FULL EPISODE SPOILERS
Man, this episode pulled no punches with it's delivery, huh? First Oliver calls Laurel not a hero, then Roy and Felicity give it straight to Oliver, then Laurel tells Lance about Sara. Sheesh. Guess they really wanted to overwhelm us following last week's underwhelming episode.
As it is, this was a pretty good episode. Yeah, the title implies that it's all about Laurel, but I thought that the equally interesting parts were about Thea. Oh yeah, that's a thing. But we'll cover that.
Again, Count Vertigo isn't used to his full potential, and more of acts as a catalyst to get the purpose of the episode across. The fact that he's someone with a name is what helps, but not by much. He's still a Scarecrow copycat, and it makes me wonder if the Arrow producers aren't allowed to use the character, of if they just don't want to pull more from Batman's rogues? I feel like it's the former, given his recent debut on FOX's Gotham.
Serving as a means to an end, Vertigo played his role fine. He wasn't crazy over the top like our previous version, and felt more menacing for Laurel to be standing up against. That said, I find it hard to believe he would go down so easily to Laurel after giving Oliver a good fight. I guess she just got a good lick in and dropped the guy? I dunno.
The whole "Canaries" aspect of the episode was pretty good, too. I mean, it made sense. The one thing that has been both driving and punishing Laurel since she donned the black costume is Sara, both her spirit and her ghost. In spirit, Sara is Laurel's motivation, for her to become the thing that the Canary was. Her ghost, though is what daunts Laurel the most, as it seems that she's trying to either replace her in the group or just cope with her sister's loss in a dangerous way.
We've seen these themes before, but were brought to their extreme here. Oliver even points it out too, though Laurel isn't going to take his crap anymore. That also seemed like a theme this episode, but we'll also get to that in a moment. Her struggle against Sara was cool, and her battle was one that made sense. Heck yeah she's going to get her butt-whooped by Sara/ Vertigo, and heck yeahs she's going to be scared by her sister's ghost. Seeing Caity Lotz again as the Canary was a delight, though there were a few moments where I couldn't tell the two apart (obviously because the costumes are the same except for the upper torso...can you spell fan-service, kids?). She looks a little different while in her civilian form, which threw me off, but it's no big deal.
I also liked how Laurel also saw a vision of Lance during the final battle, as he screamed at her for asking why she didn't tell him. Again, it's very much something Laurel has been dealing with well before she decided to become the Black Canary. Her overcoming of that might have seemed a bit rushed if it weren't for the pep-talk Felicity gave her earlier. That scene I actually liked, where a clearly shaken Laurel was sort of snapped out of it by a battle-hardened Felicity. It showed both the strength that Felicity's character can have in dire moments as well as showing that Laurel is a broken woman but who will continue to fight for herself. Seeing her let go of Sara was also a touching moment, where she saw Sara happily looking down upon her. The whole "Canary" arc for Laurel has been an interesting one and I'm sad to see it go. It's strengthened Laurel's character more than at any other point in the show and has established as a hero. She really is one of the city's protector now, and like Matt Murdock, she can do it both in the courtroom and on the streets.
Who knew lawyers would make great super-heroes.
One last note: it was absolutely gut-wrenching when Laurel had to tell Lance that Sara was dead. It was well acted on both parts and was just not at all pleasant to watch. It's the bombshell you know is coming and just have to sit through, at the expense of all the feels and tissues. Where Lance goes from here is the question of the day.
The big reveal of the episode was that Oliver showed Thea that he was the Arrow, and at first all I could think was, "Wow, Thea must be realizing how oblivious she's been this whole time." Because, you know, she kinda has been.
But I really liked how Thea didn't get mad at Oliver when she found out. Rather, she thanked him for all the hard work he's done, all the sacrifices he's made. She has to understand right then that all the lies and stupid excuses were worth protecting both her and the city, and that he has lost with his family as a result of his work.
In fact, it's this reveal that turns Thea around. This did feel a little rushed, but, at the same time, I can't be that mad at her. Thea not so subtlety begins to turn her back on Malcolm Merlyn after finding out that he's been driving to drive a wedge between Oliver and Thea, and that he's been lying to her about almost everything all this time. It drives Thea both closer to Oliver and her boy-toy Chase, who was with the League.
Thea's character is another one that feels much stronger, and she's yet another character I can definitely see preparing to take up the hood and bow, obviously as Mia Dearden. The name Speedy is at the ready. At this point, it's only a matter of time. She's been in the Foundry, she knows the full time, she has an impressive array of skills, Her getting closer to Roy again should also raise signals to her joining the team. If her character continues to grow and become more developed, heck yeah I could see her joining the team and being a good member of it.
