Arrow 2.04 "Crucible" REVIEW

TV REVIEW: The cry of the Canary

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Episode 2.04
Writers: Andrew Kreisberg & Wendy Mericle
Director: Eagle Egilsson

THE ONE WHERE: A new crime lord known as the Mayor is arming the gangs of Starling City. Oliver discovers the secret of Black Canary’s identity.

THE VERDICT: “Do you have any happy stories?” asks Felicity. It’s an appropriate question for an episode that dials back the action quota to explore the tortured souls of its protagonists – the secrets they keep, the way they deal with the past, the way they’re dealing with the present.

The reveal of Black Canary’s identity has a genuine resonance, inspiring one of Stephen Amell’s more emotionally engaging performances. He works well with Caity Lotz, who gives us a Sara Lance who’s obviously internalised a world of pain since The Queen’s Gambit capsized. I still can’t quite map her onto the comic book version of Black Canary but there’s the seed of a decent character here, one with a clear feminist slant that hopefully won’t devolve into thick-eared cliché (the line “No woman should ever suffer at the hands of men” comes close; her distaste for the word bitch is subtler and cooler). There’s an amusing throwaway moment where she and Arrow swap weapons that hints at a promising future dynamic.

Laurel’s clearly in crisis. The booze! The pills! The clankingly expositional dialogue about how much she’s suffered! The moment she tries to avoid a drink-driving rap by claiming her DA credentials feels like a character being stretched out of shape to fit a storyline. Let’s hope this psychological spiral doesn’t make her into a total drag – she may be one of the show’s original players but god knows she’s been eclipsed by the arrival of sparkier, more charismatic characters. Not sure this is the best way to ensure she holds her own.

For once we have a villain who hasn’t been extracted from the DCU. The Mayor certainly feels like a comic strip bad guy, though – possibly one who belongs in the pages of Luke Cage, Power Man during its mid-‘70s blaxploitation heyday. Shut yo mouth!

Liked the surreal visual of the Mayor machine-gunning the fashion store mannequin. And director Eagle Egilsson – still love that name – wittily intercuts between party muzak and gunfire as Oliver takes down the gangbangers in the opening scene.

HMM: Is there a connection between Brother Blood’s serum and the mystery of the “misshapen” bodies on the island? Were they the early victims of a secret military experiment that’s still being fine-tuned decades later?

TRIVIA: Wondering where you’ve seen the captain of the Amazo before? He’s played by Jimmy Jean-Louis alias the enigmatic Haitian on Heroes .

DID YOU SPOT?: Camp Kirby is a nod to Jack “King” Kirby. Famed as one of the original architects of the Marvel Universe, Kirby drew Green Arrow for DC in the late ‘50s. His distinctively chunky, SF-flavoured interpretation ran in the pages of World’s Finest and Adventure Comics

Dig: “Somebody told me secrets have weight. The more you have, the harder it is to keep moving.”

Arrow is broadcast in the UK on Sky 1 HD

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Nick Setchfield
Editor-at-Large, SFX Magazine

Nick Setchfield is the Editor-at-Large for SFX Magazine, writing features, reviews, interviews, and more for the monthly issues. However, he is also a freelance journalist and author with Titan Books. His original novels are called The War in the Dark, and The Spider Dance. He's also written a book on James Bond called Mission Statements.