Arrow Recap: “Crucible”

arrow-9There is one rule when it comes to comic books – No one is ever dead. From the most popular, to the most minor, whether it be actual resurrection, a case of mistaken identify, or returning in the form of a vision, characters never go away forever. It is this guiding principle that is at the center of tonight’s Arrow and helps to continue the show’s strong start out of the second season gates.

I continued to be impressed with how this season is pushing forward at an unrelenting pace. There is a steady stream of new characters, mysteries and reveals that are brought up with each new episode. At the same time the show is establishing a new status quo by driving the storyline in different directions from last season.

Tonight’s big reveal was the the identity of Black Canary. Turns out, she is Laurel’s sister, Sara, who supposedly died when the Queen’s Gambit sunk. However, perhaps the more surprising reveal was not that she is still alive, but the fact that Oliver, knew she survived the disaster and had actually seen her afterwards during his time on the island. This added complication to the reveal leads to a richer well to draw from for storytelling because it further snarls Oliver’s relationships with the Lances and makes the island storyline more interesting. (Where’s Slade? Sarah asks. A good question not just for the current timeline, but for the island flashbacks as well.)

The reveal also places added tension on Oliver’s friendship with Diggle and Felicity. His refusal to come clean with the whole truth about what happened to him and Sara on the island continues to frustrate the pair, and Oliver, for reasons still not clear, seems to be treating them more poorly than ever. Hopefully the writers are taking that tension somewhere. I know you can only have a team break up and come back together so many times, but Oliver’s actions need to have consequences, and so far the actions of the characters have felt natural rather than forced.

The episode also sets up a great villain for all of the characters to revolve around. The Mayor (who may or may not have actual comic books roots; I’m not taking the time to find out), a street thug, who, with the right weapons, establishes his criminal dominance over the Glades. The earthquake area of the city is going to continue to be a hotspot for crime over the course of the season and I was a little sad to see him dealt with in a single episode (although the racial stereotypes on display would maybe be a little much to handle over a couple episodes). He was pretty easily dispatched by Oliver and Sara once they teamed up, but it was interesting to see the villain’s violence on display as the show moves it’s hero away from those tendencies.

Other items…

  • Another episode, another terrific ending to set up for what’s next. The island (or I guess now, boat) continues to be the less interesting story, and even though the reveal at the end of tonight’s story was obvious, it at least signals that Sarah’s story is going to be running parallel with Oliver for a while. And the fact we have Alderman Blood being referred to as “Brother Blood” this early in the season is a good sign of things to come.
  • Laurel continues to be the worst part of this show, as she now becomes an alcoholic pill-popper. Sadly, she is also bringing her dad down with her as his role in the show continues to be reduced to simply the worrisome father.
  • Obligatory mention of “the Flash” foreshadowing. It’s fine that the show is leaving these little breadcrumbs, but I won’t get too excited until the episode actually arrives.
  • Crazy theory alert: Before the start of this season, there was a lot of speculation about whether or not DC might be blending its TV and movie universes. Would Arrow acknowledge Man of Steel? The answer appears to be no, but I have been thinking…The next Superman movie doesn’t come out until 2015. Could it be where this season is ultimately headed? It wouldn’t be too hard to imagine this season takes place before the movie, and that potion Blood injects into the Mayor’s arm was suspiciously green…thoughts?
  • Impressed, Satisfied, or Unimpressed? Four episodes in and the plot shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon? Impressed.

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