Wednesday, November 6, 2013

REVIEW: 'Arrow' Goes for the Ambitious Action & Still Delivers Strong Character Emotions in 'League of Assassins'

The CW's Arrow - Episode 2.05 League of Assassins

After Oliver and Sara are attacked at the Queen mansion, she confesses to how she's connected to the nefarious League of Assassins; ADA Adam Donner offers Moira a choice - plead guilty now and avoid the death penalty or take your chances in court; Thea and Moira disagree over the deal; and Laurel joins the prosecution's team on Moira's case - making Oliver furious.

Arrow has been extremely ambitious in its second season. It freaking teased Ra's al Ghul and the League of Assassins earlier in the season. And in just its fifth episode, assassins are on a mission in Starling City. That drive of wanting to go for something larger and grander has made me really excited about this season so far - and in every episode the show has absolutely delivered on its ambitious storytelling.

"League of Assassin" is probably the most action-filled episode of Arrow ever. And for a show based off a DC Comic character, you should expect a ton of action. And as always, the show delivers during those fight sequences. They are entertaining but never seem to drag on more than they should just because the stunt team can.

But the emotional burden of "League of Assassins" falls on Paul Blackthorne and Caity Lotz. They both rise to the occasion amazingly well. Sara doesn't want to burden her family with the truth about who she has become - even though answers is what her father and sister want more than anything in the world. She only appears to her father because it's her only option left in protecting him. He is joyful to see her again but also heartbroken over having to keep her secret from her mother and Laurel. Blackthorne played that pain well and as he said to Oliver, "It will be the hardest thing I'll ever have to do."

I wanna chalk up this new Laurel storyline as an attempt at having someone hit rock bottom and then being built up as something new. But it's been really clunky so far. And with so much fluidity in the rest of the show, it stands out even more. Even Thea has been bearable - even entertaining - this year because at least she is self-aware of who she is. Right now, I have no idea who Laurel is - and neither does she. 

Some more thoughts:
  • It's funny how everyone still calls Officer Lance, Detective. What is his first name again? Quentin? No. His first name is Detective.
  • And Detective Lance really doesn't care who the Arrow is anymore. He's had so many opportunities this year to just look at him and deduce - much like he did figuring out Sara was the woman attacking guys in the Glades - that it is Oliver.
  • When Sara was talking about her father's voice, all I was thinking was "Yeah, how could you forget Paul Blackthrone's American accent?"
  • The flashback sequences this season just don't seem to be driving the action anymore. At one time, they were intriguing to see. Now, they're largely momentum stoppers. That even goes in "League of Assassins" where someone else is the focus of the flashbacks instead of Oliver.
  • I'm also a tad disappointed that "League of Assassins" and "Crucible" basically ended in the exact same way.