‘Arrow’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 4, Episode 19: ‘Canary Cry’
It’s time for another installment of Pointed Commentary, the feature where grizzled Arrow watcher Matt D. Wilson and newcomer Chris Haley dig into the details of Team Arrow cleaning up the filthy, crime-ridden streets of Star City.
This week’s episode sees the team working through difficult emotions following the death of a friend; but they also have to deal with someone going around the city posing as one of their own. "Canary Cry" was directed by Laura Belsey, and the script was by Wendy Mericle and Beth Scwhartz.
Matt: Well, Chris, we’re finally here. The home stretch of the season. We know who was in that grave we saw in the season premiere, and the big conflict is set: Which member of team Arrow will pity themselves the most? Obviously Ollie and Dig got out to big leads this week, blaming themselves for Laurel’s death, but don’t count out Felicity, who pities herself for not stopping Dig from pitying himself.
Who do you favor in this pity party, Chris?
Chris: I'd favor them all being thrown into the sun. Most of all Felicity for not even being around for what happened, but still wanting to make it about her. Speedy is the only one who didn't try to be the center of attention by blaming herself, and for that, I salute her.
Also, if I never hear that anyone has “failed” anything again in this show it will be too soon.
Matt: Man, it’s been pretty light on that stuff this season, too.
Chris: There was enough of it in this episode to make up for several seasons worth. Once is too many honestly. How does everyone know to say that phrase to him?!
Matt: It all got to be just a little too much when Dig attacked Ruve Adams in her mayoral limo, punched her (!) and then got into a fight with Ollie, who stopped Dig from almost assassinating the new mayor. In my notes, I referred to this as Arrow V Dig: Dawn of Self-Blame.
Chris: I know this is going to sound a little hypocritical based on the kinds of things I normally complain about in this show, but I was actually into Dig doing that because of the way the back half of the scene played out. Does that make sense? We talk about these shows and movies worrying too much about trying to be “real,” but that scene felt real to me. Dig smashing on the car while he yells at Ollie, saying he's so mad he can't breathe, and then breaking down and crying. That absolutely felt like the kind of “real” that's beneficial in this kind of situation for a show like this. Same with Quentin’s breakdown towards the end. Powerful.
Matt: Yeah, I get that. Dig absolutely going too far and trying to possibly kill Ruve ups the emotional stakes a lot, and David Ramsey plays it well, but it’s just like... why now? Laurel’s not the first character to die on the show, and not the first one that Dig could feel responsible for. I guess I was okay with it until he hit her. That was a little much.
Chris: For me, the “why now” part is because this is worse than any other time for him, because he trusted the wrong person, and if he'd gone the other way with it, there's a real possibility none of what followed would have happened.
Matt: As for Captain Lance, he was easily the highlight of the episode for me, because he was going through in-universe DC TV denial. Trying to bargain with Nyssa to get the Lazarus Pit working and use other means of resurrection, because so many people have come back to life on the show. Thinking that this new Black Canary running around was definite proof Laurel was alive. It’s exactly what someone who has been a character on this show would think, and Paul Blackthorne knocked it out of the park.
Chris: Absolutely. Just on every level. He’s probably too good for this show, honestly.
Matt: Too bad the rest of it was...it was rough. The impostor Black Canary turning out to be some girl we’ve never seen before and whose parents worked for HIVE. What is there to even say about it? She’s going to “ruin the legacy” of the Black Canary, but like, is there that much to ruin?
Chris: This was honestly the first time it’s seemed like anyone outside of the team knew who anyone else on Team Arrow was besides “The Green Arrow”. It still irks me that this season started with him adding “green” to the front of his name as some kind of inspirational moment.
Matt: There’s also this huge point made about how the Canary Cry (for which the sound in the closed captions is described as “Canary cry,” as if everyone just knows what that is) was keyed to Laurel and Laurel alone, but this girl uses it just fine, and as far as I know no explanation whatsoever was given as to how she was able to pull that off. That whole plot was just the pits.
Chris: I think they said something about her altering it… because she was good at high school? I seriously think that was all the explanation they came up with. “Well, she’s on the honor roll and a gymnast, so she probably knows how to tinker with genetically coded sonic devices.”
Matt: Certainly, she knows as much about these gizmos as Cisco Ramon, who works for a super-advanced space laboratory.
Chris: High school is very advanced these days. What with the Snapchats and all.
Matt: This is as good a place as any to note that Felicity says Faux Black Canary is using the cry at “much higher decibels” than Laurel ever did and... that’s not how you say that. “A higher volume” is how you say that, or maybe just "louder." That’s like someone saying it’s hot in a room by saying, “There are a lot of degrees Fahrenheit in here!”
