Arrow TV Reviews

TV Review: Arrow Season 3 Premiere “The Calm” – So, About That Final Minute…

To read our other Arrow episode reviews please go here.

I’ll be honest: until the last minute of Arrow’s season 3 premiere I didn’t really know what I was going to talk about in my review of the episode, beyond “It was really good, ultra-fun action scenes, pretty much every single thing the producers have repeatedly promised in their endless interviews hyping the new season.”  Oh, sure, this was the episode with Oliver and Felicity’s big first date, but anyone who knows their superhero 101 could have seen the whole, “I’m pushing you away to protect you” ending coming a mile away.  There was quite a bit of Spider-Man 2 to all of it, except here Oliver refused to say he didn’t love Felicity (instead, he initiated their first kiss) and Felicity didn’t pull a righteous, “Screw you.  I make my own decisions, and I choose to be with you, risks and all.  Go get ’em, tiger” at the end.  She did, however, give Oliver a rather confident, “You can’t keep stringing me along” speech (good for her).  Just because it wasn’t exactly new territory doesn’t mean it wasn’t well done, of course, but…

arrow Oliver Felicity Kiss

Then they killed Sara Lance.  The worst part is that anyone who’s ever seen more than a handful of Arrow episodes should have seen it coming, simply by virtue of, “Huh, the episode’s almost over, and they’ve yet to do their standard big episode cliffhanger.  Something bad is about to go down pretty quick here.”  And boy does it happen fast, clocking in at less than a minute of screen time.  Sara is walking on a rooftop in her full Canary costume, someone off-screen bellows in a low, digitally-altered voice, “Hello, Sara,” causing her to turn, ask, “What are you doing here?” before getting shot in the gut with three arrows.  The impact causes her to fall several stories off the building, landing right in front of Laurel in the alleyway below.  Cue dramatic cry from Laurel and a somber Arrow title card.  End of episode.

You know what happened here, right?  Somebody at Arrow re-watched or re-read The Watchmen over the summer and decided it’d be awesome to kill off Sara just as The Watchmen opened by throwing The Comedian out the window of a skyscraper, thus turning the story into a search for the killer.  Or they watched The Simpsons’ “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” or Dallas’ “Who Shot J.R.?” or any other number of possibilities.  Either way, this has effectively turned season 3 of Arrow into the season of “Who shot Sara Lance?”

Ray Palmer
Oh, btw, I’m not really going to talk about Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer, but he was definitely everything the producers had promised, like a cocky, quick-witted Barry Allen

On one level, I love it.  Sara is absolutely the perfect character to kill off.  She no longer served an obvious purpose since was mostly used last year to help inform Oliver’s conflict with Slade via the flashbacks as well as mirror Oliver’s efforts to transition from vigilante to hero in the present.  Now, her death in season 3 will affect every single character on the show (well, maybe not so much Thea), creating some interesting conflict. What kind of conversation is Captain Lance going to have with the Arrow about this?  How will Laurel treat Oliver after this?  How will this affect Diggle’s apparent decision to stay out of field duty what with being a new dad and all?  Plus, it will re-introduce the mystery element so crucial to the majority of the first season (remember how little we knew about who the bad guys were or what they were up to for so many episodes?) but lost in the super-soldier serum haze and basic revenge tale of last season.  This is a story generator, with the implied promise that as part of Oliver’s investigation into her death we will see Sara again in flashbacks, possibly exploring exactly how she joined The League of Assassins and what she had been up to in the 6 months between seasons 2 and 3.  She is definitely, undeniably dead, but we haven’t seen the last of her.

On another level, I hate it for the simple reason that I really liked Sara.  Well, not at first.  I seriously struggled with the entire idea that she wasn’t actually dead, as so much of that undercut the rich drama which had been explored and resolved in the first season.  Plus, I can accept one guy stranded on an island for 5 years and returning to the world as a butt-kicking vigilante, but for whatever reason I have a harder time believing it when you start giving that character description to a new character as well.  However, I adjusted, in no small part because of how consistently awesome Caity Lotz was in her fight scenes as Canary and those gut-wrenching scenes with her poor dad, particularly the one in the diner early on in the season (you know, the first time he finds out his daughter is still alive).

Heir to the Demon

But those in the know have been predicting Sara’s death the second she was cast on the show.  Arrow’s producers chose to give Laurel Lance a sister she’s never had in the comics (as far as I know, at least), and then they made this new sister a proto-version of Black Canary.  Then, to appease disgruntled Laurel fans (or, more accurately, simply to clear up the confusion), they took to interviews to promise that none of this meant Laurel wouldn’t someday become Black Canary ala the comics.  They practically announced, “We created this Sara character just to kill her, and her death will play a big part in Laurel eventually becoming Black Canary.” The problem, from a fan perspective, was that Sara’s ascension last season came during Laurel’s descent, the character being driven so low and Katie Cassidy given such consistently poor material that fans certainly, and in some circles visciously turned on her.  Now, that they’ve killed Sara it will certainly be fodder for “They killed the wrong Lance sister” comments.  I’d personally prefer that both Lance sisters stick around, but it’s a little late for that now.

