[Arrow] Recap • 520 Underneath

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By Sara Netzley for Entertainment Weekly

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Olicity haters, maybe… maybe just take this week off. Because tonight’s episode is all about Oliver and Felicity and trust and relationships and the salmon ladder.

Yes, Arrow fam. The salmon ladder’s back, and it’s sexier than ever.

We left our heroes in an Arrow Cave that’s been plunged into darkness following a Chase-generated explosion. Oliver races to Felicity’s side and tells her not to move. She says it won’t be a problem, but he’s too busy grabbing a big gun and confirming that Chase isn’t around to really hear her.

Felicity was being literal about not being able to move because the blast was an EMP, which fried the chip in her spine, leaving her paralyzed. It also locked down the bunker, which Cisco designed to be impenetrable. Long story short, they have six hours of air in a sealed vault, and they have to stage an escape while navigating an unresolved argument about who didn’t trust whom and why.

Flashback to 11 months ago: Felicity and Oliver discuss recruiting more team members and mind-meld over the Arrow suit needing Kevlar sleeves. It’s all very flirty until Curtis interrupts. Darn his timing!

In the present, when the topside team members realize they can’t reach Oliver and Felicity and the Arrow Cave’s in lockdown, they start to plan a rescue. Chez Diggle, Curtis, Rene, and Dinah find John and Lyla mid-argument about her activities with Argus. (Apparently, “never go to bed angry” doesn’t apply when one of you is sleeping on the couch.) As they brainstorm ways to rescue the pair, Lyla offers Argus resources — but only if that’s okay with John. Awk. Ward.

Good thing they kept Felicity’s wheelchair in the bunker! Oliver worries that Chase has discovered William’s location and decides to escape via the elevator shaft. Felicity wagers her “copious Palmer Tech severance” (finally, official in-show confirmation about why Felicity doesn’t have a day job!) that Chase booby trapped it. She wants to use her brain to find an alternative escape route, but Oliver insists on using his brawn. They get testy; see above, re: unresolved argument. Naturally, the shaft is booby trapped, and Oliver plummets onto an enormous, protruding screw (not a euphemism… yet). Shoulda listened to bae, bae.

Said bae doesn’t hold back on the “I told you so’s” as she sets up camp lights to stitch him up, mentioning that this is yet more proof that she trusts and supports him, but he doesn’t return the favor. Oliver acknowledges that she has a point and says they’ll try it her way, which involves jump-starting the generator using the combustion engine of a motorcycle parked in the Arrow Cave.

Speaking of jump-starting (hey-oh!), in a flashback, Curtis notices the longing looks between the other two residents of the bunker. Felicity reminds him that they broke up, not because of William, but what William represents: Oliver not trusting her enough to share crucial information.

Curtis replies that they owe it to each other to see what’s still between them. “Tonight,” he emphasizes. (Felicity’s so freaked out by this suggestion that I’m wondering if she hasn’t bothered to shave her legs in a while, hence the pants.) Anyway, Curtis leaves Oliver and Felicity in the bunker with Chinese food, wine, and a knowing smile. Ha! What a matchmaker.

In the present, Oliver defends his non-support of Felicity’s work with Helix, and she tells him to cram his “I didn’t want you to be like me” explanation. Then they argue over who’s the bigger bad, Bratva or super-hacker Cayden James. Before that argument can take off, the motorcycle engine causes an explosion that ruptures the methane gas pipe. Oops. “So much for doing things my way,” Felicity sighs. Oooh, does this mean they’ll have to do it their way?

Hello, of course it does! With the breathable air now down to about 20 minutes, Oliver consults the blueprints and discovers a sealed-up steam tunnel behind a cabinet. So they combine their strengths: Felicity measures out explosive powder, which has to be precisely precise or the methane will ignite and they’ll die. She worries that her math might be wrong, and Oliver asks, “Are you still Felicity Smoak?” She acknowledges that she is, and he says, “Your math is always right.” Awww!

With the explosives strapped to an arrow, Oliver’s aim has to be precisely precise or, well, methane and death. Thankfully, the explosion is perfect, and the hole in the wall reveals a two-story drop to the tunnel.

Flashback: Wine has been drunk, Chinese food’s been consumed, and Oliver’s giving Felicity a salmon ladder lesson. Yes! Salmon ladder! Never leave us again! She struggles, he demonstrates. He boosts her to a higher rung, watches her dangle for a bit, then slowly lowers her to the ground. His hair looks great. Her hair looks great. She kisses him, he kisses her back. Their shirts vanish, and the playful vibe fades when they stop kissing and simply look at each other. Then Oliver picks up Felicity and lowers them to the mat, followed by a tasteful fadeout.

Topside in the present, Rene goes to work with a welding torch, but Curtis notices the dangerous methane levels and pulls Rene away just as things go kaboom, earning second-degree burns on his arm in the process. Then, thanks to Dinah’s undercover work as a safe-cracker, she remembers that hydrochloric acid will turn the titanium hatch into Swiss cheese, allowing them access without igniting the gas again.

Lyla returns at this point with a copy of Curtis’ T-sphere courtesy of Argus. John points out that it’s not a copy, it’s stolen, and honestly, he seems angrier than Curtis. Still, the trapped couple have 10 minutes of air left, so they agree to use all the tools at their disposal.

