The reality of last week’s death really hits the characters in different ways this week, but one thing is for sure: for a show built around death, this death means more (for reasons that sort of make sense but sort of don’t).
1. Black Canary III
I remember as a kid reading “Who’s Who,” and finding it humorous how many characters were billed as Robin II, or Clayface III. I was shocked at how some characters could be cycled through so many identities in such a short amount of time. And then I started watching Arrow, and realized that in the past 3 seasons, we’ve had three different Black Canaries, none of whom are exactly what you’d expect. The third Black Canary, young Evelyn Sharp, is trying to honor Laurel’s memory by taking down the bad guys, but she does so guns blazing, with little regard for the lives of those she’s targeting.
This character was actually a breath of fresh air for a few reasons. First of all, it is always nice when Oliver meets someone that is exactly as he was when he was a new vigilante, and how little patience he has for that. That reveals both the character’s growth, and his continued stubbornness, and I like a flawed character, so that works well for me. But more than that, it was the first time on the show that we’ve really seen the inspiration that Team Arrow has been spreading across the city. So often it is easy to make them scary or dangerous to the public – in part because they are terrifying; have you seen Diggle’s mask or heard Ollie’s fake voice? – but it is nice to see people trying to continue their mission. This is a show about superheroes, after all.
This is me getting nit-picky – you’ve been warned.
So, Laruel’s death is terrible for these characters, obviously. Ollie loved her, she was a sister of sorts to the rest of the team (especially Thea), and they saw her murdered in front of them by an evil man for no real reason. And yes, this was especially powerful due to her role as the assistant district attorney, and yes, this was especially powerful because we are in season 4, and this is a character we’ve lived with since the pilot.
But everyone is treating this death way differently than Sara’s.
When Sara died, everyone was sad and shit, but no one went as low as every single character went here. Even after it was revealed that fucking Malcolm Merlyn mind controlled Thea to kill Sara, everyone took a more subdued position than they did here. This is tragic, this is sad, but they’re all acting like they’ve never experienced death before. Oddly enough, the Lance’s ‘oh, she’ll be back’ approach is the most honest in this universe – they’ve seen the dead raised before, why wouldn’t it happen again?
I’m not saying the crew shouldn’t be gutted over Laurel’s death – they should be – but it feels a little weird that this death – one committed by a supervillain in the heat of battle – is more significant than Sara’s, especially as Sara was killed by both a member of the team and a sociopath they’ve frequently teamed up with. And yes, Sara’s death has less sting because of her being raised from the dead, but even a few weeks later, it seemed like the team was way more chill about it.
3. Diggle’s guilt
I’ve commented numerous times about how Diggle needs more character traits, and ‘extremely guilty’ is certainly a new one, but also an earned and deserved one. It was his fault, to a certain degree, that Laurel died. He knows it, and he’s trying to come to terms with it. Everyone is trying to get him to feel better, but this all has the feel of a team after losing the Super Bowl trying not to let on that they all know that if the kicker had done his God-damned job they would’ve won the game.
I particularly enjoyed seeing Felicity attempt to make him feel better, only to sort of shrug and agree with Diggle in the end. Sure, she doesn’t blame him, but she also is a bit more honest with him than others have been. This is a nice bit of character development for both of them, and it is nice to see.Continued below
4. More like Pal’s al Ghul, amirite?
What’s with Nyssa being so friendly? Granted, she certainly has mellowed since last season, but she showed up at Laurel’s apartment in a snappy, casual outfit, and was kind and sympathetic to Quentin. She even showed up at Laurel’s funeral! This feels like a very different League of Assassins – more like the League of Good Neighbors.
5. Laurel’s legacy
But let’s talk about that funeral for a moment and what it means for the show going forward. Aside from Paul Blackthorne (aka Quentin Lance) looking more like he was taking in a cool jazz concert (the way he kept nodding his head while fake crying looked really, really odd), the scene gave Laurel a send off that seemed to encompass all of her traits – hero, lawyer, friend, ex-girlfriend – and did so without sounding like it was overstating who she was on the show. Look, I’ve been really hard on the character in the past – she’s had some really, really dull moments – but the show built her up to be important, and delivered on that importance. She should be missed.
One final note – I get why the producers wanted to include both of the funeral scenes we’ve already had on the show – Barry being late and Felicity being in the limo – but it did do one thing that’ll probably piss off people who care about timelines and such. Did this scene take place before Zoom stole Barry’s speed? Or does Barry already have it back? Because on Tuesday, Cisco gets white dwarf stuff from Felicity – so is she back with Team Arrow? Or was this all a few months ago?
Let me be totally honest – I give zero shits about this, but for a show that has gone out of its way to point out things very literally, it feels like an odd decision to not clarify the timeline. I expect nerds (like myself) everywhere to flip out.
If you’re flipping out over any aspect of this episode, let me know in the comments!