[Warning: The following contains major spoilers from the latest episode of Arrow.]
Like the Lannisters, Damien Dahrk (Neal McDonough) always repays his debts.
At first, it appeared as though Dahrk failed to deliver on his pledge, with Laurel surviving a successful surgery. However, shortly after she finished up a heartfelt talk with the team, the Black Canary began coding - but not before she asked Oliver (Stephen Amell) to make her an unheard promise.
And though Arrow has teased this major death at Dahrk's hands since the season premiere, even the producers didn't know it would be Laurel until recently. "We started off this year with the promise of a death and when we worked our way through our various different creative choices, we realized that the thing that would give us the most pop going into the end of the season and into next season would be Laurel," showrunner Marc Guggenheim told reporters at a press screening.
Once the producers decided that Laurel would be in the grave, they prepared themselves for the inevitable fan backlash. Because although Oliver is currently in love with Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards), an original character for the television series, in the comic books, Oliver's main love interest is the Black Canary.
"We're not immune to 'shipping and we're not immune to the internet controversy. When I say immune, we're not blind to it. But we've never made decisions on the show creatively because of the Internet," Guggenheim explained. "The Green Arrow has had so many different interpretations, the Black Canary has had so many interpretations over the years, that we never felt beholden to one particular interpretation. And this is our interpretation, like it or not. I recognize that there are plenty of people up and down my Twitter feed who do not like it and I totally respect that."
For her part, Cassidy is happy with the way Laurel went out. "I've had such an incredible arc. It made sense to me creatively," she said. "I was OK with it and we all came to an understanding that this was going to happen. It made sense to me. I think the shock value was good. ... It's such a jolt and it's such a turn in the story that it gives them so much more to do and places to go with it. Otherwise, I feel like shows could get stale."
It likely helps that despite Laurel being dead, Cassidy knows she hasn't made her last appearance in the Arrow-verse. As previously reported, Guggenheim promised that "dead is not goodbye" in this world, thanks to the introductions of the Lazarus Pit, parallel universes and time-travel. In fact, Cassidy will appear in the next episode of Arrow through flashbacks, as well as portray Earth-2 Laurel - better known as the crime-fighter Black Siren - on a May 17 episode of The Flash.
There's also the possibility that we haven't seen the last of the Black Canary on Arrow. "It's a mantle that multiple people have had," Guggenheim said, noting the idea of someone else taking up that particular vigilante persona will be explored this season. "We've seen on[Legends of Tomorrow] someone picks up Oliver Queen's mantle, for example. We're in that world and we lean into it pretty strongly in [the next episode]. And that doesn't always mean the person is a hero."
And though Cassidy will appear again, don't get confused: Laurel Lance is really and truly dead. This isn't a Glenn fake-out and there aren't any plans for a Jon Snow revival any time soon. So when Arrow returns onApril 27, the series isn't going to shy away from the devastating effects Laurel's death has on Team Arrow.
"I would say the biggest consequences emotionally are felt by Thea (Willa Holland) and by Diggle (David Ramsey)," Guggenheim said. "You can draw a straight-ish line from his decisions in this episode to Laurel's death and that's certainly not a fact that's lost on him."
Lance, who already lost his daughter Sara (Caity Lotz) twice, will also take Laurel's death particularly hard. "He's going to have to pick up the pieces, not pick up a bottle, and reconcile what's left in his life," Blackthorne said. The Lance family's grieving process will be further explored in an upcoming episode of the spin-off Legends of Tomorrow, where we'll see Sara and Lance work through their mourning together.
But grief won't distract Team Arrow from getting justice for Laurel. Their newly flamed hatred of Damien Dahrk will unite the group, including Felicity, in a mission to "figure out what happened and get revenge on the people who did it," showrunner Wendy Mericle said.
Will you miss Laurel Lance?
Arrow returns Wednesday, April 27 on The CW.
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Additional reporting by Megan Vick