Every week, Fangirlish writers will be discussing new episodes of Arrow and sharing their thoughts, feelings, and speculation about the hour’s hot topics in a little something we like to call Fangirlish Roundtables.
Today, we’re breaking down episode 4×19 of Arrow, “Canary Cry,” where we discuss Diggle’s guilt, Quentin’s denial, and how the episode left an overall sour taste in our mouths despite some amazing performances.
What were your overall thoughts on “Canary Cry?”
While there were some sensational performances and character dynamics, overall this episode was just “meh.” Perhaps that was because I wasn’t a huge fan of the Faux Canary storyline, as well as the flashbacks which seemed to act more as fanservice to a select group than an effective sendoff. To be honest I was expecting more for Laurel’s grand exit, like perhaps more focus on her and her relationship with her family, which we know to be the most important thing to her. But with that said I did enjoy how each member of the team had their own struggle to overcome in regards to blaming themselves for Laurel’s death, and it was a pleasant surprise to find Oliver emerge as the voice of reason for the team.
It was sorta bad. Borderline awful. And by that I mean mostly the flashbacks. And, okay, the other Canary thing. So, yeah, most of the episode. To be fair, I thought the scenes that involved Diggle/Felicity/Oliver talking to each other, as well as the Quentin Lance scenes were very, very good. The rest of the episode, though? I kind of wish I could forget it.
For all that I’ve never been the biggest Laurel Lance fan, I thought the writers missed the mark in this episode that was supposed to honor her, and they missed the mark by so much they might well have been aiming for another thing entirely. I expected this episode to remind of us the good things, not highlight the bad, and even make them worse by presenting her as a woman who, one week after the man she “loved” died could be discussing the future with another man, and, when that man left her, could be using her dead love as an excuse for why they could never be together. It’s not a side of Laurel I wanted to see. It’s not what the fans deserved. It’s certainly not what the character deserved. And that’s a shame.
I appreciate the idea that they were going for. It was about uniting after such a tragic death in hopes of moving forward and stopping Strand. Each member of Team Arrow had a hardship to surpass and were only able to do it together. But that’s about it. The Laurel flashbacks with Oliver were a disservice to her character. There would have been a bigger emotional punch if the flashbacks were about his family, the most important thing in her life. Instead we got this confusing series of flashbacks that contradict the episodes when Oliver returned from Lian Yu. If Laurel was ready to plan her future with Oliver before he left, that means that she was angry with Oliver during his return because he left her. It wasn’t about Tommy at all.
I feel like the writers took away the respect that I had for her in the past and left me with questions I’ll never be able to answer. She deserved more than flashbacks that were clearly fanservice. She deserved a tribute that highlighted her achievements, her journey, and her family.
Oliver has certainly grown from the character we saw unable to approach Tommy’s funeral to the man that delivered a eulogy at Laurel’s funeral. What are your thoughts on Oliver’s growth and how that’ll benefit the team moving forward?
Honestly I feel this overarching storyline this episode is what saved the fanservice-like flashbacks from being completely irrelevant. But with that said it just goes to show how these flashbacks were more about how Oliver has evolved in those three years than anything. That Oliver that we saw in the flashbacks, he was someone who put the weight of the world on his shoulders and ran when times got tough. Throughout this episode Oliver took on a new role. Normally he’s the one in need of that sage advice, but in “Canary Cry” it was his friends that needed him to be their light. It was great to watch Oliver come full circle in this episode – as he began the hour running away from Tommy’s funeral in the flashbacks and then not only attending but delivering a eulogy at Laurel’s in the present. So the next time someone tries to tell me Oliver hasn’t grown as a character in these four seasons, I’ve got receipts in the form of “Canary Cry.”
I know this is not the end of the road – I understand Oliver had many more lessons to learn, many more battles to fight. And yet, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that I’m proud of him. Yes, I’m proud of a fictional character on a TV show. And the reason why I’m so proud it’s because it hasn’t been easy, or linear, or clear-cut, and yet Oliver Queen has made it here. He’s made mistakes along the way, yes, and he will continue to make it, but he’s not the same man who came out of Lian Yu, nor is he the same man who first picked up a bow and arrow. He’s a better man. He’s a hero. And that’s not just because of the people he’s surrounded himself with. They’ve helped, of course, but Oliver has taken the steps. He’s walked to walk. And now, he’s a little closer to the man he always dreamed he could be.
