Warning: Major spoilers ahead for tonight's episode of Arrow, titled "Eleven Fifty-Nine."
During a screening of tonight's harrowing episode of Arrow earlier this week, a number of reporters had the opportunity to see who was in the grave before it aired tonight on The CW.
It was for those in the room, as it was for many watching, a pretty emotional hour of television.
The first question out of the box, perhaps unsurprisingly, was "Why Laurel?"
Executive producer Marc Guggenheim answered, but one of the first things he wanted to impress upon people was that the decision to kill off Laurel -- Oliver's love interest in the comics -- has nothing to do with their desire to prop up Oliver's TV romance with Felicity Smoak.
"Obviously Arrow is always a show that's evolving, it's always a show where you know, every character arguably except for the Arrow is fair game," Guggenheim said. "And you know we started off this year with the promise of a death, and when we sort of worked our way through our various different creative choices, we realized that you know, the thing that will give us the most pop going into the end of the season and into next season unfortunately would be Laurel, and we knew by the way, we knew that it would enrage a lot of people."
"You know, you know we're not immune to the you know, shipping, and we're not immune to the internet controversy, but...when I say immune, we're not blind to it, but you know we've never made decisions on the show creatively because of the Internet, and you know, one of the you know, one of the things we knew people were going to think is, 'Oh well, in the season were Oliver and Felicity get engaged, and Laurel dies, that's clearly making a choice about who's going to end up with who,' and truth be told, we sort of, we told the Laurel, Oliver romance story in Season One," Guggenheim continued. "We told that story. We never really thought about going back to it, so the shipping the was not an element, it was not a factor for us, and we recognize that that upsets a lot of fans, particularly the comic books fans who, in the comics, Dinah Lance and Oliver Queen are in very ... depending on which version of the character you like, are in a romance together in very iterations, and that to some people is considered canonical and iconic, and we respect that, but at the same time we've always you know, made know bones about the fact that we are telling our own version of the Green Arrow mythos and you know, the Green Arrow has had so many different interpretations and blackened areas, and had so many different interpretations over the years that we never felt you know beholden to one particular interpretation, and this is our interpretation, like it or not, and I recognize that there are plenty of people up and down my Twitter feed who do not like it. Totally respect that."
Nevertheless, he said, it's a creative decision. That Arrow now exists in a world of time-travel, flashbacks, spinoffs, alternate Earths, and Lazarus Pits makes it a little easier to say good-bye to a beloved character or a fan-favorite cast member...but at the end of the day it's still mostly how a loss affects the rest of the world of the show that determines who gets the ax.
"It's never been just about one or two different particular fan bases," Guggenheim said. "We make the creative choices, you know, we feel benefit the show as a whole, and the story that we're telling overall."
Arrow airs on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.
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