Thursday, September 24, 2015

#CountdownToArrow: Top 5 Laurel Lance Moments

As we continue in our #CountdownToArrow, we've come upon a character who can (if you're involved in fandom long enough) be quite divisive among Arrow fans. It seems that often people are in one of two camps -- either they love Laurel Lance or they do not. Me, personally? While she's not my favorite character in all of television, she's also grown on me as the years progressed. I've been able to see her strength and her depth as the show has allowed her to become free from Oliver, free from her addiction, and free from living in someone else's shadow. Laurel is always best in this show when the writers give her unique plots and don't try to shoehorn her into stories (a problem I had with both her and Roy and Thea early on).

I think that the writing, over the years, has done some disservice to Laurel as a character. She's more than an addict and she's more than the recklessness she sometimes exudes. She's strong. She's brash. and she's smart when she's allowed to shine in her true love -- protecting the people she cares about. Laurel was always an outstanding attorney and what makes her a great character is that she often doesn't care what other people think of her. I quite admire that. I like that she's sometimes bristly (and it's why I think her relationship with Nyssa is so wonderful, because they're both little prickly porcupines). I like that she gets angry and upset with Oliver and calls him out on his crap. While a lot of her behavior in season two is problematic because addiction stories are, at their cores, problematic (not because addiction is wrong to portray in stories but because SO many shows do it SO poorly... Arrow included), a lot of her actions in season one and season three earned her some recognition from us for Laurel Lance Appreciation Day.

Don't be confused -- Jen (my lovely soul sister who you all best know as jbuffyangel) and I (Jenn... the double letter is the distinguisher) decided to talk about some of the best Laurel moments from the past three seasons. Take a look and let us know what you think!

5. JEN'S PICK: Laurel and Sara make up. (“Time of Death”)

What I loved most about this moment is that Laurel finally realized the relationship she needed to focus on repairing is not her relationship with Oliver, but with Sara. When Laurel comes to Verdant, she tells Oliver she wants to speak to Sara. Alone. Oliver and Laurel just had a huge fight earlier in the episode. It was obvious Laurel came to apologize, but she made it clear to Oliver the apology wasn’t meant for him. It was one of the very first times Laurel showed she was letting go of their toxic relationship.

And then Laurel apologizes to Sara. Because when anything happens in Laurel’s life, chances are it always comes back to Sara. She admits the day Sara drowned on the boat was the day she drowned too. And when Sara returned to Starling City, Laurel realized that while Sara fought for her survival so that she could emerge vibrant and beautiful… Laurel was not fighting. She was sinking. She has been drowning in pills and booze. And this was Laurel’s cry for help. But the person she ultimately turned to when she hit bottom was not Oliver Queen, but her sister Sara Lance.

Not all love stories are romantic ones. This moment was the writers’ clear signal that the person who influences Laurel Lance the most and the person Laurel loves the most is not a man, but her sister.

4. JEN'S PICK: The fight with Oliver in the hallway. (“Time of Death”)

Two years.

It took two years for Oliver and Laurel to have the fight I’ve been dying for them to have. Her earlier scenes with Oliver were angry, yes, but the writers quickly moved past those emotions and toward the love triangle and a conflicted Laurel over her feelings for Oliver. Whereas I was more of the opinion, Laurel should be 100% done with Oliver. Because that’s what sleeping with someone’s sister is - a deal breaker.

In “City of Heroes,” Oliver told Laurel that if he could do everything all over again, he would. Well… he had that opportunity. He had the chance to do it all over again when Sara came back to Starling City. And what, exactly, did Oliver do? He slept with Sara. Again.

So, after discovering Oliver and Sara are sleeping together (again), Laurel lets Oliver have it. These two characters finally dig deep and discuss their hurt and resentments towards one another.

But what’s most interesting is that Laurel walked away, just like Oliver did. And just like Oliver, she’s never looked back. This is the moment Laurel Lance let Oliver Queen go and she’s been the better for it.

3. JEN'S PICK: Sara’s death (“The Calm”/“Sara”)

The greatest love of Laurel Lance’s life is her sister Sara. When Sara died, it obliterated who Laurel was. She only fully regained her sense of self when Sara returned. Because the beautiful parallelism and truth here is that Sara pulled Laurel out of her dark spiral and Laurel pulled Sara out of hers.

