In “The Calm,” Arrow makes its various characters adjust to the concept of fatherhood. We see them do this in various ways and are content. And then Arrow blows us out of the water.
Digg’s a Dad
John Diggle is the one becoming the literal father on this episode of Arrow. I have to say it disappointed me slightly. Not because it makes Digg give up taking the risky jobs. Not even when Digg decides to do this after having a prolonged fight with Ollie because he is determined to keep taking the risky jobs.
I’m disappointed because in one scene Digg and Lyla have a talk with an obstetrician - during which Digg refers to himself as Lyla’s boyfriend and Lyla refers to Digg as her ex husband - and the obstetrician jokingly says, “you don’t want your husband delivering this baby on the side of the road.” And then they quietly have the baby in the hospital, off screen, with, I assume, a competent doctor doing the delivering. Arrow, you showed me Chekhov’s gun in the first act, and they you unloaded it, melted it down, and threw it into the sea without ever firing it. Still, the baby and the changes arising from it promise to give Digg an independent arc and focus, and I’m all for that. More Digg and Lyla, please!
Quentin is Relegated to Dad-Only Status
Quentin lived through his mysterious collapse at the end of the last season. He even got promoted to captain. But now he’s popping pills (just heart pills) whenever he so much as slugs a guy. And he slugs a surprising amount of guys in this episode. When Ollie is chasing a thug through a sewer, there Quentin is. When Ollie is ambushed by the new Count Vertigo - a guy who has a drug which makes people hallucinate their greatest fears - there Quentin is. Quentin gets a lot done in this episode.
Unfortunately, that takes a toll on his heart. He goes into the hospital, where Laurel, Laurel Lance, she of perpetual kidnapping, the walker into earthquake zones, the baiter of murderous vigilantes, the woman who, when she suspected a city official of rampant corruption and possibly even murder, agreed to go on a date with him, Hurricane Laurel tells Quentin that he needs to stop endangering himself. Honey, ya got moxie. Moxie and a total lack of self-awareness, but mostly moxie. Quentin says he doesn’t know what to be if he’s not a crime-fighting street cop. She tells him that he will always be her father.
Felicity Deals With Two Guys Who Wanna Be Her Daddy
Felicity Smoak emergences from her bafflingly lonely life of last season with two chiseled jawlines to choose from. The first belongs to Ollie, who flirts her as only a man with incredible eyelashes can. Seriously, the last time I saw a lower lash line that defined it was on Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange. He asks her on a date, which starts out a bit awkwardly. They shuffle close to each other and do a friend hug. Felicity points out that they have exhausted all possible topics first date conversation. She also says, “And I’ve already seen you shirtless. Multiple times.” He hasn’t seen you shirtless, Felicity! That’s something to start with!
Felicity’s second suitor is a man who buys some very advanced hacking equipment from her at her job as a clerk at a Best Buy Lookalike store. He’s a fast-talking charmer who offers her a job at a better company.
Sadly, both of Felicity’s possible love lives dissolve. The man from the store department ends up being a bidder for Queen Consolidated, and the douchiest possible iteration of Ray Palmer. I do not say that as a criticism. When he gives a presentation to the board of Queen Consolidated, and actually says, multiple times, “BTW,” I wanted to dissolve into grateful tears. His toothy smile is so cheesy I want to melt it over toast. I want to put his overall performance in a sweater vest and have it give a lecture on biting satire at NYU. It’s glorious, I tell you. Glorious. But Felicity can’t work for (or be with) a guy who stole her friend’s company. (Also, Ray wants to change Starling City to Star City, as a way to symbolically renew the entire town. Well-played, Arrow.)
Her fall-out with Ollie is messier. When the guy hunting the Arrow blows up the restaurant in which Ollie and Felicity are having their date, Ollie looks at the devastation and knows he has to forego civilian life. He believes it makes him lose focus. He tries to string Felicity along, saying that one day, “maybe,” but she interrupts him and tells him to just say never. This causes him to give her a big, tragic, yearning, kiss, that I will say right now is legitimately hot. But it seems Ollicity is not to be.
Ollie Can’t Screw Over a Dad
In this episode’s flashback sequence, Ollie is in Hong Kong and desperately trying not to be. He keeps attempting to escape Amanda Waller, and getting beaten by her henchman for his trouble. When he says that not even the threat of death will stop him from trying to escape, Waller tries something different. Ollie wakes up in the house of the henchman who was beating him. The man tells him that he (the henchman) will be killed, along with his (the henchman’s) family, if Ollie doesn’t comply.
This character will give me an eye twitch by the time this season is done and there’s no mistake about that. Not only is what she’s doing objectively evil, even if she’s faking the threat she’s an idiot. Her henchman can’t ever trust her again. And why is she doing all of this? So she can have Oliver Queen. Oliver Queen, who, at this point, is pretty good at fighting, pretty good at archery, and that’s it. The only other thing he’s got going for him is a justified hatred towards the woman who is kidnapping and torturing him. Amanda Waller’s supposed to be a gritty antihero who does what needs to be done, but she’s not. Everything this woman has ever done on this show has been dumb, violent, and useless.
The Knife in the Back and the Arrow in the Chest
And now we get to the shocker. I did not see this coming at all, and I am intrigued. And horrified. Sarah is back, and she makes us like her all over again. She saves Ollie. She gives him advice. She jokes with Laurel. And she puts on her mask to fight crime.
Then she hears a voice say, “Sarah.” She turns, asking, “What are you doing here?” And she’s shot. And falls off a building. Definitely dead.
Across the nation, as televisions flickered in a million living rooms, a million howls went up into the night sky, and were silenced.