In celebration of actress Alex Kingston, we’re counting down to her birthday with a week full of Alex love and appreciation! Beginning on March 5th and going through the 11th, please join us in creating and sharing original content
– gifs, edits, playlists, art, fics, musings, et cetera – to celebrate all things Alex.
Please be sure to tag your posts with “akaw2017” (in the first 5 tags) so everyone can find them. All posts in this that tag will be reblogged by@itsalexthatwelove; if a post is missed, please let me know! Also: Follow that tag and this blog!
Other tags to help get your posts seen: “Alex Kingston”, “Kingston edit” (for edits), “Kingston post” (posts that aren’t strictly edits), character names, “drfic” (for River x Doctor fic), & “River Song edit” (for, obviously, River edits).
There are 2 prompts listed for each day so you can pick your favorite. Feel free to think of the prompts as suggestions and substitute a lagniappe prompt (below) or deviate entirely.
Please do not feel obligated to participate in all seven days!
Day 1 (5 March) – What was your introduction to Alex Kingston? // Alex in a period piece
Day 2 (6 March) – When Alex made you feel all the feels // A time when Alex made you laugh
Day 3 (7 March) – Favorite interview // Cast Alex in a film of your own imagining. Create a graphic, generate a synopsis, and/or write a scene.
Day 4 (8 March) – Favorite acting partnership // Favorite Alex quote (either by or about her)
Day 5 (9 March) – Favorite non-River Song role // Favorite recurring Alex theme (an accessory, outfit, type of role, prop, etc., that’s popped up repeatedly)
Day 6 (10 March) – Alex in a decade // What has Alex taught you? / How has she inspired or influenced you?
Day 7 (11 March) – Happy birthday, Alex Kingston! A free day to create as you please!
Lagniappe prompts: (for substitutions or those who’d like to do just a little extra)
A role or production you’d like to see Alex in
Favorite sartorial choice(s)
Favorite audio recording(s)
Favorite stage role(s)
Fic prompts: For the fiction writers out there, write a fic based on a character Alex has played and three words given (to include or inspire).
Archaeologist. Dust, worn, shine.
Queen. Sword, courageous, skim.
Criminal. Atomizer, dense, divulge.
Writer. Draft, blurry, tapped.
Mother. Water, frayed, grasp.
Doctor. Adrenaline, precise, gather.
NO STEALING!!! If you need a gif for your post but do not gif, please use one with permission from its creator and/or give them credit. Same with edits and art. Posts containing stolen materials will not be reblogged by this blog.
Don’t edit the captions on anyone’s post in a way that changes the OP url at the bottom and makes it look like your own post.
Keep it hate-free.
When reblogging, please do not remove a caption – part or whole – unless the original poster states that you may do so.
Kingston Demarco, the Entrepreneur. Kingston was picked up down in Isla Paradiso selling burned CD’s, exotic fish, and juice out of the back of a pick-up truck. Once a business tycoon, highly influential and reputable, people say that Kingston’s fall from grace drove him over the edge and into an inescapable pit.
Arrow recently killed off a major character. They killed a character that a lot of fans believed was safe, and essential to the Green Arrow mythology. But Arrow’s Laurel Lance started dying a long time ago. In a lot of ways, the character was doomed from the beginning because she was seen as part of Green Arrow’s mythology as opposed to a character with a history and myth-arch of her own. This is a long structural analysis of the missed opportunities I see in how Laurel Lance was written.
Full confession. I’m not writing this as one of the betrayed. I started watching Arrow, and liked it. I’m a Felicity and an Olicity fan. It was when went back to pull comics, because I liked the show, that I first found and fell for Dinah Laurel Lance and the Black Canary. I didn’t come to the show with a deep love for the character, or big expectations, or a need that yearned to be fulfilled. Once I started reading I was mostly just confused. Because the Laurel Lance on screen was not the one I was meeting in comic books. I had a hard time reconciling them as the same character. (Translation: if you are coming here for Felicity hate, you aren’t going to find it. If you just want to talk about the opportunities that were missed with Laurel/Black Canary, read on.)
Black Canary, my Black Canary, the one I met in comic books, is amazing. She’s got a fantastic set of stories with a lot of interesting and ripe history to draw on. Part of that collection, was her relationship with Green Arrow, but that romantic plot is not the best thing about her history. I think screen Laurel Lance never found firm footing in the show, or the fandom, because she was treated as a love interest before anything else. Everything that made the comic book version of the character really compelling, at least to me, was chucked before the opening credits of season one, episode one.
I know that there will be people who claim that given more time and effort the show writers could have fixed it. But I don’t think they could have. Basically, TPTB shrunk Dinah Laurel Lance so that Screen Laurel could be all about the Oliver Queen love story. Nothing in her history was left to compete with the prominence of that story. Then the love story was then bungled. (Structurally, from day one.) Without a love story, the writers didn’t know what to do with the character, she’d been stripped of too much. So they killed her in a trite and tone deaf way. Here’s what I see as the worst choices.
My Black Canary got her superhero legacy from her mother.
