Arrow: “Second Chances” Season 5 Episode 11 Review

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Laurel’s legacy has had an odd place in Arrow‘s fifth season. First it was written in after the fact that Laurel had asked Oliver to replace her as Black Canary. Then, Evelyn, who appeared as a version of Black Canary last season, joined the team only to betray them. Next up was the fake resurrection of Laurel when her Earth-2 doppelganger, Black Siren attacked the team. So “Second Chances” isn’t really all that appropriate of a title for an episode that seems to finally commit to a new Black Canary.

But committing to that is this episode’s very purpose. The plot is very simple and familiar to season five already. Oliver, Rene, and Curtis find a metahuman in Hub City who has the same power as Black Siren. How convenient that it happened just a week after they were all talking about it. She comes complete with her own tragic backstory, currently trying to avenge her dead partner from when she was a cop. As much of Arrow has been lately, all the execution is fine. This show has once again hit a mid-season groove where the episodes are all about the same quality, but not a whole lot is going on in them. “Second Chances” essentially repeats the arc of the reluctant new recruit that was all over the first half of season five and peppered through the seasons that came before it. After learning that revenge doesn’t truly take the pain away, this new figure, then named Tina Boland, comes back to Oliver and reveals her true name to be Dinah Drake, the secret identity of the original Black Canary from literally the 1940s. All of this build up was merely to deliver a twist to make fans cheer. Ah, superhero shows.

Meanwhile, Felicity took her chances re-entering the hacktivist space. We learn through a rabid fan that Felicity’s former online identity is celebrated in the hacktivist community. Will this inspire her to re-enter that world permanently? Based on this episode’s handling of it, the team might have more uses for it than they think. The writers don’t quite put enough in the episode to truly sell it, but it’s definitely not a bad idea.

But, the best bits of “Second Chances” were, finally, in the flashbacks. As we inch ever closer to the starting point of the pilot, it’s great to finally see Oliver being molded into the mindset of becoming a vigilante. And who better to put him there than Talia al Ghul? It’s pretty cool to have her teaching him the basic lessons we know he’ll have to learn in the next three or four months. With the next episode titled “Bratva,” I look forward to this dynamic being further explored.

Even so, however, “Second Chances” was mostly a mediocre episode of Arrow. Regardless of the flashbacks getting some necessary steam and Felicity’s new direction having potential, a newly introduced superhero with a cookie-cutter backstory has no chance of feeling fresh, no matter what their name is and what it means. Grade: B-

By Matt Dougherty

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