Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 4, Episode 19 - Canary Cry

For a summary of the episode guide layout & categories, click here.


In the wake of Laurel Lance's death, Team Arrow is more broken than ever.  John Diggle in particular is shaken, blaming himself for not seeing his brother Andy's treachery coming. And as a distraught Quentin Lance turns to Nyssa Al'Ghul for some way - any way - to restore his daughter to life, reports come in of a new Black Canary assaulting the corrupt administration of the newly elected Mayor Adams.


Kevin Smith's Quiver (The vigilante running around when everyone who knows them believes them to be dead plot came from this Green Arrow mini-series, though it had a seemingly back-from-the-dead Green Arrow rather than Black Canary)


Curiously, everyone is given a chance to vent about their feelings of guilt over Laurel's death except Thea. While the episode is already top-heavy with grief speeches, you'd think Thea might have been given one as well since her failure to kill Merlyn when he stole Darhk's idol also indirectly led to the events that saw Laurel die.

I've taken the show to task before for how Laurel Lance was fast-tracked from lawyer who had taken a few self-defense classes to vigilante capable of fighting multiple League of Assassins members simultaneously over the course of Season 3. That's nothing compared to how quickly Evelyn Sharp fills Laurel's boots, managing to hack one of Cisco Ramon's weapons, improve upon it and use it to far greater effectiveness than Laurel ever did in a matter of hours! To say nothing of how effective she is planing out her attacks on Mayor Adams and her underlings.

Did anyone ever tell Nyssa that Sara recovered after the events of episode 405? It seems like she still thinks Sara is dead or soulless based on her talk with Quentin.

While the emotion in the scene that follows is honestly played, Stephen Amell and David Ramsey shouting at each other in their Christian Bale Batman voices is just goofy as all hell.

If the goal of this episode was to try and paint a rosier picture of Laurel in death, then the flashbacks have a damn curious way of going about it. Not only are we reminded that Laurel was the sort of person who broke the rules to get ahead in her job (we find out she literally bought her way into the Presidency of her Senior Class), but we find out that she was all but recovered from Tommy Merlyn's death after a week and was putting the moves on Ollie and talking about looking forward to a future together with him.

For that matter, Green Arrow pleading to the fake Canary that she's dishonoring the legacy of the heroine she saw fighting HIVE on the night he failed to save her family REALLY shouldn't work, given that - logically - Evelyn Sharp should be just as pissed at Black Canary leaving her and her family to die as she is Green Arrow.


Paul Blackthorne's performance in this episode is nothing short of phenomenal. You feel every bit of his pain and his denial is completely understandable, given how purposefully ignorant he's been kept of the strangeness Team Arrow deals with and how much he's learned in spite of that. All things considered, his belief that Laurel is alive somehow isn't nearly as insane as it might seem on the surface. After all, he's lost his other daughter twice before...

David Ramsey is right behind Blackthorne on the Episode MVP list and it's still a close thing. Ramsey usually plays Diggle with restraint and control, as befits his soldier's training. We know from past episodes that when Diggle loses control, things are bad. Yet we've never seen John as bad-off as he is in this episode and an enraged Diggle is something to behold.

Stephen Amell gives Oliver Queen a remarkable level of power in this episode. With everyone else crumbling around him, it is Ollie who has to be the pillar for everyone else.  Ollie's always been the leader of Team Arrow but this is one of the first times we've seen him truly take the mantle on in a capacity outside of the battlefield.

Katrina Law plays Nyssa with her usual level of gravitas, despite not having a lot to do in this episode. Still, she makes the most of what brief scenes she has.

Emily Bett Rickards is just plain scary as Felicity in the final scene in the car with Oliver. You know it's bad when Felicity has gone hard-core.


There's some nice parkouring action as Green Arrow chases down the fake Canary.

It's a nice subtle note in the blocking, but none of the police move to obey Mayor Adams' order to arrest The Green Arrow or even bother to shoot at him as he escapes. Apparently they aren't ready to start hunting the local hero down just yet...


This episode did not open with the usual "My name is Oliver Queen" intro.

