Arrow: Lost Canary

“Redemption isn’t a destination. It’s a journey.”

Oliver Queen plays second fiddle while the Canaries past, present, and future sing. Welcome to "Birds of Prey" part deux.

As we hurtle towards this season's conclusion, The Powers That Be are addressing all the markers laid down at the outset. First up is Laurel’s redemption arc.

The premise of the multiple Earths falls back on the age-old question of nature versus nurture. Take multiple people with identical genetics, give them different life experiences and watch what happens.  Earth 2’s Laurel was as much of a Daddy’s Girl as our Laurel was. Losing her father at such a young age left her with a mountain of guilt and rage at the same moment she lost her moral compass. It’s not surprising she went down a very different path.

Yet all the ingredients were there for the Earth 1 Laurel. She just needed the love and understanding she missed on Earth 2. In walks Quentin, brimming with unconditional love and fatherly advice. And though the love may have been unconditional, it was of the tough love variety. He wore no glasses of any color and knew how damaged this version of Laurel was. He loved her anyway. And the brief time they shared gave Laurel the desire to be the person she might have been if her own father had lived. She may have assumed Earth 1’s Laurel’s identity in self-defense but it became a second chance. And she was determined to live up to what she thought Quentin wanted her to be. Earth 1 Laurel.

Emiko’s retribution just exposed the cracks already in existence. No amount of effort was ever going to transform this Laurel into the Earth 1 variety.  She'd been through far too much.  Besides, Laurel and Team Arrow may be allies but they were far from one happy family. After being framed for murder, Laurel decides she might as well live up to the hype.

Laurel’s ensuing crime spree only causes more divisions. While Oliver is open to giving Laurel the benefit of the doubt (she did get him released from prison) and the other male members of the team have no vested interest in the outcome, the same cannot be said for Dinah and Felicity.   Their dueling opinions of Laurel are directly related to their interactions with her.

Dinah’s opinion of Laurel is colored by the fact that she is responsible for Vinnie’s death.  Every action Laurel takes is weighed against that knowledge.  Therefore, it is not surprising that when shown evidence Laurel may be responsible for someone else’s death, Dinah was quick to believe.

Felicity’s relationship with Laurel is the opposite. Laurel is the woman who brought Oliver home to her and kept her from crossing a line she would have regretted. Felicity is the only member of Team Arrow who has never taken a life (At least by comic book rules. Blowing up a building full of bad guys doesn’t seem to qualify and everyone seems to have forgotten Havenrock except Rory) and Laurel is the reason that still holds true. Felicity understands how easy it is to cross the line no matter how good your intentions may be and that doing bad things doesn’t always make you a bad person. She could never have married Oliver otherwise.

This is why Dinah and Felicity’s argument is so powerful. Neither person is wrong. As Dinah said, they did not create Black Siren and Laurel’s choices are her own. Yet Felicity was right about needing second chances. When they met Dinah, she was on a crusade that didn’t stop until everyone she believed responsible for Vinnie’s death was dead. Yet Oliver still welcomed her onto the team and helped her get back on to the police force. She literally would not be where she is if someone hadn't given her another chance.

This made Sara the bridge to all worlds. She has no love for this Laurel and no ax to grind. She’s also responsible for enough death and destruction to see Laurel’s side. Sara has no need for platitudes when she can speak to the harsh realities of a lived experience. You don’t get gold stars for effort. The struggle for redemption is a lifelong commitment.

This culminates with Felicity’s ultimatum. If Laurel’s going to kill again, then she may as well start with Felicity. Laurel may have made her peace with the death of hypothetical people somewhere but could not bring herself to kill the person who stood by her even as Laurel repeatedly tried to push her away. Felicity, like Quentin before her, cared about Laurel for who she was and not who she looked like.  At the end of the day, Felicity returned the favor and pulled Laurel back from the edge but it was Sara that had the most impact. If Laurel truly wants to make amends, she needs to do it on her own Earth.

