So… yah… THAT happened. Ever since episode one of this season we’ve known someone was going to die. There were many suspects and as the episodes progressed certain characters stood out more and more – and yet in the final moments we got a curve ball as the most important supporting character in this series met their end. It was needless, sloppy and even worse came across as a huge middle finger to fans as hope was restored just to have it brutally taken away in the final seconds.
I won’t be pulling any punches with this article. As you can tell I’m incredibly upset about the death of Black Canary; but it’s not because my theories were wrong. So instead of this week’s Looking Ahead, I am going to – try to – rationally articulate why killing off Black Canary (for the second time) was an awful choice. BUT, I will also hold out a bit of hope because there are some facts and future revelations that don’t line up.
Was this the moment Arrow silenced the last shred of canon Green Arrow lore – perhaps the most vital of them – OR was this the moment Arrow set in motion the purest canon moment yet? Let’s take a Closer Look!
Comparing/Contrasting To MidSeason Finale “Dark Waters” – The Twist Of No Twist:
Much like the Midseason Finale “Dark Waters”, “Eleven Fifty Nine” started setting up multiple people to be the ‘foretold death’. Laurel had dinner with Quentin, where he revealed how proud of her he is. Quentin Lance gave Laurel his blessing and told her he’s proud of her. Darhk threatened Thea’s life after Malcolm brought him a half complete totem. We saw Diggle and Oliver clash numerous times and wondered if they’d get a chance to reconcile. All these showed someone’s story was ending and Laurel’s hints were just the red herring. Besides, after hearing about her “putting on the mask for the last time”, how she was Oliver’s home and how Darhk originally made that threat a season ago was FAR too heavy handed. No one sets up a death THAT blatantly do they?
Well apparently the Arrow-writers wanted to this episode. Considering the overemphasis on Laurel this past episode or two, you can actually feel the writers saying – ‘hey, we didn’t plan on killing her off, but let’s do it anyway and squeeze this all in’. Though unlike past scenarios where we’re left on a cliffhanger, this episode wanted to make sure that we the viewers were the ones kicked off a cliff this episode as they kill Laurel not once but twice! Anyone else starting to think the writers were really upset with Katie Cassidy about something? We not only hear the doctor’s say she’s fine; but then out of nowhere she has a seizure and dies. Either something is ‘up’ with this and there’s more to it than meets the eye or they wanted to rub that death in our face. And SURE, “anything can happen”, but I’m tired of that being an excuse for TV writing. In ‘real life’ anything can happen; in TV what the happens is what the writers say will happen in order to drive the story forward – and killing Laurel was in no way the ideal means to that end… if anything, it was the easy-yet-counterintuitive way out.
The Choice To Kill Black Canary – And Why It Was Wrong:
When the grave scene was originally shot, the writers had no choice of WHO would be in the grave, They just knew they wanted it to be impactful and give weight to make Oliver kill again. SO WHY LAUREL?!?!?!?!
Now some of you reading might say ‘that’s why. You’re really upset about it so it clearly worked’. Well no. We’re upset not because she was the perfect character to kill off, but because they killed off a quinessential character with exponential story potential rather than an important character who’s story is coming to an end. Quentin and Diggle have had wonderful story arch, but both’s stories have come to an end this season. Diggle got a mask and tracked down his brother. Quentin is proud of his daughters and is suspended from the police force.
Additionally, both have been made for this series, have had a crucial tie to Oliver’s crusade since the beginning and don’t have much depth in existing Green Arrow lore. So instead of killing off one of those characters in an incredibly heartfelt and understandable way, they killed off a character that goes hand and hand with Green Arrow. Black Canary to Green Arrow is kind of like Catwoman to Batman. Even if you don’t know much about the characters, you know they’re romantically connected. As of the moment Oliver Queen is poor, lost his company, isn’t mayor and doesn’t have a goatee. Having Black Canary around to ‘one day’ get back together with was the ONLY remaining connection to comic lore. If they wanted to say ‘screw comic lore’ so much, then why go through all the trouble of making this season about the GREEN Arrow. Keep this show as Arrow, some-thing else.
Going back to how the writers didn’t know at first who to kill, it’s almost as if they heard all the theories and decided to throw a curveball to everyone one just for the sake of throwing a curveball – NOT for story purposes. And hey, over the years they’ve gotten pretty comfortable with killing off people with the title Black Canary – or Quentin’s daughters in general. Hell, they even made sure Darhk killed Laurel with an arrow, just like how Thea killed Sarah. Yes they could bring Laurel back, but it still proves the point that she was the WRONG person to kill off. Much like they’ve killed off a canary before, they’ve also brought one back. Chances are we’ll see Laurel back in a season or two, which just hurts the shows credibility and undercuts someone actually getting killed off. In the end, everything the writers wanted to achieve – motivation, vengeance, distraught outrage – could have been done just as well if not much better with another character.
