Sunday, July 1, 2018

Woman of the Month: Sara Lance

Sara Lance from Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow
From the moment Caity Lotz's Sara first appeared on Arrow (well, after a brief glimpse in the pilot episode during which she was played by another actress entirely) it was obvious she was going to be a big deal.
When she was insultingly killed off in the premiere of season three, there was enough outcry that her imminent resurrection was only a matter of time. And by the time she took centre stage in Legends of Tomorrow, forging a redemption arc that naturally developed into a captaincy, she was the undisputed lead of the ensemble.
Watching her arc unfold across the course of two shows is a lesson in organic storytelling and logical decision making – in a way, it's this cross-show flexibility that's stopped her character from stagnating or back-pedalling in a manner similar to what Oliver, Barry and Kara have gone through.
When we first see Sara in the present day, she's an assassin trying to escape her dark past, ashamed of what she's become and quietly trying to make amends without revealing herself to her family. Her re-entry to Starling City is a thing of beauty: leaping to the rescue of Roy Harper and silently beating attackers with her bo staff before disappearing into the night, the echo of a canary cry in the air. It gave me chills, and it was in this season she came to terms with her past and reconciled with Laurel, finding a new path not as a killer but a saviour.
Then of course – the fridging. Shot multiple times with arrows by a brainwashed Thea working under Malcolm Merlyn's control before falling off a building and onto a garbage skip in front of her horrified sister... what the fuck were they thinking?? I've no idea if the showrunners decided to reverse this creative decision based on the outraged reception from audiences or whether it was always the plan to resurrect her with the Lazarus Pit, but the fact it happened at all still leaves a bad aftertaste.
Not helping is that her return to life isn't given any of the attention it deserves. You'd think that such a traumatic experience – one that leaves her in a feral, soulless state – would warrant more than just a couple of episodes in which Laurel and Quentin grapple with the moral implications of her continued existence. Instead her soul is returned within the space of a single episode, and any psychological ramifications her death may have had on Sara herself simply aren’t explored at all.
But it gets better.
Sure, involvement in the League of Assassins and resurrection via a mystical Lazarus Pit aren't exactly everyday occurrences, but Sara's life takes a turn for the even stranger when she's recruited  onto the Waverider, a time-travelling ship tasked with fixing aberrations in the time-line and hunting down immortal despots obsessed with reincarnating hawk-goddesses.
All things considered, it's the second season of Legends of Tomorrow that finds its feet and elevates Sara to the role she's clearly destined for: that of captain and team leader. The show is even smart enough to allow Martin Stein a test-drive before he concedes that Sara's unique abilities and experiences make her a natural successor to Rip Hunter. She alone can make the tough calls while still being emotionally available to the people she's giving orders to.
There's so much to unpack when it comes to Sara Lance: her leadership role, her redemption arc, her sexuality, her relationship to her sister, her training as an assassin (are we ever going to get flashbacks?), her history with Nyssa al Ghul – she's easily the most complex of all the CW superheroines, and a particular advantage that Caity Lotz brings to the table is her personal agility and fighting skills. Watching her fight is like watching a dance; not surprising given her background.
But what really sticks in my mind when I think of Sara Lance? She's just effortlessly cool, and that's still a rare thing with female characters.


  1. Sara Lance is, bar none, my favourite character in the Arrowverse, so this was a delight to read. Thank you!

    1. Since writing this I've finished up with the second season of Legends, and I loved the fact that a) Rip's return doesn't see Sara ejected from the captain's chair, and b) she's the one who's ultimately responsible for de-powering the Spear. Even watching her interacting with herself was wonderful, since you could tell her self-loathing has finally come to a close, and her scene with Laurel had me close to tears (I still cling to hope that someday the Lance sisters, Thea, Helena and Mari will get a Birds of Prey spin-off. With Nyssa guest-starring of course).