After the season finale of Arrow, discussions about “that scene” have erupted all over the internet. Did Oliver really mean “I love you” to Felicity or was it all a ruse to trick Slade? From there, discussions also took a slightly different turn. As much as many of us love this blossoming relationship between Oliver and Felicity (including of course yours truly), can they even end up together? What about that “canon” ending between Dinah ‘Laurel’ Lance and Oliver Queen? Are we destined for another comic book ending as seen in Smallville between Clark and Lois?
At this point, I actually don’t think that Oliver and Laurel will necessarily be endgame just to match up with canon. How rigid. How obvious. The writers should just go in whatever direction feels authentic to the characters of this particular show ONLY, or otherwise they have written themselves into a corner. What happens if the romantic relationship between Laurel and Oliver doesn’t feel right? Will the ending feel as contrived as Smallville’s Jimmy Olsen suddenly not being Jimmy Olsen because his character was too old? I’m sure hardly anyone wants a repeat of that travesty. I say, treat Arrow as if it were any other TV show. I say leave the final ending open for Felicity, Laurel, or even Sara. See what works. And aren’t Dinah and Oliver divorced in the comics anyway?
Oliver and Felicity became one of those core elements of the show that just felt right.
Thinking about what works, I know that the writers tested what worked with season 1 and what didn’t work. Then season 2 started with fires blazing – even stronger than the first. It just seemed that the writers really found their groove from Quentin Lance now helping the Arrow with some of the best characterization of the show, the return of Sara as the Canary, Slade’s Heathcliff like revenge, to the team dynamic between Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity. Almost everything started to feel like it was going in the right direction. For me, the relationship (whether seen as romantic or not) between Oliver and Felicity became one of those core elements of the show that just felt right. So yes, I guess you could say that I am rooting for them wholeheartedly.
However, for me it’s not necessarily about shipping, but rather about what I think feels true and organic between characters and what feels right to the story and I think Oliver and Felicity do (at least right now). Now I love a good romance as much as the next person, but because of some of the negative online behavior of some shippers (bullying actors, writers, other fans as well as acting immature and entitled), the rest of us lovers of good old fashioned romance have sadly been grouped in with these other rude fans. But is this fair? I don’t see anything wrong with rooting for Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy to be together in the end, or Scully and Mulder or even Oliver and Felicity. Do I see myself as a shipper based on how the term has recently come to be understood? No. But I suppose I am simply because I root for certain romantic pairings. So is everyone who roots for romance a shipper then? Technically yes. But many don’t even get on message boards (one example is my mother who has never posted ever in a fandom board, yet enjoys the Oliver/Felicity relationship on a weekly basis) and probably don’t even know what ‘shipping’ is. Maybe we should just throw out the word shipping altogether and come up with a new term. Or maybe “shipper” should become a term that is used to only describe this loud minority and the rest of us can get called something else.
That said, I believe most ‘shippers’ keep to their group, posting positive pictures and videos of what they love. I think that is great. Let people love what they love. In fact, most ‘shippers’ just watch the show, and root for a particular relationship as part of the experience of watching that show. I consider myself the latter. I guess my worry is that producers, writers and actors will see this rude behavior and think that most of the fans of a particular group behave and think in a similar way, when in reality it’s probably just a loud minority. So it’s always important I think to find the balance between what works and what doesn’t without turning to fan pandering toward any one specific group; or even being turned off by something because of loud fans. (I still believe Jo Harvelle was written off Supernatural prematurely because Kripke listened to loud haters of her character.)
So why you ask am I bringing up all this shipping talk in relation to Oliver and Felicity? Well, I’ve seen this other negative trend beginning thanks to another irritating online fandom quirk. And this comes from the loud ‘elitist’ fans. Basically, Oliver and Felicity fans are ‘delusional’ because “Olicity” will never happen. Rooting for a non-canon relationship from the comics seems to be a sin for a small crowd. Again, I repeat, why don’t we wait and see where the show takes us? I certainly don’t think Oliver and Felicity is comparable to Chloe and Clark that was mercilessly teased without ever following through…
So beyond shipping, beyond comic book canon, looking at the show on a standalone basis, does Oliver and Felicity work? And does a possible romance between them feel real and organic? Is it authentic, going beyond the stereotypical meaning behind shipping? I argue a resounding yes.
