Hollywood doesn’t know how to kill characters. Well, obviously Hollywood knows how to kill minor characters. Just stand them in front of Batman or Superman. Those two maniacs kill everything they see. But major characters? Yeah, not so much. The death of a major character has to have a five-minute crescendo of swelling orchestra. There have to be heartfelt looks in the eye. Then there’s the wink and the catchphrase before the major character dies in some insanely heroic fashion…usually saving the rest of the cast (at least). If it’s a major character on Doctor Who you can count on them saving the cast, a planet and oft-times all of reality. Major character’s deaths always have to possess meaning. There must be some great significance to the sacrifice. The death must be seen, by all, as a noble, courageous sacrifice. A worthy death.
Nobody ever just gets murdered. No one falls down an elevator shaft. No one dies with their work undone…their mission unfinished. In short, Hollywood death is as far from real life death as possible. That is mostly the fault of the viewer. On the rare occasion when writers give a major character a realistic, meaningless, hollow or unforeseen death, we absolutely lose our collective shit. Shades of Tasha Fucking Yar. Those among us who enjoy what is deemed escapist entertainment get really peeved when it stops being escapist, even for a moment.
So, I salute The producers and writers on Arrow for having the courage to give Laurel Lance/Black Canary (Katie Cassidy) a realistic death. She was murdered…in cold blood…by that bastard Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough). She was totally helpless when Darhk mortally wounded her, and Green Arrow/Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and the rest of her team were helpless to defend her. Laurel’s death was a vicious “message” from Darhk to her father, Quentin Lance (Neal Blackthorne). It wasn’t what we think of as a hero’s death. But that’s exactly what it was. Laurel died on a hero’s mission. The fact that she was incapacitated and murdered does not lessen that fact. That’s what masked vigilantes face every time they go out; the risk of capture and death.
The internet is on fire with people lamenting her “useless”, “stupid”, “meaningless” death. But it was none of those things. She died fighting for what she believed was right and it is the viewers who are too emotionally stunted to deal with a beloved character meeting a sudden, brutal and sorrowful death.
Arrow has always been a melodramatic potboiler. The show is basically a soap opera with tights. Illicit love affairs, lies, illegitimate children, more lies and lots of angst. But for all that steamy, seamy and often unseemly brouhaha, this is only the second time that the show has succeeded in squeezing any real feeling out of me. The first time was when Ollie’s mother (Susanna Thompson) was murdered in front of him by Deathstroke. That was brutal. That was painful. That was real. Watching Laurel die a sudden, stupid and vicious death like that lends poignancy to the team’s mission and to the show as a whole. Especially after the bait and switch earlier this season when they tried to convince us that Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) was dead.
I’m eager to see where this takes the show. Will there be more of this caliber of writing? Or will they return to the old As The Arrow Turns format?
Anyway, that’s just my opinion. But I’m always right. Mostly.
He also sings for the Supra-70s band, RIFLE.