Monday, November 18, 2013

Black Canary on ARROW S2 E4-6

The fourth and fifth episodes of the Arrow's second season are all about Black Canary and she plays a pretty substantive part in the flashback sequences of the sixth.  Needless to say, these were among my favorite episodes of the series.

Season 2, Episode 4: "Crucible"

Because why should Ollie and Malcolm Merlyn
and Shado and the Huntress and Roy be the only
ones who get to have fun with bows and arrows?
I mean, seriously, share the love!
While Oliver has to deal with a sudden flood of military-grade weapons onto the streets of his city, Felicity has an epiphany regarding the woman in black leather.  Both times the Canary appeared--to rescue Green Arrow from a police ambush and to stop the Dollmaker--Laurel was there.  Maybe the Canary isn't following Oliver, but rather Laurel (Katie Cassidy).

So Ollie stakes out Laurel's apartment to find Canary (Caity Lotz) watching her.  He captures Canary in a nifty snare trap.  She drops a sonic grenade like the kind she used to get them out of the police station, but this time, Ollie had the foresight to wear earplugs.

Canary speaks to Oliver very familiarly, even calling him by name, and warning him that her identity will rock his world.  He removes her mask to discover the Black Canary is... Sara Lance, Laurel's sister, long thought drowned on the boat that marooned Oliver on the island six years ago.

Ollie has plenty of questions, but she doesn't want to answer yet.  Her sonic grenade explodes into a smoke cloud; when it evaporates, Ollie is alone on the roof.  When he regroups with Diggle and Felicity, Ollie reveals that he knew Sara didn't drown on the Queen's Gambit, but he still thought she was dead because of something that happened a year after the shipwreck.

Back at her clock tower hideout, Sara talks to her young friend Sin.  They exchange a few cryptic remarks about their past.  Later, Sara goes to Ollie's club, Verdant, to find out if he's revealed to her family that she's still alive.  She stays vague about her whereabouts for the last couple years, only hinting at the kind of rough crowd she fell in with to learn how to fight the way she does.  Before they can say much more, Sara's father, Detective Quentin Lance, shows up to ask Ollie for help with his daughter.  Of course, he means Laurel, who has been having problems with drugs and alcohol since Tommy Merlyn's death and her capture by the Dollmaker.  Sara slips away, unnoticed by her father.

Wait, why is her hair different?  Oh, damn --
 I think this screen grab is from the wrong show!
Ollie recruits Canary to help him take down the episode's villain, a gangster called The Mayor who is running guns into the Glades.  Green Arrow and Black Canary naturally make an effective fighting team, watching each other's back and even trading weapons at one point; he uses her bo staff and she uses his bow.  It's a nice little moment.  Anyway, they stop the Mayor and Ollie convinces Canary not to kill him.

Ollie and Sara meet again the next day when she goes to visit her friend Sin in the hospital.  Ollie thinks Sara should tell her family that she's still alive, but she tells him who she really was died on the island.  She also says everyone would hate Ollie forever if they knew what really happened.

Meanwhile, during the flashback sequence, a younger Ollie has been captured and taken prisoner aboard a freighter called Amazo.  He is taken to the captain's quarters where he discovers Sara alive for the first time.

Season 2, Episode 5: "League of Assassins"

After a flashback sequence revisiting Sara's last moments aboard the Queen's Gambit before it sinks, she wakes up in present day in a guest bedroom of Queen Manor.  Ollie tries to convince her to go see her family, but she still thinks it's a bad idea, that there are things from her past that she cannot reveal because they are unforgivable.

In another flashback, we see Sara lying on a piece of debris adrift in the ocean.  A canary lands beside her, chirps, and then takes off.  She follows the bird's flight path, leading her to see a ship in the distance.

While Ollie and Sara discuss Moira Queen's trial, an assassin dressed in what looks similar to Malcolm Merlyn's Dark Archer costume, breaks in and attacks Ollie and Sara.  They fight him to a standstill and he escapes, but not before showing his face, clearly revealing that it's not Malcolm or Malcolm's ghost or anyone Ollie knows.

Ollie takes Sara to the Arrow Cave where she meets Diggle and Felicity.  Ollie gives Felicity some dirt the assassin left so she can trace him back to his hideout, because you know, that's something Felicity can do.

Sara tells the others she doesn't want them involved.  She reveals that the mystery man was gunning for her, not Ollie, and that he was a member of the League of Assassins.  Diggle and Ollie thought the League was nothing but a myth, but Sara assures them it's real and that she is was a member, taken from the island and trained at Nanda Parbat.  This is why Sara cannot return to her family.  She is not the woman they remember; she is a cold-blooded murderer.

Felicity traces the assassin's dirt to an abandoned factory.  Green Arrow and Black Canary confront the man, Al Ow-Al, who claims to have trained Malcolm Merlyn.  Arrow demands that the League stay away from Canary, but that threat doesn't go over very well.  Two more assassins show up and they all begin fighting, with Ollie taking on Ow-Al and Sara fighting the other two.  One of the assassins wounds her, and Ollie breaks off the attack to escape with Sara.

There's already a lot of BDSM stuff going on with that costume, but holding
the bo staff like that just adds layers and layers of subtext.
Oliver stitches up Sara back at the hideout.  He and Diggle reason that Sara's family could become targets if the League really wants her to surrender, so Ollie goes to protect Laurel and Felicity goes to warn Quentin to get out of town... which goes horribly.

Knowing that her father won't take any warning seriously that doesn't come from her, Sara has no choice but to reveal herself to Quentin.  They reunite in a touching embrace and then go to a restaurant.  She doesn't answer his questions about where she's been, but when an abrupt noise startles her, she accidentally exposes her keen reflexes and killer instinct.  Being the good cop that he is, Quentin realizes that she is connected to the Arrow, that she's the Black Canary, and she has been back in the city for weeks.  He realizes that Felicity's warning about him being in danger was true, and that the danger is because of Sara.  He asks if she would have ever revealed herself if her family wasn't in danger.  She says no, and then they leave.

