Hi Laura! I'm curious what your thoughts are about learning from Sara on the island during s2 that she'd had a crush on Oliver before Laurel dated him, which Laurel knew about and when Sara tried to sneak out to a party to see him, Laurel told her dad/got cops involved so Sara got busted. I've heard some say that was good of Laurel because there was booze/drugs involved but aren't there at all parties? Does this shows Laurel's selfish side, considering she moved on him while Sara was grounded?
Hi! Thanks for the ask! I don’t know what I could have possibly done to make you think that I have any thoughts about this Arrow show, but I suppose that I can give it a try. :)
I think that it was a huge mistake to introduce this random little subplot about Laurel calling the cops on Sara to stop her from making a move on big dumb Ollie. It only would have served a positive purpose for the narrative if the ultimate goal for the season had been to set up Sara and Oliver as star-crossed lovers destined to love and lose each other over and over again until their happily-ever-after in the series finale. As we know now, the Sara/Oliver romance was orchestrated to serve two purposes: stall Felicity/Oliver from continuing to develop at a breakneck pace and fool the audience enough that the “I love you” ruse would be a shock. It was the first big “Gotcha!” of the series.
Sidebar: I’m so glad that the kiss in 2x23 was deleted. I can’t even look at gifs. I’m so uncomfortable with the idea of Oliver making that situation physical while Felicity thought that he was being honest about his feelings without any ulterior motives.
With Sara and Oliver not intended to be a relationship of lasting relevance beyond the end of Season 2, adding that little touch of romance to the flashbacks gave an ongoing significance that was not needed for the setup of the “Gotcha!” in the present. It made Laurel’s interference look worse, Sara’s investment in Oliver look deeper, and Oliver look like more of a jerk. There were better ways to telegraph to the audience that Sara was more than just Fun Blonde #27 who happened to be available for a spontaneous sex cruise, and further entanglement in a bizarre and borderline incestuous triangle was more detrimental than helpful.
I so wish that we’d been given Laurel’s point-of-view regarding why she wanted to begin a relationship with Oliver in the first place. As much as I consider Lauriver toxic and best kept off of my screen, I think that I’d be more forgiving if I understood why Laurel desired Oliver as a romantic partner before the island. From what we heard of the party, Oliver was already well into his dumb, drunk, dallying side as a teenager; with the audience left to fill in the blanks, Laurel either looks like a vindictive older sister who wanted what Sara wanted just because she wanted it or like a gold-digger. We don’t see her point-of-view, and her character suffers for it.
Sidebar, part deux: I’d love if it comes out that Laurel was interested in Oliver for his status and trust fund. It’s not the most morally upright reason, but I could respect her for it. Talk about having an eye on the prize! Pre-island Ollie was awful.
Without Laurel’s point-of-view and with Sara sharing the story while suffering on the island from hell after a year of immersive abuse - some of which was implied to be sexual - on the freighter landed sympathies directly with her. It was similar to how it was difficult to side with Laurel’s vitriol against Oliver in the beginning of Season 1 because we were watching him be beaten down in every way that a pampered prince of a manchild can be beaten down in the flashbacks. We saw him paying for his mistakes, and so Laurel looked unjustly unforgiving. With Sara telling the story of the love-that-could-have-been in her situation on Lian Yu, it was almost to side with an absent Laurel.
Objectively, I will say that any teenager willing to stand against her peers and reach out to authorities to report a party in which substances are being illegally consumed by kids with easy access to expensive sports cars begging to be crashed by drivers in altered states would be admirable. If Laurel had been behaving altruistically and out of a desire to promote the safety of her classmates and sister, I would tip my hat in her direction.
As this was the only reported instance of Laurel calling cops on a party, and as Laurel very shortly thereafter began dating a guy who had been so sloshed at the party that he didn’t recall spilling a beer on her baby sister, however, I can’t give Laurel any credit as a moral authority. We have no cause to believe that she ratted out her sister for any reason that was not inherently selfish and troublingly calculating for a teenage girl.
That said, I don’t condemn present Laurel or Lauriver because of her behavior as a teenager. Social structures in American high schools can skew priorities, especially among young women; a relationship with the Oliver Queen could trump any reservations she had about getting her baby sister grounded for a couple of weeks. I don’t think that Laurel is a fundamentally bad person for this move.
I do think that it does no favors to a character whose altruistic motives in the present have been told more often than actually shown since the first season.
Sidebar, part three: Showing/Telling is my narrative OTP. Telling/Telling is an incestuous NOTP that produces nothing good.
Oliver is no longer the Ollie who got sloshed at parties and cheated on his girlfriend; Oliver has never overindulged on alcohol in the present, and he’s been faithful to whichever of his ladies he’s been bedding at a given time.
Sara is no longer the kid who would ditch school and go on a sex cruise with her sister’s boyfriend; Sara has learned valuable skills and maintained a serious relationship with woman who clearly loved her very much.
Laurel may literally no longer be somebody who would call the cops to break up a party to punish her sister, but Laurel has been shown as willing to try to influence those around her into fitting into her picture of her life and has used blackmail on two very serious occasions.
Without Laurel’s point-of-view and without the sort of on-screen growth to allow audiences to accept an evolution from calculating young woman into thoroughly selfless adult, the story of the ill-fated party that determined which Lance sister Oliver first had his way with reflects most badly on Laurel of the three parties involved. The backstory never should have happened.