My, my, was “City of Blood” a good “ramp up for the action to come” episode or what? These kind of episodes are always required toward the end of the season and they usually come with the textbook setups of character tension and plot action. “City of Blood” wasn’t exactly what I call textbook. It was a perfectly done hour that created a bridge between the shocker from the last episode and the build up for the big conflict for the final two episodes of the season.
Everyone got to play hero for a bit, starting with Digg and Felicity. Oliver has disappeared for a few days after Moira’s death, so much so he missed the funeral and reception afterward. Oops! Digg and Felicity were holding down the fort, and it was getting a bit stressful for Felicity, who adorably noticed she was crying at Moira’s gathering even though she hated her. Digg knows her well, those tears were for Ollie. Felicity was especially given some moments to shine, trying first to give Oliver the “there is another way” pep talk. Sadly that failed and that’s when the inexplicable happened (more on that soon).
A big thing emerged from “City of Blood” though other than a nefarious set up for the last two episodes, and it’s something that must be addressed since it won’t go away. Or she won’t go away. Yes, I’m talking about Laurel Lance. We have a Laurel Lance problem.
Laurel not only knows Ollie’s big secret, but now she’s come forward and is among the confidants at the Arrow cave? (Which should be vacant thanks to Isabel. I knew Oliver had a backup!). What does this do for not only Laurel’s character, but our tolerance level? It’s no secret that Laurel has been poorly and inconsistently written. It’s no secret that many have complaints about how badly Katie Cassidy plays her and doesn’t evoke any kind of sympathy. She was eventually to be the one side by side with Oliver, but then the happy accident of Felicity came along. Then there’s Sarah too, even though we all believed she wasn’t sticking around. All I know is when Oliver wouldn’t let Laurel come on their raid, telling her it started with the three of them (he, Diggle and Felicity) and it’s better that way, I felt the ground shaking from all the “Hallelujahs!” that erupted through the U.S. Sure Laurel didn’t listen, but still, she had no right being there.
Not all of this is Laurel’s fault though. She has been hampered by some of the worst dialogue I’ve ever seen in any show. This episode wasn’t any exception (“I know you like I know my name”) but I do wonder if they throw such lines of crap on her because she can’t sell a scene with a woeful glance like Stephen Amell and a lot of the other actors. She didn’t connect well with Sebastian Blood either. Their scenes as well have felt very fake. The only actor I think she has any spark with is Paul Blackthorne (Quentin Lance). There’s something about his brillance that makes even Laurel look good.
I get the resentment though. That Oliver needed both a pep talk from Felicity and Laurel in the episode, and it’s Laurel that got through has to infuriate quite a few, especially when Felicity has been such a loyal character. Having Laurel come in and essentially “save the day” (in her power suit nonetheless) did feel like a slap in the face. At the same time though the writing was on the wall. When Laurel hit bottom it was Oliver that turned her back. These two have a history of picking each other up during their worst times.
But what about the chemistry? It’s never really been the strongest between Oliver and Laurel. He and Sarah have a far deeper (and more compelling) connection, not to mention he and Felicity, although I find their dynamic is more brother and sister (sorry shippers!) Is this just a case of something unnatural being forced because Comic canon commands it? Oliver has always had a soft spot for Laurel and that will never change, no matter what the circumstance. Bad acting and writing can’t erase that, although it does try at times.
The speculation is that Laurel will step up and take the role of The Black Canary. One can only assume these are the first steps. Would turning into a bad ass like that, fighting side by side with Oliver, finally solve her likeability problem? Or is the problem the acting? Is the wrong actress in the role? These are answers to should be held until we see the plots unfold, but did Laurel’s presence in the Arrow cave this week excite or grate at you? I’ve heard the wishes of fans that want to see Laurel be killed off and Sara stay the Black Canary. Do you think that’s a better option? Or do we have to accept that Laurel will be the Black Canary because that is the intent from the very beginning (not to mention the Comics) and things cannot change, at least that much (yes, I already know about the various deviations the show has taken).
Can Laurel Lance be molded into a sympathetic, likeable character? Do you think she’s gotten better or worse this season? I personally find Moira and Thea grating as well, and the fact that all three women had a nice distance away from the Arrow cave made them more agreeable because they were less significant to the plot. Now that Laurel has that spot in the cave, I’m not sure how I’ll take her taking a spot front and center. She’s going to have to be better to win me over, but this week was a pretty good start. Just kill the bad dialogue and perhaps she’s on her way. BTW TPTB, don’t ever let Thea know. I can’t stand the idea of both her and Laurel in the fold. I’d be rooting for them to kill each other.
The outcry from many fans has been for Arrow to spend more screen time on likeable characters, so will Laurel’s heightened presence shift the dynamic too much? Why do you like/hate Laurel Lance? What would need to happen for you to like her (if you don’t)? Does her presence seem forced, or is it all part of the natural progression? Irregardless of Laurel, I can’t wait to see the big showdown start on Wednesday. It looks like a very exciting final two weeks, and I’m ready with my cliffhanger survival kit.