WARNING: This review contains spoilers.
Arrow‘s The Lances and Queens have always been connected on Arrow. As the show has progressed that has only intensified. The bond between the two families serves as a primary theme for this excellent episode.
The episode starts in a typical fashion for superhero TV shows/films, a young woman is taking out the trash in the alley when two thuggish men attack her. But while she is saved by a familiar face, the person then turns on her. Although, I don’t know if it’s fair to call Sara a person at this point. Despite Laurel’s hopes, she hasn’t recovered since her trip to the Lazarus Pit. She’s still displaying inhuman tasks, speaking in a foreign language (if it’s a real language at all, it’s difficult to tell) and is driven by an intense bloodlust. Before she’s able to murder this poor girl though, the police show up and scare her off. Later on the scene Quentin realizes his daughter was behind these crimes and scolds Laurel for not telling him she escaped and putting lives at risk. She still doesn’t seem to realize the gravity of the situation and is just focused on finding Sara before anyone else does.
Oliver meanwhile is focusing on his mayoral campaign. Thea brings in a new political advisor for him. He sidesteps Oliver’s ideal notions that the people will care about the actual issues when voting rather than Oliver’s scandalous past. He tells him that if he hopes to have a shot at winning he needs to distance himself from Laurel. When Thea learns of this plan she’s shocked to see he’s even considering it. She points out the hypocrisy in running a campaign based on unification while leaving your friends behind. The Lances are an important part of their lives. He was in love with both Laurel and Sara, and Quentin has been there for the two since their parents died.
Back at the Arrow cave, they get a tip about the homicidal blonde running amuck in Star City, and Oliver heads to check it out, not realizing it’s Sara. She’s attacking a young woman at a club before turning her rage to Laurel, who in her Canary getup, has come to try and retrieve her. Oliver points his bow at the woman before realizing in shock that it’s Sara.
Oliver is fuming and demands an explanation from Thea and Laurel. He already knows the answer though. They’re “spa trip” a few week ago was actually a chance to visit Nanda Parbat and use the Pit on Sara. Laurel is upset he’s judging her, but he says she’s messing with things completely beyond her understanding.
Quentin arrives at Arrow HQ with a request for help, but not in regard to either of his daughters. Damien Darhk has charged him with connecting a shady looking device to the servers at a government building. Naturally, he’s suspicious and wants Felicity to take a look at it. The technology is encrypted in such a way that she’s unable to determine it’s purposes within the timeframe. So Quentin decides to go through with it anyway, but not without backup. Oliver tells him to bring along Diggle. Diggle isn’t happy about the idea though and criticizes Quentin for becoming involved with Dahrk, considering H.I.V.E. is responsible for his brother’s death. Quentin tells him that at first he thought Dahrk was just a good guy trying to help clean up the city, and by the time he realized who, what, he was, he was threatening Laurel’s life. Diggle comes around and says that with him on the inside it will be that much easier to take H.I.V.E. down.
The two successfully break into the location and plug in the device. It immediately begins erasing the files of multiple individuals. One of whom catches Diggle’s eye: it’s his brother. Before he can investigate further though the file has been deleted and the facility’s alarm has gone off and they’re forced to make their exit.
In a nice moment between OIiver and Felicity, easy the show’s best couple, the two discuss Sara and try to figure out her next move. Felicity is shocked that Sara can be back at all. Oliver tells her the world is a lot more strange than most people like to believe. They discuss grief and Felicity confides that she found Ray’s dying message. She says she almost didn’t listen to it because she didn’t want to feel that pain again. She muses about how nice it’d be to avoid that entirely. While Oliver is no stranger to grief he explains that’s not possible. And Sara isn’t really back. It’s clearly not a romantic moment, yet it shows the strong connection and bond they have. They pull up photos of the women Sara’s been attacking to look for a pattern and it becomes clear. They look like Thea, the object of Sara’s bloodlust.
Cut to Thea sitting quietly in her living room, ignoring Oliver’s phone calls. A crazed Sara busts through the windows and lays her hands on Thea. In what is assuredly the best fight scene of the episode, and excellently choreographed I may add, she attacks Thea and chases her throughout her apartment and down the stairs of the complex, where she thankfully loses her.
She winds up in the hospital and tells a visiting Oliver the reason Sara’s after her. The Lazarus Pits fills you with a bloodlust towards the person who harmed you. She realized that when she saw Malcolm last and wound up murdering a few men. He is shocked and wishes she had told him earlier. Laurel comes in to make sure Thea is okay and receives a verbal assault from Oliver.
Satisfyingly, she doesn’t take it though. She tells Oliver he’s never treated her as an equal. He never told her about the Pit, about Thea, about his identity as the Arrow and doesn’t respect her as the Canary. She loves the Queens, she says, but wishes he would treat her family with some care and consideration as well, a more than fair request.
Sara breaks into Thea’s hospital room and, in a scene that shows you just how deep the bond is between these two families, she gives her permission to kill her. She believes that doing this will allow Sara to return to normal and is willing to sacrifice herself. Oliver and Laurel arrive in time to stop her though.
They decide to use Thea as bait to trap Sara, which works although she puts up a hella of a fight. Laurel finally has come to the realization that she’s lost her sail and prepares to kill her, but Oliver stops her and puts her to sleep with an arrow instead. When Laurel question him he tells her they’re going to get her soul back.
Cue John Constantine. We learn from a surprisingly interesting flashback that he and Oliver meet years ago on the island. He was pegged as a spy by the military forces Oliver was working for but manages to escape and takes Oliver hostage. He has Oliver find a certain location on the map and, using a bit of magic, finds a unique and powerful artifact and gives Oliver his tattoos In the process, Oliver ends up saving his life and gains a favor. It’s this favor he’s now cashing in. He wants Constantine’s help retrieving Sara’s soul, something he’s happy to provide.
Constantine along with Oliver and Sara enter the other side and in a decidedly non-climatic sequence battle spirits of some sort and rescue her soul. Sara is back, this time for real! And she hugs it out with her family. Constantine leaves with a warning to Team Arrow that they’d be better off leaving Star City than trying to take on Darhk.
This also helps to restore Oliver and Sara’s relationship. Oliver admits his faults and disregards his new campaign manager and embraces Laurel and her friendship in his life.
Diggle does find out why his brother was killed thanks to Quentin’s snooping. Unfortunately, it reveals his brother was not the man he thought he was. He was involved in gun and drug smuggling.