Arrow: 5.11 Second Chances
There's nothing like a good road trip and this week Oliver Queen, Rene Ramirez and Curtis Holt headed off to Hub City to find a potential new Black Canary to carry of the legacy left by Laurel Lance. It was a great way to take a breather from all the Prometheus drama (this season is making good work of not dragging out the villain too much) and see a bit more of a fun side to these characters. I loved the recurring gag of Rene ordering larger and larger burgers at the diner and his budding friendship with Curtis is a nice addition to the series. Though I have to say, The Flash cameo from Captain Singh felt even cheaper than the Supergirl cameo in this week's The Flash.
Tina Boland was a good addition, a Central City detective turned vengeful Meta Human with a cry even more powerful than Black Siren's (I like that the episode acknowledged the 'coincidence' of it all). Her flashback sequence where crime lord Sean Sonus (Steve Bacic) shot her partner and the Star Labs blast hit her as she screamed was a cool superpower origins moment and adding in her martial arts skills, Tina is already the skilled fighter Oliver needs to take up the Black Canary mantle. It certainly avoids the suspension of disbelief audiences needed when Laurel first took up her sister's mask.
Juliana Harkavy certainly made an impression, fierce but not unlikeable, the audience sympathising with her quest to take down Sonus's criminal organisation. His meta human powers were cool too, though I am certain there was a villain with similar vertigo-type abilities earlier this season on The Flash? I guess it makes sense that the Star Labs explosion might have created meta humans with the same abilities.
The rooftop showdown was pretty spectacular too as Oliver took on a frakkin helicopter! It was a very cool moment for the titular hero, tethered to the helicopter as he took out the bad guys and then finishing it off with a rocket-fuelled arrow. After his attempts to recruit Tina nicely had failed, I liked that she went through with her words and killed Sonus; it's certainly in keeping with the darker, more violent tone Arrow has taken this season. Turning up in Star City at the end and revealing herself to be called Dinah capped off a strong debut in the show, though I don't expect her transition to Black Canary to run quite so smoothly in the weeks ahead.
The flashbacks this week were excellent too, doing what Arrow does best (but has struggled with over the last few years) and made it a mirror to what is happening in the present. This time the surprise arrival of Talia al Ghul (Lexa Doig) revealed that she was not only much older than she looks, but season one's island-based 'Arrow' Yao Fei was her student. I've been wondering how this season was going to get Oliver from the Russian Bratva to the bearded bow and arrow wielding man we saw in the pilot and this episode took a huge step towards that as Talia aided Oliver in his quest and gave him the hood and bow to become the hero we first met five years ago. It was a huge turning point and mirrored against Oliver's quest to recruit Tina / Dinah complimented the story both in the past and present.
On the downside, Diggle's story seemed to culminate with a bit of a huh? moment. Felicity, aided by a somewhat abandoned Rory, hacked into the NSA in search of records that could prove the corruption of General Walker and exonerate Diggle of his crimes. Encountering her biggest fan from her 'Dark Felicity' hacker days, she stumbled on the Pandora files. It's not clear what they are yet, but they allowed Adrian Chase to have case dismissed. It felt like a bit of an anticlimax but then Diggle has felt out of place all season; hopefully the mystery behind Pandora will change that.
That small grumble aside, Second Chances was a strong episode in an increasingly more confident fifth season. The flashbacks with Talia absolutely worked, bringing the entire show full circle while the hunt for the new Black Canary yielded some very fun moments, particular OLIVER VERSUS A HELICOPTER, which has to be one of the best action sequences the show has done yet (outside of the big annual crossover events). Things continue to fall into pace and I am glad the recent season six renewal is coming; if Arrow can keep it up, this could become the best season since year two.