“Underneath” took time out of the tense Prometheus struggle to offer a slower and more character-focused episode of Arrow. While there was some movement on Oliver’s ongoing guilt and sense of loss following Prometheus’ torture session, the episode was mostly devoted to the Oliver and Felicity romance.
“Underneath” was essentially an apology on Arrow‘s part for the rushed and lazy way the couple called off their wedding in season 4. Arrow properly addressed the reason for the break-up and though it was ambiguous, the door was left open for a future reunion. Olicity’s return might not be imminent but it is the most likely option coming out of “Underneath.” It might be time, too, if Arrow approaches their return in the exact right manner.
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The Best and the Worst of Times
Arrow doesn’t need Oliver and Felicity together. Arrow season 5 has been one of the best years of the show since season 2 and it might just be the best season yet. It’s also a year that has ignored any kind of romantic tension between Oliver and Felicity. The two have interacted but they have mainly been doing their own thing with just scant mentions of their romantic history. Seasons 3 and 4 of Arrow have problems of their own outside of the intense focus on Olicity, season 3 especially. A failing aspect of both of those seasons is that it put the spotlight on Oliver and Felicity to the detriment of nearly everything else. The correlation between the lack of Oliver and Felicity and the rise of quality in season 5 isn’t entirely coincidental.
In “Underneath” the show proved that there is something special between Oliver and Felicity. In the comics, the love of Oliver Queen’s life might be the Black Canary but TV’s version has a special partnership with Felicity Smoak. Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards were at the top of their game in the present-day section of “Underneath.” Thrust into the special circumstance of being at a life-or-death crossroads, Arrow was able to demonstrate how special they are together. There is a give and take. Oliver and Felicity challenge each other but there is deep mutual respect and admiration between them. “Underneath” had Oliver and Felicity at their best in the present-day material.
The episode sadly also had them at their worst with the flashbacks. The flashbacks of “Underneath” were simply fan service for those who want as many sex scenes between Oliver and Felicity as possible on a major broadcast network. The flashbacks did nothing to advance either character and it was just more of the same. Oliver and Felicity had the same argument they have had in the previous two seasons multiple times. It was unnecessary and meaningless. Since it was the most overtly romantic interaction between the two it is hard to be that happy about them possibly reuniting if that is what is in store for Arrow.
Teaching an Old Romance New Tricks
Yet the flashbacks, by virtue of being flashbacks, did happen in the past. “Underneath” did a lot to advance and fix some of the problems in the Olicity relationship. If the two do reunite at the end of season 5 or beyond, there would be no reason to revisit the cycle of Felicity lecturing Oliver about morals and Oliver taking it because he is such a self-loathing mess. Any future romance between Oliver and Felicity shouldn’t be perfect, because that would just make for dull TV, but should be relatively harmonious. At the very least the two can’t keep having the same argument about trust — and they won’t, as they finally had that talk in “Underneath.”
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Personally, I’m not clamoring for an Olicity reunion. I like Oliver and Felicity in their scenes together but the luster on their romance has faded for me while watching the show. I haven’t been truly invested in their romance since season 2 and would rather see them go forward as platonic partners and try seeing other people. Oliver has a perfectly wonderful Black Canary in Dinah and we need to see more of them together, and more of Dinah in general, before it is obvious that Oliver belongs with his ex. There is also potential for Felicity with other suitors too. While Billy was a dud, Felicity had a very cute dynamic with Rory AKA Ragman before he went on superhero sabbatical.
After “Underneath” Oliver and Felicity getting back together doesn’t seem quite as ill-conceived as it was before the episode. There might be life left in the old romance but it must be handled and presented in the right way.
But what do you think? Do you want to see Oliver and Felicity get back together? Do you care about them as romantic partners or are they better off as friends?
Arrow season 5 airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW. Want more news? Like our Arrow Facebook page!
(Image courtesy of The CW)