The theme of this episode was kind of hard to define, but I know it related to the women of Arrow and the level of control they have over their own lives.
The narrative focus was a little loose, and although the big plot centered around the prison break and taking down Liza Warner, China White, and Cupid, the real emotional side belonged Thea, Susan and Dinah. All three had big things happen in this episode. Two of them were in control of those things. One was not. Which paralleled the villains who were all about gaining control over the lives, by escaping from prison and stealing enough money to take over the city (wouldn't that have been fun arc if they succeeded).
Thea's plotline was probably the most interesting in the episode, but also the most disappointing. She played the manipulator and took on the worst characteristics of her mother, at the possible cost of losing some of her humanity. She hasn't crossed the line, but with parents like Moira and Malcolm, maybe she's getting too close to becoming a villain? Which is sad because she's fairly sweet. Or she used to be. Maybe that was why she turned her back on being a hero, too.
Susan Williams did lose everything, but she was also playing a pretty awful game herself -- sleeping with the guy who was the focus of her story skirts the ethical line (or jumps right over it). Perhaps even worse is that when, as a reporter, she realized Oliver was Green Arrow, and didn't immediately run to the paper and post an expose. Instead, she went to Oliver, even though she had the evidence. That makes her a better girlfriend than a reporter. It also opened the door for Thea to take advantage of that trust.
Dinah started her old life again as cop, but struggled with the idea of taking Black Canary's place. What I loved about her conversation with Quentin was that for Oliver and Quentin, it was more about fulfilling a legacy, not filling Laurel's shoes. It's clear that what Quentin said affected her in a positive way, although we still don't know her full reaction yet. She also had the most kick ass moment in the episode in that final battle, using her canary cry. The mask with the jeans and leather jacket is just out of the new 52 version of Black Canary. (The original Black Canary was fishnets and a corset, and Laurel's was BDSM. Maybe all Dinah needs is a wig and her costume will be complete. Although we probably will get a full costume reveal somewhere down the line.)
Getting back to the villains, Liza Warner had the only real emotional plot through-line, centered on Quentin and his unwilling complicity with Damien Darhk last season. The point was that she was still acting selfishly, like she did before, and it had nothing to do with Quentin's actions. But it was nice to see Cupid and China White acting like sisters in crime, and the three of them made a good team. Physically striking, too. And very dangerous. I have to ask, though. Who would be stupid enough to put those three women in a prison bus with only two guards? Reminds me of the old Buffy quote: the cops of Star City are deeply stupid.
Finally, there is Oliver. (There is always Oliver) Who is not a woman, but his plot was important anyway. His actions were focused primarily on bringing in the three escaped convicts -- but emotionally, it was more about him coming to terms with the fact that his sister was acting as manipulative as his mother. Did he actually care about Susan Williams? He said he did, but I didn't necessarily feel that he did. It felt like he was just more pissed off about what happened. Because if he did truly feel something for her, he probably would have told her the truth and brought her into the fold. I did really like Oliver's reaction when Susan asked him outright if he was Green Arrow. Was that an acting choice? Loved his expression after she turned away, too.
He also had to deal with the cover-up of Billy Malone's murder, which looks like it's going to have serious repercussions.
Sort of fun, although I don't have a lot to say about them. It was the Anatoly and Oliver show again, which is what I like about the flashbacks, but again, it was a small, incremental movement dealing with Gregor's betrayal of the Bratva. I do like David Meunier, the actor who plays Gregor, but the character is a placeholder villain meant to draw out the action in the flashback until the real threat can be revealed in the final arc of the season.
-- The cemetery scene was well done, beautifully shot.
-- Even though it wasn't a focus of the episode, I really liked the Curtis/Rene interaction in this one.
-- No movement on Felicity and the hacktivisits, but she did use Pandora's box again as a resource to find Prometheus's mother.
Rene: "How'd it go with Mama Prometheus?"
Oliver: "It didn't."
John: "She's probably protecting him."
Curtis: "Wow. My mom could barely handle me being gay."
Thea: "She's suspecting that Oliver's the Green Arrow."
Felicity: "Why? I mean, other than the fact that he is, but why?"
Rene: (in the cemetery) "This ain't right, man. Disturbing souls at rest? This is how you get haunted. I feel a presence."
This wasn't an incredibly good episode, but it was okay and the character stuff was all well done.
3 out of 4 Supervillains ready to take over the city
J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.