EDITORIAL: In Defense of Katie Cassidy’s (Dinah) Laurel Lance
It is finally that time, 3 seasons and 10 episodes in and Dinah Laurel Lance has finally suited up to become the true Black Canary. It’s very nice to see the people who are sticking up for the character, but it disappoints me how people seem to comment time and time again about their dislike of the character, so here I will discuss the common complaints and why, frankly they are just wrong.
“Her character is whiney” coupled with “Katie Cassidy isn’t doing the role justice” beside “Sara was a better Canary”
All amongst the most common complaints that I see on the Internet, and all amongst the complaints I find slightly funny; in order to fully elaborate I will go at them one at a time…
Her character is whiney
I think we can all agree the writing for Arrow began as stellar and has only grown better since the shows first season, do people honestly think that a character, such as Laurel, would be written poorly and in a “whiney” fashion for no reason over the course of two and a half of those seasons? The answer to that is quite simple…no. Out of the numerous characters Arrow has introduced us viewers to there is only one who’s trauma can rival that of the titular character, and no…it isn’t Sara…it’s Laurel. Since the shows first season (including events prior to that) here is a list of emotionally agonizing and twisting situations and scenarios she has been put through.
-Her boyfriend (Oliver) cheats on her with her sister (Sara), Oliver isn’t just “some fling” Laurel is having, she has very strong and true feelings for him as she mentioned in season 2 quite a few times.
-Her boyfriend and sister than are presumed dead for five years
-Her father turns to drinking because her sister "died”
-Her mother leaves her father because of her drinking leaving her family completely destroyed
-4+ years of pain and emotional torture over the destruction of her family and loss of her sister at the hands of her boyfriend
- Her now ex-boyfriend who she blames for the death of her sister returns from the dead
-In a city of total corruption a “hero” as she dubs him emerges in The Hood/The Vigilante, her first true hope, aside from love, in years
-She finally finds love again in Tommy Merlyn
-Tommy breaks it off with her because he feels she will only ever truly love Oliver, and vice versa
-Her father is barely holding onto what he has in life as life as an alcoholic begins to take over
-After somewhat healing things between the two of them, and still whilst her emotions are high Tommy is killed and is NOT saved by the only hope she had, The Hood/The Vigilante/The Arrow
-Her sister returns from the dead and negates the meaning being all of the bad in her life that her sisters death had caused, father drinking, mother leaving...making it worse
-She then turns to drugs as a means to cope with said depression and pain
-She then loses her job because of her new addiction
-Her sister actually dies…BUT she after countless AA meetings she learns that depression is not the answer and attempts a new approach, ANGER, eventually leading her to begin training with Ted Grant and donning a costume to honor her sister
Well that sure seems like quite a bit of personal attacking on one specific character…the only other thing we have seen even close to that par is the 3 years Oliver has been away (and the 2 we have yet to see).
A long running theme of this show, and something that has actually been directly used as a quote on the show is, “If you survive the crucible you WILL grow the stronger for it”, and for some reason fans are to engulfed in their shipping of “Olicity” (don’t even get me started) to realize that 2007-2013 was LAUREL’s crucible. They also neglect that had the show began (which it never actually would have) prior to Oliver’s isolation on the island…. he would have been just as “whiney” and annoying… but his reason for being that way would be completely unjustified; he would simply have “spoiled rich kid complex” whereas Laurel has countless trauma upon trauma as her reasoning.
All this serves as reasoning to draw the true conclusion that her character doesn’t really fit the criteria of being a likeable happy go lucky girl…and she isn’t supposed to be. Stephen Amell has said it himself…in season 1 she was a periphery character and season 2 is supposed to show her going through hell and back.
Katie Cassidy isn’t doing the role justice
|Season 1, Season 2, Season 3|
Katie Cassidy is definitely a strong actress and anyone who says otherwise would be lying to themselves. She was good when she was the first Ruby on Supernatural and her acting ability has improved exponentially since then as well as seen on Arrow and her recent movie The Scribbler. To be blunt and honest I think the people who see her as an actress are those who don’t believe or understand the character Laurel and how she has been presented. Katie Cassidy has clearly done exactly what she has been told, she has been not only depressed, by sad, angry, and strong as of late. People attack Cassidy and her character Laurel but seem to ignore characters life Felicity who, lets be honest, are one dimensional, she is quirky and throws in some one liners here and there, aside from that she has added some “sadness” if you can call it that in season 3 (Not hate on Felicity, just saying it how it is).
|This is commitment...no arguing it|
On top of everything, Cassidy is very committed to the role as well. People complain about how she got “to skinny” in season 2 and how she “looked sunken”…again do you people (who think the prior) not understand she was a depressed drug addicted alcoholic? Her look embodied that portrayal pretty strongly. Now in season 3 she has finally donned the mask and suit as the Black Canary…and Cassidy has been in the gym quite a bit…and it shows…no longer is she the drug addled Laurel Lance, now she is growing into the strong hero, the Black Canary.