Chris: Lolfrirl! You know where else has a lot of degrees Fahrenheit? The sun. Which is where I would like Felicity thrown. Also, how did that girl have… you know what? Just skip it. This show is dumb and I’m not going to waste my time questioning the logic of its choices, so let’s move on. (I will almost certainly keep wasting my time questioning the logic of its choices.)
Matt: Felicity’s “decibels” thing is just one of many dubious lines in the episode. I made a list:
- Ollie, very angrily, to Faux Canary: “You’re dressed like a friend of mine!” (this made me laugh aloud)
- Laurel to Ollie in a flashback, in regard to Tommy Merlyn’s fakeout funeral: “They didn’t let your mom attend the funeral,” to explain why Moira Queen wasn’t there, because the actress is probably doing something much better
- Ruve Adams after announcing she would be prosecuting costumed heroes: “These so-called vigilantes…” Why are they so-called? Vigilantism is a crime. Aren’t you calling them vigilantes?
Chris: That “so-called vigilantes” one cracked me up too. No one on this show knows what words mean!
Matt: You know, the whole thing with the mayor cracking down on costumed heroes isn’t actually a bad idea for a continuing plot, but I know they’re not going to go anywhere with it. Ollie’s eulogy at the end of the episode, about how Laurel was Black Canary and a great hero, puts it all to bed, I think. It’s just revenge stuff now. I guess that could be okay, maybe.
Chris: Nothing on this show is ever going to be okay. I really identified with Dig in that scene where he’s going after Ruve and then has a breakdown because that’s how this show makes me feel. So mad I can’t breathe, then I just start crying.
Matt: Would it make you feel better or worse if we talked about Felicity’s hilarious sweater that looked like a motion capture outfit? I honestly couldn’t pay attention to a thing in that scene because I just kept picturing her being CGIed into an Avatar sequel.
Chris: That makes me laugh at least. I also thought that sweater looked crazy, but that’s a much funnier take on it than I had.
Matt: What about Captain Lance’s terrible hairpiece in the flashbacks? Got any material on that?
Chris: Hahaha! Come on, Matt. Let’s give the guy his dignity. We’ve all had to wear some odd things in flashbacks. Hey, speaking of flashbacks, at least there were none on that stupid island this week!
Matt: Yeah, instead they decided to give us a look at the time period between seasons one and two, which was an interesting choice at least. To go back for just a sec, I almost flipped out about Lance having hair in the flashbacks, but then I went back and saw that he actually did have hair in the first season. I think I’m just losing my mind.
Anyway, did you prefer this to the typical island flashbacks? Did seeing Ollie and Laurel together add anything to their relationship?
Chris: Hmm… not really? I mean, they didn’t seem to be acting much different than they have for the rest of the season did they? Mostly I was just left with a lot of questions about this Tommy character. Wait, “questions” would imply that I want answers, and I do not.
Matt: I mean, we’ve talked about him a little before. Honestly the only reason any of this was set around Tommy Merlyn’s funeral was to have the fake-out moment where Laurel gets up during a funeral and you think she’s not dead after all. Aside from that, this conversation could have taken place at just about any time. If anything, it’s weird for Laurel to say she’s optimistic about the future while they’re still tossing dirt on her dead boyfriend.
Chris: I’ll say. But again, no one on this show knows what words mean, so maybe she didn’t mean “optimistic” at all.
Matt: On a totally different note, did you notice how different the set designs were this episode? There was like, all this graffiti on the sets that I’ve never seen them use before. It was actually a cool visual flourish! Look, I’m looking for something positive to say. But really, I did think the sets were neat this week.
Chris: I did not notice that, but I am willing to take your word for it, because there’s no way I’m rewatching this episode ever again. I’m wondering what’s responsible for the change. Maybe they were shooting in a different city this week for some reason?
Matt: I dunno. There was also a pretty cool shot where Nyssa and Ollie were talking under a bridge about being worried about Captain Lance, and it was one of the more visually striking shots I’ve seen on here in a while. It looked like they were in a city instead of on a set. Maybe it’s just directorial choice. I appreciated having some nice visuals to see, at least.
Chris: Yeah, I mean, let’s look for these small victories where we can. Like, it was a small victory for me that you were able to jump in and save me from having to talk about Agents of SHIELD by myself this week!
Matt: Arrow’s TV Hive-brother. Errbody’s fightin’ Hives up in here.
Chris: So many Hives. I hope the Arrow-heads that don’t watch Agents of SHIELD will check it out if only to see you not knowing what’s going on for a change and all the weird similarities between the shows.
Matt: So do we have anything else to say about this Arrow episode? Are we excited for Genesis to begin next week?
Chris: I’m excited to turn the show off when it’s over and play my Sega Genesis. Does that count?
Matt: I’ll take it.