Arrow Review: Canaries
I know I’m in the minority here but I like Laurel Lance. More specifically, I like what she's become. I don’t see how people can’t get behind the development of this character. I think people have a hard time adjusting to a character that starts off unlikable on purpose but then grows beyond that. In season 1 Laurel wasn’t much. She had her moments but I could see why folks didn’t like her. But in season 2 when she hit rock bottom then climbed her way back to the top, I had to respect that. This season we’ve gotten tough, focused and determined Laurel who is done letting people tell her what she can and cannot do. In a way, Laurel has more freedom than Sara ever did because even up until her death, Sara still had to work under the control of the League of Assassins. Canaries, is really about Laurel fighting her demons and breaking free of them. And she has a lot. They only really focused on a few (Her drug usage, Sara, Her father) but I do wish they went further. We seem to forget that Tommy died in her arms in season 1. I think the reason I’ve been forgiving of Laurel is that she has the most demons and hardships out of anyone not named Oliver Queen on this show. I mean let’s put aside “I HATE LAUREL SO MUCH” for a second and really think about what we’ve seen of her. Remember in season 2, she had guilt for believing she was the one that pushed Oliver and Sara together. In a way, when it comes to handling emotional situations, Laurel's the female Oliver. Just like Oliver she’s stubborn, tries to take on HUGE emotional burdens on her own to protect those she loves, she’s willing to risk her life to protect those around her and she hates asking for help. Only thing missing is her being trained and Oliver has a 5 year head start on her. I totally understand that people liked Sara because she was the better fighter but I think overall Laurel’s a more well rounded character and has had a better arc. Now that we’ve got Oliver accepting her (more on that later) we can get more training for her. That’s an easy fix for the only real thing Sara as Canary has over Laurel. This also leads to one thing I’ve enjoyed about this season. Right now there’s an understandable hierarchy of skill levels on this show. Look at Roy. He’s gotten more training since season 2 and he’s a lot better, but he’s clearly still in training. Same with Thea. Neither could really hang with Chase and that makes sense because he clearly has more training than both. Oliver is top dog in Starling City but even he got his ass whooped HANDILY by Ra’s. So this show is well aware of the clear distinctions between skill levels. Laurel has heart but she’s only gotten a few months lessons from Ted. Even he said she wasn’t ready. So we’re seeing a green Laurel but she has to start somewhere.
For the first few episodes of this season I was struggling to figure out what the focus and theme would be. I’ve figured it out. The reason why this show is called Arrow and not Green Arrow is that this is the origin story of Oliver Queen and his journey to become the Green Arrow hero. When you view it that way, this has been a pretty good maturation of the character. We’ve watched Oliver Queen grow from who he currently is in the present time of each season juxtaposed with who he was in his flashbacks. I can’t speak for the writers of this show but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s not until the 5th season, when we get his last year on the island, that we really see the Green Arrow hero we know Oliver Queen becomes. I think that’s pretty good story telling. This 3rd season, after seeing Oliver go from vengeful killer to solo vigilante in Season 2, now sees the focus shift to him realizing that protecting the city is bigger than him and that in order to do it, he’s going to need trust and believe in the people around him. There’s going to be a learning curve as Oliver adjusts to this and I think this episode did a good job of Oliver’s team telling him “Things aren’t going back to the way they used to be.” I loved the fact that in this episode everyone was pulling Oliver’s card. First there was Laurel telling him he doesn’t get to come back after they all banded together and make demands anymore. Hate her all you want but she was telling the truth. Oliver left to go fight Ra’s Al Ghul with no plan for what to do if he didn’t come back. So Laurel/Roy/Felicity/Diggle came together and realized that protecting the city was bigger than Oliver. Just because he’s back it doesn’t mean that has changed. Then there was Malcolm Merlyn telling Oliver he had to let Thea in on the truth that he’s the Arrow. I’m glad Thea took it well. Like Laurel, I’ve enjoyed the development of Thea from annoying bratty little sister to the more mature and focused woman she is now. I really didn’t want to see her regress to being mad at Oliver for not telling her. I love that she recognized the sacrifices he mad to protect not only her but the city. It was great that they even threw in a little dig about how she felt lame for not knowing it was him (so you all that were mad about that can stop complaining). Thea did however turn quickly on Malcolm Merlyn and I believe it was warranted. Craziest part about that though was that she still doesn’t know that Malcolm had her kill Sara. That’s going to be an interesting revelation when it comes out. Oh and finally even Roy get some barbs in at Oliver. I tell you, Ra’s stabbing Oliver through the heart might be the least painful thing to happen to Oliver because he’s catching it from all sides from those closest to him. The only person who didn’t throw a shot at him was Diggle and he just hit him with the “Well…you’re not Rick Grimes and this isn’t a Ricktatorship”.
Felicity is that coach who gives you that great motivational speech when you’re getting your ass kicked at halftime and you need to get it together. I love the fact that once again she told Laurel to not give up and that once she stops trying to be Sara, she can just be herself. This season has really fleshed out some of the supporting cast and Felicity stepping into a role where she’s not going to just be the frail tech support that doesn’t stand her ground. I love that she’s the one forging this path for the others to stand against Oliver’s demands. Each of Oliver’s supporting cast (with the exception of Diggle) have had to find their inner strength this season to power forward. I think that’s a key element of helping transform Oliver into Green Arrow. By the end of this episode, not only does he ask Laurel to come and help him but he leaves the city in the hands of his team as he goes on this “team building/training” trip to Lian Yu. That’s a huge step for Oliver.
The most emotional scene tonight was one I was dreading. Laurel finally breaks down and tells Detective Lance that Sara is really gone. Again, not sure why people kept trying to rush this plot-line. Laurel had a good reason for not telling her father and I’m not going to lie, I was waiting for his heart to give out during that scene. That scene got me almost as much as the “If my son was the Flash I’d tell him…” scene with Barry & Henry Allen last week on The Flash. One thing I found interesting was that Det. Lance already figured out it was Laurel dressed up as Sara and took it surprisingly well. It’s going to be interesting seeing how that plays out.
Finally, I need to close with this: Amanda Waller is such an evil bitch. Erased Oliver’s message home. Threatened to kill Thea (*Sidebar* Thea gets called Speedy a lot this episode. A LOT). Then is sending Matseo & Oliver TO Starling City while he’s presumed dead. I find these things so interesting because we know the world thought Oliver Queen was dead for 5 years and yet, he seemed to be all over the place. Part of me believes at some point he’s going to end up in Russia.
I’ve seen people say that this season sucks but I don’t get that. I think season 2 raised the bar so much because we got a steady dose of Deathstroke the back half of that season. This season really is more about building the team around Oliver and I’ve been enjoying it. I think we’ve seen some great developments for the supporting cast and I’m looking forward to more of it. I think the biggest issue with this episode is that Peter Stormare's Count Vertigo is underused again but with everything else that happened in this episode I was okay with that.