The teenage girl who becomes the new Black Canary is named Evelyn Sharp. She shares a name with two prominent feminist icons - an American aviator who was one of the first female pilots and a British suffragist.


Cisco Ramon keyed the sonic device that provided Laurel with her canary cry to Laurel's vocal chords. This was to prevent anyone else from being able to use it.

A frequent-flyer is a slang-term used by hospital personnel to refer to patients who frequently check themselves into the emergency room. Dr. Schwartz believes one of them may have taken Laurel's choker with the canary cry device.

The fake Canary uses the sonic device at higher decibels than Laurel ever did. She also modified it so that it would overpower the earplugs Team Arrow wore so as not to be affected by the canary cry.

Dialogue Triumphs

(John is on the phone with Lyla, checking on her. He hangs up and looks up to see Oliver standing in front of the case where Laurel kept her costume.)
John: Didn't expect to see you standing there.
Oliver: Where else would I go?

Oliver: Are you worried about your brother?
John: I don't think he'd do anything to hurt my family, but... I don't know. Clearly I never knew him.
Oliver: Alright, John. As's leading expert in blaming yourself, please don't do it.
John: You warned me, Oliver. Straight up, you warned me. If I'd listened to you instead of trusting my brother, Laurel would be alive right now.
Oliver: You can't know that.

(Oliver is sitting at the table in The Bunker. He looks up and is surprised to see Felicity walk in with John and Thea)
Oliver: Hi. I didn't know-
Felicity: You called for the team.

Quentin: Thanks for coming.
Nyssa: I fear I lack the words to convey the true depths of my sympathy. To lose a child once is unimaginable... but for it to be both children...
Quentin: Listen, I know you and I haven't always been on the same side of things, but, uh, Laurel, you know, she thought of you as a friend.
Nyssa: Just as I thought of her. She brought me comfort during a difficult time period. The world will be a darker place without her.
Quentin: Yeah, well, not for long. Okay. I got all of her things. What else do I need?
Nyssa: I'm afraid I don't understand.
Quentin: What else do I have to bring for her when she comes out of this, you know, Lazarus Pit thing?
Nyssa: I would do anything for your daughter, but I destroyed The Pit months ago.
Quentin: Um, ok, well... there's gotta be something else.
Nyssa: I am so very sorry.
Quentin: So you don't want to help me?
(Nyssa just bites her lip and looks conflicted.)
Fine. I'll find some other way to bring her back.

Oliver: I tried to do the right thing and i came up short. I came up short for that girl. And for Laurel. Maybe I shouldn't feel responsible, but I do.
Felicity: Yeah. That's going around.
Oliver: You mean John?
Felicity: I mean me. John was looking for someone to absolve him.Reassure him that what happened wasn't his fault. And I couldn't do it. I think, for a second, I let him blame himself, because for a minute it saved me from blaming me. (starting to sob) I should have been there. I wasn't there for the team, in The Bunker. I know I would have just been behind a keyboard. I know it seems like hubris, but I've made a difference before and I can't help but think that maybe if I was there, you know, maybe she'd still be here?!
Oliver: Do you know why I always blame myself in situations like this? Because at least it's an answer. Sometimes we need a reason... when a situation is completely unreasonable.

Oliver: Laurel is gone and there is no bringing her back!
Quentin: No, no, no! To hell with that! And if you don't want to help me, then to hell with you too!
Oliver: I am helping you -
Quentin: No, you're not! Because you know why? Because you do not know what it is like to lose a child! No idea!
Oliver: But I have lost a father! I have lost a mother! And I have lost Laurel! We have lost her!
Quentin: (stopping walking, the fight suddenly seeming to flow out of him) Yeah.  We have. 
Oliver: If there was a way - if there was ANY way to bring her back, I woul find it and I would do it... but there isn't. For either of us.
Quentin: (turning to Oliver) You don't understand! When I lost Sara? When I became a drunk? When no one else believed in me, she did! She's my rock!  I... (quietly) she was my rock.
(Quentin collapses to his knees, sobbing. Oliver puts a hand his shoulder.)

