TV Korner: Arrow 4.19-“Canary Cry”

By patricksmith - April 29, 2016

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A shallow revenge story and a collection of poorly laid out scenes drag down this celebration of the character of Black Canary.

“Canary Cry” is all about Laurel, and what she stood for, well that’s what it says on the box anyway. What’s actually happening has very little to do with either her character or her legacy. There are elements of the celebration of Black Canary, but it’s too watered down to allow any emotional impact. The performances here capitalize on the tragic event though; with my absolute favorite ones coming from Paul Blackthorne as Quentin Lance who is nailed to the bargaining stage of grief and Diggle who actually seems to be the most affected by Laurel’s death and his inaction that might have caused it. This is David Ramsey at his best as he toes the line between morality and vengeance, all with the express purpose of blaming himself exclusively for not listening to Oliver about Andy. Though this seems obvious, it’s the cause and effect correlation of his actions leading to Ruve Adam’s order against the vigilantes of Star City that gives his poorly considered reaction weight. Add that to Ruve’s taunting of the team and the Black Canary, with her actions condemning their aversion to the proper letter of the law, and she is easily the most menacing she’s ever been in the series.

The Black Canary imposter storyline however is what ruins “Canary Cry” for me. First of all, if you’re paying attention, the imposter is easy to spot in a scene in the hospital at the beginning of the episode. Secondly, her character’s motivation makes very little sense and her methods are even more nonsensical. Finally, this character has nothing to do with Laurel, and “Canary Cry’s” desperate attempts to link the two of them thematically only do the disservice of making the contrasts between them all the more glaring. At best the whole story works at odds with the theme of the episode, at worst it hijacks the emotional context and sours the emotional significance.

Final Word: A lack of attention to the details of certain scenes stunts the immersion of the episode. Despite powerful character driven scenes, it can be hard to ignore background characters acting unnaturally, a planned hidden in plain sight character strolling literally in to center frame, common sense proof plot armor, and of course characters walking casually off camera in supposedly tense scenes. The death of Laurel is not given the elbow room required to give it much of an impact, as the episode is in too much a rush to get started. If it weren’t for Paul Blackthorne and David Ramsey, you couldn’t be blamed for wondering why you were supposed to be sad in the first place. The Canary imposter storyline is the real criminal here though. It’s thematically irrelevant, poorly conceived, and sloppily executed with a resolution that is insulting to the intelligence of the viewer. Honestly, this is just sloppy all around. It’s a real disappointment too, because these mistakes weren’t made by the events following either Moira or Tommy’s deaths; which maintained significance. Oddly enough, in an episode about honoring Laurel’s memory, the writing and direction actually do the exact opposite.

“Canary Cry” gets a 5/10. With so much going wrong in the scene details, it’s just insult added to the injury caused by Laurel’s “successor.”

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