This Arrow review contains spoilers.
Arrow Season 4, Episode 19
Well, after a million months, we finally get to see the grave scene in context. And, more than anything, its clunky context highlighted just how far Arrowhas fallen down the plot-dictating-character TV hole. And, guys, the plot-dictating-character TV hole is not a pretty place to be.
This episode was very much about giving Laurel Lance as a character the sendoff she deserves. Everyone on Team Arrow, Laurel’s family, and the larger Star City are grieving her loss. This should have been tragic, confusing and infuriating. These are all emotions people commonly feel after the death of a loved one. And Team Arrow was certainly going through the motions — the actors were trying their darndest to sell it — but the entire tone of this episode somehow came off as dully dour.
Laurel’s character has been one of the stronger aspects of this show for the past two seasons. While many of Arrow‘s other narrative elements were being driven into the ground in season 3, Laurel was growing as a character. She was steady. She called Oliver out on his hypocrisy. She took the tragedy of her sister’s (temporary) death and turned herself into a hero to keep other people from losing the ones they loved. This was my favorite version of Laurel: the Black Canary, Thea’s best friend, and a compassionate, yet critical confidante who spoke her mind to everyone else on Team Arrow. This was not the Laurel we got in tonight’s episode.
The Laurel we got was a retconned version of the Laurel following the events of the season 1 finale. To be fair, Arrowhad a good instinct in making the flashbacks about Laurel (or, you know, anything other than Lian Yu). But has anyone ever sat around wondering what Laurel and Oliver’s relationship looked like immediately following Tommy’s death in the season 1 finale? I know I haven’t. And, if I had, it probably wouldn’t have looked like this: Oliver and Laurel fondly sitting together to remember the man they loved. Laurel letting it slide that instead of delivering the eulogy at Tommy’s funeral like he apparently promised, instead lurking in the background, too much of a coward to even show up to his best friend’s burial.
For those who need a refresher: Laurel at this point had, yes, just slept with Oliver, but who loved Tommy. This is the Laurel who would go on to abuse substances so badly that she loses her job all because she feels so guilty over Tommy’s death. This is not a Laurel who is going to make excuses for Oliver, then kiss him uncomplicatedly in front of a romantic candle display. Frankly, that’s kind of a disgrace to her character.
I loved that Arrowchose to make these flashbacks Laurel-centric, but why not make them about Laurel’s relationship with her father — the relationship that was certainly the most central to her character? Or, failing that, why not make these flashbacks about Laurel’s stint as the Black Canary — perhaps during the period when Oliver and Felicity were off seeing the world together? I would have loved to see Laurel, Thea, and Diggle figuring out how to run Team Arrow without Olicity, growing closer as they all get to know one another better and try to keep Star City to falling completely into chaos?
Instead, what did we get? Dull flashbacks of two characters that never existed (because this was a pretty bland version of Oliver post-season 1, too), backed up by dull, repetitive scenes of Team Arrow in present-day all blaming themselves for what happened. The only characters who had different reactions were Thea and Lance — the former of whom was uncharacteristically mellow in her grief (though not totally unrealistic — not everyone falls apart, you know, and it was sinceriously nice to have some variety), and the latter of whom refused to accept Laurel’s death.
To be fair, pretty much every other character in Detective Lance’s social group has come back from the dead at least once — including his own daughter Sara, who has come back from the dead twice. Every character on this show seemed to treat Lance like he was a crazy man who couldn’t accept his daughter’s death and he was, but he also had precedent not to. (Lance’s storyline in this episode was also relatively one-note, but Paul Blackthorne sold the heck out of it.)
Um, also, there was a knockoff Black Canary? Because we needed an excuse for some action, I guess? Rather than actually get to know anything about this quasi-villain-of-the-week through good old-fashioned characterization, Team Arrow pretty much just looks everything up on the Internet and tells us about it. Thanks, Felicity. Guess we can cut any scenes involving efforts to craft Evelyn Sharp into a three-dimensional character.
In the end, Oliver convinces Evelyn not to shoot Ruve as revenge for her parents’ death at the hands of Damien Darhk. Frankly, at this point in Arrow‘s run, I am so nihilistic about the state of this city and what it even means to be a hero in this fictional world anymore that I wasn’t so sure that Oliver should have tried so hard to stop Evelyn. I mean, yeah, murder’s bad, but, on this show, I don’t even know what concepts like “murder,” “heroism,” or “consequence” mean anymore. (That’s probably bad, huh?)
“He was more than just a billionaire playboy. I loved him.” Ugh. This line.
“As the world’s leading expert in blaming yourself, please don’t do it.” Oh, if only anyone on Arrowactually took this advice.
Oliver called Lance Quentin. Repeatedly. This really threw me for a loop.
“She helped this city. The least I can do is help her.” Dr. Shore was a weirdly well-rendered character? Like, on an episode where any of the main characters grieving should have been making me feel things, this random guest star was kind of my favorite.
“I’m sorry they didn’t let your mom attend the funeral.” I miss Moira Queen. So. Much.
“Oliver, you can’t blame tourself.” “You’d blame me too if you knew the truth.” I really don’t miss this version of Oliver Queen… Though I miss season 2.
“You never told me why you became a political operative.” Actually, Thea, Alex Davis has never told us anything about himself even though he is a) a recurring character on this show and b) your love interest. For a hot second, I thought he might know Evelyn, but nothing came of it.
“Why did you abandon us? We needed you and all you cared about were your friends.” This girl has some valid complaints re: Team Arrow.
“She brought me comfort during a difficult time period. The world will be a darker place without her in it.” Hey, Nyssa! It was great to see the former League assassin, but it just drew attention to the fact that Sara wasn’t there. I know she’s off changing the timeline, but maybe she’d want to know about all of this?
“Do you know why I always blame myself in situations like this? Because at least it’s an answer. Sometimes, we just need a reason when a situation is completely unreasonable.” OK, I liked this conversation.
Ruve mentioned a “massive upgrade of the sewer system.” It seems like Team Darhk’s plan is moving ahead as scheduled… Whatever it is.
“What do you think I’m doing? I am the mayor of this city.” Um, maybe not the thing to say when you’re trying to avoid getting murdered, Ruve. Pretty much everyone who has ever been elected to public office in this city has gotten murdered.
“I don’t know who I am anymore, Oliver.” Felt so bad for David Ramsey having to act half of what was a very emotional scene with that ridiculous mask on his face.
Arrowuses its context, its characters’ public personas, in random, uneven ways. If the Green Arrow TV show is basically a Batman story in quasi-disguise, then it desperately needs that
“We always did make a great team.” Um, did you, Laurel and Oliver?
“Laurel Lance, alwasy trying to save the world.” OK, this throwback to a line Tommy delivered to Laurel in the pilot (as Oliver creepily eavesdropped on their conversation from a fire escape) made me pretty nostalgic for early Arrow.
“I have lost a father, and I have lost a mother, and I have lost Laurel. We have lost her. If there was any way to bring her back, I would find it and I would do it. But there isn’t.” I was actually pretty surprised that Lance didn’t punch Oliver out at any point during this episode.
“She’s always been there. She’s my rock. She was my rock. I can’t do this.” Poor, Lance.
Why did Laurel have a picture of an angel from the graveyard in her apartment?
In another case of the ever-shifting Arrow-verse timeline, Barry has speed in that grave scene even though he doesn’t have his speed right now on The Flash.
“It is not just magic. It’s darkness. And whatenever I have come up against it, I have come nowhere. He feels unstoppable.” Maybe steal his idol again? And hide it better this time?