‘Arrow’ 8×09 Review: “Green Arrow and the Canaries”

We return to the normal routine! After Crisis, Arrow returns with a pilot episode for its next spin off, set in Star City 2040. “Green Arrow and the Canaries” brings us more than just a cool logo. It shows us a new dynamic between characters that, even with their history, feels like it has many possibilities for the future. In addition, the action reminds us of the best times of Arrow. Being honest, I didn’t expect much from the episode, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Here we go!

After the creation of the new Multiverse, things are different in the future. Mia has been raised alongside William (those photos are super cute) in the Queen mansion and has a relationship with JJ that culminates in an engagement. But she doesn’t remember anything that happened before Crisis.

As for Dinah, she remembers everything, but has decided to create a life in that new future. A life without a mask. Zoe is alive. Connor is the bad guy (and when he crosses Mia sparks FLY), and Laurel appears in that future to help save it… with the help of Dinah and Mia. To begin with, Laurel makes Mia remember everything.

This shakes Mia’s world and breaks it into pieces, so she does what she does best: she runs away. Or tries. She decides to help Laurel and Dinah, but only this time.  Then she will return to her simple life, without suits, without worries. Which is why she feels like she cannot put on her father’s suit. He gave it to Green Arrow, someone she has decided not to be. It is a reflection of what her mother did in Arrow’s 1×15. Felicity also convinced herself that it would only be an exception … and after simply disappear and be blind to everything that was happening.

To everything she could become.

Having said that, where are Moira or Thea? Mia grew up without a family? There is a plot hole in that regard. I guess it’s like that to avoid the spoiler of the return of those characters. A spoiler that is already out of the bag, since they released the photos for the next episode. But, finally, I suppose this is the price to pay when seeing a pilot about the future without having seen how the story ends in the present.

Interesting conversation between Dinah and Laurel.  Here, we see a different Dinah than the one we are used to. She remembers everything … but has decided to live low profile in this new reality. She has seen that with her being nothing more than a singer, people who she’d lost are still alive and happy: Mia, Zoe … everything seems better if she doesn’t wear the Black Canary suit. Dinah is feeling sorry for herself and everything she has lost. The problem is that one thing is what it seems … and then there’s reality.

They may all seem happy, they may be … but it’s only because they have not discovered who they really are. Zoe is happy … but not even she knows what she is capable of.  As for Mia, well, this is very much taken with tweezers because Dinah had nothing to do with Mia’s fate of being Green Arrow, however, she did have a bearing on Zoe’s fate. Zoe and the rest of the Canaries. I have many differences with Dinah and her performance as part of the team but, as Laurel reminds her, it was she who inspired Zoe and the Canaries, and made them see what they could be capable of. She showed them another world, another life … and made them believe and fight for it. 

To my surprise, Laurel is among those who felt inspired by Dinah. I think the producers forget too often (if not always) that Laurel killed the supposed love of Dinah’s life for no good reason. If it squint a lot when I see them being best friends forever, it is even more shocking that Laurel tells Dinah that Dinah was an inspiration to her. Basically telling her that her change was due to her … especially when we know it was because of Quentin.

There are quite a few inconsistencies here. But well, we accept might as well accept the octopus as a companion animal and “forget” the past between Laurel and Dinah.

After so much time, Dinah manages to see through Laurel. She knows that Laurel is insisting on saving Bianca and the repercussions it can have if they don’t, if they don’t find the motivation for it. But Laurel, apart from her own goals, has recognized Dinah’s behavior. Make one bad choice after another, believe you can not be anyone but that gray person who simply breathes but does not live … and she does not want that for Dinah or Mia.

It’s something laudable on Laurel’s part … but to make this fit, we have to believe that she was always good, and killed because she thought she couldn’t be anything else, she didn’t believe in herself; when she was actually killing for fun. So all this Laurel says is improbable at best … but, again, we need to accept it in order to move on without hurting our heads.

In the midst of all this, Deathstroke makes its appearance again and it is inevitable that they all relate it to JJ. But Mia … she can’t believe her fiancé is a murderer, not here. He is the opposite of the JJ from her memories. Like her, JJ has changed. But Dinah and Laurel think differently … has he really changed? Has he done it? Or is Mia just trying to protect herself from finding out who she really is and getting out of her comfort zone, from that empty shell she lives in?

Here Laurel is right, we are what we are. In the end, our true nature will come to light no matter how much we wish to ignore it. And that is what will happen with Mia.  Maybe with JJ.

