Arrow: 313 “Canaries” Review
Reviewed by Phil Boothman.
With a nerd-baiting title like that and the much-publicised return of Caity Lotz as Sara Lance, “Canaries” started out with a lot to live up to. Combine that with the second appearance of the ever-bonkers Peter Stormare as Werner ‘Vertigo’ Zytle and you get a recipe for a winning episode. But did it live up to the hype?
The episode opens with Oliver right back in the swing of things after a few weeks away, chasing down a bad guy who is then soundly thwacked by Laurel. They have a brief argument, with Oliver telling Laurel that she shouldn’t be doing what she’s doing, and Laurel strongly disagreeing. Oliver is clearly not happy about Laurel’s new crusade, but whether that’s because he doesn’t want her to endanger herself on the streets or because he can see her going down a bad road and doesn’t want her to become a killer remains to be seen.
But Team Arrow’s discussion of the matter is cut short by the arrival of Malcolm, who tells Oliver that, as Ra’s al Ghul will surely know that Oliver is still alive by now, his training needs to begin immediately. Not only that, but he advises bringing Thea in, to protect her but also to help them defeat Ra’s: so Oliver is left with the choice of whether or not to reveal his secret to his little sister.
In an interesting turn of events, he makes his decision, and after a brief conversation with uber-douche League spy Chase, Thea is introduced to the Arrowcave. However, unlike the vast majority of characters who have been introduced to the fact that former playboy Oliver Queen is the city’s greenest hero, Thea doesn’t freak out and is instead proud of her brother: she tells him that she was concerned about all the lying he was doing, but knowing that he did it all to cover up the fact that he was the Arrow is a relief. It’s a nice moment that shows how much Thea has grown from the spoiled brat of the first season, but it also reduces the number of major characters who don’t know Oliver’s secret identity down to just one: Quentin Lance remains the last holdout, and it seems unlikely that he will find out any time soon, or care about the reveal even if he does.
While this is going on, however, Werner Zytle publicly escapes from police custody by dosing one of the cops escorting him with his fear-inducing Vertigo formula, but Oliver and Roy manage to track him down. However, upon arriving at his location they discover that they have been tricked, and narrowly escape being blown up by a man reluctantly strapped with a bomb-vest, and Zytle gets away.
Laurel, on the other hand, is slightly more successful in tracking him down, and actually finds the man himself. Unfortunately, during the scuffle she is dosed with Vertigo, and her greatest fear is revealed to her: she begins to hallucinate Sara telling her that she is a fraud, not good enough to follow in Sara’s footsteps, and that Laurel let her die when she could have saved her. This gives Zytle an opportunity to knock her around a bit before Oliver and Roy show up and drive him away. They manage to get Laurel back to the Arrowcave and pump her full of the Vertigo remedy they must have mass-produced after the last time.
However, in the confusion, Oliver yells at Thea which inadvertently drives her into the arms of the League of Assassins douche-jockey, whom she takes home and gives the good stuff. However, in the worst post-coital moment of all time, Chase tries to poison her, is in turn beaten up a little by Roy and shot with an arrow by Malcolm, and then poisons himself, possibly to get out of how awkward the situation has become.
But while all this is going on, Felicity manages to track Zytle down to a laboratory where he is clearly attempting to re-stock his supply of Vertigo, and without Roy around to help Oliver has no choice but to take Laurel along with him. Before they can take him down, Zytle sets fire to the lab and forces Oliver to spend time saving the innocent scientists working there before coming after him: so Laurel goes after him alone, and is dosed with the fear-Vertigo again. However, this time she is able to overcome the visions of Sara and beat Zytle into unconsciousness as a more friendly hallucinatory vision of her sister stands watch over her.
In the aftermath of all this, Laurel finally decides to come clean to Quentin: he reveals that he knows she is the new Canary and that he is pretty much okay with the whole thing, but then she crushes him by telling him that Sara is dead, for real this time. Quentin understandably has a pretty sever breakdown, and something tells me Laurel isn’t going to be as much comfort as he needs at this stage.
Meanwhile in Hong Kong, Maseo and Oliver plan to escape, and Oliver manages to get to a payphone and leave a message for Moira. However, he is stopped by A.R.G.U.S. agents and taken to Amanda Waller, who has him interrogated for information regarding Maseo’s whereabouts. But Maseo turns up on his own to help Oliver, having sent his wife and son elsewhere, but before he can speak to Waller they are both knocked out, and when Oliver comes to he is in the back of a car. Upon asking what is going on, Waller informs him that Chien Na Wei has brought her sample of the virus somewhere Oliver is very familiar with: Starling City.
Finally, the crazy triumvirate of Oliver, Malcolm and Thea come together in the coldest and most distant manner possible: Thea tells Malcolm that she will never forgive him for the things he has done, but that she will consent to training with him and Oliver to take down Ra’s al Ghul. So Malcolm gives them their first assignment: to rid themselves of the fear that Ra’s and the League prey on, and sends them to the one place that they will find themselves able to do that.
A solid outing for Arrow, “Canaries” pushes things on considerably, both in the present day and in the flashbacks, but more than anything it sets up an intriguing reversal for next week’s episode, where the flashbacks take place in Starling City but the present day sections take place on Lian Yu.