Warning: Spoilers Ahead!
Last season, “Olicity” were the only ones who left the team at the finale. This time around, they’re the only ones who stay. Arrow certainly does love its parallels, huh? It’s been a long ride, my friends, and season 4 is finally at an end. Here’s our last Olicity Watch of the season for 4×23, “Schism”:
Darhk is not happy. To put it mildly. And he’s determined to nuclear blast everything to hell, including his daughter. Team Arrow rushes to stop him, with Oliver rallying the people of Star City, and Felicity working her tech magic to stop all those bombs from detonating. There’s a massive hand-to-hand fight, the flashbacks suck even more than usual, Curtis is a little ray of sunshine, and Malcolm Merlyn is inexplicably still alive. So, business as usual here on Arrow.
- It’s extra tense and hopeless in the Arrow lair when everyone realizes they have less than an hour before a bomb hits the city. Felicity takes a quiet moment to ask Oliver why Darhk’s magic still affects him (you know, after he spent 3 minutes with that mystical shaman who didn’t actually teach him anything). “The hope you had in me was able to counteract his magic,” he says. “And now that hope is not enough,” she answers. They share a sad, hopeless look. Great, let’s just stomp all over my heart before the credits have even finished rolling. At least there’s some comic relief when he tries to tell her what to do with the tech and then hilariously back pedals.
- For once, Felicity isn’t the ray of hope that Oliver needs to keep fighting another day. Instead, they talk about their eminent doom as if it’s a forgone conclusion, and Oliver – ONCE AGAIN – brings up the darkness inside him, wondering how it would be different if they hadn’t returned from their suburban bliss. The sheer repetition is enough to drive a girl up the wall. How Felicity hasn’t stabbed him yet is one of life’s greatest mysteries. No wonder she can’t muster up the same you have the light in you, keep fighting speech. Instead it’s Curtis who inspires Oliver to go rally the city, which I am 100% fine with. If this show just consisted of Curtis and Felicity babbling at each other for an hour every week I would be perfectly fine and happy.
- There’s not much time for romance when you need to go save the world. Also, it’s getting pretty clear who the leaders are here, with Felicity figuring out the tech part and Oliver taking on the hand-to-hand combat with Darhk. [side note: was Darhk always this good of a fighter? I’m calling finale shenanigans.]. I can’t help but wonder how this would have played out if Olicity were still together – more longing glances as they left to go fight? A quiet moment where they whispered goodbye? At least we do get one reassuring glance before they head out to fight their own respective battles.
- With the world saved and Darhk dead, the team meets up in the lair. They’re fracturing fast, with everyone making speeches about why they need to leave. Surprisingly, Felicity is the one who sticks around. Which leads to TWO back-to-back scenes where Oliver meaningfully stares at something and then Felicity shows up to offer him hope. It’s all very friendly and not very romantic, but she does seem to break through to him when she tells him that maybe it’s time to embrace the dark as well as the light. Oliver’s face lights up like someone just told him he could have a cheat day while on a gluten-free diet.
- In the very final scene of the season, Felicity finds Oliver in the lair. “Did you think I was leaving too?” she asks. “Not a chance.” They smile at each other and then stand side by side to stare at the superhero suits – still standing, still there – amid all the destruction and debris. These two are a team, and it doesn’t even matter if their lips are locked together or not. (Though let’s lock them together at least a little bit next season, okay?)
The first one is time. As the minutes kept counting down in this episode, I started to get more and more panicky, knowing that the show wouldn’t have enough time to resolve all of the couple’s issues. Felicity and Oliver didn’t break up for no reason. Sure, it was manufactured drama that didn’t do the writing team any justice, but we have to take it at face value: Oliver lied to Felicity about something huge. She found out, realized that he still wouldn’t let her in and that she wasn’t ready to be married to someone who shuts her out when the going gets tough. Do I believe that Oliver can become a man who’s worthy of her? Hell, yes. And I think we a lot closer in this season. Him embracing the idea of himself as a schism is a really important step. He’s not all or nothing, and the sooner he faces the reality of who he is (good and bad), the sooner he can be ready for a healthy relationship. But there simply wasn’t enough time to make their reunion work, both in this episode and in the second half of the season in general. This is not an easy fix, and I think if the show had thrown a band-aid over it in the form of some giant kiss it would have ultimately felt like a hollow victory. A very hot, please-keep-making-out victory, but a hollow one nonetheless.
