Canary in a Coal Mi--I mean Arrowcave

If you follow my Berlantiverse reviews, you might have noticed that while I have covered The Flash religiously since it came back from break, I've been completely silent on Arrow.

I'll be talking about all three of the post-break episodes in this piece, but mostly speaking in the context of Black Canary and whatever the hell the writers are doing with her.

(Spoilers beyond the fold)

If you recall from last season, Arrow inexplicably killed off a Canary (and a Lance daughter) yet again, which spawned a surprising amount of anger from the fandom. Surprising because Katie Cassidy's Laurel Lance has always been a somewhat contentious figure with the fans of the show. You kind of either loved her or hated her, or if you were like me, you found her obnoxiously annoying at the start of the show, and found her progression to hero surprisingly satisfying. So count me as one of the fans that was pissed when they killed her off, especially since I'm tired of Canaries and Lance women dying. Also, the last thing the Berlantiverse needs is less women on screen. And finally, as a comic book fan, I strongly believe you cannot have a Green Arrow without his Black Canary.

So Laurel's death was bullshit.

My face when Arrow killed off yet another Lance daughter
But this here is the comic book genre! No one ever really dies, right?

Back at the break in December, the final scene of the show was Oliver walking into the Arrowcave and finding Laurel there in a stunning turn of events. Of course, the CW decided to end that cliffhanger very quickly, because over the holidays, the promos and trailers for the second half of the season revealed that the "revived" Laurel was actually just Black Siren, the evil Laurel from Earth-2. So when the show came back from break, we got a shoddy explanation about how she escaped from STAR Labs (apparently Prometheus whisked her away without Cisco ever noticing what the hell?). Team Arrow locks her up, but we get a terribad argument between Oliver and Felicity over whether this Laurel is worth trying to save or not.

Now, if you recall, Felicity is pissed off at the world because Oliver killed her boyfriend accidentally, thanks to a nasty trick Prometheus pulled. Felicity has not once become angry or snippy with Oliver over that, thankfully. But she is angry, and she doesn't trust Black Siren as far as she can throw her, which is probably legit. Meanwhile, Oliver has found renewed guilt over everything, including Laurel's death. "Who Are You," S5E10, ends with Black Siren being moved to captivity in a nearby ARGUS facility, because Oliver is convinced he can bring her around to being a good guy.

Okay, sure, I'm down. If written well, a rehabbed Black Siren might be cool to have around.

Curiously, that seemingly obvious plan immediately gets nuked, when in S5E11, "Second Chances," Team Arrow embarks on a mission to find a new Black Canary, and finds her, in the form of a former cop at Central City PD whose been missing since the STAR Labs reactor went explodey three years ago. Turns out Tiny Boland, said cop, is now a meta, and she seems to be working her way across America taking out bad guys. Oliver tracks her down and finds that her meta power is the canary cry. How convenient! Anyway, he convinces her to join Team Arrow. We also learn that her real name is Dinah Drake. Wow, another Dinah! One with a canary cry! What are the chances???

Why yes, I'm a Dinah too. It's a popular girls name in Star City, but only for girls growing up to be black-clad badasses
If you're a comic book fan, though, "Dinah Drake" probably rang some bells. She's the current Black Canary in the DCverse. Not gonna lie, Arrow's new Canary is legit badass. Former undercover cop, so she comes pre-set with moves, and she's sarcastic and witty and she and Ollie have good chemistry from the start. The casting choice here--Juliana Harkavy--is actually pretty genius.

In other words, she's the Black Canary that always should have been. Thus far there have been no soft doe-eyed looks between her and Oliver, and that's probably because he's busy sleeping with that reporter chick Susan Williams that is almost certainly going to sink his mayoral career, but I bet cash money that in the future, Oliver and Dinah will be a thing.

