Arrow season 6 opened with (most of) Oliver’s friends and family surviving a nearly impossible explosion. Since that moment though, Arrow has taken pains (some natural, some rather forced) to separate Oliver from everyone he knows and loves. So how does feeling isolated and betrayed impact a man with a series of mental problems, PTSD and impulse control? Not very well … at all. The stress of Oliver’s current situation comes crashing down around him in this episode, “Fundamentals.” Thankfully, Oliver’s pain makes for one of the best episodes in Arrow history.
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Worst …. Trip …. Ever
“Fundamentals” begins with knocking down the last pillars of Oliver’s support system, Felicity and William. In a fit of rage (due to frustration and one other yet-to-be-revealed factor) Oliver snaps at William and Felicity. It’s in a way that feels scarily real and abusive. This causes Felicity to institute a “break” between Oliver and herself.
Shortly after Oliver gets dumped, he gets a very unwelcome surprise. Prometheus is alive! And he’s in the bunker ready to knock Oliver around in one of those glorious Prometheus and Green Arrow fights. (They were missed but not forgotten. In one short scene, Adrian Chase is more engaging than Diaz has been all season, which is less a comment on Diaz and more about how wonderful Diaz is as a villain.)
After Oliver is stabbed and shot, he finally realizes that everything that’s happening isn’t actually happening. Oliver has been dosed with Vertigo by the councilman who is on the take from Diaz and is leading his impeachment. In other words, Ollie’s hallucinating. Hence, Prometheus’ resurrection and several other terrible things. (Although the newbies and Diggle still don’t trust Oliver. That, sadly, hasn’t changed.) Yet, just because Oliver knows he’s being dosed, doesn’t mean he can get rid of it. Prometheus continues to haunt and taunt Oliver. It’s oddly delightful.
Stop Hitting Yourself
“Fundamentals” does a tremendous job of playing with reality as Oliver gets further and further into his hallucinations. It’s never clear what’s real and what’s a figment of Oliver’s imagination, even when Oliver is being stabbed in the stomach. From fighting Prometheus, Oliver talks to a non-dead Laurel Lance, NTA taunts him about not having any moral high ground and Diaz even shows up at Oliver’s apartment to kill Raisa and then himself. It’s all a fascinating deconstruction of Oliver’s character, especially since we as the audience know that all the terrible things Oliver’s hearing about himself are coming directly from himself.
The current Team Arrow civil war story hasn’t been handled the best. Diggle has some legitimate complaints but NTA have increasingly seemed like hypocritical whiners. Yet all that angst is almost worth it for this fantastic episode. “Fundamentals” looks at Oliver’s growth and examines how far he’s changed and where he still needs room to grow. Oliver has grown and matured, but his Achilles’ Heel will always be his destructive self-loathing.
The conclusion of Oliver’s hallucinations, delivered mostly by Josh Segarra’s maniacal Prometheus, is that he’s strayed too far from his original mission. Oliver has spread himself too thin. If Oliver wants to take Diaz down, he needs to put all his focus into his life as Green Arrow. This decision could come off as typical self-loathing Oliver nonsense, but Arrow finds a way to approach it from a new and more responsible angle. Of course, Oliver needs to say something incredibly stupid beforehand.
Becoming Something Else … Again
It turns out that Oliver and Felicity’s break-up was yet another hallucination. Felicity is horrified to learn from Quentin that Oliver believes she kicked him out of the house. It gets even worse when Felicity gets an alert that Oliver is charging into the police station, alone, to take on Diaz single-handedly.
The perspective switches from inside Oliver’s drugged head to everyone else and Arrow truly shows how desperate and cornered Oliver is acting. Stephen Amell does a tremendous job as Oliver under Vertigo becomes season 1’s The Hood, but even more violent. This change would be fantastic, if Oliver wasn’t going to get himself killed in a trap that Diaz has set up for him in the police station. (True, Diaz’ quiet rage and intensity isn’t as fun to watch as Adrian Chase’s murderous madness, but Kirk Acevedo really needs to be praised for the work he’s doing.)
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Of course, Oliver doesn’t actually walk into the trap and get himself killed. Felicity shows up just in time to talk Oliver off the proverbial edge. It is a bit silly in an episode that has dealt so honestly and deeply with Oliver’s self-hatred that the “power of love” saves him. Yet it’s not the first time that Arrow has used Felicity to symbolize Oliver’s connection to humanity and his better nature and it won’t be the last. At least “Fundamentals” keeps the cheesiness lowkey, making things just emotional enough.
Even if Felicity convinced Oliver that he shouldn’t walk into an obvious trap, she didn’t change his mind about needing a team right now. Oliver affirms to Felicity that for the foreseeable future, the Green Arrow won’t have a team. He’s going it alone. Oliver needs to get back to basics.
Luckily, he’ll have the time because his erratic nature while Vertigo’d up convinced the city to impeach him. Oliver is no longer mayor. He’ll have full time to devote to taking Diaz down.
A solo Oliver is obviously only a temporary situation. However, Arrow season 6 dealing with a solo, unemployed Oliver Queen sounds exactly what this season needs right about now.
But do you agree? Will Oliver’s no-team policy blow up in his face? Did you enjoy seeing Prometheus again? How does he compare to Diaz? How long did it take you to figure out Oliver was doped? How did you feel about Felicity saving Oliver?
Arrow season 6 airs Thursdays at 9/8c on The CW. Want more news? Like our Arrow Facebook page!
(Image courtesy of The CW)