Team Arrow grieves the loss of a fallen member.
WARNING: Full SPOILERS are within the text below… I mean, how can there not be?
Ohhh, how the feels were strong with the episode entitled “Canary Cry”. It would have been a real sh***y episode if they weren’t, especially considering this was the episode to show the fallout of the events the previous episode, “Eleven-Fifty-Nine” featured. Yes, we as viewers had to endure a two week hiatus after witnessing the shocking death of Laurel Lance aka Black Canary at the hand of Damien Darhk after his powers were restored. I’m sure most of us expected a very heavy hearted episode to follow said events, and damn, did we get it.
This episode dealt with two main plot points. One, obviously and appropriately being about the team grieving over the death of their fellow crime-fighter and friend. The other being a far less compelling and underdeveloped scenario about a young girl named Evelyn Sharp posing as the Black Canary.
With the main focus being aimed at the loss of Laurel Lance, it allowed this episode to shine as a great example of how far the show’s cast have come as actors and how much their characters have grown and developed throughout the series. This is by far the most dramatic episode of Arrow I remember ever seeing, and while the action was very light, I enjoyed and appreciated the heavy character drama, especially since it deals with something we all have to face at some point in our lives, which is the death of a loved one. It was gripping and emotional to see how each character dealt with their grief. Oliver had to be the strongest so he could hold the team together. Most of the characters found a way to blame themselves for what happened. In one scene, Oliver and Felicity had a talk where she felt that if she were at the controls of HQ, maybe she could have helped prevent Laurel’s death. Oliver brought a lot into perspective when he said he often blamed himself when tragedy strikes because it gives him an answer. He was essentially saying it’s okay to blame one’s self. Diggle held himself responsible since it was his brother who had been playing Team Arrow all along, helping Darhk get his powers back, as well as working for HI.V.E. Diggle went as far as to nearly assassinate Darhk’s wife, Rúve, the mayor of Star City until Oliver stopped him. David Ramsey portrayed Diggle with a lot of rage, and although you could argue as say it was a bit much, I thought it was very effective. Honestly, at first I thought it was unnecessary for Diggle to take such an extreme action, but it’s probably how most soldiers would react if pushed over the edge. Plus, it may have added a new conflict in the show since Rúve held a press conference ordering the take down of all vigilantes. We’ll see how that plays out if it continues to be an issue.
Paul Blackthorne gave the most heartbreaking performance of the episode, as he portrayed Quentin Lance rather accurately as a grieving father. First, he is in denial. Then he tries to find a way to bring his daughter back from the dead, even contacting Nyssa al Ghul, asking her about the Lazarus Pit, which was already destroyed. Finally, he succumbs to the reality that his daughter is dead. It was so sad to see him breakdown at the funeral after trying to comfort his ex-wife who was also in denial. I think Lance was easily the most relatable character we could sympathize with the most. The man is truly broken at this point.
I was pleased to see that the flashbacks shifted away from the island of Lian Yu, in favor of focusing on Laurel and Oliver dealing with the death of their friend Tommy Merlyn (from season one). Having the episode begin with Laurel giving the eulogy in place of Oliver only to eventually see Ollie give Laurel’s eulogy by the end of the episode was very emotional and a great use of foreshadowing. The flashbacks added great insight on their relationship and the love they had for each other, but also showed us how far Ollie has come, going from a man who ran away from facing conflict but is now forced to overcome it. It was also nice to see additional scenes with the beautiful Katie Cassidy at least one more time. She may have given her best work in this episode.
As for the plot with the Black Canary imposter, it was the big element of the episode that kept “Canary Cry” just short of greatness. It seemed very out of place, very rushed, and completely unnecessary. It seemed like it was only added for the sake of a few bursts of action and suspense. I would have been fine with no action in this episode, especially with this conflict being so half-assed. Who is this Evelyn Sharp girl? Why was she a prisoner of H.I.V.E. that Oliver wasn’t able to save during a rescue mission? How did she modify Black Canary’s sonic device? If she is going to be a recurring character, why did she have to be introduced in this episode when we should be dealing solely on the death of Laurel Lance? How did she just disappear in front of dozens of media people and police after the Green Arrow was able to stop her from assassinating the mayor (wow, she was almost killed twice in this episode)? Why did she even go to Laurel’s funeral? Whyyyy? So many questions, no answers. I recently glanced at an article, and it stated that the Evelyn Sharp character was inspired by the “Birds of Prey” character Evelyn Starling, meaning, she may be a rather important character in this series, possibly the future Black Canary. If that’s the case, what a terrible way to introduce her into the show by just jamming her in this episode for the sake of a little bit of excitement. Not to mention, she tried to tarnish the legacy of the Black Canary.
The only good that came from the conflict was Oliver setting the record straight on who the Canary really was and what she stood for. He did this by revealing that Laurel was the Black Canary during her eulogy. What made it more impactful was when we saw Laurel’s headstone. Once Oliver removed a pile of flowers out of the way, we see the inscription read “The Black Canary” under the name Laurel Lance. That’s something you would see on a comic book cover. The funeral sequence as a whole was decent and emotional enough, but I wish more time was dedicated to it. Some of the editing seemed a little off, including the final flashback scene with Laurel reading a letter Oliver wrote to her explaining he had to go away, which it turned out her was flying back to the island. The narration of the letter was read off very quickly, making the intended tone seem misguided. It didn’t help including the scene we already saw in the season premiere episode with Barry Allen expressing his condolences. It wasn’t really needed since it didn’t contain any new footage except the reveal of who’s name was on the headstone. The extension of the conversation Oliver has with Felicity in the car about killing Damien Darhk was more effective, but even those moments of dialogue we already saw from the mid-season return could have been edited down to the latter part of the conversation.
We all knew this dramatic episode was coming. I for one am satisfied with how it was handled overall. There were some excellent performances from the cast, especially with Paul Blackthorne, where the many stages of grief were explored very well. “Canary Cry” hit most of the emotional notes just right, but forced a very unneeded conflict with a vengeful Black Canary imposter that could have waited for a later episode. Now with this much needed somber episode out of the way, I’m hoping the remaining episodes of the season will play out with much seriousness and grit as we see the team seek vengeance and rid the city of Damien Darhk.