TV Review: Arrow (Season 5, 2016-2017)

It all comes full circle, as season 5 of Arrow ends where it all began for Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), as he must fight the war for Star city on two fronts, as both it’s Mayor and protector: the vigilante known as the Green Arrow. Rounding out his trusty trio are on-again-off-again lover and full time superhacker Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) and former bodyguard turned confidant John Diggle (David Ramsay). Joining the team are newcomers to the crimefighting world: genuis and inventor Curtis Holt aka Mr Terrific (Echo Kellum); Rene Ramirez aka Wild Dog (Rick Gonzalez), a former Navy SEAL with high skills with firearms; and Evelyn Sharp aka Artemis (Madison McLaughlin), another very proficient archer. Oliver must work together with his new recruits in order to stop a new menace on the streets, the throwing star killer, who will soon be known to all comic fans as his very infamous persona: Prometheus.

+ Prometheus was a fantastic main villain, though admittedly his identity and reasons for his actions were a little bit uninspired. Secondary villains such as Tobias Church (Chad L. Coleman, The Walking Dead‘s Tyreese) made fun for a few episode, and pro-wrestler Cody Rhodes made a few appearances. The meta-human, or at least slightly less realistic villains have blurred the line between Arrow’s grounded approach and The Flash’s more outlandish, and that only helped the show
+ all the main actors were fine, or at least I can’t think of anything particularly bad to say. Paul Blackthorne once again shines as Quentin Lance, haunted by the death, revival, death, leaving through time and now death of his two daughters (when you write it like that, it is understandable). Blackthorne and Jesse L. Martin on Flash show that “cop dad” might be the best character pitch going on TV these days. New cast member Josh Segarra as district attorney Adrian Chase is also enjoyable, as his innate charisma steals most scenes he is in
+ the new recruits – Curtis, Evelyn, Rene and Rory Regan aka Ragman (Joe Dinicol) – were all nice, fresh faces for a show which has often centered around the same few. Rene was probably my favourite, not least of which is because he was given the most backstory, and was not a one dimensional character as say Curtis was. Ragman was the most interesting, and far and away the most powerful of the whole Arrow team, so seeing him used in a way which didn’t overshadow the rest of the team was clever
+ Felicity, arguably the biggest flaw with the series to date, was still at-times unbearable, but once she got her own stories it calmed down a bit. She is most enjoyable when she is kept away from Oliver and shown to have some flaws, and for this season both of those factors were utilised
+ lots more famous comic book characters were introduced or returned, on both the good- and bad-guy sides (I won’t list them for spoiler reasons – but some made me very happy). This interconnected world of the whole CW Arrowverse is starting to come into play in interesting ways, but still needs to be careful. Sometimes it is hard to wonder why, for example, Barry doesn’t just run on over to Star City
+ I’ve said it on every Arrowverse show review so far: the “Invasion” crossover was so good. Arrow‘s third of the story also taking place on the show’s 100th episode made for some clever celebrations of both the other heroes, as well as Arrow’s history as the show which started it all. Hopefully there can be a Arrow/Supergirl contained crossover at some point, too

arrow_s5_2.png
I believe it was Supergirl‘s Cat Grant who said “You look like the attractive yet nonthreatening racially diverse cast of a CW show” in last year’s Supergirl/Flash crossover. How right she was.

– the flashbacks have really run their course by now, but thankfully, they have to stop since by the end of this season we were up to date (five years “on the island”, and five years now active as the Green Arrow). I fully expect the flashbacks for the next season to revolve around other people, such as more of Felicity and Diggle before they met Oliver, if not simply adding new spins on dialogue or actions from the first season
– even though this was significantly more enjoyable than the last season (and I honestly believe that is because of Felicity not being so unbearable), I still can’t help but think that not much happened. Many episodes were just retreading the same ‘this is what we know’ steps, with one final scene intended to draw viewers into the next episode
– I don’t know what happened, but almost between episodes, Curtis changed from a socially awkward, but lovable goof, into this constant meme-spouting, seemingly on-the-spectrum idiot who always had to say something cringey or miss obvious social cues. I don’t know how or why this happened, but it really soured me on what was until that point one of my more favourite characters on the show

Should you watch this show: Although I don’t think “better than last season” is gleaming praise, this felt like a much more cohesive story that season four’s heavy supernatural influences. A more grounded, realistic villain who acted as a physical and mental match to the hero is the way to go with these shows, though much like Flash, the villain simply being “like the hero, but bad” was a bit of a drag. Even still, this was the best season since season 2, and worth watching, especially as part of the larger CW Arrowverse.

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