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Arrow 2x05: League of Assassins

This is another really good episode. It’s the end of Sara’s initial arc since she’ll be out of the present storyline until mid-season, though it makes me wonder if she’d been around a couple more episodes I might well have ended up shipping Sara/Oliver pretty hard. Instead we got the next couple episodes we actually get which will finally pull me hard onto the Olicity ship, but that’s a talk for next time.

I thought we were done with this topic
But it turns out we have to talk about the s4 retcon regarding Oliver/Laurel again. Because weirdly, this episode almost really works with that retcon; except for the fact that neither of them bring it up. If Laurel is struggling with the idea that everyone seems to leave her, then the fact that Oliver abandoned her like that again after Tommy’s death should definitely have been brought up. That is also a case where she would have a legitimate cause to be bitter and angry at someone for leaving her specifically.

But while we’re talking about Laurel, I’m 90% sure there is no way she would be assigned to Moira’s case. I’m not a lawyer, nor really know any lawyers, but this seems really legally questionable; which is pointed out in the show but then they act like nothing will come of it. And even if it somehow is legally allowed for a person to work on prosecuting someone where they’re so close to the family, it seems even sketchier that she’s still allowed to hang out with Oliver while the case is going on. Sure she says they can’t talk about the case, but going on a quasi-date with the son of someone you’re prosecuting seems like it must be breaking some rules.

Not too judgey
Anyone else think that this episode makes Digg look even more hypocritical regarding Helena than he did before? It’s always been hypocritical for him to think of Oliver as heroic but not give Helena a chance but now he is willing to give Sara a chance. The one difference I can allow is that Sara clearly wants to be better than the assassin she’s become where Helena never actually expressed that desire, Oliver was just kind of putting it on her and Digg didn’t trust that. But I still find it unfortunate since Sara and Digg meet in basically the same was as Digg and Helena; and Digg already has issues with Oliver’s occasional blind-spots regarding the Lance family, and then Sara tells them she’s an assassin on top of it. Realizing that one of this ep’s writers even has a credit on The Huntress Returns I feel even more like Digg is out of character in this regard.

I have less issue with Felicity’s quick acceptance. She never really expressed much problem with Helena and that was in the later episode rather than being annoyed from the start. And she is quite supportive of the Lance family in general; she and Quentin get along rather well and she’s always been accepting of Laurel even though in their rare meetings Laurel is usually kind of a bitch to her (I think it’s probably part of why Oliver/Felicity was already basically on top of me before I even realized it was becoming a thing, this is a situation where I’d expect more love triangle symptoms that don’t really materialize).

Secrets and lies
I can’t make up my mind if Oliver needed Diggle to point out the obvious parallel between Sara and Oliver keeping secrets about what happened to them while they were away. Actually, he clearly did need it pointed out to really get that fact, but I’m not quite able to say he didn’t understand without having it pointed out. He says he doesn’t understand why she isn’t telling her family that she’s alive (which even that, considering the way the flashbacks have gone in later seasons, he should) and is slow to really get that the League is her Hong Kong and Russia and the rest; but he also doesn’t push her. He may lack self-reflection, but he does understand how hard coming home can be.

Just to talk about Moira’s plot for a moment, the parallel with the main Sara plot is that they both can’t handle the thought of the people they love seeing their darkness and sins. In Sara’s case it basically comes out fine, seeing the darkness is actually what makes Quentin understand the pieces he was struggling to put together; and that will largely hold true when others learn the truth too. For Moira, it ends well for now, but this secret she’s hiding will ultimately cost her her relationships with her children.

I do love the scenes between Sara and Quentin, most of my notes on those scenes are just “aww.” That, and how the clock tower is awfully well lit at the end of Oliver maintaining a secret identity from Quentin.

A league...of assassins
Ra’s watch: we get two different pronunciations: Rahs and Rahz. We don’t normally get the more z sound at the end of the name, which is why I didn’t include it on my expected pronunciations last time, but we get it here.

Also, in this episode is said that “the child of Ra’s al-Gul” wanted Sara brought back, so we have already moved on to Nyssa being the probably driving force about wanting Sara brought back. It also introduces the idea that Sara is “the beloved” though it doesn’t say beloved by whom. I think first time through I thought that was more that she was beloved by Ra’s, and I think I assumed it was more as a protégé, in fact I think I sort of misheard the child of Ra’s bit and thought he viewed her as a daughter somehow; I don’t think I jumped to any ship related conclusions, but I get it now.

And also, since when does the League not like arrows? The League is all about old school weapons, what self-respecting League member puts someone down for using a bow and arrow? Then they’re judgey about guns at the end; make up your mind League of Assassins.

The ocean, 2007
This really only runs parallel to the first couple episodes of flashbacks last season; ultimately we see it line back up with the current point in them, but we skip over a lot. And they are very effective flashbacks, for all they only hint at most of what likely happened on the Amazo during that year, it a clear hint.

But...and this is not my usual line of discussion, something struck me this time that probably deserves acknowledgement; it’s kind of racist.

When Sara’s first pulled onboard my focus was more on the fact that she should really look more weathered and weakened than she does; she should be really sunburned from lying out in the ocean for what’s clearly supposed to be a couple days or so (one can’t go much longer than that without fresh water, so I won’t say it’s supposed to be too much more than that). That scene doesn’t make me side-eye the production; the focus is on the fact that Sara is young and small and helpless and any self-defense she might usually know (Laurel claims Quentin insisted she have training, and one would assume that applied to Sara too) is not a factor in her present situation. Caity Lotz was playing up Sara’s youth and innocence in her scene on the Gambit and then Sara was pulled off the ship in the middle of sexy-times so she’s made all the more vulnerable by being barely clothed and has clearly now ended up in a horror movie.

The later scene though, that’s where I’m a little uncomfortable. Or a lot uncomfortable because the implications are pretty clear about where it was headed; but the fact that the crew are black seems like it might be being used to heighten the terror and that makes me a different kind of uncomfortable. I suspect within the story the crew is black because Ivo hided a crew somewhere in Africa (though why he didn’t hire a crew from the side of the world he was actually investigating is another question), but for this scene having the dangerous black crew attacking the helpless white girl who is “saved” by the one white guy on the ship is playing with some not-so-good implications.

Though let’s be fair, the horror movie doesn’t stop just because Ivo “saves” her from the crew. That he wants to play house in this house of horrors is not framed as safety. Almost certain death on the ocean was traded for the cells of the Amazo, now traded for whatever whim Ivo ends up having regarding her future. It could be argued it’s safer and more likely that she can survive the situation, but she’s not safe by any means. And she exchanges this situation for the League ultimately, which is the kind of same trade.


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