While it’s been weeks since Laurel Lance tragically died at the hands of Damien Darhk, it’s only been a moment since we last left Team Arrow gut-wrenched inside the hospital as they grappled with their new reality – one that didn’t include their friend Laurel.
As the title “Canary Cry” implies, as does the events from the episode prior, this hour was about the aftermath of Laurel’s death and how those that cared for her were dealing in the immediacy of the situation. We also got a final glimpse into Laurel’s past as “Canary Cry” paralleled Laurel’s death with the death of Tommy Merlyn, who was also gone too soon and at the expense of a big bad.
While this episode was far from spectacular on the plot side of things, it was incredible when it came to performances – most notably David Ramsey and Paul Blackthorne – as well as the emotional, thoughtful scenes between characters. But that should really be no surprise as that’s always been one of the show’s biggest strengths.
When I think about this episode the thing that stands out to me are those performances and those emotional scenes between characters. Everyone from Oliver and Diggle to Oliver and Quentin to Quentin and Nyssa to Diggle and Felicity to Oliver and Felicity, these were scenes that emphasized the heart of this show: the heroes that occupy it.
The plot centered around an imposter posing as the Black Canary running around Star City and essentially ruining the legacy that Laurel had created as Black Canary. While the plot itself seemed interesting on the surface, it was very “meh” in its execution. Not to mention the sensational, emotional, heart-wrenching performances from the cast, as we said notable Ramsey and Blackthorne, were by far the highlight of the hour.
It can never be said enough that when we talk about the heroes on Arrow or any other superhero show for that matter, we’re not talking about the costume or the persona, we’re talking about the people that wear them.
As we all suspected, Team Arrow – Oliver, Diggle, Felicity, Thea, and Lance – all felt a substantial amount of guilt for Laurel’s death. While Laurel’s death was no one’s fault but Damien Darhk’s – and I’m going to add Andy Diggle to that list because he helped Darhk get his magic back that led to her death; plus I’m pissed at Andy – it should come as no surprise that every member of the team was finding a way to blame themselves. Second guessing – maybe I could’ve done something if I were there; maybe she would’ve survived if I didn’t put my trust into the wrong person. Guilt was something to be expected. If you blame yourself you’re putting yourself in control. And there’s nothing not being in control.
But the fact of the matter is that none of them were in control when Laurel was fatally stabbed and later died.
In Quentin’s case it was more denial that Laurel was gone permanently than anything. Can you blame the guy? He lost Sara twice, and she came back to him both times. But this was a wake-up call when it comes to death – you don’t typically get a do-over. What’s done is done. But watching Quentin react the way he did – from the lost look of denial spread over his face to the moment when he finally let it all out at his daughter’s funeral, Quentin is a reminder that in times of tragedy like this is when you truly find your heroic side. Because there’s nothing braver than moving on after losing a loved one. But you have to do it. In that regard, everyone is a hero.
But ultimately this episode served as a reminder that even in death – while your heart might ache for the lost loved one and you might struggle to move on – that the only thing that you can really do is honor the loved ones you’ve lost in your own life.
WHAT’S ON OUR MINDS
When we first met Oliver Queen he was a shell of a man following five years of hell that changed him in his soul. This episode really shone a light on how much Oliver has evolved as a person from his days before the island to this present episode. It started with the flashbacks where we saw Oliver unable to approach Tommy’s funeral because he had packed so much guilt upon himself that he couldn’t even honor his friend. Then it comes full circle at the end of the episode as Oliver not only attends Laurel’s funeral but delivers a eulogy honoring her legacy.
Throughout the episode we saw Oliver take on a new role. While he’s someone that’s often needed a source of light to guide him from the darkness, in this episode he proved to be that source of light to those he cares about as they put this guilt on themselves – something that we’ve seen Oliver do often. But as Oliver said, there was a time when he would’ve believed Laurel’s death was his fault. But now he knows it’s not; that it’s his responsibility to bring justice to her death, but also to honor her in death. It’s evidence that people can change – and that Oliver can change, has changed.
Diggle’s Guilt and Anger Nearly Consumes Him
While Team Arrow were all feeling guilty about Laurel’s death, no one felt that guilt more than John Diggle, who nearly broke completely as his rage over his brother’s betrayal boiled over. Diggle was lost in a way we’ve never seen before on screen, and it was equally heartbreaking as it was terrifying. Diggle was convinced that had he listened to Oliver instead of putting blind faith into a man that didn’t deserve it – Andy – that Laurel wouldn’t be dead. Now, there’s no way to know that for sure, but Diggle wasn’t about to be convinced otherwise. As far as he was concerned this was his fault.
So we saw Diggle basically pull an Oliver when it came to seeking vengeance for the betrayal, which led him to Ruvee Darhk’s limo. You could tell something broke inside of Diggle because of the way he handled things, including shooting the two men in the front seat and as he was about to pull the trigger on Ruvee Darhk before Oliver stopped him from doing something he couldn’t come back from.
When Diggle was at his breaking point, Oliver was there for him just as Diggle had been there countless times for Oliver in the past. Oliver was the voice of reason who reminded him that Laurel would tell him to remember who he is, and that they can never become like them – the scum that were responsible for her death and the impending doom upon the city. This was another reminder of just how important this relationship between Oliver and Diggle is not only for Oliver but for Diggle. This is a symbiotic relationship – it always has been – and these brothers will always be there for each other.
Quentin’s Struggles to Come to Grips With Harsh New Reality
While most of Team Arrow was weighed down by guilt over Laurel’s death, we saw Quentin wade in denial over his daughter’s death. Quentin was convinced, despite seeing her body, that Laurel wasn’t dead. Not really. And to be fair, why shouldn’t he believe that? He’s lost Sara not once, but twice, and she’s come back to him both times. Hell even Oliver has come back “from the dead.” Given the world that Arrow has become where things like magic and Lazarus Pits exist, Quentin’s assumption wasn’t as far fetched as you’d believe.
