. Fine, but then in Ep10, Dig blatantly points out to Oliver that he’s jealous. And like Jenny said before, in that scene when he apologized to her, he was vulnerable and shifting his feet, he sold it as romantic. And frankly that scene was essentially boiling over with romantic undertones. They’re essentially a married couple. Watch that scene through ‘they’re married’ goggles and it’ll look just the same. (minus the Barry mention)
Even if they never did anything, that was the way the show structured it. They can’t turn around and say, oh wait, no feelings there at all.

Seriously though, come on! In ‘Heir’, Moira called Felicity out on her feelings for Oliver, Felicity struggles and decides to risk her relationship with him by telling him the truth, and he turns around and sleeps with Sara… and the audience wasn’t meant to react with ‘Oh shit, that was a mistake!’??
The end made you cringe because it was clear that Oliver wasn’t thinking clearly after the fight with his mom, ditto for Sara and her fight with Laurel. And yet, two episodes later, they haven’t admitted their mistake, they’re sticking by it as if it was a good decision the characters made. And that is where the audience disagrees, because of the way the story was told! They can’t pretend that the story was told differently.

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On March 8, 2014 at 1:48 pm Abby said...

That apology scene in Blast Radius, when Felicity said that she finally found a guy who was interested in her and he ends up in a coma, Oliver let out this little laugh, looked up at the ceiling, and had this almost incredulous look on his face.. like he couldn’t believe that she really thought Barry was the only one interested in her..

At least that’s what it looked like to me, but I guess I need to get my prescription checked or whatever… cause apparently I’m seeing things that weren’t there.

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On March 8, 2014 at 5:02 pm Paula said...

And they are pretending it is an epic romance that led to a deep relationship instead of what they gave us: a hook up between two shallow people who were pissed off at other people. These show runners and writers make me want to scream.

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On March 8, 2014 at 1:28 pm Abby said...

“Paula, I think it’s because the psycho has shown to have more honor than the supposed heroes right now.”

Not to mention Slade has been written to be consistent. Yes, his thirst for revenge might ring a little hollow considering his love for Shado was shown to be unrequited, but at least he believes that he loved her and was devastated by her death. SHE is his sole focus. It’s not like he’s out looking for revenge for her death while claiming to love/share a deep connection with every woman he meets or anything…

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On March 8, 2014 at 4:01 pm Sarah said...

‘That apology scene in Blast Radius, when Felicity said that she finally found a guy who was interested in her and he ends up in a coma, Oliver let out this little laugh, looked up at the ceiling, and had this almost incredulous look on his face.. like he couldn’t believe that she really thought Barry was the only one interested in her.. ‘ – Abby

Haha, yeah I got that too. It was a ‘she really doesn’t know a thing, does she?’ moment.
After the ‘you’re my partner’ line, Felicity’s basically radiating happiness, and Oliver glances away and sort of reminds her (and himself) that ‘Barry’s gonna wake up’, and she all of a sudden comes back to herself.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4gdVBpiHnQ

I can’t say enough good things about this scene. Jenny mention a while ago that this really showed his growth from that scene when they first met.
How can they release that scene onto the world and still claim there was never a romantic undertone to their relationship? They can’t erase this part of the story.

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On March 8, 2014 at 2:28 pm Claire Rose said...

“She and Dig take one for the team, being his driver and secretary. They’ve sacrificed for the team, they’ve earned their place.” — Sarah

OHHH! That’s an EXCELLENT point! You are absolutely right and just another reason this whole thing has felt “off”. The core team has EARNED their place, the others have not, and yet you have Sara coming and ruling the roost! Yup! Don’t like it.

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On March 8, 2014 at 1:15 pm Kelly said...

“For example, I go into dressing rooms and I try something on and I see myself in that unflattering light, and I think, “I really have to lose twenty pounds.” Because of the unfamiliar surroundings and the unflattering light, I’m forced to realize that I’m carrying too much weight. (And I need to start using face cream, but let’s not muddle the example.) Then I go to the grocery and buy doughnuts because once I’m out of the dressing room, I can rationalize the event away.

A character can be hit with any number of catalysts for change, but those events are meaningless if she doesn’t act on them. It’s the action she takes that determines her redemption. I’d go so far as to say that self-redemption is the only form of redemption: You can’t be redeemed against your will or without your collaboration.” -Jenny

I see what your saying as far as self-redemption and that I agree with. I think what is bothering me about that hall way scene isn’t that Laurel isn’t self redeeming it’s that she is not self motivating. Let me try to use your analogy and twist it for how I see that scene.

So in the example you gave you see yourself in the mirror and decide to change. Your motive could be I want to wear a certain pair of pants that don’t fit or I want to be more healthy or I just don’t like how I look, those are all great motivators. I can relate to all of that. And yes, whether you choose to continue on with a change from that point would be up to you.

But the way I see the hall way scene and the later scene at AA would be more like a wife finds out that her husband is leaving her. She decides that it’s because she gained 20lbs since they got married and the way to get him back is to lose the weight. So she marches off to Weight Watchers.

The catalyst to change was her husband leaving her. Her conclusion is that it must be because she gained weight and her solution is that if she looses weight he will come back. That’s not self motivating to me. Yes, she is choosing to change but not for a reason that benefits her. She’s trying to make her husband happy so he will come back.

With Laurel the catalyst to her change is Oliver’s speech. He is done with her. Her conclusion is that it is because of the drugs and alcohol. Her solution to the problem is that she goes to AA so she can get clean and get Oliver back (Not back romantically but back into her life). And that is where I think I saw it differently.

If the catalyst had changed to the DUI or loosing her job. I would have thought it was a great arc. Something like: catalyst she is loosing her job as a lawyer, something she worked really hard to achieve. Conclusion, she has to quit using drugs and alcohol so she can become a lawyer again. Solution goes to AA to change.

The way it was written just screams because of Oliver. Nothing else she lost was as bad as loosing Oliver and with all the toxic back story the only thing I want her doing because of Oliver is moving across the country to get away from him. Not rebuilding her life because he is done. She should be the one that was “done.”

Not sure if I’m making myself any clearer or if I’m just wandering around in analogy forest. But needless to say those scenes didn’t make me feel better about Laurel as a character.

(and thank you Jenny for explaining the threading! I couldn’t figure out what was wrong that the reply option wasn’t available)

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On March 8, 2014 at 1:26 pm Sarah said...

You’re right that it came off as the one that pushed her over the edge was Oliver’s decision to give up on her. She’s had other people confront her about it, but when Oliver says what says, suddenly she’s ready to change.
Which, I really wish hadn’t been the reason. It was the ‘I’m done caring, I’m done running after you’, then she finally decides that she’s lost too much??
Quentin has confronted her before, so has Oliver (that time in her apartment after it was trashed by the cops). But it was Oliver saying he’d given up that finally did it. That was unfortunate.

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On March 8, 2014 at 1:43 pm Jenny said...

Yes, but the motivation is irrelevant.

I know that seems counter-intuitive, but it’s like the goal in a story: it doesn’t matter what it is, what matters is that it’s the thing the protagonist must have. It can be a cup of tea or the ark of the covenant, all that matters is that the protagonist will die to get it.

In the same way the motivation for change is irrelevant. There are people who are told if they don’t quit smoking, they’ll die, and they keep smoking anyway, even when they’re hooked up to oxygen. And there are people who put on a pair of pants n a dressing room and it’s just the last damn straw: they lose the weight. It’s not the motivation, it’s the character not just deciding to change but DOING it. And that decision to action always lies within the character. Oliver could have delivered that speech last season and she wouldn’t have changed. It’s not the speech, it’s the time, the place, the situation, and above all the character.

Just to make this more complicated, I don’t think Oliver’s speech was the motivation. I think it was seeing Sara and Oliver together, finding out that her mother had a boyfriend and wasn’t coming back, the double whammy that that perfect life she’d had six years ago was over, absolutely, gone forever. Oliver’s speech may have been the third nail in the coffin, but she was fed up with everybody at that table, seeing the broken mess her family had become. Laurel’s a fixer and she can’t fix that.

Although we don’t actually know she’s changed yet. She went to an AA meeting, so good for her, but with the way this show does character . . .

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On March 8, 2014 at 1:53 pm Sarah said...

I see what you’re saying, you’re right that the scene at the table was more involved that I thought. Someone mentioned above that she put down the pills before the dinner started, because she thought that she was getting her family back. Her being a fixer, like you said, may she didn’t need the pills because her family was being fixed.
But her mother’s admission and Sara & Oliver’s relationship… I like what you said that the perfect life she’d been chasing for years is gone, and it was at that moment that she realized it. She realized that even though everyone was together again, everything was still wrong and that it could never be fixed, could never be the way that it used to be.

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On March 8, 2014 at 5:02 pm Abby said...

“Haha, yeah I got that too. It was a ‘she really doesn’t know a thing, does she?’ moment.
After the ‘you’re my partner’ line, Felicity’s basically radiating happiness, and Oliver glances away and sort of reminds her (and himself) that ‘Barry’s gonna wake up’, and she all of a sudden comes back to herself.” – Sarah

Yeah, Felicity wasn’t even thinking of Barry until Oliver mentioned him and then her face just fell at hearing his name. That effectively broke the moment.

But what made Oliver’s jealousy all the more apparent during the episode was that he had a scene with Laurel earlier at the fund raising for Blood, and he was talking to her about how close she and Sebastian were becoming, and there wasn’t the slightest bit of jealousy on his part. He was actually wondering what was holding her back from just going for it..

There was a glaring difference in his behavior with both women in the span of 40 minutes in which he had conversations with both of them about the men in their lives, and he only had a significant reaction to one of them.

At this point, if I were SA or the producers, I’d just cop to Oliver being jealous, because the alternative is Oliver being upset because Felicity wasn’t at his beck and call 24/7 and that she actually has a life of her own… and that just makes him look even more douchey.

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On March 8, 2014 at 5:04 pm Sara said...

In Season 1, Felicity fails to track a signal because it turns out the bad guy is underground. It is almost exactly the same set-up as Blast Radius, only Oliver is on foot and running around as himself (versus on his bike as The Arrow). The guy is killed, and Felicity stomps off, and then Oliver returns and here is the scene between them–he comforts her and tells her it’s not her fault:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6JjHibaD08

In complete contrast, here is Blast Radius. This time, she caught the guy, but Shrapnel obscured his signal and Oliver lost him in the chase, so she is on top of her game in this episode and yet, Oliver blames her:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDoaswe-ibA

I just can’t understand what we were supposed to take from that scene, especially given that they’ve already put these two through a similar situation and established a baseline response: that is, when Felicity “screws up,” Oliver is sympathetic and supportive. The first time it happens, they are still getting to know each other. The second time is after he puts three arrows in the Count, tells her he can’t be with anyone he could really care about because of the life that he leads, and she meets Barry Allen. It isn’t just that they’re now saying this scene isn’t a result of Oliver’s jealousy (which really makes him a jerk for reacting this way), it’s that the set-up was there, right? Is that just my shipper/story goggles on? I saw a clear arc showing me that Oliver and Felicity were out of the completely platonic friend zone–maybe not into romantic territory, but certainly not in the I-could-never-think-of-her-in-that-way or I-only-think-of-her-as-a-puppy zone.

Someone on here mentioned that Oliver could have been jealous when he said “Does he know that?” when Laurel showed up with Blood, but look at his response when Laurel says Blood is dirty. Oliver is skeptical. He needs convincing. If he were jealous, wouldn’t he take the suggestion that this guy is bad with enthusiasm? He’d be all “All right, he’s bad! Let’s dig up some dirt on this a-hole!” It’s Felicity who’s actually trying to convince both Oliver and Diggle that Laurel might be right.

In contrast, Barry seems completely harmless and Oliver insists that Diggle dig up information on him…and then he calls Barry out on his lie IN FRONT OF Felicity. He even tries to defend himself with that whole “he did lie about who he was…” Even Oliver admits he overreacted about that in the party. Obviously, Barry was lying about the case, but it is not within Oliver’s character to overreact. He’s deliberate and restrained–which makes the three arrows in the Count an even bigger deal, as well as the outburst in Blast Radius.

I. JUST. DON’T. GET. IT. If all that wasn’t pointing towards jealousy, what alternative assumptions was I supposed to make? I’m really confused as to how interviews about what’s on screen can cause us to ask more questions instead of have more answers.

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On March 8, 2014 at 7:05 pm Jenny said...

I buy the Shrapnel scene because he was dealing with the fact that they’d have to face a mirakuru army. He was on edge and he snapped at her, and then he apologized. I was fine with that, that seemed completely in character.

