TV Show Review

TV Review: ARROW: Season 3, Episode 13: Canaries [The CW]



The CW‘s Arrow, Canaries TV Show Review. Arrow: Season 3, Episode 13: ‘Canaries,’ opened in the thick of things, with Laurel (Katie Cassidy) getting the worse of a violent reunion, with Canary predecessor sister, Sara (Caity Lotz). Of course, Sara wipes the floor with Laurel; of course, Sara has some very mean girl things to say to sister usurper; of course, this was more about redeeming Laura, than having Sara embody what certain viewers have been thinking; so, of course, this exercise needed some back tracked context.

Laurel’s Black Canary has been stepping on Team Arrow’s toes, and being kind of a brat about it. If that wasn’t bad enough, Team Arrow kept forgetting to change the HQ locks, because Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) dropped in again. This time, he came bearing concerns over the League’s intentions, as they pertained to Thea (Willa Holland). It was suggested that Thea be brought into the know, regarding Oliver’s (Stephen Amell) other life. Diggs (David Ramsey) was keen to point out that the revelation could be that last straw, that severs ties between the brother & sister; but I was left wondering how Merlyn – having been a party to much more secrets than this – would be insulated from Thea’s righteous indignation.

To the show’s credit, Thea was far more considerate, about the ramifications of Ollie’s other life, than she has been about… well, any past major development. As for Merlyn’s standing, on the lying-sack-of meter: well, Thea had to hate somebody, and Merlyn has been overdue (at least, since she shot him). The last thing Thea wanted, now that she regarded Merlyn as a wedge, between Ollie & herself, was to have him oversee their combined preparations for the League. Clearly, Thea needed motivating; so she opted to blow off some steam with DJ Chase (Austin Butler). For anyone who missed the Chase reveal – like, when he was first introduced – he was just what Thea needed, to remember the value of her Sith training. He also gave Arsenal (Colton Haynes) an excuse to come to her rescue, and Merlyn the opportunity to actually do the rescuing (sorry, Roy; but she knew you meant well). I assumed Merlyn wanted Chase dead, for all the effort that went into preventing his out; but Chase proved to be very useful, after all. Thea was now on board with Team Magician.

Unfortunately, that was just the subplot. Between the title & cold open, the episode was another exercise in Laurel redemption. To service that plot, Count Vertigo 2.0, Werner Zytle (Peter Stormare), arranged for a rather public escape (which proved useful to Team Arrow, later on), and went right back to mass producing madness. Despite ongoing clashes, over Laurel’s place on the case, the Count’s loose end nearly brought a fatal end to the new Arrow-Canary team, just as it got underway. They really didn’t have to make their escape as narrow as it was, though.

There was more doubt cast, on Laurel’s fitness, and more of Laurel lying to her father, Quentin (Paul Blackthorne), about Sara, before the Count provided her with the first voice to really get through to her. Some convenient carelessness left Laurel under the effects of Vertigo, allowing the Count to assume the form of the original Canary, who then proceeded to give Laurel a violent dressing down (which was where we came in, BTW). I’m still not clear whether the Count has any actual skill, or if the combat takes place entirely in the victim’s head, but Laurel took something of a beating before The Arrow & Arsenal bailed her out (in a way that should have left the Count incapacitated; but: plot). Score one for Ollie’s paternal mistrust. He loses points, however, when he started to throw his weight around, back at the Arrow Cave. Team Arrow had gone through great pains, learning to operate without him, and wasn’t about to fall back in line.

I assume this chastening left Oliver with some wiggle room, regarding Laurel’s heroic drive, because she was back in costume, back on the Count’s trail, and back teaming up with The Arrow. So, yes, she was back on Vertigo, before too long.

That meant a rematch with Sara – only with her trading places with Quentin, this time around, to add some more poignancy to the match. Okay, it was more like another beat down session. I seem to recall Oliver having an easier time fighting himself. Never mind the question of how active the Count is, during these encounters; I’m thinking Laurel has just been that weak willed.

