[This is a review of Arrow season 2, episode 14. There will be SPOILERS.]
Since Arrow has been back from hiatus, the second half of the season has steered the narrative more towards Oliver's domestic situation. There's still been plenty of vigilante action to keep him and the ever-growing Team Arrow busy, but the majority of the dramatic tension is being built-up without the aid of hoods and masks and countless injured (but still living) thugs still foolish enough to thing Starling City would be a great place to engage in some high stakes criminal behavior.
The series has always balanced out its increasingly well-staged action sequences with an often-complicated drama brewing back at stately Queen Manor, revolving primarily around Moira Queen and her rather checkered past with Malcolm Merlyn that goes well beyond the Undertaking. Arrow's relied on the knowledge that with a thread like that simmering away on the back-burner, the show can briefly turn the heat up at home and reconfigure some of the character dynamics a little bit before making the final push toward the season finale. And while there's been plenty of Dynasty-level revelations coming out of Camp Moira this season, leading to Oliver's semi-strict "no contact with mom" policy, the real family drama has been about a far less privileged, but no less integral clan: the Lances.
The re-introduction of Sara Lance and her super-heroic alter ego has more or less obliterated the relative calm her father and sister managed to achieve after they (like everyone else) erroneously believing she perished when the Queen's Gambit sank. Unsurprisingly, her apparent death essentially caused her family to crumble, but now, ironically, her miraculous return threatens to become the element that could tear the family apart.
Set alongside Arrow and Black Canary's pursuit of the Clock King (played by the always-fantastic Robert Knepper), 'Time of Death' works out to be the kind of episode that employs a villain as a means of illustrating the sometimes-strange similarities that can exist between Oliver's two identities. In this case, the variable happens to be Sara, whose emergence has opened up some very old, very deep wounds with Laurel, while managing to create some potential new ones when it comes to Felicity. The writers wisely make the Clock King an ancillary problem, whose proficiency with computer technology makes him the perfect foil for Felicity, bringing her fear of marginalization to the forefront when he bests her skills by remotely blowing up all the computers at Arrow HQ.
The real focus of the episode is, of course, where everyone fits now that Sara's back in town and, more importantly, back in the arms of Oliver. There's a scene early on where Sara, Oliver, and Diggle compare scars, while Felicity looks on from the sidelines, waiting for her chance to mention the three stitches she received after having her impacted wisdom teeth removed. Sara's response of "you're cute" didn't seem to be intentionally slighting, but its impact was apparent. Essentially, the scene served to illustrate how many old wounds these veteran warriors have, and even though their bodies have healed and their skin has scarred over, there are other, deeper wounds inevitably inflicted on those around them, which take much longer to heal, if they ever do.
This affords the episode an effective exchange between Laurel and Sara that seems to offer some kind of tentative resolution to their unsettled issues about Oliver. Katie Cassidy gets two solid scenes in the episode; one with Amell delivering one of his best performances of the series, and another with Caity Lotz at Verdant. Meanwhile, having Felicity earn herself a scar in battle with the Clock King not only proves her mettle, it also insulates her from feeling marginalized in the future, considering it seems like Sara's making a home for herself in Starling City and on Team Arrow.
'Time of Death' wound up being a soapier episode of Arrow than the title would suggest, but it ends with an ominous face-to-face between Slade Wilson and Oliver that hints at the more vigilante-focused arc to come.
Arrow continues next Wednesday with 'The Promise' @8pm on The CW. Check out a preview below: