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Arrow Season 5: Is Laurel a Figment of Oliver’s Imagination?


Talk about a cliffhanger! For those of you who have not watched the season five mid-season finale of Arrow, titled “What We Leave Behind”,  turn away now, as this article will contain some major SPOILERS for the episode. But if you have seen the episode, and care to know my theory about the ending of the latest episode of Arrow, please continue on.

Now that we have that out of the way, time to get down to the good stuff. So after a heartfelt conversation with now girlfriend Susan Williams, Oliver Queen returns to the bunker. To his surprise, standing there looking over the lineup of hero suits was none other than Laurel Lance! Wait what?

You read that right. Laurel Lance has returned to Arrow. But has she really? The possibilities are endless in regards to how Laurel has found her way back on the show, despite being killed off late in season four. There is the possibility that this is a Laurel from a different Earth. Or maybe it is Christopher Chance, aka the guy who can change his appearance to look like anyone, in disguise. Maybe Flashpoint has had some major ramifications, and Laurel is legitimately back for good. But when all is said and done, I do not think any of those theories will turn out to be true.

Instead, I am of the belief Laurel is not actually back, but is simply a figment of Oliver’s imagination. With the show now off for over a month on winter hiatus, we will not get any further clues for quite some time. So what better time than now to try and dissect what we have already seen?

Let’s start with the show’s eighth episode of the season, which was the episode right before this one, and also part of the CW’s four-way mega crossover between Supergirl, Flash, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow. In the episode, Oliver and several others, including Thea, Diggle and Laurel’s sister Sara, went through a very realistic feeling hallucination. This allowed the show to bring back several deceased character’s from the pasta, including both of Oliver’s parents as well as the true love of his life, Laurel.

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As Oliver and his crew were planning to get out of the hallucination, there was a final scene in which Oliver said goodbye to Laurel. It was a very heartfelt moment in which Oliver was finally able to accept Laurel was gone as he got to say his final goodbye. So it would seem very out of place to simply have her come back to life the very next week, wouldn’t it?

Next, we need to consider the fact that Oliver comes across Laurel alone in the bunker. No one else was there, and every since I’ve watched The Sixth Sense, I find myself skeptical of any character until they cross paths with at least two others. As the show moves forward, Diggle will likely be in prison, after walking into a trap at the end of the episode. So the odds of Laurel crossing paths with him anytime soon is unlikely. There is a chance Felicity and Curtis need some time off from crime fighting following the events of this episode as well. So from a story line point of view, they can keep scenes between simply Laurel and Oliver and not have fans get suspicious. There is also the idea that Oliver would not want to bring her back into the world of vigilante’s in order to protect her.

You see where I’m going with this? Until Laurel interacts with someone outside of Oliver, she is essentially like Bruce Willis in my mind. Oliver just went through a very traumatic day, as he accidentally killed Felicity’s boyfriend Billy, who had been captured by Prometheus. Prometheus dressed Billy up to make Oliver think it was Prometheus himself, knowing Oliver would attempt to kill him. Following this, plus having to tell Felicity that he was the one who killed Billy, has Ollie’s mind in a sad place.

Legends of Tomorrow is taking this path, as Leonard Snart is showing up in Mick’s head. Those two shared a very close relationship, as former partners in crime, just as Oliver and Laurel are former partners, both in terms of lovers and crime fighters. So with Oliver in the state of mind he is in, only a week after seeing Laurel in a wedding dress during his hallucination, the idea of Laurel being a figment of his imagination certainly seems like a strong possibility.

One last note I want to touch on brings us to the scene right before the big reveal. Right before we see Oliver getting off the elevator in the bunker, he is in Susan William’s apartment. After telling her about how he has had a rough day, she tells him everything is going to be alright, and then the two share a very passionate kiss. As the two are kissing and beginning to lean deep into the couch, the scene cuts to the elevator, with Oliver getting off to find Laurel.

Things just do not add up. First off, Susan Williams has come off as a very suspicious character from the start. She was first introduced as someone anti-Oliver, only yo eventually become his girlfriend. I do not trust her one bit, and I actually am of the belief she either is, or is working with Prometheus. If that were the case, the theory that she drugged him during that scene is certainly possible. She did pour him a drink, which she could have easily tampered with.

If Oliver was indeed drugged, he could have returned to the bunker seeing things. And by things, deceased loved ones certainly qualify. Or it is possible he never actually returned to the bunker at all, but is simply knocked out and dreaming. We have seen a hallucination Laurel already this season, so there is certainly the chance we are headed down that path again.

Following such a dramatic death in season four, simply bringing Laurel back halfway through season four simply seems too soon. I would much rather her be a part of his imagination because he is feeling down. The show could keep Katie Cassidy around in such a role if they wanted too. She could take on the James Remar role from Dexter, where Remar played the Dexter’s deceased father who served as his voice of reason.

But when all is said and done, I am of the belief that Laurel is not actually alive. Whether she is appearing thanks to a drugging from Susan Williams, or something in Oliver’s head thanks to the grief he is suffering through, my bets are on Laurel Lance simply being a figment of his imagination.


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Ken Magner
A college kid who loves baseball, NCAA basketball, Marvel movies, Game of Thrones and much more.