While their somewhat on the ropes in the cinematic stakes, it’s clear that when it comes to television DC and Warner Bros can certainly deliver to their audience. Their television properties are thriving at the moment under the banner of The CW network in America and provide a great roster for Sky One over here in the UK. But as the likes of The Flash, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow begin to flourish into their second and third seasons respectively, the story for Arrow is slightly different.
The show that kicked off this new age of DC heroes on the small screen, Arrow is now into its fifth season and has seen some struggles of late. Its first two seasons were a showcase of exactly how to represent the dark, gritty nature of Oliver Queen’s story, channeling the playboy himself as well as the vigilante he would become. This was a show that possessed strong characterisation and villains of truly worthy note, combined with that emotional core so important for audiences to invest in.
Where Arrow‘s first season laid the building blocks on which to further the character, its second season provided the perfect personal villain and some truly shocking twists with it. It was a show not to be missed week-by-week, until a lacklustre third season paved the way for an even more disappointing fourth season, despite a handful of notable moments that kept the interest at a level that would retain viewer loyalty. It didn’t particularly bode well for this fifth season, especially with Team Arrow seemingly disbanding and the prospect of a whole new roster of characters on the horizon.
But here we are, season five and Olicity is no more, Oliver is training a new team and a new villain in Prometheus is wreaking havoc in Starling City – the question is, does Arrow have the legs it once had?
In the first instance, season five certainly left plenty of question marks hanging over our heads in terms of quality levels and just where Oliver’s story would be heading. Arrow is in a difficult situation; it’s the ‘big brother’ of the DC shows, having been established some time before its offspring and in a period where ring rust can certainly be felt, but as this particular season has gone on it feels more like the veteran of the comic book form is firing back. Initially, the first few episodes were certainly questionable, with Diggle MIA, Speedy off the team and Oliver and Felicity’s dynamic seriously dented, but then came the cavalry and the excitement once more.
The arrival of Ragman, Rene, Curtis and Evelyn have shifted things in the right direction, injecting a sense of vibrance and youth to proceedings, as well as Diggle finally returning to keep that solid partnership of him and Oliver that has been at the core of the show’s success. Rene’s roguish attitude is a refreshing problem for Oliver to deal with, while the others all offer their own personal charm and a new sense of Team Arrow being a coherent unit.
Then there’s the flashbacks, of which those in previous seasons were seemingly heading in a direction that even the showrunners were often perplexed by. This time around, we are finally hitting Russia and gaining some solid background knowledge on Oliver’s involvement with Bratva. It’s something that we’ve been demanding for some time now – and not shenanigans in Hong Kong – and it’s finally paying off, ensuring that this plot device is once again of the utmost importance to the character.
It’s also great to see that Oliver finally has another villain who is genuinely intimidating and has gone to the greatest of lengths to get to the Starling City hero – through those he loves. Last season Damien Darhk may have entertained somewhat but he felt all too pantomime, leaving bitter disappointment following another villain who underwhelmed in the form of Ra’s Al Ghul. Thankfully, Prometheus is on the horizon and the slow build of his appearance leading to the impressive mid-season finale bodes well for the remainder of season five. He’s a villain similar to the scheming Slade Wilson in the sense that he’s cool, calm, calculated and has Oliver exactly where he wants him. It makes for scintillating viewing and ensures Arrow is leaving us on a knife edge as the weeks go by.
Additionally, it wouldn’t be fair not to address Arrow‘s 100th episode when talking about the improvement that has unfolded in recent weeks. Used as a large chunk of the epic crossover event, this was the ultimate showcase in just how far this particular show has come, and it served as a reminder as to just how far the show has come. It was a pure joy witnessing the multiple returning cast members combine in what was the strongest of the crossover episodes, culminating in sheer emotion and a strong continuation of Oliver’s story.
After a shaky start, it seems that Arrow has really begun to find its feet once more and this is something that certainly fills the heart with joy. Ultimately the show that kick-started the DC television revolution, it would be a shame to see it falter, especially with the other properties thriving. It remains to be seen whether it can continue with this new momentum it is currently showing, but we have high hopes come next year when Oliver Queen’s latest challenge continues.