Last night’s episode of Arrow reached its climax in a Knightfall-esque prison break which proved to be the most controversial episode yet.
(SPOILERS FOR ARROW EP 18: ELEVEN-FIFTY-NINE)
The episode followed Malcolm Merlyn’s plan with HIVE and Andrew Diggle to free Damien Darhk from Iron Heights and return the enchanted idol to him. All the while, Laurel is given the chance to become the new DA of Star City, at the cost of her mantle as Black Canary. Ultimately, Laurel decides to step down, but to fight one last time in order to stop Merlyn. The fight takes to Iron Heights after all the prisoners are freed, and Team Arrow fails to stop Darhk from regaining his powers. Virtually unstoppable, Darhk halts Team Arrow and carries out his promise to Quinton Lance by stabbing Laurel. Laurel ultimately dies after professing her love for Oliver Queen.
When I said this episode was “controversial” I was… wrong. The fan response has been quite universal and quite atrocious. This has been the greatest deviation Arrow has taken from the source material thus far, and has wholly prevented fans’ hopes of a Canarrow end game ship. The death of the Black Canary has only spiked more hatred for Felicity and her melodramatic relationship with Oliver. Unfortunately for most fans, the death of Laurel doesn’t seem to be as ephemeral as most of the deaths in the Arrowverse. In an interview with Arrow writer, Marc Guggenheim answered quire a few questions.
Are you ready for the Internet backlash after killing Laurel?
“We knew that it would enrage a lot of people,” Guggenheim says. “We’re not immune to the ‘shipping and we’re not immune to the Internet controversy — when I say immune, [I mean] we’re not blind to it. We’ve never made decisions on the show creatively because of the Internet.”
But shouldn’t Oliver and Laurel be endgame?
“One of the things we knew people would think was, ‘Oh, well, in the season where Oliver and Felicity get engaged and Laurel dies, that’s clearly making a choice about who’s going to end up with who,” Guggenheim says. “Truth be told, we told the Laurel-Oliver romance story in season 1. We told that story. We never really thought about going back to it. The ‘shipping thing was not an element, it was not a factor to us. We recognize that that upsets a lot of fans, particularly the comic book fans.” “In the comics, Dinah Lance and Oliver Queen, depending on which version of the character you like, are in a romance together in various iterations,” Guggenheim says. “That, to some people, is considered canonical and iconic, and we respect that, but at the same time we’ve always made no bones about the fact that we are telling our own version of the Green Arrow mythos. The Green Arrow has had so many different interpretations, and Black Canary has had so many different interpretations over the years, that we never felt beholden to one particular interpretation. This is our interpretation, like it or not, and I recognize there are plenty of people up and down my Twitter feed who do not like it. I totally respect that. But it made the most creative sense for us going forward despite the fact that we love Katie, absolutely love Katie.”
So could Laurel come back to life?
“Not getting a chance to work with Katie day in and day out is tempered by the fact that we now live in a universe where there’s resurrection, parallel earths, time travel, flashbacks — we have all these different ways of keeping Katie in the Arrow-verse family,” Guggenheim says. “In fact, you will see her on an episode of Flash playing the Earth-2 version of Laurel Lance. Katie is reprising her role as Laurel of Earth-1 to be in Vixen season 2. Death does not mean goodbye on any of these shows, but we made a creative choice and we’re sticking to it. We’re recognizing that Black Canary and Laurel have an incredibly loyal fanbase, and Katie has an incredibly loyal fanbase, but the show has never been just about the comic book history, it’s never been just about one or two different particular fanbases. We make the creative choices we feel benefit the show as a whole and the story that we’re telling overall.”
She’s definitely dead though, right? Because Laurel makes Oliver promise her something and then she suddenly dies.
“It’s funny, that’s the joke I’ve been making quite frankly: ‘Oliver Queen killed her’.” “Certainly what did Laurel say to Oliver [is a mystery], but we didn’t intend for it to be like she asked Oliver to euthanize her.”
Okay, so he didn’t help Laurel fake her own death?
“No we’ve done a fake death before. That’s the thing, we’re always trying to figure out, ‘What’s a way to do this?’ That fake-out where she was okay and then she wasn’t was our attempt: How do we do a death that we haven’t done before? [It’s a] creative challenge, the deeper you get into your story. It’s the nature of having a long-running show that deals as a major component of it with death.”
How will Team Arrow deal with Laurel’s death?
“It’s going to be huge and significant,” In terms of our process for making the decision, you can judge the impact by how important Laurel was to the universe we’ve created. There’s no question that it is going to be shocking. It was a shocking thing for us to process and to write the aftermath. We really wanted to make sure we did it in a way that was really honorable and gave us space to honor all the characters’ various reactions to it. The episodes that we’ve written in the aftermath are devastating and they’re meant to be. That’s what we wanted. We wanted to explore that and to really have everybody feel the impact of this loss, because it is significant.”
How will Lance handle losing yet another one of his daughters?!
“This death is just devastating for Lance, because this is not the one that was ever supposed to happen,” Blackthorne says. “Personally, I was almost as devastated as Lance, to be honest, with the news of this happening, because Katie and I have had such an amazing working relationship that it actually really is hard to accept. In terms of Quentin, he’s going to have to pick up the pieces, not pick up a bottle, and reconcile what’s left in his life. With that, he’s got the Arrow family. That’ll be where he’ll have to find his anchor now from here on in without his beautiful daughter. In terms of fantastic story, as awful as it is that Black Canary is a sacrifice, in terms of stories, it’s like wham! It’s an amazing turn to throw at the audience. People aren’t expecting it and it’s fantastic.”
Will Sara Lance find out that Laurel is dead?
“Sara will find out in Legends [of Tomorrow] about what happened with Laurel,” Guggenheim says. “We give it its due. I feel like we give it its due. We’ve always said on Legends we were not going to shy away from this development as far as Sara’s character is concerned. Paul was very gracious to lend his time to Legends to really allow us to explore that.”
Is the title of Black Canary up for grabs and we could see someone new in that role in the future?
“I don’t know that I would say up for grabs,” Guggenheim says. “I think it’s a mantle that multiple people have had. We’ll play with that notion in episode 19. I personally like the idea that DC Comics, all the comics, they all have the concept of legacy. We’ve seen on Legends that someone picks up Oliver Queen’s mantle, for example. We’re in that world, but we lean into it pretty strongly in 19. That doesn’t always mean that the person is a hero. [Episode] 19 is the answer to that question.”
So what does this matter for the Arrowverse? Truthfully, I have no idea — Arrow doesn’t seem to be grounded in comics anymore, so anything can happen. Leave any thoughts or comments below!