Superheroes, like the rest of us, never really die. They live on in the people they leave behind. Heroes like Oliver Queen return every time they’re remembered fondly, a lesson they imparted is taken to heart, or an ideal they championed is fought for. They pave the way for the next generation, which will pick up the standard that they established and see that it prospers and grows. While it’s okay to grieve and mourn the passing of your favorite superhero, always remember that their legacy lives on.
Arrow’s final season ends next week, and while Ollie’s story may be reaching its conclusion, the world he shaped and sacrificed for lives on—and no one embodies that more than Mia Smoak. Ollie’s wayward daughter we were introduced to last season, Mia has had a remarkable journey that included meeting and fighting alongside her father in the leadup to the Crisis that ultimately cost him his life.
Perhaps the most astonishing thing of all is that journey is just beginning. Tonight’s penultimate episode of Arrow, “Green Arrow & the Canaries,” is a Mia Smoak-centered hour that reveals what her life is like after the hard reset that took place at the end of “Crisis on Infinite Earths.”
“This sets up the new future—the new 2040,” explains Kat McNamara, who plays Mia. “Mia’s grown up in a perfect Star City, in a place where she got to grow up with her mother and brother. She’s had every opportunity at her fingertips and has never known any sorrow or sadness other than the fact that her father was never a part of her life. She’s very smart, cunning and has the same wry sense of humor that we know and love, but she doesn’t necessarily have a passion or spark, or anything that really lights that fire in her because given the information that we have, we know what that fire is for Mia.”
That spark comes by way of two familiar faces—Dinah Drake and Laurel Lance—who show up to investigate a kidnapping that has ties to Mia. Of course, both Dinah and Laurel are dealing with the Arrowverse’s strange new world as well.
“Dinah is in a place where she doesn’t understand why she’s there, but she’s settled into it,” explains Juliana Harkavy, who’s held the role of Arrow’s Black Canary since season five. “She’s trying to make sense of this new world that’s been created. In a lot of ways, she’s brand new herself. She’s just discovering herself.”
It’s not much of a spoiler to say that the reacquaintance of these three remarkable women ultimately leads to Mia embracing her destiny as Oliver’s daughter and taking up the mantle of Green Arrow—it’s right there in the episode title. But this is a very different Green Arrow than we’ve seen before, and it’s not just because there’s now a young woman behind the mask. Mia’s previous life as a vigilante has been erased from her memory at the start of the episode, leaving behind a hero with a much different set of skills.
“She has social skills,” shares McNamara. “She has social graces. She interacts with people and she has this joy that we have never really seen before.”
That certainly has an impact on her approach to becoming the new Green Arrow.
“What Mia brings with her—at least, the old Mia—is a very cutting sense of being a survivor,” McNamara explains. “She’s had to go through so much and survive so much that she’s never had the same compassion that Oliver has for a lot of what she does. But now that we have this new version of Mia, she does have that compassion. She has these social skills and social graces that really do inform her character in a new way. It’s a very interesting interplay in the way that things are done.”
Of course, that new way might create some problems for the people not accustomed to it—like Laurel and Dinah.
“It’s complicated!” Harkavy says with a laugh. “We’re all figuring each other out while figuring ourselves out. We’re coming from a very different place in our lives and a very different perspective.”
“At this point, things between them are contentious at best,” adds McNamara. “Just given that Mia has grown up with a life that she views as pretty perfect, and then these women show up and throw a monkey wrench into everything. All of her relationships, everything she knows and loves is suddenly upturned. Mia and Laurel and Mia and Dinah have had their differences in the past, and that’s definitely true now as well.”
While Oliver Queen has had a few different proteges over the years, both in the comics and on the show, it’s been clear that Mia would be the one to follow in his footsteps ever since they introduced her in a series of flash-forwards (which tonight’s episode pays off in a big way). That was cemented in “Crisis on Infinite Earths” when Ollie had a special Green Arrow suit commissioned for his time-displaced daughter. Whatever thoughts fans may have on this unique-to-the-show character, they should know that Mia certainly takes the mantle with the utmost respect.
“Given that she got to witness firsthand how her father was a hero, she’s doing everything she can to honor that, follow in his footsteps and do him proud,” says McNamara. “At this point, she doesn’t feel prepared, ready or even worthy to take on his mantle. Despite all the past conflict with her father, she really does respect the hero that he became and the legacy that he built. She views him as a hero.”
Harkavy certainly thinks Mia is ready. “Mia is a direct connection to Oliver, to the Green Arrow, to the legacy,” she explains. “She’s the root. It wouldn’t make sense for anybody else because in a way it’s the same character, but it’s also completely different. I believe Mia is the perfect hero for this story.”
That story, hopefully, isn’t going to end very soon. Arrow’s cast and producers have made it pretty clear that “Green Arrow & the Canaries” is meant to serve as a springboard for a possible spinoff series. However, with a total of six Arrowverse shows now, landing on the exact shape of the potential new series took some time.
“I learned about this episode at some point during season 8 of Arrow,” shares McNamara. “I was told that one of the episodes would be a pilot, but they didn’t really have the concept down yet. It went through many different iterations, but it was a really lovely collaborative process with Marc (Guggenheim), Beth (Schwartz) and the whole Arrow team. Given that we had to shoot this between the crossover and the series finale of Arrow, I give so much credit to the entire Arrow team—the creatives, the writers, our crew, who are impeccable.”
One thing McNamara will certainly get a lot of training in, should the spinoff move forward, is archery. Stephen Amell claims to be a pretty solid archer. McNamara, on the other hand, feels like she’s halfway there. Literally.
“The way we do things on the show is we never fire live arrows,” she explains. “A bow is such a long-distance weapon that if you have a camera six feet away from you, it’s not safe to be nocking a real arrow for anyone involved. All of the arrows are actually CGI. We dry-fire the bow, which is awful for it, but it’s the safest way to do things. So, my form in drawing the bow is amazing. We have an incredible archery coach on the show who kicks my butt every time and whips me into shape. That part of archery I know a lot about, but I’m really not sure what my aim is like.”
With any luck, she’ll have many more years behind the mask to find out.
"Green Arrow & the Canaries" airs tonight on Arrow at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. CST) on The CW. Be sure to visit our official Arrow page for more news, features and articles on the world of Star City.