Why do you think they work so well together?
Marc Guggenheim: They have wonderful chemistry, which I know is probably the obvious answer. The less obvious answer is I think Felicity’s attraction to him is so obvious but also so pure, that…. it feels more like love than sex. I think people seem to respond to that.
I see subtlety, ambiguity, depth, and a soul connection comparable to the love between Scully and Mulder.
From my own perspective and Arrow experience, I find the Oliver and Felicity story to be stronger thus far on a romantic level. Executive Producer Marc Guggenheim hits the nail right on the head on why the connection between Oliver and Felicity appeals to so many. I do think it is because of the purity of their love. In a way, I recognize a strong influence there from The X Files and Doctor Who (Doctor and Rose). I see subtlety, ambiguity, depth, and a soul connection comparable to the love between Scully and Mulder. To me, it is about the slow build up and friendship, something I ‘typically’ appreciate more than rushed relationships. It is about the human connection rather than merely a sexual one. One of the aspects I liked best in the season 2 finale was the ambiguity of the Oliver loves Felicity speech. Did he mean it? Was it a just a ruse? In all honesty, the fact that the writers did choose this path is very promising and tells me they aren’t nastily poking the fans like Smallville did. Furthermore, unlike many, this choice did not anger me, nor did I see it as only a “bait and switch.” Instead, I thought the episode was more powerful. If Oliver does indeed love Felicity, it may be too soon for him to ‘really’ admit it because Oliver still believes he can’t be with someone that he really cares about yet because of the life he leads.
Stephen Amell on Olicity: “Think back to what Oliver said in the sixth episode, which is, ‘Because of what we do, I can’t be with someone I could really care about,’ and I think that that remains true. So I don’t necessarily think that it was a total bait-and-switch.”
The “bait and switch” was just one way of bringing them closer and bringing Oliver’s feelings closer to the surface, which is interesting for a character so closed off to humanity.
Stephen Amell: “Oliver lost a lot of his humanity in those five years [away from Starling City], so as we see that continue to happen it in the flashbacks, we will see how much of his humanity he wants to get back in the present.”
Indeed, the theme of “humanity,” and Oliver slowly gaining it back is a strong theme between these two characters that I really picked up on when I re-watched all their scenes so I could edit a video. Her goodness really rubs off on him and her INFP presence really brings much needed warmth into his life. There’s definitely a “little” of the Beauty and the Beast archetype in there as well, Felicity bringing light to the monstrous beast within him.
Returning to this theme of humanity, it is fascinating that this idea of finding another way really gets played up throughout the season starting in episode one. Felicity suggests another way and Oliver follows through with it by the season finale when he chooses to not kill Slade. Without a doubt, during the “love you” scene (or in the reveal later on), Oliver entrusts her with his symbolic “humanity.” He gives her the cure; he trusts her with it. That to me is more romantic than anything I’ve seen in the show so far.
In that moment, not only is he telling Felicity how much he cares about her (this could be an excuse for him to say it out loud for instance without having to follow through just yet), he is also telling her that he trusts her to help him choose the other way. He didn’t have to kill Slade because that is what he did before. That is why he failed. It even connects to the earlier scene in the episode when Felicity urges Oliver to make a different choice than his first, bad choice. When she cures Slade, it just emphasizes even more their partnership and trust.
Then of course there is the “unthinkable.” The name of the episode certainly has more than one meaning and is used in dialogue in two key moments. Let’s take a look:
Sara: “To fight the unthinkable, you have to be willing to do the unthinkable.”
