Sara Lance returns to Starling City, just in time to save Laurel from dying of an overdose. But there is more than meets the eye and Sara isn't the only member of the League of Assassins in town. Nyssa Al Ghul - daughter of Ra's - has come to collect the wayward Black Canary. But are her motivations entirely business-like?
Meanwhile, Moira Queen prepares to announce her candidacy for Mayor of Starling City. This leaves Ollie in the awkward position of having to abandon his support of his new friend Sebastian Blood. And things become even more awkward when Felicity - following a money trail from Moira's old holdings - uncovers the secret of Thea Queen's parentage.
Greg Rucka's Detective Comics (the character of Nyssa) and Gail Simone's Birds of Prey (Sara's personality and the plot idea of Black Canary defying the League of Assasins to save her family)
Sara's smart-phone looks awfully advanced for a 2007 model.
I've praised Caity Lotz's performance as Sara Lance before but this episode really brings home what a talented actress she is. Like Stephen Amell, she plays Sara Lance as different characters across a relatively brief period of time and this episode gives us our first chance to see the Sara of the past as she interacted with her family. The flashback sequences - this time focusing on six years ago - give us our first look at the Lance family in happier times and it makes for an interesting counterpoint to all the modern-day scenes where we see a very different Sara who is capable of fighting but is tired of killing.
The action sequences in this episode may be the best this show has ever produced. The opening sequence with Nyssa fighting airport security does an effective job of establishing her skill. The chase sequence with Arrow and Canary going after Nyssa's van looks like it came straight from the comic books (except for the fact that Canary always drives the motorcycle) and the final fight between Arrow and Nyssa is the best fight we've seen yet between Ollie and another archer.
Nyssa Al Ghul is based on the character of Nyssa Raatko. Created by writer Greg Rucka during his run on Detective Comics, Nyssa was a daughter of Ra's Al Ghul who was born in 19th century Russia. Enthralled by her mother's stories of her dashing father (Nyssa being the result of a brief affair as Ra's was passing through), she sought him out and eventually tracked him to North Africa. Ra's was so impressed by her skill and resourcefulness he let her join him as a trusted lieutenant and even allowed her to use the Lazarus Pits that extended his life. The two eventually had a falling out over Ra's goals and she turned against him and plotted revenge after he allowed her family to die during The Holocaust. The Arrow version of Nyssa seems to be far more loyal to her father and shows no signs of having lived for over a century.
Nyssa Raatko is the name Nyssa uses on her passport.
There is some precedent for Black Canary being bisexual. According to Gail Simone (who has written Black Canary more than any other writer in recent memory), Black Canary is "70% hetero". It's also telling that in one Birds of Prey story, when going into what she thought was her final battle, Black Canary asked for her love to be given to two people - Oliver Queen and Barbara "Oracle" Gordon. While there's never been any confirmation of a romantic/sexual relationship between Oracle and Black Canary in the comics, the two are a frequent target of shipping.
Sara: You saw Laurel. Is she going to be okay?
Ollie: You saved her life.
Sara: Hey, thanks for calling me And I never did ask you - how did you find me?
Ollie: ... I wasn't going to lose you again.
(After Felicity tells her she should tell Ollie the truth about Thea's parentage)
Moira: I''m not going to tell my son anything. And neither are you. If you won't keep my secret for Oliver's sake, you should keep it for your own. I see the way you look at him. If you tell him this, you will rip his world apart. And a part of him will always blame you. Oh, he'll hate me for sure. But he will hate you too. We all have to keep secrets, Miss Smoak.
Sebastian Blood: Blood is thicker than politics. And it should be.
(After Sara tells her dad about her relationship with Nyssa)
Sara: Are you upset?
Quentin: Honestly, Sara? To take what you've been through these past six years? The pain? The loneliness? I'm just happy to hear you had someone to care for you.
Moira: I know we need to talk.
Ollie: You need to listen. For the past year, I've stood by your side. And I've fought. Because I wanted to believe that you weren't this... monster. And I needed to believe that I still had a mother.
Moira: You do, Oliver!
(Ollie puts up a hand to stop her as she moves in)
Moira: Oliver, I only lied about Thea to protect her from Malcolm.
Ollie: No. You lied because that's what you do. And that is what you are, Mom. Lies. And now you've made a liar of me. Because Thea can never know the truth about Merlyn. And she can never know the truth about us. Which is that as of right now, we have no relationship. I will keep up appearances for Thea's sake. And publicly I will support your campaign. But privately? You and I are done.
(Sara enters the Arrow Cave, walking in on Ollie practicing with a dummy)
Ollie: You've been crying.
Sara: I was happy to know I still could.
Ollie: Are you okay?
Sara: Laurel wasn't as happy to see me as you thought
Ollie: Give her time.
Sara: I gave her six years. What exactly are you taking out on that dummy?
Ollie: My mother... She's not who I thought she was.
Sara: I guess that's going around.
Ollie: So what now?
Sara: I don't know
Ollie: I don't either.
Sara: I know one thing.
Ollie: What's that?
Sara: I'm home.
Laurel's entire spiteful, whiny, drunken rant about how Sara is responsible for destroying her life will destroy any bit of sympathy you might have left for Laurel as a character.
Sara returns to Starling City for the first time since League of Assassins (205). We find out the person who called Sara "beloved" referred to in that episode was Nyssa Al Ghul and that the two had a romantic relationship.
It is revealed that the man who was watching Laurel at Verdant in Tremors (212) was a League of Assassins member who poisoned her drink with Tibetan Pit Viper venom.
Felicity tracks Moira's holdings in Tempest - the company she first uncovered for Walter in Vendetta (108). She discovers money from this company was directed to Dr. Gill - the doctor who knows that Malcolm Merlyn is Thea's biological father.
Dinah Lance's occupation is uncertain, save that she is "a professional" and works in academia.
Sara Lance did live in Nanda Parbat with other members of the League of Assassins. Nanda Parbat was first mentioned by Malcolm Merlyn in Dead To Rights (116).
Malcolm Merlyn was the first person Ra's Al Ghul allowed to be released from service in the League of Assassins. By the episode's end, Sara Lance becomes the second.
Sara makes use of her electronic Canary Cry for the first time since Crucible (204)
Felicity makes the first reference to her troubled home life. She is vague about her mother but says she remembers little about her father, save how much it hurt when he left abandoned them.
Based on the date on her tombstone, Sara Lance is 26 years old.
Ollie uses his antidote herbs to save Sara, making this the first time he's used them since saving Malcolm Merlyn in Dead To Rights (116).
The Fridge Factor
Averted, for the most part. Laurel continues to be worse than useless and now exists only to hinder the lives of our heroes. And it's a bit jarring to see Alex Kingston play the damsel in distress after years of seeing her as River Song on Doctor Who but it fits her character on this show. Still a shame we didn't get to see the older Dinah kick some ass. Everyone else is awesome though. Felicity is actually shown being as smart as she's supposed to be. Moira is back to being the tough-as-nails manipulator. And Canary... oh, sweet baby Loki... every single moment of Sara/Canary on screen was awesome!
The Winick Factor
Shockingly averted, with Ollie being far more empathic than we've seen in recent memory, immediately noticing something is up with Felicity and taking steps to help her.
The Bottom Line
Darn near flawless in every regard. The fight scenes are fantastic. The script manages several honest surprises that don't seem the least bit forced. Best of all, Starling City has a Black Canary, at last. The only downside? We have to wait three weeks for the next new episode!