TV Review: Arrow (4×18) “Eleven-Fifty-Nine”

→) Spoilers. Major, Major Spoilers. (←

Well comic book nerd friends, you’re gonna have to get your pitchforks, torches and boxing glove arrows ready and aimed, because last night’s episode of Arrow killed someone off … for good. No Lazarus Pit, no voodoo magic, no The Flash or Superman abilities to turn back time and pull a Back to the Future Part II. The results of the death of Laurel Lance will only provide seething anger and drowning grief for both Oliver Queen as a character, and for fans of the original due couple of the Green Arrow and the Black Canary.

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For months, the writers and directors of Arrow have been pulling a How I Met Your Mother stunt by teasing Oliver Queen at a gravestone and at significant breaks in the season, shows small pieces of the scene to keep audiences guessing of who had died and how it happened. With Damien Darhk running rampant through Star City and Thea’s resulting bloodlust from last season, almost anyone but Oliver was on the chopping block. The reason for killing Laurel? For starters, there’s the fact that her character took a back seat after several years of lame plots from inherited alcoholism to foolishly resurrecting her sister in the Lazarus Pit, and this is mostly a result of the writing team, for some reason, not wanting to put too much focus one more than a handful of characters in a story arc, and the last year has heavily focused on the budding and dying romance between Oliver Queen and Felicity Smoak, born of the internet’s #Olicity obsession.

Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW

Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW

“We started off this year with the promise of a death, and when we worked our way through our creative choices, we realized that the thing that will give us the most pop going into the end of the season and next season, unfortunately, would be Laurel. We knew that it would enrage a lot of people. We’re not blind to the “shipping” and the internet controversy, but we’ve never made decisions on the show creatively because of the internet.” – executive producer Marc Guggenheim said.

That’s right friends, one of the most well known heroes in the DC pantheon was killed off for some Game of Thrones style shock value, and the producers completely deny that the resulting relationships came from the show’s loudest part of the fanbase. Good job, kids. You’re why we can’t have nice things.

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So, how did Laurel get killed? It basically boils down to the fact that Diggle is a fool and Malcolm Merlyn is a jerk. A lot of this episode revolves around Oliver realizing that Diggle’s brother Andy can’t be trusted, despite the fact that it was Oliver himself that convinced John that people can change. Probably the most successful character growth of the hour that doesn’t put someone six feet under is Oliver realizing that he has tried harder at keeping the darkness in him at bay as the Green Arrow. It’s here that Diggle gets real with Oliver for a moment in a fit of rage, lecturing that he doesn’t have the will to be anyone but the person the “five years” on Lian Yu turned him into, and that is why Felicity left him. Burn.

Even if Diggle is right about Oliver, he wasn’t right about his own brother. In the final act of the episode, the entire team is storming the prison that Damien Darhk has caused a riot in for the sake of restoring his magic and escaping, and Andy insists on accompanying them to prove that he can be trusted and do good. Oliver’s nonchalance about Andy’s inclusion here ultimately spells certain doom for our heroes, as he happens to have found the final piece of the idol that Darhk intended to use to reinvigorate him with his voodoo magic. Darhk then performs a long speech while Force Choking Team Arrow, and concludes his monologue by fulfilling the promise he made to Quentin early in the season: that he, when betrayed/poked, would kill Lance’s daughter. So, in the end, Laurel’s death is the result of stacked up stupid decisions over the last few months, and within this specific hour of Team Arrow’s misadventures, and is possibly the most predictable possibility when it’s all said and done.

Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW

Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW

The most shameful aspect of the writer’s team killing off Laurel is the ham-fisted story arc they gave her in the first half of this episode. It opens with her getting an offer for a promotion from ADA to Star City’s District Attorney, which would result in having her public identity being so widely known that she would be required to hang up the Black Canary’s mask for good. After a lot of flip flopping, Oliver has a moment with her where he is very frank about the state of Team Arrow, between himself, Diggle’s rage with him, Thea’s lust for vengeance and Felicity barely anywhere to be seen in this episode. Several times in the scenes following, Laurel practically telegraph’s her death saying she’ll suit up “one last time” when the team pursues an escaped Damien Darhk. The dialogue she was given in Felicity’s absence from the team last week (during the bees incident) was far superior to what we get here, and the only reason it has any impact is because she’s been on the show for four years and is one of the Arrowverse’s most well known heroes.

FLASHBACK 4.18

→ ) I don’t even care anymore. Oliver goes back to kill the guy with the ridiculously big voodoo head

→ ) I kid you not, Every. Single. Episode this season, I have to think during the flashback scenes, “I can’t remember the name of this girl he’s with.” Oops. 

Rating: (6/10)

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Are you a fan of Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl? Check out our reviews of this week’s other episode in the DCTV Universe!

