Team Arrow deals with the aftermath of Sara's death at the end of the season three premiere. Her brief appearance and sudden death could have been an abrupt and cheap device to drive this season's plot but 'Sara' proved more of a fitting eulogy for a character that has meant so much to the series. It also sets things in motion for things to come, most of them expected, but in a more contemplative way.
The throwaway here are the Hong Kong flashbacks who at this point don't amount to much except for Amanda Waller's insistence on getting Ollie under her control through testing his will and judgement. Like having him execute a target from a rooftop only to find it's his good pal, Tommy Merlyn, whose there looking for him. While it was nice seeing Colin Donnell back in character and the resolution of that situation was reasonably clever it didn't carry any weight on an episode with a lot more on its mind.
The chase for Sara's killer leads to another deadly archer named Komodo. The obligatory action set piece finds Ollie in a motorcycle archery duel with Komodo but alas the round goes to the baddie.
Laurel is in pain understandably having lost her sister a second time but feels she can do something about it. She's focusing her energy and rage on avenging the murder of Sara. It seemed slightly heavy handed at times to present Laurel as the enraged black swan now. She's destined to turn vigilante and carry her sister's torch as Black Canary but speeding up the 'Death Wish' approach may not be the best tactic. It has however given Katie Cassidy some of her best work on the show.
Marginalized last season except for the occasional shouting match with Ollie and even getting a 'Saved-by-the-Bell-Jesse-on-caffeine-pills'-type subplot, Cassidy in two shows has been allowed to stretch her acting muscles with more depth and conviction. The scene where she reminisces about Sara's stuffed animal was realistically conveyed as one would do in such a situation. She shows restraint in not telling her dad, Capt. Lance, that Sara had died and Cassidy nails the look of anguish under control.
No character has shown more consistency and strength than Felicity. Always the voice of reason, the emotional center, the supportive coach when Ollie gets down Felicity puts things in perspective for others. This episode was no different.
She was really hit hard by Sara's death despite not being close but she eloquently described her admiration for her. Not afraid to speak her mind Felicity tells the stoic Ollie she's distraught and he should be too. Stephen Amell is also doing some great work this season fully immersed in Ollie's skin, more natural and not as stiff as season one. Ollie makes some good points as to why he has to remain strong but Felicity realizes life is more precious than wasting it in a dark Arrow cave.
This drives her to accept Ray Palmer's job offer. Earlier the affable but arrogant Palmer showed a more human touch when he showed empathy for whatever Felicity was going through when she confronted him about his persistent calling and texting. It was a relief to see Palmer have more dimensions to his character than just the brash fast-talking billionaire.
By the end Ollie has to talk down a gun-toting Laurel, forgive Roy for not telling him that Thea skipped town angry, and lay Sara to rest. It was a great way to send her off considering the impact she's had on Team Arrow. It was also time to look ahead as we got a glimpse of what Thea's been up to.
Now in Corto Maltese, Thea's been training with her dear old dad. She's got a new do too but will Ollie be able to convince her to come home?
Check out scenes from next week's episode, appropriately titled 'Corto Maltese.'