Arrow: 7.18 Lost Canary
Arrow has always had an odd relationship with the character of Laurel Lance. Early seasons saw her as both a love interest to Oliver Queen and an outsider, unaware of his identity as the Arrow. She was a far cry from the beloved Black Canary from the comics and when it finally became time for her to take on this heroic mantle, it was somewhat of a convoluted character journey. In fact, it wasn't until her shocking death at the hands of Damien Darhk is season four when she had finally started to settle into the role. Taking her away just as she got really interesting was one of the show's biggest mistakes.
Her return as evil Earth 2 doppelganger Black Siren brought some interesting story developments, culminating in her turning away from a life of villainy to become the woman Earth 1 knew her as. It was wonderful to have Katie Cassidy back on the show - and she's certainly shown more fire as Earth 2 Laurel - but still she has struggled to find her place. Becoming the DA felt a little misguided and unbelievable, but her new anti-hero persona has been both a shake up in the cast dynamic and brought some intriguing conflict.
Laurel's path was shaken up again last week with Emiko 'outing' her Black Siren persona. The result was Arrow's take on DC's Birds of Prey (or Birds of Justice as Felicity coined them). We saw Laurel in action against canaries Dinah Drake and Sara Lance (guest starring across from Legends of Tomorrow), with Felicity taking up the Oracle role as Overwatch. This should have been the highlight of the episode, seeing Laurel towing the line between villain ands hero, facing off against Dinah and Sara before finally joining the 'light side'. The end result however was a bit of a mixed affair. I always seeing what Cassidy brings to the role and I genuinely felt sorry for Laurel that her attempts at redemption had so badly been taken away. But there was also a real lack of energy too between the characters. Even Caity Lotz, as wonderful as she always is, felt a little lacklustre at times - though I loved her doing the whole bar jump thing that Oliver used to do.
The truth was, it was a much more morose affair, Laurel resigned to her fate as a villain, Dinah giving up on her and Felicity realising that her friend might actually be willing to kill her. Laurel's side kick Shadow Thief (Carmel Amit) had a bit of charisma, but we didn't get enough of the bad girls having fun storyline that would have made it more enjoyable to watch. There was also a short sub plot with Oliver and John to give them something to do, but ultimately this was the chance for the female characters of the show to shine. Even the future focused on Dinah and Mia and the plan to deal with the eradication of the canary network, complete with the surprise of an older Laurel having earned her redemption.
It's a shame then that this wasn't a triumph episode. There were some nice moments, particularly Sara meeting Laurel at Quentin's graveside and bonding over his compassion for Laurel that enabled her to turn away from a life of crime. As the wiser, more experienced canary of the Arrowverse, Sara's role as mentor was a nice touch. It was also great to see her in action with Dinah and later Laurel, taking on the enemy in one of Arrow's slick fight sequences.
While Laurel's decision to face her past in Earth 2 felt earned, I hope we see this explored rather than her abrupt exit from the series. Like her Earth 1 predecessor, this Laurel is really starting to come into her own and I would hate for her growth as a character to result in Cassidy's departure from Arrow a second time. But with just four more episodes left, I doubt there's enough time to give her path to redemption the focus it deserves.