Oliver’s personal growth was one of the only shining lights in this episode. The writers have paced his development for seasons to come to this point. Now he’s the one to support his friends when they’re overcome with guilt. Now it’s his turn to take care of his family. It’s a surprising delight that makes us, the viewer, proud of Oliver. All those years of pain, guilt, and death have lead to this moment. He’s learned from his mistakes and is on a new path in life. It’s going to be a fantastic contrast when he goes to Russia and joins Bratva. As he becomes lighter in the present, he becomes darker in the past.
While Team Arrow felt a massive amount of guilt over Laurel’s death, no one felt that more than Diggle. What did you think of Diggle’s breaking point? Do you see a darker road in his future?
While I don’t enjoy seeing Diggle in so much pain, it’s really incredible to get to watch David Ramsey tackle this storyline with everything he’s got. Diggle really beat himself up over Laurel’s death, as we can understand why. Diggle has so much up anger from Andy’s betrayal, as well as the grief that comes with losing a friend. When he puts the two together and essentially blames himself for Laurel’s death, you can see why he lashed out as he did. I still have chills when I think about that scene where Oliver stops Diggle from killing Ruve Darhk and Diggle just bangs his helmet on the car’s hood repeatedly as he says he’s so angry it’s hard to breathe. It was overwhelming to watch man who we’ve seen be so strong in the face of adversity crumble under guilt the way he did in this episode.
I do believe that this is the beginning of a dark road for Diggle. While it appeared that he came to terms with Laurel’s death not being his fault, thanks to his friends, this storyline is far from over as Andy is still out there. And you bet your ass when the two come face-to-face that Andy is going to throw Laurel’s death in his face to rile him up and bring back all of those feelings that weighed him down in this episode. It’s going to be painful as hell, but you know Ramsey is going to kill it with his performance. Bring it.
Anger is the easiest thing to feel, when faced with loss, because anger is something that you can control. You can’t really control grief, but anger, oh, that has an outlet. You feel like you can do something. And, considering what happened with Andy, it was very easy to predict that this was the road Diggle would take. I’m glad the show allowed him to do it and didn’t make it so his actions had no consequences, but I’m also glad they made the team rally around him – because grief does tend to bring people together, even if not everyone is reacting in the same way.
That being said, I don’t think Diggle’s fine, not by a longshot. I think the anger is still there. I think he’ll have to fight against it. And, I think, if he finds Andy, he might not win that battle. He can’t really be trusted to act rationally, not now, and I hope the team knows this. Diggle has been the voice of reason for Oliver for so long, just as Felicity has been his light. It’s now time for Oliver to be the light and the voice of reason. The people he loves need him to.
Diggle was on the cusp of doing something that would change his life forever. And while Oliver pulled him back this time, what’s to say he won’t fall the next time? He feels immense guilt because he didn’t see something he should’ve. He invited a known element into his home and inadvertently made it easier for Damien to overwhelm them and kill Laurel. It’s not Diggle’s fault that his brother is a lying cheat. But that’s not going to stop him from feeling like it is. Here’s hoping that he can channel that anger towards finding Darkh and stopping him from destroying the city. With the team and his family by his side, he won’t end up destroying himself in the process….I hope.
While the team blamed themselves, Quentin actually embraced the denial stage of his grief as he believed that Laurel wasn’t really dead and that she was coming back to him. What did you think about how he handled the situation?
This was so incredibly heartbreaking. To lose a daughter twice must be excruciating. But to lose your other daughter – permanently – was devastating. Paul Blackthorne was absolutely brilliant in this episode. He doesn’t get nearly enough credit for the emotion that he brings to this show when it allows it. If there’s one man that is touched most by family on this show, it’s Quentin. To be honest I expected Quentin to react in the way that he did. Arrow has changed since we first met Oliver Queen in season one when things like metahumans and Lazarus Pits didn’t exist in this universe; where Quentin hasn’t lost Sara to death twice but gotten her back both times.
