Synopsis of 3×11: Diggle and Arsenal confront Laurel about her dangerous work as the Black Canary; Felicity sees a new side of Ray as he helps Lance fight a villain who has kidnapped the city’s Aldermen.
I think the great thing about ‘Midnight City’ is that it not only showed the audience how Starling City could legitimately function without the Arrow, but also why it so desperately needs the Arrow. Oliver avenged his city, but he also turned Starling City into a target, the kind that makes it vulnerable to people like Brick and Slade. ‘Midnight City’ shows how Starling City would survive without the Arrow, but it’s definitely in need of a hero, whether that be the rest of the Arrow Team or Ray Palmer’s Atom.
After the initial introduction of Laurel wearing the Canary’s costume, we get to see her in full force on ‘Midnight City’. I find it hard to believe people actually thought Laurel was going to suddenly turn into the classic Black Canary that we all know and love when the show spends a whole season on Oliver slapping water to illustrate to us how difficult his transformation process is. Stephen Amell has compared Laurel’s arc of donning her sister’s mantle to her own version of Lian Yu, and we’ve been watching her slow transformation.
‘Midnight City’ explores the weight of being the Canary versus the necessity of the symbol of the Canary. Being the Canary means that Laurel has to lie to her father, to the point of impersonating Sara through a voice altering program (thank you, deceptive Caity Lotz guest star) and falling deeper into the rabbit hole of this enormous lie. It is absurd to me, the concept of keeping up this lie, because we all know the further this goes, the worse the result is going to be.
Being the Canary also means accepting the obligation and consequences of being a vigilante. It’s made very clear that Laurel realizes the necessity of having someone with the same amount of clout as the Arrow in the city when there’s a crazy man like Brick running around. She is there to be a symbol, albeit a paltry one compared to her sister. Through her and Roy’s actions, they directly contribute to the death of one of the city’s Alderman and she faces the physical strenuous circumstances of being a masked vigilante. But like Roy says to Felicity, donning a mask (or a suit, in his case) is not a way to forget or wash away the pain from the people they’ve lost, but instead to protect the ones they love who are still around.
This jumpstarts Felicity’s own motivation to work with the team once more. After a failed attack on Brick with Diggle delegating back in the Arrow cave and Roy and Felicity out in the field together, it’s nice to see Felicity back at the helm. She is as much a symbol for the team, the cog that holds the whole mechanism together, as the Arrow and his team are for the people of Starling.
Despite the mild success the team has in getting back the rest of the alderman and getting by unscathed, it’s clear they either need to run a tighter ship or they’ll keep blundering. It’s clear that Brick is a large threat to the city when he successfully strong arms the Mayor into pulling the police out of The Glades. Maseo’s not wrong, Oliver needs to heal quickly and get back to see what his city has become in his absence.
Speaking of Maseo, it’s more great parallels between the past and present as more of the Yamashiro story is unraveled. Maseo shows he’ll do whatever is necessary to protect his family, and it plays great foil to Malcolm and Thea’s story as well as Oliver’s relationship with his team. Maseo is willing to risk thousands of lives by giving the Alpha formula to Chien-Na Wei in order to get Tatsu back, and despite the ominous lack of Akio in the future, he doesn’t seem to have regretted his actions in protecting them.
Although Tatsu confirms that he is no longer the same Maseo that they knew, that his new identity of Sarab makes him a different man, there is obviously a residual attachment, at least, between the two, as Maseo kills the group of league members who come to investigate the cabin they are staying in. Betraying Ra’s puts Maseo in grave danger, but he refuses to return to Starling with Oliver and instead returns back to Nanda Parbat.
Merlyn, to his credit, seems to have seen some of the light after continuously pressuring Thea to leave Starling with him when he realizes that the League is coming for him. Without a justification, Thea refuses to leave without knowing what happened to Oliver, and Roy presses on Merlyn the importance of telling her the truth. As he would know, the truth would have set him free, and Merlyn takes this to heart and starts to reveal bits of his past to Thea, who in turn replies that they should stay in Starling and face the League rather than run away. Maybe not the best advice given what we know about the league, but ok.
The entire episode is action packed and brings to light a lot of the issues people have had with Laurel becoming Black Canary. Diggly and Roy spend a lot of the episode chastising her and telling her she’s not Sara, which she repeatedly reminds them that she knows. Ray Palmer finally wins over Felicity to help him with his nanochip and we are one step closer to seeing him in the Atom suit. Flashbacks to Hong Kong show Oliver, Tatsu, and Maseo take on Chien-Na Wei and her Triad buddies, as well as the Yamashiros being reunited again, paralleled to Maseo leaving Tatsu in the present (maybe it’s just me being super Asian, but those were some tear jerker moments).
But like all Arrow episodes we are left with some more questions and the slow reveal of the direction of the plot. ‘Midnight City’ ends with an overwhelming sense of foreboding, from DJ Chase “Douchebag” being revealed to be a member of the League (is that why Turn Down for What set everyone insane on the dance floor? League magic?) to Amanda Waller’s prediction of Maseo’s betrayal. It seems like we’re playing the long game with the fate of the Yamashiros, and it is still unclear how exactly Oliver was revived, so I think it’s safe to say Lazarus Pit is still on the table?
I think this tweet from Karl Yune affirms that.
— karl yune (@KarlYune) January 28, 2015