Hello fellow Arrow fans! It’s time to review episode 3×11, “Midnight City,” also known as “No Women Will Ever Be Validated for Their Choices Ever Unless They Have Been Chewed Out By Every Other Character First.”
“Midnight City” was catchier.
Hey remember that time Ollie got stabbed in the snow and fell off a mountain and no one knew what to do without him? We’re still doing that. He’s still gone and the team is still struggling to fill the hero-shaped vacuum he left behind. The result? A nicely plot-packed episode with five major storylines:
- Laurel’s struggle to take her sister’s position as Black Canary
- Felicity’s struggle to keep Ray from becoming the Atom
- Thea’s struggle to stay in Starling City
- Katanna’s struggle to reunite with her husband
- Flashback but like. Really. Who cares?
There was also Vinnie Jones trying to kill everyone for vague crime reasons. But that’s not the point. The point was the overarching trend of literally everyone arguing why the choices made by the women above were the wrong choices. For Laurel, it was Roy and Diggle. For Felicity, it was Ray. For Thea, it was Merlyn and that disgustingly creepy DJ. For Tatsu, it was Ollie.
Eventually, Laurel and Thea were revealed to be correct in their assessments, Felicity changed her mind on her own, and Tatsu was left behind in the snow, but this trend is not a new one, and frankly, it’s wearing a little stale.
Don’t get me wrong, I like to see women overcoming adversity as much as the next gal but like, so much adversity. Every woman in this episode got pretty brutally doused with the harshest interpretation of the truth, and only in that last few moments of the episode did they get any semblance of support.
I like to see women sticking to their guns. I like to see women going ‘I know what is best for me.’ But I wish that, every so often, the Arrow men would go ‘I trust that you know what is best for you’ and leave it at that.
After all, Oliver Queen putting on a green hood and stalking the streets in tight pants got very little pushback. Everyone just kind of accepted it. And now that this path has been paved, Diggle, Roy, and Sara have all traipsed down it quite happily. But for some reason, Thea, Felicity, and Laurel don’t get to follow.
Felicity gets mocked for her activewear when she tries to learn to throw a proper punch. Laurel is discouraged from learning anything but the most basic self-defense, then is then told that she doesn’t deserve Sara’s mask, or her leather jacket.
And then there’s Thea. One of my earliest gripes with the show was that Thea, glorious clever brilliant capable Thea, was constantly endangered by her brother’s secrecy. She wouldn’t have gotten into the car with Slade, she wouldn’t have wasted her last year with her mother, she wouldn’t have purposefully lost Queen Consolidated…
Oh wait. Those are exactly the reasons a substantial number of (male) Arrow fans hate Thea. She gets the standard quips of ‘useless’ and ‘whiny,’ when the real fault lies with Oliver. Thea can’t protect herself because no one, especially her brother, will be honest with her. No one trusts her to protect herself.
In the same way, no one trusts Laurel to wear her sister’s mask. No one trusts that Tatsu and Maseo had a falling out for a good reason. And interestingly enough, Felicity doesn’t trust Ray to become a superhero.
So here we have beloved Felicity committing the cardinal sin of Arrow: protecting someone whether they want it or not. Whether they need it or not.
And what does she do? She changes her mind.
She gives Ray his agency back. She enables his journey of superherodom. She goes ‘I trust that you know what is best for you.’
Interesting. Excuse me while I shoot pointed glances at all the men in Arrow.
This condescending protection is a longstanding trend in this show, and I am hoping beyond hope that we are done with it.
But enough meta. Overall, this episode was a good solid hour of television, as per usual. Bright spots included
- Raylicity being the kind of adorable that Ollicity used to be
- Laurel ‘You Don’t Deserve to Wear Your Sister’s Mask’ Lance being the only person who has managed to actually injure Vinnie Jones
- Vinnie Jones. Let’s be real. He’s always a delight.
- Roy finally getting past his Episode-II-Anakin-Skywalker phase
- Roy’s new hair
- That gross-as-heck DJ finally being revealed for the creep he is
- Lots of bonding between Laurel and Felicity who do, in fact, seem to be friends now
And let’s focus on that last one for a minute. Let’s glory in two women grieving over a (seemingly) fridged ex-boyfriend, and deciding to go into hero work to help the people who can still be saved.
That story has been gender-swapped and lifted directly from the pages of every male hero ever. And I love it. I love seeing women getting their own storylines.
So… can Ollie maybe stay on his mountain for a little bit longer?
Things have been so interesting without him.