This Arrow review contains spoilers.
Arrow Season 7 Episode 18
The women of Arrow take center stage in a Canary-centric episode that serves more as a reminder of what the show could be, rather than an example of greatness in and of itself. I wish the future plot had had more time to breathe, especially the concept of the Canaries – a force that OG Laurel would have loved. Unfortunately, up till now the Canaries have been relegated to a topic of conversation rather than something we get to see and experience. What a waste.
Much of this episode feels like one step forward, two steps back. It’s a credit to the way Arrow has changed that there are even enough women characters of substance to pull off an episode like this, where all the heroes and villains in two timelines are interesting women. Of course, Arrow has to pull from its past and the Arrowverse bench to do it, bringing back the wonderful Sara Lance, since women still make up less than 50% of the show’s call sheet. And the episode serves as a bittersweet dual sendoff, with Laurel heading back to Earth-2 and it being the first to air since Emily Bett Rickard announced that she and Felicity will soon be departing the show. That gender ratio doesn’t seem like it will improve any time soon…
This episode should have been a triumph. Looking at it on paper, there’s a ton of great action from six great women, plus Felicity leading the charge for Laurel’s emotional redemption, which is rightly tied into her own. That moral ambiguity of all of the characters – not just Laurel – should make for a stronger story, but instead Felicity grasps at straws and tries to say what a shock it is that Dinah, a female police detective who helped women victims of violence, became a police captain. Like the initial feeling of getting replacement Laurel all those episodes ago, this feels hollow, like a token attempt at rectification with no real heart. Earlier episodes focused on the tentative collaboration between these same women were far more successful.
This episode is at its best when we get to live in the real relationships and conflicts of the women in question. In a way, Laurel going this big, this bad, was too much. Dinah mistrusting her is a great conflict – we understand why, but we can see how hurtful it is all the same. But no one watching or writing ever thought for a second that Laurel was going to kill Felicity, Dinah, or Sara. I don’t even think anyone has thought Laurel was “bad” this whole season. The smaller character beats have a bigger impact, like Laurel covering for Felicity’s pregnancy without being asked, Sara knowing where to find Laurel, and Dinah admitting that she should have trusted her friend. Sometimes life and death is too much, especially when it feels unearned, as it did here.
We’ve spent a lot of time hearing about the Canaries in 2040, but always in absentia and even in abstract. Why not bring us into their world, whether it’s Dinah recruiting, training, and leading them, or their operation to smuggle William and Mia into the walled city? All these mentions in passing are no substitute for showing the audience the real thing. I want so badly to have seen the canaries in action in 2040, instead of all that treading water before they rescued Felicity. I worry that Arrow is so devoted to the Smoak-Queen dynasty and the children of our present-day characters that it’s unwilling to go where the good stories are if the right last names aren’t involved.
As it is, we feel no emotional impact when Galaxy 1 starts killing and kidnapping Canaries. Balancing two timelines can be difficult, but keeping emotional investment at arm’s length isn’t the answer. Our villain Shadow Thief is drawn similarly thin. Other than a line tossed in about Diaz introducing her and Laurel and a reference to “girls nights” AKA crime, we learn almost nothing about her. She looks cool and I’m always on board for more female villains, but what is there to look forward to with her return if the only thing we know about her is that she wanted Laurel to kill her friends in the name of efficiency?
My one glimmer of hope is that the episode ends with Earth-2 Laurel in full Black Canary wig and attire back on Earth-1 in the future, helping Mia and trying to protect the city. She’s either running her own group of Canaries or perhaps she’s gathering survivors from Dinah’s crew. Either way, I want to watch that show – Dinah and Laurel and everything they’ve had to do as rebels on the fringe, this family of women protecting each other and whatever remains of their city.
Pinky Santorini is an excellent name. It kinda feels wasted on this dead dry cleaning dude
I guess the Longbow Hunters are still a thing! Points for continuity: Oliver had no idea who he was
It’s fun seeing Sara do the salmon ladder again
“You can’t force redemption on people” – Sara
Mia practically says jus drein, jus draun (from The 100) while arguing with Dinah about fighting Galaxy 1