The question remains whether or not they actually needed to kill Sara off.  No, they didn’t.  Laurel doesn’t actually have to become Black Canary just as there was no reason Sara couldn’t have changed her hero persona.  There was a perfectly plausible Birds of Prey spin-off waiting to happen, centered around Huntress, Sara Lance, and whoever else they could spare.  However, this is the direction they went with it, and while it was among the more obvious choices it does at least mean we’re likely to see a lot more of Nyssa, Sara’s ex-lover who will undoubtedly return to assist in Oliver’s investigation.  Nyssa is an interesting character they’ve only begun playing around with.  So, that should be fun to watch.

THE BOTTOM LINE

It has now been two hours since I finished watching “The Calm,” and I don’t immediately remember the specific details of what the bad guys were even up to, other than the general “the new Vertigo was trying to blow people up.”  The cool thing is that it doesn’t really matter because beyond the specifics of the plot I remember all of the rich character interaction, Oliver and Felicity’s interesting first date and bitter-sweet first kiss, Oliver’s heart-breaking confrontation with Diggle, and even poor Captain Lance’s struggles with coping with his new life as a pencil-pushing administrator.  This already feels like a more personal, intimate show than it did last year, and that’s a good start.  However, more than anything else, I remember that they killed off Sara Lance, and though it may provide some compelling stories in the episodes to come it pretty thoroughly sucks right now.

NOTES 

Arrow The Calm promo
We should have been taking this promotional image for “The Calm” far more literally

1. I am so tempted to mock Oliver’s vertigo-induced fight with himself earlier in the episode, mostly because a superhero fighting the civilian version of himself will forever call to mind the remarkably unfortunate moment Superman fought Clark Kent in Superman 3. However, I have to give them credit – it worked fairly well, although it clearly lacked in the subtlety department.

2. So, Oliver just resisted the effects of vertigo at the end through sheer will power? I’m pretty sure that’s not how drugs really work, but, I dunno, mind over matter I guess.  Of course, we shouldn’t get too pharmacological about it.  Oliver fighting himself was a visual representation of his central conflict, and by the time he was injected again he’d made his decision on the matter.  The drug was simply the writers’ mechanism for exploring all of that.

3. Can a corporation simply come in and completely re-name a city? Because that’s totally what Ray Palmer is proposing to do with Starling City, changing it to the more comic book appropriate Star City.  I know there’s that town in Kansas which briefly re-named itself Google to get experiment high-speed internet, but that was a different situation.

4. May be a stupid question, but how exactly did Ray Palmer know the fart noises audio files Felicity had flooded his computer with were the farts of porcupines?

5. Amanda Waller threatened the family of one her own soldiers just to get Oliver to cooperate!  Then again, she was going to totally wipe Starling City off the map last year.  So, yeah, she goes to extremes.  Plus, who could have possibly been the one to order her to save Oliver’s life in the first place?  There’s a mystery afoot.

6. From what we saw, Queen Consolidated was simply lucky that Oliver would occasionally show up for work last season. So, after his speech I wanted one of the Board Members to ask him about that one time he signed everything away to Isabel Rochev, who turned out to be a raving madwoman.

7. Emily Bett Rickards’ “I’ve already seen you shirtless.  Multiple times [trails off] shirtless all the time” was one of the funniest line readings she’s ever had on the show

8. I loved Peter Stormare’s delightfully strange, new version of The Count

9. If for whatever reason you have not watched its pilot or have decided against ever watching The Flash, that Barry Allen cameo at the end made no sense.

10. R.I.P., Sara Lance. You should never have returned from the dead, but then you did and turned out to be kind of awesome, but now you’re dead for real, and I’m sad.

11. Who killed Sara Lance? The most obvious answer is Ra’s Al Guhl, which must mean it’s not him.  He’s too obvious, right?  Or do they simply want us to think it couldn’t be him because of that?

Second Opinions

TV.com – Identity Crises Abound

AVClub – They gave it a “B,” concluding that “‘The Calm’ ends up too shapeless to reveal what the show’s third season has in store, and it’s done in by a little too much uninspired execution.”

Make sure to check out Entertainment Weekly’s interview with Arrow producer Marc Guggenheim.  He explains the what and why of Sara’s death, and clarifies that, yes, she is absolutely dead for good.

30 comments

  1. “Laurel doesn’t have to become Black Canary.”

    Um, actually, she kind of does since Dinah Laurel Lance is the Black Canary. Oh hey, I know! Let’s write a Justice League origin show and introduce characters named Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince and let’s NOT make them be Batman and Wonder Woman! Because that’s what introducing Dinah Laurel Lance into a Green Arrow show and not making her become the Black Canary amounts to.

    I wish people would stop acting like Laurel somehow stole Sara’s storyline when it was always Laurel’s to begin with. Sara was the one that didn’t belong. Sara was the one that stole an identity that wasn’t hers by being the first iteration of Black Canary when that actually belonged to Dinah Drake Lance, Laurel’s mother.

    I also take offense at the idea that making Laurel become Black Canary is being done “to appease disgruntled Laurel fans” as if her being Black Canary wasn’t always in the cards. As if Laurel fans don’t deserve what we want and what we deserve as fans of hers just because she’s not the fan favorite. As if the fact that them leaving Sara as Black Canary wouldn’t solely be them trying to appease “disgruntled Laurel haters”?

    Please.

    1. And for the record, no, I don’t think they had to kill Sara to put Laurel on a Black Canary trajectory. But I don’t actually believe Sara is going to stay dead and I’m fine with that so long as they don’t use it as another way to screw Laurel out of the identity.

