Arrow Review: Never Surrender

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There has to be a least favorite hour of the season, and Arrow Season 2 Episode 21 just perched itself nicely in that spot.

There are a lot of things that just didn't sit well, while two women were given the chance to shine. The timing was off for a lot of the events in this installment and we were met with Oliver doing his "go to" trick: running away.

If all goes well, this will be the last time Oliver disappears into himself, brooding and feeling sorry for himself. He's supposed to be a hero, dammit.

He already had his sulky period at the start of Arrow Season 2 when Felicity and Diggle had to go swinging through the jungle to find him. Enough already!

Yes, Oliver, you did cause all of these problems because you didn't do some things right. You didn't take the opportunity to save Slade when you had a Mirakuru cure and then, as Thea pointed out, you let a freakin' madman stand in your living room without warning your family of the dangers ahead. Now your mother is dead.

Boo hoo for you. 

Get over it. Slade already shared some of your most important secrets with some of your closest friends and family. Deal with it and move on like a man. Surrender? Pfft. We all make mistakes; it's how we deal with them going forward that defines us. Stand by your mistakes, own up to them and make things right.

Running away and not attending the funeral was very poor behavior. Guess what he'll never have the chance to do again? Go to his mother's funeral. You don't get a do-over on that one. Thea needed him and he flaked. Thankfully, everyone else showed up to support her. 

Can someone tell me why Isabel Rochev was invited into the Queen house for the funeral reception? Surely they had some security. Didn't Oliver bother to tell anyone she was on team Slade? She did take over the company and try to steal all of their money, as well. Lock up the silverware! Sheesh.

Laurel finally got up the gumption to stand her ground and force her father to look into Sebastian Blood. Like I said when the story originally hit, just because she had a problem didn't mean her information was invalid. With a war brewing and Starling two superheroes down, someone had to jump in and try to figure out what's going on.

Thea was hit with an eviction notice on Verdant because Queen Consolidated owns the property. Just as I was wondering how someone was going to get word to Diggle and Felicity to close down the lair, they met with Amanda Waller (who Oliver apparently trusts more than his two partners). She knew of another lair he keeps on the side. 

Diggle and Felicity found Oliver, sullenly deciding to give himself to Slade because all is lost and it's all his fault and his death would be the best thing for everybody. Felicity gave him a great pick-me-up speech, but she was a little too kind. She reminded him that she could have a completely different life if she let her attitude get her down like that, but instead she met him and he saw she was more than the IT girl.

Still, he decided to give himself up and called Isabel. Instead, his plan failed and Felicity, Diggle and Laurel worked together to tranq him and take him back to the Arrow lair. It was time for Laurel and Oliver to have their heart to heart. Laurel's speech was a little less forgiving than Felicity's. She essentially said she knew him as well as she knew her own name and he doesn't give up. Nonetheless, Starling doesn't need Oliver -- they need the Arrow.

Everyone hates on Laurel all the time, forgetting that she has been in the dark about all of this and not by her choosing. Once she was given information, she handled it well and wanted to help. Even so, Oliver decided it was time to get back to basics with just the three amigos, but did anyone think she wasn't going to tag along?

Laurel did help for a minute when the crap hit the fan, but how it turns out in the long run will play out over the next two episodes. The hour ended rather abruptly, as it was all a setup for the next two installments and the big showdown with the Mirakuru army and Slade Wilson. I think.

Before I go, a friend told me I am being too harsh on Oliver and I should give him a break. He said that someone once told him, "A part of a man dies when he loses the first nurturing influence in his life. He's never the same again once he says goodbye to his mother." And, maybe that's my biggest problem here. Oliver didn't say goodbye to Moira. He just walked away. 

Here are some other moments of note:

  • Sebastian Blood was being sworn in as mayor on the same day as Moira's funeral. In what world would that happen? There wasn't even enough time for the election, let alone the transfer of power. 
  • Oliver disappearing and letting his team think he was dead (as Felicity did) for even one second was unacceptable.
  • We need more Walter. He's the only family figure they have left and he's a fabulous character.
  • Blood knows Oliver is the Arrow. Another one in on the secret!
  • Isabel is, apparently, the Ravager. I guess that's what donning the female Deathstroke mask means. Didn't like her pre-Mirakuru, don't like her now.
  • I could have done without the island scenes. Sometimes they just take up space.
  • The new lair had a zen vibe to it. I wonder how long it will take to get all of their stuff over there. Any idea why Oliver would have entrusted that information to Amanda Waller, of all people?
  • How adorable was Felicity crying at the funeral reception and calling Moira despicable? Love that "bitch with wi-fi."