My Black Canary was never interested in philandering, pre-Green Arrow, playboy Oliver.
My Black Canary would never have gone back to a man that cheated on her. With her sister. Then got that sister killed. Or at least put in mortal danger. Even if she forgave him. And her sister.
My Black Canary met Oliver on the streets, already a super hero and vigilante.
My Black Canary was involved with a very different Oliver Queen, one that went out of his way to make her laugh.
Let’s take those in turns.
1. My Black Canary got her Superhero Legacy from her Mother.
This is everything. It’s the Alpha and Omega of what went wrong with Laurel. Once this was chucked, Black Canary stopped being a completely independent story. In the mythology, Black Canary often works with Green Arrow, but her path to the superhero world had nothing to do with him.
He doesn’t cheat on her creating trust and anger issues. He doesn’t get her sister shipwrecked so that said sister can end up trained as an assassin. He doesn’t then get involved, again, with that sister making her a target for his nemesis, so she dies and drives Laurel into despair. He doesn’t set an example for Laurel of recovery from trauma through vigilantism. He doesn’t train her. He doesn’t help her get her costume, or nifty canary cry. She never needs his team. He doesn’t mansplain the bad parts of the job to her.
Screen Laurel Lance, though, needed Oliver’s story line to exist. She was always written as deeply reactive to Oliver, loving him, hating him; helping or hurting him were always prime motivations. If he disappeared again, her life would go back to being static. (Or near static)
Most of this is not in and of itself bad for a secondary character. But it does mean that Screen Laurel was a secondary character. She was not the Black Canary of the comic books who could take or leave Oliver, walk out of his existence and continue having crazy adventures. The Black Canary whose primary life and adventures mostly occur no where near Oliver Queen.
I mean, Oliver’s complex relationship with his father, is basically the entire motivation for season one. It’s not hard to imagine a story where Black Canary has a parallel plot, with equally complex and powerful reasons for being a vigilante tied to her mother. Hell, I kind of just want to watch that show with no Oliver at all. Give me Dinah Drake and Daughter(s). (I’m already a little flushed just imagining Alex Kingston as Drake facing down John Barrowman’s Merlin. The Dr. Who crossover fics would be amazballs.)
I think the choice to get rid of Black Canary’s independent back story was made because Screen Laurel Lance was supposed to be The Love Interest. So TPTB didn’t see the need to preserve her independent story line. I suspect they actually thought increasing the dependence of her story on Oliver was a good creative choice. That it would increase the will-they-won’t-they tension, and the resulting sense of satisfaction when the characters finally fell in lurve.
If that was the thought process, though, it was a stupid understanding of romance. And a stupid understanding of story structure and character structure in general. It reduced the possibilities for the character, and limited her potential growth and flexibility within the story. I’ll try to explain more of what I mean below. Because each of my next criticisms have to do with how the intended love story was bungled.
If you don’t care about Laurel’s love story. You can stop reading here.
2) My Black Canary was never interested in philandering, pre-Green Arrow, playboy Oliver.
So this is the first place that the love story went off the rails. It was a dangerous structural choice to have Laurel in love with early Oliver.
In the first season Laurel was a semaphore. Oliver cried over her picture on the island, because she was the symbol of what he’d lost. He chased her in Starling, because her love was the symbol of his past reclaimed. All pretty typical plot structure. But as anyone who has ever watched any romantic comedy or drama, ever, could tell you, the object of past adoration is never actually the final love interest. Laurel was written as synonymous with Oliver’s past. A past he was constantly trying to atone for. A past where he wasn’t a very good man. A past that the structure and drive of the story is constantly trying to move him away from.
This might not be named a bad drama in Aristotle’s Poetics, but its Storytelling 101, and nearly as old. Oliver hated who he used to be. Therefore, he has a psychological desire to redo that period of his life, and do it better. Very relatable. But we, the viewer participant, know that it’s impossible. Nobody actually gets to do it over. And the person who loved that older version of you, they don’t actually tend to like the newer versions of you. The driving tension of this story/trope/plot structure is that you can get the old flame back, but only if you become the version of yourself you hated. And most of us know the happy ending is choosing the better version of yourself. Which in this case, with this plot, would have to mean Oliver not choosing Laurel as a love interest.
In the comics, Black Canary meets Green Arrow after he’s become a vigilante. She is already on that path, slightly ahead of him, moving in the directions he wants to be moving. In that story she represents the future, the best version of both characters. And that’s exactly the structure that makes you want to smoosh two people together. Screen Laurel Lance has never been in that position.
3) My Black Canary would never have gone back to a man that cheated on her. With her sister. Then got that sister killed. Or at least put in mortal danger. Even if she forgave him. And her sister.
I can’t even with this one. He slept with her sister. From Laurel’s season one perspective, he also got her sister killed. And this was after serially cheating on her for who knows how long. I don’t know anyone who would forget that, even if they somehow forgave the parties involved. Arrow premiered before Frozen taught TPTB that sisters put each other first, but still. This is no.
I mean, Diego Rivera was the love of Frida Kahlo’s life, and she put up with a lot, but he still got dumped him when he slept with her sister. That is a betrayal of trust that isn’t tolerated by psychologically healthy people.
