UK TV recap: Arrow Season 5, Episode 10 (Who Are You?)
Promising new elements8
Matthew Turner | On 04, Feb 2017
Warning: This is a recap and contains spoilers, so do not read this until you have watched the episode. For information on how to watch it, click here.
Aaaaand we’re back. As mid-season cliff-hangers go, Oliver returning to the Arrow Cave to find a not-dead-after-all Lauren standing in front of him isn’t quite up there with Oliver getting stabbed in the chest and kicked off a cliff by Ra’s al Ghul (the only properly great moment of Season 3), but it certainly beats all that Who’s-In-The-Grave? nonsense they were doing last season. To the show’s credit, they dispense with the whole Laurel thing quickly enough, and even manage to wring some unexpected emotional drama out of it. Factor in the introduction of a number of promising new elements and the back half of Season 5 is starting to look very exciting indeed.
It’s a common enough comics trope to bring much-loved characters back from the dead – hell, Arrow itself has already done it twice with Sara and Thea. The writers even have a little fun with that idea, by giving Laurel an explanation that’s almost plausible, albeit a bit of a cheat on viewers – she tells Oliver that Sara time-travelled to the moment of her death, took her on board the Waverider and used Gideon to cure her embolism, before returning her to Oliver’s timeline, where they all still think she’s dead, because that hadn’t happened yet.
Of course, that turns out to be a total lie, and this Laurel is not, in fact, our Laurel, but rather Black Siren, the Evil Laurel from Earth 2. Not only that, but the story neatly ties into the season’s ongoing plot, because it transpires that Prometheus is behind the whole thing, having sprung Black Siren from StarLabs’ Meta Jail and primed her with all the right things to say. Although… hang on a minute. Okay, so Prometheus knows an awful lot about Oliver, but how does he know about Earth 2? How does he know about the Waverider? And even if he did know about the Waverider, how does he know about Gideon’s healing powers? It’s almost as if Prometheus spends his downtime watching episodes of The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow.
So, Black Siren’s deception is duly uncovered after a spot of sleuthing and deduction by Felicity and there’s a timely reminder that Prometheus’ endgame isn’t to actually kill Oliver, but rather to destroy everything and everyone he loves. Once Black Siren has been rumbled, you’d think that was the end of it, but no, ever-hopeful Oliver decides he wants to try and reach her, believing there’s still a part of Original Laurel’s goodness deep inside her. That works out about as well as you’d expect, but hey, at least he tried. And also, Felicity gets to punch a villain for once.
Speaking of Felicity, she’s on fire this week, fuelled by her own personal revenge quest against Prometheus, after he tricked Oliver into killing her cop boyfriend in the mid-season finale. Aside from the afore-mentioned punch, that fire manifests itself by having Felicity directly disobey Oliver’s orders, not once but twice, as well as turning out to have made the right call both times. Maybe this is accentuated a little by Diggle’s absence, but the effect is to make Felicity a much more equal member of Team Arrow, confident in making her own decisions and over-riding bad ones. What’s impressive is that the writers and actors manage all of this without once hinting that Felicity is acting out of her love for Oliver or is jealous of how Oliver feels about Laurel or any of that nonsense. This is promising, as it suggests the creative team are happy to keep them as good friends going forward, which would leave Oliver open to other possible relationships in future.
As for Diggle, he spends the bulk of this episode in jail, with Oliver occasionally popping in to keep him abreast of plot developments. However, that does allow for a nice bit of screentime for Adrian Chase (who still hasn’t been revealed as Vigilante and could conceivably turn out to be Prometheus), whom Oliver drafts in to help with Diggle’s case. Chase comes up with a smart bit of legalese by getting Diggle to punch him, which allows Chase to gain jurisdiction over him when the evil army types try to get him taken away. Why, exactly, Diggle is so important to the army types is still unclear. Is it really just because he grassed some bad army dudes up that time? Time will tell. Also important here: Chase tells Oliver that he knows Prometheus manipulated Green Arrow into killing Felicity’s boyfriend, so there won’t be any cops after Green Arrow for murder in the near future. So that’s alright.
The other main subplot for this episode revolves around Curtis, who finally – finally! – decides he’s had enough of getting his arse kicked every week and resolves to stick to what he knows best, which is making cool gadgets and doing impressive things with technology. He gets encouragement in this regard from Rene, although their bonding moment is tempered by the fact that Curtis slams Rene up against the wall at one point and Rene later tells him that if he does that again, he’ll be eating a patented Wild Dog knuckle sandwich. Anyway, this long-overdue spot of character development hopefully means that Curtis is finally going to line up with the Mr Terrific from the comics, T-spheres and all.
What else? Well, the climactic fight is well handled by director Gregory Smith, with the smackdown between Oliver and Prometheus proving particularly satisfying and the rest of Team Arrow getting in some good tag-team punching with Black Siren. Interestingly, rather than having Prometheus be more than a match for Oliver (like Ra’s al Ghul), Oliver actually appears to be the superior combatant, so it’s really only a matter of time before Prometheus goes down. In fact, our guess is that they’ll wrap up the Prometheus plot sooner rather than later, in favour of the Russian storyline popping up in the present day.
Speaking of which, over in Flashback City, the story mostly involves Bratva head Gregor (David Meunier) beating up Oliver and trying to persuade him to swear his obedience or something. There’s a rather lame attempt to tie the flashbacks to the present day stuff, when a photo of Laurel falls out of Oliver’s pocket and Gregor taunts him with it. Oh, and Gregor also rightly asks Oliver why he didn’t just return to Star City ages ago, and he essentially says he doesn’t feel worthy of returning. But no matter, as all of this is just an excuse to set up the introduction of Talia al Ghul (Alexa Doig), who shows up in the cliff-hanger, kills all of Oliver’s assailants and tells him she’s been looking for him.
Actually, we get two cliff-hangers for the price of one, because, after having resolved the Laurel situation, Oliver tells Team Arrow that he plans to find a new Black Canary, someone worthy of Laurel’s legacy. As soon as he says that, we cut to an unknown woman (presumably a meta-human) blasting a couple of scumbags out of a bar in Hub City with a Canary Cry. So it looks like we’re getting a new Black Canary next episode. Splendid.
All in all, this is a solid episode that includes promising development for Curtis and Felicity and introduces a pair of intriguing new characters, while dealing swiftly with what could have been a very tedious Laurel situation – although the fact that the writers deal with it so quickly does rather suggest that they were slightly embarrassed about having to do it in the first place. Still, it could have been worse – imagine if they’d dragged the mystery of Laurel’s return for three or four episodes?
Slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
– No Quentin or Thea this week, which is a terrible shame. He’s in rehab and she’s in a meeting in another city or something (Dark Laurel calls her, when she’s still pretending to be Real Laurel). Hurry back soon, Quentin and Thea!
– No sign of Sexy Evil Journalist Susan Williams this week either, although we guess Oliver had enough on his plate, all things considered.
– RIP the Black Canary statue, which gets all smashed up during a waterfront battle between Oliver, Black Siren and Wild Dog. Probably for the best, because, let’s face it, that thing was a bit of an eyesore. Sorry, Laurel.
– Is it odd that everybody seems to have forgotten about Vigilante? It seems odd. Has he just stopped his vigilantism altogether or is he just being a bit quieter about it?