The word “crucible” refers to a gargantuan and difficult task to complete, a trial by fire, as it were. It also means a bowl used to mix super hot materials. Do both apply to the fourth episode of Season Two of Arrow? In a way, yes. Each character is put through some kind of emotional or physical struggle as they deal with the new status quo. Oliver, it can be said, is probably dealing with things the best, and Laurel is certainly not. But, with a new player in town vying for control of the city, allies being forced to confront each other, and more revelations than the Holy Bible, this episode is taking off the kid gloves.
We begin with one of the increasingly familiar scenes on the program: Oliver off Arrowing the night away while society types wait around for him to show up at a party. Queen Consolidated’s new co-CEO (or just CEO if you ask her), Isabel Rochev (Summer Glau), is not amused and Felicity tries her best to smooth things over. Luckily, Oliver eventually shows up, complete with blood on his face. At this party is Alderman Sebastian Blood who, if you’ll remember, doesn’t like Oliver at all.
Laurel (also there of course) and Blood inform Oliver that a guy who calls himself “The Mayor” has been supplying the Glades with all kinds of assault weapons in a bid to turn the earthquaked portion of Starling City into a war zone run by him. The Mayor, we soon see, used to be nobody but is using the destruction of the Glades as a way to gain power. He’s not above killing his own men, either, especially one who has a cousin who was defeated by Arrow. A bit of a sore loser, don’t you think?
At the party, Oliver is worried about how much Laurel is drinking, but she, being the stubborn, traumatized, and now guilt-ridden fool she is, doesn’t want to hear it. Felicity figures something out: the Black Canary (Caity Lotz) has only ever shown up to help Arrow when Laurel’s been involved, so maybe it’s Laurel she’s protecting and not Oliver. Arrow quickly sets a non-lethal trap for her and she already knows his secret identity. When he removes her mask and unnecessary wig, he finally sees what we who’ve read spoiler reports already knew: Black Canary is Sara Lance, aka Laurel’s sister with whom Oliver was cheating and (we thought) was killed in the wreckage of the Queen’s Gambit.
In the Arrow Cave, a very shaken Oliver tells Felicity and Diggle about this discovery and then quickly reveals that while he thought Sara had drowned in the wreck, he saw her a year later. When his compatriots get peeved, saying he should have told the Lances when he got back, Oliver defensively says that nothing good happened for five years and that he really did think she was dead… just not from drowning. Oh, my heavens. Diggle tells Oliver what a friend of his said, that secrets have weight, to which Oliver replies that that’s why he works out so much. Hardy har har.
In the clock tower which Black Canary has been using as her base of operations, she thinks hard about the fact that Ollie knows she’s back and worries he’ll tell her family. Sin arrives with food and the two talk about family. Sara reveals that she herself was a lot like Sin and that she saved the young ruffian because no man should do harm to women. Clearly there’s some baggage here we’re not seeing yet.
Oliver’s not having a great time, because he wants to sponsor a Cash for Guns event in the Glades, in which people can get money for turning in their firearms. At first, Blood is cynical that this is just another way to get his family’s name out of the mud, but Oliver says his family name will be kept out of it. This whole thing does not sit well with Isabel Rochev, who attempts to bluntly remind Oliver that the company doesn’t have that kind of cache or funds anymore, and when Oliver says he’ll pay for it out of pocket, she says his trust isn’t want it used to be either. I bet he’ll still do it, though.
You know who else isn’t having a good time? Laurel. Her boss, District Attorney Adam Donner (Dylan Bruce), wants to take her to dinner, but most of what she does while he’s chatting her up is drink copious amounts of wine. She leaves and gets pulled over by a cop who doesn’t really care who she is, only that she’s DUI-ing. He calls Quentin Lance, who starts to read her the riot act, but she’s in the “denial” stage of having a problem and just tells him he’s an alcoholic. Which he knows, of course. Remember last year? Anyway, she doesn’t want help.