So why shouldn’t Quentin believe there was a mystical solution? Even after he learned that the Lazarus Pit had been destroyed he was hellbent on discovering another way to bring Laurel back because in a world where several people that he’s known have died and come back to life, why shouldn’t it be Laurel this time? But the scene that got me the most was when Oliver had to convince Quentin that Laurel wasn’t coming back. Quentin broke down as he told Oliver that the one person that had been there for him in his darkest hours – his “rock” – was gone. Watching him drown in denial and then brutally transition into acceptance was truly heartbreaking but also beautiful. While the episode lacked in some areas, it did not disappoint with its performances, most notably Blackthorne’s.
First of all, I have to say that Paul Blackthorne really gave an amazing performance this episode. Overall, I think “Canary Cry” was a disappointment, but I will admit that Quentin had me on the verge of tears every time he was on screen – not only because the way he went through the stages of grief was very, very real, but because there was a certain edge of manic madness to everything, from his denial to his very real grief, that was recognizable to me, as someone who’s lost a close family member. I’ve heard some criticisms about characters making the death all about themselves, and I think that’s one of those sentiments that are more often expressed by people who don’t really get it. This is the way we handle death, more often than not. We make it about ourselves. About OUR pain. About our failings. About what we need, and want and deserve. It’s not right, but it’s not necessarily wrong, either. It’s natural. In the face of grief it’s hard to ask people to act like role models. In the fact of grief we do whatever we need to do to get through an instant, a minute, an hour, a day, and so on. That’s just the way it is.
He handled the situation like I would if in his shoes. Quentin’s moments with Oliver & Nyssa felt real, emotional, and tore my heart out. In the kind of world that they live in, it’s understandable why Quentin thought that Laurel might be alive. He lost Sara twice and she’s off saving the world. Why not Laurel? So while everyone else blamed themselves, he was out there being proactive and hoping. In his heart she was too strong to be defeated by an arrow.
The episode featured a Black Canary impersonator who essentially was running Laurel’s legacy as Canary. What were your thoughts on that storyline?
While I understand what they were trying to do with the storyline, it just didn’t resonate with me. I get that this was the show’s way of making things “all about Laurel,” including the storyline, but there were better routes to go. Don’t even get me started on all of the inconsistencies, including how this girl was able to replicate that costume so quickly or how she was able to not only make Laurel’s sonic device – that’s linked only to her voice – work but increase the frequency of it. It just felt too convenient and too blah. There was so much more that deserved to shine in this episode, including Quentin and Dinah’s reaction, as well as the Diggle and Andy storyline. While this Faux Canary threatened Laurel’s legacy in Star City, she ultimately ruined the Black Canary’s final stand on Arrow as this didn’t do her exit justice.
Was this needed? This time could have been better spent by giving us flashbacks that really mattered, like Laurel and her family, or Sara’s funeral, or literally anything but what we got. Yes, Arrow does delve into a topic Marvel’s not bringing into every one of their movies with this storyline, and that’s the collateral damage, but it does it at the wrong time. This was not the time to bring up this faux Canary, have her steal Laurel’s sonic device, not even explain how she manipulated it, and then have her go around going for revenge. It might have felt like the contrast to Laurel made Laurel look better in comparison, but, thanks to the flashbacks, Laurel wasn’t looking that hot anyway, so, again I ask, was this needed?
It was bland. They introduced this Mini-Canary, gave her a storyline, and then explained nothing. How did she know all this information about Damien Darkh? How was she able to use Laurel’s tech? How did she get that outfit together? All things that were conveniently not mentioned or explained when the episode ended. Honestly we could’ve done without the Mini-Canary. Why not give Quentin and his family more screen tim? Why not explore Diggle’s storyline with Andy a little more? Hell, elaborate on that damn corn field everyone’s forgotten about? It was a waste of time in an episode meant to honor Laurel Lance and the Black Canary.
Oliver and Felicity appear to be on the right track back to each other. What were your thoughts on how both were there for each other when they needed it in this episode?
