NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of “Arrow” are present in this review
Arrow concluded its long hiatus this week, and thus we were left to deal with the emotional fallout from the big character death that occurred in the previous episode. With Laurel having been killed by Damien Darhk, the team attempts to come to grips with their grief, while also planning their next move.
After Sara Lance most notably cheated death on this show, twice, and even Oliver himself defied what looked to be certain doom to claw his way back to Star City five years after being stranded on Lian Yu, many people might be shrugging at Laurel’s death, since the DC Television Universe has established more than one way to revive a fallen comrade. The episode actually uses that to a strong advantage in its storytelling here, particularly with Captain Lance, who scrambles to try and find ways to bring Laurel back to life. Lance even calls on Nyssa to beg her for use of the Lazarus Pit to restore Laurel, but given that Nyssa destroyed the pit, that’s not an option anymore. Even if it was, it’s doubtful that Nyssa would allow Lance to place Laurel in the Lazarus Pit anyway, given what it did to both Thea and Sara on various occasions.
The performances from pretty much all of the leads were top-notch this week, as grief weighed heavily on the team. Paul Blackthorne was of course one of the standouts, as Captain Lance finds himself falling apart at the loss of his daughter, and defeated by living in a fantastical universe that, on this one occasion, seemingly refuses to help him get Laurel back. By the end of the episode, Lance seems to have accepted that Laurel is gone, which feels unrealistically soon, but I suppose that it’s necessary for the pacing of the show, since Lance can’t be distracted by Laurel’s death as the series moves towards its season finale at the end of May.
Another standout character in the grieving period was Diggle, who had an interesting role reversal with Oliver in this episode, where he was the one shouldering undue blame, while Oliver had to try and talk him through it. Diggle blames himself for Laurel’s death, naturally, since his distrusting of Oliver’s suspicions with Andy is what led to the team being at Iron Heights, which is where Laurel was killed. Diggle is in fact so overcome with grief and rage that he quickly grows desperate, much like Lance does, but where Lance becomes determined to defy fate, Diggle becomes furious. Diggle even goes right up to Ruve Adams’ limo and shoots her chauffeurs, before pulling out Ruve herself, and threatening to kill her to get back at Darhk. This was an excellent scene, and nicely led into Oliver having to defuse a bad situation, even if it meant letting one of the season’s big villains go free. Oliver really puts it best when he says that the team can’t seek justice for Laurel’s killing by becoming just like Laurel’s killers, especially since attacking Star City’s mayor, even if she’s Ruve Adams, would do more harm than good.
As a farewell to Laurel’s character and Katie Cassidy, despite Cassidy already having a few chances to return to the DC Television Universe as Laurel on The Flash and Vixen set in the near future, the show couldn’t have asked for a better goodbye. Even with a character that wasn’t totally liked by a considerable amount of fans at the best of times, it’s difficult not to tear up as the team gathers at Laurel’s grave site, with Oliver delivering a eulogy that lets the city know that Laurel was the Black Canary, and that she was a hero that set an example worth following, cementing her legacy and leaving it forever untainted. The way that the show complemented this by having the flashbacks center on memories of Laurel instead of memories of Lian Yu this week, along with Laurel’s funeral following flashbacks to Tommy Merlyn’s unseen funeral from after his death at the end of Season One, was all directed and realized incredibly effectively.
In fact, it might have actually been best if the show didn’t even have a villain this week, and simply focused on the team trying to pull themselves together after such a devastating loss. That’s not the case in this episode though, as we did get an antagonist, and she’s unfortunately a weak link. A fake Black Canary somehow steals Laurel’s Sonic Collar, which is supposed to be genetically locked to Laurel, preventing anyone else from using it. This thief then upgrades it, uses it freely, and finds a vigilante outfit identical to Laurel’s to attack people that she thinks are related to Damien Darhk, and can somehow do all of this mere moments after Laurel’s death, with no hassle. Um, what? This really doesn’t make any sense at all, especially when the woman is revealed to be an eighteen-year-old nerd who does gymnastics. Yeah, I don’t think that’s enough to be a convincing Black Canary, especially given how much training both Laurel and Sara had to undertake under Nyssa to be even semi-competent vigilantes, Laurel especially.
As much as it’s an interesting idea to have the fake Black Canary be someone that Team Arrow ditched after disrupting Damien Darhk’s secret gas chamber operation, this villain was forced and illogical, and the fact that nobody in the city can tell the difference between a 31-year-old woman with natural hair and an 18-year-old woman in a wig, especially when the impostor is noticeably shorter than Laurel, is a pretty big stretch. Again, this does bring up a semi-interesting idea on paper, where Ruve uses the fake Black Canary’s actions to attack Team Arrow’s reputation and issue arrest warrants for Oliver and his vigilante buddies, but that sort of has the show moving backwards, and just backpedaling to when Lance had the Anti-Vigilante Task Force doing the same thing. Do we really need the police working against Oliver’s crew again as the season moves into its final few episodes?
The emotional element of Arrow was excellent this week, which is why it’s disappointing that the forced villain conflict just couldn’t keep up. “Canary Cry” was a superb send-off to the fallen Laurel, and effectively has the show moving towards a violent and explosive climax against the forces of Damien Darhk and H.I.V.E. Felicity even looks to be coming back to Team Arrow again, which is good news, though it’s still unknown whether someone will ultimately replace Laurel in the group, or whether the Black Canary’s mantle will permanently be left an empty seat in the show’s dynamic. There’s always the chance that the show could invent a Black Canary successor, similarly to how The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow reinvented Jefferson Jackson as a Firestorm successor, despite Jackson not being any such character in DC Comics lore, but whatever the case, there’s no getting around it at this point; For all of Team Arrow’s morals and principles, the only thing that matters now is that Damien Darhk has to die.
- Lance futily trying to find ways to revive Laurel
- Diggle attacking Ruve so furiously
- Laurel's heartfelt funeral scene
- Fake Black Canary is a forced, illogical villain