The second reason is Laurel’s death. As a character, Laurel had stopped working on this show. And as an actress, Katie Cassidy just didn’t have enough to do. She lifted out of most episodes, her dialogue was mostly filler, she was no longer the romantic lead, and the writers never really knew what to do with her in general. It’s not her fault, but she just wasn’t working. So in the grand scheme of things, her death was a blessing. BUT. She was also a main character from the start, and one who was originally supposed to end up with the main guy. It’s not Cassidy’s fault that Stephen Amell just had much more sparkling chemistry with a certain IT girl. I can’t imagine it was an easy situation for anyone to deal with; the writers, the actors or even the characters. Which is why the writers were so careful to keep bringing up Laurel last night. Her death informed almost every decision each character made. Sometimes logically, sometimes it was a bit of a stretch. But I do think that part of the reason we didn’t see an Olicity reunion was out of respect for Laurel’s character, and for how the writers chose to frame her in her final moments: as pining over Oliver and calling him the love of her life. It’s extra tragic when we all clearly know who the love of his life is.
Which brings me to…
…Moments of Hope/ Season 4 Overview: Sure, we didn’t get some big, grand finale kiss. But the hope is there, people, and it’s shining like a nuclear bomb falling from the sky (too soon?). Like I said above, Arrow loves a good parallel. Olicity started out the season as the only ones separate from the team. They end as the only two still on the team, standing as partners and equals. This is what they were missing in their relationship throughout this season, and it’s exactly why Felicity dumped Oliver – because for all he clearly needs her, he doesn’t see her as a true partner yet. Now they have months and months to work together (just the two of them) and truly build a friendship/partnership based on trust and transparency.
We have to remember that last season, Oliver wouldn’t let Felicity in at all. He finally softened in the season 3 finale, but even then it’s not because he’s allowing her to be part of his inner-workings as a superhero. Instead, he asks her to skip town with him, to run away from the darkness. It’s what Oliver thinks he wants, but Felicity recognizes that this isn’t the life for them. Oliver is a hero – and so is she – and while they were really happy in the suburbs, they were also isolated from everyone and everything they loved. When the team blew up Darhk’s idyllic underground suburbs it was a not-so-subtle symbolic gesture implying that life in Ivy Town wasn’t as picturesque and perfect as Oliver may have thought. It’s easy to go on vacation with the one you love and have an amazing time. And that’s what Ivy Town was at its core – a vacation for the two of them to run away from the gritty reality of their life. It’s why Oliver idealizes it and keeps wondering what would have happened if they’d never left. It’s much harder to live your daily life together, working through problems and facing hard times.
As soon as Oliver was confronted with one of those hard times (the choice to lie about his son or not), he went back into Island-mode and shut Felicity out. This whole season has been about that decision. At the time, most fans thought it was a giant step back for Oliver’s character. And it was, but it was also fairly realistic: he didn’t actually change in Ivy Town, he was just running away from his reality. In order to truly change and become a person who can let someone else in, he has to learn how to embrace all parts of himself and share all those parts with his partner(s). Last night’s finale was a great step in that direction.
There’s absolutely no doubt at this point that Felicity is the love of Oliver’s life, his endgame, his person. If he’s going to let anyone in, it’s her. The two of them standing together at end of the season is a really strong symbol of this – as is Oliver’s speech to Felicity on their ‘mock’ wedding day when he called her his “always.” When the dust settles, it will always be the two of them side-by-side, ready to face whatever comes next. There will most definitely be a reunion in season 5, and I can’t wait to see how it all plays out.