But it was clear as day that Quentin’s beliefs were clouded by grief. The fact that Quentin has lost a daughter (not once, but twice) doesn’t make it any easier a third time. This was his way of compensating – believing in this world to bring his daughter back to him like it had twice before in Sara’s case. It didn’t matter what anyone said, including Nyssa who made it clear the Lazarus Pit was out of commission being destroyed and all, Quentin wasn’t going to stop until he got Laurel back. That just once again shows you how much love this man has for his daughters. He’s been through hell and back with them, and there isn’t anything he won’t do for them. But watching a father lose a daughter was one of the toughest things you can watch.
Once again it was Oliver who was the voice of reason as he was finally able to get through to Quentin about Laurel, and it was in this scene where Paul Blackthorne shone his brightest as he completely broke. As Quentin came to terms with this new reality – one that wouldn’t involve Laurel – we saw just how important she was to him. She was the one that was always there for him; who always believed in him; she was his rock; and now she was gone. And that was just too tough to deal with. But Quentin will survive this. He’ll make his baby girl proud in the way he lives his life moving forward.
The Faux Canary
This was a storyline that made sense in theory but ultimately in execution didn’t do what it could’ve. Arrow introduced the storyline of a young woman wronged by Damien Darhk seeking vengeance dressed as the Black Canary, the hero that she saw the night of the events of the mid-season finale. This girl paraded around the city sporting Laurel’s sonic device – which she stole from Laurel’s hospital room – and bringing criminals to their knees. But along the way she was tarnishing the true Black Canary’s legacy in the process, which was definitely not okay with Team Arrow. Oliver was able to get through to Faux Canary in the end as he talked her off the ledge – the ledge being holding a gun to Ruvee Adams’ head – as he asked her what would the real Black Canary do?
But more than anything it was the inconsistency of the thing that was frustrating. How was this girl able to use Laurel’s sonic device? It was clearly created to work only for Laurel and yet this Faux Canary was able to not only use it but get more power for her punch, if you know what I mean. No one is supposed to be able to use the device except Laurel – they repeated that several times for significance – and yet we never learned how she was able to use it and amplify it.
The Flashbacks (Thank the Lord They’re Not Island Flashbacks!)
Heading into this episode I was excited for the flashbacks, as I knew they would center around Laurel with this being her funeral episode. But I also assumed that we’d get a focus on Laurel and her family – whether it was her father or her sister. But the flashbacks that would’ve been great were scratched and replaced for flashbacks that screamed a word that doesn’t technically exist but comic purists like to throw around – “fan service,” which apparently means catering to a certain audience even when it makes no sense. This was the literal definition if there ever were one, as we got flashbacks focused around Laurel and…Oliver, post season one around Tommy’s funeral.
On the one hand the flashbacks, which focused on Oliver and Laurel post-season one after Tommy’s funeral, served as a more clear sense of closure that the writers went for in the previous episode. But somehow these flashbacks reminded me why I’ve never really been a fan of Laurel. Here we had Laurel declaring her love for Tommy – and Oliver talking his deceased friend up to Laurel – and Laurel practically was throwing herself at Oliver. Right after they put Tommy in the ground. The way it was executed felt disrespectful to Tommy and this love that he had for Laurel. While it was great to parallel Tommy’s death with Laurel’s, the one thing that I got out of those flashbacks was how much I miss Tommy (seriously why couldn’t we use the Lazarus Pit on him?)
Oliver and Felicity Begin Their Journey Back to Each Other
If there’s one thing to be hopeful about coming out of this episode it’s that Oliver and Felicity are headed in the right direction when it comes to mending their relationship. This episode showed us what we’ve always known to be true: no matter the circumstances these two will always be there for each other as a source of support and encouragement during the times they need it most. They might not be together anymore (well, right now), but that isn’t going to stop Felicity from delivering a signature inspiration speech to Oliver about how one of the reasons she fell in love with him is because he always finds a way no matter the circumstances. And she instilled that belief within him that he is going to find a way to kill Damien Darhk and get justice for their friend.
The flash-forward we got back during the mid-season finale was misleading. Felicity looked pissed – like she was mad at Oliver – when in fact when there’s context makes sense for the situation. Felicity had bottled up her emotions all episode long, and finally acknowledging Laurel’s dead by burying her was the thing that finally caused her walls to fall. It didn’t have to do with Oliver. The two significant scenes between the two showed that they are on the right track toward finding their way back to each other. Felicity got to see a new side to Oliver in this episode, and Oliver was reminded just how much clarity Felicity brings to his life. With four episodes to go this season there is no doubt in my mind that these two will find their way back to each other stronger than ever.
Revealing Laurel Lance is the Black Canary
Following the tarnished reputation of the Black Canary – as a wannabe Faux Canary sought vengeance instead of justice dressed as the hero – Oliver made sure that the world would never think bad about the Black Canary despite Ruvee Adams’ intention to do so. During his eulogy we watched as Oliver gave a pro-vigilante (erhm, hero) speech to a small crowd. During that speech he revealed the truth about how Laurel had died – that she was at Iron Heights not as a DA but as the Black Canary. Oliver honored her legacy, and it was enshrined on her grave stone for all to see.
Given the plot and how Faux Canary had ruined the Black Canary’s legacy I understand why Oliver did it. But in the grand scheme of things I don’t. Unless Arrow is setting something up far down the line where the heroes come clean about their identities, which I don’t know if I’d be a huge fan of at the moment. There’s less pressure this way.
NEXT TIME ON ‘ARROW’
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on the CW.