When Laurel Lance died in the last episode and fulfilled an entire season of speculation as to who was in the foreshadowed grave, there was no indication that this time would be any different as far as the fluidity of her return. However, after this episode it feels that perhaps for once the stakes were far too real to overcome with a simple plot device. While this does not rule out the super complex or the hokey device (there IS a time traveling show on Thursday that could remedy the situation for example).
With great care the creators have taken their time to pay off the promise they made way back in the season’s early episodes, yet how was I to know the most compelling aspect of the show wasn’t the mystery of the grave at all. I had some thoughts on this week’s episode (like every week) and broke it down below.
So let’s get this monkey smoking…
*******SPOILERS LIKE A VEGAN MEATLOAF AT A CANNIBAL COOKOUT**********
The SYNOPSIS from TVGuide.com
April 27, 2016 airdate
Oliver and the team struggle to come to terms with Laurel's death, especially Diggle, who is overwhelmed with guilt for choosing to believe Andy had changed. Meanwhile, Lance refuses to believe his daughter is dead and asks Nyssa to help bring her back.
What They Didn’t Tell You
For this episode the flashback scenes do not take place on the island or in the past adventures of Oliver Queen but rather on some defining moments of the relationship between Oliver and Laurel – starting with the funeral of Tommy Merlyn (remember him?) and stopping along the way at several conversations when Oliver was in turmoil. They focus on the details of how they never got back together after Tommy’s death and before his relationship with Felicity began.
In the present day we witness a devastated and truly empathetic Detective Lance seeing the body of his last remaining child on the medical examiners table. Oliver is handed her Canary uniform and Detective Lance begins the heaviest denial a person can have and refuses to believe she is dead.
Diggle has arranged for his family to be moved to a safe place and then starts to boil over with guilt and rage over Andy’s betrayal and decides to take out Damien Darhk’s wife who happens to be the mayor of Starling City but on the streets a mysterious new Black Canary has shown up and started committing crimes. When a hopeful Lance returns with a paper showing her exploits the team is adamant she’s dead. It is determined that her sonic cry was stolen and that it is a mystery because no one is supposed to be able to use it but Laurel. But Oliver takes the detective to see her body yet again in the morgue forcing him to accept that she is dead but not gone. Oliver interrogates the doctor about possible people who could have stolen the sonic device and finds out about a young girl who frequents the ER. The doctor keeps the girl’s identity a secret due to patient privilege but it’s a lead.
Thea and Alex are on a date and he is trying to console her when the new Canary comes in and assaults him viciously. Thea calls Ollie and he tracks her. But the new sonic setting breaks his plugs and she escapes after giving him a clue. Reddington. She then tells him he failed this city. She’s not wrong.
When John tries to confide in Felicity she withdraws and allows John to think he is to blame for the death of Laurel for not listening to Oliver about Andy. She does this because she feels guilty for abandoning the team due to her broken relationship with Oliver and later tells Oliver this…right as Diggle is reported missing by his wife. Oliver arrives to find Spartan assaulting the mayor and stops him from killing her. But the Mayor then issues an arrest warrant for all vigilantes making them all wanted by the law and the legacy of The Black Canary tarnished.
Lance now ready to resurrect his daughter contacts Nyssa and she informs him she destroyed the pit. He then tracks the league to a hideout where Oliver finds him and talks him out of his crusade, He finally sees that his daughter is gone. In the final showdown with the faux Canary decides to be a hero and chooses not to kill the mayor with a gun and escapes into the night.
They bury Laurel, Clinton comforts Laurel’s mother but convinces her that she is gone. The new Canary sees from the shadows and is moved by the fact that she was a hero. The revelation publicly that Laurel was the Canary was brand new to her mom.
In the end, Barry (with speed) fulfills his scene from the foreshadowing as does Felicity in the limo. It is decided to kill Darhk outright and cross back over from the light they had committed themselves to. But they have no idea how to do this since his magic is so strong.
All season long we have been exploring the themes involved with choosing the light because it is the right thing to do over choosing what was practical or more effective. At every turn we have found that while our heroes double down on light the darkness takes what is most precious to them. But heroes do not go down easy and it takes a monumental catastrophe to steer them from their course. Grief however is one of those things powerful enough to make you forget your moral stance for the simple effect of relieving some pain. Or getting some comfort.
In Canary Cry the cast and creatives did an interesting thing. They showed all the stages of grief simultaneously by using a different character to explore each. With Diggle we got anger in the most primal way possible, with Quentin Lance we got Denial and isolation, with Thea we got depression and with Felicity we watched guilt but it was Oliver that demonstrated acceptance from start to finish. What is more all the cast arrived at the same place though walking different routes to get there. Barry didn’t even try to talk Oliver out of it. The consensus is in order to heal they must retreat into the darkness.
At no point in the series has the team been more tested and the choices made here by the creatve team of Arrow will dictate the tone from here on out. It was truly a crossroads episode in which the crux remains to be seen. All season long we have been wanting more than anything else who was in the grave but it turns out that the most compelling aspect is what we have known to be the theme all along…can you be an effective hero and walk in the light? How do you not become those you are fighting? With a commitment to narrative they have let the show breathe on its own, this is by far Arrow’s best season.