Canaries brings Thea into the fold while making moves to shape the future of Team Arrow.
ARROW 3.13 “CANARIES”
Director: Michael Schultz
Writers: Jake Coburn and Emilio Ortego Aldrich
Original Air Date: Wednesday, February 11th, 2015
Starring: Stephen Amell, Emily Bett Rickards, David Ramsey
Previously on Arrow 3.12 “Uprising”: Brick went away, Oliver returned and we learned an awful lot about Merlyn.
A DISAPPOINTING EPISODE
Canaries feels like something of a tipping point in Arrow’s history. Much like the third season of Sherlock this most recent episode of Arrow seems indicative of the fact that the show runners are busy developing their other project rather than focusing on the pre-existing audience of this show. Canaries is rife with lazy writing and weak acting choices and it makes for a frustrating viewing experience.
Like so many other episodes of Arrow this season, Canaries focuses on Laurel (Katie Cassidy who has not had a compelling scene to date), in her new role as Canary and proves that even Jake Coburn and Emilio Ortego Aldrich don’t think she’s any good at the job. The villain of this episode is Count Vertigo 2.0 (played by Peter Storemare who is a step away from twiddling his mustache and it’s pretty awesome), and twice in the span of twenty minutes he incapacitates Laurel before she is able to get a blow in edgewise. Ignoring the fact that Canaries does not pass the Bechdel test, it’s pretty pathetic that the representation of one of Dc Comics’ strongest female characters has needed rescuing in every appearance she’s made in the field.
Laurel’s inability to be of any use throughout Canaries undermines the fact that Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards who is wonderful and has been supremely underused this season), delivers a beautiful speech about how capable she is in the mantle of the Canary, the fact that Diggle (David Ramsey, also massively underused), and Roy (Colton Haynes), have defended her and that Oliver (Stephen Amell), welomes her to Team Arrow by episode’s end. Each of these moves feels forced by developments that the studio is contractually obligated to fulfill.
Coburn and Aldrich’s dialogue is fairly atrocious throughout Canaries and they fail to explain several key plot points such as: why Thea is suddenly moved by Merlyn’s (John Barrowman), betrayal when she was okay with it for many episodes previous and why Roy and Merlyn were watching Thea have sex just so they could rescue her when things went south minutes after the act. These may seem like nitpicks, but on top of the latent misogyny in the development of female characters these moment really don’t it well.
That in mind, there are two really great things that happen in Canaries. One is that Thea (Willa Holland), finally learns what kind of life her brother has been leading since he returned to Starling City and she deals with it surprisingly well. In context, it’s probably easier to learn that your brother is a vigilante who spends his time saving people than that your father is a murderous lunatic. There are hints being dropped that Thea may join Team Arrow in the coming episodes – she won’t need training the way Roy and Felicity have, so that is certainly to her advantage – and it is my prediction that Thea-as-Speedy will make it into the field before the end of Arrow season three. How cool would it be to get a proper Speedy? Especially considering that Roy Harper skipped that moniker and went right to “Arsenal”.
Canaries also has a scene where Laurel (with easily the worst acting all episode from Katie Cassidy), finally tells her father, Captain Lance (Paul Blackthorne), about her sister’s death. The scene would be largely wasted if it weren’t for Blackthorne’s outstanding performance. This tragic beat plays nicely against the happy reunion and bonding that goes on between Oliver and Thea, although unfortunately is not enough to salvage the episode into something decent.
THE BOTTOM LINE: WEAK
Canaries is a weak episode with too few shiny moments throughout. It provides several annoying trends that have been developing throughout this season of Arrow and doesn’t bode well for the latter half of this season.