NOC Recaps Arrow: The Room Where it Happens

This week’s episode of Arrow was really great — it’s probably the first time ever that I’ve enjoyed Arrow more than The Flash since 1.) Last season of Arrow was ROUGH, and 2.) This week’s episode of The Flash was also rough. Of course, the amazingness of “Beyond Redemption” was helmed by none other than Punisher: War Zone (and friend of the NOC — go check out Keith’s interview with her!) director Lexi Alexander.

Something I noticed about the writing and directing was how intimate so many of the scenes were. There is, of course, the phenomenal scene between Lance and Oliver (which I will, of course, talk about later), but so many other scenes are two actor scenes, in small-ish/dark/intimate rooms. Therefore recap title is triple-fold:

1.) NEW LAIR! There is a new Room Where it Happens, and I can’t wait to explore more of it.

2.) A lot of these intimate conversations involve decisions being made that others aren’t privy to, in rooms that aren’t public spaces. Each room holds a big secret that could come out any minute.

3.) I challenged myself to the #HamiltunesWritingChallenge: choose one song from the Hamilton musical and incorporate as many lyrics as possible into an essay/article/recap. I didn’t expect this episode recap to be my first attempt, but it kind of worked out perfectly. As I watched this episode, so many lines from “The Room Where it Happens” was applicable, so I went with it1

We’ll break down the recap by each room and what important decisions are made or insights we learn.

Lance’s Living Room

No one really knows how the parties get to yes, the pieces that they sacrifice through every game of chess

Oliver and Captain Lance are the center focus of this episode. Lance is dealing with corrupt cops (in the form of the amazing Rutina Wesley, I’ll get to her in the Flechettes later) and he’s pissed he can’t do more about it because of budget cuts. And here comes Oliver.

I know you hate him, but let’s here what he has to say

Lance is reluctant to allow him to help, but he has no other resources. So he passes Oliver some tech and a lot of petty sass. “With what happened to the last few mayors, I’m hoping you’ll win in a landslide.” That was uncalled for, Lance. I know he’s been problematic, but you really wish him dead?

Oliver takes the tech to Felicity, who engineers a way to find the cops responsible for murdering detectives the night before. Her plan involves using the dashboard cameras of every cop car in the city. What do the videos reveal? Lance and Damien Darhk having an after hours chat. Oliver is, of course, pissed. How could Lance work with Darhk after giving him so much trouble for all these years?

Oliver confronts Lance about it later that same night in his apartment. “For years, you’ve looked at me with such contempt. Utter disdain.” Lance throws back, “You don’t get to come into my house and pass judgement on me!”

This scene was crazy good. The writing, the acting, the emotion. The fact that we KNOW Oliver looked to Lance as a father figure, someone he could aspire to be more like — evidenced directly in his mayoral campaign — but now Lance is down in the dirt with him, acting like he is still squeaky clean. Lance tries to pull the “I was protecting my daughters” line, but Oliver points out that that’s always his excuse. (Oliver doesn’t know about Sara or that Lance is struggling with what to do about her.)

Man, Stephen Amell and Paul Blackthorne really nailed it. The intimacy of the room really worked when Oliver stood up. His large figure dwarfing the room, pushing back on Lance’s… cowardice? His hypocrisy? “They [your daughters] would be ashamed of what you’re doing right now.”

In the end, Quentin decides that if they want to save Star City, they can’t lower themselves to the methods of those destroying it. He gives a really great speech to Liza Warner about redemption and justice.

When Oliver sneaks into his apartment again, to have a post-mortem about it, Lance says he believes in what he says — he knows this means he can’t act like a jerk to Oliver/Green Arrow anymore, but it also means he has to turn himself in. But Oliver stops him.

They emerge with a compromise, having opened doors that were previously closed, bros

Lance is going to keep working for Damien Darhk, passing his intel to Team Arrow (“We had a spy on the inside, that’s right2”).

