Arrow: Canaries

Diggle: "What I know, Oliver, is that you started something. Something strong enough to live beyond you. The question is: Can you live with what it's become?"

It was pretty clear this one was about discovering, reacting, and dealing with the mountain of secrets that have been building up since basically the beginning of the series.

Well, that's not how I thought it would go with Thea. Was her reaction a product of her training with Malcolm? The death of her mother? Or just simply the fact that she now knows her brother isn't just some flaky self-absorbed rich boy? Not that it matters. Even if she is faking, the complete acceptance and gratitude Thea showed Oliver was probably my favorite moment this season.

Then Thea switched pretty quickly into the 'I hate Malcolm' camp. But I guess it makes sense, because all the horrors he inflicted on the city and on Oliver are now hitting much closer to home for her. Perhaps in retrospect, the idea that Malcolm directly threatened her brother and not some anonymous vigilante flipped some internal family switch in Thea. Like 'how dare you do that to my brother' kind of thing. Or maybe it was just looking at them side by side. It was easy to see who was the better choice.

I also loved the way that her acceptance rolled down to Roy as well. It was as if all the lies and stuff in the way between Roy and Thea began to fall away, and now a spark of romance is starting to show up between them again. Maybe Joss Whedon made me paranoid, but I now have this distinct and nagging feeling one or both of them might not make it to the end of the season.

I just wish Oliver had been as accepting. He went back to business as usual, expecting the team to just follow him like always. I loved that they supported Laurel, and forced him to see that it wasn't just his show anymore. Team Arrow stepped up, because they had to. They weren't just covering for him, they chose to become heroes themselves as a testament to his legacy. I wonder how that will affect him going forward?

Moving on, Laurel had some meaty scenes in this one too, and they were all pretty good. I liked her two fights with Sara, and the whole dueling Canaries thing was a neat visual. It also illuminated the differences between them. Sara's Canary is lighter, softer, perhaps a bit more feminine. Laurel is harder and her makeup adds to that effect (now with a dark red instead of black lipstick), and I think she pulls off the mask a bit better too.

But it wasn't the costumes that really mattered. It was Laurel's reasons for donning the mask in the first place. Oliver was pretty clear he didn't like her choices, even going so far as to suggest that the mask was another form of addiction. The Sara ghost kept calling her a fake and an addict, too. This forced Laurel to come to two rather important revelations: one, she needed to tell her father about Sara, and two, she needed to be Black Canary for herself and not for her sister. Of course it was Felicity that broke down the truth of Laurel's inner conflict in the simplest possible way.

Then there was that scene where Laurel told her father about Sara. I liked that he figured out that she was the new person in the Canary suit, and even accepted it. But when he realized what she was saying, it was heartbreaking. I'm worried that he'll fall into the same rut he did when Sara was presumed dead the first time, but maybe he won't. The point about this secret was that Quentin deserved the truth, whether it kills him or breaks him, he needs to be able to mourn.

With all these truths coming to light, I realized something about this show. They don't let things fester and stagnate. Every time the show takes a character to an uncomfortable or negative place, they eventually resolve that and build them back up again. Quentin, Thea, Laurel, Sara, Tommy, Moira, and especially Oliver have gone dark to the point of being almost irredeemable. I think that's the real strength of this show, knowing its characters well enough to take those kinds of risks.

Flashback and the Island:

Having the flashback shift to Starling City (in 2010), was an interesting choice. Since the story is moving at roughly one year per season, that means Oliver is only two years away from getting off the Island. It makes me curious what the flashbacks will be like in season six (if we get that many seasons)? I also thought it was fitting to have Oliver and Thea end up on Lian Yu, as if the current story and the flashback switched places (which happened to Sara and Slade in season two).

Thea's failure to defeat the League assassin illustrated an interesting point about Thea's training. She is good, perhaps even excellent with a blade. But she hasn't been in life or death situations where she needed to use those skills. I think that's why the assassin got through her defenses so easily. She needs real life experience, and of course that's why she and Oliver are now on the Island. Plus, it is awesome that she finally gets to see where Oliver was during his time away.


I'm so glad the D.J. assassin guy is dead and gone. I wish they hadn't made Thea sleep with him first, though.

Vertigo was very ancillary to the real drama of the episode, and was used simply as a device to tell a character story about Laurel. I really like that the show isn't beholden to the villain of the week anymore.

I'm not sure the in medias res was needed for this story at all. Maybe they didn't have enough content to fill up the full 42 minutes.

It has been a few weeks since Oliver's return, and there wasn't a single real moment between Oliver and Felicity.

