I have been very critical of Arrow over the past few months. (As have a lot of people, really.) In particular, I’ve called out the show for its poor treatment of female characters, and generally abysmal track record with fridging. I’ve given up on other shows for less, and I can’t say that I’m hugely confident about Arrow’s fifth season being able to improve on the precedent of sloppy characterisation and limited emotional beats that has been set across season four.
Nonetheless, I do intend to, at the very least, give it a chance. If nothing else, it should give me a degree of inspiration as to things I can write about.
So, in the flashbacks this year we’re going to be exploring Oliver’s bratva past; it’s something everyone had already clocked on to, but it’s nice to have that confirmed and see a little bit of footage from it. I’m interested to see where they take that; one of the best things about the flashbacks is when they’re tied into the present day arc. Not necessarily in terms of the actual plot, but rather thematically; when Oliver’s journey in the flashbacks directly parallels his development in the present, the writing on the show becomes ever more impressive. (This is one of the things that was sadly missing from the fourth season flashbacks, which did a lot of work to set up some interesting thematic stuff, and then… went nowhere with it. As with a lot of the interesting concepts set up by Arrow’s fourth season, really.)
In the present day, then, we’ve got Oliver training a new set of heroes. (Directly paralleling the bratva environment where you have to be entirely self-sufficient and can’t rely on others! See? So much interesting stuff you can do with that!) As it stands, I think this could be quite interesting; it’s a new role for Oliver to take, and there’s a lot of potential for that to be taken in some interesting directions. While I am quite fond of the dynamic shared between the original Arrow group, mixing it up a bit seems like a good way to keep things fresh. I’m a little wary, admittedly, of the possibility for this to be mishandled; one of the problems in Arrow season 4 was an over saturation of vigilante characters who weren’t made meaningfully distinct from one another. I do think it’s possible for Arrow to successfully have multiple vigilante characters; they just have to take care to pay attention to the characterisation of each.
I was a little disappointed not to see any clips from Oliver’s mayoral campaign, which is one of the few things I’m actually genuinely quite excited about for the new season of Arrow – I’m hoping that’s just because it doesn’t fit particularly well into a trailer, rather than because it won’t be focused on in the early episodes. Having Oliver as the Mayor would, I believe, push both the character and the show into new places, which is undeniably quite intriguing.
Another piece of news from Comic-Con that I found quite interesting, but I don’t think I can spin off into its own post, is the fact that Katie Cassidy will have a “universe regular” contract. If I’ve understood it correctly, that means she’ll have 23 appearances, spread out across Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl. I’m in two minds about this: while I think it was a huge mistake to kill off the character, I don’t know that contrived excuses to bring back quasi-versions of the character through time travel, flashbacks and alternate Earth doppelgangers is necessarily going to work. I’d prefer, I think, if the show were simply to own its choices and move forward regardless, without looking back and trying to get a do-over.
That about concludes my Arrow related thoughts, in any case. Somewhat longer than expected, actually.