NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of Arrow, including a major character death, are present in this review.
After last week’s stellar episode, “The Calm” saw a shocking and unexpected conclusion, “Sara” was all about dealing with the aftermath of that major event. It has to cover a lot of ground, and that occasionally leads to the episode feeling a little scattered, but it nonetheless presents a dark and dramatic episode that will tug at the heartstrings of fans on many counts.
So, Sara Lance is dead. What a way to find out for the rest of the crew too, as Laurel hauls her sister’s body (somehow completely undetected by any passersby) to the Arrow Cave, and leaves it on a table for Oliver and friends to walk right up to, still with the arrows sticking out of her to boot. It was a sudden and powerful image that obviously shocks our fellow heroes to the core, with Laurel simply broken, saying that she didn’t know where else to take Sara.
This episode went on to almost entirely center around how each individual protagonist deals with grief. Felicity becomes emotional and broken up, Oliver becomes seemingly cold and determined, and Laurel becomes angry… Very angry! So angry in fact that she tortures a patient in a hospital when she believes he’s hiding something about the man it seems killed Sara. Damn! It’s definitely a side of her character that viewers will never have seen before.
The evidence appears to point to Simon LaCroix, a.k.a. Komodo, a more recent foe of Green Arrow in the DC printed panels. It’s a bit hard to believe that the A.R.G.U.S. database turned up only one assassin archer that wears a mask (seriously? Not even Malcolm Merlyn showed up in that search?), but nonetheless, this is what sets Oliver and his crew after Komodo, and leads them into a potentially bigger conspiracy that Komodo is a part of, albeit one that this episode doesn’t wholly resolve.
Being a highly skilled archer and mercenary, Komodo’s introduction led to some fantastic archer-vs.-archer fights with Oliver and Roy, which easily proved to be the coolest parts of an otherwise drama-focused episode. The real standout moment however came when Laurel (again, somehow) tracks down Oliver and Komodo after Oliver has his foe cornered in the Queen Consolidated building, and Laurel aims a gun at the merc, intending to kill him. As shocking as it was to see Laurel torture an apparent innocent this episode (though one that turned out to be part of something bigger), it was even more shocking to see her actually pull the trigger of the gun, intending to full-blown murder someone over her sister’s death… Only to have the gun be empty, with Oliver thankfully having the foresight to empty the bullets.
Bringing this great moment home was the revelation that Komodo was not Sara’s killer, and Laurel almost killed the wrong man. This gets to Laurel very quickly, as she starts to feel like she’s spiraling, though it was good to see her immediately refuse to be in a bar (even a closed bar), acknowledging her alcohol problem from Season Two. The choice not to tell her father about Sara’s death at the precinct over fears of his condition felt a bit annoying, but given that this episode jumped around a lot anyway, Detective Lance’s grief would have only contributed to things feeling all the more overstuffed.
Ending the episode was a makeshift funeral for Sara, with Oliver, Felicity, Laurel, Roy and Diggle all in attendance. It felt strange that Sin wouldn’t be there, but maybe Roy is also holding off on telling her the bad news. In any case, Sara was placed in her false grave from before, with the group all taking turns to pay their respects and voice their grief, in a moment that is certain to bring tears to the eyes of avid Arrow fans. It feels just as much like the audience is saying goodbye to the character as much as the other characters are, and is right there at the funeral with them, making the moment perfectly executed. It was also incredibly sweet when Diggle took the opportunity to reveal to Laurel and the rest that he and Lyla named their newborn daughter, Sara, to preserve the memory of their fallen friend.
Beyond the heavy focus on Sara’s death, there was some introspection by Oliver about dying in the Arrow Cave, and Felicity worrying about not getting enough out of life, leading her to finally take the job that Ray Palmer has been incessantly throwing at her. On that note, the ploy of Palmer buying out her tech chain so that he would be her boss either way was quite clever, even though Felicity initially decided to quit outright, and opt to leave herself without an income than work for him at first.
I said it during my review of the previous episode too, but Brandon Routh is continuing to kill it as Palmer as well! This episode even took the character further by proving that, while he is undeniably a smug and comical jackass to a pretty considerable point, he also legitimately cares about the city, its people, and Felicity. He announces to his investors that he’s donating half his net worth to refurbishing the city, and taking a single dollar for his salary all year. On top of that, his speech to Felicity about pissing off people daily, and knowing the difference between when people are mad at him, or mad at something else and just taking it out on him, was also excellent. It proves that, despite his first impression, Palmer is still a good man when it comes down to it, and this could no doubt be the real deciding factor as to why Felicity ultimately decided to take a job with him at the end of the episode.
Lastly, we finally had Roy reveal the truth about Thea leaving, which led to a final scene of a kendo sparring match, with Malcolm Merlyn overseeing it. The victor of two simultaneous opponents turned out to be none other than Thea, now sporting a shortened hairdo, and being happy to call Merlyn her father. It apparently leads directly into next week’s episode, where Oliver and his team go to Corto Maltese in an effort to try and bring Thea back. It was nice to catch up with Merlyn and Thea finally regardless, and see that Thea is indeed being trained into something a lot more lethal than she ever could be in Starling City!
The flashbacks honestly felt a little tossed in out of nowhere this week, though they did offer a clever chance to have Colin Donnell briefly reprise his role as Tommy Merlyn, trying to track down Oliver in Hong Kong, after Oliver’s incomplete E-mail from the previous episode sparked an alert. The way that Oliver and Maseo get rid of Tommy by pretending to kidnap him and deliver false knowledge of Oliver’s death was clever, but honestly, the episode already had too many character arcs fighting for attention here, so the flashbacks just kind of got in the way this week unfortunately.
“Sara” may have felt a little scattered in trying to address the aftermath of such a huge event for the show, but it still delivered an emotional goodbye to one of Starling’s heroes, while helping to shift the plot of the show to some great new places for Season Three.
- Archer-vs.-archer combat
- Angry Laurel!
- Sara's heart-wrenching funeral
- Scattered storyline
- Flashbacks were just in the way