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‘Arrow’ Review: “Dangerous Liaisons”

Nora Dominick ‘17/ Emertainment Monthly Executive Stage Editor

Arrow returned this week after a short hiatus and has already picked up steady momentum heading into its final episodes of the season. With Prometheus/Adrian Chase (Josh Segarra) in the wind, Team Arrow’s trying desperately to find him. Arrow’s latest episode “Dangerous Liaisons” pits Team Arrow vs. Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) in one of the best episodes this season.

We all knew she would change Arrow. When Felicity Smoak arrived on the scene in season one, it was hard not to notice the potential of this character. While she began as just a recurring character, Felicity soon became a force to be reckoned with. Her hacking skills are unmatchable and she has become an essential asset to the team. And yet, Arrow seemed to forget her necessity in the beginning of season five. After her breakup with Oliver (Stephen Amell), Felicity was shoved into the box we all feared she would be shoved into: the ex-girlfriend box. Instead of watching this powerhouse woman take on bad guys alongside the team, she was pushed farther away from Oliver and into the arms of Billy Malone (Tyler Ritter). Felicity no longer resembled the season one character we fell in love with. Instead she was “just someone’s girlfriend.” 

For Felicity Smoak, season five of Arrow has been a struggle. Her boyfriend was killed by her ex-boyfriend for starters. But, the worst thing is that somehow Team Arrow still doesn’t realize how much of an asset she truly is. Even Arrow’s writing staff seemed to have forgotten about her. She hasn’t had a real storyline all season. This could be caused by Arrow’s aversion to “Olicity” up until these last five episodes. Felicity somehow got lost in a sea of new characters and bolder storylines. Now with five episodes left, Arrow has plucked their starring female from the background and dropped her right in the forefront. The smartest move the show could make right now.

With Adrian Chase on the run and all of Star City searching for him, Felicity turns to Alena (Kacey Rohl) and her friends at Helix. Felicity will do anything it takes to take down Chase, even if that means crossing blades with Team Arrow. While we wouldn’t say Felicity has completely crossed over to the “dark side,” she has left behind the timid girl who once sat behind the keyboard in season one. After five years of watching Oliver, Felicity knows the cost of pursuing justice and she’s willing to go the extra mile. Felicity’s descent deeper and deeper into Helix is one of the best storylines in season five. It has allowed Felicity to flourish out from under the shadow of Oliver and Team Arrow. Felicity having a strong storyline simply completes her transition into the leading female character on Arrow.

There are several small moments this week that allow Felicity to shine, however the overall episode truly shows the stellar abilities of Emily Bett Rickards. Arguably the breakout star of Arrow, Rickards has transformed Felicity time and time again. From a goth hacker from MIT to IT Girl to a bonafide superhero, Rickards has been able to take her character to places we couldn’t have imagined. Over five seasons not only has Felicity grown as a character, but Rickards has grown as an actress. In this episode, Rickards has the chance to play a side to Felicity we never thought we’d see. The side that disagrees wholeheartedly with Oliver. Felicity’s actions lead to some of Arrow’s best performances and character arcs in season five.

Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards in the Arrow episode "Dangerous Liaisons." Photo Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW
Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards in the Arrow episode “Dangerous Liaisons.” Photo Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW

Before diving into Rickards work opposite Amell, we have to discuss Rickards work with Rohl. Only introduced a few episodes ago, Alena became a great confidant, but possibly a reminder of the road Felicity could’ve ended up on. The real shock for both Felicity and audiences this week is Alena’s little remorse towards the ARGUS agent she kills. If Felicity continued on her hacker path, this could be her, which is why Alena is such a great character addition. She’s enticing to Felicity and that’s why they become such good friends.

Alena knows she can get Felicity to do anything, especially if Team Arrow is on the line. And she’s right. Rohl and Rickards create a great partnership in these last few episodes. They balance each other out in a perfect way. By episodes end, Alena and Helix have packed up and moved on from Felicity, but we have a feeling this won’t be the last time we see them. We hope this is true, because we feel like we’re just getting started with Rohl’s Alena.

After months of being pushed apart by storylines, Oliver and Felicity finally come face to face, but this time they’re on different sides. Felicity stands with Helix while Oliver stands against them. It’s an enticing storyline, which leads to some incredible acting from Rickards and Amell. While “Olicity” might not be together right now, there’s no denying the chemistry between Amell and Rickards. Whenever the two of them are in a scene together, everything else stops, audiences hold their breathe as they work. This week’s episode has several crucial “Olicity” moments that have audiences on the edge of their seats. From Oliver going to Felicity’s apartment begging her to stand down to Felicity looking Oliver right in the eyes and putting up a laser shield.

The moments between Amell and Rickards remind us why we keep coming back to Arrow. While their relationship is something we love, we enjoyed Felicity and Oliver together way before they were romantically involved. One downside to Arrow this season, is they forgot or thought we couldn’t handle Felicity and Oliver being just friends. It was a detriment to some storylines that could’ve had poignant moments if they had scenes together. Alone Amell and Rickards are strong, but together they’re a force to be reckoned with and Arrow’s strongest weapon.

David Ramsey in the Arrow episode "Dangerous Liaisons." Photo Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW
David Ramsey in the Arrow episode “Dangerous Liaisons.” Photo Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW

Felicity and Oliver may have been at the center of Arrow this week, but several other characters and performances helped make this a great episode as well. For starters, Diggle (David Ramsey) and Lyla (Audrey Marie Anderson) are having some marriage problem and all we can say is “Why God why!” As Lyla retreats deeper and deeper into her leading position at ARGUS, Diggle fears she’ll do something she’ll regret.

Ramsey and Anderson continue to showcase the many sides of Diggle and Lyla’s characters. It’s a pleasure to watch them work together. In particular, Anderson brings her A-game to Lyla this week. Watching her command ARGUS and trying to make her marriage work with Diggle just shows all the character growth she’s gone through. Anderson is always a welcomed addition to every Arrow episode she’s part of and we hope she shows up more.

Another storyline that added to Arrow’s stellar episode was between Wild Dog (Rick Gonzalez) and Quentin (Paul Blackthorne). While we were confused about this pairing at first, it all made sense this week. Quentin tries to help Wild Dog get his daughter back. He wants to reunite one father and daughter pairing, considering he’ll never see Laurel (Katie Cassidy) again. It’s a tender gesture and Blackthorne and Gonzalez play the dynamic perfectly. Our hope is Quentin and Wild Dog continue to build this relationship as friends, but also fathers that have lost their children.

Arrow gives fans an episode this week that has us excited for the remainder of the season. Team Arrow vs. Felicity is a perfect way to launch us into the final five episodes and we cannot wait. Rickards and Amell work seamlessly together once again and if next week’s episode is any indication, they will only continue to give us career-defining performances.

Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW

Overall Grade: A-

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