Warning: This article contains spoilers for Arrow.
This week’s episode of Arrow, titled “Eleven-Fifty-Nine,” has left fans shocked and angry tonight with what may be the most unexpected death in the 2016 season of television. The events of tonight’s Arrow episode were set in motion earlier in the season, when it was teased that someone on Team Arrow would die at the hands of Damien Darhk (Neil McDonough). The flash-forward revelation was done in a way that left the identity of that poor victim in question, allowing Arrow fans to speculate on which character might be killed off, but that unnamed person is no longer left in ambiguity.
A Brief Arrow Rundown Reveals Whose Life Was Claimed By Damien Darhk
When it comes to television adaptations of comic books, fans of the source material often think they have a leg up on more casual fans, and most times they do, but in this case, the Arrow producers pulled the rug right out from under those seemingly well-informed comic book readers. In the comics, Black Canary, A.K.A. Laurel Lance (played by Katie Cassidy on Arrow), has a long and well-documented life, which may be why her death in tonight’s episode caused so much shock and anger among Arrow fans.
The fateful moment came as Darhk escaped Iron Heights prison with the aid of his magical idol. As Team Arrow intervened and attempted to thwart Damien’s escape attempt, the villain used his newly reconstituted magic to resist capture and ended up stabbing Black Canary with one of Oliver’s (Stephen Amell) arrows. Laurel was rushed to the hospital and made it in time to receive a successful surgery, but the Arrow heroine died in recovery.
Before her passing, Laurel was able to share a heartbreaking last moment with each of her Team Arrow friends, but it was Black Canary’s final words with Arrow himself, Oliver Queen, that will keep Arrow fans guessing until next season. Laurel asked Arrow for a favor before she suddenly coded and died, but that secret was revealed only to Oliver and spoken off camera. The Arrow producers revealed that the favor won’t be discovered by viewers until next season.
Arrow Producers Comment On Laurel Lance’s Death
Arrow executive producer Marc Guggenheim says the show is always evolving and, by that nature, cannot always stay loyal to the comic books from which the stories are drawn. He adds that they felt compelled to deliver on the promise of a death by the end of the season and, in deciding which course to take, the Arrow creative team realized Laurel’s death would bring the most bang. It also seemed a logical choice, given the criticism Arrow has received from fans since the very first time the CW series introduced the Black Canary character. Katie Cassidy’s Arrow character was a source of contention with the comic book fans, particularly because the Arrow producers chose not to link her romantically with Oliver, says Guggenheim.
“We knew that it would enrage a lot of people,” Guggenheim said. “We’re not immune to the [fans rooting for Oliver and Laurel] and we’re not blind to it. We knew people would think, 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. We told the Laurel/Oliver romance story in season one. We never really thought about going back to it. [Fans rooting for them] was not an element or a factor for us.”
The Arrow executive producer adds that the decision to kill off Laurel was especially hard because working with Cassidy has been such a joy. He also says that deciding to kill her off was influenced by how her death would affect the remaining Arrow characters.
“[Laurel’s death] will have a huge impact on [Felicity],” Arrow executive producer Wendy Mericle says. “If you think about Felicity and what she would [do] in the wake of something like this, you can draw your own conclusions and you’ll find out in [episode] 19. Everyone is going to be compelled to try to fix this and figure out what happened and try to get revenge.”
The next episode of Arrow airs Wednesday, April 27 on the CW network.
[Image by CW]