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The Arrow Mid-Season Premiere: They Sure Didn’t Wait Long to Answer “Who Are You?”

That mystery didn’t last long.

I refer, of course, to the question of whether or not Laurel Lance had really returned from the dead, as teased at the end of Arrow’s mid-season finale last month. CW’s marketing department gave the answer away within weeks, and even if you somehow missed/ignored those spoilery trailers it turns out the mid-season premiere had precious little patience for keeping up the ruse. The “she’s not our Laurel, she’s the one from Earth-2” canary (or cat) was out of the cage (or bag) by the second commercial break, thus setting up an episode which was largely about Oliver’s moral authority being questioned and challenged by a newly assertive, vengeful Felicity. Oliver can worry about his conscious later and drop the “I failed real Laurel, but maybe I can save fake Laurel” sermonizing; Felicity has a dead boyfriend to avenge and if Earth-2 Laurel can be tricked into leading them straight to Prometheus then everyone needs to get the heck on board with that.

For those expecting the real Laurel Lance to return and take center stage, this episode had to be a disappointment. Moreover, for those expecting the series to at least start the process of transitioning the Earth-2 Laurel into being one of the good guys as well as the rightful heir to the title of Black Canary this episode likely registered as frustrating. It ended with the repeatedly unrepentant Laurel locked away and some woman we’ve never seen before presented to us as the possible new Black Canary, seeing as how she’s putting the Canary tech to good use and Oliver is newly determined to pick Laurel’s successor. The show has all the ingredients it needs to put Laurel Lance-Black Canary back together again, but it’s going a different direction, at least in the short term.

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Yet I’m okay with that. Between Gossip Girl, Supernatural and Arrow, Katie Cassidy has consistently shown she’s better at playing villains or characters with a bit more of an edge to them. Long term, Black Siren likely is being set up on some kind of redemptive arc, but for now the writers and Cassidy herself appear to be having just too much fun playing her as a vixen, as supremely evident in all the taunts she kept hurling Felicity’s way in “Who Are You?.” The “this is why I behave the way I do” sob story she told Oliver might be true or at least partially true, but to think that the power of Oliver’s words/love would cure her soul in a single episode is kind of an insult to her as a character. She might become the Faith to Oliver’s Angel, or she might already be earmarked for a return stint to The Flash or mini-arc on Legends. Wherever she ends up, though, I hope they drop that damn ose ring.

Katie Cassidy was but a mere guest star in “Who Are You?”, a villain of the week spurring intra-Team Arrow conflict, specifically between Oliver and Felicity. The producers promised during the break that the weight of the previous four years combined with the loss of her boyfriend was going to push Felicity to some dark places or at least darker than normal for her. We appear to be witnessing the beginning of that, glimpsing a Felicity in “Who Are You?” who was quick to take control when necessary and less willing to patiently indulge Oliver’s predictable stubbornness.

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To some, this might ring a tad hollow because we never spent enough time with Felicity’s boyfriend to truly understand him or his relationship with her and thus don’t completely connect with her obvious sense of loss. However, she was a badass in this episode, coldly logical in her planning and quick to toss multiple well-placed stings Oliver’s way. Felicity this season has been clearly re-set to a pre-season 4 version of herself and somewhat de-emphasized in the plotting, the producers way of saying they might have pushed her too far to the front of the show last year. However, “Who Are You?” gave us a version of Felicity who didn’t have to just be adorkable or mother hen to the new recruits nor did she have to be cycling through romantic melodrama with Oliver (as was too often the case last season). Instead, she kind of kicked ass, even if’s all keyed off the death of a character we never truly got to know.

Elsewhere in the episode, Diggle and the DA decided to fight the good fight in court and had to get all lawyery about it, and Curtis expressed what many have already noticed, namely that he simply can’t hang with the bad guys when it comes to fighting. So, he’ll be gadget guy, which probably means the writers will have to work even harder to differentiate Curtis and Felicity’s team roles and skillsets but in the moment it made for some of Echo Kellum’s finest acting on the show to date.