Quentin was like a father figure to Oliver. Diggle was his brother and Oliver’s first co-vigilante. Laurel JUST started coming into the role of Black Canary and this past season and a half spent so much time foretelling Laurel as the true black canary – and how the strongest steel is forged in the hottest fire. Killing her now after all this well spent time developing her for more in-depth Arrow stories is as ill-advised and counter-intuitive as how How I Met Your Mother spent an entire season and a half showing why a certain relationship was perfect, only to dismantle in it less than a half hour in the series finale. Having Black Canary return better be in their plans, otherwise this whole stunt was either: (1) a huge mistake they’ll come to regret (2) a massive waste of time (3) more forced Olicity (4) all of the above. Though if Laurel/Black Canary did return, HOW could it be done?
How To Save Laurel & Green Arrow Lore – Promises, Earth-2 & More Deja Vu:
Needless to say, the whole ‘promise me something’ scene followed by Laurel going into shock was a little too coincidental. Maybe she faked her death like Roy did? Though if that was the case, why is Oliver so determined to kill Darhk still if Laurel is really alive? Does he realize he loves Laurel more and will kill anyone who tries to kill her? Again, we see a huge disconnect between the shooting of the grave scene and the actual revelation of who it is. Furthermore, why is Barry there? Sure, he’d support a friend, but of all the members of Team Arrow, Barry has probably spent the least with Laurel. I’d expect to see Cisco there at the wake before Barry.
Furthermore, I refuse to believe in a universe with Time Travel, water taken from the Lazarus Pit and multiple other mystical items that the death of such a PIVITOL character is permanent. So where do we start if this isn’t ‘faked’? Well besides the obvious choice of Lazarus Pit water Darhk has been mentioned many times to possess – remember we now also have the Lotus cure for Bloodlust – what if all the talk of her and Oliver ‘pre-Season 1’ was more than just reminiscing but a set up for two Earth-Crossed Lovers.
We know that Katie Cassidy will appear on The Flash as Laurel’s Earth-2 doppelganger, “Black Siren”; and even though most Earth-2 doppelgangers have been evil, what if things go a little differently this time. Remember that in Earth-2, Oliver is the one who died on the ship and not his father. This episode put a lot of emphasis on how both Oliver and Laurel look back at their Pre-Season 1 selves as “home”. So what if Black Siren as well never stopped loving Oliver. Whether she first arrives as a villain or not, she could make her way to Earth-1 and eventually cross paths with Oliver. Maybe she’ll pick up the Canary mantle and find herself with a second chance at putting her life back together. This might not be the same as Laurel herself, but it would offer some interesting storytelling. And it would also give Barry added role to his appearance at the grave as rather than a retroactive bystander – someone he was close with in the past – he’ll be an active part of setting up the future of Arrow. Finally, since this is Earth-2 Laurel, perhaps her Canary Cry is actually a metahuman ability – closer to the comics.
Idol Madness – Well That Was A Stretch…
Not to rehash this, but even the whole totem lore of this episode was backwards and forced. First off, we saw Vixen smash the idol and severe Darhk’s hold over it. It wasn’t a distance thing as we learned, but rather an existence thing – and Vixen smashed it out of existence. Did someone superglue it back together? Furthermore, what about the ring Darhk took out of his mouth previously? So much went no where, and we moved time and space to rehash the old.
Secondly, why break the totem into only 2 pieces? Why not break off multiple horns and have each team member hide them? ALSO, why didn’t Laurel use Canary Cry to break Darhk’s concentration and save everyone? Come on writers and Team Arrow – someone is making major rookie mistakes here.
Rapid Fire – Easter Eggs, Quotes & Other Notables:
- Just want to point out that, Laurel actually didn’t go down heroically. She was paralyzed and incapable of defending herself. This wasn’t a heroic send off in the slightest and as a kick ass member of the team, she deserved better – not to be reduced to a damsel.
- So Diggle is going on the warpath next episode, and considering how much we hate his brother right now… let Diggle rampage.
- I really loved the “Hmmm”, “Hmmm” exchange between Laurel and Darhk when she was having a search of the cell block.
- What happened to the talk Felicity and Curtis were supposed to have? Did you cut it out just so we had enough time to see Laurel die twice?…
- As always, Paul Blackthorn’s performance made the moment all that more painful as we see him fall to his knees. For a moment, I thought his heart problems were going to return and we’d have two deaths this episode.
