Sara Gets the Shaft.

Well, arrow shafts anyway. SPOILER alert for anyone who actually reads recaps without watching the episode – Sara was shot with three arrows and fell off a building in the final moments of last week’s ‘Arrow,’ to drop dead, literally, right in front of her sister Laurel on the street below. This week’s episode, simply titled ‘Sara,’ details how Oliver’s team deals with that loss and sets up a mystery for the season. Let’s get into it.

The episode opens with Oliver, Roy and Felicity returning to their HQ below Verdant, discussing the communication lines that Sara had tapped so easily last week. They enter the basement proper and find Laurel there with Sara’s body, and everyone is devastated. Oliver pulls himself together and closes Sara’s eyes, as the audience realizes that the Quiver Crew has never lost one of their own before. As Felicity says to her work when they call to ask about her absence, “There’s been a death in the family.”

Diggle returns while Oliver is investigating the murder site and offers his help, aware of how hard Oliver has been hit by Sara’s death. But Oliver feels he must push on with finding her killer, as allowing himself to grieve will only slow him down. Fortunately, Detective Lance contacts the team around this point, and though they have all agreed (somewhat reluctantly) to keep him in the dark about Sara until the killer is caught, Lance has a lead on a “new archer in town,” after the police found a body with arrows in it.

Oliver hunts down an eye-witness to the murder, who describes the archer as having a black hockey type mask. The team researches potential archers and narrows the assassin down to a man named Simon LaCroix, aka Komodo. They track him using his cell and Oliver confronts LaCroix in a massive jousting motorcycle match, black bike against Oliver’s green tinted bike. LaCroix appears to get the better of Oliver, escaping after sending an arrow in what appeared to be Oliver’s arm.

In the Roy subplot of the episode (clearly setting up for the future), Roy is torn about whether or not to show Oliver Thea’s going away note, but Oliver’s constant phone calls to a missing Thea are starting to get to Roy. Eventually, he gives Oliver the note, expecting his mentor to be pissed, but Oliver takes it surprisingly well considering all he’s dealing with this week.

Meanwhile Laurel is insistent that she will find a way help the team, and does so by using her assistant DA credentials to interrogate another victim of their archer suspect, using a surprising amount of violence to get answers. Her information leads to a plot about LaCroix hunting down people associated with an Oil Pipeline Deal, with the final victim attending a party at Queen Consolidated hosted by the new owner, Ray Palmer.

Palmer had already been active this episode, enthusiastically attempting to recruit Felicity to his staff, even spending 1.2 billion dollars to purchase the “Tech Village” store chains that she was currently working for, making himself her new de-facto boss shortly before she quit in a rage. This was not the day for him to be a billionaire stalker, though he did show a softer side when confronted by Felicity for his actions. He could tell something else was going on below the surface, and though she could not tell him about Sara or what was really going on, he offered kind words to Felicity, which she undoubtedly remembered. His humanity only served to remind Felicity of her issue with Oliver at the moment, who she had accused of being “emotionless” in regards to Sara’s death. The Oliver and Felicity argument hammered home Felicity’s need for a life outside of the ‘cave’ HQ, and how Oliver seemed resigned to die doing his work as the Arrow. However, as Oliver later confesses to Diggle, he’s only holding in his grief to allow the team to function, as  he feels “…if I grieve, no one else can.”

Meanwhile Laurel continued to dodge her father’s questions about her involvement in interrogating the archer victim, even after the man is killed by LaCroix right in front of her. When Oliver prepares to head to the Queen Consolidated Fundraiser to stop LaCroix, she is adamant that she be allowed to come along, grabbing a gun to show what she intends to accomplish. She and Oliver have an argument, with Laurel blaming him for missing LaCroix the first time, and Oliver ordering her to stay behind, as he will handle the assassin himself.

Which leads to the climax of the episode, which begins at Palmer’s party, after another excellent speech by the man, which is interrupted by LaCroix crashing the party (literally) through a window, followed shortly by Oliver and Roy (aka Arrow and Arsenal). A very cool fight ensues, the highlights being LaCroix and Ollie using grappling hook arrows to rappel down the building a few floors to continue their battle in more open quarters, and then Oliver’s finishing move on the dark archer. LaCroix shoots an arrow at Ollie, who catches the arrow with one hand, spins around while loading the arrow he caught into his own bow, and then firing it at LaCroix, finally taking down the man.

Laurel enters at this point, holding the gun from earlier to LaCroix, even pulling the trigger much to the dismay of Oliver who pleads with her to walk away as LaCroix had claimed to be drunk in Bloodhaven on the night Sara died, meaning another archer killed her. Fortunately, Oliver took the bullets out of the gun earlier, and Laurel’s vengeful quest is foiled, which was lucky because after they escape the building Felicity confirms LaCroix’s alibi, meaning the crew still needs to find Sara’s killer. And the mystery of the season has begun.

The Hong Kong story this week was relatively straightforward, with Oliver being asked to assassinate a man with a sniper rifle, only to discover the target is his best friend Tommy Merlyn. Seems Tommy was in town tracking down whoever signed into Oliver’s email account (as seen last week), and Amanda Waller did not want to deal with the complication. Fortunately, Oliver found a way to get rid of Tommy without having to kill his best friend, by abducting the young Merlyn and pretending to be a kidnapper who used the email account to lure Oliver’s family to town in the hope of getting a ransom. Kind of an odd tangent for the show to go down, especially when we still don’t know what exactly Waller wants Oliver to do, but it was nice to see Tommy again, and cool to see Oliver first come up with the creepy voice he later uses as the Arrow.

In the denouement of the episode, Felicity takes the job with Ray Palmer, citing a need for more out of life, while Oliver and Diggle have a heart to heart. Diggle declares he’s going to continue to work with Oliver until Sara’s killer is caught. Oliver then confesses, “John, I don’t want to die down here.” Clearly Felicity’s words have had an impact on him. Fortunately, he’s got Diggle there to give it to him straight: “So don’t Oliver.”

They bury Sara in her once empty grave (I forgot that to the world at large Sara Lance had died all those years ago on the ‘Queen’s Gambit’ ), with the team taking turns throwing ceremonial dirt onto her coffin. Laurel loses it and continually states “It’s not fair!” as she had just gotten Sara back, and that no one will know who Sara truly was and what she had done for the world. The team reminds her that they know who Sara was, with Diggle even telling Laurel that they decided to name his daughter “Sara,” in a very touching moment.

All in all, a powerhouse dramatic episode, with all the characters amped up over Sara’s death, which has sent the team down various roads for the season, and given them a new purpose in their quest to find the archer who killed Sara. Looking forward to next week’s outing, which looks to be Malcolm Merlyn heavy, as Oliver works on getting Thea back in the fold.

 Bow-String Theories:

* With Thea and Merlyn on Corto Maltese training, it looks less and less likely that either of them killed Sara. Which leads back to the theory that it must be a member of the League of Shadows, or maybe Ra’s Al Ghul or his daughter.

* That being said, another interesting archer killer would be the Huntress, though her motive for killing Sara is beyond me.

* Did they re-introduce Tommy in the flashback as foreshadowing to something more? Could Tommy be the one who murdered Sara, somehow still being alive after  all this time?

Hopefully the answers won’t be too long in coming – see you next week!