Arrow 2.05 "League Of Assassins" REVIEW

TV REVIEW: Kiss my assassin

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Episode 2.05
Writers: Drew Z Greenberg & Jake Coburn
Director: Wendey Stanzler

THE ONE WHERE: An assassin targets Sara in Queen manor while Moira needs to make a momentous decision in court…

THE VERDICT: As secret origins go, Sara’s transformation from a party girl lounging in lingerie like a Victoria’s Secret model to high-end assassin is one of the more improbable – but is it really any more implausible than Oliver’s leap from playboy to vigilante? We glimpse both characters in their fateful berth on The Queen’s Gambit and there’s barely a chance to wince at Oliver’s sleazoid chat-up technique – “I know fermentation. I know biology” – before it all takes a turn for Titanic.

The League of Assassins – and their ominous promise of Ra’s al Ghul – add a genuine weight of threat to the show, even if it’s only the long shadow of Nolan’s Batman movies falling on Starling City. Homeland ’s Navid Negahban brings a fruity, raspy charisma to villain of the week Al-Owal, with an amusing distaste for Oliver’s weapon of choice: “Arrows. Such an ineffective projectile.” He makes for a worthy opponent in the fight sequences, as immaculately choreographed as ever.

It’s Lance who’s the heart of this episode, though. Paul Blackthorne increasingly feels like the soul of the show – he’s always specialised in hangdog and harrassed but he seems lonelier, more wounded since his demotion to beat cop, and the moment he tells Sara “I can’t let you go!” is heart-smashing. Nice to see him earn a bad-ass moment too, blasting that assassin with a concealed gun and a Dirty Harry-worthy delivery of the line “Guy with a spare…”

PULSE-QUICKENING VISUAL OF THE WEEK: Arrow smashing through the clockface in a shower of glass.

TRIVIA: Professor Anthony Ivo is an authentic Silver Age DC villain, first seen in the pages of Brave And The Bold 30 in 1960. Forever haunted by a fear of death – perfectly understandable, we’re saying – he turned his scientific skill-set to the pursuit of immortality. Is that what he’s up to with his fiendish experiments upon those prisoners in the hold of the ship? A ship called Amazo, by the way – a nod to the name of his mighty android in the comics.

HMM: Al-Owal makes reference to “the child of Ra’s al Ghul”. We’re naturally assuming that’s Talia, lover of Batman, brought to the big screen by Marion Cotillard in The Dark Knight Rises , but it’s worth pointing out that Ra’s – the old goat – has two other children: another daughter, Nyssa, and a son, Dusan, also known as the White Ghost. Rumours of a fourth child named Brian al Ghul living in a caravan on the outskirts of Shepton Mallet remain unconfirmed.

HMM 2: Given that Ivo and Ra’s are both characters linked to the pursuit of immortality in the DCU, what are the odds that their two narrative arcs are set to entwine in a deeply satisfying manner?

Sara: “Pain and I came to a little understanding a few years back.”

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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.