On the surface, the flash forward is about Galaxy One’s attempts to destroy the Canaries in their quest to take the Archer program global but it also serves as the coda to Laurel’s story. After multiple deaths, the Canaries are in full retreat which doesn’t sit well with Mia. If Galaxy One’s terminator has located all of the other Canary hideouts it’s only a matter of time till he finds their primary lair. Taking the fight to Galaxy One is the only option.   In an effort to change her mind, Dinah explains that she created the Canaries in part because of her failure to support a friend in her time of need.  It seems that amends were made all around. Laurel in the guise of the Black Canary arrives just in time to pull the young, arrogant, and foolish Mia’s butt out of the fire. Maybe she is her father’s daughter.

Laurel’s story may be the main plot of the episode but Oliver and Diggle’s side adventure contributes to the overarching plot of the season. How to stop Emiko and the Ninth Circle. Oliver hopes that if he can find the killer of Emiko’s mother, he’ll have leverage with Emiko. It is the desperate hope of a brother trying to save his sister. And normally it would never have worked. But it turns out that the only person left in the world that Emiko trusts may be behind the murder. Dante.

Is this a ploy to wrest the Ninth Circle back from her? He claims her lack of focus is causing concern among the other members of the Ninth Circle. I’m curious to know how he became her right hand in the first place. Criminal Organizations aren’t exactly known for their power-sharing tendencies.

I know I’ve mentioned the effects of diversity behind the camera affecting what’s seen in front of the camera but it bears repeating. An episode like this would never have occurred without a female showrunner. Being written and directed by women didn’t hurt either. It passed the Bechdel test with flying colors, while losing none of its ass-kicking comic book cred. Well done.

4 out 5 shadow suits

Parting Thoughts:

We may have said goodbye to Laurel in the present day; she may become the latest addition to the Earth 1 Star City Canaries.

Shadow Thief AKA Carl Sands was originally a supervillain for Hawkman. However, in the New 52 Shadow Thief was reinvented as Aviva Metuala, whose shadow suit could protect her from pain and harm, and could transform her limbs into weapons, among other things.

Quotes:

Shadow Thief: “I heard you traded in your leather for a power suit.”
Laurel: “Well, that suit didn’t really fit.”

Felicity: “Are you sure that you’re okay now that you know your sister’s evil and tried to kill you... Too soon?”

Felicity: “Not to toot my own horn but Emiko is more of the Karate Kid, Hillary Swank version, and I am more of the Mr. Robot version but prettier."

Mia: “I think we finally lost the son of a-- (explosion). Spoke too soon.”

Diggle: “Did Felicity tell you how she tracked the rifle to this apartment?”
Oliver: “Just call her a genius and leave it at that.”

Longbow Hunter: “You think an arrow’s going to stop me?”
Oliver: “I think a tranq arrow will.”

Laurel: “Aren’t you supposed to be on your little spaceship or something?”
Sara: “I took a break to clean up your mess.”

Dinah: “Laurel did not become Black Siren because we were bad friends, Felicity.”

Shadow Thief: “Which one was Felicity?”
Laurel: “The chatty one.”

Laurel: “So you’re a terrorist for hire?”
Shadow Thief: “I prefer a mercenary with perks.”

Felicity: “Well, I’m having deja vu in the best way possible.”

Sara: “Felicity Smoak is killing people now. I really have missed a lot.”

Felicity: “Fake heat signatures. That is devious and impressive.”

Mia: “It’s too bad I’m not a Canary.”

Felicity: “Forget about living up to Laurel’s legacy and forget being who Lance wanted you to be. What do you want?

Sara: “We are pretty badass together.”
Felicity: “Yeah. Like a Birds of Justice.”
Sara: “Something like that.”

Felicity: “It was like Charlie’s Angels without the feathered hair and casual sexism.”

Shari loves sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural, and anything with a cape.

No comments: