Arrow – Season 7 Episode 18
Arrow delivers a female centric episode with Felicity scrambling to find Evil Laurel after she goes off the rails.
The previous episode had Evil Laurel outed to the city as someone with ties to Ricardo Diaz. This episode picks up in the aftermath of that with Evil Laurel discredited and on the run from the law. Her reaction to this is to don her Black Siren gear and go on a crime spree. Regression is a common trait in fiction especially in redemption stories because it allows a character to stray from the path they have been heading down in order to gain deeper insight into what motivates them to redeem themselves in the first place.
For Evil Laurel slipping back into her old ways can be seen as the easy way out. Working as a force for good within the confines of the legal system was difficult for her as it went against many of her base instincts but she tried because people believed in her capacity for good. Quentin was a strong influence on her in that regard and Felicity continued that support while also offering her a genuine friendship to give her an idea of how good her life could be when she has people in it who genuinely care about her. Having her criminal exploits outed to the public makes her forget that and regress into being fully self serving because she doesn’t trust the legal system to be on her side. She also feels that Dinah isn’t giving her the benefit of the doubt so it’s easy to see why she would feel she has no other option.
This of course ignores Felicity’s attempts to contact her but that’s entirely deliberate as the episode makes a point of showing Evil Laurel rejecting Felicity’s calls as a symbol of her actively rejecting her own redemption. If she talks to Felicity then she will have to deal with the shame she feels over turning her back on everything she has worked towards. It’s a very deliberate rejection of an offer of friendship to show that Evil Laurel is conflicted about what she is doing. If there was no inner conflict then she would have no problem telling Felicity what she had decided to do.
Evil Laurel teams up with the Shadow Thief (Carmel Amit); someone from her criminal past. This relationship isn’t something we’ve seen before so the episode has to do all of the heavy lifting to establish their relationship. It doesn’t entirely succeed but Shadow Thief works well enough as an enabler of Evil Laurel’s darker impulses. She tells Evil Laurel everything she thinks she wants to hear and doesn’t stop her as she continues down the self destructive path. It’s unfortunate that there wasn’t enough time to make this partnership feel like anything other than a plot device as with some work this could have been more than we see. In order for this to happen there would perhaps have to be more episodes focused on Evil Laurel losing faith in her own potential to be redeemed rather than the one and done narrative that this episode runs with. Yes it does what it sets out to do but it doesn’t make for an especially deep story.
The main point of this plot is to get Evil Laurel to the point where she feels that seeking redemption isn’t a waste of time on her part. Felicity takes the lead on this by being the supportive friend that she needs whether she thinks she wants that from Felicity or not. This works well because their friendship has been developing for a while now and feels entirely lived in. It’s believable when Felicity says that she knows what Evil Laurel is truly capable of and it’s clear that she greatly values everything she’s done for her. There’s no questioning that it’s the unlikeliest of friendships but that’s part of what makes it so interesting.
There’s a volatility to her relationship with Dinah that also makes this fascinating viewing. In many ways Dinah is her opposite which makes the back and forth discussions on how they view a situation very watchable. There’s a lot of that in this episode especially around Dinah’s views of Evil Laurel’s actions and the way they come to an understanding towards the end when Dinah accepts the evidence that Evil Laurel isn’t guilty of the murder she is accused off makes for a well earned conclusion to their tenuous partnership. It’s also fairly nuanced in that Dinah is less than willing to give her the benefit of the doubt but can’t argue with the evidence that stares her in the face. Even though the resentment over the death of Vince will never go away she can at least recognise that Evil Laurel isn’t that person any more even though she will never actually get to the point of true forgiveness. This makes for a more realistic and compelling relationship that highlights how difficult finding common ground can be.
The inclusion of Sara is a really nice touch. Even though she isn’t Evil Laurel’s actual sister she is able to relate to what she’s going through. It feels like a long time ago now but Sara’s past has a lot of darkness in it. She lists the highlights to Evil Laurel in order to prove that she can empathise with how she feels at this point and offer relevant advice on how to deal with it. Sara points out that she tried running from the terrible things she did only to learn the hard way that she couldn’t so her only option was to face up to them and find a way to move forward in her own life without ignoring what got her to that point. This has a great deal of weight as we’ve seen what Sara has gone through and -if you watch DC’s Legends of Tomorrow– we’ve seen what the other side of that looks like for her. What she did and what that turned her into will always be a part of her that she will continually struggle with but she’s also living proof that there is a positive outcome. The point being made is that Evil Laurel could achieve similar growth and be a vastly better person as a result.
