Rivalries are what make our world go round. Google Vs Apple, Cubs Vs Yankees, Boys Vs Girls. Our lives revolve around competition and the friendly back and forth of skilled talent battling it out. In the Arrow-verse, rivalries rear their ugly head and people get hurt. We get to see how the psychology of rivals builds both sides up to perform at their best. Evenly matched rivals have to get creative to gain a foothold. This episode highlighted some building rivalries that have smoldered and now are igniting into flames.
On the island, the battle for Shadow’s affection has never been much of a real competition. But it is obvious that as Oliver and Shadow continue to grow closer, Slade’s resentment of their connection grows less subtle.
In Starling City, a rivalry grows as Sebastian Blood battles to insinuate himself into the political arena as the savior of the Glades. His strongest weapon in his arsenal is the manifested competition he has with Oliver, the son of the Glades destroyer. Oliver would rather work with him to not only stay out of the spotlight but to also regain his families good name with the people of the city. Blood is a smart tactician and manages to leverage the perceived negligence of, “Like mother like son” to bolster his base.
Thea and Roy go head to head with Thea pitting Roy’s loyalty to her against his need to put himself in danger for the city. In the end, Thea gains a passive win when Roy comes back to her agreeing to put an end to his nocturnal activities, but Roy is only giving her part of the truth which I have no doubt will come back to bite him.
Then there is Laurel. Her rivalry is with her own feelings. She still cannot reconcile the fact that the Arrow is doing good and she undermines his efforts at every turn even when he is working to save the supply chain for a Glades hospital. Her hatred and blame directed at the Arrow for Tommy’s death have clouded her optics, leaving her with only one task, to take down the Arrow. If only Oliver did not believe that if he continues to do good and not kill then she will come around. Seeing their train-wreck of a relationship unravel will be plenty of popcorn fodder for the coming weeks I am sure.
What is it about a rivalry that gets us to forget our own best interests. It is obvious that the Arrow is working to help the FEMA trucks get through but Laurel won’t step back from her hatred to see that. Is this some leftover part of our evolutionary development that sneaks to the surface from time to time. Does it have something to do with our territorial disposition as beasts of nature that makes us froth at the mouth when challenged, even if the challenge is manifested in our own minds instead of in the reality of the world?
Whatever it is, it is that voyeuristic desire to feed off of others accomplishments and creativity that draws us back to the arena when two champions go at it. It is also that same compulsion that brings me back to this show with wide eyes and a desire to see whose day it is to come out on top and just what maneuvers will be enlisted to allow the champion to be victorious once again. I just hope that Oliver can see far enough ahead to know that Laurel is waiting with a trap the next time the Arrow shows up for an impromptu conversation. Nope. Too late.