'Arrow' Review: 'Crucible'
Oh but of course Sarah’s the Black Canary. The focus on the Lances last week, specifically Quentin’s speech about what his daughter’s death made him want to do for other girls in the city, wasn’t just for character development. It was deliberate foreshadowing that yelled at the viewer, “Hey! She’s not dead.” Here I am, an average TV blogger, pointing out this and that about episodes of television. I totally didn’t see the Sarah Lance reveal coming, not even after reading Dan Fienberg’s post about Arrow last week that dropped anvil sized hints about the Black Canary. I thought, “Hm. How strange for Fienberg to mention Laurel Lance and the Black Canary together.” I never put it together.
“Crucible” is another strong episode in this young second season. Oliver’s fighting a gang that’s collecting guns and trying to take over the city; this story ties into the larger narrative. Arrow’s second season is definitely aiming for bigger things. Superhero sequels always surpasses the original: The Dark Knight and Spiderman 2, to name two (Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer doesn’t count). Stephen Amell tweeted that an alternate title for the episode is ‘Revelations.’ Characters learn through reveals. Through a police stop, Quentin learns his daughter’s going off the rails. Laurel drinks and drives, and she feels sad and guilty about Tommy. Quentin sees himself in her, the drunkard he became after Sarah’s death. No one held him accountable during that period in his life, so he didn’t hold himself accountable. Through accountability, he hopes to save his daughter from something potentially fatal.
The major revelation is Sarah Lance-as-the Black Canary. The woman thought dead on the Queen’s Gambit survived and thrived, transforming into a feminist ass-kicker. Oliver’s rarely rattled in his life. His five years on the island, on a boat, or wherever else he was, hardened him. Sara’s re-appearance rattles him. He knew she didn’t die at sea, because he met her again on the boat. He thought he died sometime after that; she thought he died sometime after, too. Not even I miss that foreshadowing. Sarah doesn’t want Oliver to tell her family she’s back. The Sarah she knew is gone. Sarah’s hardened, like Oliver but unable to function in day-to-day life like him. She came back to check on her family after the earthquake and hasn’t left because leaving’s harder after seeing them.
Oliver doesn’t tell Quentin or Laurel. Sara’s able to overhear her father explain Laurel’s struggles since the earthquake. Caity Lotz plays Sara’s reactions really effectively. Lotz’s Sara Lance/Black Canary never smiles. Her eyes convey a sadness that’s hard to capture. It’s sadness, longing, but also separation and isolation--it’s the sadness of not being able to capture what you once had, what you once felt, and what you once knew. Oliver shares in that specific feeling. When he’s with her, he looks as pained as she. The best scene of the episode happens after the reveal, in Oliver’s lair with Diggle and Felicity. Oliver doesn’t act vulnerable around them, but he does in this scene. His shoulders are slumped, his head is down, and he’s reflecting on what happened. His voice momentarily cracks when he tells them the five years were hard, a struggle. It effectively conveyed that, no matter how hard a time the Lances or Queens had after the Queen’s Gambit sunk, Oliver and Sara experienced the most pain and hardship.
The gun plotline leads to a reveal about the new bad guy in Starling City—it’s none other than the guy Oliver’s trying to work with to help restore the city. The villainous gang shares a lot in common with the Hoods from the premiere. Bad guys use the earthquake to gain power in the city. Sara and Oliver fight together. Oliver wants to see how she does in a real fight. Sara kicks ass. The fight scene is one of my favorites in the series. Arrow has the best stunt coordinator in TV. The fight scenes and the stunts amaze me every episode.
The island scenes seem to begin Oliver’s ascent to king of the Russian mafia. The lesson Oliver learns is that life is hard. His captor shoots him in the gut. Oliver’s able to use tools left to him to remove the bullet. Doing so proves one’s toughness in the jails. The men on the boat take Oliver and drop him at the feet of Sara Lance. Slade’s name-dropped by Sara in Starling City, so hopefully we see him sooner rather than later. Shado’s fate is completely unknown, but one figures she won’t last that long. Who knows, though. The dead don’t stay dead. Maybe zombie Robert Queen will return to save his wife from prison.
-Roy’s tiny role in “Crucible” is the lone one veiled in secrecy. Thea is unaware of what he does for the vigilante. Sin won’t tell her what Roy’s doing after Roy saved her life. Colton Haynes has shown more depth this season. He’s not just a chiseled jaw line.
-Diggle has one scene to remind the viewer he’s going to get to Deadshot soon.
-Summer Glau appeared! Summer looked resplendent in a dress. Her character’s mostly annoyed with Oliver. I’m sure there’s much more to her. One hopes her character can dance. Show runners, always let Summer dance.
-Andrew Kreisburg & Wendy Mericle wrote the episode. Eagle Egilsson directed it.