Arrow: Canaries review

It's Sara vs. Laurel in a hallucinogenic episode of Arrow that actually got a lot of important character work done. Here's Mike's review.

This Arrow review contains spoilers.

Well, this was a different kind of Arrow episode, wasn’t it? I believe I’ve used this word infrequently to describe this show, but tonight’s was a “mature” episode. Not in like a sex and violence way, but in a “we don’t have to wow you with fan service and crazy action every other scene” kind of way. It worked.

A lot got accomplished in this one. Thea learned the truth about her brother. Laurel stopped being such a lying liar and told dear old Dad that Sara is worm food. Malcolm Merlyn wormed his way deeper into the lives of the Queens (and into our hearts). DJ Poochie croaked. It was a good time.

At first I thought it was strange that they just barrelled right into the “tell Thea the truth” stuff. I figured since they got it out of the way without building up to it for the episode’s entire first act that it meant we’d be dealing with fallout for the rest of the episode. Nope! “Canaries” had work to do this week, and they weren’t going to mess around in getting it done.

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Thea is a mystery, though. I’m more certain than ever that someone has “programmed” her (witness her crocodile tears performance when Ollie comes out to her), but now I’m not even sure it’s Malcolm pulling the strings anymore. I’m definitely interested in what’s going on here, but it’s been so ambiguous all season that I really hope there’s both a plan and a payoff. 

I am more than willing to listen to any/all crazy Thea theories, because I am seriously at a loss.

While we’re on the subject of Thea, one thing did really bug me, though. The fact that she slept with whatshisface, and the way she went about it seemed…off. You just learned your brother is a vigilante with a team operating out of your nightclub, and an old family friend was just brought in tripping her face off and laid out on an operating table. This is your coping mechanism? I don’t buy it. Unless, of course, it’s just part of the rest of her weirdness right now.

But seriously, I’m so glad we don’t have to deal with DJ Focus Group ever again.

It was nice that they gave Paul Blackthorne a way to play both of Quentin’s potential reactions to the news of Sara’s death, too. He’s great. I no longer worry that he’s going to die in every episode…which I’m sure means he’s toast. But the fact that they didn’t pull the “my little girl is dead? My…my heart!” garbage fest was encouraging.

Not a hell of a lot of action this week, but they made what they gave us count. I think my favorite was watching Green Arrow and Arsenal leap out of a building just as it blows up. That was some high level Batman and Robin stuff there, and since there’s little chance we’re going to see that particular breed of dynamic duo fighting crime together any time soon, this was a welcome image. I have to confess, Laurel or no Laurel, it looked nice having Green Arrow and Black Canary fighting side by side again this week, too.

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Also, I have to give credit where credit is due. Laurel’s little, “was my form off?” when she caught them watching footage of her decking the US Marshall was kinda badass. Like I said last week, I’m willing to let go of my previous misgivings about Laurel, her training, and everything else. She’s the Canary now, and none of our whining is going to change that. They can still screw this up going forward, mind you, but tonight felt like a nice step in the right direction for her.

Count Vertigo still isn’t really the menace I was hoping he’d be (and dude, pick an accent and stick with it), but he’s still miles ahead of the season two version. To be fair, this wasn’t his show. Having a villain at all this week was an afterthought. Sure, he provided the means for Laurel to have a lysergic revelation, but there were bigger fish to fry this week. I don’t think we needed two Canary vs. Canary fight scenes to make the point, especially not when they pulled the Oliver vs. Green Arrow stunt early in the season, but whatever. There was an action quota to be met, I suppose.

“Canaries” was a little talky at times, but I have to admire the way they just went for it with getting a few things cleared away this week. We’re done with Laurel lying about Sara, and we’re done with Oliver lying to Thea. We’re rapidly approaching the point in Arrow season three where things tend to escalate, and escalate quickly. If last season’s final third was any indication, we may be in for some pretty crazy stuff over the next couple of months.

Meanwhile…On an Island…

The flashback sequences this season have been so dull and inconsequential that I could practically copy and paste this section from week to week. There are truth parallels, and there’s the growing friendship between Oliver and Maseo but…so what? What’s so different this week than any other week? Look, if you’re tired of reading me write this, imagine how tired I am of writing it!

No matter how many threats Amanda Waller makes to Oliver’s family, there’s still none of the menace that we got from Slade Wilson’s slow heel turn last season. There’s little opportunity for the kind of surprise that Sara’s return was. I’m just not getting it. I feel like these are starting to bring the season down a little.

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DC Universe Watchtower

– OK. I’ve been waaaaay off my game both here and on The Flash lately, and tonight is no different. I spotted…nothing. Nothing at all. I think the New York winter has finally frozen my brain. You folks are gonna have to help me out this week.

– Actually, I take that back. This isn’t a DC thing, but didn’t the one dude in Vertigo’s lab look like Walter White? This is the second Breaking Bad reference we’ve seen on the show (remember the bags of what appeared to be Heisenberg Blue last year?), and I love the fact that we can even pretend these two shows exist in the same universe. 

– Also not DC Universe stuff, but for real, yet another week where Felicity is the grown-up laying down the law. Hot damn!

– Where the hell is Ray Palmer, by the way?

Rating:

3.5 out of 5