With Oliver Queen still on the mend from his case of acute impalement, Laurel Lance got her first significant time in the Black Canary wig on the latest episode of Arrow.
As much fun as it is to point out Lawwwrel’s flaws as a character (notice she is holding the club in the header photo by the not-handle), the fact stands that Laurel is our Black Canary for the foreseeable future.
She might not ever properly fill her sister’s bustier and cropped leather jacket in our hearts, but letting Laurel rise to a level of competency isn’t out of the question, either. Awful characters have turned it around before on shows, most recently on Agents of SHIELD with Skye.
The Skye of Season 1 was a lot like Laurel. You knew the creators of the show had her penciled in for great things, but you had no idea why. Skye was a pouty hacker who rarely touched a computer or contributed to the success of the team. She was April Ludgate from Parks and Recreation, except Skye didn’t have a tenth of April’s charisma.
In the time since the HYDRA reveal, Skye has grown. She still has flaws, but she’s gone from a character that when she was shot in Season 1 you let out cheer, to one that you cheered when she pumped a couple of slugs into Ward as his punishment for being a creepy douche. If this week’s SHIELD teaser preview is any indication, Skye’s next step from competent agent to super powered badass is going to be a shaky transition, too.
The way Laurel has been written through the first couple of seasons (bad lawyer, addiction, contributing little to the success of the team), I expected her first major vigilante work in “Midnight City” to be more cringe worthy than it was.
After Team Arrow was paralyzed by incompetence and splintering last week, the biggest fear was that the largely unskilled Black Canary would just step right in and fill Ollie’s role as team leader right from the outset. Instead Canary was out of her depth in the way you’d expect someone with minimal training would be when attempting to jump onto cars or use martial arts weapons they don’t know how to hold properly.
Laurel and Red Ranger Roy still managed to fight this new threat to a draw on the streets, before getting outflanked in other ways, conveniently setting up Ollie’s triumphant return. But there are some big steps still to be made to redeem Laurel.
As painful as it might be for fans, putting an end to this whole Sara subplot will do a lot to help Laurel successfully make the trip from awful to adequate. The more the show references Sara, the more it picks at the scab of her cheap demise.
For example, using Sara’s voice to trick Det. Lance on the phone is pushing it. Fooling the guy in a face-to-face meeting is a little too much. A person who is a professional observer of detail is going notice that his baby daughter grew four inches and lost 15 pounds since he last saw her. It’s bad storytelling that erodes the little credibility Laurel earns.
In the end, taking the course of evolution rather than instant transformation is at least a good start for the Lawwrel Redemption Tour 2015. Only time will tell if it will ever be enough.
Craig Wack knows all bets are off if they break up Ollicity in favor the canonical Arrow-Canary pairing. Please follow his Twitter.