Meanwhile, Oliver’s pulled Felicity onto his back and lowered them into the tunnel. Then he collapses, the exertion having reopened his wound. Felicity crawls over to him and throws herself against his chest, begging him to stay awake.

Thinking he might not have much time left to speak his mind, he apologizes for not backing Felicity’s play. But he says he always trusted her; he didn’t trust himself after Chase’s torture revealed his taste for killing. He confesses that his mission was based on a lie, then passes out as Felicity collapses against him.

Flashback: Cuddled together on the mat, Felicity makes Oliver promise not to tell anyone they had bunker sex. Um, did they not have hours upon hours of bunker sex when they were together? If not, what’s even the point of dating a masked vigilante with a lair, then?

Felicity shakes off the post-coital glow and reminds him that their problems haven’t disappeared. Oliver agrees and says it’s because they’ve never discussed them. She worries that Oliver hasn’t dealt with the root of his trust issues. “I love you, but that is why I can’t settle for anything less than your full trust.”

Topside in the present, Lyla hands John an audit of every black-ops site she signed off on, then points out that he always backs Oliver’s morally questionable choices. So why not his own wife? Before John can respond, Curtis interrupts to explain the plan.

In the tunnel, Oliver comes to, still in pain, and his first question is whether Felicity’s okay. He struggles to his feet, but Felicity wants to circle back to his “I heart murder” confession, telling him that she wouldn’t have fallen in love with him if any of that was true. It’s just that “anyone would’ve admitted to being a tap dancing flamingo after what [Chase] put you through.”

As she tells him that how he handled the horrors of his past proves the quality of his character, a T-sphere explodes through the wall so the topside team can communicate with them. The news isn’t good: The bunker generators are about to automatically turn back on, which will ignite the methane. “You guys are sitting underneath a four-story bomb,” Curtis says. They’ve got 12 minutes to execute the rescue plan.

Oliver’s piggybacking Felicity to the rendezvous point when he collapses, blood oozing from his mouth. Then a T-Sphere flies to Felicity with 20 CCs of adrenaline inside (she compares it to the Death Star interrogation droid). She plunges it into Oliver’s chest without hesitation, and he comes to with a hearty, “OKAY!” Ha!

The rescue plan involves John climbing a ladder down the air vent as Oliver hauls himself and Felicity up a ladder on the opposite side. Then Oliver (with Felicity on board) will leap across the expanse so John can catch them, and Rene will haul them all up with a rope. Sure. Nothing could possibly go wrong.

“I’ve always appreciated you doing the salmon ladder, but never as much as in this moment,” Felicity murmurs as Oliver climbs. He makes the jump, but Felicity slides off his back, leaving her clinging to one of his hands and John clinging to the other. Felicity begs Oliver to let her go so he, at least, will survive. But Oliver hauls her onto his back with one mighty bicep curl, wryly apologizing for not listening to her. Then Rene drags them to safety as I worry that all of them have irreparably damaged their rotator cuffs.

Once everyone’s safe, John and Lyla promise to work things out, particularly when he acknowledges that they both work in morally gray zones. Also, Curtis temporarily fixes Felicity’s spine chip so she’s mobile again. When Oliver asks for Felicity following his surgery, Curtis gives a big, “Ooooohhh,” then looks at the group and says, “We were all thinking that!”

Flashback to the day after bunker sex. Felicity apologizes for walking away from Oliver following the William debacle but says she’s not ready for the relationship talk quite yet. “I’m not going anywhere,” Oliver replies.

In the present, Oliver’s hair still looks great post-surgery, and he’s thrilled to see Felicity walking. He thanks her for encouraging him to reject Chase’s torture brainwashing, and Felicity admits to becoming like Oliver in her quest to avenge Billy’s death. (Billy who? This episode completely knocked him out of my brain.)

Anyway, that drive for revenge gave her the tiniest taste of what Oliver’s been through, which allows her to apologize for judging him. “I understand why you lied to me about William, why you had to. I get it.” Then she encourages Oliver to figure out what kind of person he is, with the implication that when he does, she’s ready to talk some more. He looks thoughtful.

Grrr. So much about “Underneath” was so perfect: the bottle episode setup, the Olicity chemistry, the “your way/my way/our way” problem-solving, the salmon ladder. But Felicity taking full responsibility for the breakup, without Oliver saying, “Like you said, my trust issues also got in the way, and I’m sorry, too”? MEH. In the end, I’m glad this conversation (presumably) will reset their relationship to better reflect who these characters are to each other after the last several years, and if doing that requires some one-sided apologizing, then so be it, I guess.

And now, despite rigging the Arrow Cave to be an almost perfectly unescapable death trap in every way, Chase has somehow had time to locate William, who’s now going by Matthew, and our favorite murderous DA shows up to menace the tyke when he steps off the school bus. To be continued!

Arrows for your quiver:

As much as I’ve enjoyed the last two episodes, I miss the silky menace of Adrian Chase. Here’s hoping he’s front and center in the final three episodes of the season.

In a taste of things to come, Quentin mentions that every defense attorney in town would like to talk about mistrials following the news that Chase is a serial killer. Can you imagine being the replacement DA who’s inherited that mess?

What do you think, Arrow fans? Are you excited to the Olicity door cracked open again? Did you cheer or groan to see William back in play? Did Felicity need to lose Billy and experience Helix to fully understand Oliver? Does the cold-shoulders shirt trend need to die?

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