Arrow S05E10 “Who Are You?” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on Sky One, Thursdays, 9pm
Writers: Ben Sokolowski, Brian Ford Sullivan
Director: Gregory Smith
Essential plot points:
- A shocked Oliver discovers Laurel in the Arrowcave. She claims to have been rescued by her sister and taken out of time just before her death by the Waverider, which then returned her to Star City. Felicity arrives and is also shocked to see Laurel back.
- Oliver visits Diggle in prison. John has decided not to try and escape and wants to fight the charges against him properly, but knows he will need a good lawyer. Oliver says he can organise one.
- Felicity throws a party for Laurel, so she can meet the new recruits. Oliver toasts her return, but Curtis is still brooding outside over everything that’s happened to him.
- At the Arrowcave, Felicity and Rory run DNA tests on Laurel’s glass, confirming that it is her. Felicity realises, however, it’s not their Laurel, but Earth-2’s Laurel, the Black Siren, who was being kept incarcerated at STAR Labs. At which point Laurel-2 arrives and, with her scream, incapacitates the pair before Oliver runs her off.
- Laurel meets Prometheus, who warns her that her freedom is down to him and she must follow his plan.
- Meanwhile Oliver meets with DA Adrian Chase, and asks him to represent Diggle as his lawyer.
- Laurel-2 contacts Oliver and asks to meet him at the Black Canary statue. The recruits provide cover, but Felicity tells them to take Laurel-2 down despite Oliver’s orders. She stops them with her scream before Oliver manages to knock her out.
- They lock her in the cell in the Arrowcave, but Oliver’s unhappy at Felicity getting the team to disobey his orders — and she’s unhappy that he thinks he can redeem Laurel-2 to make up for his guilt at his Laurel’s death.
- Laurel-2 tells Oliver she was forced to betray him by Prometheus, and that on her Earth she and Oliver had been together before his death.
- Rene winds Curtis up about being miserable and getting beaten again, and Curtis snaps, pinning his teammate up against a wall before admitting his vigilante persona cost him his husband.
- General Walker arrives at Iron Heights as Chase interviews Diggle, and demands he be handed over for transport. Chase tries to stall over needing the right paperwork but Walker has it ready, and threatens to have the DA disbarred if he blocks the transfer.
- Felicity visits Laurel-2 and the two exchange barbs, before the power suddenly goes off and Laurel-2 escapes her cage. But it’s a ruse – Felicity has placed a tracker on Black Siren so she can lead them to Prometheus.
- Curtis comes up with a way of modifying the dampener in the cell to make it portable, and stop Siren using her scream. They track her down to a disused building, but Prometheus is waiting and distracts Oliver while she takes out the rest of the team.
- As Black Siren prepares to kill Felicity, Oliver gets in between and tries to reason with Laurel-2, but to no avail. As she steps in for the kill, Curtis uses the scream blocker, before Felicity punches Laurel-2’s lights out.
- Chase is convinced Walker is going to kill Diggle, so tells his client to punch him, just as Walker arrives. The “assault” means the DA can prosecute Diggle in Star City as the it happened in his jurisdiction, and that takes precedence over the tribunal.
- At the remains of the Black Canary statue, Oliver decides it’s time to recruit a new Canary. After which we see an unknown woman in a bar in Hub City disposing of two yobs trying to harass a young waitress – she uses a high-pitched scream…
- And in flashbacks, Oliver is beaten by Bratva commander Ishmael Gregor and his thugs. Gregor tells Oliver he will submit to him or die, but before he can finish Oliver off, he’s rescued by a mysterious woman in a hood and bow, who introduces herself as Talia…
Well, it was always going to be obvious it wasn’t the real Laurel who showed up as the pre-Christmas cliffhanger. Hands up, we’d forgotten about Black Siren being in The Flash last season, making the revelation feel like a nice, “Oh yeah” for those who do pay close attention to both, while putting enough context into the explanation of who she was for those who don’t.
The “Legends rescued me” explanation was a nice red herring too, given that show’s constant screwing about with timelines. Between the multiverse and the Waverider, the producers now have an explanation to get them out of just about any hole they may find themselves in — something played perfectly by Rene’s reaction at the party. We know how you feel, mate.
And it was nice too to see another side of Katie Cassidy’s performance. At times she was often the weak link of the Arrow ensemble but has shown she can play other facets of the character at times — the early flashback stuff with her and Oliver set between series one and two, for example, that we saw last year. She’s clearly having a ball playing the vamp version of Laurel – all three-inch wedge heels and PVC – much as Aly Hannigan did playing vampire Willow in Buffy. The fact they’re keeping her about suggests we might yet see more of her this year. Fingers crossed it’s not to give the character some kind of redemption.
