(Spoilers be ahead)
If you look at the internet today, there’s a very familiar soapy divide between (and among) fan bases within the Arrow fandom in the wake of last night’s pretty epic Season 2 Finale.
Some Olicity shippers are livid, they feel they were toyed with and used by the producers and writers to create hype. Why? Because they got “The moment.” A much, much bigger moment than anyone was expecting: Oliver telling Felicity that while Slade thought he had the woman he loved (Laurel), he didn’t, because Felicity was that woman; followed up with an “I love you,” and a “Do you understand?” And it was a really gorgeous moment, but it didn’t last long.
I’ve been saying that the reason they released photos of Felicity, Laurel and Slade was that we were in for a gigantic head-fake. Initially we figured Laurel was a red-herring, because Slade was spying on/through Felicity, but didn’t anyone wonder why a show so careful about spoilers released the biggies a week out? My guess was that Felicity had the cure on her, so I was right there, but I went a step further, thinking she’d offer herself up because no one would suspect her/to take the choice from Oliver. The point is, we built it up in our heads. We’re supposed to. It’s how this works.
Olicity shippers felt collective heartbreak after Felicity, who hates needles, did in fact stab Slade in the neck, curing him and freeing herself like the brave little badass she is. And then we see the flashback footage of post-I-love-you Oliver handing Felicity the cure in a syringe as he asks, “Do you understand?”
And twitter blew up with rage. “You used us!” “He put her in danger!”
Come on, guys! This was a gigantic gift! And you did get played – beautifully. You did your jobs. They wouldn’t have done this if you didn’t love Oliver and Felicity so much. They did it because they love Oliver and Felicity, too.
It’s TV law that if you bring two characters with great chemistry together too soon, you ruin it and likely the show. It also happens when you try to force relationships. The beauty about Olicity is that their chemistry is so natural you can’t escape it. You can’t even write around it. It just is. That makes them a beautiful time bomb.
This entire season has been about Oliver and Felicity’s path from new friends developing trust, to genuine friendship and partners. It’s also been about Oliver wanting her close but pushing her away. This episode was a huge payoff for episode 6 when he tells Felicity he can’t be with someone he could love. Which says a lot about Sara, who he was bedding weeks later – the most toxic choice he could have possibly made, and the one right in Felicity’s face all the time.
But did he love Sara? I think not. Or why didn’t he tell her? Why didn’t Slade try to kill her? He had multiple chances. She’s here and Shado’s not. But then Sara takes a page out of the Ollie-Handbook when he suggests cohabitation (with a very notable absence of those three little words). Does he love Laurel? Yep. He’s said as much this season, but he’s not about Laurel right now. Basically, Oliver might be different, but he’s not clear of his past as Ollie.
Ollie would have hit it and quit it on Felicity by now. He’s never had a female friend. This is part of why Felicity’s so special to him. She never cared about or wanted his money, she saw him for him and didn’t accuse him of being a murderer like his best friends and closest family had. She doesn’t try to change him, she tries to help him see who he already is and find that again. She’s the only person who truly knows him – at least as well as anyone can.
While Felicity wears her pure, untainted love on her sleeve (and in her innuendos), Oliver wears his through deflection, shoulder touches, heavy sighs and creating distance. My favourite example of this is the episode where Barry Allen appears, provoking Oliver’s jealousy. Though we’ve seen that The Arrow can grin and bear some major pain (like when sewing up his own bullet wound), after Barry starts sniffing around Felicity, he growls like a jaberwocky when she gently applies first aid to his ribs. Thatwasthegreatest!
The reason everyone is so taken aback is the fact they see (like everybody with eyes does) that he does love Felicity. But the reason we should be happy is that he knows he’s not ready for her yet, and he’s not toying with her. It’s odd how there’s a double standard of how she can be inadvertently overt about her feelings for him, but not act on them while denying them to others, but he can’t do the same.
That moment in the mansion felt true because there was truth in it. We’ve been watching Felicity be the reason Oliver stays in this fight, reminding him that he’s got her, that she trusts him and believes in him. This was Oliver proving the same is true of him for her. He gave the bravest person on the show the bravest job. A dangerous one. An unthinkable one.
But first, instead of letting her in on the plan, giving her the syringe in the car and telling her to sell it in front of the cameras, he used the opportunity to tell her he loved her – and she believed him. That’s the feels right there, because Felicity always knows when Oliver’s lying, and so do we. He didn’t have to say it. He could have left it at “he took the wrong woman” and she still would have caught on when he gave her the syringe. He wanted to say it.
Most wanted “The Kiss” during the scene on the Island, but it would have been bad. Very, very bad. The equivalent of sex before the third date (or third season) bad. What was great, was that Oliver, who hadn’t genuinely smiled once before meeting Felicity in season 1, and who pretty much only smiles genuinely around her now, was nothing but enigmatic grins from ear-to-ear when Felicity told him she almost believed him. He was one happy camper. Oliver Light. ON THE ISLAND.
Oliver Queen’s love life is not free and clear. Sara just split (and passed him to Laurel along with a leather jacket), Laurel is the unresolved supposedly epic love who “knows him to his bones” but didn’t realize he’d been cheating on her for, like, ever, or recognize him under a hood. He’s conflicted. His mother just died. His sister is gone. He’s broke.
But he’s not broken. He’s got his team, but he’s also got Felicity – a girl you commit to once, and he knows that. He’s not going to toy with her, or get in the way of her personal life. He doesn’t even know if he deserves her, but he’s the only one. It was in capitals letters, bolded and underlined by Sara’s break up speech, which mirrored both Oliver and Felicity’s lines in their Why-Isabel chat. With Felicity literally waiting in the wings, no less.
So, Olicity fans, rejoice. You were given a gift last night. For 10 minutes you got to feel all the shipping was worth it (and it was!) and then you got it taken away. We feel like we do because (and this is gonna get meta) we ARE Felicity! We felt what she felt last night.
So when it does happen, maybe end of Season 3 into Season 4 (I don’t think they’ll rush it), it will be all the more satisfying. And if we’re lucky, Felicity’s going to have a romantic diversion of her own next season. That’s the soapy goods!
And about “him” putting her in danger – can we stop being sexist hypocrites? When has Felicity not insisted on being the bait? Or just gone ahead and taken on an Arch Nemesis by herself? He also gave her a chance to back out when her gave her the needle, but she didn’t – because she’s his partner, she trusts him and they were all going to die anyway.
(P.S. How are you not jumping up and down about the fact that Laurel was the equivalent of green screen in that episode? There was no pointed dialogue or monologue about her before during or after the fight. Nada. That’s a win. Take it.)
My 10 cents,
Tara Lee Reed
Looking for me on Tumblr? Now you’re not.
(Originally published at Wordsmith & Wesson)
Tara Lee Reed is a writer from Toronto, Canada – not that chick from Sharknado. Her first novel, Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda – the interactive romantic comedy with 60 Mostly Unhappy Endings – is available in ebook and paperback now. Find more information about it and other titles in the Once Upon a Theme series at www.doorflower.com.