ARROW Roundtable: Season 4 In Review and Looking Ahead to Season 5

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ARROW ended season 4 on a very bittersweet note and left fans around the world with endless questions. Team Arrow is basically no more, with only Oliver and Felicity still standing; Dig is drowning in guilt for everything he has done – including killing his brother and, inadvertently contributing to Laurel’s death; Thea asked for some time off to reassess her life choices and Oliver is now mayor of Star City.

So much has happened and I am sure we are going to deal with the fallout of it all when we start season 5. With San Diego Comic-Con right around the corner, I got some friends and fellow ARROW fans to discuss what happened in season 4. It is time for us to look back and talk about what worked and what didn’t, so we can get some answers from The Powers That Be and the cast in San Diego this weekend.

They got together. They got engaged. Oliver was an idiot. They broke up. What are your thoughts on Olicity this season and what do you expect for them in season 5?

Luciana Mangas: I was so, so excited about Olicity when season 4 started. They had so much potential – what with the sizzling chemistry between Emily Bett Rickards and Stephen Amell – and they did alright for the first few episodes of the season. It was the honeymoon phase. We were just as in love with them as they were with one another, and things were pretty fantastic for the first seven episodes.

And then that godforsaken crossover happened.

There were so many things that didn’t work with that episode and we will get to them in a minute, but this was the moment where we all knew Olicity was doomed. And I understand that it’s a drama show and that they just couldn’t let Oliver and Felicity just be together and not add unnecessary melodrama to their story, but they did it in the worst possible way.

The problem wasn’t even that they introduced the plot line that Oliver was a father. No, the problem here was that they had Oliver do a complete reversal to season 1!Oliver and erased all that amazing growth and development that they had built over the course of the other three seasons. The fact that he didn’t tell Felicity right away about his son was the proverbial nail in the coffin and we were all just waiting for it all to crash and burn. And then he went ahead and proposed to her, while keeping something major about his life a secret, and if Dahrk hadn’t kidnapped William when he did, he wouldn’t even have told her.

So now we have two amazing characters and a fractured relationship. I can only hope that – in the wake of Laurel’s unexpected death – they can find the strength to pick up the pieces and build themselves back up and find their way back to each other.

Shana Lieberman: Olicity was…not handled well. At all. I can’t even begin to explain just how horribly this relationship was managed this season. Yo, ARROW writers: What were you thinking?

Start the season out with a happy couple? Good, good. That’s nice to see on television once in a blue moon.

Add a dash of angst? Sure, sure. TV writers are totally convinced that happy couples don’t keep viewers engaged or whatever, so manufactured drama for the sake of drama is standard practice. I’m over that mindset and that kind of sloppy writing, but whatever. That’s par for the course. I’ll let it slide.

But the particular way the relationship angst — if you can even call it that — was created? No. Just no. Please…no. Oliver lied to Felicity for no discernible reason other than that his babymama asked him to. I get that he wanted to be able to have a relationship with his kid, but if Oliver was going to be a big, fat Liar McLiarson, he could’ve lied to Babymama Whatshername instead of Felicity. Like, “sure, sure. I won’t tell anyone,” and then go home to have a real discussion with Felicity, the woman he’s in love with and supposedly going to marry. Even though New!Oliver would still have been following in Original Oliver’s dishonest footsteps, this would have been the better option.

Instead, viewers were supposed to not only swallow Oliver’s lies but also listen to various other characters both supporting and even encouraging those lies. Are you kidding me?

Felicity was absolutely right to walk away, but the ARROW writers chose to make it seem like she was the bad guy in all of this for, you know, not liking that the man she was planning on marrying had lied to her for months. And even when other people found out his secret, he still perpetuated his lies against her.

Oh. And about other characters finding out about Oliver’s secret love child? If it was that easy for them to do so, then the whole lie was even more pointless.

Felicity Smoak deserved better. I’m not sure Oliver Queen did, seeing as how he is completely incapable of learning from past mistakes; but Felicity and the ARROW viewers certainly deserved better.

Meredith Zylberberg: The season started out so promising for Olicity. Fans were excited about the prospect of ARROW bucking the tendency to insert drama for drama’s sake. The Olicity fandom, by and large, was so sure that this couple could conquer it all. This couple wouldn’t lie to each other, this couple could overcome obstacles together. And yes, it started that way. But the Baby Mama Drama storyline just…messed it all up.

It was super refreshing to watch this couple communicate, and argue and fight but eventually talk it through and figure it out. It was so awesome to watch them act as a team within the team. And there were so many ways to handle that entire secret kid storyline that would have made more sense to the characters and the relationship and the dynamic that the show has built. As it stands now – the breakup had to happen because of the way the secret child stuff happened. It had to. But as a big time Olicity fan, I feel very let down that the storyline was made to play out this way at all. I have read no shortage of articles outlining much more interesting and creative ways it could have been handled – but the show fell into the trap of drawing out the drama and the angst for no apparent reason other than drawing it out.

