Arrow, ‘Fundamentals’: It’s Christmas in April as Ollie is Visited by His Ghosts

Arrow, Season 6, Episode 18, “Fundamentals”

It’s true in politics and in superhero TV, if you are going to use history is justify your current course of action, be sure to read the full account and not just pick and choose the parts that validate your desires. Ollie, and by extension, the Arrow writer’s room completes his isolation in this episode. He’s now a solo act without all the facts. Here’s everything you need to know about the latest episode of Arrow:

What’s the scoop: The show wants you to know that after spending so much time arguing with teammates, being a half-assed mayor and pretty much ignoring his son for days on end, Oliver is stretched a little thin. He’s single-handedly trying to fight a war on two fronts. (Ok, Quentin is around, but we know how useless he is). He’s trying to root out the corruption in city hall, and to topple Diaz in the streets. All of which leaves Ollie susceptible to a Vertigo-laced handshake from city council member on the take, and sends him on a very bad trip.

Meanwhile in B-plot land: Not much in the way of side stories this week, unless you care about William’s attempt to take down big solar hot dog maker with cabbage and science! They dabble a bit again with Laurel. You’re supposed to infer she is the one who got the Vertigo to the councilman. So, she’s Diaz’s courier as well as his lover. Good to know.

Sex and the Olicity:   Despite the fakeout from the previews, Felicity is a regular Tammy Wynette, standing by her man whether he’s in a drug induced rage, getting impeached, or generally making poor career choices. Let’s get real here, Felicity is the one who really saved the day this week. Running across town in a pencil skirt and platform sneakers is not easy, but those are the kind of sacrifices our heroine will make.

What about the action: The episode wastes no time getting going, using its main action sequence right at the very start of the episode. It’s a good fight; somewhat reminiscent of the kinds of close-quarter sequences done in shows like Daredevil and Into the Badlands. It’s not quite as well executed, but it’s still frenetic, and leads you to see Ollie in his OG Hood uniform. He’s gone all the way back because, between his exhaustion and the effects of the Vertigo, he’s hallucinating big time. Ollie’s guide through his own subconscious is Adrian Chase (Prometheus), himself. Ollie is struggling to know what’s real and what isn’t, not good when you are about to go before the city council for a meeting about your fitness for office. In this fever dream, Ollie is further isolated. William is frightened, Felicity needs space, and Ollie’s Season 1 self is growling that he can end it all tonight, just like the good ole days. The drug is really messing with him. It serves its purpose by making Ollie look unstable in front of the city council, and the bonus side effect is that it leads Oliver on what is a suicide mission, until Felicity swoops in and talks him down. Ollie’s big takeaway from this ordeal is that taking the mission to save Star City back to its solo basics is the right call.

What’s next: Ollie is riding solo, as Diaz declares Star City “open for business,” whatever that means.

Last impressions:  It’s been a while since I’ve seen Season 1, but I remember enough. Sure, saving Star City to fulfill his father’s dying wishes has always been the mission, and Ollie always set out to do it solo. However, the Season 1 mission was much more well-defined than it is now. He literally had a list of people to go after. He was tracking down a bunch of powerful country club types who were looking for better prices on real estate in an area they wanted to gentrify. None of those people had an army of police and politicians at their disposal the way Diaz does. So now, Ollie is plotting his course forward out of some cockeyed nostalgia for the days when it was just him. It was never just him. He had help during the early days on Lian Yu. He brought in Felicity and Diggle very early on, because hackers and good soldiers are handy allies to have. Hell, even Roy Harper was parkouring for justice before the series reached a double-figure episode tally. From a character perspective, given the situation, it makes ten percent sense that Oliver would pick one small piece of his past to focus on. What insults the audience’s intelligence is that Felicity goes along with it without a more strenuous objection. She’s been a part of this from the jump. She’s heard the stories about everything that happened on the island. To not have Felicity at least mention any of that feels out of character for someone so close, and with such a long history as Oliver. Maybe they will bring it all around by season’s end, but from where we stand now it feels like this twisty, taught episode was used for substandard ends.

Craig Wack

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