With the fantastic heights that the previous episode, Broken Dolls, reached, Crucible certainly had a lot to live up to. All in all, the episode managed to do a solid job of continuing a remarkably positive start to this new season of The CW’s Arrow.
Firstly, Crucible was never going to match the level of Broken Dolls – those types of episodes come along only a couple of times per season – but this latest episode most certainly does start off with a bang. Near enough right from the off we’re given a whole lot of Black Canary (Caity Lotz), or ‘The Canary’ as she seems to be known in Arrow terms. We get to find out why she’s in Starling City and, more importantly, why she knows that Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) is the face under the hood of the recently-named Arrow.
Whilst there’s plenty of screen-time shared between Canary and Arrow, there’s also a new threat for the pair to deal with. Known simply as The Major (Clé Bennett), there’s a new power-mad villain in town. Having prospered from the destruction of The Glades, The Major is tooling his hoods for hire (no pun intended) with state-of-the-art military guns, then looking to take over Starling City at whatever cost. Showing a lot of similarities to Isaac Hayes’ fantastic Duke from Escape from New York, The Mayor’s actions cause Oliver to launch a ‘cash for guns’ initiative intended to encourage people to hand in their weapons and get a fat cash reward. As well as The Mayor, not to mention the huge Black Canary developments, Oliver is also hampered by the re-emergence of Summer Glau’s Isabel Rochev and Kevin Alejandro’s Sebastian Blood. Just to give Ollie even further grief, a secret is revealed that causes Diggle (David Ramsey) and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) to question how much Oliver is keeping from them.
Away from the main arc of the episode, we find Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) developing a drinking problem as a defence mechanism to the trauma she has suffered over the last few years, Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) relating this to his previous alcohol problems, a bond growing between Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) and Sin (Bex Taylor-Klaus), and the political push of Sebastian Blood continuing. Out of all of these, some of the better scenes are the near-sibling relationship between Canary and Sin, with echoes of how Eric Draven and Sarah interact in The Crow. That said, whilst those scenes are useful and warm, it’s the development of the Sebastian Blood character that will pique the interest of long-time DC fans.
As mentioned, Crucible was never going to live up to the level of reveals and sinister action of Broken Dolls, but it plays a different game to its predecessor. Here we get a whole bunch more development for several characters who are to be key in the rest of the season and likely beyond. Added to that, there are still several teases thrown at the audience, and you find yourself with the sense that something big, truly big, is going to go down at some point in the not-so-distant future.