In answer to your last question, they changed their minds. The foreshadowing was all there on the screen and they took a left turn. Somebody said the guy running things now is a comic purist, so maybe he looked at the really great Black Canary they had and turned the show in that direction, not realizing that Sara Lance wasn’t a great character. That, of course, is a guess.

What I would really love to know is what the writer who wrote those Felicity scenes thinks about the way the show is handling the Sara scenes. I understand that when you work on a writing team, you do what you’re told, but I would think that anybody who’d layered the foreshadowing for the Felicity stuff, not to mention anybody who’d plotted out the Laurel stuff (probably not the same writer) would be having a hard time with the “they’re in a relationship because we say so” approach to writing Oliver/Sara.

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On March 8, 2014 at 7:45 pm Abby said...

Jenny.. Jake Coburn, the person who wrote Blast Radius where Oliver apologized to Felicity and told her that she was his partner, is the same person who wrote Heir to the Demon where suddenly Oliver was all about Sara… so at this point, I’m just going with “bong shots.”

That’s my answer for this mess, and I’m sticking to it.

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On March 8, 2014 at 7:47 pm Jenny said...

I don’t think any one writer ever gets all of the script, does he?
But yes, bong shots.

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On March 8, 2014 at 7:56 pm Abby said...

I’m looking at the list of episodes for Arrow, and next to each episode they list the names of the writers. Most of episodes are written by two people. Jake was teamed up with Keto Shimizu for Blast Radius, but his is the only name listed for HttD. He also co-wrote The Promise.

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On March 9, 2014 at 7:56 pm Kate said...

I think there has been some misunderstanding regarding that jealousy comment. I posted this on backstory thread but it may have gotten lost in the comments so I’ll post it here again. Amell was specifically talking about the scenes in “The Scientist/Three Ghost,” not the one in “Blast Radius” when he was talking about jealousy.

Here’s the quote: “When we introduced Barry [Allen] in Episode 8 and 9, we saw a lot of people saying, “Oh, Oliver’s jealous.” I don’t know how it came across, but that certainly wasn’t the way that I was playing it. It was more curiosity about this guy and their interaction. But jealousy? Not so much. …”

I think the jealousy was very obvious in “Blast Radius,” and the show writers made sure the viewers knew that with Diggle pointing it out. But I can buy that Oliver wasn’t quite jealous in the previous episodes. Here’s the link to the full interview: http://tvline.com/2014/02/25/arrow-season-2-preview-stephen-amell-oliver-sara-felicity-slade-finale/

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On March 9, 2014 at 8:19 pm Jenny said...

I haven’t seen those episodes lately, but Oliver was definitely being cranky about something, which is why Felicity shut him down with that “What do we do every night?” line. He felt bad enough about it that he brought Barry to the party and then told Felicity they’d definitely card Barry at the bar, which was a diss. I don’t see that as “curiosity.”

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On March 8, 2014 at 5:36 pm Sarah said...

Hey Jenny, a while back you said you were dissecting the Felicity-Moira scene, how is that coming? I just watched it again and it really is an amazing scene.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UW6XSpBx8co
These two women have something that just makes it amazing when they’re together. I’ve been analyzing it myself and it really is so very well-done. It’s such a great dynamic, having these strong characters circle each other, each trying to figure out the other’s secrets and weaknesses.

It starts off with Moira dismissing Felicity’s importance, (Miss Smoak? Who? Are you here for Oliver?), and in that statement, she dismisses Felicity as just Oliver’s flavour of the week. But then Felicity takes control and approaches step by step as she reveals to Moira just how much she’s learned. The ‘I don’t trust you’, I’m virtuous and you’re not, listen to me. Felicity commands her attention, she’s straightforward right off the bat, and it’s almost like she’s moving in for the kill. It’s quite a contrast to how we’re used to seeing her, as nonthreatening.

As Felicity reveals more and more, Moira’s glances and her little head turns almost give you shivers. Because you know just how dangerous she is, and she’s eyeing Felicity as more and more of a threat the more Felicity seems to know.

And the moment Felicity reveals everything she knows, Moira decides to go for the attack. She says ‘I can see why Walter and Oliver have such a high appraisal of your capabilities’, in a really biting tone, almost like she’s congratulating Felicity on figuring out this oh-so inconsequential detail.

And you can see Felicity tense as Moira stands and says, ‘So…’, like she’s rolling up her sleeves, ready to fight. ‘What are you planning to do with this information… Felicity?’
Moira circles around Felicity, and with Felicity’s back turned, she’s vulnerable for attack now. And she says, ‘Felicity’ like, I know exactly who you are, don’t underestimate me.

Felicity’s afraid and turns around, ‘I really didn’t have much of a plan’. And Moira nods, studying her… she turns away as she’s thinking, not letting Felicity know she’s still trying to find a flaw, a point of attack, trying to figure out exactly what Felicity’s endgame is. But then Felicity tips her hand, ‘I thought you deserved the chance to tell Oliver yourself. He should hear it from you.’
Moira knows then, aha, it’s Oliver she cares about. She’s protecting him. She’s here for him.
And now she knows exactly how to stop Felicity. Threaten her relationship with Oliver.

‘I won’t tell him anything, and neither will you. I see the way you look at him. You will rip his world apart, and a part of him will always blame you.’ And the kicker, ‘He will hate you, too’.
Felicity looks completely shaken by the end of that speech.

And so the scene ends… with Felicity wounded and retreating, Moira standing tall, the victor. Felicity came in so confident that she was virtuous in her plan to have Moira reveal to Oliver the truth and she’s left a little too shattered by Moira’s threat.
Moira just happened to hit the one place where Felicity was most vulnerable, her relationship with her father. He abandoned her, he must have blamed her or hated her enough to reject her and leave her behind.

This, I believe, is why Felicity has never asked more of Oliver than whatever little he’s given her. Because she believes that if she asks for too much, he’ll reject her and she’ll lose him too. And she’s so afraid to lose him and the little family she has that she’ll never take that risk. So she takes what little of himself he chooses to share with her and never blames him for not wanting her the way she wants him.
I’m really interested to see Felicity grow and evolve over the years of her relationships with strong males who value her (Oliver & Dig) to see if she ever heals herself enough to be able to take that chance with Oliver, to take the risk and ask for something more.


This scene though, was all kinds of amazing. I find myself more intrigued by their body language than even their dialogue. Everything about this, the chilling music, the calculated glances, it truly impresses me. The caliber of it. It makes me realize how good this show can be, if only they used all their pieces the right way.

I’m so sorry this is so long, and completely off-topic. This is just a scene that deserves another watch, the way these two actresses play off each other is fantastic. But maybe it’s just me, maybe I just liked it a little too much.

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On March 8, 2014 at 5:46 pm Paula said...

It’s an awesome scene. I saw an interview some time ago with Emily Bett Rickards in which she said Oliver is a terrible judge of character, and it’s almost an accident when he chooses wisely. The interviewer asked who was the best judge of character, and EBR said Moira and Felicity. That’s what I kept thinking about watching this scene.

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On March 8, 2014 at 6:12 pm Sarah said...

You’re right, Moira and Felicity are the best judges of character. It saddens me that we only truly have 1 scene with the two of them at opposite ends. It’s such a fantastic power play when they’re at odds with one another. This scene really is a power play between two very strong characters with their own set of vulnerabilities.
I’m really excited to see what kinds of interactions these two have in the future. It’s quite funny that the two most powerful women in Oliver’s life are so alike and yet so different. In the bluntest sense, it’s almost as if Moira’s evil and Felicity’s good, but it’s so much more than that.
These two have something really special. Moira’s manipulative nature and Felicity’s hopeful nature are at such odds that it makes for the best kind of drama.

I think that when you put these two in a room together, they learn a lot about themselves and each other… they challenge each other in the most intriguing way.

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On March 8, 2014 at 6:31 pm Paula said...

And I think both actresses are just so good. They have such range. Moira is an awesome character. She’s a master manipulator. You know it, and still she can manipulate you. Until the writers decided to revert Felicity into a second childhood, she had such potential. She was intelligent and willing to stand for herself and her beliefs. I’ve said it before, but I have to repeat: one reason I despise the character of Sara is because the writers chose to make Felicity less in an attempt to make Sara appear mores awesome. The woman who confront Moira Queen on her own turf is not the woman who felt left out by a show of scars or needed to don a leather jacket to feel strong.

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On March 8, 2014 at 7:04 pm Abby said...

You know, Sarah, it’s interesting that you see Felicity one of the two most powerful women in Oliver’s life. When the 3-minute trailer for Arrow came out a few days ago and they replayed Slade’s monologue, they showed every single person in Oliver’s life except for Felicity and I saw some people questioning it, as if maybe she wasn’t important enough to be included, but I think it’s just the opposite.

I think Felicity is the proverbial linchpin of Oliver’s entire operation, and if someone really wanted to cut Oliver off at the knees, all they would need to do was get rid of her. She’s his eyes and ears not only as Oliver Queen, but also as Arrow, and without her, the entire team would be running around like headless chickens because she literally points them in the right direction, which would probably suck for her if she was waiting on them to come find her because, like Diggle said when he was trying to work her computers while she was off visiting Barry, “Hey man, this isn’t my thing.”

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On March 8, 2014 at 7:11 pm Sarah said...

Abby, that’s the way I saw her too. She held everything together, all the pieces of their lives.
But I’m starting to doubt if the producers and writers see it too. The way they’ve shoved her character aside to accommodate Sara, who they seem ready to rewrite history for… it doesn’t inspire confidence in me for what’s coming for Felicity.
2 episodes ago, I would’ve been behind you 100%, but now I’m doubting their value in Felicity given recent events.
I really hope you’re right and she comes out the strength of the team in the end… I really hope so.

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On March 8, 2014 at 7:34 pm Paula said...

Abby, I think you are right, and I actually think Felicity is Oliver’s ace that will defeat Slade. At least I hope so!

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On March 9, 2014 at 9:33 am Claire Rose said...

This is in response to both Abby and Sarah, because I see what Abby is saying and that is my true hope in this. Andrew Kreisbrrg called her ‘the rock’ after all. But then like Sarah, I look at the past two episodes and I have doubts. Are these red herrings and they are trying to make us feel that in Oliver’s eyes she’s not the important to this story, but in the end she actually is? What I do know is that at one time I had faith in the writers and the show, but right now, not so much. After what they’ve done to Felicity in the past two shows, they need to earn my trust back.

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On March 8, 2014 at 7:09 pm Jenny said...

They’re two very well defined characters who have very real conflict played by two very good actresses. That scene was probably a blast to write and to play. The macguffin in the scene is Oliver, but it works because it’s between his mother and his partner, not between two girlfriends. They both want the best for him, but their idea of what “the best” is conflicts. It’s just a wonderful scene.

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On March 8, 2014 at 7:18 pm Sarah said...

I’ve been impressed again and again at EBR’s acting, not that I doubted her before. But she’s really shown she can hold and command a scene and it’s really refreshing seeing her opposite Susanna, who’s also fantastic.
I hope the showrunners take this into account and use them for the valuable chips they are. They have been, I know, Moira’s absolutely fantastic, but EBR has some untapped potential, more of what we saw in that scene.
I hope they also realize when it’s time to cut their losses when it comes to actresses like Lotz, who, unfortunately, doesn’t. It’s come to the point where she even brings down Amell. Lotz does action so well, but beyond that… she fails to hold her own.

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On March 9, 2014 at 12:35 pm bt said...

Agree about EBR. Just looking @ her face expressions, both comedic and dramatic, and her eyes are so expressive. In Time of Death, just some of her looks @ Diggle, you can feel the hurt, frustration, etc. I think that is why the character is so well-liked — because the actress is convincing.

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On March 8, 2014 at 7:19 pm Sarah said...

‘The macguffin in the scene is Oliver, but it works because it’s between his mother and his partner, not between two girlfriends. They both want the best for him, but their idea of what “the best” is conflicts. It’s just a wonderful scene.’ – Jenny
- That’s what makes it all soo deliciously good. Even watching Moira threaten Felicity, I didn’t dislike her at all… that’s special.

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On March 8, 2014 at 8:52 pm Christie said...

I agree, Sarah. I loved this scene. It truly defines who they are and what they’re willing to do to get what they want. I also like the scene later in the ep. when Moira meets Oliver and Felicity seconds before her Mayoral announcement. Moira says to Oliver: “I haven’t been this nervous since my wedding day. Both of them.” At first I thought it was just a throw away comment. As I’ve re-watched this scene I’m starting to believe it was a subtle, last minute jab at Felicity. A not-so-friendly reminder of what future Felicity could be losing if she ever told Oliver the truth. Really sneaky and manipulative, Moira! Thankfully, it didn’t work. Or maybe I’m just overthinking things. :) Regardless, I hope to see these two powerful women interact more. Much more.

