After 18 episodes of teasing and speculation, tonight’s Arrow revealed finally the occupant of the grave we saw in the flash-forward in episode one. How soon does flash-forward become the present? But no matter how you feel about the character that met their creator tonight, you certainly can’t say that it wasn’t bold and impactful, nor was it any of the likely suspects that have been pondered about all year. It will be curious to see where the story will go from here, but one thing’s assuredly obvious, and that is the Arrow writers arranged the deck in such a way that everyone left at the end of the hour will be scared by its events.
So let’s just say it again. Laurel’s dead. On the bright side, we know that Katie Cassidy and her character will live on in some form; she’ll be playing the Earth 2 Laural Lance, “The Black Siren”, in an upcoming episode of The Flash, and Black Canary will be part of season two of Vixen on CW Seed. Cassidy’s taken a lot of crap from fans over her four years on the show, of course the writers have frequently served it to her as well, but over the last several episodes, it’s been easy to see Laurel’s potential as both a confident fighter, a good friend, and – yeah, okay – she was still a terrible lawyer.
The law show that Arrow sometimes felt compelled to be was never an interesting aspect of the program, nor was it well executed. The courtroom scenes from a few weeks ago were horrid, even to a legal novice it was filled with things that would never, ever be allowed in a courtroom. So imagine the shock when the newly elected Mayor Ruvé Adams offered Laurel the job of full D.A. Even Laurel was shrewd enough to not think she was D.A. material, her father even expressed greater pride for her work as Black Canary then her work as A.D.A. Lance. But Oliver then went and offered a line about Star City needing a hero with a face. “One last time,” Laurel said before heading out with the team to stop a prison break at Iron Heights.
I could almost kick myself for not seeing the writing on the wall. Captain Lance was praising Laurel, then Oliver was praising her for the good job she’s done living up to Sara’s mantle as the Black Canary. She was also good enough to kick the butt of two League members at once. It was a classic bit of dramatic writing where the victim is built up to be torn down. Maybe I was distracted by the Diggle drama. With Andy acting shifty, it seemed that John might pay the ultimate price for his brother’s dalliance in H.I.V.E.; either Andy was going to be a good guy and John would be killed for saving him, or Andy really was a betrayer with John suffering for putting misplaced trust in his brother. Turns out it was the latter, and I was half right.
Looking back on the episode, there’s a sense that it might have made more of an impact if Team Arrow hadn’t have been so stupid and/or shortsighted. Leaving Darhk’s magic idol in a fine glass case and displayed prominently: stupid. And why piece it back together? When Malcolm breaks into the bunker it seemed like an easy win, so when Darhk reveals that there’s a piece missing, I thought “Wow, good foresight Team Arrow.” But then Diggle spills to Andy that he hid the missing piece. Why? I know John wanted to show his brother trust, but the flipside could have been, “Hey Andy, I would totally tell you, but I don’t want to put another target on your back.”
Despite Oliver’s insistence that John reach out to his brother, it was Oliver that was suspicious of Andy’s intentions. Naturally, the writers managed to make it about Olicity with Diggle saying that Oliver and Felicity’s bad break-up made it hard for him to trust. Yawn. The momentum of the episode stopped in its tracks right there because Felicity was conspicuous by her absence. The story didn’t need her, and frankly she didn’t need the mention. Besides, was it really so illogical that Oliver would be suspicious of Andy’s intentions; an easily foiled robbery attempt, and an easily foiled trap where Andy gets non-fatally injured to endear himself to the team. Its double-agent 101.
On top of that, instead of going season one Arrow on Andy, Oliver would have perhaps been better advise to track down that piece of the idol and move it. Obviously Diggle was compromised, and with the rest of the idol gone it would have made more sense to keep it close. Meanwhile, Darhk acts smartly and with Murmur’s help he’s able to orchestrate a prison break and get his idol (and powers) back in one foul swoop. He also deduced the identities of the other members of Team Arrow, because obviously if Andy’s brother is Spartan, it’s wicked easy to discern the alteregos of the rest of the gang.
Once again Neal McDonough owned the hour. If Laurel must be killed, best it be done after Darhk gives her a double-entendre filled monologue earlier in the episode. And let’s have Darhk and Murmur permanently team-up because one of them is silent and will thus allow lots of wonderful Darhk soliloquies where he quotes Shakespeare and talks about the nature of nature. And say what you want about killing off Laurel, at least the writers had the chutzpah to make Darhk a man of his work, he promised that Captain Lance would lose a daughter if he betrayed him, and in the end…
We knew things were dire when Oliver in Green Arrow mode rushes Laurel, still dressed as Black Canary, to the hospital. It was ballsy because as we know revealing one member of Team Arrow’s identity is a short trip to unraveling them all. At first it seems that Laurel might be okay, and her serious injuries also brings out Felicity to join Team Arrow’s vigil, but then comes the other time tested trope of the dying main character: the confessional.
Laurel tells Ollie that he’s always been the love of her life, which will probably be news to Tommy because it was his death that drove her into a spiral of pills and booze. Regardless, that callback was bookended with the flashback and the reveal that even in year four of his exile, Oliver was still holding on to that picture of Laurel, which kind of over-romanticizes their relationship purely for the purposes of giving Laurel a beautiful death in Ollie’s presence. As we were reminded earlier this season, when Oliver dated Laurel he couldn’t keep it in his pants with other girls.
Okay, so fine, let’s go with this idea of the epic Oliver/Laurel romance. Those days have passed though, and I will say that the show’s done a good job of showing them as a mature, and rewarding romance-turned-friendship this season, but it will surely anger many that Laurel’s last moments were used to ‘ship along with Olicity. We then cut to the typical last words that the audience never hears before Laurel codes and dies. We don’t know what she says, but I imagine it’s something along the lines of telling Oliver not to give in to revenge. To stay the course, and bring Darhk to justice.
In the long run, Cassidy got regularly mocked by Arrow fans for her portrayal, but the character grew enormously in the last year, and I think she will definitely be missed as the show goes forward. The Black Canary is such a huge part of the Green Arrow mythos that it seems weird that the show would go on without one. Still, in the Arrow-verse there’s now resurrection, time travel and doppelgangers, so who knows how permanently Laurel Lance will be gone. On the other hand, bringing back Sara did diminish that loss last season, and since the younger Lance sibling has already had three get out of death free cards, it seems unfortunate that Laurel’s rest will have to be forever this time.
So rest in peace, Laurel Dinah Lance. Not everyone will miss you, but that’s okay. And for those that will, there’s always Earth-2.