Arrow "Blind Spot" Review: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Laurel?

By Noel Kirkpatrick

Jan 23, 2014

Arrow S02E11: "Blind Spot"

Last week, I talked about how Laurel's been an issue for Arrow due to her personal plot-hopping at the start of Season 2 and then her subsequent disappearance from the narrative. So her return to the fold in "Blast Radius"—and with a connection to the season's overarching plot, to boot—was cause for celebration. This week marked the apparent conclusion of her participation in things, but it's also probably for the best, as Arrow essentially hit the restart button on the character.

It's a good reset button, though. Quentin and Oliver have both lost faith in Laurel, and Adam fired her. Even her Carrie Mathison-esque theory about Sebastian being a criminal mastermind ended up in tatters. She has nothing left but her guilt, her sense of wrongness, and her drug problem. When a character hits rock bottom like this, it's a prime opportunity to rebuild them, to create something that's hopefully better than whatever was there before. 

Of course, this seemed to be Arrow's plan all along. The utter destruction of Laurel's world was intended to put on her a new, and perhaps more heroic, path, the same way the island broke down Oliver and Sara. Arrow' has always emphasized its love for an origin story by keeping the island plot going, and in that vein, it wouldn't have made much sense for Laurel to just become a costumed do-gooder without first giving her a real reason and drive to be one.

The journey hasn't been particularly well-managed, though. There's a clear sense that everything Laurel's gone through this season, from hunting down the vigilante to assuming the guilt for Tommy's death to the drugs, has been building to this episode. Since Laurel has largely felt like a background character in spite of all those things, the arc didn't have the dramatic oomph it probably should have had. The narrative threads were all there, but it was just oh so very difficult to care since we never really got to spend time with Laurel dealing with any of it. Keeping her and her plots on the periphery likely served the show as a whole more, but it didn't do the character any favors.

So "Blind Spot" ended up feeling like a bit of catch-up on everyone's part, as it rushed to pay off all of the Laurel plots that in turn would also further/delay the season's larger story in Oliver's unknowing hunt for Blood by making everyone think that the man in the skull mask is dead (RIP Officer Daily). I don't know that I actually care more about Laurel than I did before—though Katie Cassidy did manage to wring out some sympathy for the character in Laurel's distraught conversation with Quentin—but I'm at least more interested in what the show does with her going forward. You know, provided she doesn't just exist on the edge of the show to the degree that she has in the past. Maybe she can become Verdant's in-house counsel!

Then again, the mess that is now Laurel's life may just be a happy accident for Slade and whatever he has in store for Oliver. While Slade's plans for Oliver are still super vague beyond the whole "destroy everything he possibly cares for" aspect, we do now know that Sebastian getting close to Laurel is part of it, though to what end isn't clear right now. At least the events of the episode provided Slade and Sebastian a way to throw Oliver off their trail and provide a breaking of the trust between Oliver and Laurel. It wasn't the goal, but they did get the desired outcome, even if Sebastian is now on very thin ice as Slade's happy to get into an updated version of his old Deathstroke outfit from the island and kill some mooks to make a point.

The idea of breaking bonds of trust appeals to me since it offers some potential plot symmetry going forward, provided Island Slade finds out about what Oliver did that resulted in Shado's death. Slowly isolating Oliver from those he cares about and those who support him would be a fine form of revenge from a jilted ex-friend, leaving him emotionally and logistically vulnerable for a final confrontation. Oliver's already off his game a little bit because of the mirakuru, but now that he thinks it's all taken care of, that's a very dangerous sense of security for Slade to exploit.

Speaking of the mirakuru, Roy's all pumped up and ready to beat up scumbags now! I do like how Arrow is pacing itself with the Roy storyline, which presumably will reach a new point next week as Oliver starts to train Roy beyond parkour and beating prostitute-killers nearly to death. It serves as a nice counterpoint to Laurel's many plots that lingered about without much advancement. The show's choosing not dwell on Roy having lots of "Whoa, dude, look how hard I can punch things!" moments and instead is moving it along at a reasonable pace. Sure, I'm sort of rolling my eyes that Thea's in the dark still -- Sin didn't explain things to her? It seemed like she was about to at the hospital! -- but like Laurel, Thea's not always privy to the bigger going-ons.

That Roy's powers are moving right along while Laurel sort of languished for half a season, does demonstrate the show's trouble in managing the competing impulses of personal melodrama and superhero action. Arrow's gotten loads better at balancing those elements on an episode-to-episode basis, but that it is putting Roy in a fast lane while Laurel struggled to find an on-ramp demonstrates its priorities, and probably where its strengths are. There's nothing wrong with this as it's nice to see the show figuring itself out; it's just a matter of learning from those strengths and weaknesses, and using that knowledge to continue to hit new highs, as Arrow has done very well this season.


– I want Glen Winter to direct all of Arrow's episodes. He doesn't settle for easy shot composition or blocking (I loved the scene with Sebastian and his mother), and he even gives scenes like Laurel explaining her visit to St. Walker's to Adam a bit of life, simply by having the actors, and the camera, move around. Little bits of visual flair like that help keep scenes moving, even when they're just serving up exposition and internal plot-recapping.

– Starling City can't be bothered to organize its archives, but boy howdy, when they need cops at Archive No. 7, they show up double-quick and fully armed. I mean, a whole unit arrived in a blink of an eye, and the security guards hadn't even mentioned on-screen that they had the vigilante in the archives—just that they needed some officers. I can only assume that the truth about the Kennedy assassination is somewhere in that mess.

– Can I just tell you how much I love that Thea and Sin are friends, that they seem to genuinely like one another ("You are not touching the hair, Queen."), and there isn't any "Are you trying to steal my boyfriend?" nonsense. It's soooooooooooooooooo nice.

