‘Canaries’ was one of my favourite episodes of the season for multiple reasons, but mostly because it featured three moments that I’ve been longing for all season, and executed them all really well. It was a thoroughly entertaining hour that delivered on virtually all fronts, and definitely one of the strongest of the lacklustre season so far.
The biggest thing to come out of this episode is the reveal of Oliver’s secret to Thea. With her having been training with Malcolm since the end of last season, and her relation to Oliver, I had expected/hoped that this reveal would happen sooner rather than later. Though I’m not an advocate of just anyone finding out Oliver’s secret (almost 30 people now know, though not all are still alive), this made sense. Thea’s training is very much a precursor to her becoming a vigilante (or potentially antagonist) herself, and learning of her brother’s greatest secret is a huge part of that journey.
That said, I, like Oliver, was expecting Thea’s reaction to be one of anger, and it wouldn’t have surprised me but instead frustrated me. However, the way that the writers handled the scene was superb. As a decent person, Thea knows that the Arrow does good for the city, and though it’s understandable that she would wish that her brother was there for her through all her hard times, she was happy with the fact that when Oliver didn’t show for her, it wasn’t because he didn’t care about her – he was saving people. That’s the bigger picture at play here, and I was relieved when she reacted this way. It wouldn’t have made sense from a character standpoint or a plot standpoint (with the League after them, how is a divide between her and Oliver going to help at all?). Willa Holland handled these scenes really well too, which is always a bonus.
Werner Zytle (Peter Stormare) was back and the extent of his activities were escaping custody and injecting Laurel with Vertigo. The way he has been handled since his introduction is unbelievably poor. However, his drugging of Laurel and the story that ensued made his reappearance worth it.
Caity Lotz made her return as Laurel hallucinated her dead sister, and it was some return. Sara was angry, but she did die, so it’s a legitimate cause. Anyway, this was a big moment for Laurel’s journey to becoming the fully-fledged Black Canary. After a beat-down turned wake-up call from her ‘sister’, and some much-needed encouragement from Oliver, she managed to take down Zytle, but not before admitting that she’s done trying to be Sara.
Hopefully, this means Laurel can now move forward and develop as herself. She needs to become her own person if her arc is to gain any credibility. This is a really important story for the show to get right, and I think now is a good point for things to pick up and improve on that front.
Zytle’s Vertigo didn’t just spark a change in Laurel’s pursuit to be the Canary. A vision of her father pushed her to reveal the truth about Sara to him, and it was a great scene. The way this storyline has been handled this season has been incredibly poor – with Laurel keeping news of Sara’s death from her father before impersonating her two episodes ago, it was virtually impossible to invest in the story.
That should all change now that everything is out in the open. Paul Blackthorne is consistently one of, if not the best actor on the show and it was evident here. It was gut-wrenching to see Lance breaking down over the news, but a relief that he finally knows and I’m excited to see how he deals with things from here on out.
Oliver’s revelation to Thea brought about a divide in the relationship between her and Malcolm. I thought this to be a little strange considering how she’s been more than happy to be with him all season, and I think this was another case of the show wanting something to happen and not knowing quite how to get there.
The other development of note with Thea was with DJ Chase, who after a session of making love, attempted to poison her. Luckily, Mr Merlyn had taught her a few tricks to detect such an act and attempted to get the upper hand on him. She needed Roy and Malcolm to save her, which they did, and Chase finally took it upon himself to rid the world of his existence. Chase’s death was a highlight of the episode, and little came from the story except for it.
The flashbacks this week showed potential for improvement, particularly with the way they ended, but again weren’t that spectacular. However, it was nice to see Maseo return for Oliver, if not entirely stupid. With next week’s episode seemingly set to be the flashback-centric of the year, and the scenes taking place in Starling City of five years ago, things should be looking up from next week.
The flashbacks weren’t the only story to move location, as Oliver and Thea in the present day went to Lian Yu at the end of the episode in order to train to defend themselves against the League. This was a very intriguing twist, one that is sure to set up some very interesting story next week.
‘Canaries’ was definitely an improvement on the majority of the season so far, and I have every expectation that it is onwards and upwards from here on out. A lot of things were set in motion this episode, and I can’t wait to see them play out.