Arrow: “Canary Cry” Season 4 Episode 19 Review

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A lot of TV shows deal with death, some on a routine basis (looking at you, Game of Thrones), but I have to admit, ever since Tommy Merlyn died, Arrow has stood out to me in its handling of the ultimate sacrifice. Between Tommy, Moira, and now Laurel, all the big deaths on this show have been shocking but also necessary, springing the show forward while taking the time it needs to reflect. There’s no shortchanging of death on Arrow, a quality its sibling series do not share. “Canary Cry” is maybe the best example of this in all four seasons. Everyone deals with Laurel’s death differently. Her father is in denial, and why shouldn’t he be? Last time a daughter died, she was revived and went off adventuring across time and space. Diggle and Felicity, meanwhile, bear guilt for what they didn’t do in the most dire of situations. Then there’s Oliver, who, as the lead hero of this series, rises to the occasion.

Another huge strength for this episode is the lack of a villain. Instead, the team has a mysterious new Black Canary to deal with. This helped make “Canary Cry” entirely about Laurel’s legacy. Even this season’s terrible flashback storyline took a break to show us some very intimate and difficult moments Oliver and Laurel shared after Tommy’s death at the end of season one.

But back to this new Black Canary, who totes a gun and vows revenge on those who killed her family. It just so happens that those are the same people who killed Black Canary herself. The new girl donning the mask had her parents killed when Damien Darhk kidnapped much of Team Arrow around Christmas. Now she’s stolen Laurel’s very, very loud choker and has fooled the city into thinking that Black Canary still patrols the streets. Her primary target is Darhk’s wife, also the mayor of Star City, who has the police hunting the vigilantes in the wake of Diggle threatening her and Black Canary’s attack on her advisor.

Just as the new Canary is about to pull the trigger in front of the media, Green Arrow manages to convince her not to by thinking of what the real Black Canary would do. It’s a touching moment where Oliver gets to preserve his friend’s legacy in costume. Shortly after, he gets to do it out of costume as well.

After the opening scene showed us Laurel stepping in to give Tommy’s eulogy when Oliver felt he couldn’t, he gets a second chance to pay respect to one of his oldest friends. To her mother’s shock and her father’s tears, Oliver reveals that Laurel was the Black Canary, showing the city that she was a hero in more ways than one, and also not the girl with the gun on the streets now. Few superheroes get this kind of tribute, but the sight of “Black Canary” etched onto her tombstone is a really beautiful moment.

The very end of the episode was problematic, however. A black mark on this otherwise stunning entry to the series. As the show ties back to the flash forwards to this funeral we saw earlier in the season, Oliver and Felicity both betray one of the fundamental aspects of their heroism. Declaring revenge on Darhk by killing him makes Oliver no better than the young girl who almost killed the mayor in Laurel’s costume. And Felicity, his rock and all round voice of reason, is all for it. The tone of this episode wasn’t angry, but both sad and uplifting. I know it’s just a stinger to get us back in front of our TVs next week, but this episode was so freaking good that it reminded me what Arrow looks like at its very best. I can’t wait for what’s to come now, but the extra push didn’t quite fit. Either way, I feel confident in saying that this was the best episode of season four. Grade: A-

Some Other Notes:

  • When does this take place exactly? Flash doesn’t have his speed right now on his show. Is this before he lost it or after he gets it back? Or was it just an oversight?
  • One of my absolute favorite moments of this episode that I couldn’t quite fit into this review was the random nurse at the hospital who kept Laurel’s secret and called her a hero. It’s rare to see the take of a random citizen on what these heroes are dong in Star City, but this is an event that really needed and, thankfully, got it.
  • After everything, I really hope Oliver doesn’t kill Darhk. That would betray a lot of growth over the last few seasons.
  • How good was David Ramsey in the scene where Diggle melted down and almost killed the mayor?

By Matt Dougherty

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