This article contains spoilers for the CW’s Arrow through season 3 episode 11, “Midnight City.” Tread with caution.
Team Arrow is is having a bad time lately. Oliver’s death threw a wrench into the way they work. All of them are grieving; Felicity is diving into her work and an apparent new superhero setup with Ray Palmer, Roy and Diggle are struggling with taking over the role of protecting Starling City, and Laurel is taking on the mantle of the Canary and learning the difference between working in a gym and taking a real part in the action on the street.
However, it was another death this season that really messed this show up. When Sara Lance died earlier in the season, it sent a ripple through this show that affected more than just the plot–it seems to have affected our main characters in their very souls. And not in a good way.
When Sara fell to her death the Arrow team took great pains to hide the fact that she had passed away. At first it made sense; they were trying to keep the League of Assassins from finding out, knowing that her death would bring dire consequences to whoever did it, and possibly to Starling City itself. But the League found out, and soon the Arrow team discovered that her killer was Thea Queen, linking Sara’s death and the consequences for it directly to team Arrow and Oliver’s family.
In the meantime, everyone found out about Sara’s death, even Sara and Laurel’s mother. Everyone but Quentin Lance. Laurel made the choice immediately that her father should not find out about it, her reasoning based in concern for his health. However, in the most recent episode, this cover-up went across the line of acceptable, and Laurel impersonated Sara to continue faking out her father. This went from a simple “don’t tell him” to a flagrant and open act of deception, born out of pure selfishness on Laurel’s part. The truth of the matter is that she is prioritizing her own feelings of not wanting to see her father upset over his right to know the truth about his daughter’s death. Whether or not the news would kill him is not actually as important as him having the right to know something that everyone else in his life already does. His daughter has passed away. He has the right to mourn her.
This show has always been full of lies; they are the cost of being a vigilante in Starling City, they are a part and parcel of living the lives these characters lead. But deception of this magnitude takes everyone involved from “lying to protect their identities” to a new, darker place, where they’ve all become the kind of people that would actively withhold the knowledge of a daughter’s death from her father, not for a grand world-saving reason, but because Laurel is scared he’ll be hurt by the news. What pushed this from an annoying but acceptable lie into completely unacceptable territory is that now Laurel and team Arrow have used computers to modulate Sara’s voice to deceive Quentin, and Laurel has actively pretended to be Sara in front of him to make him believe she is still alive. Of course he will be hurt by the news of Sara’s death. He’s her father! What father wouldn’t be?
The issue now is that when Quentin eventually finds out about all this (and he will; it’s a TV show, he’ll find out sooner or later), it’s going to hurt a thousand times more than it would have if Laurel had just told him from the beginning that Sara was dead. Now, when he learns, not only will he be learning of his daughter’s death, but he’ll also be learning of a massive conspiracy to keep him in the dark about it. Laurel used her worry about his health to bring everyone on team Arrow into her web of deception, and now the consequences will reverberate throughout team Arrow. If it might kill Quentin to learn Sara is dead, what will happen when he finally learns about all of the deception on top of it, orchestrated by his living daughter?
At the least, I can’t imagine he’ll ever trust team Arrow again.
The next episode of Arrow, “Uprising,” airs tonight.