Screen Laurel should have been completely over Oliver. Not angry, jealous, vamping “over it,” but actually really Over. It. When Screen Laurel is still moony-eyed at Oliver after this particular series of events, she seems a bit unhinged. Which a ton of fans noticed.
The choice to behave this way was made so that TPTB could continuously flag the character as an available love interest for Oliver. She was contorted into a series of choices that telegraphed a person without self-respect. It put the character into an impossible psychological place, commonly called “the Crazy Ex- Girlfriend Trope.” The woman who is cruelly contemptuous one moment, then possessive, flirty, and seductive the next. All with a good dose of crying and angst. (And I do think that Rachel Bloom’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is the exception that proves the rule. Note: Josh still did not sleep with her sister.)
Making Laurel a crazy ex-girlfriend is basically asking your audience to find her disgusting. It’s a reductive position for any female character, and one we, as an audience, have been trained not to identify with.
4) My Black Canary met Oliver on the streets, when she was already a super hero and vigilante.
I’m sure you can already see the themes emerging in my criticism. And this one is also related to the problems of making Laurel the symbol of Oliver’s past, and the The Love Interest without developing anything else. But it’s was also the biggest missed opportunity to fix those problems.
Imagine if Oliver had come back from five years on Lian Yu, put on his hood, picked up his bow, and then met Black Canary. He sees her saving someone on the street without knowing her secret identity, and she earns his grudging respect. He only finds out later that this super heroine is also his old flame Laurel Lance. Meanwhile, she gets to know and respect the new him, only later realizing that he’s also the asshole ex she never wants to run into.
Now, that’s a set-up for romantic tension.
If you don’t see it instantly, let me try and explain why that idea would work better than what the show did. First, the cathartic satisfaction of stories functions largely on a symbolic/metaphorical level. If Oliver comes back from Lian Yu and is exactly who he was before, that’s not actually a cathartic story. The pleasure in the story is mapping out how he has changed. Therefore, the story doesn’t want him to go backwards. Neither do those of us enjoying the ride along. We want the progression to continue, for Oliver to keep becoming more than he was. When Laurel is designated as the placeholder for Oliver’s past, the story doesn’t want to lover her. While the past motivates us, in stories the past is always the stick, it is never the carrot. We all eventually get tired of being beaten. For there to be true romantic potential, a character has to symbolize continued movement in the direction of change. They have to be a carrot.
If Laurel Lance had been Black Canary from the beginning, then it’s possible she could have held both positions. A reminder of the unhappy past we want to undo, and a companion slightly ahead of us, on the path we want to be on. That’s a crazy sweet spot for a character. Full of all sorts of dramatic irony. The kind of set-up that can really engage an audience and telegraph to the Jungian unconscious. There is nothing more pleasing than having a romantic pairing that affirms all parts of ourselves. But that’s not what they did. Laurel was never the carrot. She was never a step ahead of Oliver. He never needed her to do something new/different/bigger in his vigilante team.
Second, it would have been better if Laurel was the Black Canary from the beginning because romance between equals is hotter. It just is. People have been discovering, and rediscovering, that since before Much Ado About Nothing first premiered in the 1600s. Better writers than I have spent books explaining why, and explaining the stupid reasons we forget it. (Coughs into sleeve: “Sexism!” Sniffle, “excuse me.”)
And yes, the show has been working to undo that damage and equalize Laurel and Oliver, but honestly, they didn’t do much. The first time Laurel did something no one else on the team could do, (and possibly do better), was less than a month ago, when she prosecuted Damien Darhk. Far too little, far too late.
5) My Black Canary was involved with a very different Oliver Queen, one that went out of his way to make her laugh.
I don’t think anyone would argue that the Oliver Queen in Arrow is the classic version of Green Arrow. He’s a lot more stoic. And broody. (The character on TV that’s most like the classic GA is probably Richard Castle.) Stephen Amell’s serious, scary Green Arrow is a completely different personality than old school GA. He’s not the Green Arrow that had a romance with my Black Canary.
Screen Laurel, though, she wasn’t that different. At least not in season one. Personality wise, when Screen Laurel was fighting crime as a career minded lawyer who worked with other lady lawyers, yeah, that actually was pretty close to my Dinah Laurel Lance.
The problem is, you can’t give one half of a couple a complete personality make-over, and then expect the couple to work in the same way. Especially when you’ve got them in a bad structural set up.
So. Yeah. All of those bad choices were made before the first episode of the show. That’s how the love story was bungled. I don’t really think there was anyway to write out of that.
And once the love story was bungled, I’m sure the TPTB saw Laurel as a walking reminder of things that they did wrong.
Still, none of that meant that she had to die.
It’s an insult to all of the female viewers for a female character’s value and utility to be measured primarily in whether or not she’s The Love Interest. Thinking that way makes for bad writing, and bad stories.
Laurel Lance could have decided that Star city had enough heroes and that she wanted to live near her mother for a while, work on that relationship again. Dinah Drake and Daughters is still a show I’d like to see.