I first have to say the I love Arrow, I mean I L-O-V-E LOVE it. It is one of the few shows I make it a point of watching the night it airs, and while some characters, most even are pretty fleshed out, complex even one has always bothered me. Laurel Lance. I will come out and say it I HATE Dinah Laurel Lance. No hate or disrespect to Kate Cassidy, let us not forget folks, actors are different from the characters they play.
Besides, it’s not entirely her fault I have such a dislike for the character. The Powers That Be over at Arrow have royally mistreated her. Let’s break it down by season shall we?
BE WARNED: THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD
Season One. We are introduced to Dinah “Laurel” Lance a legal aid attorney who works in a nonprofit legal office, CNRI. Ok I see what we are going for here, we want to establish that Laurel too, in her own way, fights for the people of Starling City. She also happens to be Oliver’s ex, oh and he cheated on her with her sister Sarah, who “died” in the shipwreck that marooned Oliver in the first place. Clearly, she will not be his biggest fan, however she did love him once, so cue a lot of angsty “I hate you, but I’m still in love with you”-ness. Add in the fact that she starts dating Tommy Merlyn, Oliver’s best friend, and now she becomes the woman in the middle. My personal opinion is that love triangles are WAY over done. I mean think about it, they are pretty much standard for tv and films these days, but how many do you know of/have experienced in real life? Seriously, hit up the comments and let my know, because I’m curious.
Laurel’s other role in Season One is to be a damsel in distress for “The Hood” to rescue. Her life is threatened several times. She is assaulted, kidnapped, has a hit put out on her, seriously all in the first season. Now, not every woman, or man for that matter, is a trained fighter, myself included. I am well aware that while in my head I fight like Buffy, my actual fight for my life tactics would be more along the lines of Bite/scratch/kick/scramble. However, given that Laurel occupation consists of dealing with some dangerous criminals, coupled with the fact that her father is a cop in a crime ridden city, you would think she’d have had at least SOME self-defense training. At least she apparently has a gun permit and own’s a shotgun, as seen in the episode “Home Invasion”. Regardless,of her apparent gun proficiency, her lack of ability is compounded by the fact that Laurel has, what I like to Carl-Grimes-Season-Two-itis:
Guaranteed if someone tells Laurel NOT to do something, be it her father, “The Hood”/”The Arrow”, Oliver, Tommy, ANYONE, she is going to go do it. This is most dramatically emphasized in the season one finale “Sacrifice” when despite being warned by Oliver, and I’m not 100% sure on this but I think her father as well, to NOT go to the Glades she rushes in to her office to essentially save paperwork. Which of course means she is going to have to be saved. This time it is Tommy who comes to her rescue and it ultimately costs him his life.
On to Season Two…..
Laurel now works as an ADA and blames “The Arrow” for Tommy’s death, so she can conveniently forget that Tommy wouldn’t have been in The Glades in the first place if he hadn’t had to rescue her ass. Despite the fact that she didn’t seem to have much of a problem working with him last year, or you know the fact that he had saved her life on several occasions, she then proceeds to set several traps for “The Arrow”.
Three episodes into the season, “Broken Dolls”, Laurel is yet again the target of a madmen and is almost killed by the Doll Maker, until of course “The Arrow” Swoops in and saves her. When Laurel finally admits that her blame is misplaced, she then has a really hard time dealing with it, which is understandable. She turns to pills and alcohol for comfort, which considering her father, Quintin is a recovered alcoholic, doesn’t seem too far-fetched. While in the mist of this internal struggle, Laurel learns her sister Sara, is not only alive, but in Starling City. Here is where Laurel has a brilliant downward spiral, almost gets a DUI, she makes a drunken pass at Oliver, has a brilliant Soap opera moment, see below.
She also comes to believe that Mayoral Candidate Sebastian Blood is involved in some shady business and decides to investigate on her own. Despite being right about Blood, no one believes her because, well, honestly at this point, she’s just a big ol’ hot mess. Being “wrong” about Blood and her drug abuse being brought to light, lead to her being fired from the DA’s office with pending disbarment charges coming.
This dark path they had Laurel traveling down, in all actuality could have redeemed her, if they had gone all the way and made her into a proper villain. Not so much in redeeming her to “the side of good” but at least have made her an interesting character to watch, and possibly root for/against. Think about it, the conflict with having to fight Sarah and Oliver. Well not actually fight, like I said before she’s not all that physically strong, I picture Villain Laurel having henchmen. You know, a little like Fish Mooney on Gotham, she doesn’t personally get her hands dirty, but she will send someone to F’ you up!
Unfortunately, this is NOT the route they chose to go with Laurel’s character. Nope. They have her make a surprisingly quick recovery actually. So quick, it’s almost insulting to those people who struggle from such addictions. Laurel apparently only has to go to a couple of meetings and then not only is she mostly (aside from a few references to how, life was easier when she could drink) recovered. Not only that, but suddenly, not only forgives her sister for having, and I quote: “Stole my whole life”, but also is somehow magically at peace over her having a continued romantic relationship with, their ex-boyfriend, you know the one she slept with last season and only a few episodes ago was trying to get with again. So much so, that she even goes to Oliver and basically tells him, he should be dating Sarah.
Through a series of bad decisions on the office of the District Attorney, and flat-out blackmail on her part, Laurel is able to get her job back by the end of the season. So glad to see her actions essentially had no consequences what so ever. Also by seasons end, Laurel discovers that Oliver, is “The Arrow”, and by discover I mean, Slade Wilson tells her. Not once, in two years of work with and/or hunting down The Arrow did she realize it was Oliver, never questioned the fact that he was ALWAYS around when she needed him to rush in and save her. Nope needed to be told.