Slade is the unthinkable, and what does Oliver do to bring down Slade? Well, he has to do the unthinkable; he has to give Slade Felicity. If you paid attention on Guggenheim’s twitter, this question was even raised, as to what exactly, the “unthinkable” actually was:
Offering Felicity as bait, giving Slade what he “wanted,” was the unthinkable. Notice that this question also mentions love. Pure coincidence based on the wording of the question? Could be, but I’m sure we will know soon after season 3 starts. Still, the idea of the “unthinkable” (considering that is the important theme of the episode) doesn’t end when Oliver gives Felicity up as bait after telling her he loved her. It comes up again at the end when Felicity revisits that moment:
Felicity: Yeah. It was really smart, the way you outfoxed him. Talk about unthinkable. You and me, I mean. When you told me you loved me, you had me fooled. For a second, I thought that maybe you might have meant it, what you said. You, you really sold it.
Oliver: We both did.
Is it so unthinkable for these two though? After this scene, the chances of them not happening ever are pretty slim. Otherwise, the writers really are merely playing with the audience and not following through with their own writing. Moreover, after Felicity’s confrontation of Oliver’s declaration, Oliver doesn’t even deny his feelings or claim he just cared about her as a friend. Instead, he just smiles, leaving it purposely ambiguous. For those who root for this relationship, I would say that is a good thing because 1) the romantic subtlety is always stronger than literal hammers when it comes to long term TV build-ups (if you can write well that is) and 2) the suggestion of Oliver’s feelings have now come out into the open, leaving the door wide open for further development in season 3, a season that will touch on his loss of humanity (how he loses it even more in Hong Kong according to Amell), and how it may be coming back in the present (such as if he wants to “love” – see the Phoenix comic con panel):
SA:“All of the humanity that he has is being stripped away. The Oliver that you met in the pilot that was a murderer, that was a killer, that’s the guy that he’s turning into. He’s losing his humanity. So, season 3 is very much about how much of his humanity does he want to get back? Does he want to love somebody? Does he want to be a hero….What’s important to him? And, so we will clearly have to tackle what happened with Felicity very early on.”[et_lb_video video_url=”http://youtu.be/5S-bXipR_dA?t=30m9s” css_class=””][/et_lb_video]
Oliver’s reaction in this following hug definitely stands out when it comes to Oliver’s humanity. Why does she believe in him? Is he a hero? Does he even believe he deserves love?
One last comparison, I want to make in regards to the Oliver/Felicity relationship goes back to an old show that many of you may have not seen: La Femme Nikita (the original TV series), so I will give you a little background in a moment to better explain this comparison. Now, I know a lot of “Olicity” fans were upset at the seeming bait and switch, but Arrow was certainly not the first to pull such a ‘mean’ move. In season 1, episode 17 of La Femme Nikita, Michael and Nikita are kidnapped by a group looking for the location of their temporary base of operations. They are tortured for this information. During this torture, Michael begins to show Nikita some of his vulnerabilities.
…does he have feelings for her or is he using her own feelings to get her to do what he wants?
For better clarification, the old Nikita series was quite different from the new show. For instance, Nikita was not trying to take down “Division.” Instead, we see how she is forced to work for them, remaining good in the midst of all this darkness and killing that surrounds her. She can’t be as cold as those around her. Her trainer is of course Michael. And in this version, he is very much a cold killer, so cold that we, at first, can only get short glimpses into his humanity. He, unlike Nikita, has already lost his humanity completely. Then he meets Nikita and the question starts looming, does he have feelings for her or is he using her own feelings to get her to do what he wants?
In the one episode I am speaking about, when Michael shows his vulnerable side in the cages of which they have been taken, you think that he is telling her the truth when he says (in one of the most romantic moments of the show mind you):
Michael: We’re okay so far. When I was in there and it started to get bad…”
Nikita: Michael, don’t. Save your strength.
Michael: I thought I was going to break, but I didn’t. I thought of you. You’re the only one of us who still has a soul. I’m so sorry Nikita. We’ll never leave this place alive.
He pauses with a long stare and then confesses:
Michael: I don’t know what love is anymore, but the only part that’s not dead is you.