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On March 8, 2014 at 7:06 pm Sarah said...

Haha! A second childhood, that’s very accurate.
It almost hurts how far down they brought Felicity in just one episode. And it was all for Sara. As if watching Felicity struggle throughout the entire episode wasn’t bad enough, we had to witness her getting so childishly mollified by Oliver as the cherry on top. He pats her head and tells her not to worry… please, spare me.
It pains me to think that actually happened… you’re right, the woman who faced down Moira just one episode ago is gone now. In my head, I’m choosing to ignore everything that happened past ‘Heir to the Demon’.
All I can think is, ‘Stop f**king up my favourite characters!’ They’ve taken a hatchet and started butchering Felicity in an attempt to make room for Sara as Oliver’s ‘girl’ on the team. In the last 2 episodes, Felicity & Diggle’s presence on the team has been laughably absent. The writers and producers are butchering everything they’ve built, and it hurts to see that after we’ve invested so much in it.

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On March 8, 2014 at 7:33 pm Abby said...

The thing is.. they’re pushing aside two multi-purpose characters in Diggle and Felicity for the female version of Oliver who adds absolutely nothing unique to the show because, well, she’s just Oliver with more cleavage.

Diggle is Oliver’s bodyguard/driver/confidante/older brother/partner. Felicity is his EA/IT expert/confidante/partner/love interest. They have both been positive influences in Oliver’s life and have formed such a strong bond with him that they flew halfway around the world and jumped out of a rickety old plane onto a deserted island to find him, not to mention they risk their lives every day to help him in his mission. That’s friendship and loyalty.

How the writers thought it was a good idea to push them aside to make room for someone who doesn’t bring much to the table other than the ability to wield a staff just boggles my mind.

Where’s that bong? I think I need a shot.

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On March 8, 2014 at 7:40 pm Paula said...

Preach, Abby & Sarah —and pass the bong. I need a hit to watch the Super Sara Show. If this is all to make Sara important so Oliver looses her to fill his Box of Pain. And Diggle and Felicity become significant again during Oliver’s mourning period, I can forgive them. If we are stuck with Caity Lotz as a regular and the Ollie-Super Sara Show, then – no thank you. I’ll watch the Flash and hope for a visit from Barry’s Felicity. Remember her? She was remarkable.

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On March 8, 2014 at 7:58 pm Sarah said...

‘The female version of Oliver who adds absolutely nothing unique to the show because, well, she’s just Oliver with more cleavage.’ – Abby
I’m really starting to lose my faith in the direction they’re taking. How on earth they really decided that we need to see more of Oliver’s double when it took all of Diggle and Felicity to make us like Oliver in the first place… do they even know what they had going for them? Did they just accidentally get everything right for a bit?

I know that the season’s episode structure had a part to play as well. They’re running their stories too fast, the team’s development and character growth – or regression, apparently – can’t catch up with the pace they’re pushing the show at.

I’m right there with you Paula, Super Sara show is going to blow up in their faces, I’m with Barry and Felicity all the way. I’m starting to see the merits of a relationship between the two of them.
Plus, Barry inherently likable, which is a damn sight better than Oliver the way he was in the beginning of Arrow. They were lucky we stuck around through all that brooding to find a little inkling of hope in Diggle and Felicity.

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On March 8, 2014 at 8:07 pm Sarah said...

You know, I was curious why when Sara first arrived, we didn’t reject her as redundant, being Oliver’s double.
And I think it’s because when she first showed up, she was a damaged, tortured character that didn’t believe in herself or her worth at all. There was a path for her, she had a goal (in our heads at least), there was character development waiting for her and we were invested in that.
Part of what sent a shockwave after ‘Heir’ was that Sara was suddenly all healed up and ready to go. That’s when she became redundant. There’s nowhere for her to go, they skipped all the interesting development, she’s just here, she’s just like Oliver, only all the more uninteresting because we already have an Oliver. One that we invested a lot of time in (via Dig & Felicity) to get all healed up. It’s another way that her presence devalues all the growth that’s happened over the past 2 years.

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On March 8, 2014 at 8:52 pm Paula said...

I think we didn’t reject Sara because she was not Oliver’s double when she first arrived. She was even more damaged than he. By contrast, he was emotionally healthy and had friends.

She was torturing herself with thoughts of what those she loved would think her if they knew what she had become. She was vulnerable and we felt sorry for her. When Felicity tries to make her feel better by comparing a gym contract to membership in the League, we love Felicity a little more because her kind heart won’t condemn an assassin for being a bad person. And we want Sara to have a friend like Felicity.

Then just a few months later, the woman, who was ashamed of her past, is back. She no longer seems the slightest bit ashamed. This woman is very sure of her place in Ollie’s life and on the team. She’s in command. Not only did she not earn her place on the team, but she also seems to have become a worse character. She’s not vulnerable any longer, and she doesn’t seem to value Oliver’s friends any longer.

Before she longed for redemption. Now she seems as she has nothing in her past to be ashamed of. She’s almost proud of her former role as an international assassin. It’s as if once she and Ollie started this incarnation of their relationship, she was reborn.

Truly, the only thing that makes any sense to me about this at all is if they are setting her up to be some filling for that Box of Pain. While I think it is badly done, I can see that as poorly developed plot.

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On March 9, 2014 at 1:09 pm bt said...

I think humility is what we like to see in people. I think that was what was wrong with Laurel, what we liked about Felicity and the problem we have w/ Sara and Oliver. I want to like Sara, but I agree, they’ve changed her. I think they want to make her “bad ass,” but I think they forget she can be that and still have some humility to make us identify w/her. But as it stands, she seems entitled and undeservingly so — nothing can be more annoying.
I can’t help but think there is some big-picture plan, but they are so eager to get to the big pay-off, that they are missing the details that can ruin a show. That “big picture” focus may be fine for binge-watching where people will forget the details because they have the next episode to watch right away, but not good when have to wait to make sense of what’s going on.

In the end, my prediction is Oliver is meant to suffer a lot @ the hands of Slade, and there will be “new Oliver” (hopefully more likeable) from that to kick start season 3. I think maybe we’re supposed to feel that he needs it handed to him. Also, I think Felicity’s worth is being taken for granted now to set up that she’ll be the strong one who rises to the occasion. Many mentioned that Time of Death was about Felicity proving to herself, never to others, her value. I think that was the puzzle piece they put in place for her to really come through when the Slade revenge hits the fan. At least that is what I am hoping. At the end of the day it will be Team Arrow that triumphs.

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On March 9, 2014 at 1:53 pm Jenny said...

I think The Blacklist is a good show to compare this to because The Blacklist has a huge story running in the background that we don’t know much about except that we know that it’s there and it’s pressing down on all the characters. We only have bits and pieces, and that’s enough. But if Arrow has a huge story running in the background, we don’t know about it, and the producers are saying, “Wait and see,” expecting us to stick around while Oliver does things that destroy his character. Red sells weapons to terrorists and kills anyone in his path, but his character stays consistent: he does have his own morality and he’ll do anything to protect Lizzie, and his character is so strong that he never deviates from who he is, bastard though that be. Oliver, the good guy, fights crime at night and acts like a hypocritical jerk to the people he supposedly cares about to the point where a lot of people don’t like watching him anymore. When your protagonist becomes unpleasant to watch or read about, people stop watching or reading. It doesn’t hurt that James Spader is brilliant as Red, but I think Stephen Amell was doing a pretty good job with Oliver before the scripts put an arrow in his knee.

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On March 8, 2014 at 11:45 pm Jenny said...

The blog was broken for awhile. I don’t know why.

In other news, is anybody watching The Blacklist? Because I just watched “The Judge,” and can I just say, “AH HA! I KNEW IT.” Thank you.

That was a plot and a subplot that weren’t connected except by Red, and even he didn’t really unite them until that last scene, but I will bet a shiny dime that “There’s a war coming” is going to pull all of that together.

You know, I’m a generally cheerful person, and yet I’m fascinated by The Blacklist, although granted that’s mostly because they’ve given James Spader such an excellent playground to work in. Also, props to the guy playing Tom. That was a very nice sharp right turn into evil.

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On March 9, 2014 at 1:26 am Katie said...

I was SO happy about Tom finally acting evil. He’s going to be good at it, I can already tell. Also, Diane Weist was fantastic in that part, and it was fun to see the boss from Fringe in a cowboy hat.

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On March 9, 2014 at 1:48 am Jenny said...

They get wonderful guest stars on there.
And yes, Tom did a 180 on the Evil bit, right there in front of my eyes. Great scene.

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On March 9, 2014 at 9:57 am Claire Rose said...

Yes! And LOVE IT!! And yes, that switch before our eyes? Well played.

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On March 9, 2014 at 1:27 pm Jenny said...

That was amazing. The actor, Ryan Eggold, has been good all season being the crunchy granola guy, getting tortured, being tempted into infidelity, but he kept it so low key, even when he was being questioned in an underground room, he was still this sweet, confused husband. I’d have bought it completely except Red kept saying, “Don’t trust him.” And then in one second, the actor flipped that character into something terrifying. That was wonderful. Although the way this show works, I would not be surprised at all if he doesn’t love her and he’s playing both sides. I really hope Red doesn’t kill him, I think that character is terrific. But you know Red.

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On March 8, 2014 at 11:49 pm Sara said...

James Spader IS a playground!

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On March 8, 2014 at 11:51 pm Jenny said...

Really, everybody on there is good. They get amazing guest stars. That was Dianne Wiest.

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On March 8, 2014 at 11:51 pm Sara said...

I mean, seriously, when is he NOT awesome? :)

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On March 8, 2014 at 11:52 pm Jenny said...

You’re right. I’ve never seen him blow a role.

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On March 9, 2014 at 12:33 am Sara said...

“Jenny.. Jake Coburn, the person who wrote Blast Radius where Oliver apologized to Felicity and told her that she was his partner, is the same person who wrote Heir to the Demon where suddenly Oliver was all about Sara… so at this point, I’m just going with “bong shots.””

–But wouldn’t he still have to do what the show runners tell him? If they say, “Oliver and Sara hook up in this episode,” he’s stuck, right? He wrote the Oliver-Felicity interactions, which were great, but there wasn’t much time to set up Oliver-Sara in one episode with everything going on–Moira’s campaign, Nyssa’s arrival, the Mama Lance kidnapping, Lance flashback, Laurel-Sara showdown, Moira-Felicity showdown, Felicity’s backstory insert, etc.) I mean, now that I look back at that episode, I can see that he tried with Oliver saying, “Your family needs you, and so do I,” and the whole “I wasn’t going to lose you again” (in response to Sara asking how he found her). When Sara is dying, Oliver says, “Not again,” and “Stay with me,” (which, apparently, is Arrow’s go-to line to establish love interests when one character is on the brink of death–since Felicity also says it to Oliver when Barry is trying to save him). And then, at the end, Sara says, “I know one thing…I’m home” before the lunge. If the set-up was there, I could see that line as being really romantic…like Oliver IS home to her. It could have been set up as a really effective swoon moment.

Now I’m not saying that those lines effectively set up the romance contract for me, but I can admit that I do see the effort. I guess I’m questioning whether the blame can really depend on one writer who had to manage all those different subplots, especially if he was instructed to steer the battleship in a completely different direction, to use the same analogy Jenny used earlier.

I think the Oliver-Felicity scenes were strong because the set-up was there from all the previous episodes, but I’m not sure what else could have been done in Heir to the Demon to set up Sara-Oliver. Two episodes later, there’s still nothing that tells me I should care about Oliver-Sara. In fact, if I’ve learned anything from The Promise, it’s that Sara created a bigger problem: basically, Slade is going to make Oliver’s life miserable because Sara convinced Oliver NOT to tell him the truth. She even changed the plan and told Oliver to kill Ivo in cold blood to protect what really happened, which is why now we’re supposed to believe Oliver saved Sara with premeditation instead of instinct. The deception stemmed from Sara, not Oliver. Yes, the anger behind Slade’s motivations is contrived, but it is also because he heard the truth from someone else—and whose fault is that? Okay, it’s Oliver’s…for believing in Stupid Super Sara, but it’s Sara’s too, right? (I always tell my kids: Either they tell me what happened, or I hear the truth from someone else…but once that someone else starts talking, that’s what I’m going to believe…of course, this is related more to WHO DREW ON THE WALL WITH MARKERS? than WHO WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR SHADO’S DEATH?)

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On March 9, 2014 at 1:58 am Sarah said...

