TV Recap: Arrow, “Eleven Fifty-Nine”

SPOILERS AHEAD

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They killed Laurel (Katie Cassidy), who cares what else happened?!?!?!?!

In the very first Arrow Death Watch, I joked that Laurel being the person in the grave was mere wishful thinking on my part. She’s the Black Canary, for Christ’s sake! So, even while the show put her in the crosshairs a few weeks back during Damien Darhk’s (Neal McDonough) trial, I never truly believed she’d die.

I have never been so thrilled to be wrong.

Listen, you probably bailed on my recaps long ago if you’re a big Laurel fan, but if not, you should go now. Because I think this is the best choice the show could have made.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: Laurel has never worked. In Season 1, she was little more than a love interest and a crappy lawyer. In Season 2, she and we suffered through her alcoholism storyline. And in Season 3, we watched her become the Black Canary without any believable justification for how or why a lawyer would choose that life.

Most of the time, the writing was the problem. Oliver and Laurel’s romance, for example, brought out each character’s selfishness and childishness and Tommy (Colin Donnell) was always her better option. But just as often, the problem was Cassidy herself. She and Amell generated about as much sexual chemistry as two wooden boards being smacked together and her attempts to convincingly portray addiction often felt embarrassingly over-acted. Don’t even get me started on her as a vigilante.

That said, Season 4 was Laurel and Cassidy’s best yet. Except for some embarrassing moments early on while reviving Sara (Caity Lotz), Laurel retreated into the ensemble and felt useful for the first time ever. She became a valuable member of Team Arrow, used her lawyering skills to put Darhk in jail and gave everyone–especially post-break up Oliver–good advice. While there’s an irony to her being killed off when she’s at her best, it’s also perfect. Because now I actually feel a tinge of sadness instead of just relief. Not to mention every single remaining character will be affected in fundamental ways—we already saw that somewhat with Oliver.

This may sound like a lie given how improbable it is, but I’ve thought of that crumpled little picture of Laurel from time to time over the years. In Season 1, it represented Oliver’s hope to survive Lian-Yu, right past wrongs and live a good life with a woman he loved. Since then, with Sara and Shado (Celina Jade) on the island and the slow, unstoppable rise of Olicity, it seemed harder and harder to believe that Oliver had kept that picture at all. It still is now. When it showed up in the flashback, I laughed aloud, but when Laurel brought it back out on her death bed and told Oliver that he was the love of her life even if she wasn’t his, I bought it. The chemistry may have never worked between these two, but there was always narrative potential. That picture doesn’t really represent the great lost love between Oliver and Laurel on the show. It represents the big, legendary comic book romance between the Black Canary and the Green Arrow that the show could never convincingly pull off. It represents lost opportunity and what this show could have had with better writing and different casting.

Producer Marc Guggenheim has already been doing damage control on this death, placating angry fans when paparazzi photos revealed the truth well before the episode aired. He said that Laurel’s death doesn’t mean the character is gone forever and that weird moment in the episode when we cut away from Laurel and Oliver in the hospital seemed to imply that too. While I understand that impulse in a post-The 100 meltdown world, I hope she’s gone from Arrow forever. Death already matters so little in the DCTV universe and for this show in particular. The other Lance sister is proof of that. To bring Laurel back would not only negate it forever, but it would be the wrong move for Arrow. On every front, Laurel is worth more dead than she ever was alive.

Arrow Death Watch

Laurel Lance: 100%
Goodbye, Katie Cassidy, have fun during your guest appearances on The Flash and probably Legends, but then go get another show so you can’t come back to Arrow full-time.

Island Girl: 100%
If this character doesn’t die simply for the sake of parallelism with Laurel, I will eat my hat. Also because she’s the worst.

Arrow Death Watch Itself: 100%
It’s been fun, kids, but now that the grave mystery is solved, it’s time to bury this section too. Clearly my predictions were terrible anyway.

By day, Marisa Carpico stresses over America’s election system. By night, she becomes a pop culture obsessive. Whether it’s movies, TV or music, she watches and listens to it all so you don’t have to.