Monday, 11 April 2016

Arrow '11:59' Review

This review WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS for the episode to be discussed, if you do not want certain plot points or story spoilt, please do not read further.

Okay, I'm going to get this off my chest straight off the bat, I do not like this episode.  It started well, had some great character moments and some cool action sequences, but the end ruined this episode.  It has ruined this season for me.  And judging from reactions on the Internet I'm not the only one who feels this way.  The reason for this anger?

This is the point where I say spoiler alert just to make sure you really want to know.  Still here?  Okay then.  This episode is bad because it kills off one of the best characters in the series in a completely pointless and terrible way just to service the story of the main character.

Laurel Lance, aka Black Canary, is killed by series villain Damien Darhk, who once again has his magic powers back.  After getting to play through some extremely complex character arcs and show some of the best growth of any of the characters on the show (possibly the only character to have this kind of growth) she's killed in order for Darhk to hurt her father and Oliver.

As a review of the episode this isn't really the place to go into details about just how bad a problem Arrow has with writing women, and how often they seem to 'fridge women', I actually gave a whole separate piece to that here, but it's impossible to talk about this episode without talking about the problem with killing off Laurel.

Aside from the fact that it is yet another instance of a female character suffering for the benefit of Oliver Queen, Laurel has been one of the most interesting characters in the whole life of the show, and her role as Black Canary has not only been one of the best facets of her character, but also one with an almost 70 year history in the comics.  To add insult to injury, her television death happened on the same week as the characters birthday in the comics.

Other than the killing of Laurel, the episode follows events as Darhk hatches a plan in prison to get his magic back, by getting Merlyn to steal it from Oliver and the team.

Part of the plan involves Diggle's brother, who we saw meeting with Merlyn at the end of the last episode.  When this episode picks up Andy confides in Diggle that Malcolm approached him and gets the team to help him to 'disrupt' Merlyn's plans.

As Oliver, Diggle and Andy prevent as group of assassins from stealing several missiles from a military convoy Merlyn and some of of the members of the League of Assassins still loyal to him infiltrate the bunker and confront Thea and Laurel before making off with Darhk's idol.

Despite Andy taking an arrow to protect Oliver, Oliver is distrustful of him and is convinced that he's working with Merlyn and Darhk, an accusation that drives a wedge between Oliver and Diggle.  The confrontation between the two of them is one of the more interesting parts of the episode, and really puts a strain on the two two men who have more than once called each other brothers.

It's a dynamic that would have been worth spending some time exploring over more than one episode, but when the heroes go to prevent Darhk from breaking out of prison it turns out that Andy was indeed working for the bad guys and gives Darhk the missing piece of the idol he needed to get his magic back.  Whilst the double cross is something of a surprise, and creates an interesting situation for Diggle going forwards, but it stops the drama of Oliver and him being at odds with each other.

The final moments of the episode are spent between Oliver and Laurel in the hospital moments before she dies, where she tells Oliver that she loves him, but is happy that he has Felicity in his life (servicing the Olicity fans over the comic book fans perhaps?) and asks Oliver to do her a favour, though we don't get to hear what that favour is.

Some people are speculating that Laurel is still going to be alive, and that she asked Oliver to help fake her death.  But why would she do that, to what end would faking her death help anyone?  She's seen her father go through the pain of losing Sarah more than once, and would never do that to Quentin.  I might have been wrong about who was in the coffin, but at this point I really doubt that it's a fake out and think that Laurel is gone for good.

'11:59' is the worst episode of this season, and makes a terrible mistake of killing off one of the best characters in the series for no good reason other than the writers not knowing what to do with her.  Arrow has angered a lot of fans with this move, and I am one of them.


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