      1. I actually do think that Sara Lance is dead for good. She’ll be back for some flashbacks, sure, just as Tommy has come back as basically a drug-induced hallucination. Just because characters die in this show doesn’t mean we won’t see them again, but Sara already came back from the dead once as has Malcolm Merlyn. For death to have any meaning whatsoever in this show some people actually have to stay legitimately dead, and I think Sara is going to fall into that Tommy, Moira, Shado category of “No, seriously, they’re 100% dead.”

        Also, I don’t think they had to kill off Sara to make room for Laurel. I’m pretty sure you and I have even traded ideas in these comments sections for what they could have done with Sara, like maybe making her into a very modified version of Lady Shiva or something. So, no, she didn’t actually have to die.

      2. Didn’t Sara come back from the dead twice already? Once when the Queen’s Gambit sank, and again after she got washed away when the Amazo sank. The EPs have been saying she is truly dead and will be back only in flashbacks. However, I doubt Sara fans will be interested in her flashbacks when she’s dead in present time.

    2. Listen, DC has its big 3 – Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. Those characters can be re-interpreted, re-contextualized, whatever – in the transfer to film they’ll always be Bruce Wayne, Clark Kent, and Diana Prince because that’s what the general, non comic book-reading audience has always known them as.

      Anything other than that and DC can be flexible if it wants, although doing so clearly risks seriously pissing off the core audience. I don’t care how long the other characters have been around or whatever – they’re simply not as important because they haven’t crossed over into popular culture as much. There are many people who’d never even heard of Green Arrow until Smallville, and yet others who watch Arrow and know nothing to little about the comics. To them, killing off Sara must be incredibly jarring because they’re not burdened with any “That’s not how it was in the comics” thoughts.

      So, just because Laurel Lance (or Dinah Drake Lance) is Black Canary in the comics does not technically mean she has to become Black Canary on the TV show, not when this is a show which already gave us a pretty much fully formed Black Canary with the same color of hair, similar costume, a modified sonic scream, and the same actual last name (Lance). Arrow has already stepped out of canon by introducing entirely new characters (who have since been added to the comics), and they could have simply gone with a modified version of Black Canary if they wanted to just as The Flash didn’t have to go with Barry Allen and the Green Lantern film didn’t have to go with Hal Jordan. Both of thoses cases had other options in the comics, and Arrow had given itself another option by creating Sara Lance.

      But of course Flash went with Barry Allen and of course Green Lantern went with Hal Jordan and of course Arrow is likely going with Laurel as Black Canary at some point down the road because that is what you would traditionally do.

      Would I have been saying any of this before season 2, though? Not for a second because at that point there was no other alternative – Laurel=Black Canary. It was pretty cut and dry. The introduction of Sara seriously complicated things, and now things are back to being a little more uncomplicated.

      “To appease disgruntled Laurel fans”

      That was my own knowledge of the Laurel vs. Felicity vs. whatever fan wars seeping through. I don’t really think they’re doing anything to appease Laurel fans. I believe them when they say that bringing Sara back from the dead was planned pretty much from the get-go, and I’m fairly confident they planned on killing her off once they introduced her as the Black Canary. I think that they’re simply doing a modified Black Canary origin story where, as you pointed out, the first iteration of the character was not Laurel’s mother but instead her younger sister. We just didn’t know for sure that’s what they were doing until now. If memory serves, Laurel’s mom eventually died in the comics (though from cancer, well after retirement) meaning the original Black Canary was doomed to die, although the situations were very different and everything is again totally different in the New 52.

      1. Felicity Smoak was a minor character in a minor comic book. John Diggle didn’t even exist. Changing.creating their stories for a live action show doesn’t compare to if they had completely changed the Black Canary identity that Dinah Laurel Lance is born for. The reason I even brought up Diana Prince/Wonder Woman is because her path to general pop culture is nearly exactly the same as Dinah Laurel Lance/Black Canary.

        Both woman existed in the comics world for thirtyish years before their first live action TV appearance. DLL/BC actually has WW beat in terms of animation and live action output. WW only beats DLL/BC in terms of comics output because she’s had forty more years as a comic character. Is the pop culture knowledge different? Yes but only because WW was on TV thirty years ago at a time when there weren’t 150 channels to divide an audience. Does that make DLL/BC somehow less? No. To use a music analogy, more people in the wide world probably know The Beatles than they know Queen. But that doesn’t diminish the talent and music that Queen put out into the world nor does it diminish what the music meant to the people that love it.

        “Anything other than that and DC can be flexible if it wants, although doing so clearly risks seriously pissing off the core audience.”

        And so far DC hasn’t been flexible with Dinah Laurel Lance as Black Canary (if we believe Sara is really dead) so it makes me wonder who we think is the core audience vs who DC thinks is the core audience. Because they’ve done exactly what they wanted and planned despite “everyone” supposedly hating Laurel.

        I just think DC realizes that the people that the screamers on the internet and those that threaten to leave/leave the show because they don’t get the romance they want or because a character gets killed “to forward another character” aren’t their core audience because those people obviously don’t understand they are watching a comic book show with comic book twists.

    3. ‘Let’s write a Justice League origin show and introduce characters named Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince and let’s NOT make them be Batman and Wonder Woman! Because that’s what introducing Dinah Laurel Lance into a Green Arrow show and not making her become the Black Canary amounts to. ”

      Lol, Not on the same level in the least. First of all neither Batman or Wonder Woman have had multiple characters playing them (unless you count the Batman Beyond cartoon and I don’t). Plus they are A listers in the comic book world. Everybody knows them. EVERYBODY. Black Canary is a great character but pretty obscure outside the comic book circle.

