It’s difficult to mourn the death of a loved one when someone is running around town impersonating that person…or at least their costumed alter ego.
That’s the problem plaguing Team Arrow during “Canary Cry,” which sees everyone tackle their grief over Laurel’s death (which is being treated, for now, as final, unlike her sister’s). They have to do so, however, as someone else gallivants around town wearing the Black Canary outfit and using Laurel’s signature Canary Cry weapon.
And that’s perhaps the biggest question in regards to this unknown bird of prey. Cisco tuned Laurel’s Canary Cry choker to specifically only work for her, and the team finds it missing from the bag of Laurel’s things given to them by the hospital. This little factoid, along with the Canary sightings around town, give Quentin Lance a sense of hope that his daughter is still alive.
Quentin spends much of “Canary Cry” in denial, though Oliver does his best to dissuade the elder Lance of his false notions. He brings Quentin to the morgue to show him Laurel’s body is still there, not suddenly having sprung back to life to fight crime. Yet still, Lance holds out hope for his daughter’s resurrection. After all, he already had one daughter brought back to life, so why not two?
Oliver is more concerned with finding out who this new Canary is, however, so he lets Quentin out of his sight while he digs into the newcomer. Although the doctor who helped treat Laurel won’t give Oliver a name, she does mention she has what she calls frequent fliers, people who come repeatedly into the ER. But she leaves him with little else to go to work with.
And surprisingly for the guy who blames himself for nearly every single thing that’s happened over the last four years, Oliver is perhaps the most focused on the task at hand. Diggle is wracked with guilt over trusting his brother rather than Oliver, only to have Andy betray the entire team. He tells this all to Felicity, who later reveals to Oliver she also feels guilty about Laurel’s death, having not been part of the team to help, as well as for letting Diggle go on blaming himself while she did nothing to comfort him.
In perhaps a sign the two are inching toward reconciliation, Oliver tries to connect with her in this moment by telling her that this is why he always blames himself, again, for every single thing — at least it gives reason to the unreasonable. There’s not always an explanation for life’s worst occurrences. Sometimes, loved ones just die, and no one is really to blame, which makes the appeal of blaming yourself all the more palatable.
Thea takes this period of grieving to meet with Alex, but the closest thing the two have had to a date night in a while is interrupted by the mystery Canary. She grabs Alex and blames him for working for “them,” beating him up and holding him at gunpoint until Thea subdues her briefly.
The impostor flees, but with a quick call to Oliver, Thea is able to get the Green Arrow on the Canary’s tail. He follows her until he corners her down an alleyway where he demands answers.
She gives none, instead doling out blame to the Arrow, telling him he has failed this city. He abandoned people at some place called Reddington, which Oliver later reveals to the group is the name of the facility Darhk held them captive at over the holiday. The Canary lets him go with another painful cry, but back at base, he and the team cross the news of Reddington with any teenage daughters who might have lost people over the same timeframe.
They come up with Evelyn Crawford Sharp (her counterpart in the comics having been associated with the Birds of Prey), whose parents died as part of HIVE’s scheming. And while the rest of the team has felt guilty over Laurel’s death, Oliver is also weighed down by the thought of the people trapped at Reddington he failed to save.
How Oliver deals with Laurel plays out differently than most of those around him. He, in fact, appears to be the most emotionally stable, all things considered. Instead, the show keeps Katie Cassidy’s Laurel alive and kicking for part of the episode via flashbacks (yes, that means no minutes of progress are made in the year’s boring Lian Yu story). The episode opens with a funeral, but it’s Tommy Merlyn’s, not Laurel’s.
She is actually speaking in place of Oliver at the funeral because he couldn’t stomach standing in front of all those people and talking about a man whose death he blames himself for. Of course, this flashback comes at a time in the series when Laurel had no idea about Oliver’s identity. The two connect after the funeral as Oliver deals with his grief for another fallen friend years before he would lose this one.
He intimates to her that she would not be happy with him if she knew the truth, and as she remains unaware, Oliver and Laurel grieve together. For a brief moment they are again romantic with each other following Tommy’s death, but more importantly, Oliver sees the spirit in Laurel that wants to protect this city and make it better.
