Arrow: The Death of Laurel Lance

On Wednesday night, viewers of Arrow finally learned who is in the grave. And it’s really stupid.

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At the beginning of this season of Arrow, we flashed forward six months to see Oliver Queen and Barry Allen standing by a grave. It became clear that the writers intended to kill off a major character. Practically everyone was a suspect and every fan had their own crazy theory.

A couple weeks ago, rumors started to spread that Laurel Lance, the Black Canary, would be the one in the grave. Several people, including myself, refused to believe it due to the utter stupidity of the idea. Unfortunately, we were wrong. Laurel Lance was brutally murdered on the latest episode of Arrow. This is not a review of the episode but an opinion article on the decision to kill Black Canary. There are several reasons why I believe this is terrible so I will try to be as clear and fair as possible without ranting. Here are the reasons I think killing Black Canary is awful.

  1. The way she dies is pathetic. When Deadshot, a villain, died, he had a heroic sacrifice that was big and important. Laurel is stabbed by a lame Teen Titans villain from the late 90s that no one remembers or cares about. It’s not heroic or tragic; it’s mean-spirited and lame.
  2. There is no way that arrow killed her. Damien Darhk stabbed Laurel with an arrow. Arrows are deadly due to the speed that results from shooting them out of a bow. Poking someone, who is wearing kevlar, with the tip is going to do a lot of damage but it won’t necessarily be lethal. And, we have seen almost every character survive worse wounds than this. Malcolm survived when Oliver stabbed him with an arrow. Oliver survived when Ra’s Al Ghul ran a sword through his naked chest and kicked him off a mountain. Diggle survived when he was shot with a poison bullet. Felicity survived being shot multiple times followed by a car wreck. Laurel dies for no reason. The doctors save her and she dies anyway.
  3. There are a million ways to save her. Oliver could have used his potion from season one that saved Diggle. He could have called Katana who saved him or Constantine. Barry can time travel; he just did it to learn running tips. He absolutely would do it to save a friend. Sara can time travel. According to Rip, he is going to put the team exactly where he got them from in January 2016. Sara’s first move would be to find a way to save Laurel before Darhk killed her. And that’s just a few ways they could save her. How can I take this death seriously?
  4. Laurel dies to promote Olicity. The only reason she doesn’t die immediately is so that she can have a nice chat with Oliver before dying for no reason. And what they do talk about? Maybe Laurel asks Oliver to bring Sara home and help her with her demons? Maybe she asks Oliver to protect Captain Lance or stop Lance from crossing the line and killing Darhk? Nope. She talks to Oliver about Felicity. She tells him that he belongs with Felicity and that he should fight for her. This is a major problem on Arrow lately. There are more important things going on than Oliver’s dating life but his relationship with Felicity has to take center stage in every single situation.
  5. It’s a sad attempt to appear relevant. When asked about the death, Marc Guggenheim and Wendy Mericle said that it was an attempt to prove that death is real in this show. According to them, these are vigilantes and there is an inherent danger in that. Now, that is a good point. However, consistency is key. When Rachel Dawes dies in The Dark Knight, it’s brutal but it fits the tone of the film. Arrow has not been dark or even a show to take seriously since its second season. This is not a gritty crime drama. It’s a “dumb-fun” comic book show without any real substance. Guggenheim cannot actually expect me to watch a show this silly that lacks any logic and expect me to be seriously invested emotionally. The impression I have been getting from Arrow for a while is insecurity. With Daredevil and Jessica Jones, comic book shows with actual grit and captivating darkness have taken over and garnered a lot of respect and love. Next to these shows, Arrow looks like Teen Titans Go!. Arrow has been desperate to prove that it is just as dark and cool as the Netflix shows lately. However, Guggenheim does not understand what makes those shows work. It’s not because of the brutal violence or the nighttime setting. It’s everything else. The story lines feature actual human psychology that emotionally resonates with people. We feel bad and can relate to Jessica Jones. The tones of both shows are consistent. The violence supports the already dark story lines and characters. On Arrow, the episode where Laurel dies is preceded by an episode in which the team fights robot bees. Guggenheim does not understand human emotion or tone. He writes a dumb show that operates with no logic or humanity and shows random acts of brutal violence in a pathetic attempt to be taken seriously.
  6. It makes a major aspect of the show completely irrelevant. Laurel was not a well written character in season two. In fact, she was probably the worst character. But the writers stuck to their guns and had a multi-season arc in which Laurel was torn apart and built herself back up to be the Black Canary. And it was all pointless. It led to nothing; they just kill her. Why did we spend so much time on making her Black Canary if it was only going to end in death?
  7. This is the Black Canary. She is one of the best comic book characters ever created and is an essential part of the Green Arrow mythology. And what is Guggenheim’s reasoning? It’s an adaption so they can do whatever they want. I hate this excuse because it makes no sense. If you don’t want to write Green Arrow, don’t write Green Arrow. Create your own show with your own characters and do whatever you want there. And don’t get me wrong, I am fine with change. It is not always a bad thing but it’s also not always a good thing. Like with many elements of the show, it’s being different for the sake of it. If you are going to change something in an adaption, it needs to be better or there was absolutely no point at all. For example, John Diggle and Sara Lance are wonderful expansions of the mythology that, in my opinion, enhanced the material. The changes in Laurel that started in season two in her life and death have done nothing but hinder the show. When she is Black Canary, it’s a blast and a great asset. Laurel and Thea were the only likeable characters this season and now Green Arrow’s baby sister is carrying the entire show on her own. The other argument, from the ever condescending Guggenheim, is that people’s ship of choice should not affect the show. I’ll let the irony of that statement slide, but that’s not why people are upset. If Oliver ended up with Felicity, I wouldn’t be upset. I don’t like that relationship but I completely understand that most fans love it. That change makes sense and is acceptable given the context of the show’s success. People didn’t resonate with the chemistry between Stephen Amell and Katie Cassidy and that’s okay. The problem is that a legacy comic book character was brutally and unnecessarily murdered.

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There’s a lot more wrong with the death but those are main points. It’s brutal and mean-spirited in an attempt to retain the false notion that the show is dark while pandering to Olicity fans. While Arrow has been pretty bad for a while, this is the first time that I have actually felt insulted. Guggenheim has no respect for his audience’s intelligence and watching this episode felt like I was being spit on for an hour. Like a lot of Arrow fans, this is the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. I will not be watching the show anymore. I want to support it because Green Arrow is my favorite comic book character and I want the property to succeed but the writers simply do not care anymore and neither should anyone else at this point.

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Sean Blumenshine

I am currently a senior at Wichita State University studying communications. I started reading comics in 2013 because of how much I loved Man of Steel and season one of Arrow. My favorite hero is the Green Arrow and my favorite villain is the Joker.