With the sudden and shocking death of Sara Lance last week, fans had to expect a somber episode, and last night’s “Sara” was just that. But the installment didn’t wallow in its own moroseness, instead, Sara’s death served as a dramatic jumping-up point for the players of Arrow, characters who fundamentally changed due to the loss of one of their own.
Of course, the death affected Laurel the most. Last season, Laurel was stuck in a cycle of self-abuse and addiction. One would expect that, with the violent death of Sara, Laurel could plunge back into her old life. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case, as I don’t think I could’ve handled another season of flop-sweat Laurel. Sara’s death turned the already-dedicated young woman to iron. Yes, she mourned, yes, she was angry, but her sister’s death seems as if it could be the engine that turns Laurel into a hero – that transforms her into the Black Canary -- an event perhaps foreshadowed by her staring steely-eyed and determined at Sara’s Canary jacket at episode’s end.
John Diggle also departed our intrepid crew last week, but Sara’s death brings him back into the fold. To Dig, the tragedy is a clarion call to duty after leaving to take care of his newborn daughter. This week, Diggle returns to Ollie’s side, to be his rock once again. He needs to remain steady for Ollie, and he wants to honor the fallen Canary by naming his daughter Sara. This tribute goes a long way in giving Laurel faith and allowing her to continue on, to honor what her sister fought for.
In fact, this episode’s greatest triumph is the end scene at Sara’s grave, where Ollie, Diggle, Felicity, Roy and Laurel gather to say farewell to their fallen friend. Of course, Sara already had a grave because of her “death” at sea, and the tragedy here is that no one in Starling City knew they lost a true hero who fought for peace and justice after suffering so much. It will be fascinating moving forward to see how this loss affects the world of Arrow. What will Nysaa al Ghul’s reaction be? Will this be the inciting incident that brings in Ra’s al Ghul? It truly left a bruise, but the death of Sara Lance has also opened the series numerous story possibilities.
Felicity Smoak is the only member of Team Arrow who’s not a soldier, and she doesn’t understand how her friends can stoically accept the loss. Her reaction is powerful and real as she retreats from the team and takes a job with Ray Palmer. Brandon Routh is at his charming best this week as the show continues to establish the philanthropist. It looks as if we’ll have to wait a long time before Palmer shrinks, but it could be worth the wait, as the series is portraying him as a true hero and selfless ambassador for Starling City (soon to be Star City, if Palmer has his way).
Sara’s father Quentin Lance doesn’t get to mourn his daughter, as Laurel decides not to tell him about her death because she fears it would kill him (Lance is suffering heart problems, and he’s vulnerable to any shock). This soap-opera twist could get old quick, but for now, let’s wait and see how it plays out. Arrow has earned our trust.
As for Ollie … he must remain the rock. He’s transformed himself into a symbol, and as such, he can’t allow his team to see him mourn. The Arrow can’t indulge in such human emotions, not when there’s a killer out there. On the island and in Hong Kong, Ollie had to kill to survive. He’s accustomed to death, and knows how to deflect emotions to get the job done. There’s an inhuman but necessary quality to this that drives Felicity away.
Throughout all this mourning and character stuff, there’s also action, as Ollie and company hunt down an archer named Komodo, whom they believe killed Sara. Komodo is a relatively new addition to the DC Comics universe, having been introduced in the New 52 by creators Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino. On Arrow, the villain is more of a plot device than a layered character, but he’s pretty badass, and provides some cool action as he takes on Ollie and Roy at a gathering thrown by Ray Palmer; there’s also a really well-executed motorcycle archery battle. Turns out Komodo wasn’t the killer, just an assassin on a mission in Starling City. Komodo is caught, the good guys win, but the mystery of Sara’s murder is still no closer to being solved.
I never mentioned Roy’s reaction to the tragedy. He’s saddened and a rock for Ollie, but he’s preoccupied with the missing Thea Queen, whose absence is glaring. However, before the episode ends, we see where she is, with a new haircut, kicking ass under the direction of Malcolm Merlyn. What this means is anyone’s guess, but Roy’s life may soon become very difficult.
Of course, it wouldn’t be an episode of Arrow without a flashback, and this week we see Ollie being ordered to murder Tommy Merlyn in Hong Kong. Tommy journeyed there seeking Ollie, whom Amanda Waller doesn’t want to be found. Ollie devises a way to get Tommy off his trail while protecting his friend from Waller’s death mark. It’s not clear how this year’s flashbacks will play into the story, but they work well in their brevity, and I can’t wait for some Katana action, if that’s in the cards.