Mia Queen’s idyllic life in a peaceful 2040 Star City is turned upside down when a pair of familiar Canaries remind her of a forgotten past.
From the opening moments of “Green Arrow and the Canaries”, there was that unmistakable yet familiar feeling of disorientation. It’s a standard mindset when examining a series premiere as it tries to pull viewers into the world that’s being established. It’s less common for a show with the history of Arrow to procure such emotions from its audience but “Green Arrow” does so on several levels, the biggest of which is a much different looking (and living) Mia Queen engaged to JJ while the Star City of the future is, per news reports, the safest city in the country. Sounds like a recipe for a middling spinoff, right? Well, it doesn’t take long for business to pick up and Mia to fathom her lifetime of forgotten memories.
Using technology Cisco derived from Martian Manhunter’s psychic abilities, Laurel unceremoniously (and without permission) brings Mia up to speed on that lost lifetime. Regardless of her reasoning, it’s a pretty scummy thing to do, upending a future Mia had planned, and for what? To rescue Mia’s socialite friend Bianca Bertinelli (Raigan Harris, All-American, The Dead Girl’s Detective Agency), adopted daughter of Helena Bertinelli, aka the Huntress? Based on what she’s seen (details given to her by Sara Lance), Star City in 2041 will be just as chaotic as 2040 is tranquil. But how does a city supposedly the picture of peace fall apart due to the death of one person?
Truthfully, I don’t think it does.
Bianca’s death was probably nothing more than an incidental outcome of a much larger movement. All we know is that the mysterious “she” is responsible and, based on the final scene, JJ’s former life and leader of the Deathstroke gang will play a large part in this new evil’s plan.
“Mia, this is your city. And you’re the Green Arrow.”
With the narrative beats out of the way, it’s time to talk about the best part of “Green Arrow”. Though Laurel and Dinah were fine in their own right, bonding like they never really did during their time working together on Arrow, Katherine McNamara owns this episode as Mia Queen. McNamara has come a long way from her scarcely believable tough girl act, becoming a three-dimensional character that I can’t help but root for. It’s difficult not to empathize with her as she deals with the unexpected weight thrust onto her shoulders by Laurel, something that nearly costs her a solid relationship with JJ. McNamara is the emotional lynchpin of every scene she’s in, a vital trait if she’s to succeed as the titular character.
Last season Mia was nothing more than a caricature of toughness, with one-note responses of anger (mixed with a healthy dose of violence). Though I understood much of that was caused by her father disappearing from her life, it was a disservice to McNamara who this season, has shown she has what it takes to be the face of a series (with the right type of backup, of course).
Unfortunately, as good as McNamara was, she could not save “Green Arrow and the Canaries” from being a middling and somewhat jumbled reintroduction to an Arrow without Stephen Amell. The fight choreography suffers from the same overindulgence of long takes as the series has for years — they need to learn that ‘less is more’. Making matters worse are musical choices that may sound good to some at the club (not for me) but fail to complement the action. Mixed with a shaky narrative that isn’t given much time to marinate — this would have been much better as a two-episode arc or, at worse, given an extra 30 minutes —“Green Arrow and the Canaries” sputters along, though there are positive nuggets of what could be a promising new series.
For eight years now, we’ve followed the adventures of Oliver Queen and Team Arrow through Star City, the world, even time. It would have been difficult enough had the series spinoff passed the torch to someone like Roy, or even Diggle. Mia donning the hood is a major tonal shift, one at home with the CW’s seeming concentrated focus on bringing female power to the table. Despite what others may say, it’s not a bad thing, though I caution the showrunners not to make the mistakes we’ve seen from Supergirl and, to some extent, Batwoman.
McNamara is every bit as likable as Melissa Benoist and Ruby Rose, while potentially showing just a bit more acting range, but even she can’t outrun bad narratives that are more focused on the message than entertaining the masses (the same way other movies are more about spectacle than story).
With that being said, I’m all-in on a Mia-centric series. As long as they get the right team in there with her, Green Arrow and the Canaries (should the series be called that) will be on my to-watch list whenever it premieres.
A New Hood in Town
• After seeing that the writing on the Hozen matches that of Trevor’s tattoo, I’m curious as to the identity of this “she”. It gets even better when JJ is forced to relive his own memories of an evil life that, while it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going to don a black hat, makes for a much more captivating story should he be at war with himself. Though up and down (like most series premieres) “Green Arrow” does a good job setting the table for what’s in store for his freshman campaign.
• While I was brief on Dinah and Laurel’s involvement, these two are a major part of this week. Dinah has a particularly interesting story, going to sleep in 2020 only to wake up in 2040. Who’s responsible for dropping her into the future and why? Does it have to do with the possible future Sara told Laurel about? A future where Star City falls into ruin and Mia becomes the scapegoat? Questions that must wait for another day. On an unrelated note, if that was Juliana Harkavy singing for real, they better make that a part of the series, just like Lucifer did with Tom Ellis.
Arrow – “Green Arrow and the Canaries”
6.5 out of 10