Hahaha, the markers, the poor wall.
I see what you’re saying that the writer tried to set it up with what limited space he had. And I did wonder at why Oliver all of a sudden was saying things like ‘I need you’ to Sara, but looking back, I see it know.
Maybe the comic book fans were waiting for this hookup since Sara showed up in the beginning, so that was enough setup for them. But again, that speaks to prior knowledge that’s not provided in the story.

But about what you said about Sara essentially being the source of the rift – colossal rift – between Oliver & Slade, you’re right. In more ways than one.
The most basic part of it being the fact that she was chosen over Shado (which makes me believe all the more that Slade will target the hell out of Sara more than anyone else in Oliver’s life). She was also the one who convinced Oliver to lie to his friend when he should’ve trusted his instinct and told him up front. In fact, in that scene when Slade finds Shado dead, Oliver starts to say, ‘I…’ and then Sara cuts him off and says, ‘Ivo killed her’, when Oliver was about to say, I chose Sara.
Then she convinces Oliver to kill Ivo to bury the truth, for which he would’ve felt immensely guilty if he had succeeded. Not just because he’d killed but also because he’d have to face his betrayal of Slade’s trust and friendship every time he looked him in the eye. (no pun intended)
So really, this just brings me right back to the place I’ve been… which is that Sara is sort of toxic to Oliver. Looking back at the island stuff, it’s worse than I previously thought.
It’s her involvement that sort of tumbled Oliver down the disaster he’s in. And I know Oliver’s a big boy and he ultimately chose to listen to her when he could’ve ignored her. But remember, her trump card was always ‘Slade has mirakuru. Mirakuru = crazy psychopath. Believe me, I know everything, for I am Sara the Saint’. (right, that last part was me)
I’m starting to wonder if maybe the writers are actually heading down a ‘Sara is not good for Oliver’ path… if they are, I’d be really impressed. I wonder if that’s how they’ll chose to end their relationship and not have it be a death for Oliver’s box of man pain.
I’m not sure…

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On March 9, 2014 at 12:19 pm Claire Rose said...

There is a really good thread going on over at Tumblr — I think I’ve seen the two post here before — but what is being discussed is that it isn’t so much that Shado was killed (yes, Slade loved her) but it has more to do with Oliver betraying and lying to Slade. One person pointed out that this stems from Slades friend Wintergreen betraying him and going to work for Fryers. Now this particular betrayal is just upped due to the Miracuru. BUT yes, it all began with SARA. When she first told Oliver not to tell Slade the truth, my immediate reaction was “WRONG! Do NOT listen to her!”

I have seen a lot of people saying that in this past episode that the present day scenes were their favorite, and while I do like them and love the tension, I think I prefer the island scenes. The reason being is that these showed there friendship. Even while hyped up on Mirakuru, the friendship between Slade and Oliver was real — I believed it when Slade said that they would leave the island as “brothers”. To watch their friendship dissolve was heartbreaking. When Oliver was trying to explain about Shado and and Slade said “it didn’t matter” or “I don’t care” (can’t remember which) — it wasn’t necessarily the act of killing Shado, as much as that hurt him, that set off Slade, but the fact that yet another brother in arms had betrayed him. His life was that of a soldier, those are the relationships that he holds dear and those betrayals cut deeper. Oliver going on his own instinct was going to tell Slade the truth, but he chose instead to listen to Sara.

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On March 9, 2014 at 1:30 pm Jenny said...

That’s an excellent point, especially about Oliver being the second betrayal.

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On March 9, 2014 at 1:53 pm Claire Rose said...

OMG! I just saw my typos! Ack! I get typos, I do, but my biggest pet peeve is THERE, THEIR and THEY’RE. And I know the deference. It kills me when my fingers don’t listen to my brain :sigh:

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On March 9, 2014 at 1:56 pm Jenny said...

And then auto-correct changed “difference” to “deference.” I hate auto-correct because it’s so often auto-incorrect.

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On March 9, 2014 at 4:51 am Sarah B said...

Oh, The Blacklist is my happy tv place right now! I remember being on Facebook with my friend as I watched the pilot and she found it hilarious as I kept writing to her in the ad breaks, saying things like ‘OMG! Holy Cow! Good grief!’ because it was a rollercoaster ride from start to finish and so much of it was unexpected. I love that Red is, morally, a VERY dubious man, but we root for him anyway. The episode where he kept killing those who had betrayed him, I realized I was cheering on someone who is basically a serial killer. But I love the originality of the show, I love the lack of a ‘will they, won’t they’ ‘ship to obsess about, and how the moral compass of the characters keeps shifting, so that you are always second guessing yourself. I have had more than one argument about whether Tom is evil or not. Even now, it could all change!

But I think my real pleasure is in watching James Spader’s utterly stupendous performance. He can do more with silence and just his eyes, than almost anyone else. Plus the way he uses his voice is a masterclass in subtly powerful acting. I have actually wanted to clap after certain scenes, and my husband is taken aback when he hears me shouting ‘yes!’ at the tv! It’s an absolute treat to see him convey such a huge range of emotion, which he can change in a split second. The part when he talks about how he found his dead wife and child, was so raw. And then, bam! He shows it was a con, to get the coordinates. Or was it? Perhaps the story is true, but he used what he had to, to get the job done. We, as viewers, feel like we’re on shifting sand, but in a good way, not in a ‘what the heck happened to my great show in the last 3 episodes?’ Arrow-ish way!

If the actor is good enough, and compelling enough, I think we will accept a lot, even if they have to sell us on the character doing something we don’t like. Sara is written poorly and inconsistently, and that isn’t helped by the acting. I think, at this point, I would forgive Red almost anything, and a great deal of that is the way James Sp is getting him across to me.

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On March 9, 2014 at 9:18 am Paula said...

Sarah, I feel the same way. Red can do whatever he wants, and I’ll still like him. I’ll still root for him. Sara on the other hand can do nothing to make me like her at this point. Part of it is the writing. We knew from the beginning who and what Red is. The surprises are in his actions, but his actions are always in character. And then there’s Spader. The man is an amazing actor. He just owns the screen.

Sara has the double whammy of being poorly written and badly acted, but then I’m not sure any actress could sell the story written for Sara.

Sara, I noticed those lines in Heir to the Demon at the time and thought, “where are they going with this?” Then a second before the lunge I thought…”oh crap, here’s where they were going.”

I get that the writer didn’t have time to set it up in that episode, but if this was the big plan, they had time in the season. If it was a sudden change in plan, they have had time the lunge to sell the relationship.

And I agree Sara is toxic. She’s shallow and doesn’t care about others. Compare her with Felicity. If Felicity had been the one on the island –based on her character until Clock King changed her into an insecure child — what do you thunk she would have done? My bet is she would have told Oliver that they needed to tel Slade the truth. And I suspect she would have said, “you didn’t chose me. You jumped in front of the gun that was pointed at me.”

I have never thought Ivo intended to kill Sara. I thought he was always going to kill Shado, and I don’t think it would have mattered if Oliver chose Shado. And I think Oliver’s an idiot for not seeing that. I think he’s also an idiot if he doesn’t realize that Sara was Ivo’s bedmate on the Amazo. But then I think Oliver’s an idiot.

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On March 9, 2014 at 12:45 pm Chris said...

The timing on the writing is wacky.

If I recall correctly, Heir to the Demon was filmed back in December, so it must have been written back in November. This is about when the show was getting a lot of positive feedback from fans and critics about Sara’s first appearance, so I can see that a quick executive decision would have been made to say, ok fans like her, she’s our Black Canary, hook them up.

But this also would have been planned/written before Keep Your Enemies Closer and State vs. Queen – aired – the two episodes seemed to move Felicity/Oliver from innuendo to canon. And therefore before Felicity/Oliver moved to the top of various “Best TV couples” in December.

Many of the pro Felicity/Oliver interviews would have been done in early/mid November and then aired later. Quite a bit of this would have been fan manipulation – I know that shows often tell reporters what questions they want reporters to ask during these puff piece interviews – and the writers knew Felicity/Oliver is/was a popular ship. But they also would have been written before Heir to the Demon was finalized.

Then comes a bit of a mess: Heir to the Demon gets filmed just as Oliver/Felicity hit those top ten lists. Whoops!

So.

Problem one: Sara is not the typical Perfect Romantic Rival (i.e., the character who arrives from nowhere, has no connection to the other characters, and seems perfect on paper for the romantic lead, and is clearly set up to leave after delaying the main pairing). She’s integral to the mythology of the show, since her decision to sleep with Oliver helped start this whole mess, and she’s tightly connected to two of the show’s other leads.

Thus, if the show does give Oliver/Sara the romantic buildup/dialogue that’s needed to make this ship believable, the problem is that it will be believed. And I’m pretty sure that for whatever reason – the show plans to kill off Sara or send her back to the LOA, the show plans to have Felicity/Oliver as endgame, the show thinks that Oliver should never be in a permanent relationship – the show doesn’t actually want us to believe that Oliver and Sara are the long term, permanent pairing. The current relationship, sure, but not beyond that. And that, combined with outside factors, quite possibly explains some of the writing issues for this ship.

Lesson learned: action adventure shows probably shouldn’t try to play or deal with three romantic relationships at once. One, maybe two, but that’s it.

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On March 9, 2014 at 1:02 pm Abby said...

“If I recall correctly, Heir to the Demon was filmed back in December, so it must have been written back in November. This is about when the show was getting a lot of positive feedback from fans and critics about Sara’s first appearance, so I can see that a quick executive decision would have been made to say, ok fans like her, she’s our Black Canary, hook them up.” – Chris

I was thinking about this too. They’re currently filming episode 20, which means they’re roughly five episodes ahead of what is currently airing. Using that as a guide, they would have been filming episode 10 (Blast Radius) by the time League of Assassins aired, which was the first real Sara-centric episode and received a lot of positive acclaim from both the critics and the fans.

If they made the decision to capitalize on that positive feedback and incorporate Sara/BC into the show at that point, it would make sense why things suddenly started to go off track from episode 11 (Blind Spot) onwards.. because, let’s not forget, that was the episode where Sara’s history started to be retconned when she told Oliver, on the island, that she had a crush on him first and Laurel thwarted her attempts to get close to Oliver by calling the cops on Tommy’s party. From that point on, the writing started to shift towards painting Sara in a more sympathetic light and making Laurel out to be the bitchy sister who was so completely naive about Oliver.

You know, it’s both funny and sad at the same time that we, as viewers, can clearly pinpoint when and why things started to go downhill, yet the writers are still completely clueless.

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On March 9, 2014 at 1:39 pm TK said...

These calculations of when the episode was written vs. what episodes were airing are making me think the success of those first 6-8 episodes went to the writers’ heads. And they SERIOUSLY miscalculated how much the audience was liking Sara vs. how much that exact same audience would resent the hell out if the show for disrupting Team Arrow, and reducing the amount of airtime and development Diggle and Felicity — BY FAR the favorite characters — ended up getting after episodes 8 and 9.

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On March 9, 2014 at 1:44 pm Chris said...

And what’s interesting is that a lot of the positive fan/critical response to Sara seemed to be because a) she was so deeply flawed, and b) finally, there seemed to be a woman on the show who was completely over Oliver Queen and not thinking about hooking up with him.

To the point where when Amell announced that a relationship was coming with someone who was not Laurel who had previously been on the show, most viewers immediately thought “Isobel,” since the interest was there, with a very few people thinking “Felicity” – most people assumed, correctly, that the show wouldn’t be going there yet, a few people arguing for Sara/Oliver back on the island, and a couple of people suggesting Amanda Waller or even Sin (I think at the time we thought Sin was 18, not 17 as she apparently is.) I saw one person suggest Sara, only to be told that Sara was in the same “not yet” category as Felicity, because the show had done such a good job of presenting Sara as an emotionally broken heroine with no interest in Oliver.

When Amanda Waller, who, if I recall correctly, has not yet even been on screen with Oliver, is taken as a more viable ship than the one you choose to go with, and when viewers are rejecting your ship even before it’s on screen, I think you have a problem.

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On March 9, 2014 at 1:45 pm Jenny said...

I’m not sure I’d say “clueless,” but “mistaken” works. You have to be so careful in the way you take feedback as a writer. “I like this character” means nothing until you understand WHY your critic liked that character. Take Felicity and her babbling, which was charming,and that the writers turned into the Double Entendre of the Week, which was not charming. People liked her awkwardness in a cast full of Smooth People, her unspoken admiration of Oliver’s physical presence was fun because again it was completely within the realm of what a real person would do–whatever else you say about Oliver, he’s a Hot Boss–and her confident competence was really attractive. And now they’ve kneecapped her confidence while making her smoother and sexier and made her bitchy; they’ve made her Laurel, who at least isn’t that anymore. Somebody on this show has a really warped idea of what a good woman is.

