The penultimate episode of Arrow should have been titled “Livin’ in the Future,” in keeping with tradition. The second-to-last episode of each season bore a title drawn from a Bruce Springsteen song. Of course, this episode is actually titled Green Arrow and the Canaries because it serves as the backdoor pilot for the new Arrow spinoff series. The tradition that won out, it seems, is the tradition that pilots like these, episodes of another series, bear the title of their eventual show. Still, whichever title you think suits best, we are seeing the future of the Arrowverse, quite literally.
The backdoor pilot for Green Arrow and the Canaries deals with the aftermath of the Crisis On Infinite Earths finale. Only unlike the other series, it is set 20 years in the future. Instead of being a cage fighter in a dystopic Star City, Mia Queen grew up in her family manse. Oliver died a hero, and his city remained relatively crime-free for two decades. It’s about as good a happy ending as a hero can get.
The tricky part of this episode, it seems, is fitting it into the Arrow series. Both Kate Cassidy’s Laurel Lance (of Earth-2-that-was) and Juliana Harkavy’s Dinah Drake are in 2040. The other characters from the Arrow flash-forwards are there. But things are very different for them, as well. At least, they were.
The Backdoor Pilot of The Green Arrow and the Canaries Shows Promise
Image via CW
How Dinah ends up in 2040 is a mystery. How Laurel Lance got there is not, though you may have missed the explanation. Apparently while out traveling through time in the Waverider, her sister Sara found Dinah and sent Laurel to her. A tragedy happens that sets off a year-long cataclysm that ultimately tears down Star City’s prosperous future. This premise, admittedly, is flimsy. It seems like it would have been easier to bring Mia back to 2020 rather than send two characters to the future. (Especially since, according to the promo, adult Mia is there for her father’s funeral.) With almost a blank slate to work with, they arguably could have worked out a less clunky way to get their series leads all together.
Still, plot mechanics and some stiff banter in the early acts aside, the backdoor pilot for The Green Arrow and the Canaries is all about promise. The two Black Canaries serve as a nice bridge from the original series to this new incarnation in the Queen family saga. The chemistry of the heroes, the action sequences, and the visual style of this episode was fantastic. All of the CW cape-shows have struggled in their earliest seasons, including in the pilots. TV dramas have to force the chemistry between their leads, which can make those relationships feel forced. Yet, I’ve not seen an Arrowverse show that hasn’t managed to overcome it. Put another way, the positives in the show far outweigh any negatives.
This episode shows that a Green Arrow show can exist without Stephen Amell, and that’s a good thing. While fans will miss him brooding all over the place, there should be a Green Arrow in the Arrowverse.
How Will The Green Arrow and the Canaries Fit Into the Arrowverse?
Image via CW
The backdoor pilot for The Green Arrow and the Canaries doesn’t really offer up a view of how this show would fit into the larger universe. To be fair, it shouldn’t. While existing in the shared universe of Earth-Prime, The Green Arrow and the Canaries has to find its own identity. While it can carry the story of the Queens and the Diggles forward, it also needs to be its own thing. Just as Ruby Rose has defined Kate Kane and Batwoman compared to traditional depictions of Batman, Kate McNamara has to make Mia Queen more than just a gender-swapped version of her fictional father. The backdoor pilot shows that this Green Arrow and her Canaries are well on their way there.
Yet, this show does eventually have to reconcile itself with the rest of the Arrowverse. One big problem is the time shift. On the present-day series, the heroes face world-ending events all the time. Sure, they are never going to let the world be destroyed. Yet, knowing that a show set in the 2040s exists undercuts that even further. Also, while it’s no problem to have Caity Lotz’s Sara Lance pop Mia back and forth through time for crossovers, I feel The Green Arrow and the Canaries may have to abandon the future for the present. Otherwise, it presents the same problem Supergirl and Black Lightning presented being set on separate Earths. For all the potential this show has to be great, it seems like the time difference (for lack of a better term) could be a problem.
Still, the CW should order The Green Arrow and the Canaries to series immediately, based on the strength of the backdoor pilot.
The Arrowverse Could Really Be Eternal
Image via CW
As evidenced by the CW renewing all of their comics-based properties for new seasons, the network is still all-in on DC. The superhero trend doesn’t seem to be abating anytime soon, and this genre might be immune from the superhero movie fatigue that everyone fears is coming. If the murder procedural can last on TV for 40 years, it seems like the superhero series could as well. All of the shows in the Arrowverse have markedly different tones, yet when needed they can all work in concert with one another. Hopefully, with this backdoor pilot, the Green Arrow and both Black Canaries have a future once Arrow ends for good next week.
As an episode of Arrow, it does work. It shows that Oliver’s sacrifice brings about not just a new, rebooted universe but also a crime-free Star City. It also continues the story in a way that if the series doesn’t get picked up, will fuel fanfiction writers for a long time to come. This is a strange penultimate episode, but it feels like a perfect comic book story.
What did you think of the backdoor pilot for The Green Arrow and the Canaries? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Featured image via CW
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.