"Arrow" returned tonight in the midseason premiere "Who Are You?" The episode was a dramatic departure from "Arrow's" typical storytelling structure, as it dealt more with the emotional ramifications of Billy's death and Laurel' return, rather than a villain of the week. The episode mostly surrounded the enigmatic resurrection of Laurel Lance, whose surprising return in the winter finale made for a fantastic midseason cliffhanger. Tonight's episode also dealt with Diggle's confinement in prison and his new attorney Adrian Chase, whom Oliver assigned to Diggle's case. The episode also flashed back to Oliver's time in Russia, detailing his torture at the hands of a Bratva betrayer, and the long-awaited introduction of Talia al Ghul. Curtis also realized that his role on the team was valuable and that using his skills as a tech genius would come in handy more than trying to fight villains in hand-to-hand combat. The episode also continued to shine a light on Oliver's guilt -- in the winter finale it was guilt over killing Prometheus' father -- this week it was feeling guilty over both Billy and Laurel's death.
Black Canary or Black Siren?
When Laurel showed up in the Arrowcave in the winter finale, it seemed like a miracle. In tonight's episode both Felicity and Oliver commented that her resurrection was indeed a miracle. At first, Laurel said that Sara saved her, paying her back for Sara's resurrection last season. This narrative turned out to be false when Laurel attacked Felicity with her Canary Cry. As it turned out, this Laurel was actually Laurel from Earth-2, Laurel's doppelgänger, the evil metahuman Black Siren. Black Siren first appeared on "The Flash" Season 2, when Zoom recruited her to lead his armies from Earth-2 to Earth-1. In this episode, Prometheus sprung Black Siren from the S.T.A.R. Labs pipeline and forced her to become Laurel Lance. Team Arrow put Black Siren in a cell and then let her escape so they could follow her back to Prometheus. The whole stunt was meant to blindside Oliver, who was taken in with Laurel #2. Oliver believed that rehabilitating Laurel #2 was his second chance to make things right. Laurel #2 confessed to Oliver that she became the Black Siren after her Oliver died on the Queen's Gambit 10 years ago. Circumstance, was what she blamed on her descent into villainy -- circumstance that Oliver was all to familiar with -- having been on the island, Hong Kong, and Russia all those years ago.
From Russia with Love
Oliver's scenes with Laurel #2 were cross-cut with Russian flashbacks. Oliver had been apprehended by the Bratva godfather Ishmael Gregor, who was working alongside Kovar secretly. Throughout these scenes, Gregor questioned Oliver about loyalty to the Bratva and about the photo he was carrying of Laurel. This photo has surfaced almost every year in the flashbacks, allowing the audience to see how Oliver was feeling about Laurel during each year he was missing. During Season 1, Laurel was his motivation for staying alive, by Season 5, Laurel had become the source of his guilt. Flashback Oliver told Gregor that he could never be the man that Laurel needed, that he was too much a monster now. Glover then told Oliver what Oliver told Black Siren, that circumstances were the difference between creating poison or nectar. It was this "lesson" that motivated Oliver to believe that he could rehabilitate Black Siren to become the Laurel that he once knew and loved.
Felicity Strikes Back
Felicity wasn't having any of this line of thinking. She tested Laurel #2's DNA right away, she let Laurel #2 escape to track her to Prometheus, and she knocked Laurel #2 out cold once the Canary Cry had been disabled. Throughout the entire episode, Felicity never once gave Black Siren a second thought as to her being Laurel, being good, or even being redeemable. Felicity warned Oliver time and time again that Siren was not "his Laurel," and Oliver finally believed her. Felicity also began more physical training during this episode, which confirms she is preparing to settle her personal vendetta against Prometheus soon.
While Team Arrow was dealing with the return of Laurel/Laurel #2, Diggle was in jail for betraying the U.S. government. Oliver rescued Diggle earlier on in the season, but he was tricked by Prometheus into revealing himself, which landed him back in prison. Oliver asked District Attorney Adrian Chase to represent Diggle, who agreed. Diggle was scheduled for a prisoner transfer by the General who framed him, but Chase was able to thwart the transfer. It was highly likely that if the General had transferred Diggle, that Diggle would have been killed to keep his silence. Diggle can legally remain in Star City under Chases' legal care for the time being. Hopefully Chase can prove Diggle's innocence so Diggle can rejoin the team soon.
Oliver's Promise to Laurel
With Prometheus still on the loose, Oliver decided to turn his attention towards fulfilling the promise he made to Laurel: to find a new Black Canary. As the episode concluded, a woman was seen being confronted in a bar by two men. Another woman, Tina Boland, called out the two men and unleashed her own Canary Cry upon them. Whether she was wearing a sonar pulse like Laurel used to or she's a metahuman like Black Siren, Team Arrow may have just found their new Canary. Curtis and Wild Dog also found a new invigoration for being on Team Arrow, with Curtis staying on as the brains and Rene staying on as the brawn. In the flashbacks, Oliver was rescued by a mysterious woman in a hood -- Talia al Ghul -- who will be a main part of the Prometheus mystery and Russian flashbacks moving forward. "Arrow" will return next week with "Second Chances."
TALIA AL GHUL TAKES OLIVER UNDER HER WING — In his quest to take down Kovar, Oliver (Stephen Amell) gets help from a surprising source – Talia al Ghul (guest star Lexa Doig). However, when she reveals what she wants from him in exchange, Oliver isn’t sure he can accept her help. Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) attempts to hack the NSA to help free Diggle (David Ramsey) but when her online efforts are flagged, she faces off against an unknown adversary. Meanwhile, Curtis (Echo Kellum) tells the team about a female vigilante, Tina Boland (guest star Juliana Harkavay), he uncovered online who has been wreaking havoc all over the country.
Starring Stephen Amell as the Emerald Archer, “Arrow” airs Wednesdays at 8 pm ET/PT on The CW. The series also stars Emily Bett Rickards, David Ramsey, John Barrowman, Willa Holland and more.