Warning: Huge spoilers are ahead for Arrow Episode 18, “Eleven-Fifty-Nine.” Don’t read on if you haven’t watched yet.
So, Arrow really did it. They really, actually killed off a major character and there’s no way to bring them back. If you saw Episode 18, “Eleven-Fifty-Nine,” tonight you finally know who’s in that mystery grave that the show has been teasing all season: Laurel Lance. Some of you are likely horrified, while others of you are just glad the suspense is over. Whatever your feelings about her death, killing off a character who was a huge part of the series from the get-go is a big deal. And, showrunner Marc Guggenheim wants the fans to know that Laurel’s death was the right thing for the show.
Long story short, 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.’ Look, you’re going to publish this and the people who love Laurel and love Katie are going to say we didn’t try hard enough, that we have failed this character. And I fully respect their point of view — they’re very vocal and very passionate. Katie and the show are lucky to have them. But at the end of the day, we have to tell the story we’re telling, and we did it in spite of what we imagine will be a rather loud response from a very vocal minority.
Marc Guggenheim revealed to TVLine his thoughts on why Laurel was the right character to bite the dust on Arrow. And, I have to say, the man isn’t wrong. Laurel and Oliver have been over for a long time and the idea of bringing in a new love interest for her would have seemed unnecessary. Her work as a lawyer, now that she was deep into her nighttime gig as Black Canary, was less and less relevant to the show as a whole. When Guggenheim uses the word “plateau” to describe Laurel, it certainly feels fitting.
Laurel started off in Season 1 as a legal aid attorney who was Oliver’s ex-girlfriend before his shipwreck five years prior. She was angry with him for cheating on her with her sister, Sara, and had taken up with his best friend, Tommy, during Oliver’s time on the island. After Tommy dies saving her from an attack on the city, though, she goes through a radical change that leads to an alcohol and drug addiction, her briefly losing her new job as an assistant district attorney and her eventual growth into the Black Canary after her sister is killed in front of her. Once she became the Black Canary, though, her growth mostly stopped. It was pretty obvious that there was nothing cool left to do with her.
Marc Guggenheim talks about those “very vocal and very passionate” fans, and they are sure to be up in arms tonight given what’s happened to one of the original characters on the show. But, they should take comfort in the fact that Laurel’s death will not be in vain. There’s no doubt that the rest of the Arrow crime-fighting crew will be dealing with the repercussions of Laurel’s murder for a long time to come.
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