I think the show feedback was about the Black Canary, not Sara, and the Black Canary is still terrific. But Sara was a nightmare to make sympathetic before they retconned her; now she’s just toxic. You can’t just say, “People like this character so we’re going to bring her to the forefront of the story.” You have to say, “People like this character because of THIS” and give that aspect more page time.

If there’s one big writing lesson to take away from Arrow, it’s “Be Careful of Your Backstory.” If they hadn’t gone for that toxic “I sleep with sisters” backstory, they wouldn’t be having the problems they’re having now because they can’t escape it.

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On March 9, 2014 at 1:35 pm Jenny said...

I don’t think any show should deal with three romantic possibilities for one character unless the character is evil or comic relief. It just says such lousy things about the character, especially if he’s sleeping with one of them.

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On March 9, 2014 at 1:22 pm Jenny said...

The Blacklist does everything well, but there are a couple of things about the writing there that are just masterful.

One of them is that they’ve kept two background mysteries going the whole season–Is Lizzie Red’s daughter? Is Tom evil?–without ever letting any of them get in the way of the main blacklister-of-the-week. Most of the time, those ongoing subplots dovetail in some way with the investigation or echo it (all the adoption angst Lizzie and Tom were going through when Lizzie was bringing down the adoption ring, for example)but you never get frustrated not knowing the answers because the episodes always have closure.

Another thing is the way you never know what’s going to happen. There has always been a moment in every episode when I’ve sat up and said, “WHAT?” and it’s never been anything that really came out of left field once I’ve looked at it. I think some of that comes from Red: at some point in his past he just went off the rails and he stayed off. I think the story he told was real, he just used it for the con. But I still don’t know if Lizzie is his daughter, and I don’t think it matters because even if she isn’t, he’s protecting and supporting her like the Best Father Ever, even while he kills everything in her and his path.

The easy, low-key way he said, “A war is coming,” was chilling though. I love the understated way they’re building to the season finale. Something very bad is going to happen then, and the scripts have made it clear without ever mentioning it until Red said that. There are no anvils in the storytelling on The Blacklist, they just slide in the knife.

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On March 9, 2014 at 2:01 pm Sara said...

Okay…I’m convinced. I’m going to try The Blacklist. I was going to try Person of Interest after Leverage, but then–The Blacklist has James Spader and that bumps him to the top of Must Watch TV Viewing. I also intend to try Almost Human because I love Karl Urban. Any chance anyone here has seen it and has good things to say? I trust this forum WAY more than professional TV reviewers who had raving comments about The Promise.

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On March 9, 2014 at 2:05 pm Jenny said...

The Blacklist is a good one to start on because this is its first season and it’s already been renewed. Actually it’s bullet-proof at this point; I think it’s the most popular new show of the season and I’m pretty sure it’s close to the top of all shows in general. You can catch up with the whole season fairly quickly.

Person of Interest is in its third season, and while you can watch any episode and get a good story, the arc of that show over three seasons is phenomenal so that’s one you really do want to watch in order if you can. If I decide to keep doing TV Sundays, that may be the next one.

Almost Human: GREAT stars in Urban and Ealy, terrible scripts and some of the worst world-building I’ve ever seen. I love those actors but they’re trapped by very bad writing.

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On March 9, 2014 at 10:41 am Claire Rose said...

Someone on Tumblr posted the Make it Rain chapter 20 edition of Arrow that AK & MG wrote. There is a lot of Felicity in there and it was pretty good! I liked it. I have looked at other editions in the past, but the ones I’ve seen never had Felicity and I honestly was like ‘meh’ while reading. Interesting. Even in the comics she makes Oliver more likable.

Here is the link:
http://arrowcomic.tumblr.com/post/79055879774/arrow-the-comic-020-make-it-rain-p-1

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On March 9, 2014 at 10:57 am Paula said...

Yep. And that comic was more interesting than the last two episodes of Arrow.

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On March 9, 2014 at 11:35 am Claire Rose said...

Ding ding ding! EXACTLY! I was like WOW, I’ve had my Arrow and Felicity hit that I’ve been missing the past few weeks! There they are! Their whole interaction was fantastic — “I told you, I’m NOT Robin Hood!” LOL Something started smoking something, because it went off the rails somewhere.

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On March 9, 2014 at 11:26 am Abby said...

The fact that they managed to write an entire chapter of the comic with just Oliver and Felicity chasing the bad guy and still incorporate everything that makes it quintessential “Arrow” while keeping them both in character is even more proof of why Oliver and Felicity are a far better crime fighting team than him and Sara. They balance each other out both in terms of skills and personality.

Honestly, I’d happily watch a show with just the two of them trying to save the city, even if there wasn’t the slightest hint of romance between them. They just work as a team.

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On March 9, 2014 at 1:05 pm Teslin said...

Thanks for posting that, Claire Rose. I agree-Felicity and Oliver are great here and it shows the power of that dynamic. If only we could see it back on the screen.

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On March 9, 2014 at 1:24 pm Abby said...

“This is in response to both Abby and Sarah, because I see what Abby is saying and that is my true hope in this. Andrew Kreisbrrg called her ‘the rock’ after all. But then like Sarah, I look at the past two episodes and I have doubts. Are these red herrings and they are trying to make us feel that in Oliver’s eyes she’s not the important to this story, but in the end she actually is? What I do know is that at one time I had faith in the writers and the show, but right now, not so much. After what they’ve done to Felicity in the past two shows, they need to earn my trust back.” – Claire Rose

From everything we’ve heard about the upcoming story, what I can see happening is Oliver focusing on keeping his family safe, including Sara and Laurel, because of Slade’s threat, not thinking that Felicity would be in any real danger since (1) Slade doesn’t know about her as far as Oliver is aware, (2) to the outside world, she’s nothing more than Oliver’s EA, and (3) she’s usually tucked safely away in the Arrow cave rather than out in the field with them.

When Kreisberg referred to Felicity as “the rock” .. my first thought wasn’t “Oh, she’s going to hold Oliver and the team together.” It was “Oh, something is going to happen to her, and they will be forced to do battle without her.”

I just have a feeling that since she’s the least likely suspect to end up in danger, she’s going to be one in the greatest danger at the end, especially once Slade becomes aware of who she really is as far as Oliver’s “team” is concerned. He knows about Sara, Roy, and Diggle, but not Felicity. Also, if she turns out to be Ivo’s daughter, which they seem to be hinting at, then it puts her in twice as much danger since Ivo killed Shado and Slade’s going after everyone who has anything to do with her death.

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On March 9, 2014 at 2:06 pm Sarah said...

Jenny, you’re right. I don’t think the writers and producers had a clear idea of ‘why’ the audience liked certain characters.
I think they also made this mistake when they couldn’t seem to understand why the audience liked the Oliver-Felicity interactions and wanted more of them together. (And with her convenient crush, together meant romantic, not platonic). But they didn’t put together the fact that Oliver was vastly more likeable when he was with Diggle and Felicity. That made us root for him all the more.
I think they figured that giving us a more Felicity-centered episode in the Clock King would even out the ruffled feathers because, hey! The audience likes Felicity, give them more and we can have Arrow & Canary together.
Only they butchered the whole execution because they failed to see that it was Felicity’s strength despite her many vulnerabilities was what we liked about her, that she stood up to Oliver. This is the characteristic that was sadly lacking in the last episode as she was effectively cowering behind him the whole time.

Jenny, I think that was the most accurate definition of why the writers are making mistakes. They’re misjudging the values we like in our characters, they never took the time to understand what it was about that we liked and now… they’re failing.

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On March 9, 2014 at 2:04 pm Chris said...

TK, the calculations of when you get a response, when you do your writing, when you film and when you air have also got to be giving the writers fits right now. Because right now, it’s hard to tell what caused the recent low ratings: the island back story (either lack of interest from viewers or no need to see it live), negative reactions to the previous episode or recent storylines, or the NCAA, or some combination of all of the above or other factors. If it’s just the NCAA, then no need to change anything. If it’s the other two, then, yes, changes are needed – but I think it’s difficult to answer that question until ratings for Suicide Squad and Birds of Prey come out, which will give a better indication of whether it’s the whole show (if ratings for both are low) or a reaction to the Lance sisters (if Suicide Squad goes up, and Birds of Prey goes down). Unfortunately for the writers, by the time they get those ratings, the last episodes will probably be filmed and in post-production.

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On March 9, 2014 at 2:16 pm Sarah said...

Chris, somehow I think the Suicide Squad will be better rated. Mostly because of Diggle’s involvement and the fact that we’ve sorely missed him, I think that’ll be enough to get some people back. Because, despite the Super Sara show and the Felicity thing as of late, everyone (at least I think) still loves Dig. So this next episode should be good, as long as they don’t screw up anything else in the process.
And having the Huntress up against the Canary might be enough to draw people back for Birds of Prey… but I’m hoping for a success for the Huntress to take down Canary, but that’s unlikely, so… maybe Birds of Prey will be when everyone turns away. Especially since it goes back to focusing on the Sisters Lance.

At this point, I’m mostly objectively curious as to where they end up. Just to look at the finale and try to track back their motivations for having certain things happen. I think that’s the only we’ll finally understand what they’re doing now.
Unfortunately, that binge-watching strategy does not bode well for their ratings, and it won’t change the fact that people are tuning out now.

I still hold that the ‘series low’ fact on it’s own is jarring enough. They must know something is wrong. Especially because this low comes on the heels of a major change in their storyline, not just as a casual occurrence. I think that’s pretty clear.

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On March 9, 2014 at 2:20 pm TK said...

Yeah, I agree. I’m very curious about the Live +7 ratings for The Promise, because that’ll at least give us an answer as to whether the preemption in the basketball markets was the only factor in the low ratings. But sure, it’s the next two episodes that will give us a better answer if they’re leaking viewers or not.

It’s funny [well, actually sad] that all this mess seems to come out of the honeymoon period they had with the audience and media late last year, when the only criticism they were getting was that Laurel’s storyline wasn’t working while everything else was running smoothly. And in trying to fix Laurel, they bumped up Sara-as-Black Canary [maybe even to draw attention away from Laurel?] to this point where she’s now involved in all of the plots, and in the process they made a mess of the entire show. These dudes really have trouble writing women well, that’s for sure.

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On March 9, 2014 at 2:33 pm Sarah said...

TK, you’re right. After all the (universal) criticism of Laurel’s character having no direction the beginning of year, they seem to have swapped out Laurel for Sara because, hell, the Lance sisters are interchangeable, everyone knows that, even Oliver agrees.

They just didn’t realize that changing names didn’t matter. Sara’s ending up to be worse than Laurel. Selfish, careless of the destruction she’s leaving in her wake (island and present time).

I think Sara hijacking the show is what caused the ratings drop, but like you guys said, we’ll have to wait for the next 2 episodes to see more clearly. (Though I anticipate a bump because of Dig, I hope they don’t interpret it as – oh, looks like there’s no problem, proceed with everything as planned)

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On March 9, 2014 at 2:54 pm TK said...

Laurel was terribly written, sure, but for me she was just waste of space — I didn’t care for her storyline [frankly, I still don't], but I could easily fast forward all her scenes because they weren’t really connected to Team Arrow. Sara is IN Team Arrow, she’s in the A plot every week now, and in the island flashbacks, and EVERYWHERE, so it’s not like I can ignore her like I do with Laurel.

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On March 9, 2014 at 2:57 pm Sarah said...

Ah, that’s why people are now turning away from the show altogether, because you can no longer avoid Sara – she’s everywhere!

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On March 9, 2014 at 3:04 pm Claire Rose said...

I can’t speak for the entire fandom, but I can speak for my household. I can tell you that after Heir to the Demon, my husband was like WTF? You have to understand, my husband IS the casual viewer. We don’t discuss the show — he knows I REALLY like it, but we don’t discuss anything having to do with it, and he reads nothing on entertainment.

So when Time of Death aired he was expecting something to be resolved or “shown” to explain the end of the previous episode. That didn’t happen and instead we got more Lance drama and the fact that Felicity had told him about Thea? Nada. He didn’t like what they did to Felicity in the episode at all. How did I know this? He looked at me and was like “I’m going to the kitchen”. LOL He was done. He had seen the previews, he was looking forward to the Clock King. He didn’t stick around to SEE the Clock King.

People say the Olympics blah blah blah, but there was already one episode before the Promise. I think it was a culmination of 13 ending in a lunge and 14 totally regressing everything and leaving Felicity out to dry. That’s my opinion. For the record, I watched The Promise alone. :( He said “let me know if the show gets better” and pulled out his laptop to work on spreadsheets LOL

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On March 9, 2014 at 3:16 pm Jenny said...