I appreciate that this relationship fix isn’t going to be immediate like some shows might rush it. These two are slowly making their way back to each other, and this episode was an important step for both of them. Oliver proved to Felicity that he can change – that he can be that beacon of hope for the team when they need him just as they’ve done for him in the past. When Felicity felt guilty about Laurel’s death, Oliver was there to reassure her that it wasn’t her fault. And after the funeral when Oliver was ready to give up when it came to looking for a way to bring an end to Damien Darhk, Felicity was there – as she’s been before – reminding Oliver that he’s not someone who gives up. He always finds a way. And he’s going to find a way this time.
As we saw in the limo, Felicity is still very much in love with him, that’s never been the problem here. The problem has been Felicity is convinced that Oliver cannot change from his post-Island ways, which include lying and shouldering the blame when times get tough. This arc is all about Oliver showing Felicity that he can change – that he can be that person she knows him to be. She’s not expecting perfection, but she’s expecting Oliver to be a true partner with her, which includes leaning on her when times get tough or guiding her in her darkest moment. I feel like Felicity got to see a bit of that in this episode, and it’s becoming more and more evident that they should find their way back to each other by season’s end. Four episodes to go. That’s plenty of time for more showing and more resolution for Arrow’s true love story.
I think it all felt very believable. They are two people who, clearly, still love other, and that yes, still have issues, but who can find common ground in important moments – who can still comfort each other, who can still support each other, who can still fight for the same goal. That doesn’t mean everything’s forgiven, or forgotten, like Felicity’s jab about Oliver’s kid proves, but it does mean that there’s a way out of the mess they’re currently in. It’s just not going to be easy, or quick, but that’s fine. That might even be better. Wounds don’t heal overnight. People don’t change overnight. And then Oliver and Felicity come together this time, it’s going to be for good. So, if they need time, so be it. Nothing worthwhile ever comes easy.
I think it proves that no matter where they are in life, they’re there for each other. Oliver understands the guilt and pain she’s going through. And Felicity is there so he doesn’t go through this alone. They’re a team. It makes it so their reunion isn’t far behind. They’ve chosen paths to save the city that will continue to intersect. Given time they’ll admit that the love between them is still alive and that they want to work at being together again.
What were your thoughts on Oliver revealing to the public that Laurel was the Black Canary?
I mean apart from it opening up a whole bunch of legal woes that Lizzie is sure to break down below, I want to believe that this is going to serve some sort of grand purpose, like perhaps leading the way for Team Arrow to come out in the light. But I’m not so sure that’s what’s happening here. To me it feels like the Faux Canary storyline was needed to get to this point – where Oliver revealed to the world that Laurel was the Black Canary. But why? Why does the world need to know that Laurel was the Black Canary? Or perhaps I’m looking too much into this and the writers merely wanted the world to remember Laurel Lance as the Black Canary much like they wanted the show to remember. Who knows? But it was a lovely eulogy that Oliver delivered to honor a character that deserved so much better even in her final episode.
Oh, God. I’ve gone on and on about this on Twitter, but I have to say it again: What’s going to happen to all of Laurel’s cases as assistant DA now that Oliver outed her as the back Canary? What about the ones she both tried and apprehended? They’re all going to have to be revised, right? That means a whole bunch of dangerous criminals could be out in the streets, and why? Because Oliver didn’t really think it through? Although, to be fair, the headstone did say “THE BLACK CANARY” so he probably thought about this much more than the episode made it seems. Which is what makes it unforgivable. Laurel’s legacy was not the Black Canary – or at least, it shouldn’t have been her only legacy. And that’s the problem. This show didn’t really know how to treat her when she was alive, and they certainly didn’t know how to honor her in death. And, for that, if for nothing else, I’m glad she’s gone. The Black Canary doesn’t really end here, this is just one version of the character, one that was never what the fans really wanted her to be.
At first I thought it was ok. The Mayor wouldn’t be able to smear the vigilante name if an important public figure was one. Then I sat back and realized that by revealing her identity as Black Canary, they destroyed her professional career. Every single trial that she has ever been part of can and will be up for investigation. The people that she tried and put into jail? Appeals! Solidifying her role as the Black Canary might have not been the best idea at the end of the day. But will they address this in the show? Nope. Doubt it.
What are your thoughts on “Canary Cry?” Sound off in the comments to keep the discussion going!
Join us for another Arrow roundtable next Tuesday.
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.