TV Recap: Arrow: “Canary Cry”

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Canary Cry Plot Summary:

As Team Arrow comes to terms with Laurel’s (Katie Cassidy) death, a young girl (Madison McLaughlin) takes up the Black Canary mantle, but her extreme methods soon put Star City’s vigilantes in danger.

To quote Kelly Ripa on her return to morning television, “Our long national nightmare is over,” Arrow fans. After what feels like the 8th hiatus of the season, the show returned last night to give us the incredibly depressing aftermath of Laurel’s death.

Last night was a packed episode so let’s just get right into it: the flashbacks were great in theory but not in execution. Perhaps that’s always true, but it was especially so when it came to the retconning of Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Laurel’s relationship/failed romance.When Season 2 started, the couple effectively agreed that their guilt over Tommy’s (Colin Donnell) death would always be an obstacle between them. The show implied then that Oliver had pretty much left then-Starling City immediately, but the flashbacks revealed that he actually hung around a few weeks to mourn Tommy and simultaneously try to rekindle things with romance.

While that decision justified Laurel’s statement in the last episode that Oliver was the love of her life (something that rang a little false when you took Tommy into account), it also lessened the impact of Tommy’s death on both characters. Moreover, it made absolutely no sense considering where Oliver’s character was at that point in the show’s history. Oliver may be brave about some things, but he is an emotional coward and having him slink off to Lian-Yu to punish himself without a word to the woman he supposedly loved seems more in character. That said, the flashbacks did work on one level: as a way to contrast Oliver’s reactions in the face of death now. With Tommy, he blamed himself. With Laurel, he spent much of the episode convincing Team Arrow—people who had lectured about blame many times in the past—that they shouldn’t blame themselves for her death.

In truth, the characters’ emotional reactions were the episode’s biggest triumph. While Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) and Oliver’s conversation was a highlight and Paul Blackthorne ruined lives with his devastating portrayal of Quentin’s grief, the most interesting reaction was Diggle’s (David Ramsey). While Team Arrow spent a lot of the episode trying to absolve Diggle of his guilt over Laurel’s death, the reality is, he’s at least a little bit responsible. Like he said, he could have stopped Andy (Eugene Byrd), but he fell into the exact type of behavior he’s accused Oliver of for years and let his emotional attachments cloud his judgement. So, watching him succumb to his guilt and compromise everything he stands for was maybe the most thrilling thing the character’s ever done. Finally this Diggle brothers storyline is actually worth its screentime.

The only reaction that didn’t make sense was some random teenager taking up the Black Canary mantle. While it makes sense that the writers wanted to emphasize Laurel’s heroism while simultaneously forcing Team Arrow to figure out how they wante to honor her memory, surely there was a more meaningful choice. Nyssa (Katrina Law), for instance. She and Laurel were friends and she’s already gone through the pain of losing a Canary once. Certainly that history should be enough to galvanize her into carrying on the Lance sister legacy—especially considering she’s just sitting around after a lifetime of fight training. And as an added bonus, making her the Canary would finally fulfill the comic book canon Laurel never could. Nyssa and Oliver are technically married, after all. Boom! Canonical Green Arrow and Black Canary requirements fulfilled. You’re welcome, America.

 Of course, it’s possible the reason the show brought in a new character is because they want to give us a whole new Black Canary origin story. And let’s just be honest, that would be a terrible idea. We’ve seen that story twice already and that’s also true of seeing Oliver teach a sassy young person how to be a vigilante. One of the episode’s best decisions was squashing any possibility that Laurel could come back from the dead. Continuing the Black Canary—perhaps even if it were Nyssa under that crappy blonde wig—would cheapen Laurel’s death. Laurel may never have been an asset to the show, but she meant something to the other characters. The show should honor that and move on.

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.