We’ve been puzzling over a mysterious grave all season, wondering who it belongs to. And now, with April 6th’s episode “Eleven-Fifty-Nine”, we know.
And, you know what?
I’m mad about it.
Laurel Lance is dead.
This episode alone set up multiple reasons to take Laurel Lance’s life, all of which would send the show spiraling down in a new direction, opening up options that only her death could propagate.
The slightly less compelling yet still understandable reason for Laurel’s death plays heavily on team dynamics. Halfway through the episode, we see John and Oliver in the throes of a potentially devastating falling-out over the trustworthiness of John’s brother. Oliver is letting paranoia rule his sense, Thea continues to struggle with her resurrected life and evil father, Felicity is nowhere to be found, and Laurel is considering retirement.
The deep cracks that have formed by the time Team Arrow finds themselves desperately battling their way through the prison could be enough to cause lasting damage, if not for a massive shakeup that reminds the survivors of what’s actually important. A death in the family could shock everyone into realizing that the team is everything and remind them of how deep the love and trust goes. Killing Laurel to send this message and push the team back together employs the slightly cheap trick of death as a problem-solver, but still could serve a strong purpose and support plot development.
Ideally, Darhk might have killed Laurel because she’s the looming threat to his freedom. She held the power to ensure his justice in the courtroom. Laurel has proven, time and time again, that she is fearless in the face of Damien Darhk. She intends to prosecute to the fullest extent of her ability with no hesitation over the personal consequences. Laurel is as powerful a lawyer as she is a vigilante.
Laurel Lance, murdered because she is the scariest thing Damien Darhk is up against?
I don’t have to like it, but I can absolutely understand it. Killing Laurel off in this scenario leaves Darhk still imprisoned yet significantly lighter. Impassable Laurel can shift to someone considerably more….impressionable. Darhk could make his comeback by using the system to his advantage, by playing the law in a way he would be unable to with Laurel still in the picture.
Halfway through the episode, Laurel’s death made perfect sense. The pieces lined up, it would be meaningful and impact not only the team members she left behind but the entire forward momentum of the show. Her death would shut the door to courtroom justice and open up new routes for exploring. Laurel’s death would force Team Arrow into finding a new way to bring Darhk down.
Then Oliver turned out to be right about Diggle’s brother, Laurel was coerced into donning her mask one final time, and Darhk sauntered his ass out of prison, newly reinstated idol (complete with mystic powers) in tow.
To summarize, Diggle and Oliver worked out their issue and Darhk escaped the justice of the courtroom without any bloodshed whatsoever.
And yet, Laurel Lance still died.
Fine. We’ve been promised a death all season long. The reality of these characters’ lives is danger and more danger. It’s likely we should have seen even more death up to this point. I’m not mad that it happened (upset, sure. I really love Laurel as a character). I’m mad about how it happened.
Laurel Lance should have been killed by Darhk on her own merit. Laurel Lance was a legitimate threat to Darhk’s operations, to his freedom. Laurel Lance was the key to taking him out. Laurel was strong and terrifying and that should have been recognized.
Laurel Lance deserved to be murdered because she was powerful.
As it happens, Laurel Lance was killed because she was Quentin Lance’s daughter, and Darhk had made him a promise.
Laurel Lance, murdered by Darhk in a petty act of revenge.
Because Darhk simply can’t break his promise.
Sure, it amps up the guilt. But it doesn’t really sit well.