Arrow season 4 episode 19 – “Canary Cry”

The unthinkable has happened: Team Arrow has lost one of its own. Arrow pulled off a genuine surprised when it finally revealed who lay in the mysterious graves that’s been teased since the beginning of the season. Speculation ran rampant about who it would turn out to be, but Green Arrow’s stalwart companion Laurel Lance/The Black Canary (Katie Cassidy) was probably the least likely candidate. Laurel has always seemed somehow beyond mortal peril on the show, and given her position as the last remaining tie to the life Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) knew before the Island, this was probably intentional. When Oliver and Felicity’s relationship fractured this season, Laurel finally began to get interesting character interaction and development again as she became Oliver’s confidant through the time of trouble.

Now she is gone. Slain at the hands of Damien Darkh. “Canary Cry”sees Team Arrow struggling not only to come to terms with that terrible loss, but dealing with the threat of an imposter Black Canary whose personal vendetta threatens to undo all the good work Laurel Lance did during her time in a super hero’s mask. It is both “Canary Cry’s” greatest strength and greatest weakness that this villain of the weak is of secondary importance to the grieving that Laurel’s friends and her father Quintin (Paul Blackthorne) must go through while coping with the unimaginable loss of a friend.

Arrow 4x19 Canary Cry - Janet Kidder (Ruvé Adams)
Likewise taking a backseat this episode is Damien Darkh himself. Neal McDonough’s telekinetic villain is absent this episode with his equally evil wife Ruve Adams (Janet Kidder) serving as the primary antagonist. As the public face of Darkh’s organization, Ruve is a nasty piece of work and it’s great to see Kidder shine as a separate character apart from her sorcerous spouse.

Every single character gets good moments in this episode. Quintin Lance’s anguish is horrendous and believable. We already know that Nyssa al-Ghul (Katrina Law) no longer has the means to resurrect anyone, but seeing her deliver this news to Quintin is awful, and the look of sorrowful helplessness on the master assassin’s face as she does so is unsettling. Meanwhile, Felicity and Oliver say more about their ongoing issues than ever without saying anything about them at all. Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) is especially crushed by the realization that her and Oliver’s quarrels are insignificant now, they always were, and that irreparable harm has been caused because of them. John Diggle (David Ramsey) – typically the calm, rational heart of the team – becomes a mass of seething rage and self-recrimination that Oliver has to talk down from doing something totally stupid, even if it’s completely justified.

“Canary Cry” also boasts great bits of continuity. The death of Tommy Merlin in season 1 comes back to haunt Oliver in a big way, as does the team’s neglecting to follow up on a herd of low-level H.I.V.E. flunkies earlier this season.

This is not to say that “Canary Cry” is a perfect episode. The aforementioned villain of the week is given only a superficial explanation and is brought back from the brink a little too easily. And no one seems particularly concerned about breaking the news of Laurel’s passing to her sister Sarah (or if it’s even possible to do so.) But the emotional impact of the episode is quite severe regardless and will leave fans eager for the showdown against Darkh and H.I.V.E. to finally begin.

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