Arrow mercifully returned from its mini-hiatus last night with Season 3, Episode 16 (“The Offer”) and, guys, it was pretty great. Once we got past the tedious outlying of R’as’ plan to Oliver and back to Starling City, things really took off with some great emotional beats. The best part? Oliver finally seems to be taking a thematic turn in his identity crisis. If this arc continues to, um, arc, then this could be the start of a breathless narrative sprint to the finish for Arrow Season 3. So please, Oliver, no more relapses? Maybe you could set aside five minutes each day to think about your emotional health and, you know, why you are a masked vigilante. Just a thought.
Without further ado: feels-cap time! Here were the biggest feels from “The Offer.”
Malcolm listens to Oliver and Thea’s conversation.
It speaks to the power of John Barrowman’s charisma that I can feel anything close to resembling sympathy towards his horrifying character (Damn you, Captain Jack!), but that’s exactly what happened in last night’s episode. Kudos should also go to the director, who filmed the scenes of Malcolm listening to his daughter openly express how much she hates him and wants to be able to plunge a dagger into his heart by creating a visual sense of immense distance between these characters. Malcolm looms intimately in the foreground, his back turned towards Malcolm and Thea, who aren’t even pretending to care if he hears them discuss how terrible he is. This shot creates a visual camaraderie between Malcolm and the viewer in this moment. It also distorts Malcolm so that he is a completely different scale from Oliver and Thea. The siblings are their own familial unit. Malcolm is alone.
Thea mentions Moira.
Remember that time there was a female character over the age of 35 on this show? She was a blonde. middle-aged badass who schemed, manipulated, and loved with the best of them and her name was Moira Queen. Thea’s mention that she didn’t kill Malcolm because she wondered what her mother would think of her felt a little cliche and empty (especially given that time Moira herself tried to kill Malcolm — good times), but pretty much any mention of the Queen matriarch gets me teary. R.I.P., Moira. If I could dip anyone in the Lazarus Pit, it would be you.
Oliver takes care of Akio.
Arrow‘s use of the flashback continues to be wildly uneven, frustratingly often falling on the side of ineffective and distracting. This was mostly true of last night’s peeks into Oliver’s Hong Kong past which had little narrative movement and contained the inexplicable appearance of Shado or someone who looks a lot like Shado (my money is on the latter). However, there was a certain tragic quality to Oliver’s interactions with Akio. Firstly, because we still don’t know what happened to Maseo’s son, and that tends not to bode well on this show. But, secondly, because we know that Oliver has a son out there whom he knows nothing about. Their moments in the botanical garden when Oliver worked to keep Akio calm were peeks into another aspect of his potential life that Oliver was (and still is) missing.
Felicity reaches for Oliver.
If this moment isn’t the visual representation of Olicity’s ever-frustrating, but still pretty enjoyable Season 3 dynamic than I don’t know what is. For that, all of the feels.
Lance tells Laurel he may never forgive her.
Paul Blackthorne has always been a grounding, emotional force on this show. Last night, he managed to communicate Detective (excuse me, Captain) Lance’s emotional cognitive dissonance in his heartbreaking speech to Laurel. He more or less told her that, while he will always love her, he will never forgive her — the former point he proves only moments later when armed thugs come into the station and he risks his life to save his daughter. Equal points go to Katie Cassidy for her subtle, yet palpable pained reaction to Lance’s words. Harsh, dad.
Felicity tells Oliver she’s happy with him in her life.
The Olicity moments were so great and frequent in last night’s ep, I could make an entire list of feels just about their interactions. (Perhaps, I will.) But the standout moment for me came at the very end of the episode, when Felicity told Oliver that she was happy as long as he is in her life. And then they just gazed at each other like the foolish, in-love idiots that they are until a phone call from Ray (of course) interrupted the moment. This moment was great not only in its own right, but as the cap to a return to the Olicity dynamic of old. It is refreshing to see that, though Arrow may not be breaking any TV tropes with its I Love You, But We Can’t Be Together routine, these characters openly admit their feelings for one another — even if there’s still so much left unsaid. I came across a Tumblr post that praised Felicity for “loving Oliver right to his face.” I love that idea. All of these other characters may be going out into the field to risk their lives day in and day out, but Felicity is the truly, fiercely brave one amongst this (for the most part) emotionally-impaired bunch. She is honest and bold with her emotions. She loves even when it hurts, and she finds a way to be happy, even if it means letting go of a life she wished for.
Laurel and Nyssa grab dinner.
All the points to the Arrow writers for bringing Nyssa into the Starling City fold in such a compelling, believable way. Nyssa has long had the potential to be a better-developed character and she has never felt more human than in the moment she stepped out of the shadows to ask Laurel to dinner because she misses her sister, the woman she loved. Then, it got even better when Nyssa offered to train Laurel. Take that, Oliver! Can these two please be best friends who fight crime and the patriarchy together?! Thanks in advance, Arrow!