Now, it's down to Lance who is the only one of the main, long running cast who doesn't know Oliver's secret. C'mon man.
Malcolm did come off as a bit cold this episode, but, he still shows that he is in this to protect Thea, and that's it. I wouldn't be surprised if he's just beefing up Oliver to kill Ra's then kill Oliver right after the fight. It'd be difficult, seeing as how Nyssa would be there, but whose to say Merlyn isn't training off the side as well? His insistence for them to go to Lian Yu was a bit random (Ra's didn't seem to be praying on Oliver's fears when fighting him, but, I guess they need to pull more from the League of Shadows mentality from Batman Begins so whatever), and I was curious as to what Thea's biggest fear is. Not having fancy dresses, maybe?
Definitely my favorite of the episode, too, was when Chase had Thea in a headlock ready to kill her and Roy busted in to save her. I really wanted Roy to be the one to take him down, but I understand that he isn't properly trained to fight someone on that level. Then again, he has fought Mirakuru men before, and has been training with Oliver who can take down all but one man in the League of Assassins. I suppose that if Merlyn hadn't interrupted Roy may eventually have gotten the upper hand. I would've liked to have watched the rest of that fight. Heck, why not have Roy and Thea team up against him? That'd be cool. Merlyn showing up was unsurprising, but at the same time kinda unwelcomed.
So, let's talk about those punches this episode delivered on, shall we? Everyone seemed to be pretty antsy this episode, but, that's definitely justified. At first when I heard that the team was going to be questioning Oliver's orders I rolled my eyes, but when as the episode went on (basically up until Daddy Diggle had a talk with Oliver), I realized how important is was for them to address this issue, and I actually can't agree more with what Diggle said. Oliver has created more than just hope.
He's created Arsenal. The Canary, now the Black Canary. Heck, you could argue that he helped create The Flash over in Central City, who will (hopefully) eventually convince Firestorm to join the fold. The Atom is in the works to protect the city as the Arrow has done. Oliver, with one decision to stand up against crime in Starling City, has created, essentially, the DC TV Universe Justice League.
It reminds me of Batman in a way (insert how Green Arrow is Batman replica here). Batman doesn't necessarily want to control the League in some iterations, but he does want to keep an eye on them. And, really, that's impossible. Every hero has their own agenda. Yes they all have morals and values they can pretty much agree on, but, not every hero can win a battle the same way twice. Not every hero can be babysat, can report back and give a status update. People grow, people change. Oliver's death, however short or temporary, made each member of Team Arrow a leader. Oliver, now, is either just barely above or on equal footing as the other members, including Roy.
Roy standing up to Oliver was a good moment for the character as well as for the team. It shows that it's not his final decision. A season ago, yeah, this may not have gone well. In fact, it didn't. Last time Roy questioned Oliver, Sara was ready to go a few rounds with him. Now, though, Roy is pretty justified in standing up against him. He was gone, and they managed a new way that works with all of them coming together. Felicity kind of drilled it home, too, and Oliver was basically like a sad dog walking away. Daddy Diggle has the words of wisdom, though. Always count on Diggle, he's the man.
The fact that this issue was addressed early on allows now for the team to flourish throughout the season and grow into something even more in future seasons. It gives me more reason to believe that probably by next season, Oliver will have decided to shed his title as just "the [Arrow](series:720988)" and become a new, reborn man as "Green Arrow." You know the name is coming.
Even the flashbacks worked pretty well this episode. Not much happened in this episode, but they coincided with the Thea-theme of the episode, where Oliver protected his sister once again even if it seemed like it cost Maseo his life. Amanda Waller was threatening as ever, so it was oddly refreshing to see her face around town again.
Both the present day and flashbacks ended on major cliffhangers, but I like the juxtaposition they provided, it was clever: in the present, Oliver ends the episode with Thea on Lian Yu; in the past, Oliver ends the episode with Maseo in Starling City.
As I said before, this was a good episode of Arrow. It provided tons of development for both Laurel, Thea, and Roy as well as laid the groundwork for a new version of Team Arrow. That final shot of Laurel, Roy, Diggle, and Felicity all but cemented that for me. Oliver leaving them so soon is a bit much on them, but at least he admitted that the city is in good hands with them in charge. And without a League spy like Chase around and with Malcolm on a leash until Ra's is dealt with, they don't have too much to worry about either. So, good times to be had.
Next week, we finally return to not only Lian Yu, but to the man, the myth, the legend that is: DEATHSTROKE!!!!