Tonight’s episode of Arrow dialed back a bit on the creepiness from last week’s “Villain of the Week”, but rewarded fans with not one but two character reveals (and the briefest of introductions for a third). Audiences have been waiting to unmask the Black Canary since her appearance, but another character has been walking around without a mask this season, only to don one in the closing moments of “Crucible”. The show continues to explore DC lore that should interest even the most rabid of fans, but it also pays attention to its own characters, tasking them with real-world problems to balance out the comicbook fantasy. The most successful and entertaining shows are all about balance, and Arrow continues to expertly walk that tightrope. Hit the jump for my recap and review of this week’s episode, and to see if you’re ready to serve.
During a soiree at the Queen family mansion, Arrow (Stephen Amell) cleans up some gun-toting criminals in the Glade while Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) stalls Oliver’s guests, including hostile CEO Isabel Rochev (Summer Glau). Arrow and Diggle (David Ramsey) discuss the stolen weapons in the gang’s possession. Laurel (Katie Cassidy) attends with Sebastian Blood (Kevin Alejandro). This cold open establishes everything we need to know about this particular episode’s plot right out of the gates, including the new enemy of the week, The Mayor (Clé Bennett). The Mayor isn’t very interesting as he amounts to nothing more than a jumped-up thug. What happens to him by episode’s end, however, is worth noting.
More interesting than The Mayor is Black Canary who, it turns out, is following Laurel, allowing Arrow to track her down and interrogate her. In a big reveal (that was unfortunately spoiled for myself and many others by IMDb’s cast listing), Black Canary is in fact Sara Lance (Caity Lotz), the sister of Laurel who accompanied Oliver on his ill-fated voyage on the Gambit, and was presumed lost at sea. Oliver then reveals to Diggle and Felicity that he saw Sara a year after the sinking of the Gambit. This bit comes into play later on, as well.
To move the plot along, Oliver sponsors a “Cash 4 Guns” trade event to get the weapons out of the Glades. At the same time, Arrow and his team track the weapon supply to a local military base thanks to one of Diggle’s informants (and possible love interest?). Unfortunately, the trade-in event gets lit up by The Mayor himself (where the local cops prove completely useless), and Sin (Bex Taylor-Klaus) gets shot in the process. While she recovers in the hospital, Canary and Arrow team up to take The Mayor down in a fun fight sequence that features Arrow shooting a grenade out of the air and both heroes switching weapons mid-fight. The action scenes are always entertaining and it’s nice when their quality is matched by the dramatic interactions during the rest of the hour.
Speaking of drama, what is going on with Laurel? Granted, she has a lot to be upset over, but it’s interesting that the writers are pushing her into a possible drug and alcohol problem. (It’s also interesting to note that Arrow was rather keen on the Public Service Announcements this time around: gun violence, dangers of drinking and driving, and even Amell appearing in an actual PSA during the break about the problem of texting and driving.) Everyone else has gotten their lives together, so of course we’ll have to watch as Laurel’s falls apart. The fact that her sister may soon appear from beyond the grave certainly won’t help matters.
In addition to balancing action and drama, another thing the show does well is writing in lines of dialogue that fit perfectly in a scene, but stick out just enough to make a viewer question their inclusion. One of those lines came from Blood himself this time around. When Oliver asks him if he’s going to run for mayor, Blood says that there are other ways to save a city. Surprise, surprise that what Blood had in mind was nothing beneficent at all, but rather his taking on a vigilante role of his own as the villainous Brother Blood. (The mask was a bit goofy but the reveal was fun, as The Mayor became a test subject for Blood’s concoction.) And here’s another example of clever writing. Remember that Oliver also mentioned that he had seen Sara after the Gambit sank once before? For more on that, we must return to the island.
Back on the prison ship, Oliver is interrogated and eventually shot when he stands up to the soldier. Upon waking, Oliver finds a surgical kit next to him. His cell neighbor (who IMDb lists as spoiler: Anatoli Knyazev / master assassin KGBeast!) tells him that the kit is a test of Oliver’s strength, to see if he can endure the pain and patch himself up. After Oliver recovers, the soldier again asks Oliver about the graves, the bodies and the bones. Oliver says nothing but the man knows it’s the right island. When Oliver is then hauled out of his cell to the promise of more pain, he sees … surprise! Sara standing over him!
Arrow once again does a fine job at delivering an entertaining episodic plot (though the villain and illegal guns issue was rather pedestrian), developing characters (Laurel’s downward spiral set against her sister Sara’s metaphorical resurrection), and advancing the overall story. Unfortunately, “Crucible” felt like a setup for a bigger episode coming next week in “League of Assassins”.
Quotes & Quivers:
Felicity to Oliver: “Do you have any happy stories?”
Diggle: “Somebody once told me that secrets have weight; the more you keep, the harder it is to keep moving.”
Canary: “No woman should ever suffer at the hands of men.”
Oliver, to Felicity and Diggle: “You both need to work on your definition of good news.”
Felicity: “I believe you ordered a crate of stolen military weapons, Mr. Queen.”
Arrow: “Weapons are secure.” Diggle: “And the Mayor?” Arrow: “…still in office.”
Oliver to Sara: “I saw you die.” Sara: “Well that’s not the first time that’s happened, right?” – Probably a long shot, but possible Lazarus pit mention?
We only see Roy (Colton Haynes) and Thea (Willa Holland) for a few brief scenes, but at least they make a new friend in Sin.
Oliver: “I wanna see how you do in a real fight.” Canary: “Good. I was lookin’ for a fight.”
The Mayor: “Old-school weapons! Respect! But can your arrows do this?” ::fires grenade::
A news report touches on the demonstrations opposing the Star Labs particle accelerator to remind viewers that that plotline still exists.
Blood: “There is more than one way to save a city.”
Masked Man / Brother Blood: “Are you ready to serve?”