I'm sure you all have plenty to say and rocks to throw. Have at it in the comments. If you want to see it all again, you can watch Arrow online in preparation for the last two episodes of the season.

Is running away acceptable behavior for a hero?


Editor Rating: 3.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (77 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.


Ok, so after a week to stew in the misery of the last episode I think I have recovered just enough to look forward to the episode today. I may not agree to the way in which the writers have gone about the last few episodes but I think I can see where they are going. We all know that Felicity is the light and I think that Laurel may have been inserted into the last episode to insert her into the script for the finally where Oliver needs to choose between Felicity and Laurel, although im not entirely sure it will play out that way. What I am sure of is that Felicity will have a large role in the finally and although all of the Olicity shippers have been desperate for declarations of love, I think its perfect the way it is.
Slade loved Shado, who he thought he didn't deserve (or she could never love him back) and she died without him telling her, Slade waited until Oliver returned from the island and fell in love with a woman who he didn't think he had the right to love. The parallel is spectacular, Oliver has never told Felicity that he loves her just like Slade never told Shado. As emotionally upheaving as this season has been, that's why we watch right, if it was all moonshine and roses why would we bother.
I cant wait for the final 2 episodes, its set to be spectacular!


This is a stupid review. You're pretty much biased with your own opinion. What the hell is wrong with you, asshole?

@ JJ

Wow...I think this may win as the dumbest comment I've ever seen on a review comment board. And I visit a LOT of comment boards. It's a REVIEW, not a recap. So, yeah, it holds opinion. Deal with it.
Also, I have been really surprised with how positive the recaps/reviews of Arrow continue to be (the forums/comment boards are a lot less forgiving) so, personally, I appreciated all the questions you had in yours. Count me as one of those who was annoyed that Oliver disappeared again...on his nineteen-year-old sister who was traumatized twice by Slade, and on his partners. I agree--Walter needs a more prominent role. He's always been an underrated character. And the lair...I swear, this show is just dropping stuff and calling it "twists" (the Mirakiru cure is ridiculous). I wish they would learn from HIMYM--sometimes when people don't expect something coming, it's because the writing hasn't actually set up the pay off.
I don't remember the last time a show went downhill so was SO strong and coherent for the first half of the season, and I agree with the comment that says it has switched to plot-driven instead of character-driven. They have made Oliver stupid, time and again, to move along Slade's revenge. It's just frustrating.

@ JJ

Do you know what it means when you call someone names? You have no argument. You lose.


I do think everyone should give Oliver some credit. And don't compare him with another character. He is his own person, every individual deals with loss in their own way, even if it means losing hope when he has to be a hero. Everyone thinks he should get over it and be tough. Well I'd like to see any one of you go into his shoes with what he went through at the island and now losing his MOTHER, none of us would be able to stand one day. He is a hero. But every hero makes mistake and he did pick himself up and stands on his feet to fight again. So again give him a break.

Fearless diva

Honestly, I'm kind of pissed with this episode. While I love that this episode saw the return of the trinity, I wasn't a fan of Laurel's speech. It feels like season 1 all over again where they are trying to shove us the Laurel/Oliver romance. It didn't work then and it won't work now. Both characters work so much better apart then they do together. Personally, the speech Laurel gave him would imo have had more impact and felt more natural if it was Felicity or Diggle, heck even Thea saying that.

@ Fearless Diva

I know how you feel about Olicity, but I honestly don't see anything more than friendship between Laurel and Oliver right now. Regardless of everything he has put her through, and she doesn't know about a lot of it, she has always cared for him. They grew up together. They're bound by time and family in ways Diggle and Felicity don't know. They all know pieces of him, but I wouldn't downplay any of their roles in his journey. I don't think romance is on Laurel's mind at all.