Sara was a better Canary
First off…. yes…Sara was a better Canary…because Laurel is the Black Canary! Despite the color part not being confirmed in her name, way I see it two different characters, the comparisons just scream flawed logic.
Onto a more serious note…I truly will never understand this argument as it stands now. Up until now we have seen two completely incomparable characters and we most likely won’t be able to make a true comparison between the two until season 4 when Laurel is trained enough to not get her but kicked; Marc Guggenheim has stated multiple times that Laurel suiting up this season (at least as of now) will show fans that putting on a mask does NOT make you a hero. Even so, up until now we have seen Laurel the emotionally destroyed lawyer/district attorney; and up until now we have seen Sara, the helpless girl from Oliver’s flashbacks, and then Sara the league trained fighter…between the two there are no commonalities, so drawing any comparisons at this point…or until Laurel is actually a fully trained fighter, is just pulling on strings that aren’t connected to anything… or in other words…pointless.
If we want to argue points that can be compared, Laurel’s character development has been far superior to Sara’s, and if you don’t recognize that now I can almost full heartedly guarantee that by the end of season 3/beginning of season 4, when she has become the Black Canary, you will look back on seasons 1-4 and realize it was indeed character development, despite the so called arguments that claim it wasn’t.
|A look, black hair and a blonde wig... a noticeable change|
Touching on the costume, I see people already complaining about the wig and how it “looks weird compared to when Sara wore it” and I chuckle because when Sara wore the wig you could barely even tell she had a wig on, it was maybe one shade lighter than her actual hair, and seeing Dinah Laurel Lance had black hair (when she wore the wig in the comics) it disguises and suits Laurel’s look much better. As for the lack of fishnets or likeness to Sara’s…again Laurel is JUST starting her career as Black Canary, I don’t think “exposed skin” as Sara had would be very practical for someone who is a pretty inexperienced vigilante. That does NOT mean inexperienced fighter…Laurel is NOT a Felicity…if we remember back to season 1 she showed she knew more than your everyday Joe about fighting when she took out two security guards holding Oliver and Tommy down, and up until this point she has been training with Ted Grant, possibly the greatest fighter in DC comics history, possibly not on the show, but still a spectacular fighter who may have beaten Oliver had he not had the bow.
|Dinah Drake Lance and Dinah Laurel Lance|
On the subject of older heroes like Ted Grant it should be noted, and many “fans” seem to overlook this as well is that Sara was just an adaptation of Dinah Drake Lance, the first Black Canary and mother to Dinah Laurel Lance. Now as you read this you may be thinking…but wait…Laurel does have a mother on this show…and yes while that is true…it wouldn’t have made very much sense for her to be a vigilante especially considering her age. A large part of Dinah Laurel Lance’s transition in the comics (at least originally) is her getting the name and blessing from her mother; seeing as her mother must be 50+ years old here, her passing the mantle on would be a little less significant and believable and thus, Sara was born. Sara has now served her purpose, and although some theories cross the interwebs that she may return as White Canary (another comic character) in all likelihood she probably won’t…and to those who believe it will occur as soon as the end of this season…I sit her puzzled and wondering why. Sara’s death, much like Tommy’s has impacted and pushed every character in this show in a new direction and they are only building off of where they have been pushed…bringing Sara back, no matter how you argue it completely negates that, especially if she appears at the end of this season alive and well. Also, considering the high probability that Ra’s Al Ghul will use the Lazarus Pit to close the season and the large part of the League of Assassins storyline, seeing as Ra’s is a villain you can’t simply lock away or completely kill off, and Oliver would have to defeat him to pay his debts and stop the Leagues seizure of his city, and that ***SPOILERS for S03E10 and S03E11*** Oliver was also just brought back from the dead as was Tatsu (Katana) technically, as we now think she is dead in the flashbacks ***END SPOILERS*** bringing more than three characters back in one season completely negates the point of death, and makes the show less interesting as it has not been afraid to kill of semi-large characters.
So there you have it, if you don't agree now I can honestly say chances are high you will be eating your words soon enough. Laurel is arguably the strongest character on the show next to Oliver, very far from being the weakest link as a character and the fact that up until season 3 she was portrayed as weak does not make her a weak character in the literal sense, it just simply means the way her character is written...on purpose...was to be someone who is weak, so I look forward to everyone enjoying the true Black Canary on the show and I want to finish with two final thoughts and reminders.
1) It has been confirmed that in season 3 episode 13 Laurel take on Vertigo and get stabbed by his hallucinogen, causing her to imagine she is actually fighting Sara. We don't know just how this fight will end as of now, but if the inexperienced...yes she IS inexperienced Laurel wins...remember it is a hallucination of Sara...not actually her.
2) Marc Guggenheim has gone on record a few times now and said that Laurel will prove wearing a mask does NOT mean you are a hero, and that she will get her butt kicked a few times at first. To all the people complaining about her lack of training, this should answer you question...as I said before she is trained to some end...and will definitely be trained to Roy or Thea's levels by season 4.
To close, here is a photo of the true "Team Arrow" as it stands now