“Arrow” officially says goodbye to one of its own in the Wednesday, April 27 episode, 419, “Canary Cry.” But first, the team has to work to do to make sure their friend is put to rest with her legacy intact.
Of the three DC series on the CW, “Arrow” is the one most grounded in reality, magic this season and the introduction of metas via “The Flash” aside. And the sad truth is that death is part of reality. People die. People die and they stay dead. Yes, people have come back from the dead before, a Lance daughter has even come back from the dead before and people have been thought dead (Oliver, Ray and Andy, as Lance mentions in this episode), but if that keeps happening, death is going to lose all meaning. If Laurel is brought back, how are there any stakes in their world? Instead of there being actual risk when the masked heroes face off against the villain, it would become a matter of “Oh, well, if something happens, we can always just do X, Y or Z and they’ll be okay.” (And this would be true no matter who is in the grave.) There had to be consequences to Nyssa destroying the Lazarus Pit, and how can there be if they just come up with some other way to revive someone?
But that doesn’t stop Lance from wanting so badly to bring his daughter back, and given what he has been through before, thinking Sara was dead once and finding out she was really before she was brought back, given everything they have been through, who can blame him? So when there’s a Black Canary sighting, he finds hope, hope that is cruelly taken from him via a trip to the morgue, where Laurel’s body remains. With Nyssa around and knowing how his other daughter came back, he finds hope, hope that she has to take away from him by telling him that she destroyed the Pit. But Laurel is gone and there is no way to bring her back. “She was my rock,” Lance finally breaks down. Laurel was the one there for him when they lost Sara, when he became a drunk. And while losing a daughter is something that Lance has sadly had to go through more times than any parent should, Paul Blackthorne gives a heartbreaking performance as he has to come to accept she’s gone – and then break Dinah’s heart by telling her that this time, their girl isn’t coming back to them.
But before they can bury Laurel, they have to protect her legacy, and that means stopping the girl (who walked right by them in the hospital and no one noticed her) going around dressed as the Black Canary, screaming her way (without an explanation as to how she managed to reconfigure the sonic device that Cisco supposedly keyed to only Laurel’s vocal chords – could HIVE be behind it to get the city to turn on the team or is that a crazy theory?) and waving a gun at those she feels have wronged her, namely, Ruve Darhk and the team because she lost her parents to Damien Darhk. (Evelyn may have screamed more in each scene than Laurel did the entire time she was Black Canary. It’s more than a bit too much.)
When Evelyn goes after Alex as he’s trying to comfort her/not answering her question about why he became a “political operative” and therefore seeming shadier than he already did, she yells that he works for “them,” but is that just because he’s now on Ruve’s campaign team or is he actually a bad guy? (It could be the latter simply because it probably is, given the show’s history. Remember the DJ?) Oliver is then able to track her down, and after she attempts to blow out his eardrum with even more screaming, she yells at him for abandoning them, for only caring about his friends and leaving them to die, for failing the city.
Following Diggle going after Ruve and trying to get a location on his brother as he deals with his own guilt, Ruve takes the opportunity to paint a big target on the vigilantes’ backs and announces that she has asked the DA to issue arrest warrants for them. (Yes, the anti-vigilante task force is back. Again. It’s been done before, and here, it just seems to serve as a chance for Oliver to quip that he’s “seen this movie before” and maybe to get in the way in future fights since there are still four episodes to go in the season.) And so when Evelyn shows up ready to shoot Ruve and Oliver fails to get through to her, Ruve stares down her gun as she barely conceals her smile of glee at her playing right into her hands. She wants her to tarnish the Black Canary’s legacy, to turn the city against the heroes. But what would the real Black Canary want her to do, Oliver asks Evelyn, and she drops the gun.