@ Carissa Pavlica

My Arrow OTP is Oliver/Anyone Else. Count me as on of those who HATED the speech. I can't believe the writers would give Laurel such terrible lines. Every fan board I have been to has had major issue with that speech because Laurel does NOT know who Oliver is, and the show really has to stop acting like we are all stupid and will buy dialogue that can't be backed up with what's actually on the screen. When she says "You don't give up...I know you like I know my own name...I know who you are in your bones...," I cringed. The whole premise behind Arrow hinges on Oliver's hero journey. Everything we have seen in the flashback shows us that Oliver was a completely different person back when he was dating Laurel. His dad kills himself because he can see, on the life raft, that Oliver is giving up. He got kicked out of FOUR schools, so obviously, he's not exactly Mr. Motivated. What the show would have us believe is that pre-island Oliver was always THIS guy that we see now--the hero who puts on the hood to save the city, and Laurel sees that. Only he isn't; he's a completely different person. He's the guy who said in the last episode that he couldn't believe in hope when he returned from the island; who's been depicted in flashbacks, time and again, as a spoiled, selfish playboy, but in present day won't sleep with his gorgeous secretary because he doesn't want to hurt her. Heck, even in S1, Laurel said he changed, to which Oliver said he hadn't and she should stay away from him. Present-day Laurel does NOT know who present-day Oliver is, and if the show could actually acknowledge that and show her getting to know who he is now, I might be able to swallow it; but to shove down this "I know who you are" BS just makes me angry because it violates all the character development Oliver has made.
We keep being told about these two characters' bond, but what the show has actually shown has been the development of Oliver's relationship with other people--Diggle, Felicity, Sara, Moira (obviously, it couldn't have been her), Thea. They haven't showed us how Oliver-Laurel's present-day relationship has developed. They have Oliver screaming at her in one episode, and her giving him relationship advice in another. Out of almost everyone on the show, Quentin and Tommy both had their suspicions about Oliver; Felicity and Diggle gave him the side eye. Heck, even Moira knew. Laurel only found out because Slade told her. And now she's claiming to know who he is in his bones.
Romantic or platonic, she wasn't the right person to talk him out of it, and it was blatant retcon (for me) to try to "fix" her character.
Your review was great! Refreshing is actually the better word.

@ theaspeedyqueen

I could not agree with you more

@ theaspeedyqueen

i agree with this, It looks like they're trying to reboot her character by making her connection with Oliver Queen seem stronger. Not working, please stop! The writers are actually kneecapping this character by giving Laurel these long windy speeches that have no basis in reality. It really does make me want to cringe when I see this again, and I didn't always feel this way about Laurel! I guess the worst thing you can do to make a character irrelevant is to not make me care...and I find it very hard to care about what happens to Laurel, future Black Canary or not.


3.7 is a better score than I was expecting you'd give this episode. As you know I enjoyed it much more than you did but I understand your points perfectly. Your review is brilliantly written and we're all entitled to our opinions. Disliking even a couple of installments out of a 23 episode season are still pretty good odds. Thanks for your honest reviews, you rock! Btw what about the round table?

@ Henry A. Otero

I can't give it a low rating because I disapprove of the heroes journey, but I can definitely state my case. I still appreciate the production and everything else that went into it, even if I felt the story was uneven, some details overlooked and even frayed. It's disappointing, but not a lost cause. Punching you in the arm -- no, YOU rock. ;-)


I do not see him exactly as a whole hero yet, he is trying to become one, during this season, I though this is his path to become a hero. Nonetheless he is still human, and he needed to process the choices he made and the one that he needed to take in order to end it I guess he needed some time alone, to one commented here, I do not see the "running to the jungle" at the beginning of the season and "running to a safe/calm place" the same thing, because Oliver was dealing with different stuff.
that's been sucks for a brother! he should have been there for her!!that is what really bugged me...and the fact he didn't share the danger of Slade with her! he could have told her, as simple as that. I was shocked about Oliver revealing to Blood that he is the Arrow...I didn't see that coming...
and sadly as it is, Summer Glau should have remained as Terminator...kind of ridicolous mask she was wearing...LOL

@ Fra

I think the jungle feels safe and calm to Oliver in comparison to the life he's leading in Starling City. It became his home for five years. He was comfortable there. He knew it. That's why he was there at the beginning of the season; for the same reasons he was in his secret lair.

@ Carissa Pavlica

The problem I had with the lair is that Amanda Waller said it existed in case the foundry was compromised...and yet Oliver's partners knew nothing about it. And, guess what, the foundry WAS compromised! Two episodes ago, Slade attacked them. kinda makes Oliver a moron for not telling his team there was a safer place out there that he had on standby.

