"I'm really excited about the future, Olly."
In this week's episode of Arrow, "Canary Cry," the aftermath of Laurel's death — during which a copycat Black Canary makes her cry heard across Star City, is framed against a series of flashbacks which transport us back to another big death in the series's past.
Leaked set pictures had seemed to indicate some kind of fake-out with Laurel's death — Katie Cassidy being spotted filming a funeral scene — but the episode instantly establishes the cold, hard truth that Dinah Laurel Lance is dead by landing us in 2013, with Laurel giving a speech at Tommy Merlin's funeral service in Oliver's absence.
Loss & Denial
Themes of loss are everywhere in this episode. Diggle struggles with the loss of his brother, who at this point is pretty much dead to him after his alliance with Darhk. Quentin Lance can't even begin to wrap his head around the loss of his daughter, almost convincing himself for a moment that the copycat Canary running around Star City could be Laurel herself.
But some loss is permanent, and when a desperate conversation with Nyssa al Ghul doesn't yield the miracle result Quentin had hoped for (but never really believed in), both Dinah and the Captain are forced to face their nightmare reality.
Easter Eggs & Comic Book Callouts
This episode is too filled with grief to spend much energy on cheeky little Easter Eggs, but one obvious comic book callout is the introduction of Evelyn Sharp, the copycat Black Canary who, presumably, will take the mantle permanently.
In the comics Sharp is actually called Evelyn Crawford and known as Starling, a member of Black Canary's Birds of Prey in the New 52. Introducing Starling, even though she doesn't take that alias here, is a cute move considering the city she's having her superhero awakening in was previously called Starling City.
An emotional farewell
"Canary Cry" was not an uplifting episode — not the celebration of Laurel's life it could have been. Still, even if some of the depictions of grief felt a little standard — I'd have taken more Quentin and Dinah, and less of Diggle — the scene at her funeral, in which Oliver did what he couldn't for Tommy and announced to the world that Laurel Lance was a hero, was a superb example of what this show does best: Finding something very human in a story about superhumans.
In the final scene, we revisited the flash-forward in the limo — Felicity giving Oliver the command to kill Darhk. The positioning of this conversation as a cliffhanger suggests Oliver will be taking Felicity's words pretty seriously as Season 4 plays what's left of its hand.
Arrow Season 4 continues Wednesdays on The CW, so tell me,