Arrow Season 5 Episode 11 – TV Review
This episode is titled “Second Chances.”
Which is fitting, because this second half of the season so far seems to be Arrow trying to have a second chance of flaying itself upon the altar of Felicity. And the altar of Shitting On Katie Cassidy.
TL;DR The new Black Canary recruit is literally a TV Tropes clichèd replacement for Laurel; Felicity is fellated by the show and returns to bad, old habits; Diggle is freed because whatever; Thea and Quentin, the two best parts of the season’s first half, remain absent; flashback Oliver has a rollicking good time with Talia.
But you gotta whisper the “al Ghul.”
So let’s start with the flashbacks this time, because they’re the only strength of the episode. Talia has been keeping her British-accented eye on Oliver, and rightly points out “Hey, why have you been fucking around with Hong Kong, magic, dead Russian slaves, and Bratva revenge, when you should have been heading home to kill the people on your dad’s list?” So she pep talks him into accepting just that. Meanwhile in the present, Oliver is hellbent on his sudden impulse to recruit a new Black Canary. Our feminista is Tina, a Central City cop who got metahuman screeching powers from the particle accelerator explosion, and is out for revenge on the gangster (also turned methahuman) who killed her partner. Oliver and co have to make their sales pitch a few times, and even try to stop her from murdering the gangster once she finally corners him (they fail), but eventually she comes around. Oh, and Tina is her undercover alias, and her real name is Dinah. Because fuck everything. Meanwhile, Felicity is on the case of a cache of NSA documents that Adrian gathered that proved Corrupt General was a corrupt general, but had been blocked because Corrupt General used his corrupt general powers to block them. On her travels through the Intarwebs, Felicity encounters a shameless fangirl of hers who idolises Felicity’s old hacktivist ways, and basically spruiks Felicity in a horrifying meta-commentary that I legitimately, even after the atrocities of last season, can’t believe made it into the episode. Miss Fangirl gives Felicity the NSA files, and they get Diggle free. But they also apparently inspire Felicity to consider returning to her old ways.
Lock up your nuclear launch codes; she’s back.
You know, I’m still not going to give up hope for Arrow yet. This could just be a textbook mid-season sag. Arrow has to try and stretch out twenty-two episodes a year. It’s not all going to be golden.
But is it any coincidence that Arrow’s fall in quality has been simultaneous with Felicity’s increased presence?
No. The answer is no.
Why I hate this episode:
The scene between Felicity and Miss Fangirl is truly bewildering. I don’t know how that got off the page, into the actors’ mouths, onto the reel, and then made it through editing and out to broadcast. Someone, somewhere along that journey should have stood up and said “Nuh.”
It really feels like the revenge of the Felicity fan base that led Arrow down its dark path. Miss Fangirl’s character literally is only there to shill Felicity. She rattles on and on about how amazing Felicity used to be before taking a more supporting role. The meta-commentary is frighteningly on-the-nose. And the result of it all is that Felicity is not only getting more screentime, but that it looks like she’s going to branch out on her own to do something hacktivist-y with the NSA files. Because computers are magic, and as a master of computers, Felicity is the most magic thing of all. That’s what seasons 3 and 4 told us. And now it’s back.
Also, what an utter waste of Kacey Rohl. After her villainous turns on The Magicians and iZombie, to see her wasted as a nerdy fangirl (and a Felicity fangirl, at that) is abominable. Never mind her also being a plot weasel.
Curtis hasn’t relented on his constant and forced attempts at being a yucking sitcom character.
In a vacuum, Tina isn’t bad. But as a replacement Black Canary, she’s an affront to Laurel, a character that Arrow strung along for four fucking seasons with the distant promise that she would one day be a Black Canary on par with her mythology. And not to mention being demoted from female lead for Quirky IT Girl. It’s not Tina’s fault that Arrow fucked over Laurel. But as her replacement, it’s her burden to bear. Sozza.
If Oliver falls in love with her, I’ll not be pleased.
Oh, and the climactic moment of Tina’s time on the episode, as she finally has the Boss Gangster defenceless at gunpoint, is marred by an absurd attempt at a rousing speech from Oliver. He implores her to be better and not execute him. Thus ignoring the fact that she, Wild Dog, and Oliver himself just spent the last few minutes violently murdering dozens of Boss Gangster’s goons. Oliver even blew up a helicopter (it must be convenient to live in a world without collateral damage). Wild Dog’s “power” is dual wielding automatic pistols, for fuck’s sake. I think it’s safe to say Oliver, and Team Arrow, are on board with killing. It was bizarre.
But it’s not all bad:
It was a pretty sweet rooftop battle, though. I only wish Oliver was more self-aware about his penchant for mass murder.
Speaking of mass murder, Oliver performs a similar routine on a swath of Bratva goons in the flashbacks. And it’s awesome. Just mow ’em on down, Oliver. TVD does it all the time and it never tarnishes the way anyone feels about their lead characters. Use that extras budget.
Talia doesn’t participate much in the attack, but she is the one who pushes Oliver to do it. She’s like his Fairy Godmother. Of murder.
Talia doesn’t get much into her backstory. And given that Oliver never knew much about the name al Ghul before encountering them in real time, I don’t expect we’ll get much more out of her. But she does make a cute remark when Oliver questions how someone who appears to be her age can claim to have been Yao Fei’s teacher. Maybe we’ll get more of her on Legends of Tomorrow at some point?
If it weren’t for the Laurel shitstorm, I wouldn’t mind Tina so much. It turns out the feminista thing from her introduction last episode isn’t what she’s all about. Nope, she just wants good old fashioned revenge. And she gets it. So snaps for Tina.
We also get a cameo from The Flash’s Captain Singh, who is proof that you can have a gay character who doesn’t need to incessantly smack you around the head with his sexuality. Are you paying attention, Curtis?
Wild Dog gets some comedic beats with increasingly stacked burgers, and they are actually funny. Are you paying attention, Curtis?
Tina screams a goon to death, which is pretty cool. See, Black Siren? That’s what you should have done to Prometheus. Duh.
At least the computer magic this episode wasn’t performed by Felicity. So that’s a step up for her.
Adrian is hot and competent, and I certainly don’t miss Vigilante.
Oh, and Talia drops the “someone else/something else” line from the iconic opening.