It has been over a year since my last post. I did say the blog would take a backseat to work but I did not foresee how long I would step away. A lot of things have happened since I last wrote. I have tried new restaurants, played new board games, devoured TV shows and movies, all of which have gone by undocumented here because of work or family stuff or whatnot. But here I am, back on the blog. I’m not saying this is the end of my hiatus but I do know that I feel strongly enough about this subject to do a post about it.
As you know, I am a big fan of Arrow, the CW TV show about DC Comics’ Emerald Archer. In fact, I am a fan of all of Greg Berlanti’s superhero offerings on the silver screen (Supergirl, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow). But this week’s episode of Arrow Season 4 entitled, “Eleven-Fifty-Nine”, got me so upset that I just needed an outlet to vent.
My favorite comic book character is Black Canary, Dinah Laurel Lance. She is very much tied into the Green Arrow mythos so I was understandably looking forward to her portrayal in the show. In Season 1, we were introduced to Laurel, a lawyer who already had a history with Oliver. It wasn’t exactly Dinah from the comics but I understood that the show would be different. I was not prepared however for the character not to be the first to don the Black Canary mask. That honor was bestowed upon her sister, Sara, a character that was made up for the show. I grew to love Sara but I was always rooting for Laurel.
A lot of people, even a few of my friends, did not care for her character. They called her whiny, useless and annoying. I believe a lot of this stemmed from the fact that in Season 1 she was in love with two guys while still mourning her sister, after Tommy died she became obsessed with hunting the Arrow down and then turned to drugs and alcohol to drown her sorrows. Wouldn’t you be messed up as well if your sister ran off with your boyfriend, then both died, then said boyfriend returned from the dead when you’ve finally moved on to dating his best friend? This is a CW show after all. As for her being useless, that is a matter of perspective. She wasn’t part of Team Arrow for the longest time. How was she supposed to contribute when she was kept in the dark until the end of Season 2? I don’t know what it is about her that rubs people the wrong way. The fact that she has flaws and she’s open about them? Her character dealing with addiction and grief as well as her own father’s alcoholism was one of the show’s most compelling and most important arcs.
You can make a case that Laurel wasn’t the show’s best female character. How could she be when there was Felicity Smoak, who was only supposed to be a one-off character but Emily Bett Rickards did such a fine job stealing the scene that she became a series regular. I personally don’t see the chemistry between her and Stephen Amell but a lot of fans do and so did the writers. Once Olicity was decided upon, Laurel’s role as Green Arrow’s main love interest was no longer on the table. And that is fine by me. Her relationship with Green Arrow is not what makes her great in the comics. Laurel couldn’t occupy the sister role either since Oliver already has a sister, Thea. She couldn’t even be Black Canary until mid-Season 3 and only after her sister dies. And of course by then, fans’ opinions about her have been solidified. They even found her training to become a vigilante unrealistic. Sorry if it only took her a few months’ training to be able to fight crime in a mask, but then again this is a TV show based on a comic book. Plus they did show her getting her ass kicked in a couple of episodes.
My point here is not to make the Laurel haters love her. I am secure in my opinion and I just want to write it down and share it: I believe Laurel is the most developed character on the show and there was absolutely no reason to kill her off. I read interviews with the writers and show runner and their main argument was that Laurel had to die because it made the most sense to the story. How exactly? She was finally at a point where she had grown into her role as Black Canary and is an important part of Team Arrow. She was there for Star City when Oliver “died” and again when he retired to live in the suburbs. She won her battle with addiction. She repaired her relationships with her sister and her father. She was able to call Oliver out on his shit, challenged him and reined him in. Green Arrow and Black Canary were finally partners and equals, both heroes trying to do the right thing. But because the writers showed a grave in the beginning of the season and now must deliver on their promise, she gets the ax.
When a show has to rely on killing off one of their characters to make an impact, it’s a sign they’re running out of things to do. When a show kills off yet another female character solely for the sake of tormenting a male character, especially one who went through the journey Laurel did, that is called fridging and it’s problematic as hell. Darhk literally tells Laurel she has to die because he made a promise to her father that if he betrayed Darhk, he would kill her. I wouldn’t be as mad if Darhk had killed her because she turns down the offer to become District Attorney in order to still be able to prosecute him in court. On top of all that, the way they killed her off was so disrespectful to her and her fans. Fake-out aside, one of the last lines she utters was about how Oliver is the love of her life even though she isn’t the love of his. Where the hell did that come from? They haven’t been lovers since Season 2! To reduce her character in the end to merely a love interest was the last slap in the face. She doesn’t even get to talk to her dad for fuck’s sake.
Other people have pointed out Arrow’s tendency to fridge its female characters, but I never thought it would happen to Laurel, who has been a major character since the very beginning. She wasn’t always treated with respect by the fans, the writers and even the other characters, but in Season 4, all the pieces came together and she at last reminded me of the Black Canary in the comics. None of that matters anymore. They made their decision to kill her off and it was the wrong one. They will stick by it and I will stick by my choice to no longer support the show.
Whether as an Assistant District Attorney, a daughter, a sister, a friend or as Black Canary, Dinah Laurel Lance did not fail this city, but the writers have most definitely failed her.