Time and time again Olicity fans hear that other viewers don’t want the “soap opera stuff.” But the thing is – neither do Olicity fans. I can’t speak for an entire fandom, but as someone actively involved, someone who speaks to and hears from thousands of other Olicity fans – what fans of this couple want is a united duo who weather challenges and storms together. The relationship doesn’t need to be the main storyline. At all. ARROW is a show about action and mystery and heroes. But Oliver’s relationship with Felicity is important, it makes him stronger, and it humanizes him. Plus – the chemistry between Amell and Rickards is almost distracting in how sizzling it is. It’s a shame that the show gave in to bad tropes and overdone drama, rather than playing up the strength this relationship provides.

I hope season 5 rights this wrong, and allows these actors/characters to do what they do best – play off each other, together, as a united team.

Lizzie Lanuza: Look, I love Olicity. I loved what they did at the beginning of the season with them, and I even appreciate what they tried to do at the end of it. I just can’t condone what they did in the middle.

Because, holy mess, Batman. That was painful. Painful to see Oliver regress for no discernable reason other than the writers needed some artificial drama. Painful to see fans turn on Felicity for acting like a normal human being with feelings and walking away. Painful to see a couple that, at the beginning of the season, looked like they were on their way to providing us with one of the few examples or a mature, functional, adult relationship, become just another on-off couple.

Painful.

Do I think they’re done for good? Not by a long-shot. Do I hope the writers take this opportunity to actually develop the good parts, the couple that knew how to communicate, the Oliver that treated Felicity like a partner in life and work, the Felicity that talked about her issues instead of bottling them up and letting them blind her? Yes. Just because they screwed up in Season 4 doesn’t mean they have to keep screwing up. They can learn from their mistakes.

People live and love and suffer and go through everyday things without breaking up. Sometimes people even go through crazy, life-changing things without parting ways. Couples become stronger together. And I hope the writers have learned this lesson and that they’re working to build back Olicity to then not break them up again. We’d rather see them facing the challenges together than apart – we really would .

Christy Spratlin: This season has been rough on me and my feelings for Olicity. They are probably my favorite ship out of all the ships (and I’m a big shipper so that’s a pretty big deal) but this season has really been a mess for them.

The beginning of the season was great. They were together, they were happy, they were cute, and they really seemed to be making it work. The proposal seemed to be a little quick for me but I could support it because they were so great together. Watching them work through Felicity’s injuries was pretty magical. Oliver was amazing to Felicity, they were making it work and I loved watching them do it.

All of this stuff worked for me, but what didn’t work were all the lies on Oliver’s part. All the lies about his son. This part I feel was really poorly handled by the writers. First off, why would Oliver’s ex (the mother of his child) ask that he not tell anyone about his son? How does him lying to the ones that he is closest to show this woman that he can be trusted? And second, why the hell did Oliver listen to her? I could see keeping it from his team and even from his sister for the time being but from Felicity? Are you kidding me? She was supposed to be the most important person in his life, the one that he could trust with anything, so why couldn’t he trust her to keep his secret? I’m sure that if he had told her and asked her to keep it a secret (as his ex had requested) that she would have been 100% willing to do it. And we can’t forget what Barry told Oliver in their crossover episode. He told Oliver that if he didn’t tell Felicity about his son that eventually she would find out and it would end their relationship. You’d think with all of that Oliver could have made the right choice and saved his relationship, but nope, he went ahead and screwed it all up anyway.

I was almost like we watched Oliver grow and improve himself in the first three seasons and then we watched him regress back into his selfish arrogant old self in season 4. Why would the writers have him regress after they spent so much time developing his character? I just don’t get it.

Now having said all that I do still have hope for Olicity. Felicity seems to be on her way to forgiving Oliver and I do think that she will give them another chance. Let’s just hope that the writers don’t screw it up again this time. It is possible to write an interesting story about a couple without breaking them up. Normal couples go through ups and downs all the time and they manage to work things out. I really hope that the writers will let Olicity do the same thing.

Melissa Smith: Emily Bett Rickards plays smart and sassy as well as any actress on television when given the setup. Yes, all of the fumbling for words was cute when it started and the painful shyness endeared her to the audience, but bringing her out of that shell was one of the better character developments of the series.

Oliver Queen is hardheaded and stubborn and, well, very stubborn. Let Rickards go wild and pull him out of his own head. He needs an equally-stubborn partner who will not let him live in “Ollie-land.” Rickards can pull it off. Without a rudder, his boat-like nature will have him driving around in circles with singular focus.

It the green one is going to be in a relationship, it should be with someone who can stand toe-to-toe with the guy as a partner, as he does with Black Canary in the comics. Felicity had the strength to walk away. Now, give her the strength to walk alongside him and keep him on the path.

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