Ever heard of the expression “the calm before the storm”? That’s basically what this episode is right up until the sh*t hits the fan in the final scene.
Let’s bitch it out…So Sara (Caity Lotz) is dead. I think most of us expected this to occur last season, but Sara survived the battle with Slade, we kind of assumed that she would be safe. Well Arrow certainly showed us how wrong we were for thinking that.
Admittedly when Sara showed up to lend a hand putting down the latest iteration of
Berlin Count Vertigo (Peter Stromare), I wasn’t quite sure why she was there. It certainly seemed like an afterthought cameo, including her mildly forgettable sisterly chat with Laurel (Katie Cassidy) on the rooftop. Now, of course, it’s clear that her arrival in town was basically to remind everyone that she rocks and then kill her, leaving what is sure to be a gaping hole in both the characters (and the series’) core.
Before Sara arrives, however, this is a fairly routine season premiere. We’ve spent a lot of time watching Oliver (Stephen Amell) battle to manage a secret identity and a public persona, which is par for the course for any masked superhero. As a result Ollie’s internal struggle to be both Arrow & Oliver Queen is hardly breaking new ground. Obviously there’s more on the line this time because Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) – and her heart – are in the mix. It’s pretty cruel of the writers to tempt us with some kind of romantic reprieve for the star-crossed lovers and then almost immediately tear it away (damn you, writers!). And while I’ll confess that I don’t really buy Oliver’s BS excuse for running away from a legitimate relationship, the pair’s confrontation in the hospital hallway feels like a satisfying continuation/redo of the one they had on the beach in the S2 finale. Plus: they smooch! Take heart, Olicity fans, at least you got that.
Besides, there’s always a chance that Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) will be available to console her. I’ve got to say that aside from the shocking murder of Sara, Routh is the second biggest surprise in this episode. Palmer proves to be a quick-witted charmer who has a bit of a roguish flair (flirting with the Queen Consolidated board member, making cute with Felicity about porcupine farts). As far as introductions go on this series, it’s a very comfortable, assured debut and I for one am interested to see more of Routh in a role that suits his talents (ie: less Superman Returns, more Scott Pilgrim).
Elsewhere ‘The Calm’ offers a fair amount of catch-up. Roy (Colton Haynes) is now a full-fledged member of Team Arrow, decked out in a new red leather outfit (Side Note: that leather is skintight, no? As if it wasn’t distracting enough having Amell decked out in such a costume, now we have two of them to gawk at!). Admittedly Roy doesn’t say much, so it’s hard to say how important Roy’s role will be this season from this glimpse, but at least the “Thea (an unseen Willa Holland) moping” is kept to a quick sulk.
Of course, with Sara dead, we can expect everyone to go into “full mope” mode next week. And why not? Arrow just killed off one of its very best characters. RIP Canary.
- The opening action scene with the coordinated assault on the truck full of RPGs = the perfect welcome back to the series. Narratively it reinforces how well the team is working together, and entertainment-wise it’s a reminder of how well-executed the stunts are on this series. Top notch.
- No sign of Thea or Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman), but the former gets a shout-out. It seems that Thea has been keeping up the pretense that she’s traveling, although she’s not taking time to fake some pictures. Rookie mistake.
- Captain Lance (Paul Blackthorne) spends the episode popping heart pills in the wake of his brush with death last season. Gotta say, the shaved head look has seriously aged Blackthorne, which helps to sell his poor health. Side Note: I could have totally done without Cassidy’s weak-ass delivery of “You’re my father” after Lance asks what he is if not a cop. That line is beyond cliché, although I suppose this also sets-up the fall-out to come from Sara’s death.
- Congrats to Lyla (Audrey Marie Anderson) and Diggle (David Ramsey) who welcome a beautiful – albeit surprisingly large – baby girl.
- The Diggle/Oliver drama also has a been-there, done-that feel (haven’t we already seen this power dynamic a few times in Arrow‘s run?) and the suggestion that Oliver is always right (and even earns an apology from Diggle?!) is frustrating. We know that Oliver is flawed and – let’s be honest – pretty effed up, yet everyone continuously bows to his judgment like he knows best.
- Now that Oliver is off the island, we’re starting to explore his Hong Kong adventures via flashback. We’re no closer to learning what Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) has planned for him, but after his ninth escape attempt, she threatens the family of his trainer, Maseo (Karl Yune), including Tatsu (Rila Fukushima – aka one of the best parts of The Wolverine).
- Barry (Grant Gustin) aka The Flash calls Ollie for advice, which is the same conversation that we saw in the first episode for the spin-off on Tuesday. My question: does a cross-promotion like this still work if the freshman show has already aired and can no longer benefit from the exposure to the mother-ship’s audience? (Not that The Flash needs it. Check out those premiere numbers!)
- Finally, I was convinced that Sara’s murderer is the new Big Bad for the season, but apparently the killer’s identity is intended to be a murder mystery that drives the first half of the season. Post your whodunnit theories in the comments.
- Felicity (babbling about seeing Ollie shirtless): “Multiple times. Shirtless. All the time.”
Your turn: Are you shocked at Sara’s death or has this been a long time coming for you? Are you disappointed that the show is back tracking on Olicity? Have we seen this Diggle and Oliver fight before? Do you hope Roy gets to say more than 5 lines of dialogue? How did Brandon Routh do in his debut? And who killed Sara? Speculate below.
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8pm EST on The CW