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Has 'Arrow' lost its way this season?

Is it me, or is Arrow a little off this season?

Before I get rolling here: I’m a huge Arrow fan and have been since season one, but I have to admit that season three has felt less like a superhero show and more like a soap opera. While I realize that superhero stories are chock-full of action and drama, there is a difference between drama and drama. The high-tension multiple storylines, emotional hand-wringing, and will they/won’t they of this season have caused me to jokingly dub Arrow “Nockpoint Crest.”

Oliver the Drama Queen

Each character is solidly written and has his or her own agency, both individually and as a member of the team. But it all goes out the window when they’re dealing with Oliver Queen.

For example, every female character on the show is kickass in her own right, physically, mentally, and (most of the time) emotionally. Nyssa Al’Ghul is amazing. Laurel and Thea, who are both going through some pretty challenging times, deal with their problems head-on (as long as neither Olly or Laurel’s dad is involved). Felicity is smart, funny, talented, and strong, as long as she’s dealing with anyone but Oliver. Former lovers Roy and Thea get along. Diggle works well with everyone, and both gives and takes advice well.

But the second Oliver is in the mix, look out.

Oliver is always right, no matter what

Oliver is the keeper of the secrets—the one who feels the need to protect everyone no matter what, and the one who will more than happily take any risk in the world, including dying, to save the others. However, if anyone else on the team does that, Oliver isn’t just angry, but goes into sullen puppy mode and makes everyone else feel like they did something horribly wrong and are letting him down.

Except, I think Oliver is the one who’s letting them down. It feels like he’s lost sight of whatever “code” he’s lived by and just expects everyone else to keep up and adjust.

Killing is bad, unless you’re Oliver Queen

Oliver says he’s given up killing. Still, when he and Diggle reach Nanda Parbat, he has zero problem with taking out any number of Ra’s fighters. We’re not even talking self-defense killing. This is all done to clear a path to Ra’s, whom he then wants to stop from killing Malcolm because Oliver doesn’t want Thea to have guilt.

So: Oliver wants to save his sister from the guilt of killing, says he himself has guilt from killing, says he hates killing, and then offs more than a dozen guys? It makes no sense!

Do as Oliver says, not as he does

It’s also hard to watch Oliver, who is surrounded with all of these smart, capable women, still not be able to admit any sort of actual weakness or self-reflection to anyone but Diggle. It’s not that Diggle isn’t worthy of it, and I know Dig is probably the only one who can actually talk some sense into Oliver. But part of me thinks that Oliver will make his heartfelt confessions to Diggle, then return to Starling City and go back to telling everyone else who works with him to do as he says, not as he does.

What the heck did you do to Felicity Smoak?

Somehow, the writers have effectively turned Felicity into a scorned woman who doesn’t get to have any fun anymore unless she’s out of the Arrow Cave or with Ray Palmer. Felicity has gone from being Oliver’s conscience to being another women in his life who’s mad at him for dying and then coming back to life. To top it off, she’s been thrown into a position of having to juggle an incredibly challenging day job at Palmer Technologies and running the tech in the Arrow Cave. Either job would be more than enough on its own, but now we have her running back and forth between the two and constantly being forced to apologize to one of the men in her life because she was spending time with the other man in her life. This is even more frustrating when you consider that, until last week, she wasn’t even romantically involved with either of them! I mean, at the very least, she should be getting a little, y’know?

Which leads me to what happened with Ray last week. I have zero problem with Felicity sleeping with Ray. Good for her! But there are two issues there that stick in my craw:

  1. Felicity’s impulsive kiss and immediate apology means Ray initiated the sex and, again, takes Felicity out of the stronger position
  2. The CW’s plans to spin off Ray and the ATOM means that, in essence, Felicity is about to be abandoned by yet another man who’s going off to save the world. Which will likely lead to more sad but noble Felicity. No bueno.

I thought you were a fan?

As much as it may seem like I’m criticizing the show, I really do love Arrow. You may think everything is just fine, and that’s totally cool. For me, the show has lost focus by trying to do too much. But it could get back on track fairly easily and be the Arrow we all know and love.

It’s clear that the show is setting up a number of conflicts for later in the season, but it doesn’t help to toss so many into each and every episode. Slow down a little. Let the characters have fun. Heck, let them go to karaoke together like The Flash team. Let them bond over coffee in a blackout—even if they get interrupted. Let’s even have the rest of the Arrow team swoop into Nanda Parbat and save Oliver and have Oliver actually thank them.

In the end, it’s not drama that people are drawn to when it comes to Arrow. It’s the characters and how they all look out for one another, no matter what. While that element may currently be missing, I think it’s still there—waiting to live again.

Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8/7C on The CW.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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