      “I wish people would stop acting like Laurel somehow stole Sara’s storyline when it was always Laurel’s to begin with”

      It was. That’s fair, but the show runners did nothing with the character to at all advance her or set her up to be a worthy rendition of Black Canary and then they GAVE away the storyline and role to her sister. Gave it away and built the character up to the point that people like Geoff Johns recognized her as THE TV version of Black Canary.

      If he does and has no problem accepting the past as an assassin storyline why in the world would I question it? Plus it fits better within the much darker and grittier world they created on Arrow. They spent two years doing nothing productive with Dinah Laurel Lance but devoted most of last year of building up Sara as my definitive live action version of Black Canary.and now they’ve taken her away not because there was anything wrong with the character or her storylines or her potential but because of a name.

      It may have originally been Laurel’s storyline but she wasn’t able to hold on to it and now it comes back to her, tossed at her feet in a very real way but it comes to her absolutely unearned or supported by anything the show has given us in the audience to work with other than that meaningless title. In a world where names are easily changed, this should be the least important criteria to fill.

      It’s appalling that a character like Sara that had direct tie in’s to all the Lance Family stuff, all the Oliver Queen history, all the island crap, all the tie ins to wonderful potential villains and allies that might come from the LoA, a direct connection to Ra’s Al Guhl, history with Sin – the adopted daughter/sister of BC and someone who already had relationships with all of Team Arrow and even Thea who was already Arrow’s equal AND had a current storyline that came close to mirroring the direction they were going in the comics was shoot down and eliminated so that a thirty year old ex addict with a name could have her moment in the sun.

      That’s some crappy storytelling right there and for whatever reason the show runners made their choice, it’s going to haunt them for the rest of the series. it’s a pity that their future lament is going to do me and the show absolutely no good right now.

      1. You can say that well multiple people have played Black Canary but you’re missing the point that since 1983, since Dinah Laurel Lance was born, she’s always been Black Canary, no matter if she was the first or not. Even on freaking Smallville where it wasn’t her show and they could have made her anyone, she was still Black Canary.

        You’re also missing the point that Arrow is and has always been portrayed as an origin story. We’re watching everyone from Oliver to Thea to Felicity be born into who they ultimately become. Oliver himself isn’t even Green Arrow yet. The origins of Dinah Laurel Lance as Black Canary were that a female relative was the first Black Canary. Just like on Arrow.

        OMG Black Canary wasn’t a thirty year old ex-addict. Nor were Black Canary I or II amoral assassins like Sara. What both of them were were women that sought justice and to do good and be good because it was the right and moral thing to do, not because they had a sense of guilt. Oh, and guess what? Black Canary I actually had a connection to Oliver Queen before Black Canary II did.

        You know who Sara Lance also shares a history with? Lady freaking Shiva. Minus the Oliver stuff and being a Lance, everything about Sara is Lady Shiva. League of Assassins connection? Check. She even played Black Canary once when the two characters switched places. And guess who became Sin’s adoptive mother after Lady Shiva? Dinah Laurel Lance.

        Roy can spend his “island” in a coma and come out with major archery skills, that Sara can be the female carbon copy of Oliver Queen (right down to angsting and whining about not wanting to be a killer for months only to slip back into being killers the first chance they got and having everyone call them heroes when they are the same jerks to people that they always were), that Shado literally died to forward a genitalia measuring contest between Slade and Oliver, that Oliver spent all season long lying to everyone only to yell at other people for lying to him, that Moira died for more Oliver angst and to help add fuel to Thea’s fire to become something else and that’s called the best season of Arrow ever.

        Meanwhile, Sara “dies” in a way that affects nearly everyone and everything on the show and it’s called crappy story-telling. I’m so amazed at the righteous indignation of people who are pissed they’ve gotten comic book story-telling out of a comic book show and obviously (more like obliviously) didn’t realize they’ve been getting that kind of story-telling all along.

      2. “You can say that well multiple people have played Black Canary but..[snip] since Dinah Laurel Lance was born, she’s always been Black Canary, no matter if she was the first or not. Even on freaking Smallville where it wasn’t her show and they could have made her anyone, she was still Black Canary.

        You’re also missing the point that Arrow is and has always been portrayed as an origin story. [snip] The origins of Dinah Laurel Lance as Black Canary were that a female relative was the first Black Canary. ”

        First the Smallville thing. They ordered up Black Canary. Her first episode was called Siren. Of course she was going to be Black Canary. Her being Dinah [Laurel] Lance was secondary. That was her only purpose. How does that prove anything? It’s like saying in this crossover comic where they brought in Black Canary she was actually Black Canary!!

        Arrow is a whole different beast and they’ve spent two years with her not being anything but [Dinah] Laurel Lance. Going back to Laurel having to be BC cause name, lets examine that for a moment. If we stick to this stricture then Laurel actually CAN’T become Black Canary because Sara couldn’t have been Canary [Black or not} since that honor belongs only to their mother Dinah Lance aka the lovely Alex Kingston. I noticed how simple it was for you to abandon her canon storyline in favor of Sara being the one to pass the baton so that Laurel can get the storyline you are root for. The story has never before been sister passing to sister, but you are ok in ignoring Dinah’s name and all her years of history.

        Obviously name does NOT trump everything on this show.

