At the end of last episode, we saw Ollie go up against Ra’s al Ghul to keep Thea safe. As with the theme of sister show ‘The Flash’, Ollie learnt he wasn’t good enough to win and ended up being skewered and thrown off the mountain.
With half a season still to go, it was unlikely in the extreme that this was Ollie’s final call, and the question was more around how long he might be gone and what will be revealed as the method for his survival.
Of course, one of the conceits of Arrow is that it has always carried parallel plotlines of today and five years ago, so the potential was there to continue with him solely in the 5 years ago flashbacks, with the present day focusing on how the rest of Team Arrow step up in his absence.
Back in Starling City, the team react in different ways to the news. Roy laments his mentor, but more in the way someone might miss a past drinking buddy; though he does take it as one more push to try to fulfil the hero role the city so desperately needs. Diggle feels that he’s failed his core role of Ollie’s bodyguard, but as Team Arrow’s defacto leader, he needs to apply the knowledge that as a soldier he’s lost people in the past, in order to keep the team together. Felicity, however, is spectacular as she falls apart going through the stages of grief, attempting to transfer all her repressed emotions onto Ray; leading to a cathartic realisation that she can’t continually project onto other people in lieu of her own emotional state. The death of Sara has slowly hardened Laurel, with her being the one to comfort Felicity. Ollie’s apparent death becomes the catalyst that causes her to finally apply the standard Arrow therapy approach of putting on a costume and beating up criminals.
Laurel’s Canary is noticeably different – where Sara was highly trained in multiple martial arts and weapons techniques, Laurel has a much more limited arsenal of skills to call upon, relying to a greater extent on tools such as the Canary Call and her staff to even the odds. It remains to be seen whether this is sufficient to maintain the Canary as a credible vigilante given Laurel’s past where pretty much any setback has ended up with her taking refuge in shouting, whining or addiction.
If titles are anything to go by, there are several episodes to go before Ollie’s return to Starling, with Vinnie Jones’ Brick character filling in as the problem that will keep Team Arrow distracted from Ollie until his inevitable return.