This helps inspire her to return to Earth-2 in order to right her wrongs. Until she does that she’ll never be able to truly move forward as there’s obviously a great deal of baggage left behind on her own Earth that she hasn’t dealt with. We will likely never see the steps she takes in order to try to make up for whatever she did there but it’s very clear that she is serious about doing what she can to rectify her mistakes in whatever way she can. Felicity gives her Earth-1 Laurel’s Black Canary costume as a symbol of what she could become once she puts the hard work in. At this point she isn’t ready for that costume but feeling within herself that she has earned the right to wear it is an easily understandable end point for her. Seeing the end of that journey in the future when she saves Mia and is seen in a white wig as well as Laurel’s old costume as a proud member of the Canary movement. This indicates that she was able to find her own form of redemption and become a trusted member of an inner circle tasked with protecting others. Even if we won’t see that journey it’s comforting to see that it will be successful.
There’s a real finality to the way Evil Laurel talks about leaving in this episode. With the end of Arrow in sight it makes sense that the writers would start streamlining the characters to give more focus to those that will carry us into the final episodes. Curtis recently left and now it looks like Evil Laurel has followed. The announcement that Felicity is leaving come the end of the season suggests a final season largely focused on Oliver and his legacy which feels about right and giving the other characters their own focused endings of sorts does them the justice that they all deserve.
On a superficial level it’s great to see Felicity, Sara, Dinah and Evil Laurel come together to solve the problem at the end of the episode. It’s short lived but really effective in showing how these well developed characters all bring something unique to this particular team-up. Felicity’s nod to Birds of Prey is cheesy but feels earned by this point as are the triumphant group shots. It’s good that Arrow managed to deliver a version of this famous team before the end.
The future plot is exciting enough in terms of delivering action spectacle but does little to further the plot. Focusing on the Canaries as a well developed network before revealing that Evil Laurel has redeemed herself as a valued member of that organisation connects nicely to the present day events but there’s very little in terms of character development as everything Mia and Zoe do is consistent with what we know about them without actively challenging them in any real way.
A strong episode that provides closure of sorts for Evil Laurel by focusing on her key relationships and setting her up for the future. Having her regress to her criminal ways after a massive setback in the form of the truth becoming known about her activities makes sense for her as she has always struggled to maintain a more legitimate lifestyle. The Shadow Thief acts as an enabler for her which works in the confines of this episode but any attempt to suggest that there is anything deeper at play doesn’t work because the prior relationship doesn’t exist as far as the audience has seen. They were introduced off screen so this is clearly an invention for the purposes of this episode. It definitely works but also lacks depth at the same time.
Focusing on Evil Laurel’s core relationships with Felicity and Dinah is a great way to showcase her redemptive arc as she relates to them in very different ways. Felicity is the supportive yet unlikely friend and Dinah is the one who sticks to the facts and judges Evil Laurel on her own merits. In particular their relationship is wonderfully complex as there is a history there that means Dinah will never truly forgive her. Sara acts as the example of someone who has been through a similarly difficult journey and represents hope that it is possible to come out the other side of it. This helps Evil Laurel decide to return to Earth-2 in order to right her wrongs and she is given Earth-1 Laurel’s Black Canary outfit as something to earn. It’s also great to see the Arrow version of the Birds of Prey coming together to solve a problem. The payoff of Evil Laurel’s development is shown in the future time period when she is shown wearing the costume as a proud trusted member of the Canary movement. The future scenes are exciting in terms of action but offer little in terms of character development.
- focusing on Evil Laurel’s key relationships to further her arc
- regression making sense given the circumstances
- Sara’s inclusion adding something meaningful to Evil Laurel’s progression
- an exit for Evil Laurel that does her justice and the payoff of her arc being shown in the future
- the Arrow version of the Birds of Prey
- the lack of depth to Laurel’s connection to her former partner in crime
- no plot progression in the future time period
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