This week’s episode opens with a startling sequence of the two Canaries (Laurel and Sara) battling each other. As teasers go, it’s pretty effective… until Peter Stormare’s name crops up on the opening credits a few seconds later, causing any Arrow fan worth their salt to go “Oh, right, Count Vertigo.” Sadly, Stormare’s credit strips any suspense out of the situation, so all you’re left with is the show front-loading its coolest moment.
To be fair, there’s an awful lot happening in Episode 13, including two key moments that fans have been eagerly anticipating for quite some time. The first of these involves Oliver realising that the time has come to tell Thea his secret, which he promptly does. (Well, he tells her about being the Arrow and shows her the Arrow Cave – he doesn’t tell her she killed Sara while under the influence of Malcolm’s mind-control drugs, although at least he has sufficient conscience to make an awkward expression when Thea says there’ll be no more secrets.)
Thea’s reaction to said revelation is unexpectedly wonderful. Rather than throw a strop about being kept in the dark all this time, she immediately understands that Ollie was trying to protect her, throwing her arms around him and even telling him that she’s proud of him for saving all those people. The look on Ollie’s face is priceless at this point, although he was presumably doing the same face that most of the audience were doing. At any rate, this is great news for Thea, who has been kept out of the loop for far too long. Her reaction also shows that she has greatly matured as a character, which bodes well for the future. We can’t wait to see how she’ll fit in with the rest of Team Arrow. Will she get her own glass case / costume? Will she have a go on the Salmon Ladder? Only time will tell.
Speaking of Team Arrow, it’s interesting to see the dynamic shift again this week, with various members (notably Roy, who seems to have found his voice in Oliver’s absence) standing up to Ollie over his reaction to Laurel joining them. In the past, Oliver has always been the unquestioned leader, but it’s clear that things are a lot more democratic now.
The second key moment comes towards the end, when Laurel finally tells Captain Lance the truth about Sara’s death. It’s a powerfully emotional moment between the two characters and both Paul Blackthorne and Katie Cassidy knock it out of the park. It’s also a relief that, just as with Thea earlier, we don’t get the expected reaction – while he does clutch at his heart for a brief moment, he does not, in fact, have a heart attack. So that’s alright. He even figures out that she’s the new Canary all by himself, saving Laurel the weight of any further confession.
Laurel’s decision to tell the truth has, of course, been triggered by her ordeal at the hands of Villain of the Week Count Vertigo (Stormare, great fun as usual), who doses her with enough of his mind-altering drug for her to start seeing hallucinatory versions of both Sara and Captain Lance. (Again, superb acting from Blackthorne in the hallucination sequence – he does something rather terrifying with his scrunched-up angry face.) Laurel is forced to confront her demons (chiefly that she’s not good enough to fill Sara’s shoes), which is basically an excuse for the Canary vs Canary action that was teased in the show’s opening minutes. As such, it’s nicely handled and it’s always a treat to see Caity Lotz back in action. That said, something tells us that we may not be seeing her again for a while, as that final shot of her appearing to give Laurel her blessing looks very much like a “goodbye” shot (the sort you see in movies about ghosts with final tasks to complete before they pass on).
In terms of the overall season, the main development is Thea agreeing with Oliver that they need to work alongside Malcolm, if they’re going to have a hope in hell of defeating Ra’s al Ghul. She is aided in her decision by the fact that her erstwhile boyfriend, Chase The Evil DJ, tries to kill her by spiking her wine or something and revealed himself as a member of the League of Assassins. He’s gone now, anyway, which is just as well, as he was a terrible actor and there was no chemistry at all between him and Thea.
At any rate, the episode ends with Oliver deciding that he needs to take Thea to Flashback Island to properly train her, which hopefully means they’ll pay a visit to Slade Wilson at some point, since he’s currently imprisoned deep underground there. As for Flashback City this week, it’s basically just Oliver and Maseo trying to negotiate with Amanda Waller, but we do get a terrific cliff-hanger moment, with the reveal that Oliver’s new mission for Amanda takes place in – yes! – Starling City. No doubt that will mean flashback fun times next week, with Tommy back for a week and everything. Cleverly, it also means that next week, the ‘present day’ sequences will take place on the island, while the flashback sequences will take place in Starling City. Nice work, Arrow-writers.
As an aside, there is an interesting name-drop on Arrow this week, when somebody mentioned – Daggett Pharmaceuticals – a key player in the Batman animated series, where CEO Roland Daggett’s experimental serum was responsible for the creation of Clayface. Now, it could just be a random fanboy shout-out (something Arrow used to do a lot, but has dialled back a bit this season), but given that there were early references to Nanda Parbat before the Ra’s al Ghul plot kicked off, we wouldn’t rule out hearing that name again.
All in all, Canaries is a superb episode, with long-kept secrets finally revealed, various characters (Thea, Laurel, Lance) moving forward and the group dynamic shifting again. They can probably retire the whole Vertigo-induced hallucination bit now, though.
Season 1, 2 and 3 of Arrow are available on Amazon Prime, as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription – or, for free next day UK delivery on Amazon items, as part of a £79 annual Prime membership.
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Photo: Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.