October 29, 2014
This is the week I’m supposed to be doing all the stuff I was putting off until after MileHi Con (no more traveling this year!). That’s not going as well as I’d hoped. But — I got a really nice surprise last night because I had forgotten that I had tickets to go see Erasure at the Ogden. Fortunately, I remembered, and went, and had a great time, because Andy Bell is a god. He came out in sequined tails and top hat and opened with “Oh L’amour,” and I pretty much burst into tears, which makes me think I’ve been a little more stressed out than I realized. Whew. I danced for an hour and a half solid. Nice, huh?
I caught up with last week’s episode of Arrow and it had a bunch of examples of why I like the show so much — most of them involving Ollie and Thea. So Ollie flies to Corto Maltese to try to talk Thea into coming back home. And it’s all very straightforward. While another show might have tried to turn it into some big cat and mouse hunter-seeker thing, where Ollie has to spend the whole episode just looking for her, none of that happens. He finds her working in a coffee shop, they hug, they sit and talk like adults. It’s unexpected and it’s great. Then, when Ollie apologizes for keeping secrets and that he wants to be open with her now, what is the first secret he reveals? It’s not, “I’m the Arrow.” It’s that their father survived the wreck of the Gambit, but then killed himself so Ollie would have enough food. It’s an awful story, it’s another bit of lore about their family, and it affects Thea. Because now Thea is the one keeping secrets — that she’s been training with Malcolm Merlin — and that half the reason she’s doing what she’s doing is so she’ll have secrets of her own, and maybe that’s not a good thing after all. It’s super clear that this brother and sister still love each other.
The reason I like these story beats is because they avoid low-hanging fruit. They’re not obvious. They don’t go for cheap drama — cheap drama would be Thea hating Ollie and them screaming and fighting. But no, they sit and talk, and there’s a ton of stuff going on in subtext. The guiding principle in scenes like this isn’t “Let’s get our conflict by having all our characters go after each others’ throats.” These scenes are anchored on a premise that doesn’t change: Ollie and Thea love each other, even when they hurt each other and keep secrets and screw up. The drama comes from watching them try to work it out.
It’s refreshing and I’m really enjoying it.