        As for the Arrow being an origin story and the contention that Dinah Laurel Lance has always in the past turned out to become Black Canary, well to that I say, so what? Just because something hasn’t been done in the past doesn’t mean it can’t be done in the present. Plus Arrow is under no binding agreement to give everyone of its characters a proto version before the “real” version comes along. Roy is the only Arsenal. Thea doesn’t have a precursor. Diggle, Lyla, Felicity, going back to Shado and Moira – they were only ever themselves – I never saw other pre versions of them so not eveyrone has to have one. I think they struck gold with Sara and tossing away her complete character in favor of one that has yet to be formed it a gamble that I can’t see paying off.

        You mention all the storylines Sara’s death opens up, well, it closes more than it opens. What do I care about her struggle in the past anymore? Doesn’t matter, she’s dead. People everywhere were clamoring to see the development of the Lance sister relationship – gone. Once past the short lived “search for Sara’s killer” all of her rich history and connections are gone. If she lived the story could have dipped back again and again into that well. It’s a wastes. Your comment about her reminding you of Lady Shiva proves my point. Oops, can’t do that story now.

        Though just for fun, lets pretend that’s what who she is still ultimately revealed as. By your logic, Laurel can’t become the “real” Black Canary because Sara was only Lady Shiva and since on this show everyone is doing an origin story with a fist incarnation of the hero, Laurel is the first incarnation. Maybe the twist will be that her mother takes up the mantle in honor of her daughter Laurel who gets killed by the first street thug to pull a gun. Dinah Lance Sr has just as credible a chance at being revealed the true Black Canary as Laurel if we are playing the name game.

        The problem with handing off the job to Laurel isn’t that she has never before been a 30 year old ex addict, the problem is that it is in no way credible to believe that a thirty year old ex addict lawyer could become an equal to the Arrow in combat let along actually being known as his superior. Even with her sister dying…again…why would that motivate Laurel to work outside the resources she already has in place? She has all sorts of contact inside the law and outside of it. She has no motive to even try to become her sister let alone time to develop but that’s the bargain basement Canary we are going to be stuck with.

    1. It was kind of odd seeing John Barrowman’s name pop up in the opening credits even though he wasn’t actually in the episode, although I imagine that’s for contractual reasons since he’s been upped to a series regular this season. The producers had previously revealed they were holding Thea and Malcolm back for an episode or two to build up a little mystery. So, they will be back, but, I agree, putting them in the jam-packed season premiere would have been too much.

      And, yes, it really sucks that Sara died.

  2. I know there was a lot going on in the episode. Diggle as a new dad was great, as was Oliver finally hugging him (a call-back to last season when they said they were getting too close to a hug and Diggle turned and walked away), Peter Stormare made a sinister Count Vertigo (too bad he’s dead). Why is Oliver’s worst nightmare letting Oliver Queen free? I can give him the name of a good therapist.

    They promoted the heck out of Olicity. It was okay and Amell and Rickards cute, but so disjointed I don’t think it lived up to it’s billing.

    Ray was too smarmy to be a good guy. Hacking into QC’s confidential data so he could use the numbers, and then cyberstalking Felicity when she was justifiably mad at him makes me hate the idea that he’s going to be a love interest for her. We teach middle school girls to avoid guys like him.

    How can anyone trust the decision-making abilities of the QC board when they supported Isabel as she de-valued the stock and tanked the company last year?

    Why would Amanda Waller value a scruffy kid in a bad wig that highly to threat one of her agents with his child’s death?

    I liked that Quentin was working with the Arrow and on good terms with him at last. And I’ve never liked Laurel so much as here when she was a good lawyer and a loving daughter. This is how they should have kept her for the season, building her up physically and in terms of audience appeal for whatever was in the future.

    And then, Sara died. For Laurel, or rather so that Laurel’s character could become the Black Canary, and everything else got knocked out of my head. The producers probably think this is a good thing. It isn’t. They sacrificed a popular character who made a very believable and yet vulnerable Black Canary for the most divisive character on the show. In terms of show-running, I think it was a big mistake. I saw a tweet last night that “the wrong Lance sister died” and it’s not an unpopular feeling.

    If they wanted to put Laurel on the path to being a vigilante, last year after Tommy’s death would have been a better time because he was an innocent by-stander who died trying to save Laurel’s life. Sara was an assassin, probably killed by other assassins (Komodo?).

    I’d venture to say that most of the viewers of the show didn’t come into it from the comics. And even if they did, the show has already knocked the comics around. Quentin, Moira and Diggle don’t exist in the comics, and Thea does sort of as Mia Dearden. Laurel isn’t a lawyer and Sara didn’t exist. A lot of people don’t care about the Comics! argument.

    Tommy died for both Oliver’s arc and Laurel’s addiction. Now Sara has died so Laurel could reach her destiny of BC. Who is going to die next for her? Felicity? so that Laurel can become Oliver’s love interest again because that her comics destiny. I think that would be a huge mistake but I also think killing Sara was too. I really don’t trust the producers any more to do what is best for the show rather than for their pet character. At this point, I think only Oliver Queen and Laurel Lance are safe.

    1. I also meant to write that killing Sara, as opposed to making her another character or making Laurel someone like Manhunter, may come back to bite them because those viewers who loved Sara may well turn on Laurel now and make the anti-Laurel sentiment worse. This decision does seem like something that is a big bang now, but will cost them later.

      (I wish you had an edit function.)

