Arrow‘s final season has been really, really good. It has been focused and has used seven seasons of characters and back story to give us the kind of closure and sense of history that shows almost never get. As someone who has stuck around with the show since the early days–I discovered it on Netflix between seasons 2 and 3 and stayed on from there–it has felt like a reward. With the Crisis on Infinite Earths over and Oliver’s sacrifice complete, though, we have two full episodes of Arrow left. Frustratingly, one of them feels soulless and opportunistic. Spoilers follow for Arrow Season 8, Episode 8, “Green Arrow and the Canaries.”
“Green Arrow and the Canaries”
The penultimate episode of Arrow takes us back – back to the future. Back to the year 2040, where we spent the flash-forwards of Season 7. But now, it’s a post-Crisis 2040, and everything is remixed. JJ never turned to a life of crime and never donned a Deathstroke mask. Conor never had the opportunity to become better and has ended up in and out of rehab. Mia Smoak goes by Mia Queen, proud in this timeline of her father’s sacrifice and legacy, rather than frustrated that he abandoned her. She’s a wealthy socialite living in a Star City that hasn’t seen crime in almost 20 years. It turns out Oliver’s many sacrifices saved his city.
Fighting crime in a future time
But in another part of the city, something is wrong. Black Canary–in her 30s, not her 50s as she should be–appears in a loud club and warns a young woman that she’s in danger. The woman ignores her just long enough to find out that she was right. Goons haul her off.
The episode follows Laurel as she finds Dinah, who has also ended up in 2040. While Laurel seems to have time-traveled intentionally, Dinah ended up there after the Crisis with no inkling of how she got there. These days, Dinah owns a bar/cafe where she plays the piano and sings instead of dressing up in leather and a domino mask. Laurel talks Dinah into helping her, and they show up at Mia Queen’s college graduation party where Laurel uses a device built by Cisco to restore pre-Crisis memories the same way that J’onn is able to. Mia gets her memories back, but still retains those of her new and more stable life–the one without cage fighting.
Mia initially resists the pull of being a vigilante, wanting to believe that her idyllic life can continue. She knows better, though, and is soon putting on the green body armor her father left for her. After a crash through a skylight, an epic fight scene, and a slow-mo zipline from an exploding building, Mia knows she has to pick her vigilante life back up but isn’t ready to give up her normal life. Of course, there wouldn’t be a show if she did otherwise.
Too soon, you guys
My heart just was not in this episode. The fights were fine and I like the actresses, but the setting and timing are all wrong.
The timing feels especially weird because we’re supposed to still be mourning the death of Mia’s father, but his body hasn’t even cooled off and we’re already slipping a backdoor pilot into his show? It feels a little cheap, and it actually cheapens the excellent season that preceded it. Arrow is ending. It’s getting an ending that few shows get. It 7 whole episodes saying goodbye to a variety of its characters, and then used one episode to kick off what is by all accounts one of the most ambitious television creations in a long time. With two episodes left, one is set for Oliver’s funeral. But before that… we’re launching a new Green Arrow show? I get it; Katherine McNamara is an easy actress to get behind. She’s good at being mad and determined and crying. And Katie Cassidy and Juliana Harkavy have the Arrow legacy working for them. Cassidy especially has had an interesting arc as Laurel and has really grown into the part.
Vancouver 2020 isn’t Star City 2040
I also dislike the setting. The Arrowverse already plays fast and loose with technology. Their 2020 is ten or twenty years ahead of us in some ways, and full-on sci-fi in others (not accounting for, you know superheroes and aliens). Legends of Tomorrow uses future settings sometimes, and all kinds of past settings. But the show is, first and foremost, a silly show about time travel and jump kicking. Arrow and presumably Green Arrow and the Canaries have a much more serious tone to them. That means that every little crack in the 2040 facade will be that much more prominent. They’ll be that much more difficult to overlook.
It seems like a foregone conclusion that the show would take Mia back to 2020 to resolve that, but the show is setting up pieces for her to stay in 2040. Not to mention that bringing her back to 2020 would raise even more questions when we start wondering where Diggle is, what people in Star City think of a new Green Arrow appearing days after the death of the previous one, where Felicity is when her adult daughter is doing jump kicks in the warehouse district. You know, that stuff.
Green Arrow and the Canaries has not yet been picked up for a season. Right now, it feels like the weakest concept in the Arrowverse so far. It’s a cheap way to fill a timeslot that builds off of our love for existing characters rather than creating something original and compelling. I love the Arrowverse, and it can do better than this.