An open letter to the writers of Arrow, a look into a recent character death and the unfortunate direction the show has taken.

Subject: An open letter to the writers of Arrow, a look into a recent character death and the unfortunate direction the show has taken.
Date: 6 Apr 2016

Dear Arrow writer's room,

I am writing due to the death of Laurel Lance. I believe that her death was a bad decision and honestly was the victim of poor writing. Laurel was used to fill the grave spot that was set up in episode 1 of season 4 (because, as you admitted, you had no plan so you had to choose a random character).

When the time came to put someone in the grave, you chose Laurel. The only character (in my opinion) who does not belong in the grave, not because she's my favourite (it's Thea if you must know), not because I hate another character more, not even because doing a show about the Green Arrow without the Black Canary seems as wrong as a Batman without Alfred, but because Laurel was the only character still growing.

I'm no writer (as you can probably tell by what I'm sure is going to be a shitily written letter) but to me it seems to make sense to kill off characters in between archs or who have nothing new to offer the story. To me it seemed like every character fit that bill, except for Laurel.

Thea has been in the same slump of dating a weird recurring dude with tangential relevance to the story who eventually becomes disliked, since season 3. The only thing she currently has going for her is the ever so variable yet recurring "blood lust" storyline that has been beaten to death on this show even more than the "Felicity got mad at Oliver" trope. She (while I would hate to see her go) is complete and could have died without the audience feeling like as if that character were unfinished.

Captain Lance's only role currently seems to be "we needed a way to keep Donna Smaok around". He literally does nothing. All his stuff with DARHK is done. He isn't fussing with anyone, he knows all of the secrets there is no development left for his character. He is a complete character who doesn't add much to the show anymore, he could have been killed off without us wanting for more (not to say we wouldn't miss him).

Dig is a happy father and had just reconciled with his brother. Had he left, it would be devastating, but we've gotten out of diggle what we needed too. He's instilled a morality in Oliver and linked the team to ARGUS introducing the to the Harbinger. I would be heartbroken to see him leave, but it could make sense.

Felicity Smoak. Felicity began as every fan's favourite character. However her charm began to wear off at about half way through season 3 and in season 4 has really just been a vessel for bad writing. Felicity can be killed off at any time because (due to the arrow writing staff putting her on a pedestal so high she needs a fucking oxygen mask) all of her struggles are fixed within a maximum of three episodes. If she has a social issue, eventually the other character will realize Felicity is right (which I guess this is a matter of opinion but I believe she is very often in the wrong, but once again that's up for debate) and apologize or it will be solved through some Deus Ex Machina bullshit. I will talk about Felicity later so I'll leave it at that for now.

However, Laurel Lance is the only character (excluding Oliver) who still had a ways to go in terms of fulfilling their character development. Laurel is no where near the Black Canary in the comics. Did I expect her to ever be? No. But she deserves more than being a sidekick who at most punches three ghosts and gets 5% of screen time. Her Canary Cry is still not what it needs to be and its so clear that if the writers didn't dig themselves into this hole that she would become so much more.

Not only do I think she had a lot of places she could go, but I also think where she's been (emotionally) is one of the best written parts of the show. Her story with her alcoholism made me (and a lot of fans) really not like her, but as soon as we realized that she was acting out because of her guilt in Tommy's death we all felt for, and ruted for her. She broke down, but got her life back together, only to be kicked in the chest once more with the death of her sister. This grief took a different shape, it took the shape of a canary. She was violent, ruthless, and unskilled at first but we watched her progress and grow into what she is now, and we got excited to see more. But now that's been taken away.

To me Laurel is the strongest character on the show hands down. Life keeps kicking her in the teeth and she just stands up and says "fuck you life, I'm the canary". This is done in a realistic way, we see her suffer and then turn that rage into something helpful.

There has been a lot of talk that Laurel is only dying to appease a certain subsection of the show's fanbase, and to that I say "what the hell?" There is now only one female character on the show not related to the main character (how does that work? Aren't CW shows contractually obligated to have a minimum of 1 love triangle at a time?) and that character is, in my opinion, the worst character, not only story wise, but as a role model as well.

I know she has been praised a lot and I will probably be attacked a bit for taking a jab at "Felicity our Queen" but here me out. Felicity does not act rationally (see "What? No Ray! Oliver!" or either reveals of William or the fact that she started the fourth season by lying to Oliver and ended a few episodes ago breaking up with Oliver because she can't handle his lies), she doesn't have a believable reaction to anything and seems to be a Grade A miner when it comes to digging up drama (because miners dig. I know it's bad). Like I said earlier she's a plot device for bad writing and seems to have the only job of inciting bullshit drama between him and Oliver. In addition she is an uninteresting character because her addition to the team doesn't play out well on a visual medium. This was fine when she was just opening gates and getting information but the amount of "Felicitycentric" episodes have been increasing exponentially but (again I'm not a writer or cinematographer) there is nothing interesting about a swooping shot around a girl on a computer yelling gibberish about how good this opposite hacker is. The audience doesn't speak C++ so I guess we just take her word for it?

Lastly and then I swear I'm done, Felicity has been praised as this "strong and powerful woman" but I'm sorry I don't see it. To me both Laurel and Thea have faced bigger issues and dealt with them better than Felicity. Felicity's main problem last season was what man should she choose and how can she make Oliver her love her (which I thought was kind of a sexist thing to do but admittedly im a cis white male so I shouldn't even weigh in on that). First of all that is such a low stakes problem when you compare it to Thea dealing with the fact that she murdered a good friend or that Laurel lost a sister. And in the end she didn't even really overcome it, matchmaker Al G'hul (I couldn't think of a punny name TBH) solved the issue for her (also, I'm trying not to be hostile but, fuck you guys for degrading one of the best villains in comics lore to... That). In season 4 her "big" arch was her paralysis. Here I was expecting a Barbra Gordon like story line where she has to deal with life in a wheelchair and the transition is difficult on her and everyone else, but no. All of the sudden, Curtis cures paralysis for her. I'm not complaining about Curtis' unrealistic intellect (he is the third smartest man after all) I'm complaining about the fact that when you finally humanize a character who has been written like a Demi-Goddess for a season and a half, her issue is solved in three episodes with Deus Ex Machina crap that came out of nowhere. Characters are constantly telling each other (and the audience) how strong and powerful she is, when instead you guys should do your job and just prove it.

I guess my conclusion is that the death of Laurel Lance is a damn shame and could potentially be the fall of the show, but it isn't the problem with the show, nor is Felicity, the problem with the show is bad writing and it has been since season 3. You guys need to get it together, quit pandering to a specific niche fanbase and start writing stories about Oliver Queen, the badass Green Arrow who fights criminals using a bow and arrow and the help of his team, not "The Felicity Diaries: why Oliver is wrong". I don't hate the show, the issue is that I love it, and I want to see it returned to its former season 2 glory.