Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 3, Episode 2 - Sara

For a summary of the episode guide layout & categories, click here.


The death of Sara Lance has hit everyone on Team Arrow hard, but they're all responding to it in different ways. As Oliver throws himself into the hunt for Sara's killer - with an increasingly angry Laurel watching from the sidelines - Roy Harper's thoughts turn to his own lost love and spark a search for Thea Queen.  Felicity takes Sara's death the hardest of them all but she has her own problems to worry about, as Ray Palmer doubles down on his efforts to get into her good graces.

Five years ago in Hong Kong, Oliver is given his first test - assassinate a troublesome American who is asking uncomfortable questions.  The American?  Oliver's best friend, Tommy Merlyn, who has come to Hong Kong looking for Oliver!


The Mike Grell run on Green Arrow (Oliver contemplating his own mortality, Oliver employing his skills as a tracker to investigate a crime scene and Ollie being press-ganged into working for the American government) and The Fall of Green Arrow (Oliver's speech to Laurel about the futility of revenge is similar to the one he gave Speedy)


The blood splatter on Sara's body doesn't match her injuries.

How does Oliver think Thea is traveling the world?  Weren't all of their assets and savings snatched up by Isabel Rochev?

How do the two cops in the hallway protecting Elric Kelso not hear his screams when Laurel starts roughing him up?

Why did Kodomo just walk off after he sees Laurel peeking through the glass after he kills Kelso?  He should have seen her talking to him before he took the shot.  (Maybe a mercenary code of honor where he doesn't kill anyone except his targets?)

Quentin drops the questions of why Laurel was questioning a man in police custody and what Laurel was hiding from him far too quickly.

Katie Cassidy's performance throughout much of the episode gives new meaning to the Dull Surprise meme.  She seems less like someone who is coping with the trauma of having seen their sister die in front of them and more like someone who was slapped in the face with a fish.


Emily Bett Rickards steals the show in this one, managing to play both angry and anguished at the same time as she confronts Ray Palmer over his efforts to employ her.  This episode shows just how much Felicity has grown as a character over the past year and it's hard to imagine the Felicity of Season One standing up for herself like this.

Brandon Routh has a challenging part here, having to both play Ray Palmer as the kind of creep who would go so overboard on trying to get a woman's attention as to buy the company she worked for but not enough of a creep to not try and make an actual emotional connection when he sees that Felicity is honestly hurting.  It's a tough act but he just manages to go into reverse before going full Christian Gray and backs up to park somewhere around Tony Stark.


The archery duel on motorcycles is an amazing scene and an Emmy-worthy triumph for the stunt team.

The direction, music and wordless acting in the final scenes, in which we see Oliver sitting alone in his cave, Laurel hugging Sara's stuffed shark, John playing with his daughter and Roy looking at pictures of himself and Thea on his phone before cutting to Felicity accepting Ray Palmer's job offer.


This is the first episode with the new intro for Season 3.  It differs from the new intro for the Arrow Season 2.5 comic.

A passing reference is made to Qurac - a fictional Middle Eastern country in the DC Universe.

Felicity says she always imagined Sara as some kind of amazonian warrior. In the comics, Black Canary was a frequent sparring partner of Wonder Woman - an actual Amazon.

Waller is said to want Merlyn "off the board".  This use of a chess term (eliminated pieces are taken 'off the board') may be a reference to Checkmate - another mysterious organization Amanda Waller has been affiliated with besides ARGUS in the comics.

The murder of Tim Kaufman took place at a warehouse on the corner of 3rd and Lemire.  This is a reference to writer/artist Jeff Lemire, who wrote the Green Arrow comic from February 2013 to October 2014.

A picture in the background of ARGUS headquarters reveals that Barack Obama is President in the reality of Arrow and The Flash.

The mercenary Simon LaCroix a.k.a. Komodo is based upon a character from the Jeff Lemire run on Green Arrow.  However, the two characters have very little in common apart from a name. Superficially, Komodo in the comics is a middle-aged Caucasian man whereas the Arrow version is younger, black and Quebecois. In the comics, LaCroix was a protege of Robert Queen who saw himself as the true heir to the Queen empire. He engineered the events that caused Oliver to lose his family fortune in the New 52 universe and framed Green Arrow for murder.

We see that Ray Palmer is changing the color scheme in Queen Consolidated logo from green to blue.  Blue is, naturally, the primary color of The Atom's costume in the comics.

