Arrow: "Canaries" Review

Kalem Lalonde's picture

This review contains full spoilers.

Arrow started season 3 off with some shaky consistency but the New Year has completely turned that around. Oliver’s absence in Starling City was the new breath of life this series needed and even as he has returned, the writers don’t seem to be slowing down. While this episode wasn’t huge on plot advancements, it had an insane amount of character. Almost every single supporting character on this show had a moment to shine tonight and that what made this episode special to me.

Let’s start off with Roy Harper. This was by far the best showing of character in quite some time. His presence in season 3 has felt quite side-lined and sometimes unessential. This was changed while Ollie was gone and I greatly appreciated the greater use of Roy. And I’m glad that the writers want to continue that trend through Oliver’s return. At the beginning of this episode, I hadn’t thought that Roy was going to have a strong role but when he stood up to Oliver’s commanding attitude I was pleasantly surprised.

That scene in particular was amazing to me because I had been just thinking that Oliver was acting like a real prick (I’ll get to that later) and seeing Roy stand up to him first felt right. He felt defensive towards Thea which prompted a pretty big uproar about why Oliver shouldn’t be roaring out commands all the time. Though, Roy’s best feature this week actually was his feelings for Thea. It was really great of him to try and save her after she slept with another guy. He failed but he tried, nonetheless. Hopefully Roy will continue to shine like this in upcoming episode.

As for other supporting players, the other standout to me was Laurel. The title of the episode is “Canaries” so I knew she was going to feature heavily and I was pleased with her arc, this episode. There was on ongoing theme of overcoming fear this week as Laurel dealt with that more directly than others as she got hit by Vertigo’s serum twice. Leading to a great sequence where Caity Lotz returns (and did a solid job being evil) as Sara in Laurel’s hallucinations. Laurel had to face that she isn’t her sister and can’t replace her as Black Canary. This was a strong development for Laurel who has had a solid treatment in season 3. But even though this was a strong moment for Laurel, it brought upon a heart-wrenching conclusion to her arc. She finally told her dad about his daughter’s death and I was heartbroken. Watching Quentin Lance break down into mournful tears was brutally sad and showed what powerful drama this series is capable of.

Another strong theme of this episode was family. A reveal that has been long in the making finally happened this week as Oliver told Thea about his vigilantism. I was actually quite worried that Thea would get upset and start accusing Ollie of lying but her reaction was much more joyous than that. She turned around and looked upon her brother with a newfound respect and admiration. Finally, this series has brought these two siblings together in a way that I love. Their new dynamic was explored well this episode but this also brought a minor problem. Thea’s sudden change of heart towards her father was a little jarring and didn’t make much sense to me. Though, in spite of that, Thea had a strong showing this week thanks to her cooperative reaction towards Ollie’s big reveal.

Unfortunately, my biggest complaint about this episode has to do with the Arrow himself. He was acting so controlling and unreasonable throughout most of this episode. From telling Laurel what to do, to yelling at Thea and getting enraged with Roy for standing up to him. He felt quite unlikeable despite redeeming himself with a few good actions. I got a little annoyed with Oliver here but thankfully I like where this episode ended with him.
The ending of this episode left every character in a great place. Oliver and Thea have been sent to the island to face their fears, leaving team Arrow alone once again. This is a fantastic idea for a few reasons. First off, the dynamic between the group without Oliver has been great, putting a better focus on character that truly deserve it. Also, Oliver leaving his team responsible for the safety of Starling City was also (as previously mentioned) a great redemption for his controlling and brash attitude (and now he won’t have that many people to control).

And to get the plot rolling was the returning villain count vertigo. His presence was extremely plot-oriented and he felt extremely replaceable. He only appeared to get Laurel to hallucinate and complete her character arc. And in the scenes he was featured in, his character was overacted and extremely one-note. After Brick, this is a huge stepdown in terms of villain.

This week took a heavy break from Felicity and I’m glad it did. I loved her in season 2 but she has been quite irritating throughout this season and pushing her to the background in a good decision. Though, that does come with a consequence. Unfortunately Ray Palmer was absent this episode and I actually missed him, Ray had some good moments in recent episode and I’m hoping his transformation into the Atom comes soon. Hopefully Felicity won’t continue trying to stop him…

 In terms of flashbacks, I enjoyed how they left things off for next week but still feel like this show may have outgrown the flashbacks. I don’t mind them but I feel like I would have a more pleasant viewing without them.

Arrow has been revitalized in 2015 and this week’s episode provided strong character arcs for most and left all of the characters in interesting places. The looming threat of Ra’s Al Ghul couldn’t be any more frightening as Arrow season 3 heads towards its climax in full force.