TV Recap: Arrow, ‘Canaries’

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Canaries Plot Summary:

After Count Vertigo (Peter Stormare) escapes from police custody, Laurel (Katie Cassidy) dons the Canary mask and goes after him despite Oliver’s (Stephen Amell) objections. Thanks to a Vertigo injection, she hallucinates her dead sister, Sara (Caity Lotz), and is forced to face her demons. Meanwhile, Malcolm (John Barrowman) convinces Oliver to tell Thea (Willa Holland) the truth about the Arrow.

After an epic, three-part story that changed Arrow as we know it, the writers could have been forgiven for delivering a somewhat sub-par episode. “Canaries,” however, was maybe one of the show’s best hours ever. While there was a lot of great stuff going on this episode, the main theme was revelations.

The first involved Thea, who finally learned that Oliver is The Arrow. It’s frankly ridiculous she never figured it out and the show cleverly acknowledged that with her line about feeling stupid for not recognizing her own brother just because he was wearing a hood. Considering how much she hates when people lie in the name of protecting her, she took the news surprisingly well. She even thanked him for being a hero, proving that moral relativism is the unifying Queen family trait.

She didn’t, however, do well with the news that Malcolm has long known the Arrow’s secret identity, chose not to tell her and actively tried to drive a wedge between them. I cannot wait to see what she does when she finds out he drugged and brainwashed her into killing Sara just so Oliver would be forced to take on Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable). I suspect she’s going to be mad at everyone when that happens, especially Roy and Oliver. These two could tell her immediately if they actually cared about her as much as they claim to. For his part, Malcolm was hilariously unaffected by her disdain. Malcolm is a monster, but Barrowman is a gift.

The episode’s other big reveal was Laurel finally letting poor Quentin (Paul Blackthorne) know that Sara is dead. What a devastating scene that was. Katie Cassidy can often overact in emotional scenes, making Laurel too hysterical. But, tonight it worked in her favor. Blackthorne was the real standout, though. Quentin adored Sara and hearing him say, “Not my baby, not again” as he fell apart was really affecting. There were tears in my household — mostly from my Arrow watching buddy — but I also got a little misty. Unlike the Thea reveal, this one happened at the end of the episode, and a lot happened to finally get Laurel to that point. The most important thing, of course, being Sara’s return as a Vertigo hallucination.

Good God, it was nice to see Caity Lotz again. I will maintain –until my dying day– that Arrow killed the wrong Lance sister. It was gratifying to hear Sara herself express similar sentiments. Laurel has desperately tried to project an air of confidence during her attempts to become the new Canary, but the Vertigo revealed that she fears she won’t be the hero her sister was. She has every right to. Watching the dueling Canaries, it was hard not to notice how amateurish, even embarrassing Laurel looked next to her capable, deadly sister. Also, it shows how stupid her costume is. I know Katie Cassidy doesn’t have the cleavage to support that bustier, but those buckles are terrible.

Still, as fun as the dueling Canaries were, the real surprise was seeing Laurel’s fears manifested in her father. As ‘hallucination Quentin’ said, he has a right to grieve for his daughter and Laurel was always wrong to keep the information from him. Though I will admit I thought he was going to have a heart attack for a second when she told him. Even so, finally seeing Laurel admit her fears and come to understand the gravity of what she’s taking on is really helping the character’s likability. It was a smart move by the writers in an episode that was full of really strong plot and character choices.

Not that they didn’t make a few glaring mistakes.

The first was with Roy (Colton Haynes). Last week, he was the sole member of Team Arrow willing to fight with Malcolm. Since then nothing has happened to explain his about-face. Granted, it started a necessary conversation amongst Team Arrow about the team members’ autonomy, but other than the fact that his obsession with Thea is reaching new heights, there was no justification for his feelings. Still, it’s not like I ever expect character continuity from Roy. The writers frequently change his characterization based on whatever point they want to make in any given episode.

They don’t, however, do that with Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards). She has been drawn well from the start, so it was really jarring to see her become their mouthpiece. I buy that she would encourage Laurel to become a vigilante for her own reasons –she did that not two weeks ago– but I don’t buy her justifications for saying so. Laurel is very clearly using the Canary persona to deal with her issues. She has literally spent the whole season saying as much. So for Felicity to assuage her post-Sara hallucination fears by saying that she doesn’t see her doing that is preposterous. These two have barely had any screentime together, when has Felicity even had the opportunity to see this “light” inside of Laurel? Admittedly, Sara said the same thing of herself in Season 2, but Felicity didn’t hear it, so repeating the sentiment now just pointed how odd it was.

Usually, these failures in writing would sour an otherwise excellent episode, but I am so excited about what “Canaries” set up for next week that I don’t even care.

The episode’s other mini-theme was about returning home. In the flashbacks, this meant that Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) brought Oliver and Maseo (Karl Yune) back to Starling City. Let the Tommy (Colin Donnel) flashbacks commence. And if not that, I hope we at least get a shot of Diggle buying coffee in the background somewhere while Oliver and his awful haircut do some espionage in the foreground. In the present day, this meant Malcolm dropping Thea and Oliver back on Lian-yu. That would be great enough, but according to the promo, Slade (Manu Bennett) will be making an appearance too. Can’t. Wait.

Rating: 9.5


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By day, Marisa Carpico stresses over every detail of America’s election system. By night, she becomes a pop culture and celebrity obsessive. Whether it’s movies, TV or music, she watches and listens to it all so you don’t have to. You can find her risking her life by reading comic books while walking down the crowded streets of New York City, having inappropriate emotional reactions at her iPad screen while riding the subway or occasionally letting her love of a band convince her to stand for hours on end in one of the city’s many purgatorial concert spaces. You can follow her on Twitter to read her insightful social commentary or more likely complain about how cold it is at @MarisaCarpico.
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By day, Marisa Carpico stresses over America’s election system. By night, she becomes a pop culture obsessive. Whether it’s movies, TV or music, she watches and listens to it all so you don’t have to.