During my Senior year of High School I wrote film and television reviews for our newspaper, and my first review for television was the first episode of Arrow. This is a show I used to love, but lately I have been let down by it. Both season three and season four have been very good. I will admit that when I reviewed those shows in the past I have been far more lenient with them, but with this most recent season I have become more critical. With all that said, this season is certainly a nice comeback and can hopefully keep chugging on next season as well.
I wanted to, and I liked it!
Much like my review for The Flash this will be an oddly structured review because there is so much ground to cover. The best place to start is in the beginning: the season premiere. Right as the season began the changes became noticeable. Instead of focusing on romance or magic the show focused on Oliver’s humanity. He is trying to be the mayor while also trying to be the Green Arrow. Unlike seasons 3 or 4 he not longer had much of a crew to help him (save for Felicity and Curtis). This leads him to forming a new team that slowly becomes quite notable. I enjoyed seeing the team assembled, but the initial episodes with them were a bit rough.
It felt like the show was forcing them upon us rather than naturally introducing them. Rag-Man was my personal favorite so I was a little disheartened that they wrote him out (for the time being). One of the reasons why this team was assembled is because Star City was facing grave new threats, with Prometheus being in the forefront. The reveal for who is behind Prometheus may have been a bit underwhelming, but he excelled as a villain. A villain is supposed to challenge the protagonist and make them truly doubt their capabilities as the “hero”. Prometheus/Adrian Chase certainly did this with Oliver, which culminated in one of the show’s best episodes: “Kapiushon”. At the end of this episode, Adrian has seemingly won. He has completely broken Oliver and revealed to him the truth about his tenure as a vigilante. As several people noted, the ending of that episode felt like how the season could have ended. However, the show decided to keep going on and begin Oliver’s process of proving Adrian wrong. Adrian of course uncovers Oliver’s need and pleasure of killing others. This is certainly not a shocking revelation, but it adds so many more layers to Oliver and his journey of becoming the Green Arrow.
You and me, kid, like old times.
Everything came to a head in the season finale where Chase captured all of Oliver’s closest friends and family to lure him out for one last showdown at Lian Yu. More importantly, Chase has captured Oliver’s son, William, which he uses as a means to entice Oliver into killing once again. Oliver is given a choice: either kill Chase and save William (which will kill everyone on the Island), or Chase will kill William. Oliver decides to drive an Arrow through Chase’s leg so he can save William, but Chase kills himself which sets of the bombs on Lian Yu. What does that mean for Oliver’s journey this season? It means that Oliver has truly grown past his killer instincts. Early on in the season he resorts to killing again because that is his “safe place”. By the end of the season he realizes that he can never be that person again, and must take the higher road.
However, by doing so he may have condemned his friends. Surely they will not kill off every single supporting role, but I do hope there are some consequences to Adrian’s crazy antics. He has proven himself to be a fantastic villain for Oliver, one who will not be forgotten anytime soon. It may seem like I am just praising the season, but it is still flawed in several ways. The season had a little side story with Helix that did not work for me at all. It started taking Felicity down a slightly darker path, but the show did not commit to it. There was a little love story between Oliver and Susan Williams that was quickly disposed of after the midseason finale. Despite the season being a major improvement, the writing still leaves a lot to be desired. There are too many moments that come across as awkward because of poor writing. The show can also feel quite bloated at times. There are so many supporting characters now that it is becoming increasingly difficult to balance them all out. Plus, whatever happened to Vigilante? He was a great anti-hero that I would have liked to see more of. I believe I read something about him coming back in season 6, but I wish his character had more of a presence this season. Before I start wrapping up I need to commend Stephen Amell and his acting. More so than any other actor on these CW shows Amell has truly evolved his character from the first season and his acting has gotten significantly better.
The big question is: Has Arrow finally regained its greatness? It has and it has not. I prefer the Arrow of old where he had a smaller operation, mostly because it felt more intimate. However, it does make sense that he would inspire others to rise up and becomes vigilantes. With all of its little missteps, this still remains one of Arrow‘s very best seasons, making me very excited for what is to come in the future.