Thanks to a tracker in the gun crate (a tracker built at QC, of course), Oliver is able to track the guns and find the Mayor. He gets the shipment, but the Mayor gets away. Back at Verdant, Oliver is surprised when Sara comes to talk to him. She wonders if he’s told her family, which he hasn’t. He asks how she got off the boat, and she asks what happened to Slade. (What is happening?!?!?!) She says she came back to see if her father and sister were okay after the quake, but is staying, Oliver thinks, because whether she wants to admit it or not, she needs her family.
Mid-convo, Quentin shows up to talk about his daughter… Laurel. Obviously. Derr. I mean, what other daughter could he have meant. He wants Oliver to go talk to her about her drinking and that coming from him might have more meaning. Quentin tells Oliver and an eavesdropping Sara that after Sara disappeared, he hit the bottle hard and wasn’t a good dad to Laurel. Sara leaves before Oliver can talk to her any more.
The Cash for Guns event seems to be going well and Roy turns in all of the guns he had and doesn’t want any money in return. Thea is impressed with him. Sin shows up to make things awkward, but doesn’t drop the dime on him being Arrow’s gopher. Oliver watches the event and Blood talks to him about how these people need hope not violence. Just then, the Mayor and a couple of thugs roll up and start firing. He says that nothing goes on in the Glades unless he says so. Oliver saves Blood, Roy saves Thea, but Sin gets shot in the process. Roy is on it!
Felicity and Diggle (who’s probably going to have a fling with his also-single military contact) figure out that the Mayor’s foster brother is in the military and has been supplying the warlord with his weapons. Black Canary looks in on Sin from the window and Arrow finds her and gets her to team with him to stop the Mayor. They find the drop and start kicking the crap out of people.
At one point, the Mayor fires a grenade which Arrow stops with an arrow, but it still explodes. For a moment, Arrow and Canary trade weapons and are both quite adept with the other’s. Finally, Canary gets the drop on the Mayor and almost kills him, but Oliver begs her to stop. The Mayor says the “b” word and Canary, not a fan of it, knocks him cold, but doesn’t kill him.
At the hospital, Sin wakes up and thanks Roy for saving her, and starts to like Thea as well. Sara, in a very terrible disguise, goes to see her friend, but walks on when she sees the others are there. Oliver catches her in the hallway and implores her to tell her family she’s alive. She retorts that if they knew Oliver had lied, they’d never speak to him again. But he says it’s worth it. They walk on together, seemingly putting the past behind them.
Sebastian Blood has thanked Oliver for saving his life, and Oliver says he thinks Blood should run for the real mayoral position. Blood counters that there’s good that can be done a different way. Elsewhere, a police officer uncovers the Mayor’s head and he sees he’s tied up and not at the police station. A man in a weird, almost Scarecrow-esque mask appears and asks if the Mayor’s prepared to join the cause. The Mayor is given an injection and dies with blood coming out of his eyes and nose. The man removes his mask and we see that it’s the Alderman, who the police officer calls “Brother Blood.” New bad guy alert!
ON THE ISLAND…er, I mean ON THE BOAT
Oliver is still in the cage aboard the steamer ship Amazo. A man (played by Heroes‘ Jimmy Jean-Louis) interrogates him about what he found in the cave. When Oliver says go to hell, the man shoots him in the side. Later, Oliver wakes up and sees that all the men in the cages have had the same thing happen to them. It’s the boatmen’s way of testing who’s strong. Oliver digs the bullet out and artlessly sews up the wound.
The man again questions him about what he found and while Oliver says nothing, the man gets the info he needs that this IS indeed the correct island. Oliver is taken to a torture chamber and a person comes out to do that… it’s Sara! Holy shit, man!
Way more is learned about the boat and the island in this episode from the present than in the past, but I’m more intrigued than ever about Oliver’s sordid history. I’m eager to see what happens when the Lances find out about Sara, how Brother Blood will factor into the season, and what Black Canary’s going to do about those pesky League of Shadows people. We will not have to wait long for the answer to that last one.
Here now is the promo for episode 5, “League of Assassins.”
What did you think of the episode? What are your theories about the island, the boat, or anything? Let us know in the comments below!