Arrow Writers: You Have Failed Your Female Characters (SPOILERS)
This article is going to contain spoilers up to episode 4×18 of Arrow and a major character death. If you don’t want it to be spoiled, then please come back after you’ve seen the episode.
At the beginning of Arrow season 4 we were teased with a flash forward of Oliver standing in front of a fresh grave. We couldn’t see who’s grave it was and it has been a fixture of this season having different circumstances eliminating different characters. It was during episode eighteen that we finally found out who was in the grave; Laurel Lance, aka The Black Canary.
The death of Laurel came with many different problems and most of them stem all the way back to the beginning of the series. Arrow has never dealt with their female characters well. There have been four major deaths, or near deaths, of women in the series. The first was Shado who was shot in the head to save Sara. The second was Moira Queen who was stabbed to death by Slade in season 2. The third was Sara Lance who, while alive now, was taken by surprise, shot with arrows and fell off of a building. The third is Thea Queen who, while healed, was stabbed after losing a fight to Ra’s al Ghul. All of these women were killed to continue the story of the men in their lives. Shado and Moira were killed to send a message to Oliver and further his guilt. Sara was killed as a plot device by Malcolm Merlyn and Thea near death forced Oliver to accept Ra’s offer. That is not a good track record considering even Deadshot got to die a hero.
Now we are four seasons in and they have done this yet again to Laurel. Laurel has not been treated well by the Arrow writers since day one. In the first season she was constantly being kidnapped and her romance with Oliver did not ring true. Why was she still putting up with this man after he had cheated on her so much? After Tommy died the writers didn’t know what to do with her and she spent all of season two developing an addiction problem. Laurel finally took up the mantle of Black Canary in season three but was sidelined and never really given her own story. That became even more apparent when season four rolled around and Laurel seemed to vanish for long periods of time.
It was during episode eighteen that Laurel debates about stepping down as the Black Canary for her job but decides to go out one more time. This last time proves to be her undoing as she is stabbed with an arrow by Damien Darhk. She is taken to the hospital where we think she is going to be fine, only to see her die via a seizure with her last words telling Oliver that he was the love of her life and she was glad he found Felicity. There are many things wrong with this scenario but the chief ones are the circumstances of her death. She is killed as punishment to Captain Lance for betraying him, she props up one of the major couples in the series with her dying breath and her death is going to serve as character motivation for Diggle.
All three of those things have nothing to do with Laurel herself. If the writers wanted to kill a major character (even more so Black Canary and one of your main cast members for four seasons) then they should have let her go out a hero. Deadshot died protecting a hospital, Tommy died after saving Laurel’s life; the deaths of the men in the series have them going out fighting. Laurel Lance was a hero who deserved to go out fighting like the hero she was.
There was a troubling amount of female deaths over the course of the previous week as writers killed off major female characters in Sleepy Hollow, Empire and The 100 seemingly for shock value. If writers want to add drama to their series they are welcome to do that and I don’t expect Arrow or The Flash to follow the comic books exactly. However, when you kill off a character with nearly seventy years of history behind her she deserves to go out fighting and on her own terms.