Oliver: I knew Laurel Lance for... almost her entire life. She was my friend. And I loved her. Before she died, I was lucky enough to hear her say that she loved me too. Laurel Lance became a lawyer to help people, who may have appeared helpless. She wanted to give a voice to the silent. But just being a lawyer wasn't enough! She wanted to do more for those people and for this city. Because she loved this city so much. By now, everyone knows that Laurel was killed in the Iron Height's prison riot. And while it's true that she was an assistant District Attorney, that's not what she was doing there that night. Before she died, Laurel told me the truth. Laurel Lance was The Black Canary! In the past few days, I have had to sit and listen to people try to paint the Black Canary as a criminal. She was not a criminal! She was a hero!  She was a hero in every way that a person can be, And if Laurel were here, I know that she would expect all of us to live up the example that she set. She'd want us to save our city.

Oliver: Are you ok?
Felicity: Are you?
Oliver: No.
Felicity: You know what you have to do, right? You have to kill the son of a bitch!
Oliver: I know. (pauses) I don't know how.
Felicity: Because of his magic?
Oliver: It's too strong. I've seen it before. Back on Lian Yu. And it is not just magic. It's darkness. And whenever I have come up against it, I have gone nowhere. He feels unstoppable.
Felicity: I refuse to believe that. And I refuse to let you believe that. If Darhk wins, Laurel died for nothing! I fell in love with you for many reasons and one of those reasons is that you always find a way. And you have to find a way now. For Laurel. For the city. For all of us. 

Dialogue Disasters

(After kissing Ollie a week after Tommy Merlyn's funeral.)
Laurel: I'm really excited about the future, Ollie


The Merlyn and Lance families are apparently both Catholic, based on their funerals.

John Diggle refers to his sister-in-law, Carly, and nephew, Andy Jr., not seen since Season One.

Dr. Schwartz, the doctor who handled Laurel in this hospital, is aware of her secret identity and seems to know that Oliver Queen is The Green Arrow.

Evelyn refers to the events of 409 and how Green Arrow and Black Canary left the various people brainwashed by HIVE for dead in Reddington when he was focused on saving John, Felicity and Thea. This is a reference to Reddington Industrial - the building HIVE was using as a base.

Evelyn Sharp is her class President, a gymnast and an academic decathlete. Her parents were found dead of hypoxia, two days after Christmas 2015.

Nyssa seems to be unaware of Sara Lance's recovery, referring to Quentin having lost both his daughters.

Nyssa refers to the destruction of the Lazarus Pit in 403.

Laurel was elected Student Body President of her and Ollie's senior class. She won by exchanging gift-baskets for votes. Ollie says this was Tommy's idea.

Dinah Drake, last seen in 309, is seen at Laurel's funeral.

It is revealed that Oliver returned to Lian Yu in between Season One and Season Two because he feared holding Laurel back in her efforts to save Starling City.

It is also revealed that he left Laurel the picture of her that he carried with him during his give years of exile, along with his Dear John letter.

The flash-forward sequences from 401 and 410 are seen in-whole in the episode's final scene.

Laurel's tombstone has her full name - Dinah Laurel Lance - as well as her codename - The Black Canary - carved into it.


The flashbacks are set in Starling City - May 2013, after the end of Season One.

The Fridge Factor

Averted hard with Evelyn Sharp, who proves to be hyper-competent as the faux-Canary.

The Winick Factor

Laurel is remembered in the flashbacks as the scheming opportunist she was back in Season 2. Some of Laurel's fans on-line may believe this was a disservice to the character. I believe the real disservice was in giving such a despicable character the same name as one of my favorite comic book heroines. I've said it once and I'll say it again - Laurel is Black Canary in name only.

The Bottom Line

Easily the strongest episode of the season to date. Laurel's death, for better or worse, has raised the stakes on this show immeasurably and for the first time in several episodes there is an actual sense of urgency to the plot. The subplot with the Black Canary impersonator is utter nonsense but - much like the better episodes of The Flash this year -  the villain is a brilliant framing device for the short, character-driven scenes and excellent performances that were what made Arrow great before the series began treading water waiting to reach this point. Now that it's here, I am excited about next week's episode in a way I haven't been for some time.

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