As we expected, this week’s episode of Arrow focused heavily on the repercussion of Sarah Lance’s death. Slade might be gone; but this was quite possibly the saddest/hardest-hitting episode since Moira Queen dies in the later half of Season 2. Everyone dealt with the news a different way – some even as complete opposites -; but regardless of how they were affected by the news, this will be the driving force of the first half of this Season.
So let’s take a closer look to see who ended up where, where they’re heading, and WHAT this episodes flashbacks had to do with the narrative at large.
Two Paths, Same Destination – Oliver & Felicity:
You didn’t think the reason for Oliver and Felicity’s swift break up was going to say in the past, did you? Well this episode we were reminded of just why Felicity turned him down; but was she right? While Felicity felt the weight of Sarah’s death – someone she hardly really knew -, Oliver held it together and pushed forward. This is exactly what Felicity was talking about last episode – and this episode when she brought it back up -: Oliver is too emotionless.
So when Ray Palmer – someone who doesn’t even know what happens – shows more care towards Felicity, she ultimately makes up her mind to take the job that he’s been offering. Right now life with Oliver is leading no where emotionally and incredibly low paycheck. Taking the job with Palmer would lead to someone who at least seems to be trying to make an emotional connection, and a much higher salary. All in all, Sarah’s death has shown Felicity just how precious life is and how you should want more out of it.
Again, Oliver on the other hand takes a very reserved and rational approach, despite having one of the strongest connections to Sarah in the show. Though despite his calm and reserved exterior, he is actually breaking on the inside. Sarah was the only person who could truly understand Oliver’s predicament and what he’d been through. With Sarah gone, he sees this as just a reaffirmation that this life path he’s chosen leads to nothing but death and a anonymous burial. Though no matter what the signs are telling him, he isn’t just settling into this life as happily as Felicity thinks he is. In the end he finally cracks and admits to Diggle that he “doesn’t want to die alone down here”.
He sees a lonely death as his ultimate end. With Queen Consolidated out of his hands, and no home or family to return to, the basement lair is the only place he can be right now – night or day. This is what drives him more and more to find Thea. She is all that he has left and as much as his life has showed him to push away those you care about – to keep them safe – he desperately needs someone in his life now that the only person who knew what it felt like is gone.
Flashbacks Explained – Pushing Away those You Need Most:
The flashbacks might have seemed a little squeezed into this episode; but they actually give a strong depiction of the lengths Oliver must go to to protect the ones he loves. We find that Tommy saw his email was activated and thus travels to Hong Kong to find his friend. Oliver couldn’t be happier to see Tommy; but also knows that Tommy has to leave. If Tommy keeps looking for Oliver, then Amanda Waller will kill Tommy.
Here is salvation dangled in front of Oliver’s face: a friend from his past who traveled halfway around the world to find him; and yet he has to push him away and reject him in order to keep him safe. Again, this parallels what Oliver is going through during the main episode plotline. He has people who he cares about and can help them; but he mustn’t let them in too close because he knows in the end their lives could be threatened just like Tommy’s.
Roles Reversed – Laurel & Quentin:
Oliver and Felicity aren’t the only ones shaken by Sarah’s death. It’s simple to see why Laurel is pained by her sister’s death. She actually embodies both Oliver and Felicity’s positions by not only being controlled by her emotions; but also by having it turn her into a cold calculating individual bent of revenge. By episode’s end she calms down and sees what she almost became; and steps into the shoes her father Quentin once wore.
When Quentin first learned Sarah had returned, he didn’t tell Laurel to protect her. Now we find that the roles are reversed and Laurel won’t tell her father about Sarah’s death. She knows that if he was to learn that his daughter died again – without any closure as to who did it – then it could literally break his already fragile heart. Quentin went to a bad place the first time he lost Sarah. Imagine how much worse it would be the second time now that he has a heart problem. Though like Laurel before him, Quentin will eventually find out. Hopefully he does once the killer is caught.
The Black Canary Rises?:
Laurel has always held an interesting character role in Arrow. Aside from being Oliver’s heart in many ways, she’s ping ponged from in control, to broken, to raging. I mean it’s the third season and she hasn’t died yet, which considering she represents a past love, is impressive. Though what if Laurel’s ultimate role isn’t to just be another one of Oliver’s exes. What if she is to filled Sarah’s void and become the next Canary – or specifically Black Canary to honor Sarah’s legacy while also making it her own.
This episode did well to show Laurel’s beginning transformation as she showed herself to have both the guts and the heart to become a member of Team Arrow. Now all she needs is the training, which Oliver has already shown himself to be a great teacher – considering Roy held his own against a highly trained assassin. She already proved herself a fast study when Oliver tried to show her how to use an explosive arrow. Factor in Laurel’s existing kick-boxing and fighting prowes and she could very quickly rise to fill the void in Oliver’s life.
She wants to be stronger. She wants to make a difference; and this is the most logical path for her to take. When we saw her try on Sarah’s black leather jacket last season and then hold it up again this season, it was as if the writers were screaming ‘this is where she’s going’. Hopefully it does progress along this path as Laurel would be the perfect person to complement Oliver’s lifestyle – both during the day and night.
Daddy’s Little Girl – Thea:
Laurel isn’t the only person who is determined to become stronger. When we last saw Thea, she was determined to leave Starling City and never come back so that she could become stronger. To be honest, for a good portion of this episode, I though Thea might have been the mysterious archer who shot Sarah; but her refusal to return to Starling kind of puts an end to that idea. Also, I doubt taking down the Canary would be her first test mission considering she’s still seen training. Either way next episode will reunite her with Oliver, as well as the shocking realization that Malcolm is still alive.
Similar Costumes – Dark Archer, Mystery Archer, Komodo, League of Assassins:
When I first saw the Dark Archer, I loved his costume. It wasn’t until Season 2 that we learned that Malcolm’s costume was actually a slight variation to the uniform used by archers in the League of Assassins. Now we have a Mystery Archer that also uses the tell-tale black tipped arrows – and probably a similar costume as well. To make matters even more confusing, Komodo – despite his more elaborate comic costume – uses a similar black Archer costume.
Sooner or later Malcolm is going to be back in his full costume, the League of Assassins will return, and other archers will come out of the woodwork. If all of these archers are wearing basically the same costumes aside from Oliver and Roy, things are going to get confusing very fast. Considering the fact that all these fights usually take place at night, it’ll be very difficult to keep up and distinguish between who’s who. So here’s hoping these Archers start shopping at different stores.
Considering how dark this Season of Arrow is starting off, I’m glad that its followed by a re-airing of the prior night’s The Flash to liven things up. Though with such a dark start, will the season see new hopes and heroes rise? We can hope as we continue to explore the third year of Oliver’s return – as well as his third out of fifth year of being missing.