12:00pm PT by Sydney Bucksbaum
'Arrow's' Latest Victim on Controversial Death: "Shock Value Is Good"
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Wednesday's Arrow, "Eleven-Fifty-Nine."]
Laurel Lance's (Katie Cassidy) death on Arrow may be controversial when it comes to the comic book source material, but her portrayer understands why Black Canary ended up in the flash-forward grave on The CW series.
"Since season two up until now, Laurel has had a truly amazing journey and [the writers] have written so well for me," Cassidy told reporters after a recent press screening. "I've had such an incredible arc so it made sense to me, creatively, that we've told Laurel's story. It has come to an end in the Arrow-verse."
Wednesday's episode finally paid off the storyline teased back in the season four premiere when a flash-forward showed Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) kneeling at a freshly dug grave. The Flash's Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) arrived to pay his respects after the funeral, and Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) waited angrily for Oliver in a limo, ready to leave the cemetery to get revenge on Damien Dahrk (Neil McDonough) for putting whoever that mysterious person was in that grave. "Eleven-Fifty-Nine" finally revealed that it was Laurel after Dahrk stabbed her with one of Oliver's own arrows while he was escaping Iron Heights Prison. Oliver brought Laurel to the hospital, and despite making it out of surgery, she suddenly coded and died while in recovery.
Arrow producers were vocal all season long about how when they introduced that grave mystery, they did it without knowing who would end up in it. Cassidy learned only two episodes before shooting her death that she was the unlucky castmember getting killed off. In fact, she found out the day she had to shoot her court scenes in the Damien Dahrk trial, so she had to force herself to put her feelings "on the back burner for now" to focus on the tough material of that day.
"I was OK with it," Cassidy says. "We all came to an understanding that this was what was going to happen. I think the shock value is good. It’s such a jolt and 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 can get stale."
The last scene Cassidy shot on set was actually a reshoot of the fateful moment when Dahrk stabs her in the prison.
"It was so weird because I remember we had broken for lunch, we came back and I was running to set and I was putting on my jacket and gloves and they were just calling me to set to show-wrap me," Cassidy says. "I didn’t know that I was done. It was a bit of a shock. But it was good. I feel like there was no other way that I would want it to go."
Looking back on the series as a whole, there will always be one moment that stands out to Cassidy: becoming the Black Canary. In fact, she even managed to convince the showrunners to let her take the jacket and mask home with her to keep.
"At the end of season two going into three when I put the jacket on for the first time, that moment was something," Cassidy says. “I still get a little choked up talking about it because I was so excited. I remember trying on the jacket, I had been waiting for that moment. That for me was the turning point. Obviously season two, my character had a really hard time. As an actor … it was great to be able to take on that challenge and go there and then hit rock bottom and come back on top. Also, being in training and fight-training and getting to be a strong female character who’s out there kicking some ass was definitely something that was cool and I had a blast doing it."
Cassidy is not gone from the Arrow-verse just yet, however. She will be featured heavily in next week's Arrow episode in flashbacks, and she will reprise her role as Laurel Lance from the past in The CW Seed's digital series Vixen for season two. Cassidy will also appear in an upcoming episode of The Flash as the Earth-2 version of Laurel Lance, aka the DC Comics character Black Siren.
“I love working with them,” Cassidy says. “I’m always happy to come play with them if they time-travel or what not. To me, Laurel was always such a good person and had such a good heart and was a fighter. For her to be remembered, I think her being remembered that way is definitely important to me."
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.