This is what I was wondering. We’re not exactly a group of average viewers here because we’re dissecting the show to figure out what the writers are doing instead of saying, “Sara’s an AWFUL human being,” so I’m really curious about what the people who just watch the show the way it’s supposed to be watched are thinking. We’re so far into the subtext now, we’re cave dwellers; what’s happening up on the surface?

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On March 9, 2014 at 3:24 pm Sara said...

That’s funny, because my husband is also the casual viewer. He tuned in for all of Time of Death, but on the night The Promise was on, he opted to spend an extra half hour reading The Berenstein Bears and Dr. Seuss to the kids. Now, my husband is the kind of guy who asks “is it bedtime yet?” beginning around 6:30, so for him to choose story time over Arrow, that says a lot. He also showed up with his laptop, but I can’t fault him on that–I had my laptop out too and was working on lessons plans…I must have looked up a handful of times. I really only tuned in because of the blog, and in case I missed anything that would make it hard to follow The Suicide Squad episode.

My husband’s casual viewer response: “Who are all these people and why do I care about them? There are too many people on this show.”

In contrast, he used to say he didn’t like Leverage, but EVERY TIME I have it on, he stops what he’s doing and tunes in. I’m pretty sure he’ll love The Blacklist since he’s also a James Spader fan.

On a completely different note, I just read a review of the Veronica Mars movie that said James Franco was unnecessary. Um, it’s James Franco! Isn’t he the definition of necessary?

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On March 9, 2014 at 3:26 pm Sarah said...

I’m so glad you outlined in the clearest way. The writers really did leave half of their storylines hanging. In that last scene in ‘Heir’, I was fully expecting Felicity to go to Oliver in the foundry and talk to him about Malcolm, and help him come to terms with it. That would’ve been the perfect closure to the issue.
Instead, it was completely forgotten about. In fact, I half expected Felicity to face him and say, outright, ‘Are you avoiding me because I told you about Thea?’
They left too much unexplained and too much forgotten for the viewers to follow like a coherent crowd. You lose people when you’re doing things they can’t possibly find an explanation to.

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On March 9, 2014 at 11:17 pm Christie said...

My best friend has a casual interest in the superhero genre. She’s a massive “Melissa & Joey” fan. However, I somehow convinced her to watch a few “Arrow” episodes with me. She only likes scenes involving the original Team Arrow, Oliver/Felicity, she loves Moira, and a few action scenes here and there. She can’t stand the Lance sisters and thinks the actresses who play them are very weak. She also thinks Sara is dragging the show down. I didn’t show my friend anything from the last episode because she has blatantly told me if the episodes don’t feature Oliver, Diggle and Felicity she doesn’t want to watch.

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On March 9, 2014 at 3:10 pm Jenny said...

That’s one of the reasons that one of the critique questions for my students is always “What must be kept.” When I was doing my MFA, we workshopped a story that had some problems but that had some wonderful moments. Of course, we concentrated on the problems, and when she brought back the revision, all the wonderful moments had been cut. You have to be specific when you’re telling a writer what works, to those things will get shifted in the revision. I think the show runners here knew what had to be changed, they just didn’t understand what had to be kept.

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On March 9, 2014 at 3:28 pm Paula said...

My friends who watch are very anti-Sara. While they don’t specifically talk about the writing the way we do here, they don’t like how the story changed in midstream. They also talk about what a bad actress Caity Lotz is. When she first appeared, they didn’t have much to say. Now when they watch, I get text after text that says the same thing, “I hate Sara.” I know there are people who like Sara, but I don’t personally know any.

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On March 9, 2014 at 2:54 pm Anna said...

Sarah said: “Jenny, I think that was the most accurate definition of why the writers are making mistakes. They’re misjudging the values we like in our characters, they never took the time to understand what it was about that we liked and now… they’re failing.”

This is it exactly, I think. I’ve now watched the latest episode and read the vast majority of reactions to it here. This episode just reinforced to me again that I’m not that vested in the Oliver Queen of the Arrow-verse. He was only likable to me because of his relationships with Diggle, Thea and Felicity. Those have been completely undermined by the sidelining of Diggle and Thea and the infantilization of Felicity.

I’m still routing for Slade and the Huntress to inflict serious amounts of pain to Oliver and Sara, and I hope – though it won’t happen with these writers – that Laurel and Felicity clearly and with finality close to door to any romantic interest in him.

The characterization of most of the women on this show has become an issue, but Oliver is the biggest problem of all. I’m not remotely charmed by him any longer (not sure if I really ever was)…let alone his abs. It’s not fair perhaps to compare Arrow’s Oliver to Smallville’s; different canvas and universe. But I always thought that regardless of the interpretation, there was supposed to be an element of charm and vulnerability to the guy that couldn’t be suppressed. Smallville’s Oliver had that – even when he was a royal screw up and no matter if he was with Lois, Tess or Chloe…or no woman at all. Arrow’s Oliver is an arrogant, sanctimonious, hypocritical, entitled douche 99 per cent of the time.

I would use the same adjectives to describe Super Sara the Usurper. As many have noted Caity Lotz brings great physicality to the action scenes, but she has nowhere the emotional range or screen presence of any of the other women. She mumbles and can’t sell this toxic romance or any other kind I suspect. Super Sara wreaks of entitlement since Heir to the Demon; most evidently in scenes with Diggle, Felicity and Laurel. It’s ugly. I can’t remember the last time I wanted a character killed off as much.

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On March 9, 2014 at 3:14 pm TK said...

One thing Smallville did right with Oliver is that when he screwed up — and boy, did he screw up a lot for awhile there — the show itself was aware that he was being a jerk, or doing something stupid. And yeah, he had that vulnerability in the self-deprecating humor, in the fact that he felt inferior being the only human in a gang of super-powered heroes, and even when he started to fall for Chloe while she was so completely closed off emotionally made you root for the guy because he wore his heart on his sleeve.

Arrow’s Oliver only shows real vulnerability when he’s with people who know his secret, and even then, he’s still hiding so much crap from Diggle and Felicity, it makes him stand-off-ish. So he’s hiding things from his most trusted allies, and he’s identity from eveyone else — he’s never being completely honest with anyone. So yeah, it’s hard to see past his hipocrisy.

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On March 9, 2014 at 3:37 pm Anna said...

Oops, typo again in post above – should read “rooting” instead of “routing”.

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On March 9, 2014 at 3:30 pm Sara said...

“Sara’s an AWFUL human being,”

-I think a lot of people like her a lot more than Laurel, unfortunately. I have read negative reviews about Caity Lotz’s acting, but all good things about her action scenes. There is a lot of chatter out there asking when the show is going to focus on the original Team Arrow.

To a casual viewer like my husband, Arrow has too much going on and too many characters. That’s his input. He’s now uninterested because he can’t follow the subplots, and he isn’t invested in the new characters (Sara and Roy). He says he could like Roy because it’s an interesting dynamic–Oliver as a mentor/father to his sidekick, but he doesn’t understand why he’s supposed to be invested in Sara. I read some reviews and comment sections of certain sites (tvline), but I’m off the fan boards so I can’t respond to what the chatter is on there.

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On March 9, 2014 at 6:22 pm Claire Rose said...

Your husband and my husband would get along great! I think that was his biggest problem — too much going on and not enough resolution. “Why are they having a party? “am I supposed to care about Sara?” The best one was “Why the HELL is he calling Laurel to come to the party? This is stupid, what happened?” He (WE) LOVES Blacklist — nice and stream lined.

This is the guy though that bought the first four episodes of S2 on iTunes so he could catch up. He NEVER buys TV shows. He liked the show pretty consistently before this mess.

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On March 9, 2014 at 9:47 pm Julie H. said...

It’s funny. One of the things I love most about Arrow is that it blazes through story super fast. It’s awesome, it’s fast paced, it keeps things from dragging. Then on the other hand, that same lightning fast pace sometimes feels like it keep them from adding in the emotional aftermath/fallout needed to wind down that action before launching off in another direction.

I’d realized that the show kind of avoided that “wrap up” feel early in season 1. I distinctly remember thinking, “Ah, okay, they don’t do the follow up thing on this show” at the end of Dodger (the ep with the jewel thief that put the bomb collar around Felicity’s neck). I think as issues become more complex, as the relationship drama builds, and you need those “emotional follow up” moments, you really start to see the lack of them as serious blows to the kneecaps. It’s always been a problem but now it’s becoming more obvious because, imo, the emotional relationships have taken more center stage the last few eps, thus the lack of follow up has as well.

And I agree, too, that sometimes Arrow feels too crowded. There are SO many people coming and going on this show and I really wanted to spend Season 2 with the core characters and getting to know more about them. So when they spend all this time dragging through new villains, new side characters, building to launch other series, etc., etc,. it feels like the core people are being edged aside in their own stories.

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On March 9, 2014 at 4:22 pm Teslin said...

As to the general fan view-I only check a few boards. Most of the feedback on Sara is positive-mainly having to do with the fact that the character is best suited to BC because she has spent years training with the LOA, plus she has been through more than Laurel with her time on the Amazo and Island. (their view) The fact that Caity Lotz can do many of her own stunts is another plus for these fans. I’ve sen a lot of posts that say CL needs to stay the BC and Laurel needs to go in another direction, don’t kill off Sara, if Sara is killed off they are done with the show. However, after the Promise I have seen a few posts from fans about too much Sara, they need to scale it back a bit.

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On March 9, 2014 at 4:26 pm Jenny said...

I think she works beautifully as Black Canary, in part because she’s so focused and emotionless, I really buy her as a lethal force.

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On March 9, 2014 at 6:18 pm Sarah said...

That’s it perfectly, Jenny. Lotz as Canary when she’s emotionless and lethal is great.
But I think it’s the writers insistence that the acceptance of the audience of this part of her character means that we’ll accept any iteration of her in any place in the show.

Same thing with what they did with Felicity. The audience liked her strength and confidence, but the writers were wrong when they thought ‘any kind of Felicity will do, just throw more on there’. I think the only thing that saved that entire episode (14) was the fact that Felicity succeeded in the end. That just meant that all the suffering we endured was worth it, but I’d rather not see that again.

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On March 9, 2014 at 5:44 pm Anna said...

I’ve just roamed fan boards and there are plenty of people who believe it’s become the Sara show, think the actor is lousy when out of the action stuff, and that the current iteration of Sara is an awful person. If anything, sentiment has turned a bit in favour of Laurel, though most now don’t want “Oliver’s magical penis” anywhere near her either. In my Internet travels this aft I came across “An Oliver Queen Hate Blog”, which seems for a bit was called “A Sara Lance Hate Blog” but the owner states he or she decided to rename it back and is up front about still intensely disliking Sara, including recommending hastags such as *KillAllSaraLances* (I that’s because she has become a Mary Sue). Regardless, many of the posts and retweets of Sara dislike on that site echo criticisms of the character that have also been voiced here.

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On March 9, 2014 at 5:57 pm Anna said...

Another oops – comment in brackets above should read “(I wonder if that’s because she [Sara] has become a Mary Sue)”.

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On March 9, 2014 at 6:14 pm TK said...

I’m assuming you’re reading Tumblr because I think I recognize that blog. I read Tumblr’s Arrow related tags, and yes, there are A LOT of frustrated fans there, but for me, the most telling fan reactions are the people in Marc Guggenheim’s Twitter mentions [i.e. the fans talking to him directly on Twitter]. There’s always been a few loud criticizing fans there [especially Laurel/Katie Cassidy fans], but in the past few weeks, pretty much ALL he’s getting are complaints about Sara taking over the show. And it’s coming from all sides of fandom.

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On March 9, 2014 at 6:53 pm Anna said...

TK, yes, it’s mainly Tumblr sites that I roamed. I checked the show runners’ tweets; the main thing I noticed was that they seem to have become unusually quiet since March 5/6. There was a lot of talk about “game changing and best episode ever” prior to the ratings report.

It’s interesting that most of the Olicity fans still seem hopeful. My goggles, no doubt, but I interpret that as they want Felicity to get the so-called “hero” of the show. All I hope is that they soon go back to the writing the Felicity many fell in love with because I’m not liking her in the last two episodes. Her recent characterization makes be cringe and annoyed.

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On March 9, 2014 at 7:05 pm TK said...

Yup, I always get this feeling that people want Felicity and Oliver together because that’s what Felicity wants. People might be ‘shipping F/O, but the majority sure feels like they are Felicity fans first, ‘shippers second. At least that’s the vibe I get hanging out on Tumblr.

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On March 9, 2014 at 8:17 pm Abby said...

I’m one of those who started to favor Laurel over Sara in the recent weeks, and I didn’t care for the character one way or the other before.