– I got a nice chuckle out of Oliver interrogating a super-snitch-y looking criminal with the use of a Bluetooth polygraph and asking what color his shoes were. Nice dash of humor.

What did you think of "Blind Spot"?

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  • halloween1986 Jan 28, 2014

    There is only one way to solve Laurel problem and it is very easy.
    Make her evil and angry. Then she will be likeable. Otherwise, writers are fighting lost battle. No one likes her, she's the worst character. She and Oliver have zero chemistry. Actress plays bitchy roles perfectly. With this dark and down spirale of hers you have win-win situation. Just as long the writers don't force us to like her, don't make everyone else stupid so that she could be right and don't make us feel sorry for her that she is using drugs.

  • Copioli Jan 25, 2014

    I also like the Sin-Thea friendship. I am also hoping something happens to Thea that makes her began wearing tights. Remember, she is Malcolm's daughter, she has mad aiming skills and Oliver call her Speedy (Roy is going all Red Hood).
    And I am with Laurel haters. I want her off the show, In this episode I am tired : she spoke with the woman who conveniently died later, she found the archives have been stolen and she seriously thinks she made a mistake and Blood was inocent? And Oliver thinks the same! That makes no sense for me.

  • TomWayne Jan 26, 2014

    Personally, I've got a gut feeling that Roy will go Arsenal before or around the season finale--complete with a particular event surrounding it (which I'll avoid mentioning fully to prevent spoilers), considering Deadshot and Deathstroke have followed the DCU pattern in that regard.

  • TomWayne Jan 25, 2014

    All their foibles with Laurel aside, the writers can get back in my good graces simply by letting Manu Bennett say "vigiLAHNte" at least once per ep. Sounds fifty times cooler when he says it.

    And Manu's agent seriously should book him as the next spokesman for Ginsu cutlery. :)

  • Whedonrules Jan 24, 2014

    They need to get rid of Roy and Laurel so we can spend more time with the badass that is Manu Bennett. Him in the Deathstroke costume may be the best costume this show has given us. I think the Laurel stuff is falling on the actress. This season has given her a lot of material to work with and she just isn't carrying the material to a higher lever to elicit sympathy for the character. She is just not as compelling an actress to watch as Caity Lotz (nor does she have the on screen chemistry with Amell that Lotz has - Just take the 'Arrow' Laurel bits from last night and compare them to the flashbacks with Sarah - you wonder why Laurel was ever his first choice. I'm thinking it might do the show some good to kill off Laurel and just let Lotz keep the costume. First off - there is no way Katie Cassidy is ever going to look as good as Lotz does in the Black Canary getup. I think Laurel would be a character we should be interested in if Keith Partridge's daughter could just breathe some life into her. We should be feeling something for this character, especially at her lowest point, but its just too hard to give a sh!t about Laurel - and especially in this episode, it shouldn't have been.

    My favorite assessment of the situation came from Diggle though. He was sooooo over Laurel that entire episode.

  • Kallenprice97 Jan 25, 2014

    I'm not ready to blame the actress. Apparently, she was very good in previous shows. Just think of what the writers have forced on that character. She's an angry, mistrustful person who pushes away everyone who loves her: Ollie, Tommy, Dad. Whenever she does reach out to one of these guys, it's for selfish reasons.

    They've just written her as a very unsympathetic character. I blame the writers and director for the mess that is Laurel.

  • Dougo13 Jan 24, 2014

    Lots of peeps didn't like the costume. Many said Deathstroke looks like Casey Jones from TMNT. I myself thought it looked cool but what do I know?

  • Gully_Foyle Jan 26, 2014

    Nah, is closer to Wild Dog :)

  • Jimboree Jan 24, 2014

    I would love if Slade makes Oliver choose between Laurel and Felicity in the season finale. The same way Oliver had to choose between Sarah and Shado.

  • Jimboree Jan 24, 2014

    Laurel needs to go. She is holding back the show and the writers really don't know what to do with her. The last thing I want is to see her stay and join the team as the black canary. I'm sure the writers know that the majority of fans dislike Laurel and if they are smart they will kill her off in the season finale. Laurel also holds Oliver back from growing as a character and he really needs to put her behind him. Laurel needs to go.

  • Kallenprice97 Jan 24, 2014

    I think the main reason so many of us have a hard time LIKING Laurel is because she's only ever pushed people away. She's fairly cold. At various times, she's pushed away Ollie, Tommy, her Dad. And, when she does reach out to them, it's more for selfish reasons than not.

    So, she's written in a way that's hard to like.

    I also agree with several other commenters that the writers never seemed to decide just what to do with her.

  • ddstephens Jan 24, 2014

    I really like Arrow and always have. A very good action series. But I hate, hate Laurel. Never could stomach her. Hope she goes into rehab and we don't hear from her for a while. I do love Sin, she was fantastic in The Killing. Just want to see more of cutie pie Roy. Oh and Thea is a air head.

  • vaberella Jan 24, 2014

    While majority hate Laurel...I despise Thea. Ugh...abhor, is more like it. But I will say this: unlike Laurel, she has a story that has potential.

  • olavaudun Jan 24, 2014

    I like the show. Its a average show as I call it!!

  • amyjclick Jan 24, 2014

    I personally love to see Laurel suffer and her character does NOT inspire any sympathy in me. I still find it so contrived that she figured out this about Blood and Oliver, the most untrusting is blindly endorsing Blood. They're trying too hard to make her relevant. Why do we need her on the show at all? Both Sara and Felicity are more interesting. Heck, even Helena was more compelling. Send her on a LONG retreat to rehab and no one will miss her!

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