Oh, Captain Lance. Captain Lance, Captain Lance. Yessir, I am shaking my head at you.
It’s been hard, these past few episode since Captain Lance found out the truth about Sara, to watch him spiral back into the man we we were first introduced to. He was a man without compassion, one who was consumed by his own grief and helplessness. His rage was cruel and vindictive, placing blame for his loss where it wasn’t deserved. But he seemed to have come a long way since then.
This latest episode, however, shows just how wrong that assumption was. He has not come a long way. We’re reminded that he isn’t someone that has grown, that has learned to live with his grief. Instead, his grief was removed. He didn’t have to learn to respect that it was Sara’s choice, and Sara’s alone, to join Oliver on the Queen’s Gambit that fateful day oh so many years ago. He never got to the point where he could find peace and acceptance in Sara’s death. That need was alleviated as soon as Sara came back from the dead.
So I guess it’s no wonder that when he discovered that he lost her for the second time he reverted right back into the cruel and vindictive man he once was, the man too blinded by grief and rage to care about the affect of his actions. As long as he made those he felt responsible hurt as much as he did, what did the consequences matter?
A good deal can be forgiven when it comes to grief. It’s maybe a little hypocritical for Lance to feud with Laurel this way for keeping Sara’s death from him considering he kept the fact that Sara was alive from her, even as he saw her spiraling into addiction. He won’t let Laurel close enough to explain her reasoning, that she was worried about his deteriorating health, and as he didn’t accept his health as a reason to stay out of the field, he’s certainly not going to accept it as a reason to keep this news from him. He’s lost one of his daughters for the second time and in his rage has shut out his other daughter. He’s compounding his own grief by making sure he has no relationship with either daughter, just as he did with Dinah during Sara’s first disappearance.
Like I said, a lot of things can be forgiven. Regardless of one’s feelings for Laurel and the wisdom of her own choices, Lance’s responses – the lashing out and the shutting her out – aren’t great. But they’re understandable. And at this point, forgivable. He’s a sad man, grieving the loss of a daughter he though he’d gotten a second chance with.
But then we get to this Wednesday’s episode. And this is where I start to draw the line. This is where Lance’s actions stop being as forgivable as they aren’t just damaging his relationships with his family. This is where Lance starts to cross from a sad, grieving father into a villain.
I don’t know if that’s the intention. If Lance is supposed to be a (probably redeemable) second fiddle villain to Ra’s al Ghul. But that’s certainly how I’m seeing it as of this past episode.
Lance has spent the better part of two years working alongside the Arrow. He has relied on him. He has admired him. He has thought of him as a partner. And he has been relied on and respected in return. For all he didn’t know Arrow’s identity, he still knew the man. Knew him to be someone who did anything he could to look out for Laurel. Knew him to be someone with a close relationship with Felicity. It’s unfathomable to me that anything other than a willful disregard of evidence could cause him to believe it was actually the Arrow shooting at those two women during his meeting with the mayor.
And that’s where his credibility starts to unravel. Laurel and Felicity and even Ray have all told Captain Lance that the killer is an Arrow copy-cat, yet he refuses to believe them even when he witnesses the supposed Arrow shoot at both Felicity and Laurel. That’s what it is, a refusal. It’s not a misunderstanding, it is a blatant refusal to acknowledge what is right in front of him. Lance claims that the past two years, Arrow has manipulated him into helping the Arrow team. That Arrow duped Sara and Laurel into being a part of his games. But it is Lance who’s re-writing their history, who’s manipulating their past relationship into something else he can blame the Arrow for. He doesn’t take responsibility for his own actions, his own decisions to assist and rely on the Arrow, just as he didn’t respect Sara enough to acknowledge her own agency in her first disappearance. Sara chose to sleep with her sister’s boyfriend and join him on his boat. Lance chose to be an auxiliary member of Team Arrow. You can’t just ignore that those choices were made just because some of the outcomes weren’t great.
But what really crossed the line for me during this last episode, what really clinched my feelings that Lance is going through his own bit of a villainous arc, was the shoot to kill order. People are telling him that he’s wrong. He has a relationship and knowledge of this man that should tell him he’s wrong. He has witnessed a murder that gives him evidence that he is wrong. And yet not only does he still want the Arrow apprehended, unmasked and outed, but killed.
Quentin Lance is not a police captain looking for justice. He is no longer a sad man, wallowing in grief. He is an angry, vindictive individual out for revenge.
Revenge stories never work. They never end well. Revenge is not justice. Captain Lance may be looking for revenge, but all he will find is villainy.