That outlook triggers a change in Oliver as he leaves her, albeit temporarily, because he has some soul-searching to do of his own as he returned to Lian Yu (territory that is then covered in season 2).
So, in some sense, Oliver has gone through something before very much like what all of his friends are dealing with in this moment. Yet they all struggle with the grief and blame in their own ways, some quite unexpected. Diggle goes commando, deciding to take matters into his own weird helmeted control. He holds up Ruvé Adams’ limo, planning to kill her as a message to Damien Darhk.
NEXT: Can Quentin accept Laurel’s death?
Oliver stops him, allowing Ruvé to escape, which only infuriates Diggle further. He feels lost, unsure of who he is anymore and worried that every minute Andy roams free is another minute in which Andy can kill Diggle’s loved ones. Oliver has to flip their normal dynamic during “Canary Cry,” being the one to give Diggle advice rather than vice versa.
He asks Diggle to not forget who he is, and to never become like those they’re fighting — all the things Laurel would have told him.
Ruvé uses the attack, however, to rally the city behind a hunt for the Canary, making her a criminal to be stopped in Laurel Lance’s memory. This doppelganger has to be dealt with, but before they can tackle that problem, Oliver has one major ally to assist first.
Quentin spends “Canary Cry” searching for a cure for his daughter. He calls Nyssa to his house, hoping she’ll bring him and Laurel’s body to the Lazarus Pit to revive her. (You’d think the thing would have come up when he called for Nyssa.) Nyssa breaks the news of the Pit’s destruction to Quentin and tells him there is no other chance to bring her back. But he remains vigilant in his search.
Nyssa warns Oliver about Quentin’s stubbornness, and the Arrow does his best to stop Quentin from this fruitless pursuit. At first, he’s angry, yelling about how Oliver has never lost a child, to which Oliver throws back that he’s lost both his parents. And he’s lost Laurel. They’ve both lost Laurel.
Quentin abhors the idea that the rock in his life could be gone, but that idea — that the person that grounded him and kept him level could be gone finally — seems to get through as he breaks down, with only Oliver to stoically comfort him. (And credit where credit’s due — Paul Blackthorne has already had to sell us on Quentin’s grief over losing a daughter, but here he manages to find new, unique depths of touching despair.)
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And with acceptance finally taking hold, Oliver directs his attention to the hunt for Evelyn, who shows up at a gala where Ruvé is set to speak. The team prepares to strike as Evelyn makes her move for the mayor. Ruvé welcomes the attack, hoping to make a villain out of the Canary, and she seems to receive her wish when Evelyn holds Ruvé at gunpoint.
Oliver is able to talk her out of killing Ruvé. This won’t serve justice for her losses, Oliver argues in the ballroom, and the real Black Canary would not want Evelyn to act with such violence. The thought of what her inspiration would do is enough to stop her from shooting, and everyone comes out of the affair alive.
Of course, such a public showing also gives Ruvé plenty of ammunition to make the Canary a would-be murderer in the press, ruining Laurel’s legacy. That is, until Oliver has the last word.
At Laurel’s funeral, Quentin comes with Dinah, who holds onto the fleeting wisps of hope that their daughter can be revived as he tries to help her see reality for what it is. And it is Oliver’s speech that helps do so. He tells those gathered of Laurel’s crusade to do good and to make the city better (while Evelyn watches from afar just as he did at Tommy’s funeral). But she did more. He reveals that Laurel told him, before she died, that she was the Black Canary, a slight bending of the truth that ensures she not be painted a criminal as some would want.
Following Oliver’s speech, the puzzle pieces of the almost season-long mystery death are put together. Oliver stands again by the grave as Barry comes to console him, only now we know who rests beneath the gravestone. Oliver then steps into the limo with Felicity, now with an understanding of what their relationship is like in this moment, where he tells her about his fears in facing Darhk. He’s faced this magic, this darkness before, and he feels it to be unstoppable.
Felicity refuses that idea. One of the things she loved about Oliver was his refusal to give up in his pursuit of solutions. So she wants him to do the same here because if Darhk wins, Laurel died for nothing.
He always found a solution, and so Oliver has to find one now. For Felicity, for himself, for their city, and for Laurel.