And to keep the world from seeing the Black Canary as a gun-toting, would-be murderer (even though anyone who even saw only a photo would be able to tell that Evelyn and Laurel are not the same people), Oliver uses his eulogy at Laurel’s funeral to tell everyone the hero she really was: “This doesn’t seem right. I knew Laurel Lance for almost her entire life. She was my friend and I loved her. Before she died, I was lucky to hear her tell me that she loved me too. Laurel Lance became a lawyer to help people who may have appeared helpless. She wanted to give a voice to the silent. But just being a lawyer wasn’t enough. She wanted to do more for those people and for this city. She loved this city so much. By now, everyone knows that Laurel was killed in the Iron Heights prison riot, and while it’s true that she was an assistant district attorney, that’s not what she was doing there that night. Before she died, Laurel told me the truth. Laurel Lance was the Black Canary. And for the past few days, I have had to sit and listen to people try and paint the Black Canary as a criminal. She was not a criminal. She was a hero. She was a hero in every way that a person can be. And if Laurel were here, I know that she would expect all of us to live up to the example she set. She’d want us to save our city.”
Meanwhile, Diggle’s guilt allows for David Ramsey to be the other standout performance of the hour, as he blames himself for trusting his brother when, if he hadn’t, in his eyes, there’s a chance that Laurel would be alive. “You can’t know that,” Oliver tells him, a sentiment Felicity echoes when assuring him that Laurel would want him to know it’s not his fault after faltering because of the guilt she feels in not being there. If she had, maybe Laurel would still be alive. “Do you know why I always blame myself in situations like this?” Oliver asks her. “Because at least it’s an answer. Sometimes we just need a reason when a situation is completely unreasonable.” And when he stops Diggle from doing something he may not be able to come back from when he finds Ruve, he cautions him, “you cannot forget who you are, and we can never become them.” These moments all lead up to that graveside scene already seen in the premiere, of Oliver telling Barry that he knows it’s not his fault, something he once would have thought, but it is his responsibility, to end it and kill Darhk.
Following that is the other scene previously seen, of Felicity echoing Oliver’s statement that he has to kill that “son of a bitch.” However, he admits that he doesn’t know how. Darhk is too strong, and he’s seen it before, on Lian Yu. It’s not just magic, it’s darkness, and he feels unstoppable. But Felicity refuses to let him believe that because if Darhk wins, Laurel died for nothing. “I fell in love with you for many reasons, and one of those reasons is you always find a way,” she tells him. “You have to find a way now. For Laurel. For the city. For all of us.”
Finally, the flashbacks offer a glimpse at life between the Undertaking and Oliver flying off to Lian Yu between seasons 1 and 2, and when he fails to step forward, only watching from a distance, to deliver Tommy’s eulogy, Laurel steps up. (Anyone else miss Tommy/Laurel after this?) “I loved him in every way you could possible love someone,” she says. “So did Oliver. And I’m sure if Oliver could be here today, he would say so.” While these flashbacks meant getting back into the season 1 mindset, so different from where the characters are/were now, when Laurel didn’t know the truth about Oliver and Oliver and Laurel had betrayed Tommy and had not yet fallen into the friendship they had in season 4, they’re also a sign of how much the island flashbacks this season just are not working.
Back then, only a week after Tommy’s funeral, they’re remembering how much Tommy loved Laurel and the good times the three of them had together, and Laurel’s envisioning a future where she and Oliver can help make the city a better place. “Laurel Lance, always trying to save the world,” Oliver says, fitting for her final episode. But after the kiss they share, Laurel finds a letter (and her photo) from Oliver under her door, saying his goodbye as he flies off to Lian Yu: “I wrote this letter because I don’t have the courage to see the disappointment on your face. I know you’re going to go on to do amazing things, to help people and to raise this city up, because that’s who you are, who you’ve always been, and that’s why I have to go away. I would only hold you back. You’re the hero, Laurel. Maybe I’ll come back eventually, but for now, I have to spend some time alone. I hope someday you’ll understand my decision, and never doubt my love for you. You’ve always seen the best of me because you’ve always been the best of me.”
“Arrow” season 4 airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on the CW. What did you think of episode 19 “Canary Cry”?