Team Arrow now appears to boast a membership roster to rival the Legion of Superheroes. “Canaries” sees Thea inducted into Starling’s least exclusive club, ushered into the Arrow Cave to finally confront the truth about her brother’s taste for nocturnal activities in green leather.
It’s a moment that feels oddly positioned within the episode, at least at first. There’s precious little build-up to the decision – essentially Oliver’s deferring to Malcolm’s suggestion that “It’s time to bring Thea into the fold” – and initially it doesn’t quite feel as though its been earned. Dramatically it plays as more of a climax than a set-up, as if the rhythm of the episode is off-kilter.
But then you realise that this is an episode that wants to explore the repercussions of that decision, if only to lob yet another grenade into the gang’s fracturing dynamic. Willa Holland is particularly good here, credibly selling Thea’s reaction to this life-shaking revelation (it’s touchingly unexpected that Thea’s first reaction is to hug Oliver). Thea’s presence is also the catalyst for some welcome sparks between Oliver and Roy – good to see the boy wonder finally being assertive after a season that’s relegated him to so much set decoration – and that, in turn, leads to a clash between Oliver and Felicity. Spot the unresolved tension there, people.
Peter Stormare returns as Count Vertigo. Arrow isn’t his first brush with superheroics: he voiced the lord of the undead in 2005’s animated The Batman Vs Dracula.
As the title declares, however, this one’s all about Laurel facing up to Sara’s legacy, courtesy of the hallucinogenic properties of Vertigo (sometimes I think I must be hallucinating Count Vertigo’s accent, but that’s another discussion…). There’s a pleasing comic book vibe to the Canary vs Canary scenes, a showdown that articulates the audience’s doubts about Laurel’s suitability for the role as much as Laurel’s own qualms. Oliver’s observation that Laurel’s using her alter ego as a drug substitute is a smart one, a line neatly echoed in the Hong Kong flashbacks when we’re reminded of Thea’s past substance abuse problem. Is her training with Malcolm a drug substitute too?
Intriguing to find ourselves back on the island at the episode’s end. More time away for Oliver from the city he’s sworn to protect… Maybe he just wants to escape the Felicity heat.
Did You Spot?
Daggett Pharmaceuticals is a nicely obscure nod to Batman: The Animated Series. It was this company’s chemical-saturated face cream that triggered Clayface’s transformation.
One of the stranger side-effects of Vertigo is clearly its power to make you hallucinate supervillains from a rival universe…
Love the framing of Black Canary here. It almost feels like a tribute to comic artist Marshall Rogers’ stylish panel compositions in ‘70s Detective Comics.
Arrow is broadcast in the UK on Sky 1 HD on Thursday nights, and Arrow in the US on Wednesday nights.
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