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Arrow “Sara” 

Here lies Sara. She was a daughter. A sister. And an assassin. And while she returned this season for a flash only to be shot off a building by three arrows to the chest, her presence will be missed. But after this episode, it’s clear that even though she’s finally made it to her long-empty grave, her death has caused a ripple effect that will be felt throughout the season. Diggle is returning to the team (and now has a Sara of his own). Laurel is becoming a certified bad-ass (and possibly future Black Canary). Felicity has decided to accept a job offer from Star City’s newest billionaire (and a possible future love interest). And Ollie, well, Ollie is still playing tough vigilante who puts everyone else’s needs ahead of his own. But thanks to Felicity calling him out on his lack of emotion, we finally see that he’s also starting to realize the consequences of living a double life.

Photo Credit: Cate Cameron/The CW
Photo Credit: Cate Cameron/The CW

Oliver: I don’t have the luxury of falling to pieces. Everyone is looking to me to handle things, to make the right decisions. Everyone is looking to me to lead. If I grieve, nobody else gets to.
Felicity: You’re still a human being, Oliver. You’re allowed to have feelings. I know sometimes its easier to live under that hood.
Oliver: I’m not. Earlier today when I was looking at Sara, I realized something. One of these days, its gonna be me. The life that I’ve chosen, it only ends one way.
Felicity: So that’s it, you’re just gonna spend your life hiding down here in this cave, waiting to die? I’m sorry, I’m not going to wait with you because if there is one thing that today has taught me, it’s that life is precious and I want so much more out of mine than this.

Photo Credit: Cate Cameron/The CW
Photo Credit: Cate Cameron/The CW

I kind of love the identity crisis that Oliver is facing this season and this epiphany only adds to his inner turmoil. And clearly Felicity’s revelation didn’t fall on deaf ears, as we later see Oliver reveal to Diggle that he doesn’t want to die alone in an underground cave below an abandoned bar. Wow. I mean, that’s huge. Sure, we’ve seen Oliver conflicted, but it’s so rare for him to admit these things and appear vulnerable. Like he said, he has to be the tough one so everyone else can break down. And more than anything, I love he chose to admit this to Diggle. I’ve loved their bond from the beginning (see my first Arrow article for proof!) and every once in a while, it’s nice to see them shed their macho crime-fighting, tough-guy image and be genuine and raw with one another.

Anyway, back to Ollie’s identity crisis. For so long, Oliver has kept his two lives as separate as possible. As the Arrow, he has been vigilant on wanting to punish the bad, rescue the good and save the city to make up for his family’s past discretions. And as Oliver Queen he has been all about keeping up appearances while keeping his secret under wraps. However, neither life has been easy to maintain. He has obviously made sacrifices and suffered in the past as a result, but he’s never questioned having to balance both identities. Instead he allows this double-lifestyle to eat away at him and he accepts it as a part of his fate. But this season he’s beginning to realize that that “fate” is actually a choice and it’s a choice that he is able to make. What does it mean to be both the vigilante and person? And can he be both or does he need to choose?

Nevertheless, in this episode, he immediately takes on the role of savior and leader, putting his own grief aside so that everyone else can grieve. Typical Oliver, always the one to put others first, which while admirable, also clearly takes it toll. I have no doubt that the rest of the season will continue to address Oliver’s hero vs human conflict and I’m genuinely interested to see what happens when he begins to realize that he must also learn to make his own well-being a priority.

That being said, while Sara’s loss was the focus of this episode, it was also about keeping it in the family and her loss brought about the return of two familiar faces…one I expected to see and another that came as a total surprise. First off, it was just a matter of time before we learned what Thea has been up to these past five months while in the company of Malcolm Merlyn. And as one might expect, spending time with dear ol’ dad has turned her in to a butt-kicking, bamboo-stick wielding fighting machine, which only seems appropriate. I have yet to venture a guess as to whether she’ll use her skills for good or evil (although I’m leaning towards evil…) but it should be interesting to see her come face to face with Oliver and Roy now that she can fend for herself.

And saving the best for last, I was shocked and thrilled to see Tommy return to the Arrow-verse! He definitely had his friendship ups and downs when he was alive, but to know that he went looking for Oliver in Hong Kong warms my heart, even if Oliver did have to threaten his life to keep him safe. I’m hoping Tommy is as stubborn as I remember and that his re-appearance isn’t a one time thing….with so much more left to learn about Oliver’s time in Hong Kong, there’s definitely potential for a Tommy tie-in, no? Fingers crossed.

Be sure to catch Arrow Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.

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