If there’s one thing I absolutely loathe is feeling manipulated by the writers, and I think that’s exactly what they have been trying to do to the viewers given the heavy-handed writing they’ve been dishing out as far as both Lance sisters are concerned where we’re supposed to feel sorry for Sara and everything she’s been through while condemning Laurel for her behavior.

I refuse to drink that Kool-Aid. There’s never going to be a valid excuse for Sara betraying her sister and running off with her boyfriend. I don’t care how much hell she went through on that island or with the LoA; she doesn’t get a free pass for that, and it definitely doesn’t help her case that she came back home and jumped right back into Oliver’s bed without a second thought as to how it would affect her sister.

The more they try to shove Sara at me, the more I start rooting for Laurel to pull her life together and move on from both those selfish idiots because, despite all of her faults, Laurel didn’t deserve to be treated like that by two people who claim to love her.

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On March 9, 2014 at 8:21 pm Jenny said...

I could forgive her for what happened five years ago if she’d changed and said, “I’m sorry, I was selfish and stupid and too young to know it.” But she comes back, doesn’t apologize, does it AGAIN, and then flaunts it at the dinner party that was supposed to be the family coming back together? What in the HELL where the writers thinking?

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On March 9, 2014 at 8:54 pm Paula said...

They could have made this a good story. That would have been a start. Then organically incorporating her into the team. How about a conversation between Felicity and Sara where Felicity says something like, “I wish I were more like you, a fighter.” And Sara says, “You don’t want to be like me. I’ve been broken. I’ve hurt people. I’ve made horrible mistakes. I wish I were like you. Smart, kind, and full of hope.” Then they become friends without Oliver. In my version Oliver keeps his pants zipped and sees Sara as his reflection, his fighting partner – not the new love of his life. Sara remains an extended member of the team – not the inner circle. With that kind of introduction, we could have liked and accepted her.

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On March 9, 2014 at 9:02 pm Abby said...

They clearly weren’t thinking beyond “Green Arrow and Black Canary: Must. Make. It. Happen.”

What makes the whole Laurel/Oliver/Sara debacle even worse was that at the end of the day LAUREL was the one who ended up apologizing to Sara while Sara just stood there and *crickets*

Clearly these writers don’t understand women or they’d know that there’s no way in hell a woman who was betrayed by her sister and her boyfriend would ever be apologizing to either one of them, especially after finding out they’re hooking up again over dinner at her house. She’d most likely be out shopping for some firearms and working on an insanity plea.

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On March 9, 2014 at 9:41 pm Kate said...

I’m starting to lean toward this idea that Sara will bite it at the end of the season. I really thought they were going to kill off Laurel because Sara as BC was working out so well. That was, of course, before “Heir to the Demon.” But I can no longer find it in myself to care whether she dies or not now. Or care about the impact on Oliver. If they had just gone with what they’d already set up as Sara’s character throughout the first part of the season — a solid friendship, vigilante/vigilante working relationship with Oliver, atonement for her past — and never added the romantic twist, I would probably be gnashing my teeth, worrying about her now. But they not only retconned the Sara/Oliver story, they changed HER and removed her vulnerability.

If the writers shoehorned that romance plot in there just to make it more dramatic when (if) they kill Sara? I think I’ll be truly done with the show. Right now, I’m kinda watching with one eye shut.

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On March 9, 2014 at 9:52 pm Julie H. said...

Exactly that for me. I don’t get it. Look, I’m not Shakespeare. I’m no NY Times best seller. But even I knew that set up was just suicidal. Sometimes I really wish writers could get interviews and, in a no spin, no bs moment of truth, actually explain choices. Of course, come the end of the series, maybe we’ll all go Ooooh, so that’s what they were after!

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On March 9, 2014 at 10:09 pm Jenny said...

That happened on Angel, but by the time they explained, I was so fed up with them I didn’t care. It was that horrible, horrible season when they did the Beast and it took Cordelia’s body and mind so that she terrible things, but THEY DIDN’T TELL US, so from a viewer perspective, it just looked like they’d violated Cordelia’s character. I think they were thinking they’d have viewers gnashing their teeth and then when we saw the reveal, All Would Be Forgiven. It wasn’t. You can’t do that to readers; that whole Gotcha thing destroys a reader/viewer’s faith in the the authority in the story. It’s like pranking the reader, which is STUPID and people KEEP DOING IT.

And then you have The Blacklist where Liz has a perfect marriage with Crunchy Granola Tom, and Red comes in and says, “Don’t trust him, he’s not what you think,” and as a viewer, you don’t know except that Red is never wrong. And then when Tom finally shows that face of evil, it’s not a gotcha because they didn’t play footsie with the viewer, that promise was there all along. And we STILL don’t know if Tom loves Liz or not because hell, anybody would show the face of evil to Jolene. Damn, I love that show.

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On March 9, 2014 at 10:19 pm Julie H. said...

Ugh. The Cordelia mess. Yeah, that’s when I bailed on that show. I think if you’re gonna mess with viewers you at least need to give clues. Tip your hat at them to let them know you *know* they know something is off and they’re right.

I think some of the dissatisfaction and confusion and WTFing on Arrow right now is because so many things went offtrack with absolutely no indication that the show even thinks something played remotely odd to us. Add in interview comments, which I’m doing my best to ignore, and you get excuses about why it is supposed to make sense to you, excuses why explanation hasn’t shown up on the screen (gee, Oliver said he can’t be with anybody he cares about except this chick because she’s strong and he doesn’t have to worry about her safety until he does worry about her safety and the danger in the very next episode WHAT?!), etc, etc, etc, but we’re left looking at what’s actually on the screen, in the story, and it isn’t explained *there* where it actually counts.

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On March 9, 2014 at 10:29 pm Kimberly said...

How else were they going to get Laurel to storm out and have Oliver run after her to tell her he is tired of chasing her? Like you said, plot driven characters, with poorly developed plots. It seems to me as if the writers have these fragments of a story and are not doing the hard work of actually developing a clear path, link between them. Maybe 22 episodes really is too much which causes them to fill with junk. If you break the Lance family dinner debacle down it was – touching moment with Laurel and her father (we needed them to connect) – invite Oliver for trouble – get the trouble smoldering with the parents – Laurel feels badly for her dad because she knows how he feels – Sara doesn’t and supports her mom – but this will not cause Laurel to explode. So light the fire with a quick lovers glance between Oliver and Sara. Oliver must fuel the fire instead of beating it out so kaboom goes Laurel. Sara and Laurel could have started fighting over anything, but Lotz can’t act. But they character assassinate Oliver. Maybe they think he’ll survive because we will fear for him when Slade hits.

The next great arc (or maybe double arc? I’m not a TV writer) for Laurel is I hope, I pray, that Laurel kicks their asses. I hope it starts after Oliver realizes he wronged Laurel and tries to finally apologize. Then Laurel can say “you are too late. your timing was wrong this time.” Playing off the seriously cheesy line in the episode where they hook up – “your timing is just right” or something incredibly cheesy – I couldn’t watch it – and Tommy sees it in the window! Argh

I am hanging in with this show to see if the writers can possibly turn things around. Not saying much, because honestly, I’ve only seen it live on TV once and realized I had walked into the kitchen twice and missed some awful bits – the family dinner episode. I completely missed Laurel’s endless boat analogy speech. Or I started checking email or something.

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On March 9, 2014 at 10:39 pm Kimberly said...

ooops, hit submit and it was in the wrong place too, I think.

In any case, the contract with me was broken. I was watching for the billionaire vigilante with growing gadgets and expertise and ability to get others on his team. I was not watching for the drama-Queen.

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On March 9, 2014 at 6:37 pm Olivia said...

200 comments Jenny

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On March 9, 2014 at 7:01 pm Jenny said...

LOL. The blog breaking has made you wary, hasn’t it? People who weren’t here for the last big breakdown always think I’m being cute: “Oh, the blog breaks? Sure it does.” Then comes the silence.
But I really can’t see the number of comments from the dashboard, so thank you!
New craft post up tomorrow.

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On March 9, 2014 at 10:13 pm Olivia said...

You’re welcome.

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On March 9, 2014 at 9:39 pm Teslin said...

Another great post, Jenny. And more great comments. I’m learning a lot here (never heard about Mary Sue before). As regards Arrow, I don’t know if my dissatisfaction with the last few episodes stems from any broken story contract. When I starting watching Arrow I figured it would be a comic book action/adventure show with Arrow fighting the bad guys each week-and it pretty much has action each week. It’s been the extra things that I wasn’t expecting that made it so much more for me-the personal relationships, the character arcs/development, the related storylines building as threads came together. S2 seemed to be really building on the strong points of Team Arrow dynamic, and I loved the new direction of Det. Lance working with Team Arrow. The Oliver/Laurel story seemed to go on the backburner-which I approved of. Then everything started falling apart after the winter hiatus. I think the problem for me is like Sarah B said-I just don’t understand the direction the writers are going in and so I can’t get behind it. I’m not understanding the choices the writers are making because they seem counterintuitive to me. The Team Arrow dynamic is one of the best things about the show in my opinion and I believe that a majority of the fanbase would agree. There should be more of that going on, not less. Instead they sacrifice it for more Sara Lance focus-to what end? I don’t know. The writers admit the Laurel character is a problem and fans are negative toward her. So instead of giving her some vulnerability and building her up a little so fans can maybe connect with her character a little more before they tear it down with the “downward spiral” storyline, they just give us more of the same coldness fans didn’t like in the first place and make her even more unlikable in my opinion. How is this helping to get fans behind the character? I’m hoping that we may see some vulnerability in the character now that she has reached her “rock bottom”.

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On March 9, 2014 at 10:02 pm Julie H. said...

“It’s been the extra things that I wasn’t expecting that made it so much more for me-the personal relationships, the character arcs/development, the related storylines building as threads came together. S2 seemed to be really building on the strong points of Team Arrow dynamic, and I loved the new direction of Det. Lance working with Team Arrow. ”
- Teslin

I think it’s exactly that moment with every show you like. That moment where, for some weird reason, everything you like about the show, everything that works for you, everything that makes that show something you’re excited to tune in for every week vanishes. On most shows it happens gradually. A favorite character is killed off. A couple you like splits. A weird story twist damages how you see a character. A subplot is brought in (or brought back up) that you just don’t enjoy. Usually I think we can overlook when that “something” returns because the vast majority of the rest of that episode is good.

I think so many of us are having issues because Arrow did too many of those “somethings” all in one episode and all at the same time. They wrote one of my favorite characters in a way I didn’t like/understand (Felicity), they brought back all the qualities about a character I hated (Oliver), they brought focus back to a character I have no use for (Laurel), the put together a couple I don’t care about nor understand and who I think brings out the worst qualities in characters I liked and made them look back (Oliver and Sara), they leaned on a personal hot button for me (alcoholism), there was blatant hypocracy, nobody calling people on their idiotic behavior, and – worst of all, for me — established story stuff was turned on its ear in a contrary, unexplained way leaving me very very confused.

That’s a lot of things to overlook in one episode.

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On March 9, 2014 at 10:39 pm Julie H. said...

Okay, I touched base with a friend of mine whose husband loves Arrow and watches it to see what he thinks. He’s offline totally, never cares about interviews, promos, any of that stuff. He’s a big Katie Cassidy fan. Loved the show last time we talked about it several months ago.

Now? He’s not watching anymore. He doesn’t like “the new chick,” says she’s on too much, all the “good stuff” has been shoved to the background and now it’s “too much romance stuff.”

Another guy I know said it’s like watching 90210 now and not a “super hero” show. He’s actually switched to SHIELD.

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On March 9, 2014 at 11:10 pm Jenny said...

Wow. The big sell all year has been people comparing SHIELD to Arrow and going to Arrow because it’s a real comic book show.

You know what’s really killing it for me? Leverage. I have to watch the episodes again to track what they do with character, and even the ones that aren’t as strong are still strong. Then I watch The Blacklist and Person of Interest, and even though the shows aren’t the same genre, telling story is telling story, and Blacklist and PoI are nailing it, and Arrow is drowning. Story is story, if you get it right, it doesn’t matter what genre is it and if you get it wrong, you get it wrong regardless of any of the parsley you spread around it.

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On March 9, 2014 at 11:23 pm Julie H. said...

I know, you could have knocked me over with the feather when he brought up SHIELD because he was not a fan in the beginning of it (compared to Arrow). So now I’m looking at Shield thinking, maybe I should give that another look just to see.

Leverage is so good. There’s an ep on right now (the long way down job). I can’t watch that ep. It’s so good but I messy cry at the end of that every time when the wife gets her dead husband’s goodbye message because he knows he’s going to die. Kills me every time.