Smoak and arrow

I liked City of Blood. I think the best Arrow eps are the 1s that let Oliver, Felicity & Diggle BE Team Arrow. This ep did a terrific job of showing how extraordinary & competent each one of them is. Oliver was able to be Arrow: The Hero (in the end). Diggle was the calm storm that sweeps in and does what needs to be done. Ever the soldier. I was really impressed by how Felicity was written. Yes, she's funny but it' clear that she's way more than "just humor." She's been doing bold, awesome things these last few eps like planning & assisting the bombing of QC's experimental science building, "interrogating" a suspect, providing in the field backup, etc. I loved seeing her shown in this light and I thought her "Knowledge if Power" was a wink at a potential Oracle type future. When Oliver commented on how this whole thing started with the 3 of them and it was time to get back to that, I cheered. The trio is, imo, the strongest part of the storytelling on this show. So that impressed me. That said, this resonated with me, Carissa: He's supposed to be a hero, dammit. My biggest (repeating) issue w/Arrow this season is that Oliver makes some sheer head-up-butt moves that make him look bad. Not "OohI get why he made that choice. I don't like the choice but I understand it" decisions but "Wow, if he keeps acting like this I'm doing to really not like his character and not want to watch this." A lot of it goes back to subplot story of Season 1 bleeding over into Season 2 and all the relationship drama but I'm so over that I just want to forget about it, so I'll stick with current stuff like... Oliver leaves Roy to his Murakuru fate without mentioning a cure because he was "ashamed"? I wanted to slap him. It's bugged me ever since it happened. Oliver look ridiculous and cruel. Then he lets everybody wander around unprotected, which resulted in his mom's death and Thea's kidnapped was another bad moment. This is, I think, the problem Arrow has as it starts to feel more plot driven than character driven. The characters keep taking hits because "the story needs XYZ to happen." The 2nd lair is another example of plot driven. I think the show suddenly realized Ooops! and poof! Suddenly a 2nd lair that Oliver hadn't clued his team in on even though they're "equals." I think it's hard to write a tortured warrior type story over a long period of time because you do start to think, 'Oh just suck it up, dude!" I give Oliver a lot of room here in this ep because his mom died and it was his fault. Granted, you can't stop crazy, but no guards? No plans if they're attacked? Again, plot driven need: Slade needs to get to the Queen Family so let's just not have them guarded even though it makes 0 sense. I do get it. Sometimes things "need" to happen in a story but lately it feels like when they do these things, Oliver is always the one fumbling the ball. The guy was supposed to have spent 5 years in "hell," learning all sorts of things so he could come home a Walking War of One and yet he really blows at this strategy thing. Oddly enough, I find Oliver at his sexiest when he's being competent, lethal, and outright deadly, like that scene with Blood at the restaurant table. When Oliver put his hand on that knife and lifted it ever so slightly... my toes curled. I loved that dark, sexy, dangerous lethality. That's the Oliver I want to see: the guy that could stab you in the throat if he has to. Yes, I know. Hero. No killing. But I like knowing he *could* but chooses to restrain himself. I think that's another thing from S1 I thought was kind of smoothed over too quickly: Oliver just re-assimilating so easily into society when I wanted a little more "brutal Oliver." I think Oliver needs to show he can plan, follow through, and not run away all the time. I get he's hurt, scared, and suffered losses and everything but a change of pace for his reaction would be nice. Regroup, then come back fighting. Oliver gets a free pass from me about the funeral I hate funerals & I avoid them. I deal with the loss on my own terms and I say my goodbyes as I need. Granted, Oliver had Thea to think about, but in the same breath, Thea's been an unforgiving, tantrum throwing shrew for episodes now (not saying it's not understandable). I don't think Oliver thought her "kiss off, Oliver!" attitude had changed. I think he thought showing up would only amplify her anger and grief and make a bad situation worse. I think he thought he didn't have the right to be at that funeral. But yeah, Oliver/Felicity/Diggle doing their thing was the best. I hope we see lots more of that dynamic in the last two episodes.

@ Smoak&Arrow

Firstly:I totally agree about the plot driven episodes. I understand that some thing need to happen in the show but it has seemed rushed and the characters have suffered.
Secondly: they thought that Isobel was dead, they had no reason to have her on the no-entry list unless they were expecting a ghost, so in that sense I can see how she would get in.

