One of the more memorable events of Arrow season four, if not the entire series thus far, was the death of Katie Cassidy’s Laurel Lance. When Arrow returns on Oct. 5 with its season five premiere, Cassidy is expected to reprise her role as Laurel, finally revealing what she asked Oliver to promise her moments before her death in “Eleven-Fifty-Nine.”
Though not always a beloved character during her four seasons on the show, Laurel managed to win over fans after she overcame alcoholism and drug addiction, came to terms with the deaths of her live-in boyfriend and her sister, and finally, in season three’s “Left Behind,” took to Star City’s streets as Black Canary.
For fans of comic book or animated versions of Black Canary, who had waited patiently since Arrow’s pilot episode for Dinah Laurel Lance to show up armed with her Canary Cry and advanced combat skills, it must have been painful to watch Laurel die only 15 months after assuming the mantle.
According to executive producer Marc Guggenheim, one reason for Laurel’s death was that “we were looking ahead toward Season 5 and we were like, ‘It kind of feels like Laurel’s story has come to a very organic… if not conclusion, certainly a plateau.’” In the same interview, Guggenheim predicts that fans of Laurel and Katie Cassidy would claim that “we didn’t try hard enough, that we have failed this character.”
So, to fulfill this prophecy, here are four things Laurel should have had or done before she died.
4) She should have had a recurring villain
It shouldn’t have been hard for Laurel, who spends her days prosecuting criminals and her nights beating criminals with a police baton, to cultivate a few enemies. While Black Canary got to beat down on hordes of nameless thugs and H.I.V.E. ‘ghosts,’ she never got to have her own personal, complicated relationship with a recurring criminal.
Truthfully, Laurel wasn’t the only member of #TeamArrow who needed to develop a rogues gallery, but Diggle had Deadshot and Andy; Felicity has Brother Eye, the Bug-Eyed Bandit, and the Calculator; and Thea has Malcolm Merlyn and Lonnie Machin.
The closest Laurel ever came to having a personal rival might have been Sebastian Blood. The assistant district attorney and the alderman had a blossoming flirtation early on in season two, even going Christmas shopping together in “Three Ghosts,” but the romance ended when Laurel realized Sebastian’s criminal connections.
After Laurel tried to expose Sebastian as a murderer in “Blind Spot,” he orchestrated her arrest, which exposed her substance abuse problem and led to her losing her job in the D.A.’s office. After successfully discrediting her, Sebastian then had her kidnapped, which led to her killing Officer Daily in (Oliver’s) self-defense. Ultimately, Laurel’s efforts to bring down Sebastian failed, and he was done in by Deathstroke and Ravager long before Laurel donned a mask.
If only Dichen Lachman’s Roulette, who is expected to appear in season two of Supergirl, had joined the Arrowverse sooner. Chesire, who has never appeared in live action, and Lady Shiva also could have made great villains for Laurel. Even villain-of-the-week Simon Lacroix, whom Laurel tried to kill in “Sara,” could have returned with a grudge.
Since Arrow has created original characters like John Diggle and has plucked comic book characters like Felicity Smoak out of obscurity, it certainly could have created an original villain or two with deep ties to Black Canary.
3) She should have had one friend outside of #TeamArrow
Remember Joanna De La Vega (last seen in season two’s “Tremors”)? Or Ted Grant (last seen in season three’s “Uprising”)? Laurel had several recurring friends and coworkers in seasons one and two, but by her time of death in season four they had all been written out of the series.
An important part of Laurel’s development as Black Canary was her growing friendship with Nyssa. But Nyssa lived in the far-flung mountains of Nanda Parbat and their long-distance friendship was strained for much of season four because of Laurel’s decision to resurrect Sara, leaving Laurel with no (on-screen) friends outside of #TeamArrow.
Again, this is a problem that affects most of #TeamArrow, largely because they hardly go out to have fun. Fans of The Flash have seen Barry and his friends at nightclubs, karaoke bars, bowling alleys, and trivia nights at Jitters. Supergirl viewers know that Kara goes out on the occasional date, has game nights with her friends, and regularly watches Netflix with her sister.
When the members of #TeamArrow aren’t fighting crime, they’re usually at work, investigating a case, or training in the Bunker, where it is understandably difficult to meet new people. Sure, Arrow has a more serious tone than The Flash and Supergirl and Star City’s crime rate probably makes Central City and National City look like idyllic metropolises, but that shouldn’t preclude its characters from enjoying a little downtime.