Mia is determined to prove that Dinah and Laurel are wrong but then she can’t access JJ’s computer. That is so suspicious that, suddenly, all her confidence fades.  She’s assaulted by doubts, memories … her mind does not stop turning with the possibilities. Then, she confronts JJ … and she is completely wrong. All he was hiding is the destination of their honeymoon. Nothing else. JJ is different from who she saw in her memories. But it’s too late. The trust between them is broken.

All this makes Mia try to get away, which leads to an argument with Laurel. In it, Laurel accuses her of selfishness and Mia does the same. I must say that here Laurel behaves horribly. Mia is not selfish for wanting to live her life, the life she has in that reality. She is only afraid, and does not want to fail her father, especially considering his sacrifice and that fear encompasses everything. When we are afraid we look for an exit, the easiest one … and for Mia that is to stay as is. Also, Laurel talking about selfishness, well …funny to say the least.

That said, the scene continues … and it gets worse. Laurel dares to trivialize, the life that Mia leads, Oliver’s sacrifice and this is when Mia defends her father like a lioness. Her life will be whatever it is, but it is thanks to her father. She is alive thanks to him. And she doesn’t want to fail him. And I get up to applaud Mia. She is now realizing that Oliver really just wanted to see her happy, and would not like to see Mia feel that emptiness she feels. But Laurel has no right to trivialize Oliver’s sacrifice and basically tell her that it was not worth it for Oliver to die for her, for his daughter.  Especially because that supposed moral lesson comes from a murderer.

I understand that Mia needed a wake-up call to realize what she was doing. But they didn’t need Laurel to act like a bitch for it. Not if they want us to like her.

Mia has no choice but to apologize when she realizes that JJ is not who she remembers. Of course, JJ doesn’t understand anything … and tells her something that hurts Mia, but is similar to what Laurel says: she doesn’t commit to anything, not really. Then JJ jumps to the conclusion that all that has happened is Mia’s way of sabotaging herself, of sabotaging them.  Because she is afraid of commitment, she is afraid to step forward and all that would mean. She is afraid to depend on someone so much, to trust someone so much … that he can destroy her. For JJ, she is half of his life (heart eyes here) and he does not want to marry someone who does not see him in the same way.

Mia tries to make JJ change his mind … but he doesn’t get it. And it seems significant to me that Mia does not deny JJ’s conclusions about her lack of commitment. About her fear, because he hits the spot. She has never been able to commit to something before and she is afraid of such a commitment, such trust.

But how to commit to something when you feel your life is half empty? Mia has been living as an empty shell of herself. She was happy, but there was always something missing. Something similar to Thea or her own father at the beginning of Arrow. A seemingly happy life, full of parties, friends but empty inside.  Because, in her attempt to be safe, to honor her father’s sacrifice, she has forgotten what Oliver most wanted for her: to be happy. Mia forgot about herself, and is afraid that nothing will fill that void, that JJ won’t be able to fill it, that she can’t.

That’s why she cries. She cries for everything she has lost and for everything she could lose. Cries for the Mia that was, the one that is and the one that she can become.  And she does it in front of the photos she has of her father, of his framed arrow. She cries in the place where she feels the presence of her father is stronger. She cries like a kid who is desperate for help, because she doesn’t want to fail her father but she also doesn’t want to fail herself.

Then, Laurel arrives and they speak. They really speak. Laurel can be reflected in Mia. She is also choosing the easy way, to hide. Mia … she’s just trying to live the best way she knows to honor Oliver’s sacrifice. Trying to stay safe as he wanted. And she doesn’t know how to do it anymore. She does not know how to follow the path she believes his sacrifice marked. Because, what right does she have to dishonor her father’s sacrifice by putting herself in danger?

What Mia has not realized is that the thing that marked Oliver’s sacrifice is that she could have a choice, as Laurel tells her. Mia must choose what she wants to be.  She should not live under self-imposed guidelines because of an erroneous premise.  Oliver wanted her to be happy with the life she wanted, that she chose. That is all he wanted. For her to live to have a choice. Being a hero is not easy, but it gives her a purpose, just as she gave it to Laurel herself.

Mia is who she is: a hero. It is in her. In her veins, in her blood. It is her essence. And she can’t escape it anymore. Star City is her city, and she is its protector. She is Green Arrow. Mia, finally, realizes that it is true. That is what she is. And she puts on the suit that her father left her as a legacy. And suddenly, that emptiness she had felt all her life fades away. She is complete.

