Nora Dominick ‘17/ Emertainment Monthly Co-Executive Stage Editor
Arrow returned this week after a short hiatus and it was an episode dedicated to the memory of Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy). After a gut-wrenching, emotional episode where fans said goodbye to a fan favorite character, Arrow follows it up with an episode that rides on the backs of emotional moments from several actors. Arrow’s latest episode entitled “Canary Cry” showcases the acting range from Paul Blackthorne and David Ramsey in a beautiful way.
Directed by Laura Belsey and written by Wendy Mericle and Beth Schwartz, Arrow returns seconds after Laurel Lance met her demise after a run in with Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough). Paul Blackthorne is the all-star on Arrow this week as he shows a side to Quentin fans haven’t really seen. In the four seasons of Arrow, Quentin has lost his daughter’s multiple times. He lost Sara (Caity Lotz) to Lian Yu, the League of Assassins and eventually death and now Laurel. With all of this weighing heavily on Quentin, Paul Blackthorne delivers his best, most heartbreaking performance to date.
Arrow kicks off right where the previous episode ended with Quentin and Oliver (Stephen Amell) in the hospital hallway dealing with the sudden loss of Laurel. Right from here, fans know that they will be on a non-stop rollercoaster of emotions. An interesting take on the grieving father, Arrow doesn’t have Quentin break down right away, instead he searches for answers. Blackthorne does an incredible job at having Quentin’s despair slowly burn throughout the episode. His denial is more heartbreaking than a sudden, emotional breakdown. Mericle and Schwartz write to Blackthorne’s strengths and that shows during his scenes of utter denial. When a Black Canary impersonator (Madison McLaughlin) is spotted using Laurel’s sonic device, Quentin begins to believe his daughter is still alive. This heartbreaking symbol of hope for Quentin will make any fan shed a few tears this week. Blackthorne has transcended expectations in his role as Quentin. He has created a character that is essential to Arrow and this episode further shows how he affects every other character.
When Oliver takes Quentin back to the morgue and further proves that Laurel is indeed dead, Quentin steps up his search to find a way to bring Laurel back. Quentin calls on Nyssa (Katrina Law) to help him bring Laurel to the Lazarus Pit. In an emotional moment, Nyssa breaks the news that she destroyed the Lazarus Pit after bringing Sara back. Law and Blackthorne create a short but emotional scene as both of them come to terms with Laurel’s death. With the destruction of the Lazarus Pit, Quentin has run out of options and with it comes the best scene of the episode.
Stephen Amell and Paul Blackthorne have both had incredible seasons. Amell has showcased Oliver’s vulnerable side through his relationship with Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) while Blackthorne has become a key player on Team Arrow and his relationship with Donna Smoak (Charlotte Ross) helps him break out of his shell. I guess Smoak women really do bring out the best in people. With Quentin slowly losing hope, Amell and Blackthorne engage in the most heartbreaking scene in this week’s episode. Oliver must break the harsh truth to Quentin that Laurel is dead and nothing is able to bring her back. Amell triumphs in this scene as he shows a range of emotions. He has grown the most this season in terms of emotional vulnerability and development and it shows in this scene. Blackthorne finally takes Quentin to the heartbreaking place he’s been avoiding since the episode began. He tells Oliver, “When we lost Sara, when I became a drunk, when no one else believed in me, she did. She’s always been there! She’s my rock. She was my rock…” Between Amell’s tears and Blackthorne doubled over in grief, this scenes writing coupled with the acting makes it stand out as one of the best this season.
Although Blackthorne commands this Arrow episode, David Ramsey is a close second. After finding out that Andy (Eugene Byrd) has been working with HIVE this entire time and he may have contributed to Laurel’s death, Diggle springs into guilty mode. Ramsey goes above and beyond his portrayal of Diggle this week as he shows a side to Diggle fans haven’t really had a chance to see. Diggle has always been the level headed member of Team Arrow, but this week that changes. His best moment comes when he seeks out Ruvé Adams (Janet Kidder) on his own. Ramsey shows just how far his acting has come as Diggle berates Ruvé and finally snaps. This vicious side to Diggle is something new for the character and Ramsey plays it effortlessly. Even more remarkable in this scene is when Green Arrow comes in and Diggle and Oliver have a heart to heart. Diggle breaks down and in this moment Ramsey and Amell truly shine. Their bromance on screen has gone above and beyond and it’s nice to see Oliver comforting Diggle for once.
Of course as if dealing with Laurel’s recent death isn’t enough for Team Arrow, they must deal with an imposter Black Canary who is going around Star City essentially diminishing the Black Canary mantle. Each character deals with this in their own way, but what really comes out of it is a monumental scene between the Black Canary impersonator and Green Arrow. When Black Canary storms into a Ruvé Adams party, Green Arrow jumps in to save the day. In a remarkable scene, Amell defies expectations as he desperately pleas with Black Canary to stop what she’s doing. The desperation behind each word plays very well on screen as Green Arrow asks the fake Black Canary, what would the real Black Canary do? This moment is equal parts Green Arrow, equal parts Oliver and Amell gives this scene the extra heart it needs.
Overall, the flashbacks in season four have been the lowest points in each episode. They often feel out of place and drag viewers into a storyline they often don’t care about and the pay off for them doesn’t seem to be in sight. This week, Arrow broke away from the Lian Yu flashbacks to give fans a beautiful tribute to Tommy (Colin Donnell) and Laurel. The flashbacks featured Tommy’s funeral and the events that led to Oliver traveling back to Lian Yu between seasons one and two. It was a nice change and allowed fans to see Katie Cassidy play Laurel one last time (for now). The flashbacks also allowed fans to truly see how far Cassidy has come. The Laurel in the flashbacks is a 180 degree change from the Laurel in season four. It is a nice juxtaposition and it’s great for long time fans to fill in the gaps between seasons. Of course any mention of Tommy is always a positive (we miss you Tommy/Colin).
Since leaving Team Arrow, Felicity hasn’t really been present, however that all changes this week. Rickards brings her A-game as she shows Felicity’s internal struggle. Felicity wonders what would’ve gone differently if she was with the team the night Laurel died. This internal struggle, although small, is powerful to see. Rickards does an amazing job at showing a range of emotions in every scene and her work opposite Ramsey and Amell showcases this. One of the best scenes Rickards has a hand in this week involves the extended limo scene following Laurel’s funeral.
Following an emotional funeral where Oliver delivers a touching eulogy and lets the world know that Laurel Lance was the Black Canary, fans finally get context for the flash forward sequences. In particular, the limo scene involving Oliver and Felicity extends into a powerful monologue from Felicity that echoes one of Rickards best moments on Arrow ever. To this day, one of Rickards best scenes involves her inspirational monologue to Oliver in season two episode 22 entitled “Streets of Fire,” In the scene, Felicity tells Oliver that he needs to honor their fallen friends by fighting. This moment solidified Rickards as the standout actress on Arrow and this week’s episode features another inspirational monologue. Felicity tells Oliver that he needs to find a way to end Darhk for good. She says “If Darhk wins, Laurel died for nothing. I fell in love with you you for many reasons and one of those reasons is, is that you always find a way.” Rickards astonishes and Amell triumphs in this scene. Amell barely utters a word, but his reaction to Rickards powerful acting is enough to elevate this scene to incredible heights.
Arrow delivers an episode that allows fans to grieve the loss of Laurel. Although the story does move forward, Arrow almost takes a well-deserved pause for fans and characters to survey the impact of the loss. It works in all the right ways and was a good send off for such a beloved character. With this episode, Arrow hurdles towards its final episode of season four and it will surely be a wild ride.