Warning – FULL SPOILERS for Tonight’s “Canary Cry”:

It would seem disingenuous not to start by pointing out how awkwardly Arrow has planned this arc from the outset, that where the majority of “Canary Cry” explores different stages of grief (yes, I’m aware the model has been discounted) in the wake of Laurel’s death, the decision to revisit Season 4’s earliest flash-forwards of the event felt wildly out of sync. Nevermind the discrepancy of Barry’s speed (it might return as early as next week); Oliver’s eulogy at Laurel’s funeral ended on a mostly hopeful note, all apparently arriving at a better place, only to awkwardly pivot back toward seething anger to keep continuity with scenes written last summer.

However justified previously, Oliver and Felicity swearing murderous vengeance against Damien Darhk wasn’t at all what “Canary Cry” built to.

“The timing with Supergirl was a little weird too, and … you know, it can wait.”

Arrow is nothing, if not direct with its response to tragedy, and just like Cupid came to town with a vendetta against love the week after Oliver and Felicity broke up, it stands to reason that Season 4’s impulse would produce a (literally) wailing and vengeful Black Canary specter to haunt the team, toying with the concept of legacy. Arrow has rarely found coherent stance on that idea either, as “Canary Cry” wants to foster a sense that Evelyn Sharp’s deeds sully* the Black Canary name, without establishing any compelling counter. After all, we’ve seen team members framed and impersonated on countless occasions by now, all in a city still willing to overlook how close Oliver Queen has been with every single outed hero.

*Ruvé Darhk turning Diggle’s attack into political theater seemed like a foregone conclusion, but you have to wonder why she needs to wait for an actual instance to drag Team Arrow through the mud, or worse, expose their identities outright. It’s only slightly more defensible than Oliver outing Laurel’s identity at the funeral to save face, given that no one, not even the Lances appear to have been consulted, nor were there any press at the event to achieve the intended effect.

“I have also decided to bury Laurel in my friend Clayton’s grave. I will not be taking questions.”

It’s issues like that, and an inability to think through the particulars that work against the performances on display tonight, which themselves could even be tethered to fit a basic model of grieving. There’s Quentin’s outright denial, Diggle’s anger at Andy spurring him toward something so stupid as attacking the major, Felicity bargaining away her own grief onto Diggle, or Oliver turning inward with depression at both Laurel’s, and Tommy’s passing in flashback. By the funeral, Oliver’s hopeful words place everyone into a state of acceptance, but it’s Quentin’s earlier breakdown that proved the most affecting; an understandably devastating blow to come to terms with, given the flexibility with which Arrow and Flash treat death.

The question now turns to Arrow reconciling Laurel’s hopeful “legacy” with Oliver and Felicity’s burning vengeance, and it appears as if the answer lies back on Lian Yu (the extra bit of CG showing Oliver’s island return was more likely shot for next week, and tacked on here). At best, “Canary Cry” felt thorough enough by its plumbing of grief to overlook some of the ill-planning of Laurel’s last goodbye, and one hopes Arrow knows better than to close the book so thoroughly, and still attempt a fake-out.

AND ANOTHER THING …

  • However much CW soap we railed against in early days, I didn’t mind the Oliver and Laurel flashbacks returning to a more lived-in intimacy. Let’s quietly ignore that Oliver appears to have spent the night with Laurel a week after Tommy’s funeral.
  • Additionally, let it be known that I finished the episode, wrote this review, and all its bullet points, before noticing that Oliver and Laurel’s flashback took the place of any Baron Reiter shenanigans.
  • Did they explain how Evelyn managed to use the cry, when it was coded to Laurel? Please, no long-lost siblings.
  • What was Ruvé’s contingency plan, if Evelyn pulled the trigger? She seemed almost excited for it.
  • Does the public not know of Ruvé and Darhk’s marriage? I forget.
  • So, what does Parker Young have a fresh beard for?
  • Transition be dammed, past Laurel takes photos of graves and forebodingly hangs them in her apartment.

Arrow Season 4 will return May 4 with “Genesis,” airing at 8:00 P.M. on The CW.

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