    2. Tommy didn’t die for Laurel’s addiction. Tommy’s death was the last straw in a long line of bad things. Tommy died so Oliver could spend all season whining about how he couldn’t be a killer only to turn around and kill Count Vertigo v2.0 last night. Let’s also note that Robert, Yao Fei, Shado, Sara, Slade, and Moira have all died to forward Oliver’s storyline. But, yes, let’s only be angry at Laurel because two people close to her have died and one of them was more important to Oliver’s storyline than her. That’s not screwed up at all.

      1. “But, yes, let’s only be angry at Laurel because two people close to her have died and one of them was more important to Oliver’s storyline than her. That’s not screwed up at all.”

        It’s Oliver’s show. He gets to be center of all the stories without the other characters making it into a contest. Plus, I find his character to be useful in propelling the stories and relationships on this show. He’s a big part of why it works.

        Laurel, sadly, is the character nominated by every reviewer as the one that least works on this show (and often among a long list of other shows and characters that get to be rebooted every years in a desperate attempt to finally find their footing) It’s a huge shame and a big distraction and I honestly see eliminating Sara as a gigantic disservice to Laurel’s growth. Big or small, there is going to be backlash and blame placed for Sara’s death at Laurel’s feet. Not in show canon, but among the meta community. One did not have to die to let the other live, but as long as Sara lived, it pretty much make Laurel pointless. Except, that glaring truth remains obvious, hence Sara was killed just to make Laurel relevant.

        If this isn’t a fair statement, then why did the show runners feel they had to kill Sara? If the show had only spent some time making Laurel relevant in the current season it wouldn’t be a fair statement but they didn’t and Laurel isn’t and again, this is Oliver’s story. I didn’t sign on for the Black Canary transformation hour. Apparently I’ve sat through two years of it already and frankly, it’s been more than a bit of a bore. I have no faith that that is going to change.

        Yes, bitter much.

  3. I really don’t understand this notion that Sara was/is a such a fan popular character. I’m a member of several very large and active discussion forums, and relatively few people are mourning Sara Lance or claiming that the wrong sister died right now. In fact, even when Sara had her big storyline in season two I remember that there were quite a few fans who felt she was just an Oliver clone and that her introduction took the focus away from the regular cast. As for Sara being a better Black Canary than Laurel, I would personally have problems seeing an iconic comic book heroine with a backstory as a professional assassin, who does not hesitate to break a man’s neck if she deems it necessary, even in the present-day Starling city action. That kind of mindset just doesn’t fit my idea of what kind of a woman/heroine Black Canary is. As for Caity Lotz acting, I was not impressed, and I don’t know if I could sit through three more seasons of what I consider rather mediocre acting (although I think that both Sara and Caity has a sweet personality). These are my personal opinions, of course, and other fans may feel differently about Caity’s acting skills.

    I sometimes think that people pay too much attention to what fans write on the producers twitter feeds, FB and on various comment sections, and forget that there are millions of viewers out there who never express their preferences online. Most of these viewers probably accept Sara’s death as a part of the season three story arc, because they are not involved or partisan enough to question the writers’ storytelling choices. And even if we only look at the online fandom, Katie Cassidy’s official FB page has gotten almost 100.000 likes in a few days, and the many fans who post there are very happy about Laurel becoming Black Canary. So, it’s not as simple as saying “everybody wanted Sara/Caity, but the producers were forced to keep Laurel/Katie and make her the Black Canary”. Who knows, IF the producers had kept Sara as BC, fans may have raised a shitstorm about that decision …

    As for the much-hyped Olicity date/kiss, there are fans who feel that this is a major retcon, which mostly came off as
    something taken straight from a tumblr fan fiction. And even among those who were less critical, there were people who were pretty underwhelmed. Of course, in comparison to the large and vocal Olicity fanbase, who were all in seventh heaven, these critical voices are a minority.

    1. It makes sense that Katie Cassidy’s FB page has got a lot of likes now. Some people are fans of hers and happy that she’s going to be the Black Canary at last, others have aligned themselves with the way the show is going now that the line is clear and are congratulating her.

      I’m sure it was the producers decision to not only make Laurel the Black Canary but also to kill Sara so that there is now no alternative, Laurel must be the Canary or not have one on the show at all. Dinah Laurel Lance is after all the creation of Andrew Kreisburg.

      But if you feel that what people write online to producers’ twitter accounts is invalid because it’s the internet, the likes on Cassidy’s FB page must also lack validity. More so because of the bias: while the producers are going to get tweets from both those who love the storyline and those who hate it, only people who love the story are going to go to Cassidy’s FB page. People who don’t like the story are not going to go to post, and there is no way to tell from that how many of those there are.

      1. LOL Andrew Kreisberg created Dinah Laurel Lance? Really, now? Dinah Laurel Lance/Black Canary II was created in 1983. Kreisberg didn’t start writing GA/BC until issue #15 of the run in 2009.

      2. Who created Dinah Laurel Lance and who popularized her in the modern era really don’t matter since her character was rebooted out of existence in the new current continuity in the comics. If that wasn’t a free pass to do what they pleased with the character I don’t know what is.

    1. You mean in the Elseworlds universe? The self contained universes that tell stories that don’t have to connect back to original canon? Explain to my why Arrow shouldn’t be considered it’s own Elseworld universe subject to only it’s own internal rules and structure?

