On some level, the rise of the copycats in Starling City point to the effectiveness of Oliver Queen's Hood persona. On some level, it's significant that others can see what it is he's trying to accomplish and feel emboldened to make a similar gesture, even if their motivations and methods are somewhat misguided.
In a way, Arrow suggests that Oliver's vigilante endeavors could be considered somewhat responsible for Helena Bertinelli's transformation into the indiscriminate killing-machine known as the Huntress. In 'Salvation,' however, the Hood is unquestionably the inspiration for another seeker-of-social-justice who has given himself the rather lofty moniker of the Savior.
What they all have in common (and what is something of a recurring theme of the season that's made far more blatant in this episode) is that they've all killed in the name of their specific definition of justice. More to the point: Oliver, the Huntress, the Savior and, by the episode's end, even Moira Queen, all have blood on their hands they may eventually have to answer for.
These are larger issues that the series will probably take a closer look at over time – especially as Oliver's methods continue to evolve, and his brand of justice doesn’t so closely resemble that of some cold-blooded killers. In regard to Moira, however, the episode uses her betrayal of Frank to highlight her involvement in the Undertaking, and once more point the season's narrative back in that direction.
And so, coming off last week's 'The Huntress Returns' which saw Oliver sink deeper into the seclusion the Hood persona provides him, 'Salvation' feels less concerned with the issue of copycats and Oliver's culpability for their existence, and more about reminding viewers of the larger plot threads the series has been developing over the last few weeks. Certainly, there are moments where these concerns are addressed; specifically, when Oliver finally confronts the Savior just before he attempts to publicly execute Roy Harper for being a "gangbanger.
Though fairly pedestrian – even by superhero procedural standards – the episode's climactic scene does allow Oliver the chance to distinguish his pointed attacks on the city's criminal elite from the Savior's preference of open spectacle and seemingly unsystematic method of choosing his targets (he goes from a slumlord recently outed by the press to a street thug nobody but Thea Queen seems to care much about). The point is illustrated further when Roy Harper agrees with the Savior's accusations and eggs the would-be vigilante on to follow through with his planned execution. Not only does this add some depth to the otherwise unlikable character of Roy Harper, but it also distinguishes the Hood from the Savior in their respective takes on the concept of second chances.
It's clear the Savior is little more than a throwaway character whose true intent in terms of the narrative is not necessarily to force some kind of reflection or introspection on behalf of Oliver, but to allow the series' plot to advance in terms of the Undertaking (as the Savior's use of the abandoned subway line leads to a revelation about the clandestine scheme's connection to the Glades) and, certainly, Roy Harper becoming yet another Starling City vigilante and, chances are, Ollie's sidekick.
The character-level portion of 'Salvation' is, of course, the issue of Oliver's self-imposed segregation from other relationships in private his life – which the episode marries with the island flashback sequence and the solidly handled subplot of the recently-reunited Lance family's desperate search for Sara. Naturally, the takeaway is that as solitary a figure as the Hood can sometimes be, Oliver needs to be able to engage those around him on a more human level – for his sake and for theirs – which he does by offering an ear to Felicity and by attempting to connect with Laurel as a friend.
Although the episode may have missed the mark in terms of focusing on the more compelling thematic element, 'Salvation' did manage to move the series' pieces around enough that the push toward the season finale has become clearer. It's always a good sign when the heroes become aware of the larger implications of the overall plot, and, in that regard, Arrow has consistently made significant progress.
Arrow continues next Wednesday with the return of Seth Gabel as the Count in 'Unfinished Business' @8pm on The CW. Check out a preview for the episode below: