Arrow: League of Assassins

Felicity: "What's the League of Assassins? And please don't say it's a league made up of assassins."

This was an interesting episode. It told the back-story of Sara Lance and specifically how she survived the sinking of the Queen's Gambit, except there were more questions brought up than answers given. One thing I know for sure though, Sara is a far more interesting character than her sister Laurel. At least for right now.

Sara's relationship with Oliver is complex, and I think the emotions were done well. They have a lot in common, but at the same time they don't really know each other's full story. Those gaps in knowledge led to some neat moments where they backed each other up, both in combat and in the keeping secrets department. She didn't tell her father that Oliver knew about her return, and Oliver respected her need to conceal herself from her family, even though he didn't fully understand her reasons.

Then there were the fights against the Al Owal and his League of Assassin thugs. Both felt important, and the stakes were clear. I honestly didn't know if Sara would make it out alive, or Quentin for that matter, which gave things a good amount of weight. It helped that Al Owal was Malcolm's trainer which immediately gave him a level of menace that kept things dangerous. It made the clock tower fight all the more harrowing. Sara's solution to the situation was impressive, and Oliver's last minute save was very dramatic. Still, I think my favorite moment was Quentin shooting the LoA thug with his backup gun.

Yet Sara's back story wasn't the real emotional backbone of this episode. It was her reunion with her father. I think Paul Blackthorne did a really good job conveying the conflict and relief of a father who got back his daughter back from the dead, only to lose her again in practically the same breath. That moment where he asked Arrow how he managed with his secrets was a great one. I love how those two have started to forge a relationship. In fact, I like everything they're doing with Quentin this season.

I just wish I felt the same about Laurel. I think they're breaking her down so that when Sara dies or gives up her life as the Canary, Laurel will take up the mantle. Yet Laurel is totally spiraling, and it isn't making her character better. Also, did the writers decide that Laurel wasn't unlikable enough? Now she's helping with the prosecution against Moira. Oh well, I guess any character movement is a good thing at this point.

Island Flashback:

After the big cliffy with Slade and Shado's fates left up in the air, we finally got some clues about the Lian Yu story. Sara mentioning that the first time she saw the green hood was on Shado basically confirmed that Shado lived through the bombing. Sara mentioned Slade too, which makes me think there was time for her to get on a first name basis with them, that maybe they were friends. I also got the impression from the way Sara talked about friendship that things eventually went sour with Oliver's little group on the Island, since she was impressed with Oliver's friendship with Felicity and Diggle. It looks like Sara might transition to being in Flashbacks exclusively for a while, at least until she leaves for Nanda Parbat.

Comic Book Bits:

Dr. Anthony Ivo was created in 1960. In the Comics he's called Professor Ivo, and is a scientist obsessed with cybernetics. He eventually created the android Amazo which could steal the powers of superheroes. He also took some kind of immortality serum which caused him to become deformed. I wonder if that'll be tied to the Brother Blood plot? Anyway, he's been around for a long time so there's a ton of stuff they can pull from continuity as potential plots for this character. It's obvious that the producers are no longer using hints about the greater DC Universe anymore since they are dropping big names left and right. Fun stuff.

Ra's Al Ghul's child is looking for Sara. Is this Talia or maybe Nyssa? Is it possible they are combining some villains? Perhaps Isobel is actually an Al Ghul? That would be fun.


Very parallel story structure again, with parents and secrets. I'll ask again, what's Moira's big secret?

Oliver finally started telling Dig about his past.

The assassins crashing through the windows of the Queen mansion was startling. Well done.

Felicity: "We all join clubs we wish we hadn't. It took me a year to get out of that gym membership."

Really good episode, with a ton of information and more than a little emotional movement for our core characters. I bet this episode will resonate throughout the rest of the season, especially in terms of the relationship between Quentin and Arrow.

3 1/2 out of 4 Improvised Bo Staves.
J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related. He reviews Arrow, The Originals and Farscape and cool new movies that strike his fancy.


Anonymous said...

Arrow is fastly becoming my new favourite show. This ep was awesome. Really love the direction there taking this show. Thanks for the comic book bits cause my knowledge of comics is terrible.. "you should be more aware of your surroundings" absolutely loved that quote seemed like a nice nod to batman begins.. Great review as always !

Freeman said...

Cool episode. I love how more and more of the DC Universe is leaking into the series. I'm just waiting for Dick Grayson to friggin' quadruple somersault through a window and kung fu the crap out of everyone. And even though I hate Amazo I couldn't help but smile when Ivo revealed his name.

Sara is a really cool character and at this point I'd just prefer it if she kept being Black Canary and Laurel would just go. Speaking of Laurel, holy frijoles was she looking gaunt in the episode or what!? Is it the make-up they're putting on her to show the effects of her drinking and pill-popping or is it just my imagination?

Favorite scene was definitely Quentin capping one in the assassin. And sweet mother of mercy I want a Big Belly Burger so bad.

Anonymous said...

@Freeman - I absolutely agree with you on Sara, but since Laurel is supposed to become the Black Canary I hope the writers think up a great story that redeems what they've done with her up till now.

ChrisB said...

The clock tower reminded me so much of the one in Smallville, I found myself pulled out of the story for a minute or so trying to determine if it were the identical set. I think it was.

Anyway, I found this episode emotionally draining. All of the relationships seemed to shift, but only after some big reveal. Even Laurel's heartfelt "everyone leaves me" was sad. Except then, we saw her take the pills. Shame -- rather negated what had been a nice scene.

Lamounier said...

Very good episode. Great drama between Sara and Quentin. Laurel might not be my favorite character right now, but I can’t wait to see her reaction when she sees her sister alive. Wonder how that will go since last season Laurel talked about being unable to grieve or hate Sara.

There are some elements of comic books stories that translate badly to TV and movies, like costumes and over the top villains. Arrow embraces some of those elements, and I wonder if that is why I’m not fully in love with this series yet. In any case, this episode was a terrific comic book tale, with great use of comic books elements expertly intersected with good drama. I really enjoyed it.