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.
I wasn't happy with the writer's choice of killing of Laurel, I felt that it was not only the loss of an interesting and strong character, but another example of this series treating its female characters poorly for the benefit of a male lead. That being said, this episode handled the death of Laurel, her funeral, the effect on those who loved her and her legacy as a hero brilliantly and gave us the best episode of the season.
Laurel's death hits the team hard here, and the episode makes the important decision to not focus solely on Oliver, but to spend time seeing how it affected each and every one of them. The stand out performances of the episode came from both David Ramsey and Paul Blackthorne, whose reactions were so gut wrenching to watch and so powerfully performed that they outshone the shows lead by miles.
Diggle's loss manifests itself mostly as rage, with the fact that his own brother Andy played such a big role in the events that led to Laurel's death it spurred him into blaming himself and being angry for not having seen the treachery coming. Diggle decided that the best way to deal with that rage was to confront one of the few people close to Darhk that he knew he could find, his wife and mayor of Star City, Ruve Adams.
The scene where Diggle confronts her, attacking her limo and pulling a gun on her is one of his best yet and I have to admit that I got a huge amount of enjoyment watching him hit her in the face with his gun. Part of me is a little disappointed that Diggle didn't get to kill her, but the scene was so well acted and so well done that I have to give massive credit to David Ramsey for the way he did it.
Paul Blackthorne really stood out above everyone else this week though, first as a father full of hope that his daughter might still be alive after the Black Canary is spotted in Star City, then desperately trying to find a way of bringing her back from the dead, and finally full of grief as the realisation that Laurel isn't going to come back sinks in.
You can understand Lance's reasoning in this episode, after all, his other daughter was killed and came back from the dead, he's seen super powered beings and has witnessed magic, so of course he's going to be trying to find a way of bringing her back. The sheer determination of him to find a way of saving her and the crushing realisation that she's gone makes me think that this time dead really might be dead. To go through all the trouble of shooting down every avenue to bring her back only to do so somehow later on would cheapen a lot of this episode.
As I mentioned briefly above, shortly after Laurel's death there are sightings of Black Canary around Star City, and as the team begin to investigate they discover that a teenage girl called Evelyn Sharpe has stolen Laurel's sonic device and made it her mission to stop Hive after they were responsible for the death of her parents.
Evelyn makes quite a public display of her mission to take down Hive and, along with Diggle's assault on her, Ruve Adams launches a campaign to arrest team Arrow, starting with Black Canary. Despite getting the chance to kill Adams and get the revenge that she craves Evelyn gets talked down by Ollie and flees the scene. Evelyn doesn't hand over the sonic device, she doesn't get arrested and she's even seen at Laurel's funeral, so it's very possible that she intends to keep the Black Canary identity. This could have a possible comic book connection too, as in the New 52 version of the Birds of Prey there is an Evelyn Crawford, a friend of Black Canary who goes by the codename Starling. Black Canary might be gone, but perhaps Starling will appear at some point in the future.
Because of what Evelyn did and everyone thinking that she was the Black Canary, Oliver decides that he is going to honour Laurel and her legacy the best way that he can. At her funeral he reveals the truth, he tells everyone that Laurel wasn't just satisfied with fighting for justice as a district attorney and that she took on the role of Black Canary to bring hope to Star City. He tells the whole world that Laurel was a hero, so that her name and her deeds will be remembered with honour.
I have to admit, it was a brave move to reveal to the world who the Black Canary was, and it's not something that is often done when super heroes die in film, tv or even comics, but I liked the decision. Ollie's speech acknowledged the amazing journey that Laurel went through, it reminded the audience that she was a good person who wanted to make a real difference. Fiction or not, that's what a real hero is, and something everyone should aspire to be.
I still don't like the fact that the show killed Laurel, but this episode made her death feel like it meant something, that it might not have been a throwaway moment or a light decision. Laurel had been underused so much during her time over this last season, but this episode reminded us of how important she was to so many people. Arrow will definitely be the weaker show for not having Laurel Lance in it.