– by Mark Cook

Courtesy of the CW/WB.

Courtesy of the CW/WB.

Arrow is back from its mid-season hiatus!  Will it be able to keep the steam that it had in the first half of the season?

The episode picks up immediately where the last episode ended with Laurel explaining that Sara brought her back to life on the WaveRider.  After filling Laurel in on what happened over the past 9 months, Oliver goes to visit Diggle.  Laurel’s return from the dead would have been extremely believable if they had not ruined the outcome of her true identity from the promos.  It seemed conceivable that she was back, and it wasn’t the first time that someone close to Oliver, or from the Lance family, was brought back from the dead.

Felicity and Curtis have their reservations about Laurel’s return, which leads to what we already know; it’s actually the Earth 2 Laurel Lance aka Black Siren.  This would have been a great reveal, but seeing as the promo already ruined this, it made the first 10 minutes of Arrow anticlimactic. The interesting part was that Prometheus broke Black Siren out of her holding at STAR Labs, undetected.  He goes on to establish his dominance as he ridicules Black Siren for her failure while pinning her to the ground saying her freedom depends on him/her.  Black Siren agrees to meet with Green Arrow in order to help him track Prometheus.  Oliver has the team on stand-by and Felicity usurps his authority telling the team to attack if they feel she will double-cross him.  As Black Siren reaches for something, the team attacks.  I hope this doesn’t lead to a continual back-and-forth power struggle between Oliver and Felicity.  Keep Felicity as the tech guru and don’t bring the awkwardness of their previous relationship back into play.  Later, while in custody. Black Siren asking Felicity if she has a sister because she ”heard Oliver loves sisters” was a good jab.

Courtesy of the CW/WB.

Courtesy of the CW/WB.

After Felicity lets her escape in order to track her, Oliver and the team follow her to an abandoned warehouse (there are a ton of these in Star City) where they find Black Siren with Prometheus.  The altercation with Green Arrow and Prometheus was short, but we did get to see that Prometheus is still a step ahead as he/she was immune to the gas Green Arrow shot at him/her.

Black Siren tells Oliver that on Earth 2, his doppelganger had been dead for 10 years which was why she moved to Central City where she got her powers from the particle accelerator and that she continued to make bad decisions from there.

The flashbacks focus on Oliver being interrogated by Kovar’s men. The only good part was at the end of the episode when Talia al Ghul comes and rescues Oliver.  This has potential.  Did Oliver receive some training from the League?  Will any of this connect to Season 3?  I think it’d be great if we were provided with easter eggs that were connected to Season 3, which would really make Season 5 come full circle.  They can leave out connections to Season 4.  That’s fine.

In other issues with the team, Curtis doesn’t think he can live up to being Mr. Terrific, and that what he is doing isn’t worth losing his husband. Wild Dog helps instill confidence in the strong abilities Curtis does have. Diggle is taken back under the custody of General Walker while Adrian Chase has taken over as his lawyer in hopes of keeping him out of Walker’s hands.

The return episode from the mid-season finale was not what I was hoping for.  The release of Black Siren in the promo took away any real anticipation during the episode.  The main “twist” was already spoiled and the rest of the episode was…decent.  I was hoping for more Prometheus, especially after the outcome of the last episode.  This week was definitely a connection episode but could have used more of the mystery like most of the episodes this season.  I honestly feel that it would have been more enjoyable if it hadn’t been spoiled.  Viewers would see Prometheus going for Oliver’s weak spot, Laurel, but we had already figured that out prior to the episode and thought through numerous scenarios.

At the end of the episode it is teased that there is now going to be another Black Canary replacement. I’m not thrilled about this because it feels like it takes away from Laurel’s death, but I’ll give it a chance.  After watching Seasons 1 and 2 again, what made them so great was the complete focus on Oliver and the connected flashbacks.  I love Arrow this season, but the main issue I have is that the story lines seem unnecessarily overcrowded at times, which is what happens when the focus is on balancing time between all the team members rather than continuing to use them as support roles.  I am looking forward to see how Talia will be involved in the flashbacks, and hopefully seeing more of a focus on Prometheus in the upcoming episodes.  The rest I could do without.

What are your thoughts?  Are you still trying to figure out why they spoiled Black Siren in the promo video?  What do you think of the Black Canary replacement? How is Talia going to be involved?  Leave your comments in the usual spot, and thanks for reading!