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TV Review: ARROW: Season 2, Episode 5: League of Assassins [The CW]

League of Assassins Arrow

The CW‘s Arrow League of Assassins TV Show Review. Arrow: Season 2, Episode 5: “League of Assassins” was, admittedly, the one episode I had been looking forward to, so far this season. Much of the season’s Easter Eggs had led here; so I was expecting a formal launch of a major arc, or two. The title seemed definitive enough; I was expecting at least something about Arrow‘s take on the League. Alas, what I got was another lead-in episode.

Since teaming up with Oliver (Stephen Amell) to take down the Mayor, Sara (Caity Lotz) had been staying at the Queen mansion. A window crashing assailant, however, interrupted their catch-up time. Unfamiliar with the League of Assassins, Oliver instantly saw the visage of Dark Archer, Malcolm Merlyn. Together, he and Sara managed to subdue and unmask the assassin, who then escapes thanks to Oliver’s confusion over his identity. Okay, he escaped by trying to drop a chandelier on a laid out Sara; but ninja-fashionable vigilantes, like The Hood, should know how that process works. Never take your eyes off the apparition.

Convinced that some Merlyn copy-cat or disciple knew who he was, and was out to get him, Oliver rallies the Scooby-gang. After Sara was introduced to Diggs (David Ramsey) and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards), she came clean about the League and their real target. Nevertheless, Oliver was in vendetta mode. Felicity directed The Hood to the assassin’s hide out, but not before Sara warned him that his opponent, Al-Owal (Navid Negahban), was out of his league (no pun). Al-Owal was Merlyn’s instructor, and proved to be much tougher, for round two. To Hood’s credit, he brought Canary with him. Unfortunately, neither of them anticipated Al-Owal having a back-up pair of his own. The Hood and Canary were forced to withdraw, with Al-Owal announcing that Sara’s family was now fair game.

Maybe it was just initial hubris, on Al-Owal’s part, but there was a noticeable contrast between his first and second battles. With the element of surprise, he stood a better chance of getting the drop on Oliver and Sara by infiltrated the Queen mansion, instead of just crashing through a window. When he stood under The Hood and Canary’s exfiltration point, yelling after them, I figured an explosive device, left in the debris at his feet, would have settled things, some. With Canary hurt, I suppose it only underscored that Oliver just doesn’t think like an assassin. Good for him, I guess.

Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson), facing the death penalty, was offered a plea deal of life in prison. Life or death sentence, D.A. Donner (Dylan Bruce) wanted a scalp to throw at the masses. I’m not sure why he insisted Laurel (Katie Cassidy) be on hand, but if the idea was to throw off the Queen side of the table, he did okay. Oliver was rendered useless at the sight of her. The latest “what are you doing, Laurel” moment came with her assurance that it was all Donner’s idea, and the plea bargain was a life saving measure (and that “how are you doing, Laurel” was no longer an accepted form of discourse). Moira had grown battle weary, over the course of the trial, and wanted to take the deal. One more opportunity to rally the family, as Oliver and Thea (Willa Holland) talked her out of it.

League of Assassins Arrow

League of Assassins Arrow

The new problem, back at Hood-quarters, was how to protect Quentin (Paul Blackthorne) and Laurel without tipping them off about Sara. Felicity botched her effort to warn Quentin out of town. A hardened veteran cop isn’t easily intimidated, so I have no idea why she didn’t mention Laurel being targeted as well. Sara blusters her way past Diggs, and reveals herself to her father. His reaction would have meant a very easy kill for any assassin with a decent Sara impersonation; but this was to be a clean fight, for some reason. Quentin deduced her alter ego in no time. I suppose it underscored that Oliver just doesn’t think like a cop, either.

Meanwhile, Oliver’s idea of protecting Laurel meant talking her into a friendly dinner and escort home. All well and good, until Laurel attempted to act on her mis-reading of Oliver’s attention. When Oliver spurned her advance, she launched into a history of loss that amounted to self-pity. Before they parted ways, she noticed her front door was open. Oliver walked in, found and secreted away an embedded blade, before Laurel noticed, and took off. Seemed like a good time for Laurel to pop some pills. Oh yeah, Laurel now had pills.

Lots of carelessness, there. Was Oliver really going to leave Laurel in the hallway? He found a blade, but sounded “all clear” and took off without checking any other rooms (I don’t know – was it a studio)? What exactly was Al & co. hoping to accomplish with an open door, and a warning blade, considering Laurel would have no idea what any of it meant? Felicity and Oliver figured that Quentin was their target, but why would they single out just one family member?

Sara, on the other hand, took her catch-up session with dad back to her clock tower. It wasn’t long before the three assassins appeared. Given a previous visit by the League, it should have been obvious that the tower was compromised. Obvious, that is, to Al-Owal. Sara had the place rigged, leveling the playing field (to some degree), and allowing Sara to use Ra’s al Ghul’s “mind your surroundings” line. More Batman mining, but it got a begrudging smile out of me. Al-Owal eventual got the better of Sara; queue the cavalry. Hood’s arrival, by arrow zip-line, couldn’t have been more telegraphed. Still, he managed to catch Al-Owal off guard. Worse was the League underling that taunted his way into being gunned down by Quentin. With her father watching, Sara kills Al-Owal and sends the remaining assassin off with the message that her family was off limits.

At that point, Sara confronted her fear of Quentin’s disapproval of her as a killer. For his part, he was just happy she could take care of herself. Sara took off, but only after he agreed to keep her secret. Later, he dropped in on Laurel, who admitted to having a rough time with things. So much insecurity, from the Lance sisters, this episode. From Laurel making other people’s shortcomings about her, to Sara begging Oliver, and the keepers of his secrets, to keep her secret. Repeatedly.

The flashbacks focused on Sara’s back story, this time around. Sometime after the sinking of The Gambit, Sara was picked up by the freighter that would hold Oliver as a future prisoner. As pale as she was (and nearly naked), exposure should have been a factor. There was also a really lousy canary CGI job, but neither really mattered. More pressing were the prospects of a mostly naked young woman, being fished out of international waters by seafaring brigands. The fact that she was lightly questioned and imprisoned, rather than being violated right away, suggested some discipline in evidence. When her time did seemingly come, however, she was taken under the protection of the Captain’s patron: an understated, unassuming professor named Ivo (Dylan Neal). The flashbacks ended where the last episode’s left off: with Oliver facing a fairly feral Sara as his would be torturer.

So “League of Assassins” turned out to be another lead-in episode. It was a good lead-in, with potential to be greater, depending on where it leads. Character and technical flaws aside, it left me further interested in the developing arc. I don’t know how Brother Blood or the corporate intrigues of Queen Consolidated will play into future episodes; but the League of Assassins connects Malcom Merlyn and Sara Lance to Ra’s al Ghul. Two seasons with a single thread. Seems like long term implications, if not planning, to me.

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About the author

Sam Joseph

Sam is an Avid consumer/observer of Geek culture, and collector of Fanboy media from earliest memory. Armchair sociologist and futurist. Honest critic with satirical if not absurdist­­ wit with some experience in comics/ animation production.

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