In “The Calm,” Laurel is finally happy. She’s sober. She is successful in her career. She’s contributing to Team Arrow in a real, meaningful way by helping Oliver put away the bad guys and doing what she does best as an attorney. She’s found friendship with Oliver again and let go of any romantic entanglements. And her sister is alive and beautiful and fine.

But when Sara falls off that roof with three arrows in her chest, her body crashing right in front of Laurel… it all ends. Laurel’s happily ever after ends, once again. As she cries over the body of the person she loves the most in this world, we know Laurel will be irrevocably changed by this moment.

There were two deaths in that alley. Laurel’s anguished cries signal not only mourning over the loss of her sister, but over the loss of herself too. Because that’s what happens when you lose the love of your life. A piece of you dies. What's more -- you’ll never get that piece back because it belongs to them.

2. JENN'S PICK: Laurel realizes her worth. (“Canaries”)

It might be clear that some of our favorite moments involve Laurel telling Oliver off. And maybe you’re wondering exactly WHY we love these moments. This scene from the past season was one of my absolute favorite Laurel moments, ever. I really loved “Canaries” even though a lot of people had mixed feelings about it. Here’s why I loved the episode though -- was Laurel reckless? Absolutely. Was she justified? Maybe. Was she in more pain than everyone around her realized? Without a doubt. The thing is, the scene between Laurel and Felicity proved that Felicity is the guiding light for everyone on the team. She’s their humanity, their foundation. And what Laurel needed most to hear in that episode was that she couldn’t be Sara -- not because she was worthless, a screw-up, and an addict.

No, she couldn’t be Sara because even SARA couldn’t be Sara.

Laurel idealized Sara. She loved her. Worshipped her, even. Jen is totally right in saying that Sara is the great love of Laurel’s life. And when Laurel lost that… she lost a part of herself, too, and was desperately trying to find it by recapturing the person Sara was. It was only when Laurel realized (thanks to Felicity) that she didn’t have to BE that person, that she truly embraced who she was -- flaws and all.

Instead of trying to hide behind a mask, Laurel used it to try and live a life that Sara would be proud of. Instead of trying to be Canary, Laurel just learned to be HERSELF. And I loved when Laurel told Oliver off in that alleyway because screw him is right, girl. He doesn’t get to tell her that she’s an addict. That’s not his place. It will NEVER be his place.

Because she’s much more than that and she finally realized it in “Canaries.”

1. JENN'S PICK: Laurel defends a child. (“Home Invasion”)

I recently re-watched “Home Invasion” in preparation for Laurel Lance Appreciation Day and I still maintain that it is the best Laurel episode (or at least my favorite one). The thing is, in retrospect, Laurel taking care of the orphaned child is a horrible idea because, you know, HER NAME WAS ON THE NEWS REPORT. But what I love so much about Laurel is that when she is at her best, she’s immensely relatable and the kind of woman who stands by her convictions no matter what anyone else says. She doesn’t want the child in this episode to suffer any more than he already has and believes she can offer him a temporary, normal environment in a warm home. Tommy (may he forever R.I.P.) and Laurel have amazing scenes in this episode where they essentially play house to the child. Laurel is supportive and loving; Tommy is sweet and caring. They would have made the perfect parents together, raising little children alongside Oliver and Felicity but THAT IS BESIDE THE POINT. The point is that the moment Laurel realizes that something is wrong with the man who shows up to her door, she springs into action, with Tommy shortly behind. And what’s so great is that Arrow inverted the trope we would usually see -- the man defending the home while the woman protected the child.

In “Home Invasion,” though, Laurel immediately locates her shotgun (let me reemphasize: HER SHOTGUN) while Tommy dives atop the child in the living room to protect him. Laurel is a fighter and that’s what’s so great about her. She may not always be right, but she always cares enough to put up a fight for what she wants. She shoots, and -- of course -- encounters problems right afterward (and then The Vigilante swoops in and saves the day). Laurel’s wit, sass, and desire to protect are what make her a memorable character. When Laurel is being written well, she’s the kind of person who will staunchly and valiantly defend you against anyone. That’s proven in “Home Invasion.” And throughout the series, she seeks to protect the vulnerable through her job as a lawyer (and now her job as a masked vigilante).

There you have it, folks! Some of our favorite Laurel Lance moments for Laurel Appreciation Day. What are some of yours? Hit up the comments below and let us know! And keep an eye on Twitter as we continue #CountdownToArrow in the coming weeks. :)


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