As a resolution to a cliffhanger, this worked pretty well. As an episode about Oliver's redemption, it worked even better.
This season has been about Oliver retreading ground he has already walked, but for real this time. After Tommy died, he vowed to be better, but it wasn't for himself. Changing behavior doesn't address the core problem with Oliver, though, which is his belief that he is truly the monster and nothing he can ever do will redeem that part of his soul.
Except everything around him is trying to show him differently. A doppelganger from another universe shows up, giving him a chance to believe in redemption again. Sure, it may be impossible to fix whatever Black Siren's problems are, but it's an intriguing problem to solve. If Oliver can focus on trying to save someone who is clearly unwilling or unable to face the light, maybe that'll help fix his own inner darkness.
It is this kind of story that will heal the rift between Oliver and Felicity in perhaps a more organic way. The break up could have some layers (beyond the utter nonsense of why they broke up in the first place), that goes to the heart of both characters. It seems that both of them need to fix something that is broken inside them before they can find their way back to each other. If that's the case, I'm on board.
In a kind of parallel story, Curtis struggled with his own place on the team. As the least effective fighter, he is constantly getting hurt and beaten, which is forcing him to doubt the most important decision he's ever made. He let his husband go to pursue being a vigilante, because he knew it was his calling. So having him go through this crisis was a good character choice, and reinforced the idea that he's more valuable as a technology expert than a fighter.
Wild Dog also got some important character growth, as both a part of the team and as someone who clearly needs a friend. While Rene is a loner, there's a part of him that is desperate to find a place, a pack (to use a dog metaphor). The layers we could see in his conversations with Curtis made me like him even more than I did already.
I'm not sure where they are going with the Diggle plot at all. The corrupt General using his power to try and move Diggle to a federal prison (and kill him) was okay as a plot device, and giving the DA something to do was good (even if we still don't know why the character is important yet). It just didn't feel as tense as the writers probably intended it to be because we knew there was no real danger of a central character like Diggle dying that way.
At first I was underwhelmed by the flashback this week, since it was another parallel situation where Oliver gets tortured and learns about the lesson of the week. But then we were introduced to the new player that has been lurking in the shadows (at least in comic fan's minds) since Nyssa Al Ghul was introduced. The fact that Talia is starting as a flashback character adds yet another lie to Oliver's ever-growing list of things he omitted to tell his team. It also changes the flashback rules by bringing one of the more interesting characters in comic history into the fold.
Lexa Doig (Continuum, Andromeda) is playing Talia Al Ghul. I've always liked this actress, and I hope we get a return of Nyssa so we can see the sisters interact.
The tease at the end was interesting: a woman that has the sonic scream power and is already acting as a protector of women fits the Canary persona pretty well. I'm curious if she will be the ultimate choice, or is she just the first of many characters that will don the mantle of the Black Canary?
I wonder if the choice to keep Laurel's double close is a way of bringing her back in a limited fashion, perhaps as Katie Cassidy's schedule allows?
Rory: "I guess spontaneous resurrection is as good as any reason for a party."
Oliver: "The Lance sisters have a habit of coming back to life."
Rory: "You know, there's looking a gift horse in the mouth, and then there's..."
Felicity: "Being driven by paranoid delusions to run comparisons on genetic base pairs? Yes, I'm aware, thank you."
Rene: "So that Laurel is from an alternate reality?"
Curtis: "Technically she's from a parallel universe. We're on Earth-1. The look-a-like Laurel is from another Earth, Earth-2. Over there we all have doppelganger versions of ourselves that could be very similar or incredibly different based on an infinite amount of variables. I'd love to see what I'm like on Earth-2. (pause) Oh god, what if I'm straight?"
Felicity: "We are gonna put Black Siren back in her cage."
Rory: "Black Siren?"
Felicity: "Every meta gets a nickname."
I liked this one. It dealt with some important themes and shed some light on some of the more frustrating aspects of the recent character writing choices.
3 out of 4 Canary Cries
J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.