Arrow, Season 5, Episode 10, “Who Are You”
When last we saw Arrow, a ghost from Ollie’s past showed up in the form of Laurel Lance, back from the dead.
There were some who thought that this could be another Laurel fever dream, a straight up resurrection or something related to the timeline altering shenanigans going on over on The Flash.
In any matter, of all the things Ollie has screwed up since that fateful day he decided to step aboard the Queen’s Gambit, Laurel’s death at the hands of Damien Dahrk is his greatest regret. So, he’s naturally relieved and willing to swallow any story the Laurel in front of him is spinning; just bring her back into his life.
Felicity, however, isn’t so sure. And, when Ragman trips her memory that Laurel does indeed have an evil twin, the Earth-2 doppelganger, Black Siren — locked up in STAR Labs (and STAR Labs’ security is as air-tight as a screen door #ThanksBarry) — Siren realizes the jig is up, and tears stuff up.
This launches the episode’s central dramatic struggle which is a the return of a love triangle of sorts between Ollie, Felicity, and Ollie’s idealized version of Laurel — embodied in Black Siren.
Black Siren is Prometheus’ latest salvo in the attempt to tear Oliver down to his very core. She does a good job throughout of playing on Ollie’s blind spot when it comes to Laurel. Even when she is exposed as a villain, Siren lays a story on Ollie that she was forced into that little bit of play-acting by Prometheus under threat of death (which may be true). She asks to set up a meeting so she can give Ollie important information about Prometheus (which may be a trap).
At the meeting, Ollie gives the rest of the team strict “no attack” orders, but Felicity has other ideas and orders the team in (to promptly get their collective butts kicked, something that hits Curtis hard) at the slightest hint of a Siren double-cross. The best part of the battle is that the Black Canary statue that looked like it was sculpted from bad cheese, got destroyed.
Ollie talks to Siren and she gives him a song and dance about how even though she’s from a totally different universe, with a totally different life experience, there may be the possibility that a sliver of the Laurel he loved is inside her. While it may be true, Ollie, in his state of blindness caused by grief, guilt, remorse and love, accepts this story wholly, without question.
His attitude crushes Felicity in a number of ways. First, remember we’re mere hours removed from Oliver accidentally pumping a bunch of arrows into Felicity’s boyfriend, so she’s still a little sore over that. Second and most importantly, there’s still a lot of unspoken love between Oliver and Felicity, yet Oliver doesn’t appear to be remorseful or sentimental that it is gone.
This triangle is one of the most troubling aspects of the post-Laurel era of Arrow. Before her death, Laurel was just one of many girlfriends Ollie treated like hot garbage when he was a directionless playboy, and Laurel went out of her way to spite Ollie at every opportunity. Since then, she’s been built up as Oliver’s lost soulmate which is accurate according to the comics, but rings hollow from a show that once took pride in bucking comic canon, and spent so much time nurturing the Olicity love affair.
Of course, this isn’t going to untangle in one episode, and Felicity does get Siren to show her true colors on videotape before letting Siren escape so she can lead the team straight to Prometheus. Siren does exactly as Felicity expects, and Ollie gets his first major confrontation with Prometheus. Felicity tags along on this mission, and Siren gets the drop on her and is poised to kill Felicity. Ollie drops his battle to appeal to her inner “good” Laurel, but that doesn’t work. Thankfully over in B-plot land, with a little push from Mad Dog, Curtis has made the switch from bronze-medal winning punching bag to team tech wizard, and foils Siren with a mobile power dampener.
The episode closes with Oliver keeping Siren close by, locked up with Argus, but also seeking to fulfill his promise to Dead Laurel by training another Black Canary, and there just so happens to be a viable candidate in Hub City.
This episode, while well-crafted was also quite frustrating. The whole veneration of Laurel is vexing because Laurel/Black Canary was such a divisive character with the fans, and a character the writers of the show never really got firm hold of, so she became a grab bag of character flaws, without many personal success stories. If the return of a Laurel to Oliver’s life brings out this optimism that Felicity sees, then so much the better, especially with Diggle still in jail and Talia Al’Ghul introduced at the end of the hour. However, count me as skeptical that any major change in Oliver’s outlook is on the horizon.