In the final scenes, we learn that Malcolm and Thea are living in Corto Maltese - a fictional country in the DC Universe well known for its corruption. Originally created by Frank Miller as the site of a rebellion that was backed by the US Government in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, it was referred to in 103 as the site of one of Deadshot's most notorious assassinations.  It is named in honor of the titular hero of a series of comics by Hugo Pratt.


Felicity asks Roy if he has any idea how hard it is to ping a clone off a hacked multiplex.

Felicity uses an NSA algorithm to gather information on Kodomo's victims.

Dialogue Triumphs

You okay?
Ollie: (pointing) The killer stood there.   Loose gravel on the rooftop.
John: Oliver...
Ollie: Sara was here.  Scuff marks, back to the edge...
John: You don't have to do this right now, man.
Ollie: It's the only thing I CAN do.

Felicity: Did you do it to make a point? Because I get it.  Loud and clear. You are rich. You are impulsive. And frankly you are the creepiest former stalker that I've ever had to deal with and believe me when I'm telling you THAT is saying a lot and what... are you doing to our old offices?!
Ray: ... hi!

Ray: Felicity, I.. I piss people off on a daily basis. It's.. part of business and... well, being the smartest guy in any given room. I own that. So I have enough experience with people being angry with me to know when they're really angry at something else. You, right now, are not angry at me. What's your something else?

Oliver's understated takedown of the drug dealer who tries to climb away from him.

Ollie: I mean, what if we just - if we go to a local morgue and we find a body that LOOKS like Tommy's?
Masseo: At the Hong Kong morgue?  You've got a better chance of winning the lottery and trying to pay Waller off!

Felicity: How can you stand there being so cold and rational?
Ollie: Because I don't have the luxury of falling to pieces.

Ollie: Earlier today, I was looking at Sara and I realized something. One of these days, it's going to be me. This life that I've chosen? It only ends one way.
Felicity: So that's it?  You're just going to spend your life hiding down here in this cave, waiting to die? I'm sorry. I'm not going to wait with you. Because if there's one thing that today has taught me it is that life is precious. And I want so much more in life than this.


As the episode starts, Felicity is chewing out Roy for his request that she rework their phone system. In the stream of technobabble that follows, she drops the terms "clone" and "Multiplex" - references to the villain of F102, which aired the same week this episode premiered.

Sara had a stuffed shark that was her favorite toy as a child.

John comes out of retirement to help Oliver find Sara's killer.

Oliver knows of ten assassins who favor the bow and most of them are in the League of Assassins.

Roy has become competent enough with computers to use Felicity's rig to access FBI documents.

Roy shows Oliver the Dear John letter that Thea left him back in 223.

It's proven that Kodomo couldn't have been Sara's killer, as he committed two killings in Bludhaven on the same night.

Ollie, Roy, John, Laurel and Feliicty bury Sara in the grave that was left in her memorial when she was thought lost at sea.

John and Lyla name their daughter Sara, in Sara Lance's honor.

It is revealed that Malcolm Merlyn and Thea are in Corto Maltese.

Thea is now calling Malcolm "Dad" and is apparently undergoing some kind of training under his supervision.  She is now a competent enough fighter to defeat two opponents with a kendo sword.


Hong Kong.

The Fridge Factor

Even allowing that she is upset, it still seems unlikely that Laurel wouldn't check to make sure her gun was loaded before going after Kodomo.  To say nothing of the stupidity of Laurel using her real name and credentials to gain access to a man in police custody so that she can try and beat information out of him.

The Bottom Line

In the words of Jefferson Starship, "Sara, Sara, Why did it, Why did it, Why did it all fall apart?"

I want to like this episode far more than I think I do. The motorcycle archery "joust" scene is one of the show's finest action sequences to date and the script is a thing of wonder, giving all of the members of Team Arrow a chance to play off one another regarding their feelings for Sara in the wake of her death.  Even Roy Harper gets some much needed development here as he struggles to tell Oliver that he's known for a while that Thea isn't traveling the world as she claimed. But there's no getting around the fact that Laurel's actions in the wake of Sara's death are idiotic in a way that cannot be written off as inexperience or anger in the heat of the moment. Katie Cassidy's wooden performance doesn't help matters and it's telling that her best bit of acting in the episode is in a scene in which she doesn't speak.

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