As the title suggests, Canaries focuses a lot of its time on Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy). When Count Vertigo (Peter Stormare) returns to the show, Laurel’s Black Canary falls victim to the twisted vertigo drug. And when she does, her fears come to the front of her mind as she finds herself battling sister Sara (Caity Lotz) as she struggles with her own identity and in trying to step out of Sara’s Canary shadow.
With Canary vs Black Canary, this latest episode of Arrow starts with a bang. Laurel Lance as Black Canary is still clunky in her moves, though, and Katie Cassidy also seems not quite settled into that side of the character herself. Either way, Laurel ends up brutalised by Count Vertigo in the early goings of Canaries.
But it’s not just with the Canaries that the action stops in this outing, and there’s an impressive rooftop chase early on by Arsenal (Colton Haynes) as the opening segments of the episode set the pace for what is to come.
Picking up the plot point from before Oliver Queen’s (Stephen Amell) death, it’s not long before Ollie is chastising Laurel for going out to protect the mean streets of Starling City. As he bluntly puts it to her, “You’re not a hero.” Don’t mince your words, Mr Queen. He does have a bit of a point, but then his argument is left a little redundant by the fact that he died and so somebody needed to step up and protect the city, which is a common theme throughout Canaries. It is, however, a unique approach to see Oliver be against Laurel’s agenda due to the possibility of her becoming addicted to cracking skulls given Laurel’s past addiction with alcohol and pills.
We get to see the very real emotion of the likes of Laurel, Roy, Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) and even the silent ‘you know what I’m thinking’ nods of Diggle (David Ramsey) as Team Arrow put across their points that Oliver was dead and they had to move on past that. It doesn’t sit well with Ollie to take in the realisation that his crusade has become bigger than he, with this now just as much the mission of others as it is the mission of his.
Away from the drama of Team Arrow supposedly being more than capable of doing Oliver’s job, Ollie has another hurdle to overcome as Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) starts to push the idea of revealing to Thea (Willa Holland) that Oliver and The Arrow are one and the same in the hope of it helping the three of them to overcome the looming threat of Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable). And surprisingly, Ollie goes for it! Yep, as in takes Thea down to Verdant’s basement to reveal the Arrowcave and that he is indeed the Emerald Archer who patrols the rooftops and alleys of Starling City. Expecting to get a vitriolic response from his younger sister, Ollie is surprised when Thea reacts in a far different way and seems to understand the lives that Oliver has saved and the struggles he has had to go through. Safe to say, this lends to giving viewers a genuinely heart-warming moment as the siblings embrace. Additionally, this reveal turns Thea’s opinion of Malcolm, though, and she is now against working with her daddy dearest despite Oliver’s claim that Merlyn is a necessary evil.
Much like last week when Captain Lance (Paul Blackthorne) called Team Arrow up on the Arsenal moniker and then proceeded to humourously let on that he knew that it was really Roy Harper under the red hood, this week’s reveal to Thea sees the youngest Queen poke fun at her brother for some of the god-awful excuses he pulled over the years when having to make a hasty exit in the name of duty. This reveal also paves the way for a more relaxed relationship between Roy and Thea, with the cat now well and truly out of the bag on the whole Team Arrow thing. And yes, whilst this is going on and unravelling, the threat of Count Vertigo still looms large as he is quite clear in that he wants The Arrow dead.
Much like Count Vertigo is lingering, so is the presence of the League of Assassins. Remember DJ Dickhead who has been easing his way into Thea’s pants? Well he finally blows his cover to Thea and a battle ensues, conveniently stopped by Roy and then Malcolm. What was a tad odd is that Malcolm was in his Dark Archer outfit. Roy was dressed as Arsenal and for some reason that felt okay, but Merlyn in his getup just felt a tad wrong. Either way, at least the horrendous DJ character won’t be troubling Arrow again in the future, although his inclusion here did make Thea Queen look, quite frankly, like a bit of a slag. Close those legs, love!
Elsewhere, the Hong Kong flashbacks find Oliver and Maseo (Karl Yune) unsuccessfully trying to outrun Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), and it’s revealed that the past Oliver Queen is returning to Starling City for the purpose of tracking down China White (Kelly Hu).
So Canaries drops its big bombshell of Thea Queen becoming aware of Oliver Queen being The Arrow. That’s the big “thing” for this episode, right? Well you’d be wrong, for the climactic moments of Canaries saw Laurel Lance finally break the news to father Quentin that Sara is actually dead. We don’t get to see the full fallout of this just yet but obviously it hits home in a big way for poor Captain Lance. As ever, Paul Blackthorne is simply brilliant in every second that he's on the screen.
Canaries was a pivotal moment in Season 3 as it furthered two huge arcs of the show; Thea finding out The Arrow’s identity, and Quentin Lance finding out that daughter Sara is dead. As such, there was a real sense of emotion to the episode, plus there was plenty of action thrown in for good measure, then the idea of Laurel Lance coming to terms with being her own hero and stepping out of sister Sara’s shadow.
Despite maybe pulling the trigger to soon on Oliver Queen’s return from the dead, Arrow’s handled things fantastically well so far in how the rest of the team have had to have a change of attitude and a more steely edge put into them after believing Ollie was dead. No longer is Oliver able to just bark orders, and that certainly makes for an interesting dynamic going forward.
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