Title: Arrow: “Green Arrow & the Canaries” Review
Release Date: January 21st, 2020
Network: The CW
Genre: Superhero, Drama, Action
Let’s start with everything that clicked. Like every other Arrowverse show that’s returned from break (excluding the gem that is Legends of Tomorrow), Arrow deals with the ramifications from Crisis on Infinite Earths. That’s awesome. It tells the audience that those 5-hours you watched Crisis meant something and that Oliver Queen’s sacrifice was worth the cost. The drastic change in color palettes and character personalities showcase that 2040 is a new world compared to the dark and dreary 2040 setting pre-Crisis.
I’ve been ragging on the flashforwards all season for a lack of character development and a lackluster villain. “Green Arrow & the Canaries” begins the process of actually giving us something with these undeveloped characters. Mia has once again fallen into a pit of trying to live up to her father’s legend status while at the same time try to compartmentalize two different timelines. Then we have JJ, a character who I thought floundered as the flashforward’s main antagonist. Now, he’s going to have to go through the same issue of managing two vastly different lives and experiences. Can he actually do it or will he once again put on the Deathstroke mask? It is an interesting dilemma that doesn’t feel like a retread of old character arcs.
If this backdoor pilot succeeds with audiences and CW does decide to push forward with a series order, I think most of these characters have the potential to stand out on their own instead of being knockoff versions of the OG Arrow team. But, here’s a difficult question that I don’t think this episode answers. Can these new characters carry the show on their own or will the Canaries have to pick up most of the slack?
That all being said, Dinah and Laurel were the best aspects of “Green Arrow & the Canaries” by a large margin. These two have been through some… let’s call them rough patches. But, they’ve also reconciled and become friends. I guess what I’m saying is that their history made their interactions all the better. Laurel, in particular, had the most laugh out loud moments of the episode. As I’ve mentioned countless times in these Arrow reviews, Katie Cassidy has been crushing it as Earth-2 Laurel for the past few seasons. That’ll definitely continue in the spin-off series.
“Green Arrow & the Canaries” largely suffers from a lack of focus. I still don’t know what the spin-off is going for or how much it’ll focus on the legacy Arrow characters. There are moments here where it seems that we are getting an Arrow-esque episode. Then we have others where our heroic trio is cracking multiple jokes towards the bad guys like something out of The Flash. The music choices also took me out of the fight scenes, mostly because I didn’t think it meshed well with what we were seeing on-screen.
It’s fine if you want to be a serious continuation of Arrow. It’s also cool if you want to do your own thing with a more upbeat tone. I just wish there was more of a commitment, one way or the other. We also didn’t get to see any of the new characters other than Mia and JJ for more than a minute on-screen.
To be fair, I’m sure it doesn’t help that we were running from point A to point B to point Z all in a 45-minute time frame. That’s the unfortunate nature of backdoor pilots. You have so much story to fit in and not much time to tell it. So, maybe the tone of the show and how it all gels together will be much better in the spin-off.
My only other issue with “Green Arrow & the Canaries” is Deathstroke. This villain’s name/suit has been driven into the ground so much over the past eight seasons. We’ve had Billy Wintergreen, Slade Wilson, Grant Wilson, Joe Wilson, John Diggle Jr., and now a random dude named Trevor. Please, let’s retire the Deathstroke name now.
As for the cliffhanger, it served its purpose. I’m fairly confident they kidnapped William because they think he is the new Green Arrow. Mia will go out to save him and have her own “No one can know my secret” moment in the actual pilot for the spin-off. Disregarding my predictions, that final shot of Mia and the Green Arrow statue was excellent.
Verdict: It’s tough to review backdoor pilots like this. You are judging an episode of a series but you also looking towards the future. “Green Arrow & the Canaries” may have worked as an episode of Arrow but I’m not sure if it will be able to thrive as its own spin-off series. The episode was all over the place, in regards to its tone. But, you can see the potential here. This spin-off, if it gets picked up by the CW for a series order, is going to hinge on the flashforwards crew. Will they be able to carry a series on their own? That’s what this episode didn’t answer. And that’s why it couldn’t get anything better than a 3-star rating.
- The ramifications from Crisis on Infinite Earths
- Dinah and Laurel
- Mia and JJ have actual character arcs (which is a crazy concept for the flashforwards storyline in season 8)
- There is potential here
- This episode was all over the place in tone and ultimately, it came across a bit sloppy
- Can the flashforwards crew carry their own series?
- The Deathstroke name has been driven into the ground