      If Laurel Dinah Lance worked IMO on Arrow I wouldn’t have any objection to her talking up the role of BC but from what I’ve seen, she hasn’t and now they have offed a character that was working in the slim hopes that giving that role to Laurel will transform her character in a positive manner. I absolutely think they will try but I also expect the result to be full on cringe worthy.

  4. But if you feel that what people write online to producers’ twitter accounts is invalid because it’s the internet, the likes on Cassidy’s FB page must also lack validity. More so because of the bias: while the producers are going to get tweets from both those who love the storyline and those who hate it, only people who love the story are going to go to Cassidy’s FB page. People who don’t like the story are not going to go to post, and there is no way to tell from that how many of those there are.

    You are right, Kate, but then again I did introduce a caveat “even if only look at the online fandom”. As for Sara/Caity Lotz being a better Black Canary or having more potential than Laurel, it’s really a matter of personal opinion. I know plenty of people who were not at all satisfied with Sara, for various reasons. So, even og “Bkwurm” would have been content if Sara had taken up the mantle, I know loads of people who would have been disappointed, just like there are currently many online fans who are not at all happy about the S3 Olicity romance arc, which they regard as inconsequential fanservice. You just need to look at many of the major “Arrow” discussion forums to see the backlash. Viewers always have differing opinions about various storylines and there will always be fans who are disgruntled with this or that development, or who think that the show would have been better if this or that had happened. The way I see it the writers/producers will never be able to satisfy everyone, and therefore it’s probably better if they stick to their original plans, at least when it comes to major story arcs/developments.

    As for the recurring complaint that it is somehow Laurel’s “fault” that Sara died, I would just like to re-iterate what “befastordontbe” said about Oliver. So far TWO women (Shado, Moira) have been fridged, and THREE men (Robert Queen, Yao Fei and Tommy) have been killed in order to augment Ollie’s epic manpain and motivate him to become a vigilante….and yet I see very few people hating on him, and saying characters are forced to die “for his sake”.

    Just like Yao Fei was the first iteration of the Arrow, Sara is the first iteration of BC and a springboard for Laurel’s transition into BC. Caity Lotz has never been anything more than a supporting actress, so it’s not the case that the writers/producers had anything more substantial planned for her, and decided to kill her off just to promote Laurel/Katie and let her pick up the BC mantle. The BC mantle has been Laurel’s/Katie’s from the very beginning. I can understand that those people who like her are sad right not, but I find it wrong to “blame” Laurel for Sara’s death, because she is no more guilty than Oliver, who has had at least FIVE people die in order to further HIS journey. As for Sara’s death I see it as a major story motor that will affect all the major characters and the whole story arc in one way or another. In fact, Guggenheim himself emphasized the impact of Sara’s death in a recent interview:

    “Honestly, [episode] 3.02 is probably one of our most emotionally gut-wrenching episodes—as it needs to be, as it should be—because this character’s death affects all of the characters on the show. It’s kind of brutal. I don’t want to spoil it too much, but we chose the title ‘Sara’ because it actually has a double meaning. There’s the question of what should be done with Sara’s body; there’s the question of who do they tell. Do they tell Lance, for example, that his daughter died a second time? There’s the emotional repercussions for everybody. It definitely has repercussions for Oliver and Felicity, and it has repercussions for Felicity and Ray Palmer, and obviously for Laurel.”
    .

    1. “” As for the recurring complaint that it is somehow Laurel’s “fault” that Sara died, I would just like to re-iterate what “befastordontbe” said about Oliver. So far TWO women (Shado, Moira) have been fridged, and THREE men (Robert Queen, Yao Fei and Tommy) have been killed in order to augment Ollie’s epic manpain and motivate him to become a vigilante….and yet I see very few people hating on him, and saying characters are forced to die “for his sake”. “”

      Where I am there are constant complaints over killing to add to Oliver’s manpain but at least it’s his show and the deaths are supposed to shape his storyline, not be a means of Oliver or Arrow to step in and BECOME them. Shakes head in amazement.

      Honestly, this show needs to stop killing it’s characters. Period. It’s not clever, it’s not cool, it’s not original or enjoyable. Spend a little more time in the writer’s room and come up with real stories, not just rinsing and repeating the same old same old. This person is dead. I’m sad! I’m mad! Revenge! Where is my humanity? Killing is not the answer! Bing! Someone dies. Rewind and hit play. Can’t they think of any other storyline?

      1. The iterations of characters on this show is interesting. Yao Fei was the first one to wear the hood, an archer and a dissident trying to survive. For a while Shado wore the hood but like her father, she was just trying to escape. When Oliver put on the hood/Hood, he was a cold-blooded killer who thought nothing about snapping a man’s neck just for being able to identify him. It was while wearing the hood that he had to develop into the person who would be the Arrow.

        The first person to wear the Deathstroke mask was Billy Wintergreen, Slade’s old SAS buddy, who was Fyers torturer. When Slade took the mask, he became a different person than Billy entirely.

        The difference with the Black Canary role is that Sara was already a perfect Black Canary — a vigilante fighting for the rights of the underdog especially women and using a sonic cry. To follow the pattern, Laurel must become something else while wearing the outfit. But I can’t think what she would become because Sara was already the comics’ Black Canary in all but her name.

        I wonder what the show would have been like if Laurel had decided on the vigilante route after Tommy’s death, and when Sara arrived in s2, she had come in under either a different name or different outfit and helped Laurel become the BC.