Still, Thea and Felicity managed to make new attachments in season four, with the former dating Alex Davis and the latter forming a workplace friendship with Curtis Holt. And Oliver managed to maintain a short-lived, largely off-screen relationship with his son, William. Even Captain Lance, an honorary member of the team, started a relationship with Donna Smoak. While Diggle made no new attachments, he got to go home to his wife and daughter at the end of each day. Laurel, however, didn’t socialize with anyone outside of the team and her immediate family.
In “Eleven-Fifty-Nine,” Mayor Adams mentioned that District Attorney Remz would become the deputy mayor, leaving the D.A. position open for Laurel. In “Canary Cry,” she claimed that District Attorney Wallace would issue arrest warrants for the city’s vigilantes. Remember the days of D.A. Kate Spencer and A.D.A Adam Donner, back when viewers actually knew the names and faces of Laurel’s bosses?
2) She should have formed the Birds of Prey
While season two’s “Birds of Prey” managed to get Helena, Laurel, and Sara in the same room, the women weren’t exactly working together. Laurel, in the throes of her alcoholism arc, was a hostage for most of the episode. Helena, whose life’s mission at the time was to murder her father, was her captor. And Sara was battling with her complicated feelings about being an assassin.
All three women were in dark places in season two, none was feeling particularly heroic, and Laurel hadn’t even become Black Canary yet. So it would have been nice to have seen them a year or so later fighting a common enemy in a true Birds of Prey episode, possibly one written by Gail Simone.
The setup could have been fairly simple: Oliver, Felicity, and Diggle travel overseas for a mission, as they did in “Keep Your Enemies Closer,” leaving Laurel and Thea to protect the city. In Oliver’s absence, an enemy arises whom Laurel and Thea can only defeat with the help of Huntress, Nyssa, and Katana. (Sara, somewhere in time on Legends of Tomorrow, would have to sit this one out.)
It’s unfortunate that Arrow’s showrunners weren’t able to include Jessica De Gouw’s Huntress in season three. Now, not only is Laurel dead but the Australian actress is doing amazing work on WGN’s Underground and has a recurring role on Amazon’s The Last Tycoon, so scheduling issues could prevent her from reprising her role in future seasons.
Sure, Arrow could still form its own version of Birds of Prey, one that doesn’t include Laurel’s Black Canary, but that might just be further insult to one of the Birds’ most pivotal members.
1) She should have gotten her Canary Cry
Way back in 2012 when Arrow was simply Arrow and not the flagship of the Arrowverse, metahumans didn’t exist. Much like Gotham did in its debut season, the series tried to distance itself from its comic book roots, choosing to focus on the gritty realism of a man with no powers tackling street crime. So, understandably, Laurel didn’t have any superpowers.
But Arrow’s gritty realism started to erode in its second season with the introduction of Mirakuru, a super-soldier serum, and hints of the Lazarus Pit. In “The Calm,” the season three premiere, the concept of metahumans is introduced as it is revealed that Barry had received superspeed during the particle accelerator explosion in season two’s “Three Ghosts.”
Again, understandably, if Laurel had received her sonic abilities during that explosion, she probably would have spent the rest of season two in a coma, as Barry had. But the particle accelerator is not the only source of metahuman abilities, as Arrow made clear with Deathbolt in season three’s “Broken Arrow.” So Arrow certainly could have endowed Laurel with her metahuman abilities if it wanted to.
Instead, despite its eroding realism, the show decided to give Laurel her sonic ability in a realistic way, and she received the Canary Cry collar from Cisco in The Flash’s “Who is Harrison Wells?”
By season four, Damien Darhk was killing nameless thugs with a touch, John Constantine was restoring souls, and magic was an accepted concept on Arrow. Yet, Black Canary’s cry was still coming from a collar, and it was quite inferior to the building-crumbling sonic screams Black Siren emitted in The Flash’s “Invincible.”
In the end, Arrow is a comic book adaptation and magic, time travel, metahumans, alternate dimensions, and aliens are all established concepts in the Arrowverse, so Laurel Lance, or some other version of her, could easily return to Star City and accomplish one or all of these things.