'Arrow' recap: Oliver and the Black Canary take on the 'League of Assassins'

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The Black Canary is a complicated woman on "Arrow." Not only has she left her party-girl past long ago in the dust in order to take on a vigilante persona, but she's spent years as an assassin. But all of the ladies in Oliver's life these days are complicated.

Danger is just an added bonus in "League of Assassins" when Sara's past comes calling.

The story of Sara

The episode begins with a flashback. A familiar scene -- Oliver and Sara do their bad-kids thing on the yacht just before it sinks -- shows just how Sara survived, floating in the water, far from Oliver and the others.

In a cute twist, the girl survives by floating on a door, just like in "Titanic" (only without the Leonardo DiCaprio popsicle). A visit from a sweet little canary rouses the castaway in time to spot not Penny's boat a ship in the distance. She's saved!

Kind of. This would be the awful ship that Oliver ended up on in the past couple of episodes. Sara looks certain to be heading straight to the realm of rape and other tortures when she is saved by a kindly-seeming man.

This would be Dr. Ivo. He sweetly asks Sara to help save the human race.

Judging by her cruelty the next time we see Sara -- facing an injured and confused Oliver -- saving humanity might have a serious cost.

Malcolm Merlyn?!?

With Moira in prison and Thea shacking up with Roy, Sara is free to stay at the Queen mansion with Oliver. Alas, she can't escape nightmares and black-clad assassins even there.

That's because a man who looks a whole lot like the presumed-dead Malcolm Merlyn shows up at the house, armed with both weapons and vengeance. But it's not Malcolm. Instead, we meet al-Awwal, the shadowy assassin who trained Merlyn in the arts of death (and apparently in the arts of style). This guy is a pretty hardcore killer who totally knows that Oliver is a warrior type.

He also is there to get Sara.

You see, at some point in the past, Sara Lance joined the League of Assassins and roamed the world killing people. But when a target's kids found the body, she realized that murder was bad and stuff. So Sara left.

Unfortunately for the rest of the Lances, Sara's trip home to make sure they're safe has put them smack-dab in the middle of the League's crosshairs.

No one leaves the League of Assassins. Unless they're dead.

What is Moira hiding?

The District Attorney -- with Laurel Lance at his side -- is ready to offer a plea deal to Moira Queen. It's just that it's not a great deal. Moira either gets to accept life in prison or else Adam the DA looks into her old phone and e-mail records in his attempt to condemn her to death.

Moira doesn't want to fight anymore. Even if she has a good defense, Moira a) feels super-guilty and b) doesn't want her kids to learn secrets from the past.

It's only when Oliver and Thea insist that they will love Mom no matter what that Moira re-finds the will to fight.

Daddy's little girl once more

Sara doesn't want to see her family again, because she doesn't want them to have to accept a murderer instead of the sweet little girl she once was. But she doesn't get much of a choice when the League targets Officer Lance and Laurel in order to get Sara to comply. While Oliver takes care of Laurel (and almost kisses her), Sara goes to see her father.

It's not that Sara wants to or anything. However, nothing less than a visit from a ghost is going to get Lance to believe he's in danger.

Once he has gotten over his shock, it's safe to say that Lance is really, really happy to see his daughter again. Even hints about what she has done and eyewitness proof that Sara is inclined to snap necks with her bare hands don't change Lance's mind: Sara is his daughter. And he loves her forever.

Lance is even willing to keep it a secret from Laurel that Sara is still alive. Sadly, the Canary is flying away for now.

Beating the League ... For now

Al-Awwal didn't come to Starling City on his own. With two other assassin minions to contend with, Sara and Oliver need to bring in Lance (and his spare gun) to beat the bad guys. Two of the men end up dead, while Sara sends the third back to Ra's al-Ghul with the "Stay away from my family!" message.

Despite this victory, Sara knows that it's not safe for her family if she stays in town.

Bits and pieces of probably important "Arrow" stuff

  • Laurel is still popping pills, even if she has eased back on the drinking. This will not end well.
  • There isn't anyone more awesome in the "Arrow" world than Felicity. She's not just good with Oliver, she can even make Sara smile.
  • Did anyone else enjoy how much al-Awwal sounds like LOL?
  • "Gee, I didn't get you a bag of dirt." - Felicity
  • Oliver had three years of mysterious castaway life after the last time he saw Sara.
  • "We all join clubs we wish we hadn't. Took me a year to get out of that gym membership!" - Felicity
  • "Have you found somebody for me to hit yet?" - Oliver
  • "You should be mindful of your surroundings." - Isn't this what Ra's al-Ghul said to Batman in "Batman Begins"? In any case, Sara says it this time.
  • We still don't know all of Oliver's secrets, but he's at least ready to drink vodka and tell Diggle that he left the island for part of the time he was missing.

Photo/Video credit: The CW