Arrow season 8, episode 9 review: Green Arrow and the Canaries

Arrow -- "Green Arrow & The Canaries" -- Image Number: AR809a_0094r.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Juliana Harkavy as Dinah Drake/Black Canary, Katherine McNamara as Mia and Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance/Black Siren -- Photo: Katie Yu/The CW -- © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Arrow -- "Green Arrow & The Canaries" -- Image Number: AR809a_0094r.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Juliana Harkavy as Dinah Drake/Black Canary, Katherine McNamara as Mia and Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance/Black Siren -- Photo: Katie Yu/The CW -- © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved. /

“What did you do to me?” Spoilers for Arrow season 8, episode 9 follow.

No longer the hellscape in 2040 that it was before Crisis on Infinite Earths thanks for Green Arrow, Star City has become a safe haven. Suddenly though, Laurel arrives in the future to stop a new tragedy that will spark massive unrest in the city.

With all the changes comes the grandest change of all, Mia is no longer a vigilante because she doesn’t need to be. That doesn’t last though.

To the future we go

When “Green Arrow and the Canaries” was first announced as a backdoor pilot to a new series, there was one big question on everyone’s mind. When would it be set? Well, that question is answer almost immediately, it’s in the newly recreated 2040. Obviously, this version of Star City is drastically different than the one that we’ve become accustomed to. It’s no longer the dystopian future timeline, but instead, on its surface, feels almost utopian. Now, that obviously doesn’t last (because that would be an extremely boring episode, and possibly future show) but it’s fun to get a little glimpse at this new city.

Beyond that though, there’s a brand-new status quo at play because of the changes in the timeline. At first, it seemed like there was going to be a slight re-tread of Oliver’s journey before his time on the island. Thankfully though, this is quickly rectified as Mia regains her memories and then we’re off to the races. The rest of the episode does a great job of mixing the new status quo with the previous status quo that had been established pre-Crisis.

On a basic technical level for this episode though, there are some weird song choices in fight scenes. Arrow has always had a great score (including several points in this episode), but the couple of fight scenes in this episode, while great, don’t work as well as they could because of the song choice.

The Canaries

Probably the most entertaining thing about this episode was the relationship between Dinah and Laurel – our titular Canaries. These are two characters that have come so far from when they first met and it’s actually kind of wonderful to see them as friends now. Their relationship has some hints of Oliver and Diggle in the early days of Arrow, but is entirely fitting for both of the characters and definitely something that an entire show could be built around. Laurel and Dinah work incredibly well together, plus they play off Mia in a great way as well.

The part of this episode that raises the most questions regarding the two Canaries though is Dinah’s new life. It’s a quick, throw-away line, but it raises a huge question, how does Dinah suddenly end up in the future with her entire life erased? This is definitely something that will be touched upon eventually, if not in the series finale of Arrow, but it’s an interesting start to a backdoor pilot. The episode does a great job of using established characters, times, and story threads, and pushes them forward in great ways.

It’s also really fun to see Dinah singing which is now an iconic part of Black Canary, so it’s wonderful to see it this episode paying homage to it. Plus, Dinah’s living in a Clock Tower, which is the iconic location for the base of the Birds of Prey (which is what this team is heavily based on).

The Green Arrow

While the Canaries were the most entertaining part of the episode, the emotional core of the episode lies in Mia. This is an ensemble episode in the best sense, but its core goal is to get Mia to dawn to mantle that was bequeathed to her by Oliver. By quickly showing her to now be a socialite in this new timeline, as well as subsequently getting her back into the field, it allows her to almost be a surrogate for the audience.

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We’ve been thrown into this new status quo and think that we’ll have to get used to it, and a new Mia. But, by giving Mia her memories back, it allows the audience to connect her previous arcs with the new arc that’s being established. It helps to ease the audience into this new story, as well as endearing the audience to Mia yet again. So, once she puts on her Green Arrow suit, it’s extremely satisfying.

There are a couple points in Mia’s portions of the episode that feel a bit too “CW” at times, specifically when it comes to her relationship with JJ. Because he was Deathstroke before, this makes for some tense interactions between the two, but other times have relationship drama that feel too much like a soap opera. Thankfully, these portions are minimal, but noticeable.

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“Green Arrow and the Canaries” is a great backdoor pilot that establishes great relationships, and a new story between  Laurel, Dinah, and Mia. Here’s hoping that the show is greenlit.