By Justin Carter
There was once a time where if you told me I’d start to like Laurel Lance I might have said “fat chance,” but here she is, dressed as Black Canary, and it’s … not half bad, actually.
Laurel has been disliked by the Arrow fandom for nearly three years now, to say the least. The show admittedly hasn’t handled her well, what with that drug addiction from last year that just seemed to come completely out of left field. Everyone knew that eventually she was going to become Black Canary, it was just a matter of when. Re-watching the season two finale where Sara gives her the Canary jacket was subtle writing on the wall, while her first appearance in the third season opener with blonde hair was basically spray painting the message onto that wall. Her training with Ted Grant over the first half of the season and all those wistful looks at Sara’s old gear finally ended with her kicking the tar out of one of Brick’s men at the end of last week’s episode, and “Midnight City” opens with her clumsily doing some vigilante work. And you know what? It makes the episode work.
Rather than making her an ultra elite badass right from the get-go like her sister and Oliver, the show pairs her together with Roy, the only other person in the show with a costume who has made mistakes their first time in the field. Roy has grown into a competent crime fighter able to hold his own with villains and their henchmen. He makes mistakes, like shooting Brick with an arrow that leads to the death of an alderman, but he’s made enough of them to be considered experienced enough to watch over Laurel while she’s in costume.
Like last week’s episode, the show is establishing that these people can be heroes without Oliver. The main hangup that Laurel, Felicity, and Ray share that stop them from realizing their full potential is that they want to either exact vengeance for the loss of their loved ones or withdraw so there are no more loved ones to lose. Punching people while in costume is the closest most of the characters in Arrow come to emotional healing, but this time, that’s far from what they need. Oliver learned that the way to become a true hero was through honoring Tommy’s memory and protecting the living with more care than he did as the Vigilante. Even then, he only gained real conviction after seeing Tommy’s ghost. Laurel and Ray have no ghost to inspire them, and Felicity is just refusing to let anyone in.
Right now, letting people in emotionally is the best thing that could happen to these flawed characters. It’s something Oliver learns in the flashbacks as he and Maseo make a trade with China White to get Tatsu back. Tatsu is successfully rescued, but Maseo in the present day is an emotionless member of the League of Assassins. The show has been playing coy with what happened to Maseo to turn him into Sarab, but it definitely has something to do with his currently absent son. There’s a shot of him standing in front of what looks like a crib with something on fire, perhaps symbolizing his past life that has gone up in flames. Tatsu wants the old Maseo back, but aside from doing whatever he can to keep Oliver secret from Ra’s (including slicing his own neck), that man is gone.
“Midnight City” is the type of episode that’s laying the foundation for things to come. There’s nothing wrong with that, because there’s a lot to like here. From Laurel and Ray getting a better handle on becoming heroes to the continued turf war between the cops and Brick, the plotlines are set up for some greatness in the weeks ahead. When the midseason finale ended, I was worried how the show would handle Starling City without Oliver around, but now I don’t think there’s anything to worry about.
That DJ guy Thea kissed earlier in the season? Spy for Ra’s. Does that mean the League of Assassins has a DJ intern program, or….?
Caity Lotz is credited as a guest star, but the show only uses her voice so Laurel can trick her dad, which has got to be the cheapest way to justify a guest credit I’ve ever seen.
Helicopters don’t need keys?
Brick knows Shakespeare. That’s certainly surprising.
- So the League of Assassins can apparently get service in the mountains all the way to Starling City. I wonder if they’ve got free wi-fi.