“I don’t want to die down here.”
“Sara” is an exploration of grief, of the various ways our characters cope with the loss of someone they cared deeply about. It’s also a turning point in the series, a transition period for characters like Laurel and Felicity and Oliver in response to Sara’s death. Death often reminds us of our own mortality, and here, that certainly is the case; death also reminds them of their seeming lack of identity, of the fact that they’ve spent all this time in a high-tech basement, that they’ve done good in the world, but that they’ve done so while they’ve been closed off emotionally from life in general.
“I just wanted more out of life,” is the reason Felicity gives Ray Palmer when she decides to go work for him at Star City. This is a culmination of the events in this episode, of the grief that builds up in the wake of Sara’s death. She wasn’t exactly close with Sara, but she admired her, and it’s almost surreal that she would die like this. If you think about it, it’s also a bit surreal within the context of the superhero/comic book universe; we have notions that these people are not bound by the same mortal constraints that the people they save are bound by, but in this show’s case, it looks like that’s not true.
So, the image of Sara Lance on that cold, hard table is pretty shocking in its imagery, and the episode takes the time to explore the fallout. Felicity is more overt in her grief, and when she doesn’t see Oliver expressing his grief in the same way she does, she lashes out. It’s completely understandable, but we can see the grief written on his face. There are cracks in the facade that he says he must put up in order for others to be able to grieve, and we can see the raging internal conflicts in his mind in every scene. He most certainly has the past in mind here, as the past few deaths led to an Oliver who was anything but a leader. Now, he realizes he doesn’t want to die alone, and Diggle responds with a simple “Then don’t.”
With Laurel, the episode stumbles a bit because it’s just as concerned with advancing her transformation into Canary as it is with letting her grieve. Yes, the two are connected, but the dual intents come out clearly here. That said, there’s been a huge improvement with Laurel’s character, and the episode weaves in her grieving process after she thought Sara was dead the first time, as well as the fact that Tommy’s death pushed her back into her addictions. It’s clear she wants to change, and that, of course, foreshadows her as Canary.
She also has the past in mind when she’s struggling over whether or not to tell her father about Sara’s death, and Cassidy here is better than she’s been before, portraying a character who eventually decides not to divulge the news of her sister’s death because she knows what will happen to her father as a result. She knows, however, that she needs to move on, just like Oliver and Felicity know at the end of the episode. Wherever they may go, though, they understand that the answer to “No one will know” is “We will”. They understand each other.
-Ugh. Another “not speaking English” joke. I can’t even count how many times I’ve heard that in shows and movies, and it’s stupid.
-The Quentin-Laurel interactions are similar to when the former knew Sara was back, but didn’t tell Laurel. Now, the roles are switched.
-Amell and Rickards deserve mentions for their acting, as well. Oh, how Amell has improved, and Rickards crying is a dagger in the heart. She has the ‘bigger moments’, but my favorite might be the one in which she tries to compose herself as she says that “there’s been a death in the family” over the phone.
-The Salmon Ladder hasn’t made an appearance this season, and Sara is now dead. This worries me.
-That motorcycle chase-duel between Komodo and Arrow is amazing.
-Oh, there’s Thea and Malcolm. Over/under on Thea killing Sara?
-The Hong Kong flashbacks aren’t really needed, but they do shade in a bit more of the Oliver-Maseo relationship. Also, they provide a scene in which Oliver cuts ties with Tommy, cuts ties with his old identity, and that ties in nicely with the major themes of the episode.
-Brandon Routh is so enjoyable as Ray Palmer. He definitely doesn’t come across like you’d expect him to at first, and I’m looking forward to more.
Photo credit: The CW, Arrow