It wasn’t all a lie…
Soon after this scene, Nikita breaks at the thought of Michael being tortured more and gives up the secret location he revealed (he conveniently gave it to her earlier in the episode). They attack the ‘location,”which turns out to be false and the two escape, Nikita realizing that Michael had lied, that he created this whole scenario in order for Nikita to convincingly give the location and take this group down. Of course, she’s angry and betrayed. The audience (I know I did at first), feels angry and betrayed too, but then at the end of the episode, there is this glimmer of hope when Michael visits Nikita in the hospital. She’s unconscious so she can’t hear him, giving Michael the freedom to reveal a little depth beneath his chilly exterior:
“It wasn’t all a lie,” he confesses and then he kisses her.
“It wasn’t all a lie,” a line I think perfectly matches up with how Oliver chooses to take down Slade. Because Oliver didn’t deny it, I think we may be seeing more scenes like this in season 3, especially since Oliver and Michael are similar in many ways. When talking about Hong Kong in season 3, Amell even said during Phoenix Comic Con:
SA: “In the flashbacks of season 3, we’re going to see Oliver with no choice, like sort of an indentured servitude. And, uh, and the way that, the way that the people that he is working for, convince him to work for them, nobody is going to see that coming….gives us an opportunity to bring back some people.”
Could it be similar to La Femme Nikita in that he will have to kill for the government and in doing so start to lose his humanity and bits of his soul? Will he even want his soul back in season 3? Will he think he even deserves love with someone as light and good as Felicity, someone whose soul is still completely intact? The idea certainly brings out several possibilities and I know I can’t wait to see how they play out…
He needs her but he feels like he doesn’t deserve her…
Personally, I love for stories to be subtle, so if I had to choose how Oliver chooses to further explore his feelings for Felicity, it would be in a quiet way. Stephen has really been talking a lot about how Oliver has lost his humanity in the flashbacks and that we will be seeing more of that. Connect his feelings to gaining his humanity back bit by bit in the present. Have the audience know of his feelings for Felicity before she does, that he can’t be with her yet because he is still trying to get his soul back (going back to episode 6). Her lightness will be his way back in a way that episode by episode becomes clearer and clearer over time. He needs her but he feels like he doesn’t deserve her because he is a killer.
On a different note, some people go off and off about the Felicity and Oliver relationship as pandering to the fan base. I disagree because I think that the story feels authentic and earned. On the other hand, if the writers DID choose to go the Oliver and Laurel route (right now that is), wouldn’t that in a way also be considered pandering to a different fan base, one who wants the same thing as the comics? For now, perhaps we should wait and see where the direction continues to take us and how the characters evolve organically.
As for Laurel, the reason I don’t think her relationship works with Oliver is because I feel that the Laurel/Oliver relationship is toxic. He cheated on her with her sister to begin with, which caused her sister’s “death” (if I was Laurel that would be the end…forever…on a romantic level that is). But that wasn’t even the only time…He was clearly a womanizer before the island, like getting that girl pregnant. Besides that, now that Laurel is in on the secret, her scenes with Oliver felt a little contrived, as if she didn’t quite belong there. However, that is not to say I dislike her character. I appreciate that the writers gave us a flawed female character that is so easy to dislike. She does have some annoying reactions to things, but that is human. That being said, I actually like Laurel best when her story is outside of Oliver and centered on her family and her own self-destructive behavior. Now that she’s let “the darkness” in, where will her story take her? Will she become the Canary? Certainly, if Laurel does become the “Black” Canary, I don’t think she can be that “light” Oliver needs in his life. For now, I think that’s okay. For now, I want Laurel to find her own path in life. Perhaps that will lead to them in the end. At this point, I can’t say. For now, let her have her own story outside of an Oliver romance and see how things turn out from there.
Until then, who should Oliver end up with? I think you know what pairing has my vote. And if this were almost any other show (one not based in comics), I’d think the direction would be clear, as clear as the love between some of TV’s greats including that of the epic pairing of Scully and Mulder and also that of Michael and Nikita.
So what do you think? Should Oliver end up with Laurel or Felicity? Who else loved the finale as much as I did? Sound off in the comments…
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Check out our Romantic Moment of the Week: Romantic Moment of the Week: Oliver and Felicity