Oliver and Felicity: 'Let the more loving one be me'. Or, what is selfless love?
I have had a lot of asks recently that focus on the Oliver and Felicity scene in 3.09 and what it means for their relationship. Rather than answer them separately, I thought that I would do a meta that will hopefully address all of those questions. First things first: I think that Marc G was doing a little bit of the old Skeevy Salesman up-sell when declaring this scene a “9”. The fandom then took it and turned it into something that I am sure even he didn’t anticipate. Expectations were sky high, mine included. Maybe that’s why certain sections of the fandom are upset or underwhelmed by the scene. I was too, at first. I don’t dispute that SA and EBR were incredible. But I can understand why some people might look at this scene and wonder “Is that it? Is that all we get?” It’s only when I think about that scene now in the context of the rest of the episode and the season at large that its impact is revealed to me. In my pseudo-review of the episode, I make the bold claim that this is one of the most pivotal scenes between Oliver and Felicity that we have seen yet. On the surface, it may not seem that way. The bare bones of it are the same as we have seen countless times before from these two. But it’s when you look at the scene in the context of their entire relationship that you realise something. Oliver and Felicity are never standing still. When you look in particular at season 3 thus far, you notice that every scene, every dialogue, every act and every action, every line is deliberate. It means something. Every scene of theirs this season has moved their story forward. Slowly, incrementally, painfully, but always moving forward, not backwards. Even the kiss with Ray was not pushing Olicity back so much as providing forward momentum. Much of this is linked to Oliver and the way in which he has been growing ever since 3.02. Again, I speak about this in the review so feel free to check that out if you’re interested. Sure, plot or action wise, maybe the date scene from 3.01 is more important and more on a par with being a “9”. Or perhaps the “married-ness” of Flarrow seems more significant to the fandom at large than this more understated moment. Personally, I am not here for the plot; I’m here for character development. It may seem strange that I say that about a show that is so heavily plot-driven. But the beauty of Arrow- especially in the hands of actors such as Stephen and Emily - is that there is so much nuance to their characters, being revealed in an understated way, in the background of the plot and action, that you almost miss it the first time around. You look at the surface - the scene, the dialogue and the actions - and pronounce judgement on it. That’s okay. Not everyone needs, wants or knows how to look beyond the surface. Sometimes, there’s no reason to. I’m an English Lit graduate, okay, so I have spent years crafting my close reading skills, to read not only the actual lines but between the lines, to understand the difference between textuality and intertextuality and to learn how to apply it to my analysis of the text. Watching Arrow is actually not that different an experience than reading a play or analysing a piece of poetry. There is so much richness, depth and context to consider with this show that oftentimes a lot is lost in initial viewings, and it takes multiple watches to truly understand the depth and breadth of certain scenes. Never is this truer than in any scene that showcases Oliver and Felicity; so if you’ll indulge me, I would like to talk here about that pivotal scene and take it apart section by section. Because of course I have watched it a thousand and one times already, and I am sure that number will only increase as the hiatus continues. Again, this is a long ‘un (seems to be the only way I write these days!) so I’m putting the rest behind the cut.