Review by Logan
After the past few weeks of Arrow, you might expect this episode to push forward the impending attack of Ra’s al Ghul, the prospect of Oliver training with Merlyn, and the continued evolution of Ray Palmer into The Atom. You would be wrong.
Instead, the episode takes a few steps backward from what we’ve been expecting so far this season. Instead of pushing the season’s main story forward, we go back to the wannabe Vertigo, who escapes from prison, forcing Oliver and Arsenal’s hand. Laurel insists on being the Canary despite Oliver’s protests, and most of the rest of the episode is spent tying up loose ends that really should have been tied up weeks ago.
I’m not upset that those loose ends are now tied. They’re things that the show should have dealt with long ago, as I’ve noted and as some of our readers have commented. The problem is that the writers have been pushing off those resolutions so much that when they finally all come to a head, it’s at the expense of the episode’s quality. And the one time that the story is pushed forward, it’s done so through sexual content, something we don’t normally have to worry about on Arrow. And somehow, despite the fact that casual sex always turns out bad for characters on this show, it never seems to occur to anyone that maybe this means casual sex is a bad idea.
The latter half of the episode, however, makes some small attempt at redeeming itself. Two main sub-themes are going on, both related to Laurel. On the one hand, Oliver finds himself at odds with his team, especially when it comes to Laurel, and has to come to terms with the fact that they have earned the right to dissent at times. Meanwhile, there’s the story of Laurel herself, who’s struggling with the idea of replacing her dead sister, and the identity crisis that she’s an adrenaline junkie and anything but a hero. While hardly original, that’s an interesting conflict, although I’d prefer to see it played through something other than the second, and more lame, Vertigo.
What the episode did do well, however, was to finally validate Laurel is a real hero. I’ve been waiting for that ever since the show started, and while Sara was more believable as a hero, Laurel is more believable as a character. Especially considering her background as an addict, that gives her a considerable advantage when it comes to selling the character. And while it is true that part of what she’s doing is to “hide her demons,” as Felicity put it, the fact is also present that she is helping people. Felicity reminds her that it’s okay that part of what she’s doing is to deal with her issues, because she’s saving lives, which is a major part of the show’s worldview: the value of life.
I’m enjoying Laurel’s Canary, and I hope that she becomes an official part of the Arrow team. She worked incredibly well with Arsenal, and I’d love to see that team in a trio. This episode appeared to be moving toward that, but the writers also have a tendency to play at resolution, then bring up the conflict again in the next episode.
So the episode isn’t all bad. It keeps with the same positive ideas of saving lives, protecting your family, and even an affirmation of the truth and the damage of lying and manipulation, via Thea’s story. It even has some good emotion at the end of the episode, but it’s ultimately too little too late for what is mostly a filler episode dealing with long overdue plot points.