‘Arrow’: Masks and Secrets Can’t Hide Things Forever

Published 10 months ago by

Navid Negahban in Arrow League of Assassins Arrow: Masks and Secrets Cant Hide Things Forever

[This is a review of Arrow season 2, episode 5. There will be SPOILERS.]

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Now that Arrow has essentially completed its first major storyline by letting Officer Lance in on the secret that his daughter not only isn’t dead, but she’s also a mask-wearing vigilante with a penchant for attracting deadly assassins wherever she goes, the series has demonstrated the kinds of stories it’s looking to tell in season 2 - and so far the results are pretty satisfying.

Leaving the Sara Lance saga open-ended in the present while apparently continuing to focus on her manipulation and training in Oliver’s flashbacks is a great way to keep the Black Canary arc fresh and relevant until her eventual return. And while the appropriately titled ‘League of Assassins’ was one of the most enjoyably action-packed episodes so far this season – and demonstrated how the writing staff has a much better grip on balancing the Arrow stuff with the ongoing Queen family melodrama – the real focus was to bring the oft-overlooked Officer Lance into the storyline as something other than a foil for Oliver and the surprisingly expansive group of heroes running around Starling City.

It’s hard to think that someone receiving a demotion might wind up being the best thing that could happen to them (character-wise), but in the case of former Detective Quentin Lance, getting busted back down to wearing the uniform has altered his character in such a way that he’s become a real asset to the show – as the secret-keeping parallels between Moira Queen and his arc helped make for a more emotionally intriguing episode. Sure, it’s still hard to believe he hasn’t pieced together who the guy in the green hood is yet, but then again, it isn’t really important to the kind of storytelling Arrow is doing this season that Lance be overly concerned with a vigilante’s secrets. (Besides, he’s got plenty of his own, now.) In fact, having Lance ally himself with the man he was once tasked with bringing to justice actually serves both characters better, as Paul Blackthorne can now be inserted into an episode without also having to build an excuse for him not to turn around and try to arrest the Arrow, which gives the character a lot more freedom from a storytelling standpoint.

Caity Lotz in Arrow League of Assassins Arrow: Masks and Secrets Cant Hide Things Forever

But, of course, the biggest takeaway from ‘League of Assassins’ would the appearance of the titular league itself, led by non other than Navid Negahban (Abu Nazir of Homeland) as Al-Owal. Other than presenting a unique foe for Oliver that can not only put up an impressive fight against him, but also poses a significant threat both physically and personally – as was demonstrated by the ease in which Al-Owal entered and left stately Queen Manor – the league in many ways validates the existence of Arrow to people like Lance, who may still be more on the skeptical side of things.

This expansion of the Arrow-verse, by bringing in more and more aspects of the larger DCU, has worked out quite well so far. And considering it’s cherry-picking elements that more of the viewing audience is likely going to be familiar with (e.g., Ra’s al Ghul), as a springboard for larger storylines, it looks as though season 2 has built itself a unique position to start from that will hopefully stay as strong as these first five episodes have been.

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Arrow continues next Wednesday with ‘Keep Your Enemies Closer’ @8pm on The CW. Check out a preview below:

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  1. Great episode. Though I did have some nitpicky problems with the fights this time. Like okay, how does a deadly League of Assassins ninja guy not notice the rope trap Black Canary laid for him? Really, come on. The action and fight choreography is great but I think the “shaky cam” style doesn’t suit it properly. But great episode, great season so far.

  2. They really need to ditch the mask soon, he needs to come clean and become the badass that he is and not just another batman alter ego.

  3. I still try to imagine this is Batman the TV Show and the “Island Flashbacks” is Bruce’s training.

    Arrow is an enjoyable show and much better than expected. But he really should ditch the eye shadow and don a proper Green Arrow mask.

    For being “The First” and the one who trained Malcom, Al-Owal/Azu Nabir was defeated pretty easily (they should have made him the one to escape).

    With Brother Blood and Dr. Ivo, maybe they are slowly introducing synthetic superpowers paving the way for The Flash.

    • Agreed with your point on Al-Owal, should have kept him. Having said that, I’m willing to bet he will be back along with Merlyn (John Barrowman) via training flashbacks.

      Hopefully the show continues to move with an overarching plot (similar to the Undertaking last season). I strongly believe it is this that makes Arrow leaps and bounds better than AOS.

  4. i liked this episode…the flashback when Sara is on the big ship with the cages why didn`t Oliver notice who the girl was that was kicking his a$$..