That said, it has been a bit forced to see Laurel as a confidant and moral reference for Dinah and Mia.

In the last conversation between JJ and Mia, she struggles to get him back. She has verified that in that reality he is not the villain she knew in another life, in another world … and she loves him, so she decides to fight for him. She explains how she felt, what it has been for her to meet herself again. In that life she was lost, asleep, without knowing who she really was, without daring to be because of an atrocious fear of failing her father and the sacrifice he made for her … but no more. Now she understands that failing her father and his sacrifice would mean betraying herself again, running away from who she is.

And in the middle of all that, of that epiphany, there is JJ. She loves him, that hasn’t changed and she wants to be by his side. She sees no life without him. Actually, she has seen it, she has lived it but she cannot match those experiences with what she feels now, with what they are now. JJ is no longer that man, he is a good man, the man she fell in love with. So she will fight for what they have together. JJ accepts her again in his life because, as he has said, she is his other half … will that be enough?

There is a threat much greater than Trevor on the horizon: an unknown villain. But Dinah, Mia and Laurel are willing to face whoever it is. Mia has finally found herself and knows that Green Arrow is who she is, is part of herself and has realized that the true way to honor her father and his sacrifice is to be herself and have a full life  .

Dinah has a similar revelation. She has also realized that she wants to make a difference as the Black Canary. She does not want to see life pass by feeling sorry for herself and for what she has lost. She wants to fight for what she knows she can be.

However, Dinah knows there is something Laurel hasn’t told them yet. And it has to do with Mia. This mission was essential for her to follow her destiny. This is quite surprising, why is this case so important?

It has been exciting to see Mia and William at the foot of the statue of Oliver, “the man who saved the city.”  It is precious that, finally, he has the recognition he deserves from the city that both fought and sacrificed to save and that despised him in return. Seeing pride, absolute respect, love in the two Queen siblings when they look at their father’s statue, remember him and talk about him has been very emotional, and everything Oliver deserves in this world.

Like the appearance of that totem (does anyone screamed as much as I did at the fact that William refers to Felicity as his mother?), which connects this show with Arrow and is a symbol of re-connection, family … and something else. Those Chinese lyrics are the same as Trevor’s tattoo, the villain of the week. How is that possible? I don’t remember exactly who gave Oliver the totem. I think it was Shado or Yao Fei but … what exactly do those symbols mean? Who are they connected to? It has been quite intriguing to see that we don’t know everything about that totem. Much more when they have drugged and kidnapped William and Mia … for what purpose?

But the actions of the big and unknown bad do not end here. She has made JJ remember his past as Deathstroke, I think to recruit him. This tells us that she is someone like Laurel, who remembers who they were before Crisis and has planned something to blow up Star City. But who is she? What is she looking for?  They have left us many questions unanswered. A quite effective hook for the audience, because this ending leaves many possibilities open.

Now, JJ will either once again become a villain, but now Mia will be at his side, safer than ever after having doubted, after having proven that she was wrong and almost losing him because of it … or JJ can choose to resist taking the same path again  because he loves Mia so much that it surpasses everything. It is clear that they will play with this love triangle between Mia and the Diggle brothers, and this dichotomy between the present they live and the past. This intrigue is very well posed, this opening of possibilities that leaves us wanting to know how this story ends.

As for the stunts, they surprised me for good. It is noted that they have bet strong enough to show the audience that the spin off will be Arrow‘s worthy successor in terms of action without any special effects. Highlight Mia’s fight and also the Canary Cry improvements.

In conclusion, I really didn’t expect much from this pilot. But they surprised me for good. I have felt entertained throughout the episode and it has even seemed short.  They have managed to meet the formula of the villain of the week (which, in addition, should serve as a center to position the characters) and, at the same time, be able to engage the audience, showing at the end that everything is a consequence of a larger plan, with a  unknown villain … connecting with Arrow through William’s totem and its Chinese letters. Connecting with the mother series from which this new show is born. It has been quite intelligent and leaves us wanting to know more.

Of course, it is not a perfect product, nothing is, and some aspects need to be polished. Basically the character of Laurel. But it leaves a good taste in the mouth and they have overcome the challenge. This show has possibilities for the depth of its protagonist (Mia), the relationship between the characters and the game that can give the dilemma between their past lives and their present. The episode leaves us wanting to give the new series a chance.

Agree? Disagree? Don’t hesitate to discuss everything with us in the comments below! 

Arrow airs on Tuesday on The CW at 8 pm.

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