Episode Title: “League of Assassins”
Writers: Jake Coburn & Drew Z. Greenberg
Director: Wendey Stanzler
Previously on “Arrow”:
There’s nothing quite like a good fight between a superhero and a group of ninjas. We may have to wait until 2015 for Daredevil to deliver that on Netflix; but for now, “Arrow” has it covered.
It’s really a blast watching Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) team up as the Arrow and Canary… Screw it, I’m just gonna keep calling her Black Canary. The CW still seems to believe that this show is slightly more realistic and less campy by not calling them Green Arrow and Black Canary.
Some very interesting connections were also confirmed between the late Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) and the Batman villain name checked on this show two weeks ago. Although I would have expected the man who trained Malcolm Merlyn to be more formidable than his one-off appearance suggested.
But followers of The Demon’s Head have a certain way of beating death. Which brings to mind a new theory about why Sara is so willing to kill now: What if Oliver really did see Sara die after their encounter on the Amazo? The Lazarus pit could have revived Sara into the service of the League of Assassins while diminishing her soul.
From this point on, there are full spoilers ahead for “League of Assassins,” so if you missed last night’s episode of “Arrow” then you should probably skip this review or else Laurel will stare blankly at you.
In the opening scene, Al-Owal (Navid Negahban) attacks Oliver and Sara while wearing an outfit very much like Malcolm Merlyn’s Dark Archer costume. Naturally, Oliver assumes that Al-Owai is after him to avenge Merlyn’s death. But Sara quickly admits that Al-Owai is after her on behalf of the League of Assassins.
Merlyn’s plot to devastate the Glades in season 1 seemed a little reminiscent of Ra’s al Ghul’s plan for Gotham City in Batman Begins. However, it’s a lot easier to swallow that similarity if Ra’s al Ghul was pulling Merlyn’s strings as well. This episode even hints that Talia al Ghul might be waiting in the wings alongside her father. And the Lazarus pit would be the ideal way to eventually bring back Merlyn for another round with Oliver and friends.
After realizing that the League can’t easily subdue Oliver or Sara, Al-Owai threatens the Lance family. And while Oliver is able to keep Laurel (Katie Cassidy) safe, Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) bungles the warning for Officer Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne), forcing Sara to reveal herself to her father.
Last season, Blackthorne was called upon to wildly overact Lance’s hatred of the Arrow. But he’s been quite good this season and Lance’s reunion with Sara was well played by both performers. The emotional beats felt genuine and not even seeing Sara kill a man could diminish Lance’s relief that she was alive.
Unfortunately for Lance, the burden of Sara’s death has been replaced by the weight of keeping her survival a secret from Laurel and his ex-wife, Dinah. This show has come a long way in its depiction of Lance. Now he’s actually become compelling.
The same can’t be said of his other onscreen daughter, Laurel. At what point did Laurel become the most insufferable character on this show? Seriously, I’d like to know. Last season, Thea (Willa Holland) and Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson) jointly held that title.
I can’t tell if it’s bad writing or a poor performance from Cassidy that’s making Laurel so damn unlikable. Putting aside the huge WTF moment of Laurel joining the DA’s case against Moira (which is far less realistic than a costumed vigilante who shoots people with arrows), Cassidy’s blank stares and emotionless expressions make Laurel seem robotic. Perhaps the creative team is attempting to show us the effects of those pills that Laurel has been popping… except she’s always like this.
The one moment that Laurel generates any sympathy at all is when she goes in for a kiss on Oliver and he pulls away. Well, Laurel is trying to put his mom in jail for life and her much hotter sister is back in town. But I could buy that being a particularly upsetting moment for Laurel, even though the writers hammered the point home with absolutely no subtlety.
However, this episode shook up the flashback sequences by keeping the focus on Sara immediately after the Queen’s Gambit sank into the ocean. Sara eventually finds herself “rescued” by the crew of the Amazo, if you can call it that. More intriguingly, she meets Professor Ivo (Dylan Neal), another classic DC villain who may be the new Big Bad of the flashback sequences.
Adding Sara to the flashback sequences was very clever and it allowed Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett) and Shado (Celina Jade) to have a presence on the show even when they aren’t currently in the present day storyline. According to Sara, Shado will be the next Proto-Arrow on the island, taking up the mantle from her late father before Oliver eventually assumes the role himself.
Another important detail that came out was that Oliver admitted that he didn’t spend the entire five years on the island. I was wondering how the show would explain Oliver’s status as a member of the Russian mob; which was alluded to again during his last scene with John Diggle (David Ramsey).
I didn’t care for the way that Diggle backed down to Sara so easily when she left to see her father. But for the most part, Sara fit right in with Team Arrow… just in time to leave town forever to protect her family. But if anyone really believes that Lotz is leaving this quickly hasn’t been paying attention. It’s likely that she’ll be sticking around in the flashback sequences for a while before eventually returning to the main storyline.
Just don’t get too used to Sara on this show. Oliver and Sara have both admitted that there is a point yet to come in the flashback sequences where they each think the other is dead. And in all likelihood, Laurel will eventually be the Black Canary just like she is in the comics. That probably means that present day Sara will eventually meet a bad end. But if The CW executives were smart, they’d start exploring a Black Canary spinoff starring Lotz.
There’s about to be a flood of superhero shows on TV even before Marvel’s Netflix deal kicks in. Currently, “Arrow” is the king of the pack. Despite a few problem areas, this season has been really good. And our first glimpse of The Flash is only a few weeks away.