A version of this post originally appeared on a TV.com forum on January 30, 2016, under my Titan4lizife username.
During season three, I wrote that “there’s always the chance that … Amanda Waller will be unnecessarily killed sometime around the season finale.” Luckily, Waller not only survived the season-three finale but also returned in the season-four premiere to set the flashback arc in motion. Her second appearance in season four, however, wasn’t as useful.
I understand that Arrow is a comic-book adaptation, and that characters need to die to show the dangerous reality of vigilante life. It’s very easy for fans to get bored with shows that continuously put characters in danger only to snatch them away for the consequences of those dangers at the last minute (see Once Upon a Time). So I respect the efforts of today’s superhero stories to keep plots grounded in reality. And the reality is: All wars have casualties. However, Arrow’s casualties, outside of Big Bads and red shirts, tend to be women.
No, I haven’t forgotten the deaths of Tommy or Mateo or Akio, but the deaths of Shado, Moira, and Sara — and the causes behind them — continue to bother me.
With Suicide Squad coming in August, Arrow’s motive in killing Cynthia Addai-Robinson’s Waller is clear, not wanting her to compete with Emmy-winning Viola Davis’ version of The Wall. It’s probably the same reason they blew up Deadshot last season. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Katana’s days are numbered (which would be especially sad since she’s been as woefully underused as Isabel was in season two, and she’s one of the few recurring Asian characters who isn’t a member of the Triad — RIP Yao Fei, Frank Chen).
With the resurrections of Sara and Shado (as Mei), the writers seemed to regret murdering valuable female characters. But Waller’s death is a return to business as usual. It’s possible that Mei (if that is her in the season-four trailer) isn’t returning just to replace her beloved twin sister (who never mentioned her) but also Katana, if they do decide to sacrifice her for the film version.
In his review of “A.W.O.L.,” Tv.com’s Noel Kirkpatrick proposes that Lyla will now be the new head of A.R.G.U.S., and I agree with that assumption, given Arrow’s record. Moira died so that Thea could ultimately become Speedy. Shado died so that Sara could become Oliver’s island girl Wednesday, who later died so that Laurel could become Black Canary. So why wouldn’t Lyla be promoted over Waller’s dead body?
With season four featuring a predominantly female #TeamArrow, it seemed like the show was moving away from women in refrigerators.
Arrow has come a long way in its portrayal of women. Thea, Laurel, Felicity, and Lyla are all valuable players. Not one of them is “just the love interest,” or exists simply to start drama. It’s just unfortunate that other women had to die for their development.
It’s also unfortunate that Waller, the most prominent black woman on the show — as Carly and Joanna haven’t been regulars since season one — was just shot in the head. While, thankfully, Vixen is on her way, she likely won’t return to Star City for another guest appearance until season five.
Sure, there’s a chance that Waller will appear periodically in the flashbacks, but it won’t be the same. The flashbacks weren’t particularly fast-paced in the first two seasons, but they’ve been even slower since Shado died and Slade was left for dead (send Oliver to Russia already!).
My fangirl dream is that Huntress, whom I’ve been missing since season two, will return for a multi-episode Birds of Prey arc that also involves Katana and Nyssa (fine, Mei can come, too). But Waller’s death reminded me of Arrow’s old habits. Although I’ve been betting my two cents since day one that Quentin will be in the grave, I won’t be surprised if it is a woman.