THE NITPICKS

  1. Thea’s at some conference? So, Laurel comes back and of the five people on Team Arrow for whom her return would really mean something one is in rehab (Quentin), another is in prison (Diggle) and the third is out of town on business (Thea). That left just Oliver and Felicity along with two new recruits who never met Laurel and Curtis, who was, at best, a work acquaintance of her’s. Presumably, the idea is Prometheus planned it this way, unleashing Laurel on Team Arrow at a time when very few of those who actually knew her were around. So, Earth-2 Laurel just had to fool Oliver and Felicity, but Felicity found her out within 24 hours. Still, it feels like Thea should have been there.
  2. Since she came up multiple times in “Who Are You?”, I have to admit that gun to my head I couldn’t tell you the name of the woman Oliver is avenging in the flashbacks right now.
  3. Not a nitpick, more an observation: if Felicity offers you a glass of water you are now completely justified to suspect she’s up to something.
  4. Was Black Siren working with Prometheus the entire time? Or did she truly try to turn state’s evidence, so to speak, against him until Felicity ordered the new recruits to attack her? If she was still acting under Prometheus’ orders at that point how did he know Felicity would disobey Oliver?
  5. Season 5 appears to be pivoting toward a new arc in which the team trains a new Black Canary, but for the longest time I thought’s exactly what was happening with Evelyn. When exactly did Evelyn stop being Black Canary 2.0 and turn into Arrow’s version of Artemis?
  6. Felicity punched Black Siren in the face, to which I’m sure half the internet applauded and the other half yelled for Black Siren to get back up and fight back.
  7. Black Siren got all her intel from Prometheus, which means he knows way more about Legends than I would have thought (although he might not the exact lingo since Siren didn’t appear to know the word “aberration”).
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About Kelly Konda (1824 Articles)
Grew up obsessing over movies and TV shows. Worked in a video store. Minored in film at college because my college didn't offer a film major. Worked in academia for a while. Have been freelance writing and running this blog since 2013.

2 Comments on The Arrow Mid-Season Premiere: They Sure Didn’t Wait Long to Answer “Who Are You?”

  1. 1. Thea and Quentin seem to be completely tangential this season. Neither have even been in the ‘A’ plot.
    2. Tiana
    4. When Black Siren met with Prometheus even before the attack at the statue, she told him “You should have let me kill them [instead of playing this charade]” so pretty clearly evil from the start. It’s a pretty safe assumption that after Oliver killed Billy, Felicity would no longer be so obedient.
    5. Evelyn stopped being the Black Canary when the character failed in her episode last season. It seems like even back then, the show was determined to replace Laurel/Katie Cassidy as the Black Canary. It’s too bad they never let Laurel play to Katie Cassidy’s strength of being a bad girl; it might have made Laurel work.
    7. Prometheus seems to know Oliver better than he knows himself. I thought that it was Black Siren who didn’t remember the word “aberation”.

    • 1. Thea and Quentin are undeniable tangential, but I also wonder if that’s entirely a bad thing. Maybe the show was simply running out of ideas for what to do with them, and it was interesting how little seemed to change for everyone when Quentin disappeared into rehab. However, the problem now is that Thea and Quentin were set up as Oliver’s link to his life as mayor, and everyone else is linked to Team Arrow. With Quentin gone, Thea is the only link left to normalcy, and the show’s most recent 2 episodes have dropped her entirely. They need to get her back.

      2. Thank you. Honestly, I should have just looked it up, but I thought it was notable how little of an impression she had made on me.

      4. Black Siren was definitely playing them. If not for the fact that Katie Cassidy signed that unique contract, I wouldn’t really expect to see much more of Black Siren. However, because of Cassidy’s multi-show contract I have been expecting Siren to go into a redemptive arc, like Faith on Angel. But, then again, Wentworth Miller signed the same kind of contract, and his appearances across the Arrowverse this year have been very sparse. So, maybe, really, the contracts simply officially keep the door open for these actors, but if other things come along they can do that. Maybe Cassidy is just busy with movies or whatever, and with simply be an occasional guest star.

      5. It just seemed like they had to put in a lot of leg work to set up Evelyn as the new Black Canary, first driven by rage and vengeance last season only to then be trained by Team Arrow this season and thus become worthy of taking on the Black Canary mantle. I missed the exact moment where it was decided, “Drop the sonic scream device, and pick up some arrows. You’re Artemis now. BTWs, if you’ve seen Young Justice you know you’re the one who betrays us.”

      7. I more meant that maybe Black Siren let them finish her “aberration” sentence for her because not only did she not know it herself but Prometheus, her coach, didn’t either. I was probably just grasping at nothing because I was refusing to believe Prometheus could know the specifics of Sara and the Legends. Using real world intel to study Felicity, Diggle and the new recruits, sure, but finding out the specifics of a bunch of time travelers Oliver knows? That just seemed a bit too far, but I put it in the nitpicks for a reason since it ultimately doesn’t matter.

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