During The Siege of Starling City in the series three-part season finale, Laurel reveals to Oliver that she knows his secret, this all after a bunch of internal conflict, and almost ratting him out to the DA’s office, and that he must fight Slade and save the city. She then decides that despite the fact that she has NO combat skills at all, AND the fact that Oliver told her not to because she would be a liability, didn’t faze her at all. Guess what, Laurel shows up and gets herself trapped in a cave in. Brilliant. Then somehow, this character who has no archery skills, at least that we know of, is able to perfectly execute shooting and EXPLODING arrow just by following Ollie’s very basic instructions?
Oliver is hesitant to leave Laurel again, because we all know she has a penchant for putting herself in harm’s way, but Laurel assures him the city needs him more than she does right now. She promises to stay out of harms way and heads to the police station. Along the way however, she runs into one of Slade’s men and has to yet again be rescued, this time by her sister Sara, the Canary. After parsing out some very zen like advise to her sister, for someone who’s life literally fell apart a few weeks ago, she sure likes to give advise, she heads to the police station, where she’ll be safe right?
Of course not! She gets herself kidnapped by Slade, who believes her to be the woman Oliver loves. Once again the character of Laurel Lance is regulated to being the Damsel in Distress that needs to be rescued.
What makes all of this even more frustrating is that on a whole Arrow, has several, well written, well-rounded female characters. Her younger sister, Sara Lance, has been through the fires of hell and made it through. Both Moira, before her death, and Thea Queen were both well-developed characters. Thea continues to grow from the semi-one note troubled little sister character we saw in season one, to the business minded club owner in season two, and now the take charge semi-ninja of season three. Fan favorite, Felicity Smoak, who started as a guest star, mind you, progressed to a series regular, with a fully formed back story. Although she too is a possible love interest for Oliver, who occasionally gets kidnapped, the Glaring difference between Laurel and Felicity is that after the first time she ends up in danger, remember the bomb collar, she starts having Diggle train her so she can be able to defend herself! She is smart enough to figure out how, despite being terrified, to use a situation to her advantage, and even though The Arrow has had to come in and save her every now and then, she has always been an active participant in her rescue, never just standing by waiting to be saved. But I digress, back to Laurel.
In Season Three, Laurel as I said before, is pretty much free of her addictions, they show her at an AA meeting once, so there’s that I suppose. She is continuing to abuse her power at the DA’s office, using it to intimidate witnesses, gain access to physically abuse suspects among other things. Then once Sarah is killed, she decides she wants to become a vigilante, because that’s worked out so well for those she knows who are. She gets the shit kicked out of her when, I point out once more that she has NO TRAINING, she decides to go try to beat up the abusive boyfriend of someone at her AA meeting. She winds up in the hospital, and when she gets out asks Oliver to train her, so she can take up the reins of Canary. Never mind that her sister was trained by DEADLY ASSASSINS, and basically told her, when Laurel confronted her about being the Canary, how miserable she was and how she hated all the things she’d been made to do. Nope, forget all that, Laurel is in pain, so Laurel must now inflict pain! Can we please get this girl in therapy, please?
When he refuses, for good reason, she decides to go find the guy she was literally just threatening to have arrested earlier in the episode, who happens to own a gym, to train her. If that was bad enough, in a later episode, when said gym owner is accused of murder, she vehemently denies that he could have done it. Blindly believing a man that she was again, threatening to arrest a couple of episodes ago. We are going to put aside for a mo-mo that he actually was innocent, what was so infuriating to me is her blind faith in a man she hardly knows, her constant arguing with Oliver/The Arrow over it. I’m not saying she should have just assumed him guilty, but she refuses to even take any of the evidence into account, just assumes him to be innocent no matter what.
But perhaps the most infuriating thing Laurel has done this season, was what I like to call “the gun incident”. In the second episode of season three, “Sara”, the team believes that mercenary archer, Komodo, may be responsible for Sara’s murder. Once again, Laurel doesn’t wait for/pay attention to evidence and pulls a gun from a tool chest in the Arrow Cave, why the guns are kept in a Craftsmen is beyond me, but ok, and declares she will go kill Komodo to avenge her sister’s death. Oliver takes the gun from her, putting it on the table and more or less tells her to slow her roll. He then leaves. If we have learned anything about Laurel…it’s that its high time she does something stupid.
So clearly, Laurel still takes the gun, carries it with her to the local where Oliver is going to confront Komodo, and once Oliver has secured him to a point where he can’t move, she shows up, draws the gun, makes a WHOLE speech and then goes to shoot the man she believes killed her sister, never mind that he didn’t, we’ve already established evidence means nothing to Laurel. It is only after firing that she realizes, Oliver has taken the bullets from the gun. REALLY?!?! I mean we’ve already established that she is proficient in fire arms, in season one remember, and never in all that time did she either think to check the gun, and/or feel the difference of it not being loaded?
So to sum up, Arrow has portrayed Laurel as reckless, not always the brightest cookie in the draw, quick to judge and as not really feeling the consequences of any of her actions, but now that Sara is gone, we’re supposed to root for her? Sorry, but I am having A LOT of troubling getting behind that. To me, Laurel’s whole existence in this world, has been so there is some one to rescue. I just don’t buy her, in her emotionally messed up state, being the rescuer.
What do you think? Are you excited to see Laurel become the Canary? Do you LOVE her? Hate her? Why? Inquiring EM’s want to know. Hit up the comments and tell us your thoughts. Just remember to play nice folks.