The hunt for Sara’s (Caity Lotz) killer dominates the second episode as duty takes precedent over grieving.
Let’s bitch it out…After Sara’s unexpected murder at the end of last week’s episode, my expectations for ‘Sara’ were quite high. Unfortunately the narrative is relatively straightforward, opting for a traditional “find the killer rather than grieve” approach. This is in keeping with the way Team Arrow normally attacks a problem, but it also ends up diluting a really significant moment by making it feel familiar. As a result, Oliver (Stephen Amell) remains stoic and unemotional in the hunt for Sara’s killer while Laurel (Katie Cassidy) predictably flies off the handle, seeking revenge and generally falling apart. This is familiar territory and while both actors are adept at playing the emotional beats, ‘Sara’ ends up feeling like a regular episode as a result. For the first major death of an integral team member, ‘Sara’ is mildly underwhelming.
Felicity’s (Emily Bett Rickards) emotional reaction is also expected, but she’s allowed more range. As a result, her confrontation with Oliver late in the episode fares best: she accuses him of failing to grieve for “his Sara” after he chastises her for not bringing her A-game in helping to find the new masked Archer. There’s tension and chemistry in Felicity and Oliver’s interactions, especially when it seems like she’s the only one he truly opens up to. There’s a truthfulness in his confession that he’s doomed to suffer the same fate as his dead girlfriend (Side Note: broody Amell is the best Amell). The confession doesn’t exactly endear Felicity, however, and after last week’s denial of a romantic future, the latest development is enough to drive Felicity into the waiting arms of uber-rich Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh).
Once again Routh does well with the little time he’s given, further cementing Palmer’s likeability. His “it gets better” speech to Felicity falls a bit on cliche, but it also firmly categorizes him as different from Oliver. Here is a man who admits that he barely knows her and doesn’t know what ills plague her, but he’s willing to open up and try to make her feel better. This supportive dialogue isn’t something that Oliver offers.
Oliver’s only ability to console involves preventing Laurel from killing the wrong man. After tracking the perceived villain to Palmer’s swanky fundraiser, Oliver and Laurel corner the masked archer and Laurel tries to shoot him. This a clear reference to the discussions that Sarah and Ollie had last season about killing and its counter-therapeutic effects, which once again suggests that Laurel will eventually don the mantle of Black Canary. That and the fact that her piece of the end of episode montage shows her holding up the Canary leather jacket.
Perhaps it’s because ‘Sara’ fails to resolve the mystery behind the killer’s identity, but there’s a sense of uncertainty and incompleteness that pervades the episode. On one hand, this can be read as accurate reflection of how it feels to suddenly lose a loved one. On the other the lack of closure, together with Oliver’s failure to satisfactorily process the loss, makes ‘Sara’ feel more like a swing and a miss than the emotional grand slam I was expecting. Perhaps when the mystery is solved I’ll feel differently…
- Oliver tells Diggle (David Ramsey) that he doesn’t want to die in the cave. Diggle’s response? “So don’t”. Not helpful.
- There are more than a few problem areas in the episode. My top two include the ludicrously pointless game of chicken on motorcycles and the corny decision to name Diggle’s newborn daughter Sara. How convenient that Diggle has an unnamed female child to honour the memory of his dead friend! Blah.
- For the second week in a row I’ve left asking why Roy (Colton Haynes) is on the show. Seriously, he’s said two lines in as many episodes. “Pretty to look at” is not a reason to keep an actor on a show.
- Laurel finds herself unable to tell her father (Paul Blackthorne) about Sara’s demise, which would be fine if it weren’t prompted by an overturned picture of the two sisters. I thought the series was better than this kind of overly melodramatic trope.
- Admittedly burying Sara in a plain pine box in her existing grave does feel a little unceremonious. I’m going to have to side with Laurel on this one, but only if I never want to hear Cassidy wail “It’s not fair” ever again.
- The final scene finds Thea (Willa Holland) kicking butt for an impressed Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) in Corto Maltese. More importantly, Thea’s got a fancy new haircut!
- In the flashbacks there is a minor connection about the value of a life and the sacrifice we make for family. We learn that Oliver’s misguided attempt to log into his email alerted Tommy (Colin Donnell), who has stolen his dad’s jet to come to Hong Kong to track Oliver. Rather than submit to Amanda Waller’s murderous brand of problem-solving, Oliver and Maseo (Karl Yune) fake Tommy’s kidnapping in order to send him running back to Starling City. It’s fun seeing Donnell again, but these flashbacks feel like a distraction from the grieving occurring in the present. I was really surprised that the flashbacks weren’t dedicated to Sara.
Your turn: were you expecting more emotional fireworks from ‘Sara’? Who sold their grief best? Can you make an argument for Roy’s presence on the show? Excited to see more Thea and Malcolm? Happy to see Tommy again? Sound off below.
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8pm EST on The CW