‘Green Arrow and the Canaries’ Treads Familiar Ground: REVIEW

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Since reviewing Arrow is not a regular thing, this “Green Arrow and the Canaries” conversation marks a special occasion. After all, the CW opted for a backdoor pilot for the spinoff about Mia Queen (Katherine McNamara) instead of ordering it to series outright like it did with Superman & Lois. The network must be wondering if their flagship Arrowverse show has enough juice left without its lead actor to make a whole new show, and the ratings later today should answer that question.

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Another singing canary…

But as for the content? “Green Arrow and the Canaries” offers viewers a brand-new Star City and a glimpse into Earth-Prime’s future, but it ironically leans a little too hard on the past to branch out on its own. A remade Earth in which the changes in Mia’s life are slowly unveiled and the characters awaken to their old selves is an intriguing concept on its own, but the show does away with a lot of the tension by turning Laurel (Katie Cassidy) into a pseudo-time traveler with the power to let the other protagonists know everything that’s happened with just a touch.

Except the only one she needs to touch is Mia, because Dinah (Juliana Harkavy) was inexplicably dropped off 20 years into the future and erased from existence after returning to 2020 in the final chapter of the crossover with her identity intact. Perhaps there will be a plan in motion for the Canaries if the show goes to series, but for now it reads like two clumsy ways to get out of aging makeup for the admittedly gorgeous ladies.

Lest it sound like an hour full of complaints, there was actually a lot to love about the episode. Socialite Mia is surprisingly well-adjusted, and having grown up with William (Ben Lewis) in this reality makes them an adorable duo. Her present-day engagement to J.J. (Charlie Barnett) came as a genuine shock and set up delicious tension with Connor (Joseph David-Jones), who I long ago decided was her true love.

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Care to add one more?

And fingers crossed that Helena Bertinelli’s daughter Bianca joins the Birds of Prey-esque group that the Canaries have going on, because she was a barrel of fun in her five minutes of screen time. After all, this week’s Arrow revolves around rescuing her from a kidnapping in order to stop Star City from dissolving back into crime after its 20-year hiatus. Which brings us back to a minor complaint: how does crime just disappear for two decades, and shouldn’t that suggest that another Green Arrow is the last thing the town needs?

But it does need its Canaries, and the dynamic between Laurel and Dinah winds up being the strongest aspect of the show. Their tumultuous ups and downs have always felt earned, as does their now solid trust and mutual support. It’s also fun to see Laurel let loose with the snark and without the constant guilt over her past mistakes, while an insecure Dinah whose unclear about her place in the world is certainly a different change of pace. If they remain at the forefront of any future episodes, the show will be good to go. And they’ll certainly have some mileage out of J.J. remembering his other life (too quickly for my liking, but that’s another story) and the great mystery of who is behind the rebirth of crime in Star City.

Arrow‘s finale airs next Tuesday at 9/8c, after an hour-long retrospective, while the fate of “Green Arrow and the Canaries” still hangs in the balance.