Where the midseason premiere, “Who Are You?”, delivered some bad ideas in a competent way, “Second Chances” takes that a step further and implements a really bad idea in a solid-to-good way.
Having decided to honour Laurel’s legacy by finding a new Black Canary, he begins his quest to expand the team by rejecting every candidate put before him, regardless of their qualifications. That’s until he comes across a metahuman with very similar powers to their fallen friend. Much of “Second Chances” is devoted to Oliver, Rene, and Curtis attempting to enlist Tina Boland, played by Juliana Harkavy, a task made infinitely more difficult thanks to her overwhelming reluctance.
Replacing Laurel is a mind-bogglingly dumb decision, mostly because of how haphazardly they handled that character – especially towards the end and particularly in her death – and partly because this is now the third Canary we’ve had. (If you want to count Sara’s Canary and White Canary personas as different, then this is number four.) So, as an idea, seeking out another is frustratingly terrible. That being said, Arrow manages to present a solid case as to why both parties would want and/or need each other, and the persistent attempts to recruit Boland is entertaining, even if repetitive and drawn out. Though there are certainly some missteps along the way – including a hastily stupid decision from Oliver – this ends up being enjoyable, which is quite an achievement.
Felicity is tasked with hacking the NSA to help Diggle, and her involvement in the episode develops in an unexpectedly strong way. It’s nice to see her doing what she does best, and Arrow impressively subverts expectations with its storytelling, a trend that’s become frequent in recent episodes, and that’s a good sign.
Meanwhile, the flashbacks are the best they’ve been in a long time, as Oliver gets to know Talia and the skills she has. For once, there’s meaning and impetus to the flashbacks, and legitimate attempts to make Oliver more into the man presented by the pilot a matter of months from now, in-universe.
Some teaser quotes:
1. “You want help, I’m gonna need proof.”
2. “It was a power trip that wasn’t healthy.”
3. “I’m sorry I don’t have better news.”
4. “What makes me so interesting?”
5. “Karate won’t be an Olympic sport until 2020.”
“Second Chances” airs Thursday 9th February at 9pm on Sky 1.