Saturday, June 15, 2024

Felicity, Oliver, and Narrative Momentum Trapped in a Bottle Episode

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Overall, “Underneath” was a particularly heavy Arrow episode for Olicity, and I sincerely hope the fans of the couple got the fix they needed because it didn’t do a lot for me as a watcher, even if it there was some good moments in this bottle episode—sorry, bunker episode.

Starting off directly after last week’s blast, Oliver goes on a little “protective sweep” while Felicity stays put. In fact, she quite literally can’t move because the blast was from an EMP that fried the spinal implant that makes her walk. The former couple is officially trapped in the bunker. The rest of the room seems to be okay explosives-wise, but Oliver and Felicity are concerned about the air availability as the vents will go down soon.

Flashback to 11 Months Prior when Felicity was still trying to convince Ollie to train a new team to help out with the load of pop-up bad guys in Star City. In the present, Quentin talks to René about the possibility that the previous District Attorney being a serial killer might prompt fully tried cases to be reopened. Curtis attempts to get inside the bunker, but with the lights down, he can’t. Down under, Oliver has no luck trying to take down the door made up of, basically, a mix of adamantium and mithril.

Oliver tells Felicity that Chase might be going after William — his son — even if he is living elsewhere under a different name. We see Lyla and Diggle argue a little more at their apartment before being interrupted by the recruits informing them of the situation. Oliver and Felicity go through Cisco’s schematics of the bunker. Ollie wants to try climbing up the elevator shaft, but Felicity points out that Adrian has probably booby trapped it already. She argues that she can try getting the power back on. Nonetheless. Oliver goes with his gut and, wah-wah, the Big Boy falls down when a trap goes off and he gets a pierced in the stomach by a screw. Ouch.

Felicity lays down the “I told you so” torment, but patches Ollie up anyway. They go back to the discussion about Oliver not trusting Felicity enough, but is bent enough to Allow ™ her to come up with a plan (ugh). At their apartment, Lyla offers the help of ARGUS as Curtis estimates that there’s enough air for around 5-6 hours.

In the present, Felicity suggests they use one of the motorcycle engines to jumpstart the mainframe. In the past, Curtis asks Felicity if she is hooking up with Oliver again, which she denies, stating the bigger problem within their former relationship is Ollie not trusting her enough with secrets. Secrets like William’s existence, which was the catalyst of their breakup. Not so smoothly, Curtis ends up leaving Felicity and Ollie with Chinese food and wine.

We see the Team Arrow trying to rescue Felicity and discover some *crucial* information: young Curtis and young Dinah both had crushes on Marc Singer in The Beastmaster (obscure reference, I actually had to look it up). Comic relief aside, Mr. Terrific Balls are inside the bunker so they cannot be used. Dinah tries to help out with Diggle’s domestic problems by sharing about her deceased partner.

Felicity and Oliver start arguing again about Helix, Bratva, and his lowkey protective paternalism when her plan also backfires with a small explosion that perforates a methane pipe, shaving off their time to 20 minutes. Oliver finds a steam tunnel on the schematics from the building, but accessing it would involve triggering a controlled explosion in a room with methane which is, you know, very very flammable.

Speaking of things that explode, René is using a blowtorch to try to cut through the elevator shaft when yet another small explosion ensues. Thankfully, Curtis saves his life even if he ends up with a burned arm. Dinah suggests they use hydrochloric acid to dissolve the titanium shaft as she had previous experience with this type of work.

Felicity gets the bomb ready, but starts to doubt her math leading up to Oliver being the one to reassure her. Oliver shoots the arrow inside the tunnel and it opens up — yay, team effort! Flashbacks show Oliver trying to teach Felicity how to do the salmon ladder which doesn’t go too well. But with their chemistry flowing, they end up making out and having sex.

The team tries out Dinah’s idea, but it proves to be too slow considering they only have about 10 minutes left. Lyla shows up with one of the almighty Mr. Terrific Balls which doesn’t sit well with either Curtis or Diggle considering he just saw that his wife stole tech from his team. Oliver tries descending through the tunnel with Felicity, but the effort not only causes Ollie’s stitches to open, but also shows a dead-end escape-wise.

Oliver ends up using his “last breath” to apologize to Felicity for not backing her Helix play. He claims it was because of Ollie’s hunger for killing, which had been hanging on him ever since he was kidnapped by Chase. Back in the past, post coital bliss is interrupted by Felicity’s realization that they couldn’t get back together given Oliver’s lack of trusting people. She won’t settle for anything but “the whole trust”.

Lyla hands out a list of illegal things ARGUS conducts to Diggle because she doesn’t want secrets between them. She also asks why he can’t support *her* morally grey decisions like he supports Oliver’s and asks him to trust her choices just like she trusts his (you guys sensing a theme for the episode yet?). The conversations ends with Curtis having figured out a new configuration on his Ball that can get Ollie and Felicity out.

Speaking of, for some reason, Oliver wakes up from his alleged and dramatic “death”. Naturally, Felicity brings up his recent confession and defuses it by saying that she would not have fallen in love with him if he was a murderous psychopath. Mr. Terrific One Ball crashes through a wall and finally makes contact with the duo.

Through the stablished contact, Curtis informs them that the mainframe has a fail safe device that will turn itself on automatically. They absolutely do not want that because the methane would create an explosion, so before getting them out, they need to fix the vent system. Curtis tries to turn the system back on while Oliver tries to move them somewhere else, which ends up being a bad idea as Ollie crumbles to the ground. Curtis sends the Ball with an adrenaline shot that Felicity uses to bring him up again.

So, basically the escape turns into climbing some stairs in the hard mode as Diggle holds Oliver who holds Felicity. She tells him to let her go — self sacrifice mode — but of course he doesn’t. Instead, he pulls a Hercules and they end up secured.

Diggle and Lyla make peace with each other and Curtis fixes up Felicity’s spinal device allowing her to walk again before she is requested by Oliver, who got out of surgery and will do fine. During the last flashback, Felicity apologizes for walking away and leaves the door ajar for their relationship to open again. In the present she visits with Ollie. He thanks her for her support down under and she ends up apologizing (what??) for “being a hypocrite”, blaming it on her state of mind after Detective Malone was murdered. She even says she understands his reasoning for not confiding in her about William.

Off this segue, we see William, who goes by Matthew now, getting off a school bus and being found by Adrian with his usual menacing smile.

So, in the end? Not really the greatest episode ever. Better than a couple of fillers. While I appreciate the honest attempt at focusing on Oliver and Felicity, I feel like they stretched these 42 minutes into something quite thin. Those flashbacks are specially telling, as well as the fact that the narrative really wanted Felicity to be in the wrong. Sure, when the breakup happened, I also felt that it came out of nowhere for a reason that was not fully developed, but I blamed that on the writer’s need for drama, not Felicity. It sucks that she is the only one who apologized in the end. That really soured the whole thing episode for me.

Images Courtesy of the CW.

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