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On March 10, 2014 at 12:03 am Jenny said...

That one had so many of those. That discussion Parker and Eliot have when they find the body is terrific.

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On March 10, 2014 at 12:55 am Julie H. said...

I loved that Eliot/Parker conversation. Their relationship on that show is one of my favorites.

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On March 10, 2014 at 7:11 am Claire Rose said...

I actually hung on with shield (Joss Whedon fan) — skipped maybe a couple episodes — but I am kind of liking it now. Lol. I’ll see how well they can go on.

P.S. I remember the Cordelia debacle. Ugh! That was a nightmare year that a think I blocked from memory. Gag. The show was never the same and I know I didn’t watch as much.

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On March 9, 2014 at 11:25 pm Julie H. said...

Oops and I meant to add… I feel that way about Elementary. The stories are okay but the characters and the relationship between them (Holmes and Watson) is just freaking gorgeously written and so, so good. I rewatched Season 1 just for that the last few days. Even Season 2 is doing a great job with it. Still one of my favorite relationships on tv. Mentalist, meanwhile, continues to frost me with its lack of Jane/Lisbon. I don’t know what they’re deal is.

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On March 10, 2014 at 12:06 am Jenny said...

I gave up on The Mentalist after they took one episode’s worth of plot and stretched it to four for five in the capture of Red John (who I still maintain is Bradley Whitford) and then did the follow up episode showing absolutely nothing happening in Mexico.

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On March 10, 2014 at 12:49 am Julie H. said...

Yeah I’ve been hoping the new direction will take for me but it’s like they scraped off the original team (I know 2 of them have personal life stuff — babies and marriages) and shoved all these new people in but they’re boring and if I’m gonna watch them rework this at least rework it with Jane and Lisbon, not 90% new people and new people I don’t like.

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On March 9, 2014 at 11:58 pm Sara said...

I’m really disappointed in Arrow…but I think S.H.I.E.L.D. is the last show I’d turn to. I really tried with that one. I’m a HUGE Whedon fan. I stuck with him through Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dr. Horrible, heck even Dollhouse (which was both great and awful, depending on the episode you watch). I loved The Avengers, and I’ve always found Coulson to be so much fun as a character. I thought: “This is going to be GREAT.” Then I saw the first episode and I hated all the characters (except Coulson and Melinda May, and that’s because she just struck me as someone who could kick ass)…and I do mean HATED. I didn’t find the geeks charming, not even with the accent, and I couldn’t stand Skye…plus, now that I know about community in storytelling and TV tropes, I don’t see myself ever giving it another shot (unless this blog covers it, in which case…). I usually love the cast Whedon finds for his shows, but with this one? Meh. And then there’s the story…there IS a story, right? I never stuck around to find out.

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On March 10, 2014 at 12:10 am Jenny said...

I bailed, too. He’s exec producing, I think, but it’s his brother (in-law?) who’s doing the show running. I keep hearing it’s finally getting good, but unless they’ve tragically lost Skye in some permanent way, I’m not going back. I loved the Ward and May hook-up, though. That was a great non-relationship.

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On March 9, 2014 at 11:03 pm Anna said...

I forced myself to watch the entire last episode this moring. Could not stand the sight of Oliver or Sara. Felicity’s, “Please save Oliver”, made me want to throw something at the screen. As others have noted, there was nothing game changing about this episode. Game changing at the end of the season would be someone leaving Oliver beaten, bloody and broken to almost beyond repair. Then if they worked on rebuilding him to someone worth remotely cheering for…uhm maybe. Otherwise Diggle and all women walk deftly away from the the prick.

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On March 10, 2014 at 12:45 am Julie H. said...

It’s funny that as I watch Leverage and I see some of the things they have Parker doing/saying/experiencing as she changes reminds me of Felicity. I liked how, on Leverage, they gave Parker that defined place on the team — thief– but they also added in other skills like… she can draw (“I thought everybody could do that?”), she can clock things down to the second, she has a great habit of just “appearing” suddenly where she wasn’t before, she can steal cars….

It felt like Arrow was going to do something similar with Felicity. She’s great with computers and finding information, she can hack, she can count cards… I was looking forward to them developing skills for her to help take her out of the lair more and into the field.

I think what runs the risk of boring me the most on Arrow is that the people they do let out into the field together all pretty much serve the same function. Diggle, at least, has been shown to have sniper skills, so that sets him apart a bit. But everybody else seems interchangeable so does it matter if one of them isn’t there anymore? Cause the other is and can hit and punch and kick and hit and punch and kick. I just.. eh. I think maybe that’s why some kind of don’t like the expanding team. When it was Oliver/Felicity/Diggle they all had a role to play. It was bright and fun and colorful. Now it’s too much of the same and “the same” had edged out the “different” so now it’s.. beige.

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On March 10, 2014 at 1:37 am Sara said...

Julie, I visited your blog and read about your girl crush on Felicity. My girl crush is Parker. Felicity is a close second, though, but I am so in love with Parker.

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On March 10, 2014 at 11:42 am Julie H. said...

LOL! Thanks! I haven’t updated that thing in ages. Ugh. My creativity well has just been barren lately. And by ‘lately’ I mean waaaaay too long. :(

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On March 10, 2014 at 2:08 am Jenny said...

You know what established Parker right from the beginning (as much as I hate to admit it)? That one minute black and white flashback to Bunny and the house blowing up. Then they showed her jumping off a building and Eliot called her twenty pounds of crazy in a five pound bag (or something like that) and there was Parker. They built and layered her over five seasons, but you knew more about Parker in the first fifteen minute of the Leverage pilot than you do about Felicity after a season and a half of Arrow.

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On March 10, 2014 at 11:43 am Julie H. said...

Yep, that’s very very true, Jenny, you do. And I loved that childhood/bunny flashback. That was awesome.

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On March 10, 2014 at 8:39 am Paula said...

Anna – I like your style. I feel the same way. I was a fan of the slow burn between Felicity and Oliver. Now, I don’t even want Felicity working with Oliver. I’d prefer she get far, far away. She and Diggle can just move to Central City and help Barry. Let Oliver and Super Sara do everything in Starling City — after all, we know Sara is brilliant and can do everything. Why would they need help from Felicity and Diggle?

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On March 10, 2014 at 11:20 am Paula said...

The Roundtable wasn’t very excited by “The Promise” either.

http://www.tvfanatic.com/2014/03/arrow-round-table-the-promise/

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On March 10, 2014 at 11:45 am Julie H. said...

Oh they finally put one up for that? I’ve been waiting for that to see what they thought because I find them honest about the show. Not surprised they found it lackluster.

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On March 10, 2014 at 11:20 am Abby said...

“My friends who watch are very anti-Sara. While they don’t specifically talk about the writing the way we do here, they don’t like how the story changed in midstream. They also talk about what a bad actress Caity Lotz is. When she first appeared, they didn’t have much to say. Now when they watch, I get text after text that says the same thing, “I hate Sara.” I know there are people who like Sara, but I don’t personally know any.” – Paula

I think the Sara backlash is a natural response to viewers being force fed something we didn’t even ask for in the first place.

There was an interview with Marc Guggenheim where he was asked if he was surprised at how many people wanted Oliver and Felicity together, and his response made me laugh because he said that there were some people who wanted Oliver and Felicity together, some who wanted Oliver with Laurel, and some who thought that Barry and Felicity belonged together. Nowhere in there did he mention anybody wanting Oliver with Sara…

I’m just trying to figure out the writers’ thought process here. They know that the majority of fans want Oliver with Felicity or Laurel and that nobody was even thinking about Oliver and Sara hooking up because, let’s face it, who actually thought the writers were stupid enough to go down that road again so soon, if at all? So what do they do? They purposely retconned the characters’ history in an effort to put Oliver and Sara in a relationship and focus the majority of the airtime on them, pissing off two other fandoms in the process and even casual viewers who don’t have a dog in the ‘ship fight. From what angle did that seem like a good idea and how did they not realize that it was going to backfire on them?

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On March 10, 2014 at 11:35 am Claire Rose said...

Argh! I am so screwed. Do any of you watch Walking Dead? My husband and I both do — and can you believe my husband actually got online and READ AN ARTICLE specifically about the show the other day? THAT never happens.

My problem is this though. I don’t usually SHIP. There have been some here and there, probably the strongest one was Joey and Pacey, and even then I was like “whatever happens” because Joey was supposed to be with Dawson (side note: come to find out years later Greg Berlanti was involved with that one and made me pleasantly surprised with the ending! LOL ). But I digress. Back to the Walking Dead. I have NEVER shipped anyone — it’s the Zombie apocalypse, death and destruction EVERYWHERE. No one will ever be happy LOL

Then it happened. Last week they had the episode focus solely on two of the survivors who were separated from group. An unlikely pair, Daryl and Beth. Daryl has a troubled past and has always been closed off. He was the anti hero — started out the loner, but over time became respected, but still closed off. Then there is Beth, the daughter of beloved Hershel (who had just earlier been killed). He was the wise, moral compass of the group — former preacher turned farmer trying to keep his family alive. Through it all — death, destruction, father brutally murdered — Beth has remained a shining beacon. She still sees the good in people. Did I mention that Daryl’s weapon is a crossbow? :sob: Can you see where this is going?

So now you have these two paired trying to find the rest of their group and trying to survive. OMG it was such a beautiful episode! My husband and I are like jaws on the floor — never even fathomed any of this happening of a ZOMBIE show. And we’re both like “I like them!”

Then last nights episode, and Daryl’s walls continue to crumble and then they’re attacked and he tells her to run and they both escape and then SHE’S KIDNAPPED! We were like “NOOOOOO!!!!! Poor Daryl!!” It’s Oliver and Felicity!!

GREAT! I’ve got TWO brooding archers now and two rays of sunlight. This was NOT supposed to happen on Walking Dead! Gah! I’m tucking this bit of surprise away though, because it just can’t end well :sob: evil shows. Daryl and Beth have Zombie’s and hooligans to worry about, whereas Felicity and Oliver have the WRITERS! WHO WILL SURVIVE??!!

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On March 10, 2014 at 12:43 pm Chris said...

Speaking of juggling three romances at once for the show’s main protagonist – Once Upon a Time mostly managed to pull that off last night, by making it abundantly clear that Romantic Interest Three was only around for one episode – at least as a romantic interest. So it seems that the three romances at once thing can work IF it’s just for one episode. It also helped that at no point did the show suggest or even hint that Emma could be in love with all three, and made it clear, in script, that the writers are aware that Romance Two has a toxic background. (Which, given this show, may be swept under the rug, but at least it was acknowledged.) And Once Upon a Time also made it clear from the get-go that it would be focusing on finding True Love, so having half the episode focused on that (two of the other characters also started to find True Love last night) isn’t really surprising.

Regarding the fan boards – I haven’t been on that many of them, but my sense is that although Sara definitely has her fans, the more general sense is that viewers are less pro-Sara and more anti-letting Sara die to let Laurel take her place and very much anti the idea of having a second woman on the show die for plot purposes in one season.

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On March 10, 2014 at 1:08 pm Julie H. said...

This (the Sara/Laurel/Black Canary thing) is why I always thought it was a dangerous, dangerous idea to propose 2 people as the Black Canary. I’ve never cared about the Black Canary aspect of Arrow, and I still don’t, but it seemed super clear to me the flaw in this plan: What happens if Version 1 of the Black Canary is liked more than Version 2?

I get that the Black Canary name has passed on through various incarnations in the comics and all that but this isn’t a comic. It’s a TV show. If viewers like and accept one version, they’re going to be very angry when the version they like vanishes so that a character they don’t like as much and don’t feel is believable in the role, can take over. So no matter what the show does, they’re going to tick off and very probably lose a portion of their audience. But if they don’t pass the title on and do what they promised way back in season 1 – and repeatedly since then – you’re going to lose the fans who believed Black Canary was going to be Laurel’s story and now viewers everywhere (whether they cared about this or not) are going to wonder if they can trust the show runners because they lied. And if you try to pull a fast one and keep everybody, the show runs into the (already happening) problem of way too many romantic interests on the show turning everything in a soap opera so the action takes a backseat to the emotional drama, which loses you the viewers who tuned in to a comic book/super hero show, not 90210 in tights & a mask.

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On March 10, 2014 at 1:11 pm Jenny said...

I like the point Chris brought up about not fridging two women in one season. That’s something a lot of women readers of comics are super-sensitive to.

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On March 10, 2014 at 1:13 pm Jenny said...

The blog, she will break. Comments closed. Hijack another thread, please. Try “What Must Be Kept.” You can talk about what they should have kept in Arrow as they rebooted the series.

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