  5. i love this show, but Lotz is so weak as Canary. Not only does she look absolutely nothing like the stunning girl who played Sarah in flashbacks for an entire season, but her fighting and acting isn’t believable. When she tells Dig that she was trained by people who make special forces look like kindergartners or whatever, the entire house laughed at how cheesy it was.

    • Yeah, they took that analogy a little too far. Would’ve been better if she said something along the lines of ‘no offense, but you will only slow me down’.

    • I agree that the actress was not a good choice. At least the first one looked like Laurel’s sister, Lotz does not (maybe it’s that dimple chin).

    • I disagree. She was incredible as Canary. She played all sides of the character excellently, and was very effective in the action scenes (probably because the actress is something of a badass in real life).

    • I agree 100 percent, I believe they made a mistake in casting gar as the canary. I don’t like that deviate from DC comic

  6. League of shadows, black canary is pretty sick and dead shot next ep man im loving it. Still wondering were the heck is Slade. Hope to see him soon

    • my guess is he’ll appear in present day starling on a suicide squad centered episode, while the flashback would explain what happened to him post getting his face burned

      • In the opening moments of episode 1 when Diggle and Felicity go to the island, wasn’t his mask at the end of a stake? I assumed he was dead.

        • We don’t know. That arrow pierced mask was shown to us in the very beginning in episode one. We’ve seen his face get burned and so far the only follow up has been Sarah asking what happened to Slade and Oliver side-stepping any answer by changing the subject.

  7. I agree that Caity loitz is a good pick for canary,she does portray both emotional as well as action scenes well. Agreed she doesn’t look like Laurel, but her character and acting is much better than her. I know they are planning for Laurel to eventually become canary by killing off Sarah, I hope they kill laurel instead and keep sarah.
    Also ‘Child of Ra’s al Ghul awaits your return’. Does that mean they are planning to show Talia in future? This would be better than showing Ra’s al Ghul as he is too big for arrow and i am skeptical whether they can do justice to him.

    • That would be interesting. I would rather have Talia right now. I think the TV show would be able to do justice to her character rather than someone as big as Ra’s al Ghul

  8. Great episode.

    A big nit-picky moment for me though was how Quentin Lance went toe-to-toe with a fully trained League of Assassins member and not only held his own but killed him. If he’s capable of doing that, he needs to slap on a mask and become a vigilante himself.

    • Quentin just got lucky. The assassin likely didn’t consider an ordinary cop to be any kind of threat. So he got cocky and let his guard down.

  9. I want Dig to get into the action some more. I am sick of these “heroes’ putting him in his place like Black Canary did. I loved him in the season 1 finale. More Dig action!

  10. Liking this show. Now if only someone would do a reboot of “The Green Hornet”, as a serious show! The one back i the 60s or 70s was pretty darned good!

    • Agreed. I liked that show. If they modernized it and made it a bit darker it could really work.

  11. This might be a bit of a nitpick as well, but I find it odd Al-Owal mocking Oliver for using arrows seeing as Owal trained Meryln…who used arrows as his weapon of choice as well.

    • No, I noticed that too. Im thinking he learned to be an archer elsewhere.

  12. Loved Canary’s “mind your surroundings” line.

  13. I am kind of wondering what they are planning to do with the Speedy character. Is he going to transform into the RA character or be simply just an informant

    • Not anytime soon I don’t think. Oliver is not even going by Green Arrow yet but, Roy will probably get pushed into training by sometime near the end of the season.

  14. anybody else feel flash will only show up as wally and not be flash? i mean wally is a forensics guy right? dealing with blood? bother blood? anybody catch my drift?

    • Well they already confirmed that it’s Barry Allen. And Flash will fully appear near the end of this season.

  15. This season is so freaking good. I personally think Caity is a fantastic Canary, is she the strongest actresses in the world? no but she is more than suitable for the job. I love how they’re not afraid to dip into the catalog this season as well. on top of everyone else we know got Professor Ivo and a hint that perhaps Talia-Al-Ghul exists.

  16. I missed this episode is that RAS Al GHUL ???

    • No. It’s another assassin.

  17. Not meaning for this to sound cold toward human life, if Laurel were not to survive this season by some assassin’s hand, mishap or other tragedy, it would open the door for Sarah to return to Starling City, adopt her sister’s identity & become the Dinah Lance Black Canary. Stranger things have happened in comics.

    She already has the canary reference, the sonic cry, the Birds of Prey watchtower (albeit in the wrong city) and a far more interesting story than Laurel has received. Just saying, it’d be a shame to lose Caity Lotz.