I really like the new Canary, but I am also really, really confused. What the hell was the point of bringing up the option of rehabbing Black Siren, then, if the writers were going to insta-replace Laurel with a better Black Canary? I'm not against Dinah Drake, I just don't get the psych-out move of the Black Siren episode.

Whatever. Dinah settles right into her new role with the team, and in S5E12, "Bratva," she goes with them to Russia (sidenote: the rather convenient ability of the Star City mayor to visit a foreign country randomly by private jet was rather eyeroll worthy, I must say) to track down the general that tried to frame Diggle, and who is apparently trying to sell a nuke to terrorists.

Everyone in this episode is some level of emotionally distraught, except Dinah. Oliver has to deal with the Bratva again in order to get information on the nuke deal, which means he has to get back to his thug roots to get on Anatoly's good side. This causes him to belly ache about the fact that no matter how he tries to be good, he always ends up back here knee-deep in violence. Dinah talks him out of his self-pity and reminds him that as a leader, he inspires other people to be good. Meanwhile, John Diggle is losing his goddamn shit over this whole thing with the general, and even beats the crap out of a dude for information. And Felicity shows she's willing to cross a very nebulous line indeed to obtain what they need, which Ragman calls her out over.

Felicity: This is my "Do not screw with me, I know your every dirty secret" face. 

I'm not sure where this whole Felicity storyline is going. And also, curiously, Ragman has temporarily exited off the show because his rags stop working after he uses them to absorb the nuclear bomb's explosion. The show seems to be suggesting that Felicity wants to go all hacktivist again, and that might mean she has bigger fish to fry than whatever Team Arrow is doing, but I sincerely hope that they don't exit her off the show either. Dinah has emotional issues she hasn't dealt with yet, and when those inevitably blow up, I feel like the team will need Felicity around to be the calm voice of reason. I mean, don't get me wrong, Overwatch becoming a serious hacktivist would be cool, but I want her to remain on the team to do it. We need more badass ladies, not less.

Anyway, a bunch of other stuff happened in these episodes too. We get introduced to Talia al Ghul in the flashbacks, and I kind of love her. Diggle has the chance to shoot General Asshole in the face but doesn't, pulling back from the brink of yet another murder. Curtis has a crisis of faith of sorts and almost leaves the team because he keeps getting his ass kicked and he lost his husband, but Rene, of all people, pulls him back in by telling him that Curtis needs to do what he is good at. Which means Curtis is mostly back to team tinkerer. I love Curtis and I agree he needs to do what he's good at (plus his Mr. Terrific mask is freaking awful), but I don't want him to replace Felicity either. And speaking of Rene, this initially obnoxious Wild Dog character has become oddly gratifying and necessary to have around. Frankly, out of everyone on the team, he seems to be the most settled and comfortable with himself, so not only did he talk Curtis back from the brink of quitting, but in "Bratva," Rene counsels Paul Blackthorne's Quentin Lance, who returns to the show and immediately wants to dive right back in and prove he's a badass, except he has issues to work out still.

So Green Arrow finally has his Black Canary, but first he has to crash and burn with Susan Williams (I don't trust her, she's obviously digging up shit behind his back, and it appears she just figured out that he's the Green Arrow). I'm a little puzzled as to why the writers took such a meandering route to get to this point, and one can't help but think that the only reason we have Dinah Drake is simply because of the fan rage over the idiotic death of Black Canary last season. I mean, nothing in the show indicates they ever planned to bring her in from the get-go, and all of the convenience factors of her existence suggest she was rather hastily put together. But, she's cool.

Sidenote: I'm still pissed off that the Arrow writers wasted a perfectly good codename like Artemis on a trash character like Evelyn. Not only did she turn traitor because of stupid reasons ("you're a murderer, Oliver, so I'm going to join up with this serial killer!"), but when she was on the team, they didn't even let Artemis actually do anything. Wild Dog kept hogging the glory and story. And as Prometheus' lackey, she still isn't doing anything.

I demand my Artemis from Young Justice.

What do you think of the new Black Canary?