Oooh, fun question!
First, some background on me: I have not been watching Arrow live for three seasons. I have been watching Arrow live for one season. After I decided that I would be covering another show for the 2014 - 2015 TV season, I landed on Arrow and went on a massive summer marathon. When I go into a show intending to write about it, I try to stay objective…ish, and Arrow was going to be no different.
Summer 2014 Laura was a naive, naive woman.
While watching the pilot, I was more or less indifferent. It was interesting enough for a CW show, but I hadn’t yet been impressed by Stephen Amell and I’d never even heard of the Green Arrow. I had a moment of “Whoa, he’s hot” for Oliver and “Whoa, she was on The O.C.” for Thea, but I didn’t have any visceral reactions to any character…until Laurel.
Now, this is going to seem incredibly petty - I know that it’s incredibly petty - but I was turned off of the character of Laurel Lance in the exact moment that she switched off the news program that her coworkers were watching. With that small and even understandable moment of Laurel not being able to cope with Oliver being mentioned, I didn’t want to root for her to be on screen with the main character. Oliver already brought out the worst in her. I didn’t like her and I didn’t like the relationship and they hadn’t even been on screen together yet. When they did get on screen together…well, I was uncomfortable and unhappy and embarrassed that this was the couple that I was supposed to root for. I’ve always preferred character to plot, and I did not enjoy who these characters were when they were around each other. Oliver was the hero, but he wasn’t somebody that I wanted to see more of when he was with Laurel.
This was the pilot.
Still, the first episode sucked me in enough and I was going to write about the show and I kept watching…but I couldn’t enjoy the Oliver who was always vacillating from broody to penitent to murderous. Even the relationships from before the island that were happier were colored by the fact that Oliver was lying in 95% of their interactions. Oliver was always in control of everything and had backup plans for his backup plans. He’d deliberately made a fool of himself to hide his agenda. He’d gone out of his way to appear shallow and vain. He checked out ladies because he was supposed to check out ladies and he threw parties because he was supposed to throw parties and he proclaimed his love for tequila because it was one proclamation of love that people would actually believe. Everything about him was carefully calculated. It was exhausting.
But then, something happened. A mercenary shot a laptop full of bullets and sent Oliver to the IT department of his family company, and everything changed.
The stop at the IT department was just a box to tick in Oliver’s grand plan for catching Deadshot. One and done. In and out. Instead, he runs into this young woman in a pink shirt who babbles in disbelief that Oliver Queen walked into her office but who is not quite starstruck enough not to look at him incredulously when he told her that he’d spilled a latte on the laptop. He was caught off guard and dumbfounded and funny. Who was this man and why was he suddenly so much more appealing?
It was after Oliver met Felicity that I started to genuinely like Oliver, and I couldn’t help but look forward to their interactions. He was always just so light and genuine and…dumb. I could just imagine Oliver marching up to her office all confident in his cover story and so sure that this time, she wouldn’t find a loophole that would make him look like a huge doofus…and then she would and he’d be improvising again and it would be so stupid and endearing and I liked him.
But I wasn’t shipping Olicity. I wasn’t shipping anybody. In fact, I was proud of myself for staying detached enough not to pull for one couple or another for a show that I’d be writing about.
Then, I got to “Vertigo” in my marathon. Once I stopped replaying the sports bottle scene, I made it to the end of the episode and the scene at Big Belly Burger. Oliver waves like a giant dork out the window at somebody. Felicity walks in with soft lighting behind her and rain on the windows and asks Oliver if she can trust him. She looks so disappointed in him when he turns the smarmy Ollie smile on her that he literally corrects his behavior instinctively and affirms that she can trust him. She hands over the notebook, and the scene ends.
And I paused the episode, stared at the screen, and said - pardon my French - “Oh, God damn it.”