Arrow: 5.10 Who Are You?
It was too good to be true; Laurel returning from the dead at the end of last year's What We Leave Behind certainly left audiences with an intriguing cliffhanger to ponder over and for the first ten minutes it seemed as if Arrow had gone from the easy, deux ex machina option. Laurel had been transported to the Wave Rider by her sister, healed by Gideon and returned nine months later. While it felt lovely to have Laurel back from the dead (her death arguably the biggest mistake season four made), it all felt a little...flat. Was this really how the show was going to get out of her death?
Fortunately the twist, while a little obvious, was a far more believable one; the Laurel Lance of Earth 2 aka metahuman Black Siren, who turned up in The Flash season two's Invincible, broken free from her Star Labs prison by Prometheus and given knowledge of this Earth's Laurel. By using this Laurel to pretend to be the old one, it certainly played nicely until the mysterious Prometheus's mind games; taking out Oliver Queen and his allies from the inside makes him a forbidding mental foe as much as a physical one.
Katie Cassidy has been missed on the show and she certainly delivered, conveying the deceased Laurel soft spoken integrity in the opening scenes and then transforming into the villainous doppelganger, being on the right side of camp as she battled the vigilantes and twisted Felicity's words against her. Her siren cry made for a formidable weapon, delivering some great fight sequences, particularly when paired with the ruthless Prometheus (voiced with menacing delight by Michael Dorn).
But I also liked Oliver's attempts to find the real Laurel, the belief that she could be turned back from the darkness. The nature of duality has been at the heart of Arrow since day one and I hope we get more scenes between Oliver and evil Laurel. Could she really be brought into the fold? Maybe, though not as the Black Canary; the final scene suggested there was a new woman in Hub City who could take up that mantle.My only frustration was that she was captured so easily. I think having an evil Laurel loose in Star City for much of the season would make for some interesting storytelling.
There were a lot of reflective moments in the episode too. I admit it, Rene Ramirez is finally starting to grow on me, bonding with Curtis Holt over the betrayal by fellow team member Evelyn Sharp. It was an interesting journey for Curtis, beaten down and hospitalised and losing his husband Paul, this was less the quippy Curtis of old and more a man lost to depression. Rene brought him back, helping Curtis to find a solution, creating the device to dampen Black Siren's Cry
Josh Segarra has been one of the more engaging additions to the show this season as DA Adrian Chase (and I assume Vigilante) and his character certainly proved his mettle as he stood up to the corrupt General J.G. Walker by defending John Diggle. That being said, I'm not sure how believable the whole sub plot was; did Chase think getting Diggle to punch him and creating a state case would not be overruled by a general with direct ties to the Attorney General and the President? It seemed a convoluted way to stop Diggle from being 'disappeared' for good. I'm just not sure it worked through.
The flashbacks seemed a little forgettable this week, Oliver facing a brutal interrogation after his attempt to kill Konstantin Kovar had failed. They Russian stories have been the best since season two's island adventures but they do need to move forward quickly to stop the flashbacks becoming another pointless season storyline.
What We Leave Behind was a good season opener but I felt it wrapped Laurel's return a little quickly. There were some good moments like Felicity's betrayal, fuelled by the grief of her dead boyfriend (what was his name again?) and the interplay between Laurel, Oliver and Felicity. But I am hoping things step up a gear. Arrow is doing a great job with Prometheus so far and the mystery of his identity and end goal is still compelling. But I also remember that Damien Darhk started off really well. I just hope this much stronger season five doesn't go off the rails before the season's end.