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Arrow Conversations: “Everybody Is In This Life For Themselves” 

Photo Credit: Jack Rowand/The CW

“The Odyssey” kicked off with a bang. Literally. After Oliver’s mother shot him, I was expecting an episode packed with Starling City goodness, which is why I was surprised when so much of the episode took us back to Island Time. Don’t get me wrong, to this point, I’ve loved the flashbacks and what they’ve taught us, but this episode, I actually felt myself missing some of the current players. But more on that later.

Now, moving on to where most of this week’s action took place: the island. Or as we now know it’s called Lian Yu, which appropriately translates to Purgatory. Picking up where we left off last week, we see Oliver training to become a warrior and in the span of the hour, we see a playboy who could be beaten up by Girl Scouts turn in to a hardcore fighter.

However, in my mind, the physical change was secondary. It wasn’t until we saw Oliver mentally transform that we saw his skills follow.  Early on, Slade Wilson warns Oliver that “everybody is in this life for themselves” before regaling him with the tale of Bill Wintergreen, also known as Deathstroke and Slade’s own partner-turned-opponent on the island. Oliver seems to accept this as he prepares to overtake the airfield and secure his escape from the island. However, after he fails his mission to overtake the radio tower (while Slade meanwhile wipes out ten soldiers singlehandedly) but succeeds to crack the Odyssey code, we see Oliver’s conscious catch up with him.

We all know that before the island, Oliver was the epitome of selfish and self-centered. His life was all me me me, proving that Slade might be on to something. But as we’ve seen, being on this island changed him for the better. As Slade informs Oliver of his plans to blow up the island before they board the plane, Oliver puts his foot down and insists on saving Yao Fei, the man who not only rescued him, but also betrayed him. His declaration that “all my life, all that I’ve ever thought about was myself. I took my family for granted, I betrayed people that I love and I’m not going to be that person anymore” proved that Slade’s theory may not hold water.

So Oliver sets out to rescue Yao Fey, a mission that initially appears to have a disastrous outcome….until Slade arrives to save the day! The very man who declared that all people are selfish risked his own life to save another! And as the episode continued, we learn that he and Oliver are not the only ones willing to put others before themselves. Yao Fei is in fact allying himself with the mercenaries and carrying out their orders not for himself, but because they are holding his daughter hostage. Ultimately, it is his actions and obedience that determine her fate and if hers and Ollie’s matching tattoos have anything to do with it, she just might be the key to something big.

Truth be told, this makes me happy. I never believed Yao Fei was actually one of them and seeing the predicament he faces, it explains (although not necessarily justifies) his apparent betrayal of Ollie. Nevertheless, the episode ended as the plane flew overhead, leaving Oliver and Slade to continue facing down the mercenaries and hoping for another chance to eventually make it home.

Photo Credit: Jack Rowand/The CW

As I mentioned before, this episode didn’t show us much of the present day, but that being said, what we did see was exceptional! Unfortunately, the promos and press photos gave away the fact that Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) would discover Ollie’s secret, but I still enjoyed her induction in to the inner circle. At first I was shocked by her casual acceptance of the situation, but as she pointed out, the fact that Oliver has a secret has been pretty obvious all along…especially to a smart, witty and overall awesome IT nerd like herself. And once again, Felicity’s concern for Ollie proved that not everyone is only out for themselves.

Not only did she save Oliver’s life by delivering him to Diggle, but she used her exceptional tech savvy to fix the defibrillator and bring him back from the brink of death. And then in the end, she declared her allegiance to help (which will presumably put her own life in danger) only because of her concern and desire to find Walter.  However, Felicity wasn’t the only one to exude compassion. Diggle’s story from the war illustrated his own guilt at following through with commands to kill innocent people in order to protect a drug lord and how his fight to save Starling City is his own form of redemption.

The interaction between Felicity and Diggle in this scene, as well as the others, was exceptional. And clearly, the producers have taken note as Rickards was just promoted to series regular for the newly acquired second season.  That being said, I can’t wait until next week when it looks like she gets out in to the field and in on the action alongside the selfless as they attempt to take down the selfish.

Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on the CW.

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