Meanwhile, in the flashback sequences, Sara has been locked in a cage in the ship and abused, until a white man calls the guards off of her.  The man introduces himself as Dr. Anthony Ivo, and claims that he is keeping prisoners in cells as part of his work to save the human race.

Sara brings Quentin to the clock tower, where they are ambushed by Al Ow-Al and the two other assassins.  The Canary has a number of traps set up that throw her enemies off their footing.  Green Arrow arrives in time to stop one of the assassins, while Quentin manages to shoot and kill another one.  Canary fights Ow-Al and kills him over Arrow's objections.  She lets the last assassin live so he can take a message back to Ra's al Ghul's daughter that her family is off limits.

Sara and Quentin have a touching father-daughter moment, but she has to leave in order to keep her family safe.  As long as she's around, the League will keep hunting for her, so she can't be close to her family and friends.  She also can't let her sister or her mother know she's alive because they would never stop looking for her.  Then Sara leaves.

Later, Quentin visits Laurel who is still sheltering an addiction problem.  He promises her things will get better, but he cannot reveal the secret.

Years ago, aboard the Amazo, Ollie is taken to the cabin where he sees Sara who has now been working with Ivo for a year.  She smacks him and addresses him as a prisoner.

Season 2, Episode 6: "Keep Your Enemies Closer"

Sara only appears in the flashback sequences as Ollie tries to understand his new situation as a prisoner aboard the Amazo.  We learn a little bit more about Ivo's plan.  He is looking for the remains of a Japanese submarine crew who were doing genetic experiments to create super-soldiers or super-humans in the 1940s.

Sara appears to want to help him, feeding him information to keep him safe and keeping his identity a secret.  However, she also betrays him, tricking him into revealing that Shado and Slade Wilson are still alive.  However again, she intervenes on his behalf when Ivo is going to kill Ollie, so her loyalty at this stage in the game is entirely unknown.

New Identity/Origin

Obviously, this is not the Black Canary of the comics.  That doesn't bother me, though, because this is not the Green Arrow of the comics.  This show is its own entity with its own rules and history and characterizations and I've grown to both accept and admire that.  So I have no problem with this twist on Black Canary.  Hell, I love it!

After watching the pilot episode, I had a difficult time believing Laurel could ever become Black Canary.  Well, problem solved: she doesn't.  Instead, it's her long-thought-dead sister who trained with the League of Assassins to be one of the best, most cunning warriors in the world.  Halle-freaking-lujah!

Each episode of this new season is as good if not better than the one before, so there is plenty to get excited about.  This mini Black Canary saga, though, has been my favorite storyline in the series.  Obviously, I'm biased about the character, but it feels like a dramatic twist that was earned instead of forced.  The shock of Sara being alive is unexpected, but not ludicrous, and making her a darker, even more tragic reflection of Ollie, adds new dimension to both of their characters.

I hope she comes back again in the second half of the season.


  1. I haven't seen much of Arrow yet, but I'm so glad her long hair is back. I really didn't like Black Canary on Smallville. Not crazy about the outfit, though--can't they bring back the fishnets?

  2. Thanks for commenting!

    I never saw her appearances on SMALLVILLE, so I have only Google Images to compare their costumes, but I like this one so much more. It's hard to see in the pictures, but there is a cross-stitch line that runs up the front and back of her legs. It's not the same as the fishnets, which I miss, too, but it's something.

  3. I thought she was okay on Smallville, tho I would've preferred her to have longer hair.
    These past two eps of Arrow were very good indeed, and straddled that tight line between giving us a lot of plot with plenty to think about, whilst leaving us with more to savor and wonder about. Maybe this new Canary is a tad small, but she is very effective as Ollie's 'partner'. Funnily, she comes across as quite realistic for someone we all thought was dead in season one, shes a good buffer in the odd character changes this new season [ Quentin suddenly and jarringly becoming Arrow's number one fan and supporter after hunting him all last series, Ollie's sister suddenly growing up and running his nightclub and Laurel who has become increasingly tiresome] I wish Sara would get into her karate rather than carry that stick around. At first I thought shed turn out to be another Huntress type like last season but shes different, more complex.
    Love the introduction of Sin [as in the BoP comic, but as a grown-up] and that 'headquarters' of hers in a clock tower, reminiscent of BoP too.
    One of my friends has a mad crush on Dylan Neal [she has, for years] and will be delighted he's here as Professor Ivo, and of course we all know the relevance of that particular name and the trawler ship called 'Amazo',
    Did think that once she and her father were reunited, that he wouldn't just let her go, so that was a surprise. What a great show, I love it.

  4. I remember there was a reference in the pilot, I think, where one of Thea's girlfriends called her "Speedy". It was a reference to her drug addiction at the time, but as Roy Harper hadn't been introduced yet, I thought it would be an interesting trick if Ollie's sister ended up becoming his sidekick. I would still like her to get involved with him at some point, though not to the physicality level that Canary and Huntress have.

    Speaking of which, yes, I'm glad she isn't just this season's version of Huntress. Different backstory, different connection to Ollie and his world, different danger looming on the horizon. All good stuff.

  5. They made a good casting of this actress, and didn't bring back the original one who played Sara in the pilot [they couldn't anyway, shes currently full-time on the daytime soap The Bold and the Beautiful - wouldn't it be odd if it was the Brave and the Bold?!]. One interesting tidbit is that the current Sara already had martial arts training before she joined the show which helps considerably with playing Canary.