“A.W.O.L” | Arrow
It is with absolutely no shame that I admit to being an easy crier, but that’s never been a case with Arrow and I could never figure out why. Stephen Amell would do a fine job as Oliver Queen, but something was always missing. And to be frank, I never imagined I’d write a performance review for him. During these last few episodes, Amell’s been embodying Oliver in ways that feel right. In “Blood Debts” and “A.W.O.L.” especially, you felt every ounce of his guilt, frustration, and genuine sadness as he watched Felicity fall apart. For instance, when he spoke to her while she was in the hospital last week, and he came to the realization that she’s questioning his feelings now, Amell conveyed raw perplexity cobbled wonderfully with the most sincere delivery of “for better or worse”. The astonishing love he has for Felicity was something Amell carried in a beautifully palpable way making it clear that Oliver Queen’s heart has grown twice in size because of the way he adores his new fiancé.
And in this week’s episode, as we watched Felicity attempt to adjust to her new lifestyle, we watched Oliver struggle with the inability to make things better. A struggle to which Amell transported with the right amount of emotions that finally brought tears to my eyes. And while I’m easy an crier, let it be said that I only cry when the performances feel so real, my heart flutters or breaks in the process. But seriously, kudos to Amell for finding a way to unreservedly embody Oliver at his most vulnerable state giving him the opportunity to showcase just how far he’s come as a performer. When you looked into Amell’s eyes this week, every tinge of emotion was reflected perfectly within.
Honorable Mention: Dominic Cooper reprised his role as Howard Stark this week reminding me and presumably everyone watching, why he’s so perfect as the character. Cooper always does a fantastic job of layering Howard, but it’s in the way he effortlessly shifts from one emotion to another that stages his abilities as an actor. Howard Stark is without a single doubt one of Marvel’s most complex figures — brilliant scientist by day and complacent Casanova by night with a genuinely compassionate spirit deep within? Howard’s an interesting figure to try and understand, but what’s most intriguing is the way Cooper reminds the audience of the fact that despite his countless flaws, Howard desperately needs Peggy and Jarvis in his life. He may act as though he has everything together, but the reality is, he sincerely understands he can’t be who he is without his partners in life. Cooper evidently has a lot of fun as Howard and because of that reason, no matter what the character’s going through, he’s a pleasant performer on our screens.