This Arrow review contains spoilers.
Arrow Season 8 Episode 9
“Green Arrow & the Canaries” pulls off something pretty impressive in just an hour, managing to answer many questions about how the Crisis on Infinite Earths affected Arrow’s corner of the Arrowverse while the backdoor pilot gave the audience a sense of what the new show’s vibe would be and, perhaps most importantly of all, setting up a number of mysteries to make a spinoff feel like essential viewing.
So much is working here – Laurel’s antagonist-for-a-cause vibe, bringing in the Bertinelli family to keep things both young and new but steeped in Arrow’s lore, and the fun tone, the action sequences, and particularly the way exposition is layered into the episode with a relatively light touch. Yes, this is Earth Prime and Mia and William grew up together, we find out via a photo of them as kids on her night stand. She grew up wealthy, gets engaged to JJ almost immediately, and apparently Star City is crime free! Until Bianca Bertinelli’s kidnapping of course.
A few obvious positives came about, like reviving Zoe and bringing back Dinah’s canary cry. It always seemed like JJ might be redeemed, but making a whole other version of him and smashing them together like this feels far more emotionally fraught for all involved, so I’m in. The idea that it was inevitable for one of Diggle’s sons to lead a life of crime is…cringey considering it’s the one black family on this show, but also very into the CW’s theory of fate and multiple earth. Here’s hoping at some point Connor points out that in his version of having a troubled life, he turned inward rather than to murder and terrorism. Speaking of Connor, was that gold symbol on his necklace the Deathstroke symbol, or am I too trained to look for clues?
This hour is packed with easter eggs, from the canary finally singing (and owning her own bar!) to the framed arrow of Oliver’s that Mia has in her room alongside photos and newspaper clippings of his. The bar is named Club V, of course, whether after Verdant or the drug, or both. Mia wears a green velvet dress with green gems around her neck at her graduation party, obvi. With the clock in silhouette in the window, Dinah’s place looks like Sara’s canary hideout from season 2, which was eventually destroyed – maybe the earth-merger brought it back and the old canary instinct kicked in?
Mia has her mother’s ring – does that mean her mother’s dead or just stopped wearing it? The episode is a bit slippery when it comes to Felicity’s fate, or even Thea’s for that matter. Are they dead? Alive? On vacation in Corto Maltese with Nyssa? While the hosin moved on from Thea and Felicity, we’ve only ever seen it change hands without a death, so there’s no reason to assume any different here. It would be strange for them not to show up to Mia’s graduation party, but it’s also odd for Mia and William not to mention them at Oliver’s statue or in a quiet moment of reflection at such an emotional life event as her graduation.
Across the board, there seemed to be a concerted effort to align the show with a women’s empowerment ethos so that having a woman as the Green Arrow isn’t a surface-level change. Having a woman, Tara Miele, direct the episode is welcome, and hopefully the series will have predominantly or entirely women writers and directors, including people of color. Including an all-pantsuit group shot was a nice touch. The violence against women from current/former/aspiring romantic partners is absolutely a real-world problem on a disturbingly large scale, so it’s good to see a fantastical show use a grounded element like that. Most (if not all) of the vocalists for the episode soundtrack were women. Mia pushing back against Laurel’s Cool Girl hating on women who care about fashion or parties was welcome, too, though there’s clear room to critique that from a class standpoint.
Speaking of fashion, everyone got a low-key makeover and they all look great! Laurel’s smokey eye, Dinah’s curly hair that tells you she’s laid back now, Mia getting to wear gems on her eyelids or the black (style, not superhero) cape with leopard print top poking through. Still, it was great to see her in her own street clothes once she committed to the cause – characterization through wardrobe! And Dinah’s point about the emotional significance of Mia’s Green Arrow suit – the last time she wore it was the day Oliver died – was a great observation. A few of the mysteries this episode slipped in: Helena Bertinelli’s disappearance, Dinah being erased from the timeline, why everything is on fire in a year, how Mia’s at the center of it, the identity of whoever gave JJ back his memories, the “she” who Trevor referenced as a leader. Beyond that, there’s still a question of what happened to Laurel’s Earth – is she a refugee? Prior to watching this episode, the new series felt intriguing based on my love of the characters, but not altogether necessary or urgent. Listing these mysteries off here there’s quite a few of them, but they were folded into the plot well so it doesn’t feel like the start of a Lost-style impossible to resolve puzzle box, though it does seem like the “she” mystery is shaping up to be too easy, given how few women in power exist in this universe.
In general, there was some lovely emotional work throughout the episode. Dinah pushing Laurel to share her own pain and cut Mia some slack, Laurel helping Dinah to realize the world isn’t better off without her. It’s wonderful to see all three of these actresses working together, and hopefully it will continue. Katie Cassidy, Juliana Harkavy, and Kat McNamara have all created something special with their characters, even if they’ve only had them for a short while. This was an excellent showcase for the alchemy of bringing them together.
The only question I have is whether they’ll be bringing William, Zoe, and Connor (and possibly Rene?) in on the secret, so they can bring back the great dynamics from the future setting and the father-daughter Rene-Zoe connection, which opens up everyone else to consider the parents who aren’t present.
On the whole, this episode was fun, had the same high level of action that we’re used to seeing on Arrow, and bought me into a number of mysteries. It did everything it needed to do and more, with the level of excellence we expect from these creators. How soon can we get this on our screens full time, CW?
Star City 2040’s overcrowded skyline looks suspiciously like Vancouver crossed with Doha in 2020.
William would be a great man of honor.
Motorcycles for everyone!
Mia calling the hosin a pet rock is a whole mood.
We knew Dinah was married at 21, right? I feel like she told us this a few seasons ago.
Several things to add to the “I love Laurel” file:
- “There’s this guy, John Johns.”
- “You know I dated your dad, right? Well, a version of him.” “Gross.”
- “Look, there’ll be time for emotions later.”