I loved the hug between Felicity and Laurel. I didn't expect them to have a friendship at all, and the one they seem to be forming is really nice.

Some of the action took place at Daggett Pharmaceuticals. Daggett is a character that was introduced in Batman: The Animated Series. He was one of the corporate villains, and also had a big hand in the creation of the villain Clayface.


Thea: "You smell like smoke. Korean barbecue?"
Oliver: "C4."

Thea: "You always had the lamest excuses."
Oliver: "Lame excuses are an occupational hazard."

Felicity: "Oliver, you were gone. You were dead and we had to go on with our lives, and doing that meant not doing things your way."
Oliver: "Fine! I'm back now."
Felicity: "That doesn't mean that we can go back. And you do not have the right to come back here and question everyone's choices."

Felicity: "You have a light inside of you that Sara never had. So maybe you should stop trying to be Sara and just be yourself."

This was another solid episode, It's pretty clear now that Arrow spends the first half of the season setting up so that the back half rocks. Which hopefully means the rest of the season is gonna kick ass.

3 1/2 out of 4 Secrets revealed.

J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related. He reviews Arrow and Farscape and cool new movies that strike his fancy.


Patrick said...

I love the way they decided to handle Thea's reaction to Oliver coming clean with her. I feel like I've been waiting for years to see these scenes between the two of them. I felt cheated out of similar scenes between Oliver & Moira after "Seeing Red" last year(her death still hurts, which I guess was the point). Please, writers. Don't get rid of Thea anytime soon.

I was a little pissed at Oliver for the way he was talking to everyone down in the Arrow-cave/lair/whatever, though I suppose we needed to see it so we could watch him come around at the end. And when it comes to Thea, I did understand him wanting to keep that side of his life away from her as much as possible, he just handled it poorly.

Next week should be VERY interesting, Oliver & Thea on Lian Yu. Seriously, I can't express how excited I am to see Oliver & Thea together now that she knows about him. They've done such a great job setting her character up for this, it should be a lot of fun.

migmit said...

First time Felicity was on Lian Yu, she stepped on the land mine. If Malcolm's fatherly advice is for Thea to get there as well, he is even more insane than we thought. Ditto Oliver.

CrazyCris said...

Thea's reaction to Oliver's reveal was definitely one of my favorite moments of the entire series! And about damn time!!! :D Can't wait to see the two of them on the Island!

Canaries... very cool, but wish we could have had a bit more of Sara. Laurel's definitely coming into her own now.

Seeing Quentin breaking down... heartbreaking! But also, about time!

I was never an "Ollicity" fan, so no issues with what seems to be a final break (on Felicity's side at least)

PlatinumRosebud said...

If Thea was able to smell cyanide, she's one of those rare individuals who can do so.

I'm also looking forward to those training scenes on the island.
Couldn't Laurel join them so she gets to have better fighting skills?
She seems to get an upper hand in fighting her opponent only if they don't know that she's there.
Would be a shame to always see her being tossed like a rag doll.

I wasn't happy with the Canaries fight scenes.
They weren't well executed.
Sara's fight scenes were always well choreographed and smoothly executed.

Loved the Quentin/Laurel scene.
At last, the big bad secret is finally out; but not yet closed as far as Lance is concerned since he still have no idea on the how and who killed Sara.
If this reveal comes to pass, will this mean Thea will go nuclear with her Dad?

Jabari said...

Personally J.D. I don't think Thea was faking her reaction when she found out that Oliver was the Arrow. She is not the type of person to fake such a thing. If she is I think the writers would clue the audience in on this. Also I would be very infuriated if she was faking it.

J.D. Balthazar said...

I think the Canaries fight was well done, but I think it's pretty clear Katie Cassidy still has a little ways to go to sell the action of her character convincingly.

I'm not a hardcore Olicity shipper, and if they did separate I'd want the break to be complete (like Felicity moving to the inevitable Atom spinoff). I'm not sure if anyone could replace her, but it's not out of the realm to have a new tech character show up. Or perhaps a DC mainstay pops up and gives mission help (cough... Oracle... cough). I'm just totally going into fantasy land there, but it's a nice idea.

I am looking forward to seeing Oliver and Thea on Lian Yu, because I want Oliver to recognize that his sister doesn't need overt protection anymore. I want Thea to come into her own, and I would be pissed if they killed her off (despite the nagging feeling that they might do just that).

Jabari, I agree it feels out of character for her to fake something like that, especially since we didn't get any indication that she was. My only worry is how compartmentalized she's been since letting Malcolm into her life. Her sudden turn around against him has me wondering where her true loyalties lie.

That being said, I would be pretty pissed if she's faking it as well.