[SPOILERS for those not caught up on Arrow season 4 ahead.]
Leading up to the fourth season of Arrow, the creators were adamant that the series would step away from the darker tones of the previous season and embrace a lighter side of Star City. The season 4 premiere felt in line with this new vision - until the final moments of the episode, that is. The end of the premiere jumped six months into the future and saw Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) standing over someone's grave. Oliver promises to kill the man responsible and the show left viewers to speculate who occupied the grave over the coming months.
This week's episode of Arrow, titled "Eleven-Fifty-Nine", finally answered the question that's been hanging over this season. It turns out that Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) is the occupant of the mysterious grave, giving the heroes of both Star City and Central City good reason to mourn. She died at the hands of this season's big bad Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) while attempting to thwart his escape from Iron Heights. Her final moments are spent alone in a hospital room with Oliver, sharing some final secret before dying of an embolism. Series showrunner Marc Guggenheim spoke out about the decision and acknowledged while there will be some outrage, the death came about organically as a part of the character's arc.
Cassidy has since spoken about her character's death and her final moments on set. Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, the actress agreed with Guggenheim, stating "Laurel's story has come to an end in the Arrow-verse." She confirms that the death made sense to her creatively and went on to share some details about filming those final scenes in the hospital room.
"Honestly that scene was so real shooting it because it was me saying goodbye to the team and all of us. Definitely wasn't difficult for me to get to that emotional point. For sure, it was hard, but it was very real. I felt like that was good. It was genuine and it was real."
The tear-filled goodbye was not the last work Cassidy did on the show, however.
"The last scene I think I shot was we had to do a reshoot actually of when I actually die, when Darkh stabs the Black Canary. That was a week after... It was so weird because I remember we had broken for lunch, we came back and I was running to set and I was putting on my jacket and gloves and they were just calling me to set to show-wrap me. I didn't know I was done. It was a bit of a shock. But it was good. I feel like there was no other way that I would want it to go."
Though her death will have an impact on the remainder of the season, there's little doubt that Cassidy will return to The CW's DC Universe. With two series that regularly incorporate time-travel into their stories and Arrow's consistent inclusion of flashbacks, the character of Laurel will likely appear at some point down the road. As for Cassidy, she's already been confirmed for an appearance on an upcoming episode of The Flash, playing the Black Canary's Earth-2 counterpart Black Siren. Guggenheim also previously teased that Cassidy will have some role in the second season of the animated series Vixen.
The actress confirmed she will happily return to the series for anything the writers may dream up.
"As they know, I love working with them. I'm always happy to come play with them if they time-travel or what not. To me, Laurel was always such a good person and had such a good heart and was a fighter. For her to be remembered, I think her being remembered that way is definitely important to me."
Arrow will return to The CW with “Canary Cry” on Wednesday, April 27, 2016.