In terms of storytelling, “Who Are You?” is probably the most linear Arrow has been in a while, playing things remarkably straight in order to set up what’s to come. Moving Adrian Chase into Diggle’s government conspiracy storyline is an interesting move, and was rewarded with some great scenes between Josh Segarra and Garry Chalk’s General Walker. Segarra has been one of the more under-utilised additions to the cast this season, with the Vigilante storyline having been shoved on the back burner, so it’s nice to see him getting a bit more meaty action.
That storyline is a curious one, though. We know from last year that the White House supports, tacitly, Team Arrow’s work after it saved the world from HIVE. And Argus has a hotline to the White House. Surely, with all that going on, getting Diggle out of his current predicament would simply be a call from Lyla. Don’t get us wrong, if it means we get to go all A Few Good Men later this season, we’re all for that, but it does rather skirt round the show’s own set-up a bit.
It’s nice too to see Felicity getting back into the action slightly, even with that awful punch she threw at the end. It looks like she’s being set up as a possible new Black Canary, before we’re given that unexpected reveal of another contender in town.
That shock reveal at the end, and the payoff to the Bratva torture sequences — which after a few weeks of the Russian flashbacks being meaningful this week reverted to tedious type — were interesting too. A bit more set-up for characters who it seems likely will play an important role further down the series.
It still feels like, Curtis aside (and more on that below) the writers haven’t quite figured out what to do with the new recruits, with Rene and Rory proving just as ineffective against Laurel-2 as they have against everyone else. The dynamic mix doesn’t feel quite right, even after 10 episodes; it feels like the writers are giving some attention to Rene, but Rory, despite potentially being the most interesting of the characters, is the most underwritten. If, as this week’s climax suggests, they’re getting ready to chuck another new recruit into the mix, it’s all getting a bit crowded.
Arrow felt like, after a shaky start to the season, it had started to find its feet in the episodes immediately before the winter break, and while “Who Are You?” isn’t a blow-away return to action it feels like a decent attempt to reset the pieces for the second half of the season.
- Fair play to Katie Cassidy for the vamp version of Laurel, last seen at the back end of The Flash series two, where she was one of Zoom’s gang. A couple of nice touches — the ear piercings, and the fact she hovers over the wine at the party, are well done at dropping hints.
- Thank god that awful statue of Black Canary has been destroyed. It looked more like a bad Easter egg depiction of the Kamala Khan Ms Marvel.
- We know this has become a running rant in these reviews but the increasing stupidification of Curtis is now getting genuinely offensive. This time last year he came up with a way of curing paralysis in spinal injury victims, something which, in all likelihood, would win him the sodding Nobel Prize for medicine. Now folk are dubious he can come up with a way of nullifying Laurel-2’s scream. Curtis is a witty, charismatic, black, gay, Olympic-medal-winning technology genius — he’s the sort of character you should be cheering from the rafters for being an inspiration. Instead, the producers have turned him into a cross between Moss from The IT Crowd and a tackle dummy. Enough.
- Nitpicking perhaps, but it felt like Prometheus wasn’t needed this week, and certainly having him/her show up didn’t add to the story being told. Chucking the big bad into another fight with Oliver as a spit and cough appearance waters down the impact of whenever Prometheus shows up. It’s not like we needed to see him/her threatening or helping Laurel either.
- Presumably the ever increasing guest/recurring cast in Arrow means some budget and staffing reshuffles. So poor old Quentin is still in rehab and now Thea’s away at a conference somewhere.
- How does Prometheus know about the Legends? If everything Black Siren knows for her cover story comes via him, how does Prometheus know about the Waverider and what it can do?
And The Random:
- Yes, that is indeed Lexa Doig popping up near the end as Talia Al-Ghul. Genre telly fans will most likely remember her as the personification of the Andromeda ship from the show of the same name, although she has a list of credits as long as your arm, from the TV version of William Shatner’s TekWar (ask your parents) to starring in Friday the 13th’s tenth instalment Jason X (the one in space. No, really). She was also in the abominably joyless CI5: The New Professionals reboot, and has shown up in everything from V to Continuum. She’s also married to Stargate’s Michael Shanks. And yes, she’s appeared in SG1, too…
- Talia al Ghul is, of course, the daughter of Ra’s al Ghul and the half-sister of Nyssa. In the comics she’s younger than Nyssa, and the on-off lover of Batman. She’s also the mother of Robin number five, Damien and a sometime leader of the League of Assassins. Given how much Arrow’s been inspired by the Nolan version of Batman, it’s no surprise she’s shown up – Talia was the villain in The Dark Knight Rises, after all. And if you were really paying attention, we’ve already met Talia in the Arrowverse…