Sarah Wiezel

Agent Sarah writes on Tuesdays for Agents of GUARD and covers Arrow, console games, anime, and whatever else sounds appealing at the moment. She has a day job in the software industry and thinks cereal is overrated.

So this episode is not actually called Porcupine Flatulence, but since Porcupine Flatulence is probably the…oh, I dunno, third or so most googled phrase or thing to come out of this episode, I thought we’d start with that.

This episode is actually called “The Calm” which is a pretty boring title for one of the most crazy and eventful Arrow episodes to date. My emotions ran the gamut from surprised to excited to shocked, and I can’t wait to see what happens next. But let’s step through some highlights from this episode, shall we? I’m not holding anything back, so you’d better go watch the episode right now if you haven’t seen it, or consider yourself warned that there are SPOILERS AHEAD!

baby-porcupine-31
Here is a lovely picture of a porcupine to give you the opportunity to turn away from spoilers if needed. It is a Public Service Porcupine.

 

The episode begins with a somewhat generic action sequence of Arrow taking down a criminal. However, we do see that Roy Harper now seems to be acting as a full team member, rather than just an informant (season 1), or fair weather team member/mirakuru science project (season 2.) I think this is cool and that Roy will be a solid addition to the team (especially because of…other developments we’ll talk about from the end of the episode…) We are able to see from the news report Felicity watches that there is generally good press about Starling City’s recently reduced crime rates thanks to the Arrow, but people still worry over the recent and harrowing events involving the Markov Device/Earthquake Machine in Season 1 and the crazy Deathstroke army attack from Season 2, which is probably only natural. Why would anyone want to live there with all these insane things going on?

Roy's promo poster. I'm digging the new look!
Roy’s promo poster. I’m digging the new look!

A few things have changed with our core character’s personal lives since last season as well. Diggle and his ex-wife are soon-to-be-parents, Felicity has taken a job at what shall henceforth be referred to as a not-Best Buy store, Oliver is broke, living in the Arrowcave, and trying to win the Queen Consolidated company board members back to his side, and Thea has moved away (there is no Thea in this episode, which means it’s 500% less whiny than other episodes.)

Oliver and Felicity are also flirting and making puppy dog eyes at each other incessantly. After the whole situation where they pretended to be in love at the end of Season 2 to fool Slade, maybe they found some feelings that they didn’t know were there before. I feel conflicted about this development. On one hand, I’ve been a fan of the Oliver x Felicity pairing from the start. But on the other hand, it seems…unnatural somehow. Felicity has always looked up to and admired Oliver (he’s handsome, kind, intelligent, and is a superhero. What’s there not to like?) But I don’t understand where Oliver is coming from. He’s never expressed before now that he’s romantically interested in her in any way, instead choosing to chase both Lance sisters (sometimes simultaneously.) I don’t know, guys, I’m at a loss here.

ship

There are several flashbacks in this episode, but none of them are on the island! Oliver is actually trying to escape Hong Kong instead. This episode has a number of Hong Kong flashbacks in it, most of which I was unimpressed with. It’s nice to get a change of scenery from the island, but we don’t have enough information yet to make anything meaningful out of it, other than Amanda Waller is keeping him there but we don’t know why. I am equally irritated that Oliver has not yet cut his hair because I HATE OLLIE’S ISLAND HAIR. There, I said it. I know there are tumblrs devoted to it, but it just looks greasy and awful. Amanda might be preventing him from leaving Hong Kong but ain’t nothing preventing him from seeing a barber. Moving on.

I just want to wash it and cut it so bad. Nghhh.
I just want to wash it and cut it so bad.

Laurel and Oliver seem to be working as a professional crime-fighting team now, with Oliver catching the bad guys and Laurel using her Assistant DA powers to put them away. There’s also a little heartwarming scene in here where the newly (re?)promoted Captain Lance gives a speech about how happy he is with the Arrow and how he’ll be closing the book on the anti-vigilante task force. D’awww. Thank goodness, actually. I didn’t really enjoy the plot arc about the anti-vigilante task force. It served it’s purpose but it got played out over time, so closing the book on this feels pretty good.