Well, she got better. It seems being double-teamed, by Sara & Quentin, burned through her guilt, and hit adrenal rage. It was down, for the Count, and she didn’t even need rescuing. Laurel has earned her costume (again), and a thumbs up from Seraph Sara (described as such only to make the scene sound less silly than it actually was).

Now the surviving Lance daughter had to make good on the domestic front. If her finally coming clean, to Quentin, was supposed to clean her slate (this season, anyway), then her father’s reaction just reminded me that this was a tragedy she had only made worse; and not for as noble the reasons as she may have been convincing herself of.

If ‘Canaries’ was meant to be the corner turn, that establishes Laurel’s right to be the Black Canary, then they missed an important point. True redemption, for someone with Laurel’s history, will mean making a major difference, going forward; not just being able to clean up her own messes, from past mistakes.

Oddly enough, there wasn’t enough material, to the Hong Kong flashback, to pass for anything but a footnote, to the overall episode; but its ending packed the biggest punch. The central plot, to ‘Canaries,’ might have been a necessary throw away, for Black Canary’s sake; but since the peripheral storylines seemed to promise big things to come, I wouldn’t count it as a total loss, as far as filler episodes go.

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About the author

Sam Joseph

Sam is an Avid consumer/observer of Geek culture, and collector of Fanboy media from earliest memory. Armchair sociologist and futurist. Honest critic with satirical if not absurdist­­ wit with some experience in comics/ animation production.

  • Derek117

    Last year (Season 2) I rated Arrow one of the Top Five series on TV–right up there with Homeland, The Americans, and The Blacklist. But, this year, I can’t figure out what the hell the writers are thinking. Just throwing sh*t against the wall?

    Let me explain. The Canaries episode had so many threads going through it that it’s confusing: Laurel trying to be someone she’s not (the Canary); Quentin finally being told Sara is dead; Oliver trying to protect Thea; Oliver trying to re-gain Leadership of his team; Felicity trying to be the moral compass; and “something” going on in Hong Kong. And these are just the surface items. Going on “below” the surface is the return of Sara/Caity Lotz, to placate her fans (including me) who will NEVER forgive the show for killing her off.

    All of which are not handled well by the writers. At last July’s ComicConSD at the Arrow panel, the producers said this year would be about Thea…and while she certainly figures in the storylines, I really wouldn’t say it’s about her. She’s more of a “pawn” by Malcolm–who, as many fans have speculated, seems to be the real Star of the show. When you throw in the Oliver/Ra’s arc and then Oliver’s recovery in two weeks from being run through with a sword & kicked off a cliff; plus the entire Canary “development” mess, you’ve got an American (TV Show) Horror Story.

    So, my response to this episode is like my feeling about the entire show right now: no a lot to like.

  • Sam Joseph

    Okay! Now, tell us how you really feel….

    Thanks for replying (and speaking out as one of those “certain viewers,” without Sara as a surrogate). Off hand, I’d say you were being harder on the show than I’ve been (and I’ve had my share of fun, at its expense); but if you had the series sharing a stage with The Americans, or The Blacklist, then I can understand how any drop in quality would be steeper for you, than me. Me: I came into this show with Smallville in mind; so more often than not, it has surpassed my expectations. I’ve never regarded it as great; but I’d definitely rank it as one of the best, by CW standards (I’d give top billing to The 100 – which I also review – shameless plug ).

    On the subject of season 3, overall, I say give them some time to find the new Good Foot. The end of last season seemed to be as far as they had originally plotted for, and they seem to be reworking the mythology for long term showrunning. On top of that, those same showrunners now have their attention split, with the Arrow universe expanding, as it has (The Flash, maybe The Atom, Firestorm, etc.).

    Tell ya what: curb your expectations, some, and even if the show doesn’t get back on your good side, have some fun with its foibles. If I hadn’t learned to raise a glass, every time bad guys got away because the plot needed them to, or have ‘mean girl’ fun, with Laurel being Laurel, I’d probably be breaking media devices too frequently to review anything.

    Thanks for reading.

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