Curtis’ Palmer Tech Lab

No one really knows how the game is played, the art of the trade, how the [ATOM] gets made

Felicity and Curtis don’t spend too much time together this week, but their dynamic is always amazing. “This must be what it’s like talking to me.” She gets him to help with Arrow business again, and Curtis shows us that he’s working on a list of people he thinks are The Arrow [Ed. note: He said Neal Adams, though!]. But he has other concerns, like the messages Felicity’s been getting all week.

Felicity figures out they’re coming from Palmer Tech and thinks Curtis has been pranking her, but he shows her that the frequency is coming from a piece of tech Ray designed. She realizes she has the password and Ray’s last words are recorded through the encryption. She, of course, doesn’t want to listen, but Curtis tells her a very moving story about his brother who died a few years ago and how he’d want to listen to anything he could that he hadn’t heard before.

Curtis is very compassionate towards Felicity, but also very firm. He doesn’t allow her to waste away this chance, especially when others in her situation wouldn’t have the same opportunities. He doesn’t know, of course, that Felicity left Ray days before his “death” for another man, and that Ray will not be found dead, but his heart is in the right place. Felicity decides to listen, but we don’t get more than that this week.

Oliver’s Campaign Office

When you got skin in the game, stay in the game. You don’t get a win unless you playing the game. Oh, you get love for it, you get hate for it, you get nothing if you wait for it, wait for it

Oliver announces to the team that he’s running for mayor! He’s met with just about the same response that Felicity gave him. Sort of confused silence. He expected more, but come on Oliver. Your only cares the last three years have been Arrow related, you can’t announce out of the blue and expect everyone to jump for joy! They’re concerned and cautious, which is good. This means they will make you act right, will look out for you, and will make sure you don’t burn the city to the ground in your daytime suit (that your nighttime suit will have to clean up). And they’re still supportive. No one said, “no, don’t do this” — and they’d have every right to.

Oliver realizes their hesitation is right soon enough, as the city’s current troubles lead him to believe that the city can’t be saved. Is all of Star(ling) beyond redemption (TITLE DROP!)? He’s been fighting for three years for the Starling City he remembered as a kid. Where he and Thea would go to baseball games and the whole town would be united in the stadium. But that Starling doesn’t exist anymore (I mean, they changed the name and everything, Oliver, duhhh). So he needs to figure out a way to fight for this new city.

We dream of a brand new start, but we dream in the dark for the most part

Thea thinks it over and decides to help him out. Later, in that same room, she provides him with a staff (interns of course cuz I think Felicity’s source of money is being tapped in too many places) and tells him she believes in him. Oliver officially announces his candidacy, with another great speech from this episode. He even references the episode voice-over! “I wanted to save my city. With your help, I can.”

I’m pretty excited to see Oliver run for mayor. No one is brave enough to run against him (for now), but will there be an opponent? Will Oliver’s past come back to haunt him? Someone pointed out on Twitter that at the very least, the drugs he scored for Thea in this very episode could come back against him — though I think it being for the cops might exonerate him. And will he be able to keep the Green Hood a secret? I think the end game might be for him to do both publicly, but we shall see (that’d be much later down the road, with no Anti-Vigilante Task Forces in sight).

New Team Arrow HQ

I want to be in the room where it happens

THIS IS IT Y’ALL! THE NEW LAIR! I don’t think we got to spend enough time there, honestly. Not enough to see the different uses of each part (that conference table though?) and how each team member makes a home there. I think that so far in the previous labs, only Oliver (WELCOME BACK SALMON LADDER) and Felicity have truly had a hangout spot.

I hope to see Diggle with a more solidified space, plus Thea and Laurel of course. I laughed, though, when Felicity said they had help from S.T.A.R. Labs, like that was a big force of workers. That’s three more people, plus some extra speed construction! But I’ll let it rock. This is the room where it happens. The room where Star City is saved (below the more public facing one, of course). I hope Felicity gets used to her chair soon.

Laurel’s Basement

Dark as the tomb where it happens

I’m on very middle ground when it comes to Laurel right now. She definitely frustrates me, but I’m not on the “hate her all the time always” bandwagon. I mostly think she’s still very selfish in her grief and hasn’t learned to let go. It’s hard to lose someone, of course, but she’s not thinking about Sara right now, how painful it must be to come back from the dead (something rarely talked about in media, what does it feel like?), how awful this must be for her father (LOL is Alex Kingston around somewhere to play her mother once again? Does her mother know any of this?), and what she’d do if Sara — newly “resurrected” for a second time — died again. But I will give her props for not lying to her father again and for having such stubborn hope.

Then I dock her points for tying up her sister in a cold, dark basement. Some photos on a damp floor can’t help Sara get her memory back.

You couldn’t have tied her up in a spare bedroom?!? Laurel is determined to get Sara’s memory back, but what makes her think it’s there at all? She knows nothing of how death works, she doesn’t even seem to have a prevailing religious or scientific belief about death that is affecting her understanding of what is happening to Sara. Damien mentions to Lance that Sara’s soul is gone. “She may look like your daughter, but she doesn’t possess her soul.” (As someone who’s favorite TV show of all time is Angel which I compare to Arrow here — I thought that maybe somewhere they could find Sara’s soul and put it in a jar. They’d need to find Willow to re-ensoul her, of course.)

Despite what Damien suggested, Quentin fails the Abraham/Isaac test (insert a succinct link to the story) and does not follow through with killing how own child. (“You have no idea what terrible things i would do for both of you.”) When Laurel comes down the next day, however, she finds Sara GONE. Well, she was an assassin BEFORE she absorbed unknown League members (and probably lethal, criminal masterminds), you can’t have expected her to stay where you put her (IN A DAMP, DIRTY BASEMENT).

Any thoughts on where Sara has gone? Too early for her to meet up with any Legends of Tomorrow members; what are her steps before that?


  • Thea thinking Oliver had proposed and trying to cover it up was hilarious. Though why Laurel and Felicity are both obtuse about Thea’s potential excitement is beyond me. I’d be ALL OVER that hunch. But, while Felicity often grounds Oliver emotionally, Thea is more in tune with that kind of thing, so she’d be looking for it before the others, I suppose.
  • Thea was actually really great this week, her excitement at the reveal of the lair elevator made me giddy.
  • And I love that Thea sourced her pool of interns from Twitter. I hope they pay them soon, though.

  • Thea’s shade is welcome. Also I enjoy that they’re back to shading Oliver again. It was there seasons 1 and 2, but left with the darkness of season 3. The lighter tone of season 4 allows for jokes to be made. At least until we get to that awful graveyard scene.
  • “Depends on how close you are with your former drug dealer.” “Depends on which one.” Oliver doesn’t rise to the question we all know is on his mind. I like when we see this side of big brother Ollie mode.
  • “We’re going to need some money” Felicity: “Don’t you mean more money?” Mmhm, tell him, Felicity! She may run a multi billion dollar company but it’s not all HER money like the Queen Consolidated money was HIS, so he may find himself out of monetary resources sooner than he thought. He’d better keep tabs and keep receipts!
  • Rutina Wesley did a fantastic job in her guest role of Liza Warner, aka Lady Cop.

  • Because they were apart of the anti-vigilante task force, Warner and her crew knew Black Canary’s Cry frequency and shut it down. That is, until Cisco engineered a new one.

  • “No wonder there is corruption in the force, everyone else has better resources.” Laurel: “I don’t know, those ESU had some pretty fancy toys.” YEAH THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT HE MEANS LAUREL! They go corrupt so they can access the higher up fancy toys! Keith is a Laurel stan, so I try my best to be level-headed (and I am on the side of waiting for her journey to play out, because we all hate flashback!Ollie and I liken it to this all being her five years of growth), but sometimes…
  • Curtis’ brother dying six years ago, means he died in 2009, in the middle of Oliver’s island journey, but a year before our current pattern of flashbacks being always five years ago from the present. Just keeping tabs in case it becomes important.

  • “I CAN GIVE YOU ADVICE, FATHER TO FATHER. IF IT WERE MY DAUGHTER, I’D PUT HER DOWN.” HE ADMITTED HE’S A DAD. PLEASE BE FELICITY’S DAD. ARE THERE SIBLINGS? THREE DECADES OLDER? A YOUNGER? AHHH!  — my direct notes. Not at all sorry for the caps. I refuse to believe Damien isn’t Felicity’s dad. And if he’s not, it’s because the writers knew we all knew. Otherwise, I don’t care who his daughter is, so. ::Shrug::
  • Lexi tweeted that the writers wrote in the Salmon Ladder scene, so we should thank them, but she still directed it and look at how much light is in the new lair!
What was I doing…? Right, a recap. Felicity and I both got just a little distracted. Ahem.
  • Once again kudos to Amell and Blackthorne for their scenes together. You felt the disappointment, the anger, the frustration, and the growth on both sides. Good job, boys!
  • No, I haven’t been talking much about the flashback scenes, because not much is happening in them, but this one line was good: “You’re one dark bastard. There’s something very cold inside of you. And you’re terrified of it.” Two years of Island!Ollie left. We know what kind of man he becomes, but what does it take to get him there?
  • “YOU HAVE FAILED THIS CITY” IS BACK! I wonder if Mayor Candidate Oliver will say it ever? Imagine if that was the thing that outed him as The Green Arrow?
  • I think think technically Oliver doesn’t save the day this week — that goes to Lance.
  • Damien receives a package. As the Arrow Writers tweeted:

  • The shot of Oliver’s “family” during his speech was Thea and Felicity. Heart eyes emoji, even if I’m sad Diggle wasn’t in on that. I guess their family levels aren’t at brothers again, yet. More like amiable acquaintances.
  • Check out Rebecca Theodore’s interview with Lexi Alexander on Vulture!
  • Next week: Constantine! I didn’t watch the show and don’t know the comics, but it seems like he’s primely placed to help Sara with her problem? If so, seems like it all worked out pretty well for crossover timing.

  • A LOT of stuff is set up for Legends of Tomorrow, on both Flash and Arrow. I’m not sure how I feel about that yet. I guess it depends on whether or not I do LoT. Hmm. But it’s moving the story forward, so I won’t complain too much.

Before I go, I just loved the support Lexi Alexander received in her Arrow directing debut. It was a phenomenal episode (best in a long time) and that was in part, due to her. But I also really loved watching people on twitter support her. We’ve all seen the dismal stats of women in Hollywood in almost any field, but directing and writing being two well publicized roles where women are criminally underrepresented, especially women of color. (Side note: I didn’t realize that only two women in ten years had ever written an episode of Doctor Who. TWO. IN TEN YEARS. I can’t imagine directing stats for women on that show are any better. Anyway 🙂

So to see Lexi get a hashtag (#LexiTakesAim) and to receive so many wonderful comments and compliments on twitter during both the East and West Coast feeds of the episode (by many who don’t even watch Arrow but wanted to support her) was fantastic to see. As many shows recently have reminded us (Scandal and Quantico are the two I mean), women and especially women of color, get terrible media coverage — ‘Dog Whistle Politics‘ might have been trending a couple of Thursdays ago due to Scandal — so seeing this positivity brightened my viewing experience. More women directors and more women writers (this episode was co-written by Beth Schwartz) on TV please, especially in superhero media! I hope Arrow invites her back and other shows take notice.

Go Lexi, Go!

  1. If you don’t know what Hamilton the Musical is, first of all — treat yourself, but if you’re not ready, this shouldn’t hamper your understanding of my recap. =)