There have been many different relationships explored on Arrow since it first began. Oliver Queen has seen his world turned upside down and with it the person he once was has vanished forever. Because of his change and new outlook on life, Oliver’s interpersonal relationships have either suffered or been strengthened, and the examination of this aspect of a superhero’s double life has been an interesting, but occasionally troubling, aspect of the series.
Now, as Arrow heads into the final episodes of the season, there’s a rush of sorts to push characters headlong into new or altered dynamic, and it feels a bit like some of them are being shorted when it comes to proper development.
It’s easy to see why Tommy Merlyn and Laurel Lance are headed in the direction they are – Laurel and Oliver were always meant to be together and for as much as Tommy has tried not to become his father, at the end of the day he’s still a Merlyn and they take disappointment pretty hard. To a certain extent, it’s commendable that the writers are doing what they can to give Tommy reasons to do what he’s done, insomuch as distancing himself from Oliver and now Laurel. His reason for pulling away from Ollie is mostly associated with the fact that his best friend and former delinquent buddy is now the Starling City vigilante, who has managed to rack up a considerable body count and is using his nightclub as a base of operations. For the most part, that line of thinking works fairly well.
What doesn’t work so well is when Tommy drops a bomb on his relationship with Laurel because he’s certain that if she ever found out who the vigilante really is, she’d choose a murderer who inadvertently got her sister killed over him.
And of course the purpose of all this is to create a way for Oliver and Laurel to eventually find their way back into one another’s arms, and for Tommy to perhaps one day have justification for joining in his father’s quest to gentrify the Glades by any means necessary. It’s alluding to an outcome that’s been obvious for quite some time, but parts of it feel as though the creators are taking advantage of what has essentially been a foregone conclusion, by putting the pieces where they want them right this second, without entirely justifying their positions.
For the most part, ‘Home Invasion’ is a lot of the aforementioned moving of the pieces, but with a significant amount of it having happened off screen. Essentially, the episode wants to establish the bond and the intense emotions Oliver continues to have toward Laurel, but most of it is left off the table, since the series hasn’t really been intent on building the story around the rekindling of their affection for one another.
At one point during the island flashback, Oliver tells Shado (Celina Jade) he’s still in love with Laurel (despite everything he’d done to hurt her and their relationship), and then later, Moira tells Laurel a story about how Oliver liked himself better when he was with her, and how, as his mother, she did too. These aren’t bad things to be said about two characters the series clearly wants together, but the island scene in particular feels too intent on establishing Oliver’s deep longing and affection for Laurel, when it would have been much better served as a more purposeful plot thread throughout the season, rather than rushed in right before the series becomes tied up in the Undertaking.
As that potentially destructive event approaches, Oliver finds himself on the outs with the one man he’ll undoubtedly need when things start to get hairy. After telling Diggle he’ll do what he can to track down and target Deadshot, Oliver leaves his partner in the lurch so that he can stop a corrupt businessman who ordered the slaying of two innocent people Laurel was representing. As such, the operation to apprehend (and possibly kill) Floyd Lawton winds up going all screwy and four A.R.G.U.S. agents wind up dead, while Diggle gets pistol whipped for his effort. In the end, Diggle walks out on Team Arrow, blaming Oliver’s fixation on Laurel for his inability to back up his partner against the man that killed his brother.
‘Home Invasion’ isn’t a bad episode of Arrow; it simply wanted to establish some sense of urgency in a relationship that the series had done little with up to this point, and that, unfortunately, became a little too obvious here. Thankfully, the development of Roy Harper‘s need to repay the Hood for saving his life, and Yao Fei’s insistence that Oliver’s time on the island is at an end, help to give the episode some much needed spark.
Arrow continues next Wednesday with ‘The Undertaking’ @8pm on The CW. Check out a preview of the episode below: