ARROW: Did [SPOILER] Get the Sendoff She Deserved?
By Justin Carter
I am trying to parse my feelings on this week’s Arrow.
From the opening of the season, the show has been teasing who would end up six feet under. The only information we’ve had to go on since October was that it was someone definitely close to Team Arrow and that the death would warrant Felicity wanting Oliver to kill Damien Darhk and have Barry run over from Central City to visit. Tonight, we finally learned it was Laurel.
Okay, admitting this upfront: I’d heard this rumor in the weekend leading up to the episode. It started on Twitter, but I merely took it as something a fan had said that took on a life of its own and paid it no mind. But it kept popping up, and I started to think about that becoming an eventuality. And I have to say, of all the deaths Arrow has pulled over its nearly five years of storytelling — Tommy, Sara, Shado, Moira, and whoever else deemed of importance by the show — this is the one that sits most uncomfortably with me.
After thinking about it and talking it over with a friend, I realized just why this one affected me: she’s this show’s Skylar White. Both Arrow and Breaking Bad suffered in part by having female characters who made choices that ran counter to the main goals of the male lead. But whereas Skylar made the ultimately smart choice by distancing herself from Walter once she learned about his drug empire, Laurel has more or less had to go along with Oliver’s choices, both for good and for ill. Some of this is by design, since the two of them are so intricately linked together in the comics, but other times it makes no sense as to why she’s presented as being the one in the wrong in their arguments.
Laurel’s character had her fair share of detractors from minute one. It was easy to grok why in the first two seasons, when she was presented as a villain to Oliver’s antics or had just plain bad writing for Katie Cassidy, as was the case with the alcoholism story-line in season two. But with the death of her sister came the opportunity for Laurel to take up the mantle of Black Canary, which meant that the show could finally give her something to do besides cry or argue with her dad. While Oliver was off recovering from a sword to the stomach, she actually proved herself pretty effective at fighting crime. Hell, they even managed to perfectly incorporate her Canary Cry into the show in a pretty cool way with Cisco from Flash.
This season, she hasn’t had a whole lot to do, but she’s still had her bright spots often. I’m reminded of her using her Cry to get the drones out of Oliver’s body last week or when she uses one of Oliver’s arrows as a zipline, and that stuff was awesome as hell. And while she gets a chance to show off here, this doesn’t feel like the goodbye it should be. The only real indicator that she would be the one going out was when she suits up with the rest of Team Arrow and says “one last time.” (Okay, there are also some moments where she’s offered a promotion by Damien Darhk’s wife and her dad tells her how great she is, but the moment I’m talking about is more or less the real nail in the coffin.)
And the thing is, her whole story — grieving lawyer, alcoholic, then eventual vigilante and hero? That works. This feels like as a true a comic book origin story as this universe has gotten since Cisco’s buildup to becoming Vibe. For her to just die, all for the sake of what amounts to basically Darhk giving one last middle finger to Lance just feels cheap and wrong, and ultimately undeserving. And to rub even more salt on the wound is her final scene in the hospital with Oliver.
It’s a well acted scene, but what I didn’t particularly care for was Laurel basically saying that she’s fine with never being the woman that Oliver loves again, but she’ll always love him. It just doesn’t gel with anything; since the show hasn’t played around with the idea of them getting back together in three years, it comes across as a glowing endorsement for Oliver and Felicity to tie the knot, straight from his One True Love in the comics universe. Even if that wasn’t the intent, that’s how it comes across, and that is not how a character that’s part of the Green Arrow family should spend her last moments. She should spend it with her father, or at the very least, all of her friends.
There’s a possibility that all of this is just a fake out, and if so, it’ll be incredibly contrived and a waste of time for all involved. But assuming that this is the real deal and that whole coffin story-line has been proven, then this isn’t the proper sendoff that Laurel deserves. As an episode of Arrow, it works pretty well — good action, some solid character interactions, and Neal McDonough is as great as ever. But as a way of saying goodbye to a vital member of the Green Arrow family? This doesn’t do her justice. Not in the slightest.
- Okay, there actually was a series of events that led up to this death: Andy’s been playing Team Arrow for months and sold them out to Darhk when they arrived to stop him from breaking out of prison. Darhk used his brains to figure out Team Arrow’s identities and makes good on his promise to Lance about harming his daughter. That’s pretty much all there is to the episode: Oliver thinks Andy’s playing them, is proven right, Darhk’s back at mystic power again, everyone’s sad.
- Mayor Darhk said that she wanted to “Make this city great again.” How incredibly subtle.
- “I’m going to hit up the streets.” “Thea, no one is going to give up Merlyn.” “I’m going to to hit people on the streets.”
- Okay but seriously, if this is all just a fake out…that’s incredibly not cool, right? It’d just be a twist for the sake of a twist.
- Having watched Walking Dead’s finale this weekend, Laurel dying just barely manages to frustrate me less than Dead’s complete tease of a death.
- What hurts about Laurel’s death is that she didn’t even get to say goodbye. What hurts even more? Cisco’s going to probably be at the funeral.
- See you on the 27th for Laurel’s funeral!