Last week, Arrow delivered on its promise to explain the return of Laurel Lance to Star City after Damien Darhk had unceremoniously dispatched her late in season 4. The Earth-2 doppelgänger Black Siren had been recruited by Prometheus as yet another example made by the villain of how Oliver has failed in his quest to be a hero. It was a low blow to be sure – one the masked archer has a real knack for delivering – but it wasn’t without an unintended upside.
As it turns out, the presence of a sonically gifted member of Team Arrow – and one who doesn’t mind the moniker Black Canary – is something Ollie has decided the group can’t do without. After Evelyn went bust as both a proto-Canary and Artemis (for now anyway), it seems the Green Arrow is bound and determined to bring another Canary onto the squad. And if it means going all the way to Hub City to find her, well, then so be it. The heart wants what the heart wants, and Ollie’s heart wants a Black Canary.
This interest in filling vacancies on the Team Arrow roster smacks suspiciously of television filler, essentially delaying the central Prometheus plot for a few more weeks so that Green Arrow isn’t without a Black Canary. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing provided the distraction proves worthwhile. That may depend on how much mileage you get out of seeing as characters scream their adversaries into submission. To her credit, Tina (Juliana Harkavy) makes for a charming addition to the series whether she’s using her canary cry (scream or shriek, just in case the series is being coy) or attributing Oliver and everyone else’s attire to a “costume warehouse fire sale”.
Tina brings a different sort of vibe to show that, in a season emphasized by the group’s inexperience, she’s a veteran cop already in possession of the skills needed to become a vigilante. Tina’s the closest thing Arrow has to someone who can command as much authority as Oliver. And that presents some interesting possibilities for not only ‘Second Chances’, but also Arrow as a whole. If Tina is indeed being groomed to become the new Black Canary, then skipping the tedious origin story might make her addition feel less like a bit of filler.
And that’s what ‘Second Chances’ manages to do in a relatively quick amount of time. The usual back-and-forth that typically marks one of Oliver’s major decisions is cut down to a much shorter discussion between him and the rest of Team Arrow. Demonstrating that he’s beginning to trust and value his new team, Oliver takes time to listen to their suggestions, though he still pooh-poohs them all. But it’s when Rory makes a point that perhaps the bar is set too high when it comes to seeking a new Black Canary that Ollie seems to come around. And not long after some cell phone footage of Tina knocking around two thugs in an alleyway is shown than Oliver, Curtis, and Rene are off to Hub City.
The shift in locales offers the episode a chance to introduce Felicity’s plot, which involves her getting back into hacktivist mode after an admirer played by Hannibal‘s Kacey Rohl tracks her down and gives her the dirt she needs on General Walker to give Diggle a get out of jail free card. As it turns out, the dark path Felicity was intended to walk down was the dark side of the internet – and her own past as a goth. Felicity’s fellow hacktivist, Kojo Sledgehammer, doesn’t just hand over a flash drive containing the necessary information on Walker, she may have given Felicity the impetus to go back to her hacking ways. That could be an interesting turn of events for Overwatch, as it would move her from being Team Arrow’s IT department to a more independent hacker who is more active and less reactive.
Felicity’s potential side-gig aside, ‘Second Chances’ was all about Tina – or as she revealed in a bombshell at the end of the episode, Dinah Drake. Of course that’s the name of the pre-Crisis Black Canary in DC Comics lore, which pretty much confirms her place as the new Black Canary on Team Arrow. But while Oliver and the gang are getting to the bottom of what makes Tina tick, and learning that she’s far more skilled with the sonic cry than even Earth-2 Black Siren, Arrow uses Tina’s motivation to avenge her dead partner and lover moves to explore some common themes circling this season’s overarching storyline. And the hour comes up with a satisfying look at the lines heroes like Oliver, Wild Dog, and Tina (or Dinah) are asked to draw and how frequently they can shift.
The road Dinah travels to becoming a part of Team Arrow is a short one, but that’s not entirely due to the fact that she’s more or less a fully formed superhero when the team meets her. It has more to do with the way ‘Second Chances’ and last week’s ‘Who Are You?’ are of a piece in terms of exploring what it means to be a hero and who judges whether a characters actions are deemed heroic or, in the case of Oliver (and Black Siren and Dinah Drake), murderous. Dinah is intended to be a reflection of Oliver to a certain degree – adding to the flashback in which Talia al Ghul guides him to picking up the mantle of the Hood – but Arrow doesn’t make just one successful connection between flawed heroes and the unorthodox paths they travel.
So far this season, Arrow has sought to explore Oliver’s journey to becoming Green Arrow by holding him accountable for the actions (some might say mistakes) of his past. In the end, Oliver offering Dinah a much-needed second chance wound up being one he needed as well.
Arrow continues next Wednesday with ‘Bratva’ @8pm on The CW.