- As far as ‘rational arguments against killing off Laurel’ go, Alasdair Wilkins also wrote a great article on AV Club about this whole fiasco. We’ve never worked together, but I love giving credit where credit is due.
- There was apparently a statement released by Guggenheim that said the Oliver/Laurel love story was told in Season One and they never wanted to revisit it… 3 things: (1) you actually didn’t since she was with Tommy (2) Everything after was spent making her a pain (3) you said you didn’t want to explore Laurel/Oliver twice, yet Olicity we’ll explore 4+ times. So in other words, this WAS personal and you’re forcing Olicity down our throats again?
- Favorite Quotes:
- “You really love not talking about that place don’t you” – Laurel to Oliver
- “I am glad that you are the black canary, im glad for all the good youre doing and im glad for all the good its done you. But you gotta know, that taking this job means taking off that mask forever” – Quentin to Laurel
- “A magician never reveals his secret” – Malcolm reminding us of his League Name
Laurel’s final words to Oliver were that she hopes he finds his way back to Felicity. Well, I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that I hope this series finds its way back to its roots. This season kicked off with everything we loved about Seasons 1 & 2, but now it seems like we’re once again heading down the dark and Olicity-forced road of Season 3… and we all know how that ended.
We’ll have to see what happens and I’m holding out hope that they’ll realize what an atrocious error this is. But if this was indeed the cutting off of the last shred of Green Arrow lore, then the show the got me into the Arrow-verse, might become the first show I stop following in the Arrow-verse.
Maybe I’m the minority here, but I think hero shows are supposed to inspire people to be better. Not become vigilantes, but rather feel empowered and face whatever they have to. The Flash does that and so does Supergirl – and Arrow was beginning to do that again as well before this happened. But now, this show has become someTHING else and the only lesson seems to be, ‘Don’t be a hero. You never win and sooner or later, all your good will just be undone.’
5 thoughts on “Arrow: “Eleven-Fifty-Nine” – Analysis & Why THAT Should Not Have Happened”
Wow. I didn’t see the episode yet as I’m a few behind, but as soon as I learned about Laurel’s death, I was as annoyed as the many fans that are sick of Ollicity. I can’t help defend this choice in any way as there are moments we have all come to accept as deviations from the comic lore and cannon and moments that are too far gone (like Deadpool in X-Men Origins.) This seems like a mistake and a waste. It’s really unfortunate because we had a great Canary in Caity Lotz (killed off) and then Katie took over the role amazingly well. Even her personal commitment to the character was a lot of fun to watch and the idea that we’d eventually get Oliver and Laurel together, just like the books, seemed as promising as the eventual Robin Hood goatee. But, alas they killed her.
I was waiting for your coverage of this episode and you did a solid job. Well worth the read and excellent points all the way through!
Thanks for putting this out there!
Glad you enjoyed it Steven! This article had to be rewritten several times to fully balance my upset-ness and rationale. Comic deviations are fine, but this – and the extent to which this was done – was sickening. It truly makes you think they had something against Katie.
Actually laurals death sure because in arrow dead allways come alive one way or other. But if the siren theory is correct this could be her end. What really rattled and shocked me was seeing the totemm vixen broke on a show case. They should at least showed us how it became whole again before this episode.. Feels This episode was somehow changed From the original plan of the writers.
Arrow (sadly) I think has been lost since last season. It’s almost as if the show runners have their focus elsewhere and at times it feels like most of the cast does too. And hey, who can blame them when The Flash has stayed pretty solid so far and your title character is living out dreams of being a wrestler and being cast as childhood favorites (TMNT). Unfortunately I get the sense the show truly has no idea where to go and I almost blame DC for creating these movies now and trying to catch up with Marvel. It’s as if now the show runners have to do ridiculous things to keep the show universe separate and so different so fans aren’t doing the same thing twice. The show has started to lose me with being overly dark, depressing, and unfocused. Not saying all stories need to be light but it seems we keep getting darker for no reason and Laurel is just another victim of this. Why couldn’t we kill her father and have that be a lead into Oliver and Laurel being there for one another and finding their way back to each other? Or kill Diggle and have Felicity come back to help get revenge if you really want the team back together?
In my opinion there’s just been so much wrong with this season (and majority of last season) that this show doesn’t make my top 5 anymore when it used to. I know it’s signed again for next season but I sincerely hope based on how it’s going that is also the last season. I’m over the flashbacks, I’m over most of the characters, I’m over the darkness.
Also, for christ sakes, for someone named Green Arrow who carries a bow WHY ARE YOU HAVING SO MUCH CLOSE QUARTER COMBAT? USE THE DAMN BOW. Pretty sure he used the bow more in the Flash/Arrow cross over than any episode this season.
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