The CW show Arrow is really finding its footing in its second season, with each episode building upon the last and growing stronger in the process. Following the events of last week’s episode “Crucible”, where Ollie learned that the mysterious woman in the mask known as Black Canary was in fact Sara Vance, this week things started off with a flashback to Oliver and Sara aboard the Queen’s yacht during the storm that would end up sinking the ship. We see again Sara being swallowed up by the ocean, though this time we learn that she didn’t immediately drown as we had been led to believe. Moving back to the present, Oliver and Sara are back at the Queen mansion, speaking of where she has been. A figure dressed like Malcolm Merlyn bursts through the window, and the pair fight him off. Back at Ollie’s base under the Queen Industries warehouse, Sara confesses that she was being pursued by the League of Assassins (something we as viewers learned in an earlier episode when Sara was told by an assassin that Ra’s al Ghul was demanding her return). She’s returned to Starling City to make sure her family is safe, though she needs Oliver to keep her secret that she’s still alive.
Meanwhile over at Iron Gate Prison, Moira is still awaiting trial, facing multiple counts of murder and conspiracy for her part in the destruction of The Glades. Laurel Vance has now joined the Assistant District Attorney’s team for the prosecution, much to Ollie’s displeasure. Moira is offered a deal- plead guilty to the charges and accept life in prison, or go to trial and face the death penalty. Thea is outraged, saying that amounts to blackmail, and Moira’s lawyer protests, saying she acted under duress from Malcolm Merlyn. Moira asks for a few days to think it over, and Oliver confronts Laurel outside, his anger fading to concern, as he knows she is still reeling from Tommy Merlyn’s death at the end of last season. Laurel’s been a bit off of late, getting pulled over for drunk driving in last week’s episode, and both Oliver and her father, the former Detective Quentin Vance, now demoted to patrolman, have expressed concerns on her hitting the bottle, especially in light of the fact of her father’s battle with alcoholism following the death of Sara.
Oliver and his team find clues leading them to the whereabouts of the mysterious attacker at the Queen mansion, and Ollie goes to confront him. He learns from Sara that he is called Al-Owal (The First) and that he is a member of the League. He doesn’t go alone, and he and Sara warn Al-Owal to stay away. Al-Owal tells Sara that “the child of Ra’s al Ghul awaits her return.” (Could Talia al Ghul be making an appearance in future episodes?). Sara refuses, and her and Oliver are forced to fight Al-Owal and another pair of assassins. As a wounded Sara and Ollie escape, Al-Owal threatens the Vance family. Oliver knows they must be warned, but not by Sara, since that would expose her secret. Oliver goes to look after Laurel, and Felicity offers to warn Quentin. Unfortunately, Felicity isn’t the best at subtly conveying the warning (“Guess I shouldn’t have led off with League of Assassins.”) and Quentin doesn’t take her seriously. Sara feels she now as no choice, and would rather keep her father alive than protect her secret.
Ollie meets Laurel and takes her to dinner, only to find a calling card from Al-Owal in her apartment, which he conceals. He realizes that Laurel isn’t the assassin’s target, and contacts Felicity to find her father. Meanwhile, Sara reveals herself to Quentin, and warns him of the danger he’s in. She takes him to the clock tower where she’s made her hide-out, and they’re attacked by Al-Owal and his pair of assassins. The two fight them, with Al-Owal triggering some of the traps Sara has placed around the clock tower (“You should be mindful of your surroundings,” she tells him, in a nice nod to what Ra’s al Ghul tells Bruce in the movie Batman Begins.) and Quentin using his gun ineffectively. Ollie bursts in and joins the fray, knocking out one of the assassins. Quentin shoots the other assassin after he’s been knocked to the ground (“A gun is a coward’s weapon,” the assassin tells him after knocking Quentin’s revolver from his hand. “I have a spare,” Quentin responds, pulling his pistol from the ankle holster and shooting the assassin.) and Sara kills Al-Owal, sending the other one off to warn Ra’s al Ghul and the League to leave her family alone.
Quentin doesn’t want to let Sara go, but she tells him she must leave, and makes him promise to keep her secret from her mother and her sister so that they remain safe. She tells Ollie to keep her family safe and departs. At the prison, Ollie and Thea talk with their mother, assuring her that whatever secrets that may be revealed during her trial will not cause them to love her any less, leading Moira to instruct her lawyer not to accept the plea bargain. The show ends with a flashback, showing Ollie aboard the Amazo, as he looks up from the floor only to see Sara standing over him. Earlier flashbacks had shown a frightened Sara being picked up by the Amazo and being taken under the wing of Dr. Anthony Ivo, who tells her that the imprisoned people aboard the ship are subjects for his work, which he tells her will save the human race. As Oliver looks up and begins to say that he thought she was dead, Sara kicks him in the head, telling him that prisoners do not speak.
It was another strong episode for the show that’s really been on fire in its second season. We didn’t get a glimpse of Slade or Shado in this episode, though we’re pretty sure they’re also being held captive aboard the Amazo. The canary landing on the wreckage Sara was floating on may have been a bit too much on the nose, but it was a cute bit of foreshadowing of who she would become. We still haven’t seen what transformed her from frightened party girl/shipwreck survivor to hardened assassin, and hopefully that will be covered in future episodes, as it would be a shame not to see anymore of Caity Lotz, whose performance as Sara Vance/Black Canary has been outstanding. Speaking of outstanding performances, Paul Blackthorne delivered an especially emotional one. The look of shock and relief on his face when Sara reveals herself was great and believable, as was his not wanting to let go in the end. The rest of the cast was terrific as always, though Katie Cassidy’s Laurel is still this season’s weak link. She was a bit better this week, as popping pills replaced the alcohol as her choice of dealing with the recent events in her life, but her performance still seems a bit strained and flat. The fight choreography has also been much improved so far this season, and this episode had three different fight sequences, each well staged and thrilling to watch.
We’re still left with plenty of questions for the show to answer in up coming episodes, but this season is really going a long way in opening up the DC universe. Stephen Amell has proven himself in the lead role. Now all he has to do is grow that goatee so beloved by fans of the comics.
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