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Arrow Conversations: Det. Lance Chooses to Stay in the Dark in “The Man Under the Hood” 

Part of being a superhero is having a secret identity. A cape. A mask. A hood. Or in Superman’s case, just taking off your glasses. We’ve long accepted that people don’t recognize the heroes as the people who live with them, work with them or even sleep with them. Often time a hero’s identity is revealed to a select few while the majority remains oblivious. However, Arrow has presented us with an interesting twist. Some characters know. Others do not. But when former Detective Lance found out the truth about his own daughter, Sara, it seemed inevitable that he would put two and two together and realize that the man by her side in real life is also the man by her side in vigilante life. And yet, Quentin is still seemingly ignorant regarding the Arrow’s identity.

Photo Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW
Photo Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW


But in this week’s episode, a conversation with Laurel shows that it may not be ignorance that is keeping him in the dark, but rather a conscious choice.

Laurel: I have to tell you something.
Quentin: What is it?
Laurel: I know who the Arrow is.
Quentin: What? Don’t say another word. Don’t say anything. Okay, listen to me, there was a time that I would’ve sold out my badge to find out his name, you know that. But then I realized I didn’t care who he was, in fact, I didn’t even want to know who he was.
Laurel: Why not?
Quentin: Because I knew if I knew who he really was, he would become a person, right? Maybe he’s got family, friends, people to care about, some whole other life. Then he couldn’t be what I needed him to be. What this city needed him to be. Its the Arrow that matters. The man under the hood isn’t important. Can you imagine what it’s like to be him? What he has to live with day in and day out, what that’s gotta be like? The least I can do is sit here and do a little bit of time for him.

So Quentin sacrifices himself and ends up in a jail cell in order to protect the Arrow, knowing that the Arrow sacrifices himself every day for this city. It’s very noble, really. And like he said, a year ago, we never could have imagined Detective Lance would take this stance.

In large part, this reminds me of a common theme in the latest Batman trilogy. Bruce Wayne says it best himself in Batman Begins when he’s explaining to Alfred why the city needs Batman.

“People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy and I can’t do that as Bruce Wayne. As a man, I’m flesh and blood, I can be ignored, I can be destroyed; but as a symbol… as a symbol I can be incorruptible, I can be everlasting.”

In both cases, the hero is more than just a savior, he’s a symbol for the people of the city. He gives them hope and reassurance in a way that’s larger than any normal man could. Imagine if you found out that Batman or Superman or the Arrow were actually your neighbor who you see come out his front door in his robe every morning to get his newspaper. Would you feel the same? Possibly, but unlikely. It’s the mystery that gives these heroes their sense of power and invincibility.  And ultimately, its not about who they are, but what they do that really matters.

Photo Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW
Photo Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW


To know that they have a wife or kids or a family who is suffering as a result of the time they spend saving the city, it suddenly makes them too human. I love that for once Laurel was able to listen and see the value in what someone was saying. She’s often so stubborn and determined to do things her way that she doesn’t think about the larger picture or how others are affected, which is what made her acceptance particularly meaningful.

Nevertheless, Arrow has done a fantastic job of putting our queries and doubts as to Detective Lance’s skills (after all, he WAS a detective, so if anyone should be able to figure out the Arrow’s identity, it should be him, right?!) to rest. He doesn’t know who is under the hood because he chooses not to know who is under the hood. He’s come to realize and accept that Starling City needs the vigilante and that his true identity doesn’t matter. If the Arrow is willing to sacrifice his own life to protect Starling City, then that’s  all that we need to know for now.

Be sure to watch Arrow Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.

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