This week, Arrow takes us to Hub City as Oliver tries to fill up the Black Canary mantle with someone as amazing as Laurel Lance. As they venture on “Second Chances”, Talia Al Ghul serves as a mentor to a proto-Green Arrow back in the Russian Flashbacks.
We go back to the night the particle accelerator exploded: Central City, 2013. Some guys are playing cards at a warehouse while the woman we met in last episode’s end tag, Tina Boland, is tied up to a chair with signs of torture. The bad guys ignore the TV’s warning to evacuate the city and bring out another man who is valuable to Tina: both of them are policeman and he is her partner. The bad guys, clearly getting nothing from Tina, threaten to kill her partner when the accelerator explodes and the energy mass crosses the warehouse. Taken by surprise, the bad guy shoots at the partner. Tina screams as the wave goes through her and she obtains her powers.
Back in the present (after Oliver’s decision to recruit a new Black Canary), he is being offered a lot of competent women’s resumes, but is being adamantly inflexible. He is clearly having troubles picking someone to step into Laurel’s shoes…until Curtis mentions the mysterious vigilante from Hub City who is trained in fighting, has screaming powers like the Black Canary, and even better focus than Black Siren. Oliver decides to take Curtis and Renee for a trip to Hub City to check her out.
When they get there, they interrupt Tina on her vendetta quest: pursuing her old torturers. The Green Arrow makes her offer number one and she doesn’t skip a heartbeat before refusing. Oliver decides to find out more about Tina and calls Detective Singh from Central City PD (there was a pretty clever Flash cameo, by the way) and he tells her tragic backstory: going undercover with her partner, getting caught, tortured, seeing him killed which prompted her exit from the force.
Oliver goes after Tina again and catches her torturing one of the guys from the opening sequence. She uses her scream to kill off the man and escape. The Arrow follows Tina, manages to stop her momentarily to make a more fully formed sales pitch, showing how tortured and non-self-forgiving souls can be relatable. However, she doesn’t take the bait and goes away.
Oliver’s team realizes that Tina is going after every single one of her perpetrators, including this one Mob Boss who has taken over the vacuum Tobias Church left when he was killed off earlier in the season. Turns out he is dealing this new drug called “Slide” because it is aimed at kids and teenagers, getting them hooked as early as possible.
Curtis tracks down this Mob Boss and Team Arrow makes their way, arriving just in time to save Tina who had been incapacitated by Mob Boss’s own metahuman powers: something to do with sonic waves that is basically a revamp of Top’s powers in the way that the victim loses their sense of balance.
This time, Oliver manages to convince Tina to let them help her. They make their big move in the rooftop of a building, taking out a huge number (I think it was 51 lackeys + 1 Boss equaling 52. Ha! Arrow loves its “52” references) of hench-people. When it came to taking out Mob Boss, it was up to Tina. Oliver tried to dissuade her with the old “what would [insert name of loved one] want you to do?”, which often leads to the killer giving up, but, to my surprise, makes Tina shoot the man three times—“That’s what he would want me to do!”. Oliver lets her go as they decide to go back to Star City.
Now at his mayor office, contemplating the city, Oliver receives a visit from Tina. She says she doesn’t feel as accomplished as she thought she would, so she decides to take on Oliver’s proposal to become the new Black Canary. That comes with the revelation that Tina Boland is just an alias from her time undercover: her real name is Dinah Drake, which according to Oliver is suiting.
Now, I had to do some research, but the deal is that Dinah Drake was one of the comics’ Black Canaries. She was the mother of one Dinah Laurel Lance, played by Katie Cassidy in the show and unjustly killed off. This would tally the amount of “Dinahs” in Arrow to three, as Laurel’s mother is also called Dinah. Reactions to this reveal seemed to be mixed because as much as it is a service to comic book lore, it also felt like a disservice to Laurel Lance and Katie Cassidy. One has to wonder if this is the shows attempt at “fixing” several complaints about how Oliver + Dinah should be endgame instead of Oliver + Felicity.
While this main storyline is over, there were three other ones. First, the Russian flashbacks. We left off with a woman called Talia (surname never referenced in the show, but we all know who she is), an archer, saving Oliver from the Bratva. As they talk, she reveals she knows all about him: from Lian Yu, to Honk Kong, to whatever the hell season 4 was, and finally Russia. She also tells Oliver that she is the one who trained his long deceased first archery teacher Yao Fei.
Talia proposed to help with Oliver’s vengeance against Konstantin Kovar. She knows of human traffic Russian dealer who provides Kovar with young women and they will kill him in order to hit Konstantin. After a successful attack, Oliver kills off this dealer, and learns it was apparently a trick used by Talia to really see what he was made of—his monster material, if you may. Oliver is so guilty of everything he has done in these past five years that he can’t think of going back home because he is not the one who left.
Talia takes this opportunity to let him know that he needs to become “something else” in order to have Oliver Queen go back. She pulls out a box with a tailored green leather suit along with a bow and so the Arrow persona is created.
In the meantime, John’s nemesis that is keeping him in jail has some sort of file that is condemning to him being held by the NSA. Felicity is eager to hack the organization, but finds that file to be erased. She makes her way through the deep web when she is contacted by another hacker who knows of Felicity’s college hacktivism endeavors and wants to help.
Felicity meets with this other female hacker who is totally fangirling over the activist idol that Felicity used to be. The hacker gives Felicity this flash drive with the file they needed to free John and sort of speeches her way into inspiring the old hacktivist in Felicity again. She sends the file to the DA’s office and John is now a free man in the eyes of the law.