Arrow Season 4 Weekly Recaps

The Flash Season 2 Weekly Recaps

Legends of Tomorrow Season 1 Weekly Recaps

Supergirl Season 1 Weekly Recaps

At the end of every week, Evan and Allyson meet up to chat about the weekly happenings on our podcast TYF DC Debrief, available on several platforms! You can join the conversation with us every week on Twitter @EvGriff42 @AllysonAJ and @TYFOfficial

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Boston, Massachusetts: Evan is a 23 year old college graduate with a degree in English and Journalism. He's had a lifelong passion for film, games and reading things. A living movie quotation machine, and obsessively analytical, Evan will always give an honest and fair opinion with an insertion of wit where appropriate. (Who are you kidding? It’s always appropriate.) Additionally, he is an aficionado of the superhero genre, old video games and (yes, subjectively) awesome movies.
  • Sara

    They killed an iconic character for…. reasons (shock value)?
    Laurel’s death was a spit in the face of all comic book fans. I get that it doesn’t have to follow the comics, but at least have some respect to the material source. And now, after four years of character development, they just killed her off without her actually reaching her full potential. I’m so done with this show, clearly the comic book fans are not welcome there.

    • RCM

      Anyone who’s an apologist for the Katie Cassidy version of Black Canary must never have read a comic in their life. If they had they’d know that she’s nothing like her comic counterpart. I revel in the fact that she’s dead. There hasn’t been a version of a major DC character portrayed so awfully since Halle Berry donned her Catwoman suit. Woeful miscasting, but at least it’s mistake now fixed. Hopefully we can Lotz back on Arrow next year.

      • Sara

        Yes, she wasn’t the bad ass Dinah from the comics, but that in no way is Katie Cassidy’s fault. I’ve seen her other jobs, and I know she can pull off a strong female. There was not much she could do when the writers treated the character like garbage, constantly being sidelined. Also, even if she wasn’t the best Black Canary, she was currently the best character from Arrow alongside Thea, one of the few characters that actually had some development. Katie Cassidy is great actress who was wasted because of a shitty writing, the only actor from the show that won an important award for her portray of an addict.
        Lotz should stay the hell way from the BC suit, she is not a very good actress, and those who knows the Black Canary knows that she’s not a killer.

        • RCM

          I’ll never understand how Cassidy has obtained this fanatical following of defenders. She’s without question one of the most fraught, stiff, lifeless, and generally unpleasant onscreen performers I’ve ever seen. Rarely has there ever been a greater black hole of charisma in an ensemble cast. With any luck, the poor reception of Laurel will prevent her from getting much work as an actress in the future. Any casting agent worth their salt should have the courage to tell her she needs a different line of work.

          Speaking of Laurel, no, she did not have anything resembling good character development. You could tell the writers desperately had to try and find things for her to do and her transformation into Black Canary ranks as one of the most embarrassing origin stories ever crafted.

          It’s true Black Canary isn’t a Killer, but I don’t mind them taking liberties with the source material. All the current DC shows make some major changes. Berlanti and crew seem to view these shows as interpretations more than direct adaptations. Lotz at least as charm, personality, and athleticism that makes for a cool reimagine of the character.

          • Sara

            Well you know that’s just… your opinion.

          • Evan Griffin

            Hey there guys.
            First I got to say, neither of you are wrong.
            I’m not necessarily a giant fan of Katie Cassidy (though I liked her on Supernatural once upon a time), I found her to be serviceable enough to her character where the script allowed, which never was all that much. The same goes for Caty Lotz, who I hated as Sara Lance while she was on Arrow, and seems to be getting better scripts and direction from what I’ve seen on legends of Tomorrow.

            I’ll admit, I don’t have any attachment to the characters outside of the DC animated works I grew up watching, but the use (and death) of this character shows more weaknesses from the writers and directors than I believe it does from the actor in question. I don’t mind a different tone, or an original interpretation, of a character as long as the end result is something of actual quality and captures the spirit of that character. Funny enough, that is exactly how I feel about Batman v Superman and Man of Steel despite those being more grandiose and high profile.

          • RCM

            The failure of Laurel is the fault of everyone on the production. The casting director, producers, writers as well as the actress are to blame. That’s why we should be glad the writers finally confronted truth and ripped off the proverbial band-aid with this character.

            As for Batman v Superman, I will say I find this opinion surprising, especially from a fan of the DCAU. Snyder took two inspiring figures of popular culture and transformed them into repellent, lifeless, fascist goons, then dressed them in muted colors against an ugly backdrop and had them fight for the lamest of reason and stop fighting for reasons even more absurd. So I guess that we’ll have to agree to disagree.

          • Evan Griffin

            Sorry, you seem to have misinterpreted what I meant in reference to BvS. I generally disliked the movie front to back. My intent wast to say that I don’t hate it because I tried to do something different, I hated that it tried to do something different in tone and story with historic characters, and was a really really bad story and not enjoyable. So not only was it a bad movie, but it was also a misrepresentation of why people liked the characters, making no reason to justify those changes. The problems with Laurel are similar to this on a much smaller scale.

          • RCM

            Sorry for the misunderstanding. It seems we agree on a lot.

          • Allyson Johnson

            But she’s hardly the worst actress on the show…it’s not like Arrow has an abundance of natural talent. It’s the writers fault that they couldn’t figure out how to write a storyline for a character integral to the Green Arrow lore and DC in general.

          • RCM

            Honestly, I think most the actors on this show perform above the quality of the writing. Questionable dialogue has often been made better through performance. Cassidy is the only one who frequently performs well beneath the quality of the writing.

  • Tien Nhan

    Katie Cassidy was awesome, the writers blow