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Why We Loved Green Arrow and The Canaries

Arrow -- "Green Arrow & The Canaries" -- Image Number: AR809b_0627r.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Juliana Harkavy as Dinah Drake/Black Canary, Katherine McNamara as Mia and Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance/Black Siren -- Photo: Colin Bentley/The CW -- © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

We’re sad to say goodbye to Oliver Queen, the man who launched the Arrowverse and saved the multiverse (thanks), but hopefully, we don’t have to say Star City and the Green Arrow. Both are still thriving in the year 2040, as seen in the Arrow’s penultimate episode and spin-off backdoor pilot Green Arrow and The Canaries. The lead into a potential new series centered on these three female heroes was a ringing success.

This episode took us to a much safer and happier Star City than the dystopia we came to know and love in season seven and part of season eight of Arrow. It was a new future shaped by Oliver’s sacrifice in Crisis where Mia Queen (Katherine McNamara) went to college, grew up with her brother William (Ben Lewis) by her side and was blissfully engaged to JJ Diggle (Charlie Barnett). Yes, that JJ, the one who became Deathstroke and killed Zoe Ramirez (Andrea Sixtos) in the alternate future.

It’s all great … until Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) shows up, having hitched a ride with her literal sister from an alternative universe mister, Sara Lance, from 2020 to the future. She’s on a mission to save Star City from falling to chaos once again and to do it she’ll need more heroes by her side.

Arrow -- "Green Arrow & The Canaries" -- Image Number: AR809e_0354r.jpg -- Pictured: Juliana Harkavy as Dinah Drake/Black Canary -- Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW -- © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

That means Laurel has to track down another woman out of time—Dinah Drake (Juliana Harkavy). How Dinah of 2020 woke up in Star City 2040 is a big mystery that I hope the will focus on if it gets picked up for a full season. Was it fallout from Crisis? Was it the Monitor or someone else? It’s odd but it means Dinah happily owns a bar and sings with a piano and I completely love it. More soulful solos, Dinah, please.

In a lot of ways this a typical pilot that tracks the hero’s journey, with Laurel and Dinah providing Mia with a call to adventure when her friend Bianca is kidnapped. But there is, of course, the twist that Mia was already a hero in another life—and is given back those memories by Laurel. The three heroines know what the world was like before the crisis and they also know what Star City 2040 became … and might become again if Mia doesn’t step up and save her city the way her father did.

This gives McNamara a lot to work with as an actress. She’s playing a new Mia here—one that’s far softer and happier than the jaded, angry Mia Smoak we’ve known so far. Her new life also means she doesn’t necessarily want to be a hero, but the price and rewards of heroism are what this episode and show are all about.

Arrow -- "Green Arrow & The Canaries" -- Image Number: AR809a_0026r.jpg -- Pictured: Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance/Black Siren -- Photo: Katie Yu/The CW -- © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

There’s so much in the pilot that really works: the family legacy, the revamped setting, the small mysteries and the way it truly looks towards a new future. But what really clicks are the actresses and characters at the core. McNamara has proven on Arrow (and on Shadowhunters) that she can unquestionably carry a series, and she has stunning depth as this new Mia, and also can seriously kick ass.

Harkavy is reinvigorated as this new Dinah and I really love where she’s gone and how she’s allowed to be the soft, fun, nurturing one in the trio. It suits her so well, as does her amazing dynamic and chemistry with Cassidy. Cassidy herself is also great, balancing snark and a little bit of heart as the former Black Siren and Mia’s second, tougher super-hero mom. All three of them work great, and of course, having worked together for a while certainly helps their dynamic.

Arrow -- "Green Arrow & The Canaries" -- Image Number: AR809a_0094r.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Juliana Harkavy as Dinah Drake/Black Canary, Katherine McNamara as Mia and Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance/Black Siren -- Photo: Katie Yu/The CW -- © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

This pilot set up a lot of mysteries and a big cliffhanger that are all screaming to be resolved, and I really hope the show gets picked up to series so they can do that. There are some things that weren’t perfect, of course—I’m not sure how compelling JJ is as a love interest or as a villain, but hopefully, he has some internal conflict going forward. I also want much more of Connor Hawke (Joseph David-Jones) who had such a great dynamic with Mia in the old future.

Green Arrow and the Canaries is not just a worthy successor to Arrow, it’s a fun, feminist, interesting show all on its own with three dynamite women at the center, and we really hope we get to see more of it.

(image: Colin Bentley/The CW)

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Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.