  5. The difference with the Black Canary role is that Sara was already a perfect Black Canary — a vigilante fighting for the rights of the underdog especially women and using a sonic cry. To follow the pattern, Laurel must become something else while wearing the outfit. But I can’t think what she would become because Sara was already the comics’ Black Canary in all but her name.

    As I said before, whether or not Sara “was already a perfect Black Canary” is a matter of opinion, not an unrefutable fact (as I am sure you are well aware, although you present your own subjective opinions as facts). You happen to think she’s perfect, I (and many others) don’t think she is fitting or perfect at all. I would not want a former assassin/professional killer to portray the Black Canary I know and love from the comics on screen, even if she is a reformed/redeemed killer. I already have problems regarding Ollie as a hero, given the fact that he has killed some thirty people in cold blood, and I think having a female clone of him as his partner would be both boring and unfitting. Also, if you have really read the Black Canary comics you would have known that the comic book BC is VERY far from Canary as she was presented on “Arrow”, so I really don’t understand in what way Sara is “already the comics’ Black Canary”. BTW, Kreisberg’s run on the GA/BC comics is one of th weaker ones, at least in my opinion. So, I would not regard Kreisberg as an authority when it comes to BC or how she is portrayed in the comics.

    Furthermore, if I many give MY personal opinion, I thought the Sara backstory/storyline on “Arrow” was poorly written and acted, so to me it would have been a travesty to make Sara the show’s permanent Black Canary. As I said, it is clearly a matter of opinion and preferences if Laurel will be a better Black Canary than Sara or not….

  6. After this episode aired, I stopped watching Arrow. I haven’t really looked back since then.
    There were two factors which played into the decision. One was Felicity. The great character I loved during the first season is no more. It got tore down by the writers insistence to put her into a romance which can’t go anywhere and never will because “Arrow is meant for Black Canary”. They ruined a great character and the whole episode was practically about jerking her around.
    The other is Sara. She was awesome. Laurel is not. And I think it would have served the show way better with the theme of the season had been “who killed Laurel Lance”.
    Both points boil down to the writers insistence to hold onto their five year plan no matter what. Don’t get me wrong, it is great that they have a plan. But there is one thing which is worse than show runners who don’t really know in which direction they want to go with their story: show runners who stick to a plan no matter if it works or not. Sometimes you have to adjust.

    1. My best friend actually bailed on Arrow after the season 3 premiere as well, and she has no interest in ever going back. I know that several people who read my reviews on this site have indicated that they were pretty close to giving up on Arrow after Sara’s death.

      As for Felicity, I am sympathetic to the show’s producers/writers. You can’t simply do what the fans want. In fact, you should constantly do things to surprise the fans. But so, so, so many people want Felicity and Oliver together as a romantic couple, using the power of social media (and blogs and tumbler, etc.) to say so. Arrow is a social media conscious show the same way everything else on The CW is. So, at a certain point you have to look at viewer feedback and decide whether or not a potential Felicity-Oliver romance is a story worth telling. I think the fact that they chose to go that route is at least an indication that they aren’t completely tied to some grand 5-year plan because nobody saw Felicity coming. She’s been stealing scenes and screentime from everyone else ever since she showed up, and they realized she was more than one just a one-scene, comic relief character. If they hadn’t killed off Sara I would be inclined to believe that maybe they truly were departing from canon and abandoning plans for Oliver and Laurel to be endgame. However, the fact that Sara is gone, and canon is upheld with Laurel Lance becoming Black Canary indicates that whatever they do with Oliver-Felicity is ultimately a temporary detour. But, heck, Smallville had Green Arrow shacking up with Chloe Sullivan after missing out on Lois Lane for the majority of his time on the show. So, who knows how this will all end.

      But for every fan or two fans who are clamoring for Oliver and Felicity to hook-up there’s someone like you or others I’ve encountered who preferred Felicity the way she was. Let her crush on Oliver simply be a crush, like the way Amy Acker’s Fred initially had a crush on Angel at the beginning of the third season of Angel. Don’t have Oliver jerking her around. Let her be Felicity, the bringer of lightness and joy into the perpetually dark world of Oliver and Diggle. Moreover, not everyone actually sees the spark she has with Stephen Amell as being a romantic one but instead more of a fun friends, big brother-little sister kind of thing.

      All of that is why I am sympathetic to the writers, but I don’t blame anyone for bailing on the show or being annoyed at where things have gone.

      As for Sara, there is simply a believability gap that exists between Laurel Lance the lawyer and Laurel Lance the grieving vigilante that did not exist with Sara as Canary last season. The only good reason to kill Sara, to me, is because comic book canon dictated as much, and they were probably always meaning to kill her off to make room for Laurel. Even my initial excitement over the possibility of them doing a “Who killed Sara Lance?” mystery across the season ended up being kind of wasted on their part.

      1. The thing is, it is not the romance in itself I mind. I wasn’t keen on it, but the main reason I wasn’t keen on it was before I feared that putting Felicity in the love interest category would result in her not getting any other kind of development whatsoever. Which was exactly what happened. And yes, I do blame the writers…I don’t know what “love interest” and “Full fledged female character” doesn’t compute for them, but it does.

      2. “I feared that putting Felicity in the love interest category would result in her not getting any other kind of development whatsoever. Which was exactly what happened. And yes, I do blame the writers…I don’t know what “love interest” and “Full fledged female character” doesn’t compute for them, but it does. ”

        Sadly, I can’t argue with you there. You’re pretty much spot-on.

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