After an impressive return last week, Arrow firmly steps up its game here. In case you missed it, Season 3’s opener ended with Caity Lotz’s Sara Lance, aka Canary, dead after several arrows to the chest and a rather nasty fall from the top of a building. Conveniently landing at the feet of sister Laurel (Katie Cassidy), the Canary was no more. And so that throws up the big question for this episode: just how does the Arrow world react to a death in the family?
To date, Arrow has seen several characters killed off in dramatic circumstances, not least last season’s demise of Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson), but this is the first time that we’ve really seen the death of one of the show’s “masks”, of one of its heroes. Make no mistake, Sara Lance is dead. Unless a Lazarus Pit magically comes into play (this is a season that will feature Ra’s al Ghul, after all) then this is the last we’ve seen of Sara in the modern day setting of the show. Whilst she’s bound to appear again at some point in the flashback sequences that the show uses so well, this Canary is well and truly as dead as a dodo.
Key to Sara is the emotion, or lack thereof, on show from the key players of Team Arrow. Oliver (Stephen Amell), Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) and Roy (Colton Haynes) return to the Arrow-cave to find Laurel has turned up with the rigid, expired body of her sister. Whilst all are shocked and taken aback, Ollie has to keep things together in order to be strong for those around him. Deciding against telling the dodgy-ticker suffering Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne), the group decide how to handle the passing of one of their own. And it’s with this shock event that some of the group have moments of reflection and are even given a harsh insight into their own possible futures. Still needed to be the strong, effective Arrow, Oliver Queen has no time to grieve, has no time for emotion, no time for sentiment. He still has a city that needs protecting, with a new archer on the scene; one that is offing powerful names for fun. That element of the episode ties in nicely with the whodunit nature of Sara’s demise. As her killer was never shown on-screen, The Arrow is out to find who is responsible, whilst Laurel Lance just wants some plain old dirty revenge.
As the death of Sara really starts to hit home, Oliver finds himself becoming self-aware of what his possible future has in store for him; how his life is almost certain to end in a similar way, it’s just a case of where and when. On the flip side of this, Felicity is hit hard by the loss of Sara, with her hit even harder at the thought of the man that she loves, Oliver, likely having the same fate awaiting him at some point. With that in mind, Felicity makes a bold decision, one that could hugely affect the dynamic of Team Arrow going forward. And it’s with Felicity’s arc of this episode that we see the true nature of Brandon Routh’s Ray Palmer. Shown as a charismatic genius in last week’s The Calm, this week sees some extra layers added to the character, with him showing that there’s plenty of substance underneath his engaging style.
Whilst there’s so much going on in terms of emotion and tragedy for the principle characters on display in Sara, there’s a new villain on the scene who has barely even been touch on in this review so far. Fans of DC’s Green Arrow books will be well aware of Simon Lacroix, aka Komodo. Played by Matt Ward, the character makes his bow here, with him being the target of The Arrow and Laurel in their separate search for Sara’s killer. Whereas Oliver seems to have control of his emotions, Laurel Lance ends up truly out for blood. Whilst the characterisation of Laurel has been one of the very few weak points to date of this usually excellent show, we have to say that Katie Cassidy’s character gets given a whole new edge in Sara. With some meat finally beginning to appear on the character’s bones, it seems that inevitable future for Laurel Lance, the one we all saw coming right from Season 1, is on the horizon for this season.
Elsewhere, Oliver, who is seemingly his own island in the ocean of Arrow, is yearning for sister Thea (Willa Holland), who he believes is merely sight-seeing at a tropical location. With Roy knowing the real deal behind Thea’s absence, the still-to-be-referred-to-as-Arsenal Roy struggles with how to handle the situation. Should he tell Oliver the truth behind Thea’s situation or should he keep schtum? And just when will we see Thea again and what has she been up to during her break from Starling City? Then there’s the shocking events of the Hong Kong flashbacks in this episode, as Oliver’s wits and instincts are firmly tested, posing questions of just what Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) has in store for Ollie during these moments.
All in all, Sara is a mightily impressive outing (again!) for Arrow. Whereas some of last season’s episodes were stunning for their creepiness, drama, character development or action, Sara delivers an equally impressive yet entirely different episode to most of what we’ve seen before from the show. Here we see our core characters faced with their own mortality or the mortality of those close to them, struggling with the very real fact that any one of them could face the same fate as Sara Lance on any given day. What these characters do on a daily basis has very real consequences, and Sara flows beautifully in the way that Oliver Queen et al are faced with the cold, hard truth of the hero business. This isn’t all happy endings, kissing babies and fighting the good fight, this is a brutal, clinical and callous world that they operate in, and it seems as if the dynamic of Team Arrow has undergone a major shift in a variety of ways. And once more, just like that, this show grabs your attention, twists your emotions, throws up questions, then leaves you wanting more. Damn you, Arrow! Damn you for being so intricately crafted, performed, and for making sure that one hour of our week is always taken up by your presence. I say that likes it’s a bad thing – it really, really is not.
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