Arrow “Canary Cry” Review (Season 4, Episode 19)

Arrow returned from a several week hiatus to allow everyone to deal with Laurel’s death. I wish I could say the show did a good job with it, but this was kind of a muddled story that, for the most part, missed the mark on the emotional front. There was quite a bit of revisionist history when dealing with Laurel and Oliver’s past and an attempt to introduce a vigilante-in-training to pick up where Laurel left off.

The person I felt the worst for, and the person who exhibited the most honest emotion was Captain Lance. It’s a tragedy to have to survive one child’s death, but it’s just cruel to have to live through another child’s death. To say that Captain Lance has been put through the ringer when it comes to his kids is kind of an understatement. He mourned Sara when everyone thought she died on The Queen’s Gambit. Then he got the shock of his life when she turned out not to be dead. Then he had to mourn her again when Thea killed her. Then he got another shock when Laurel took her to Nanda Parbat and brought her back via the Lazarus Pit. After all that, it’s no surprise Lance was convinced that Laurel’s death was only a temporary situation. Watching him fall deeper and deeper into denial and then being forced to accept the truth was truly heartbreaking.

Then there was Diggle. I understand why Dig was so angry. He was angry at Andy for lying to him and deceiving him. He was angry at the fact that Laurel is dead. But mostly, he was angry at himself for being stupid. In retrospect, I’m sure he can see all the ways Andy’s behavior didn’t add up and he’s angry at himself for not seeing it sooner. He’s angry at himself for not listening when Oliver told him that Andy wasn’t on the up and up. He blames himself for Laurel’s death, and in this situation, I agree. To be clear, Laurel died because she was a hero. She decided to put herself in harm’s way by becoming the Black Canary. Saying that John is (at least in part) responsible for her death in no way negates Laurel’s own decisions or takes away any of her agency. That being said, the only reason that Andy was able to find the missing piece of Darhk’s totem is because Diggle refused to listen. I don’t know whether it was just stupidity or whether he was just that desperate to believe that Andy was telling the truth. It’s true that family can oftentimes be our blind spot and cause us to make very poor decisions, and I believe that was the case here. There was no reason for John to be as trusting as he was of Andy given everything Andy did both in Afghanistan and after Team Arrow captured him. So it kind of bothered me every time someone told Dig that he needed to stop blaming himself because he couldn’t have prevented Laurel’s death. The truth is, he probably could have. Maybe I’m being overly harsh, but I would be less inclined to join Dig in blaming himself if Andy hadn’t pulled this exact same thing in Afghanistan. But the fact of the matter is, it doesn’t matter how much I blame Dig or how much he blames himself. Andy is a liar and Laurel is dead. Dig beating himself up over it isn’t going to bring her back.

The rest of the episode was kind of a jumbled mess of emotions that felt forced at best. That is no doubt due in large part to the fact that she show has been so inconsistent with Laurel’s character over the last couple of seasons for any of the characters to really be able to convincingly say anything about her. The powers that be couldn’t seem to figure out whether they wanted Laurel to be a strong, relatively likeable, interesting character or a whiney, flat, damsel in distress. Her transition into Black Canary wasn’t handled very well, and she was pretty much next to useless in the story for quite a long time. They tried to rectify that situation in the last handful of episodes, but it was really too late to rehab that character before she died. That’s especially true in the way the show handled the flashbacks of Oliver and Laurel’s relationship. It makes sense that Oliver is broken up about Laurel. She was his friend and his partner in crimefighting. Not to mention they’ve been a part of each others’ lives almost their whole lives, so it makes sense he was hurting about her death. But the flashbacks don’t jive with what I remember of their relationship since Oliver returned from the island. It was volatile and became even moreso after Laurel discovered that Oliver was The Arrow. Therefore, the show’s decision to focus on the romantic aspect of Laurel and Oliver’s past relationship instead of the friendship they’ve developed over the last few years was an odd choice. Especially given the fact that Oliver hasn’t been in love with Felicity for a long time.

I enjoyed Laurel’s farewell, but the fallout for Team Arrow not so much. The emotions felt forced and it wasn’t so much everyone mourning Laurel as it was everyone trying to make each other feel less guilty about what they should or should not have done. Additionally, the decision to introduce Evelyn into the mix didn’t feel organic either. I’ve watched the episode twice, but I still can’t seem to put my finger on exactly why Evelyn’s introduction didn’t feel quite right. Maybe it’s that it felt too soon for Team Arrow to be trying to protect Laurel’s legacy instead of being allowed to mourn her for a little while. I don’t know, but it just felt off. That’s not to say that I don’t think Evelyn could be interesting somewhere down the road. Just not right now.