'Arrow' season 5, episode 11 recap: Oliver offers a second chance to a new Black Canary
Arrow has consistently delivered solid episodes in its fifth season, and episode 11, titled "Second Chances," is no exception. After trying, and failing, in last week's episode to persuade Black Siren (Earth-2's Laurel Lance) that there is still a chance for redemption, Oliver begins his search for a new Black Canary in an attempt to honor the late Laurel Lance's legacy.
(Editor's Note: Spoilers ahead for season five, episode 11 of Arrow.)
There was a lot to look forward to in season five, episode 11 of Arrow. In the latter moments of the 10th episode of the season, we learned that there is a metahuman with identical powers to Black Siren, got a first glimpse at Talia al Ghul and saw a much darker Felicity Smoak. "Second Chances" lived up to the expectations, touching on all of those setups from the previous episode, plus a good amount more.
Black Canary 2.0
Green Arrow and Black Canary are sort of like Batman and Catwoman (it's not a perfect comparison, but you get the point). Arrow put itself in an interesting position after killing Laurel Lance off in season four. If her (or any) death is to mean anything, she has to stay dead. On the other hand, though, can we really have a show about the Green Arrow without a Black Canary? Well, in "Second Chances," Arrow began to fill the void that was left following Laurel's murder.
The episode starts out in Central City, three years prior, to a date fans of Arrow know very well: the day the particle accelerator explodes. Right off the bat, we are given a lot of important information regarding Tina Boland, the woman who Oliver will ultimately attempt to recruit as Black Canary. Detective Tina Boland witnesses the murder of her partner (and lover) right as the particle accelerator explodes, and her yells of anguish turn into the "Canary Cry."
Back in the present, Oliver is trying to make good on his promise to Laurel, but is having trouble finding a suitable Black Canary. While the team points out that his standards are unreasonably high (Rory even jokes that he found an astronaut/ninja-vigilante/philanthropist that Oliver would turn down), they ultimately land on Boland and her striking similarity to Black Siren.
As it turns out, Boland wants nothing to do with the Green Arrow, or his team, and instead is solely focused on avenging her partner. Obviously, Oliver does not give up, especially when he learns that the man she is chasing is an incredibly dangerous drug dealer with Count Vertigo-esque metahuman abilities. We also get a much-needed Tobias Church name-drop in here. I say much-needed, because it has been several episodes since he was killed by Prometheus, and considering the criminal underworld he developed, it would only make sense that there would be some fall-out.
After some stubbornness from Boland, she finally accepts Oliver's help after he reveals his civilian identity to her. Honestly, I think there are more people who know Oliver is the Green Arrow at this point than people who don't. Still, it is an effective way for him to get people to trust him. There was also a nice speech about second chances (ah, the episode title!).
When Oliver and Boland finally do team up, the result is nothing short of epic. In a pretty awesome firefight, the Green Arrow, Boland and Wild Dog take down most of the henchmen before Tina takes her revenge. Despite going against Oliver's wishes and killing her partner's murderer, we do see Boland again. Towards the end of "Second Chances," she reveals that she is not liberated, despite taking her revenge, and accepts Oliver's invitation to join the team. Oh yeah, she also reveals her real name is Dinah Drake, which of course is the name of the first Black Canary in the comics.
Talia al Ghul
I have mentioned before that I am not much of a fan of Arrow's flashbacks. The issue is that they are either too much of a tease, offering tiny glimpses into compelling stories, or they distract from the main story. In "Second Chances," it was the former. Still, I am actually all right with it.
After meeting Talia al Ghul in the final moments of last week's episode, she plays a prominent role in the "Second Chances" flashbacks. We learn that she knows quite a bit about Oliver Queen, having done her homework all the way back to the billion dollar playboy's shipwreck. She also reveals that she is the one who trained Yao Fei, the archer who Oliver met on Lian Yu. When Oliver asks how that is possible considering she is half his age, Talia replies that it is a family secret (no doubt referring to her father's Lazarus Pit).
What was fascinating is that Talia is actually instrumental in Oliver's journey to becoming the Green Arrow. Not only does she try and refocus Oliver on his dad's book of names (which is appearing a lot more this season), but she is the one who suggests he don a costume and become "something else" (you know, the thing Oliver has been saying in every opening credits since the series began).
What role Talia will play going forward is not entirely certain, but considering her obvious importance to Oliver's evolution into the man he was at the beginning of the series, I hope it is significant.
Ghost Fox Goddess
When we weren't following Oliver Queen's attempts to recruit Boland in Hub City, we were back in Star City with Felicity, who was trying to hack the NSA in an attempt to recover incriminating files on General Walker and, in doing so, free John Diggle.
When Felicity finds out that the NSA's files on Walker have been scrubbed, she is contacted by a mysterious hacker who mentions Felicity by her former hacktivist-handle, Ghost Fox Goddess. When Felicity goes to meet the mysterious hacker IRL (in real life, duh!), we learn that she is in reality a Felicity groupie (seriously, you know the writers got that idea from the Felicity fan fiction).
While it was funny to see a sort of Felicity 2.0, the meeting will likely prove integral to Felicity's continued evolution this season. Not only is Felicity handed the information to free Diggle, but she is given a file of folders to do with as she pleases — as a hacktivist. And in the latter moments of the episode we see her eyeing those folders, likely contemplating what to do next (without telling Oliver).
Season five, episode 11 of Arrow was another strong installment in the series' redemption story. While fans may be a little ticked off that Prometheus was a non-factor in the episode, "Second Chances" did a lot in terms of character development and setting up future storylines. That is not always the case for "filler" episodes that do not feature the season's big bad.
I personally would have liked to see a little more of the flashbacks (did I just say that?), but that may just be because I am a Batman fanatic and will watch anything with Talia al Ghul in it. But, to be fair, I also would have liked to see more because there seems to be more there. Talia knows a lot about Oliver, and is clearly extremely important in his transformation into the Green Arrow. Hopefully, we will see more of Talia in subsequent episodes, for longer stretches of time.
One aspect of Arrow that has been traditionally strong is the series' action choreography, and it was on full display in "Second Chances." Not only did we see the Green Arrow kick ass in the present, while hanging from a helicopter no less, but we also see him take down a bunch of Russian thugs in the flashbacks, John Wick style. I am definitely down to see more of that in future episodes.
Ultimately, "Second Chances" did what any episode could hope to do: Make us want to see more.
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