  18. Anyone else thinking a return of Malcolm Merlyn via the Lazarus Pit?

    • Hmm no I haven’t, but there’s no reason why it shouldn’t happen. That’d be interesting to watch.

      • Won’t happen.
        1: It’s unnecessary. Malcolm isn’t that good of a character.
        2: It would be a giant leap from the somewhat “grounded” (or at least that’s what they want you to think) approach Arrow has.
        3: Ra’s wouldn’t use a Lazarus Pit to resurrect some B-grade underling. (Ok, this they could change. Maybe he hands out free resurrection coupons nowadays because it’s so quick and easy to use the Lazarus Pits.)

        • Not looking so implausible now.

  19. This show is fantastic. The only thing I can complain about is Digle (Spelling?). I love him, but he’s never really doing anything. And like Sarah said last episode, he’s realy nothing compared to the people they haveto fight. He’s been training with Oliver. I want to see him beat some a**. Hopefully next episode will give us a bit when he finds deadshot.

    • i agree i like Diggle but…where would he be without his black driver

  20. What was it he said to Canary during the end fight? I didn’t quite hear… “You think, just because you’re blbrrgffjuuuh, you can (get away easy? I dunno…)”

    Did anyone hear? Or was it just another weird arabic name (meaning “she who will be treated as someone special for no real reason, with assassins letting her live, just because we kind of feel like it”)?

    • @elepant:

      I think he said “the beloved” or “beloved” which makes me think she is supposed to marry someone in the LOA.

    • He called her “The Prophet”.

  21. I think I’m just gonna give up on people taking the time to find out how to pronounce Arabic words correctly. Seriously? There isn’t a guy with a falafal stand you can ask to pronounce it for you?

  22. Caity loitz needs to go and never return again

  23. Okay, i am a little PO’d about Det. Lance….hmm, daughter disappeared with Oliver….Oliver returned and a vigilante showed up….daughter returned and another vigilante showed up…Felicity Smoak has given him warnings from both vigilantes..Felicity Smoak works for Oliver Queen…

    Really? Is this why he was demoted? For being a flippin’ idiot?

    Should have ended the episode with him saying, “Thanks, Oliver.” ….Jeesh!

    • Well… there is still the episode where Diggle pretended he was The Hood so it took suspicion off of Ollie.

      • I like to think he already figured it out but since the season one finale he doesn’t care about putting him away anymore.

  24. The comment about Sara being “the beloved” was intriguing. Does this mean that she and Ra’s hooked up liked he and Black Canary did in the comics? Or does he see her as a kind of surrogate daughter/potential heir? Or did Sara and Talia for a close bond while Sara was with the LOA and it’s Talia who wants Sara back and Ra’s is just respecting his daughter’s wishes? So many interesting possibilities. Also, Ivo’s comment about “saving the human race” was also interesting. A possible hint to a certain android perhaps?

  25. Really good episiode… Ivo was interesting. Canary was pretty good. I definitely think, the assassin’s comment in that second confrontation aboutt “the child” of Ra’s al Ghul is directed to Talia… Which would be a better fit for TV as who would replace Liam Neison in a TV environment..? Arrow is really strong this season…episodes go at breakneck speed, really advancing the narrative…

  26. Although season 2 has become The Dark Knight Trilogy the TV series i love everything about it. Someone might have mentioned it but does anyone else think that Isabel Rochev might end up being Talia? Sticking with direct Dark Knight plot devices

    • That would be a good twist, although Isabel Rochev is a DC character (The Queen).

      I like how they foreshadow things, just from this episode we know that Sara somehow meets up with Shado and Slade.

  27. I think Isabel Rochev is the pair of legs talking to Fyre (sp?) in the second to last episode of season one. I think that is why she targeted Queen Consolidated – because Oliver Queen took down her 2 year operation at the last second.

    I think Quentin may have Arrow’s identity figured out. He thought it was Oliver early on, but Oliver sent Diggle out in the hood, remember? But now that Quentin knows Arrow isn’t working alone, that his vigilante daughter and Felicity know him it’s hard to imagine him not knowing – but easy to imagine him keeping it to himself.

    I like Caity Lotz. Laurel still has a lot of training she’ll need before she can become the Canary. A few self defense classes won’t cut it. I’m hoping that Moira gets killed in prison and Laurel will blame herself for it. That causes a spiral that Sara comes back to stop. Sara can then be the Canary for a season or two while training Laurel before Laurel takes over the mantle. That will give them time to give Laurel some storylines that make her a more likeable character. They keep telling us the scenes that would help her image (like her fighting to get Moira a plea deal, or being coerced onto the prosecution team) and showing her weak scenes.

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