NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Arrow” are present in this review
With last week’s midseason premiere introducing us to the woman who will pretty obviously succeed the late Laurel Lance as the DC Television Universe’s Black Canary, this week’s episode wasted no time bringing Team Arrow into the path of Laurel’s successor. “Second Chances” had Oliver, Rene and Curtis taking a brief trip to Hub City in the main plot, which gave us a fairly interesting change of scenery, while Felicity held down the fort back at Star City by trying to work against the clock with Rory so that Diggle can be exonerated.
Overall, this was another pretty good episode of Arrow, and the show officially seems to be sustaining its healthy renewed momentum in 2017 at this point. The flashbacks even noticeably improved this week, especially as they start to loop around to Oliver’s initial inspiration to properly become ‘The Hood’ during this show’s first season. Both the present-day events and flashbacks effectively had Oliver examining the monster within him, which is pretty frequent territory for Arrow, though Oliver having to present the best side of himself and his team to recruit the woman who is seemingly pre-destined to become the next Black Canary did freshen up this well-worn story arc rather nicely.
Naturally, recruiting the Black Canary hopeful, a former undercover cop from Central City named Tina Boland, who predictably received her sonic-screaming powers from the Particle Accelerator accident that kicked off The Flash back in 2014, is not as easy as asking nicely. Tina is quite resistant to joining Team Arrow, though the episode’s writing does get a bit confused when it comes to justifying Tina’s taste in Oliver’s team, in a strange way. It’s never explicitly made clear whether Tina is actually familiar with Team Arrow or not. It seems like she’s not, yet she seems to immediately know that they come from Star City upon first meeting them, and seems to be fully aware that none of them have metahuman abilities. Is she just making a series of lucky guesses? If she comes from Central City especially, doesn’t she know that The Flash has made a masked vigilante racket there too? It’s weird, but the episode couldn’t seem to make up its mind as to whether Tina had any former knowledge or investment in Team Arrow’s exploits over in Star City.
Luckily, Tina still does seem to be a rough-edged, but genuinely competent hero hopeful. Oliver having to confront someone who is still neck-deep in the darkness that he’s worked so hard to escape from also made for some solid drama, especially as Tina predictably never does what Oliver says, especially as she pursues a murderous vendetta against the criminals that killed her CCPD partner and lover. Tina did come around pretty quickly towards the end of the episode however, almost too quickly, as if the show just didn’t feel like constantly having Oliver make trips to Hub City to try and sweet-talk her into joining his team. It’s a little too easy, but I suppose it does still help the season’s pacing to just wrap up Tina’s grief immediately and put her on Team Arrow as soon as next week.
Oh, and on one last note, Tina’s name is also revealed to be fake in the final minutes of the episode, being a holdover from her undercover identity with the CCPD. Turns out, I was right on the money with my prediction in last week’s review when I guessed that Tina would ultimately be outed as Dinah Drake, the Golden Age 1940’s identity of DC Comics’ Black Canary, before she was re-christened as Dinah Laurel Lance in the official DC Universe canon. For better or worse, it looks like The CW is having their cake and eating it too with Laurel’s death and Black Canary’s DC Comics history. The smart money says that Dinah will now be Oliver’s love interest and likely future wife on Arrow going forward, so that the show can soft-reboot the Black Canary character to more accurately follow Green Arrow’s and Black Canary’s relationship and marriage in DC Comics lore, New 52’s few years notwithstanding. I guess that’s fair.
Regarding the subplot with Felicity and Rory, it involves Felicity in particular having to try and exonerate Diggle after General Walker’s people scrub the evidence in an NSA investigation against him. Felicity struggles to find any trace of the scrubbed investigation, though is soon contacted by a mysterious dark web hacker, who claims to be able to help her. Since Tina/Dinah and the Black Canary’s legacy was front and center so much in this episode, this ultimately provided little more than a cute scene with a younger Felicity wannabe that hands over the vital data to get Diggle out of prison. There was however also an interesting tease for later episodes, as Felicity finds an entire cache of data alongside the stuff needed for Diggle, which calls back to her hacktivist days in college. Does this mean that Felicity may start abusing her power as Overwatch?
This just leaves the flashbacks, and like I said, they were actually noticeably better this week. Talia makes an offer to Oliver, and as a gesture of good faith, she helps him take out a key supplier of Kovar’s. This led to one of two particularly strong action scenes in this episode, with the other being the climactic rooftop fight in present-day Hub City. After the bloodbath is done, Talia takes Oliver back to her safe house, then tells him that she actually trained Yao Fei, with a sly confirmation that she is also staying young with the aid of Nanda Parbat’s Lazarus Pit, just like her father, Ra’s Al Ghul.
This was a neat little twist, especially when it turns out that Talia was the one that began building Oliver’s initial pre-Green Arrow vigilante identity from Arrow’s earlier seasons. The fact that the showrunners have already confirmed that Talia is a, “Crucial” part of the present-day Prometheus mystery is also plenty of reason to get excited for her future appearances. Could Talia actually be Prometheus, or might she at least be behind Prometheus? I can see it being possible, especially since Team Arrow could have easily mis-interpreted Prometheus’ actions as torment of Oliver, when they’re actually an effort to re-awaken the killer inside him by shattering his more recent heroic ideals.
Whatever the case, “Second Chances” offered a solid blend of action and drama overall, and made for a fitting introduction to Arrow’s new Black Canary. Considering how bull-headed Dinah was for most of the episode, she did join Team Arrow pretty fast in the end, though with the many other plot elements that Arrow is currently juggling this season, it might be a necessary evil, as I said. Either way, it’s nice to see the flashbacks gaining some momentum, and better tying in with both the show’s present-day events and its Season One origins. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what’s next with both Dinah and Talia, and with Diggle now out of jail, hopefully Team Arrow can be at their ideal strength again, before Prometheus inevitably strikes again.
- Appealing new Black Canary introduction
- Felicity's past coming back to tempt her
- Flashbacks are more engaging and interesting
- Overly convenient heel-turn with Dinah joining the team
- Weird confusion over whether Dinah actually knew about Team Arrow