(Warning: SPOILERS for all episodes of Arrow, up to and including 3×09, “The Climb.”)
Step One: Promise to tell your sister all of your many dark secrets to lure her away from a place where she seems relatively happy and safe to a city mostly known for violence and terrorist attacks. (This is, of course, also the place where she watched her mother get murdered in front of her.)
Step Two: Tell her exactly one secret and never follow up with another, not even with softball stuff like, “You know, I wasn’t alone on the island.” Certainly not the kind of stuff you actually promised to deliver, like, “By the way, I’m totally the Arrow.”
Step Three: When you find out that your sister killed your fellow vigilante-in-crime/on-again-off-again girlfriend, give her the most cursory of interrogations before letting her quickly escape. Make absolutely no attempt to follow her when she does so. (I don’t care if she goes over a balcony. ARE YOU A SUPERHERO OR AREN’T YOU?)
Step Four: Don’t kill or even attempt to capture your sister’s evil father, despite the fact that he’s just admitted to drugging and using her to murder your fellow vigilante-in-crime/on-again-off-again girlfriend. (Plus, you know, all the other stuff he’s done.) Simply believe that he has a way to tell the master assassin about your sister’s involvement without any kind of proof, and go ahead with his plan because, you know. That’s a guy whose advice you want to trust right now.
Step Five: Speaking of your sister, don’t tell her that she’s killed someone she’s known her whole life. Don’t tell her what her father has done, or show her the video proof of her involuntary actions at his behest. Don’t tell her that this is probably the last time you’re ever going to speak. Instead, give her yet another unsubstantiated warning to avoid her father and give her a hug. She’s probably safer already.
Step Six: Tell your well-chiseled sidekick, who’s been at this hero business for not a particularly long time, to look out for your sister, as if he’s actually capable of doing this, especially when you and your eight years of experience have totally failed.
Step Seven: Leave your unsuspecting sister in a city with her brainwashing father to go climb to your near-certain doom in a traditional shirtless duel with a master assassin atop a random icy mountain that you’ll climb with no gloves on because why would non-frostbitten fingers be useful in a sword duel anyway?
Step Eight: Die. (This step is optional but pretty much a foregone conclusion.)
Oh, Arrow. I know I’ve said this before, but I really don’t know if I’ve ever had a show that I’ve loved so hard and that I’ve wanted to strangle so much on a week-to-week basis. Because all of that not-so-gentle mockery above doesn’t even address the multitude of other problems I had with this episode, like why couldn’t Felicity match the killer’s DNA to Thea from her own arrest back in Season One, or how Ray’s continued stalking of Felicity is supposed to be romantic instead of creepy, or the incredibly lamesauce brainwashing drugs that are only introduced this episode and rob Thea of the hard won agency she’s only started to grow this season. (Even now, my brain keeps trying to save it, like, maybe Malcolm Merlyn was just lying to Oliver, and he only manipulated Thea through lies, not mind-altering drugs. Maybe Thea knew that she was killing the Canary, but didn’t know that it was Sara and thought Canary was planning to murder Merlyn or something. I would totally accept this, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.)
I want to love you all the time, show. You do so many things I like — even in this very episode: Flashback Oliver’s reaction to the brainwashing drugs. Oliver telling Felicity that he loves her. Felicity’s reaction to Palmer’s secret. Oliver’s supposed death scene, Lord of the Rings music and all. And the geek-outs I was having over last week’s crossover? Guys, the squee that was going on in this house . . . I was all but bouncing on my couch. Actually, I may have bounced once or twice. Even though I thought Part I worked better than Part II, I was ALL ABOUT those two episodes.
But you keep doing shit like this. And you drive me fucking crazy.
I’m not saying I won’t come back in January. Of course I’ll come back. And I’m relatively sure Oliver is going to miraculously survive somehow. (Will Maseo drag his ridiculously pretty ass to the Lazarus Pit? Oh please, oh please.) But if you could stop totally driving me insane with your characters making insanely stupid and awful life choices, I’d really appreciate it.
(Next time on How-to: Joe saves Central City by refusing to tell anyone who’s endangering it?)