This episode is entitled "The League of Assassins," and not surprisingly, it features frequent ninja attacks. The Lance family is so awkward that every time the ninjas attack, it's a relief.
If last year was all about the Queens on Arrow, this year is all about the Lances. And they seem to be the world's most awkward family. This episode is filled with moments so weird that I could only relieve the tension by driving my own nails into my palms. That's right - this family is messed up to the point of self-stigmata.
The episode starts off with Ollie, Thea, and Moira gathered for the next legal meeting about Moira's little mass-murder incident. They find out that Laurel will be the second chair for the prosecution in a trial that might result in the death penalty given to her ex-boyfriend's mother. It's a move so filled with obvious conflict-of-interest that I assume Starling City only has two lawyers. To her credit, Laurel knows how awkward this is, and she spends the scene eye-contact-hopping from one angry Queen face to the next. Sadly, ninjas don't rescue her.
They manage to rescue her sister Sarah, though. Sarah wanders through the Queen mansion and manages to - and I still don't understand this - come across a framed picture of The Queen's Gambit. What? What? Obviously, that had to be taken before Ollie's disappearance, and kept after it. Who the hell keeps, in plain sight, a framed a picture of the boat that their husband and son died on? I'm beginning to think Moira's darker than anyone gives her credit for, including the people trying to get her zapped to death for committing mass murder. Anyway, Sarah flashes back to the boat accident, and floating on the wreckage in the water.
While she's there, a by-god CGI canary shows up. It lands on the wreckage next to her and flits around before flying towards a ship - the Amazo. I can't tell you how much I love this moment. It's not just a moment, for me. It's a lifestyle. I want to get a blonde wig. I want the robe she's wearing. I want to spend days floating listlessly in my bathtub. And I want to adopt a canary and call it Sarah. I love this. So much.
Unfortunately, Sarah gets dragged on board and put in a cell for a while. Then gets dragged out again for what appear to be nefarious purposes (filtered through the rating system of a prime time network tv show) only to get rescued by a guy who, let's face it, is evil. Especially since he looks almost ridiculously virtuous. He has salt-and-pepper hair, a jaw so square his head could fit neatly into crenellation in a castle parapet, and a voice is so sincere that it sounds like he should be back in the fifties warning young people about communism and venereal disease. Naturally, as soon as he gets her back to his room, his crazy smile comes out. He needs all the people in the cages below, he tells Sarah, for his project. He's Doctor Anthony Ivo, and, he says, "I'm going to save the human race, Sarah." Let me remind you that all of this is happening while Sarah is wearing the lingerie she wore to seduce her sister's boyfriend. It's still not the most awkward moment of the episode.
But it is saved by, in the present day, a ninja attacking. At first Ollie thinks the ninja is Merlyn. Then he thinks the ninja is after him. When Sarah breaks it to him that the ninja (who escaped) was a member of the League of Assassins, just as she is, his attitude toward her grows colder. (Felicity's attitude remains cheery, and gives every fan hope for a Birds of Prey spin-off. Anyone else thing Felicity would look good as a redhead?) Knowing the ninjas will go after Sarah's family, the Arrow team springs into action. Felicity will try (and fail) to get Quentin to leave town. Ollie will take Laurel out to dinner (because that will protect her from assassins). And Dig will saunter off to star in his own episode next week.
When Quentin refuses to leave town, he gets his own most awkward moment. For the first third of a scene, he gets to act out being the girl in a jump-scare horror movie. He walks down a deserted road, starting at gusts of wind and groups of running children. When the final scare comes up - and it's Sarah - he has to spend the second third of the scene having an emotional breakdown while holding a gun on his own daughter. And then he spends the last third of the scene having an expository conversation with his just-back-from-the-dead child . . . in a Chinese restaurant . . . while she keeps pulling knives on the waitresses. They run to the clock tower.
Ollie's date with Laurel goes even worse. She talks about how not having a glass of wine with dinner proves she's not an alcoholic, then leans in to kiss him, and gets pushed away. Oh god. That was so awkward it gives me a case of the Involuntary Writhes. Laurel goes into a speech about how everyone abandoned her, even Tommy - who, as we remember, died after running directly to her. Thank god, ninjas attack. Or, at least they would have. Laurel notices her door is open and unlocked, but, after Ollie goes into the apartment, he only finds a knife. I assume that moment was too much even for the League of Assassins. They'd rather deal with a woman trying to kill them that take on Laurel and whatever the hell is wrong with her this week.
No, the assassins are off to the clock tower which Sarah has booby-trapped. When Ollie arrives, Sarah, Quentin, and he are a match for the three ninjas. Quentin deliciously shooting a gloating assassin who claims that guns are a coward's weapon. Yeah. A coward's effective weapon. Idiot ninja. Just before Sarah breaks the main assassin's neck he says, "You think because you are the Beloved, you will be granted your freedom?"
The entire audience: "Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa?"
Sarah dispatches him with a quick neck snap, and dispatches the third ninja another way - telling him to tell Ra's that his quarrel is with her, not her family. She then convinces Quentin to never tell either her sister or her mother that she's alive and wrenches herself away from him. Quentin almost sobs to Ollie that keeping this secret is the hardest thing he's ever done and asks how Ollie manages to keep so many. Ollie looks like someone who got stranded with a loon at a bus station, and is just hoping the 43 will show up before the guy starts stripping.
Finally, we get an ensemble awkward Lance scene, in which Quentin tries to talk to Laurel (who downed some more pills last night after being dumped on her ass by both her ex and her executioner), but can't tell her anything helpful. They both stare at each other while looking like they're trying to hold in a sneeze. Then they hug, because you can't expect ninjas to bring an end to every unpleasant situation. More's the pity.