Arrow, Season 5, Episode 11, “Second Chances”
Taken on its own, “Second Chances” is a fine example of how Oliver Queen has matured and how he is seeking some sense of redemption in the wake of the death one of his closest friends. Framed within the context of the season story arc, things get messy, real messy.
Following his encounter with Laurel Lance doppelganger, Black Siren, Oliver puts all vigilante-related business on hold while he has Team Arrow put on their Human Resources hats and vet Canary candidates they received from what I can only assume is ZipRecruiter for the cape and mask set. Conveniently enough, Prometheus, established as a ruthless nemesis who will stop at nothing to ruin Oliver in every way imaginable, has gone off to visit his/her grandmother in Yonkers because there’s not a peep from Prometheus in this episode, leaving Ollie free to strengthen his numbers at a leisurely pace.
It’s unfortunate because the episode’s disconnect from the larger Arrow narrative undercut some excellent character work and amusing individual moments.
Felicity’s return to her hacker roots was a compelling piece inside the hour because it not only moved the Diggle plot along (adding another member to the team while Prometheus was on a smoke break), but it also opened up a whole new avenue for Felicity to grow and make a difference on her own, following her clandestine meeting with the young hacktivist she inspired. This gives Felicity the opportunity to literally open Pandora’s Box.
There were some nice, lighthearted moments with Rene’s increasing love of Big Belly Burger, Curtis both talking himself off the team and demonstrating his value to it in the same show, and of course the Flash cameo.
The main origin story of undercover Central City cop, Dinah Drake was interesting if not familiar to people who regularly watch The Flash. Even it wasn’t without its writing potholes. Case in point, when Oliver calls Captain Singh to inquire about “Tina,” Dinah’s undercover alias, Singh recognizes the name and responds accordingly. The problem is unless Singh was Dinah’s supervisor three years ago, he wouldn’t know her alias, because secrecy is the whole point of sending in someone undercover.
Credit does go out to the writers for giving Ollie something stronger than a “Martha,” penchant for leather and sonic scream to form a connection with his new Canary. Like Ollie, Dinah has been through five years of hell on her own. On the night of the STAR Labs explosion, her partner/lover was killed right in front of her, and Dinah has been on a cross-country mission of revenge ever since, and letting the darkness slowly eat away at her soul.
This dovetailed somewhat with the flashbacks, where Talia has been trying to convince Flashback Ollie to channel that darkness into the something that helps the “greater good.”
After completing her tour of revenge and murder despite Oliver’s pleas to the contrary, Dinah realizes, much in the same way Oliver would, that killing, even for the right reasons, is the wrong path. She joins Team Arrow as the new Canary and fulfills that destiny Rory was yammering about the whole hour.
This episode succeeded in its main objective — getting a Canary and Diggle back on the team — and it did so in an entertaining way, but the difference between an average episode (which on balance, best describes this one) and a good or great one, is how well it fits in with the rest of the serialized story you are trying to tell. Unfortunately, Arrow took some short cuts this week and “Second Chances” suffered.