@ Smoak&Arrow

I agree with most everything you said until Oliver might have thought Thea's attitude might not have changed. After seeing your biggest enemy kill your sister's mother in front of her eyes, I don't care if the two of you haven't spoken in 10 years -- you man up and stand by her side. She's a teenager and he's an adult. He knows what she needs more than she does. Well, he doesn't, thus his terrible decisions. No guards at the funeral or at the mansion was something I would have imagined even Dig or Felicity might have taken care of in his absence, yet Isabel walked right in. There were too many errors in the episode as you noted -- to drive the plot forward -- and it's been a pattern this season as they've dropped the more character driven aspect of the series that they need to get back to in Season 3. The characters deserve some respect. Dammit. Hehe

Smoak and arrow
@ Carissa Pavlica

I'm wondering if we were supposed to assume that Isabel - being her bad ass mirakuru form of herself - managed to bypass everything and still slip in. LOL. And yeah, I can see the perspective on Oliver/Thea. He loves her a lot and it is hard to believe he wouldn't be there for her at that time. I guess maybe we're supposed to just accept he was of the mindset of: I'm better off away from everyone and dead. Let me commit "suicide" and end it all.


Seriously Stop shoving Laurel down our throats.
Her speech to oliver was just bad writing .I mean she knows him better than anybody ,really !?
Maybe she knows the old oliver ,the guy who cheated on her with her sister and got another girl pregnant while he was with her and from what i just said it's clear that she didn't even know this oliver .But what's for sure is that she doesn't know the new oliver ,the one who came back from the island.If anybody knows him then it's diggle and felicity and maybe even sara .
i don't get why give so much screen time to a character that just won't
click and always seems like she's crying or about to cry.
As for the review i agree that the writers shouldn't have made it oliver's thing to run when things get tough since after all he's a super hero but i also think we can give him a break this time .his mother was murdered in front of him.
On a side note is it me or thea's reaction was a little underwhelming this episode ,i thought she was handling it well ,too well maybe ?
Anyways i know this episode is building up for the final episodes so i'm looking forward to them


I both agree and disagree with you - if that's even possible on these here internets. I've read the comments and I've seen how personal this is for you, and I totally respect that. I can't really argue with empathy :-) I agree that it wasn't a great move on Oliver's part to hide. However, the motivation for his previous self-exile was very, very different, even though the result was the same. The first time he ran, he was feeling his limitations as a hero; his best friend died because he wasn't able to stop the second device (which he didn't know about). It was failure and self-doubt. This time, however, there's two things. For one, it's pure, unadulterated guilt and despair - which is what Slade was going for. Oliver's decisions - his Sophie's choice, his choice to not cure Slade, his choice not to tell his family about Slade - those decisions have cost him and his loved ones everything. The loss of his company and fortune, the loss of his sister's trust, the safety of his friends, the impending destruction of his beloved city...and the straw that broke the Arrow's back, the death of his mother. All because of him. The onslaught has been CONSTANT, and that's not the kind of $h!+ you can just shake off. Hell, if we as viewers need a break from the intensity of this storyline, imagine Oliver as the centre and cause of all of it. Two: Oliver didn't just go off to hide, but to come to terms with the decision to die. He was convinced that his death was the only thing that would stop this - and he needed time and space to be at peace with that decision. Oliver is still learning to be a hero, and the decision he made to sacrifice his life to save what's left of everyone's was heroic, even though it came at a time when it seems he'd have served better by being present for his loved ones. Was hiding a bad idea. Absolutely.
Do I blame him for hiding? Not in the least.

@ Robin Harry

You always have great points. I can understand how you see it. I see a pattern of running and letting others deal with what he's created. Will they be able to convince me otherwise as time goes on? Probably. :-)

@ Robin Harry

GREAT points! Agree

@ Robin Harry

Couldn't've said it better myself.


Traumatized? what a joke. Jack Bauer saved America at least eight times, killed dozens (if not hundreds) of terrorists and lost everything and everyone that was dear to him over and over again and he never gave up or shirked taking responsibility for protecting others. Oliver is a crybaby by comparison and needs to grow up - and grow something else as well. Aaaahhhh, TV characters - some are much better than others.

@ Charliebrown

Jack Bauer is dead inside. Olly isnt.

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Arrow Season 2 Episode 21 Quotes

I don't even know why I'm crying. I didn't even like Moira. Terrible thing to say about someone after they just died. In my defense, she was not nice. She was diabolical. Not a word you often hear at someone's funeral.


Sebastian: I'd love to speak with Oliver.
Thea: Well, if you see him, please tell him that he missed his own mother's funeral.