Speaking of played out plots…looks like there’s ANOTHER Count Vertigo in Starling City. His name is Werner Zytle and he likes to throw Vertigo darts at people that cause them to hallucinate and see fearful visions. Why is it when criminals die in this show, they never die for realsies?

zytle
Werner Zytle, the new Count Vertigo.

Felicity working at not-Best Buy actually adds a fun dynamic to the show. She expressed that she hates her job, and doing menial soul-crushing retail work adds an element to the show that many of us can relate to. Oliver and Diggle end up calling her to get some intel while in pursuit of some criminals, and she runs away from ringing up customers with reckless abandon to take a “tech support call” and track down the info Oliver needs. It’s an enjoyable scene that makes me remember why I like this show so much. I also love Captain Lance’s quip of “You got a hot date or something?” as Arrow is rushing away from the crime scene. Please Arrow, never change.

I wasn’t super paying attention when we flashed back to Felicity, still mid-shift at not-Best Buy, helping out a cute, clean-cut guy who wants to hack a secured firewall. It didn’t seem to add anything to the plot at the time I was watching it, but I was mistaken… She gladly spills all her hacker secrets and helps the guy out with finding stuff in a much more informed way than any Best Buy employee has ever helped me.

Felicity is a pretty awesome supporting character, so I’m so pleased that the show has taken the time to develop her well. In season one she was just a girl behind a desk wearing cardigans and blazers. But now she’s developed so much more self-confidence and not only looks better (seriously, every dress she wears in this episode is a cut-out dress) but she’s also better able to provide Oliver with information because she can work autonomously and put her love for technology to work.

Never change, Felicity.
Classic Felicity.

So Ollie and Felicity go on a date, but they have a few things working against them:

  • They’re both really nervous, to the point where they can’t really speak.
  • They discover they don’t have a lot to talk about because they know each other so well
  • Probably more of a sub-bullet, but Felicity has seen Oliver “shirtless all the time” already
  • Zytle bombs the restaurant they are eating at, thanks to the tracker he planted on Oliver earlier (while whistling “In the Hall of the Mountain King” slightly off-pitch.)

It doesn’t exactly bode well for future plans when you have to pull your date out of the restaurant wreckage and tend to her bleeding wounds, especially when Oliver literally just expressed that he’s comfortable he can separate his vigilante life from his day-to-day life. Ouch.

Oliver confronts Zytle and nearly gets his ass handed to him before Captain Lance saves the day! When Zytle hits him with the Vertigo darts, Oliver hallucinates and sees…well, himself before his eyes. This seems to worry him excessively, as the Count had said that he would hallucinate what he fears the most. Oliver goes into identity crisis mode (is he ever NOT in an identity crisis? That’s been one of the underlying subplots for the last 46 episodes.)

He looks so smug it's almost creepy.
He looks so smug it’s almost creepy.

Felicity has promised that she will help Oliver win over the favor of the Queen Consolidated board so that he can once again run the company. She is mortified to see the handsome young man she was speaking to earlier at not-Best Buy and giving all her haxorz secrets to at the board meeting. He introduces himself as Ray Palmer, also known to many familiar with the DC Universe by his superhero alias, The Atom.

There sure is a lot of eye candy in this show.
Ray Palmer, aka The Atom. There sure is a lot of eye candy in this show.

Palmer seems to have two objectives at this board meeting: buying up Queen Consolidated, which he succeeds at thanks to some embarrassing company data he used to bash Oliver (THANKS Felicity), and giving Felicity a rad new job, which hasn’t been achieved at the time of this publication. I think he flirts with her a little, or it could have been my imagination. He also decides a re-branding of the city is in order and wants to rename it “Star City” which to me sounds like a bonus level of a Super Mario Bros game.

*plays Mario's invincibility music in the background*
*plays Mario’s invincibility music in the background*

But hey, to each his own. We’ll be keeping a close eye on Mr. Palmer in future episodes to see if he is among the Arrow’s allies or enemies. But in the meantime, he’s stuck with some nasty payback from Felicity, who has put sound effects of “porcupine flatulence” on all of his devices. Seriously, writers? I like that this show isn’t too serious and all, but the writing for the porcupine flatulence situation was just cringe-worthy.

Back to Zytle, who does not seem to have been stopped by getting shot. He’s up to his nasty tricks yet again, this time having planted a bomb underneath a boxing ring (while once again whistling “In the Hall of the Mountain King” in dire need of a tuner. It adds a weird almost cartoony element to his character, which I don’t know if I like…) Roy disables the bomb thanks to some help from Felicity, while Arrow kicks some Zytle ass, and is joined by a surprise appearance from Black Canary who just happens to be in town.

And then… Barry Allen is here! Whaaaat! It’s so much fun to see the Flash again on Arrow. These crossover scenes probably look really weird to people who don’t watch both shows, but this appearance is just a fun little reward if you do watch both shows, since it adds nothing to the plot. Barry and Oliver meet up for a few minutes and chat about vigilante srs bsns. Their friendship has been evolving since Barry’s intro last season, so I’m really looking forward to seeing him around more. Who knows, maybe he’ll start dating Felicity, since they had some chemistry last season! Seriously, Felicity has so many suitors now that everyone realized she’s hot and smart.

I don't like his costume, but whatever.
I don’t like his costume, but whatever.

Speaking of Felicity (again), Diggle and Lyla have their baby, and while at the hospital to visit them, Olicity breaks up. Oliver tells Felicity that he worries he can’t protect her because he can’t separate his personal and vigilante lifestyles (we’ve been over this like 50 times so it’s not exactly a revelation at this point,) and they share a confusing kiss that ends with Felicity leaving, crushed. Since I was conflicted about the relationship anyway, I’m also conflicted about the breakup. I think it would be more fun for Felicity to start dating Barry Allen or Ray Palmer and have Oliver try to compete for her love. That way we’d see more sentiment from Oliver and he can really show his true feelings, and Barry and Ray both seem like good guys right now.

kiss
“The Kiss” occurs and Olicity is no more.

Laurel and Sara meet up and share a sweet sister moment, which I would normally gag over but I actually found it refreshing. Usually they’re bickering or there’s tension about who Oliver’s latest favorite is, or they’re running from any number of psychopaths, but none of that is here. Just two sisters, long separated by a number of things, expressing that they care about each other and are glad to see each other.

And…right when you think everything is good and safe IT’S NOT AND THE WHOLE WORLD IS TURNED ON ITS HEAD. You’d think I was watching Game of Thrones or something…

RIP Black Canary. Your leather costume was too intense for the show.
RIP Black Canary. Your leather costume was too intense for the show.

So, Sara is gone. Three arrows to the chest and a multi-story fall and the Black Canary is no more. I’m not really sure what to say about this, other than I now have to rewrite half of the piece I was putting together on things we can expect from Arrow this season.

I personally expected Arrow to embrace the Birds of Prey angle (given that we’ve seen two of them in as many seasons) and dig deeper into the bond Sara and Oliver shared on the island. Sara’s death has some pretty huge implications for the show. Will Laurel once again turn to drug abuse and alcoholism to cope with her sister’s death, or will she focus her energy perhaps on training to take up the mantle of Black Canary (who, in the DC Comics, is actually Dianah Laurel Lance?) Was this how it was going to be all along? How will Captain Lance, who also finally seems to have gotten his life back on track, cope with losing his daughter– again? What is this going to do to Oliver, who already is in constant turmoil over protecting his loved ones? And who killed Sara, anyway, and what was their motive? I have a short list of suspects…

This was a FANTASTIC intro to the new season. Overall, I’m very pleased with all the surprises! What do you think is going to happen next? Tell me about it in the comments!

Overall Episode Rating: A-
Plot: A+
Character Development: A+
Writing: B+
Flashback Scenes: B-

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