I’ve been watching the ever expanding list of shows of the Arrowverse for years now, and there have been a lot of interesting developments in over the past few years: team shakeups, breakups, and betrayals (Hi Evelyn!), the introduction of Supergirl (and Superman), Dominators, Legends of Tomorrow, Legion of Superheroes, and big bads galore. How have these changes shaped the DC superhero shows? Spoiler alert: anything up until 2017’s winter finales is fair game. Let’s explore.
ARROW – Current Season: 6
The show that kicked it all off has been through a lot over the past few years. Olicity fans were thrilled that the couple got engaged, enraged that they broke up, then thrilled again when they got back together. After too many seasons of “will they, won’t they?”, Olicity finally tied the knot (after hijacking another super couple’s wedding). Laurel was killed by Damien Darhk, a new team was formed with a new Black Canary, and Oliver Queen somehow became mayor of Star City and gained a son in the process.
After a rocky season 4 – Thea and Sara in the Lazarus Pit, the Andy Diggle detour, a wasted Anarky, Oliver’s season ending city rally, etc – season 5 seemed to right a lot of wrongs. There was a functional team again, decent storylines, and a great villain in Adrian Chase/Prometheus. There were still a few problems – Anatoly, Vigilante, Talia Al Ghul, and (for me) Black Siren – but overall it seemed like a return to form that led to a captivating finale that saw Oliver sacrifice everything for his son.
I think the biggest issue with Arrow lately is there are no consequences for anything. That captivating finale, in which almost everyone on the show was in danger of being blown up on Lian Yu, resulted in exactly 3 deaths: Malcolm Merlyn (RIP, the only true loss), Digger Harkness (Captain Boomerang), and William’s-mom-I-can’t-even-remember-her-name. Thea was put in a coma, but recovered in seven episodes, or so. Other than that, no one else had a scratch on them, even Evil Laurel.
Can we talk about Evil Laurel for a second? I’m sure Katie Cassidy is just lovely, but I’ve hated the character of Dinah Laurel Lance from the very beginning of Arrow. It’s like no one ever knew what to do with her. Love interest? Not really. Hard hitting attorney? Meh. Bad-ass district attorney? Sorry, no. Kick-ass Black Canary? Not even close. Killing her off seemed like the right choice, since she never really fit into the show. But wait! Now Laurel from Earth 2 is here and she’s EVIL. KC sure looks like she’s having fun, but she still serves so little purpose. I just wonder what the end game is with this version of Laurel. I suspect they will eventually turn her from her evil ways through (not-really-her-dad) Quentin, but… then what? Two women with sonic screams on the team? Love interest for Rene? Just keep her evil and running amok forever? They should have let Laurel go, in my humble opinion, because she never really worked in the first place.
Something that did work was introducing a meta human with a sonic scream – such an easy solution for the Canary shaped hole in the team! Juliana Harkavy brought a certain attitude that worked so well – a grizzled cop who took no prisoners. And then… they decided to make her real name Dinah Drake – a nice nod to the comics, for sure, but a little eye-rolly. I’m enjoying her interactions with Diggle, and like her on the team much more than “throw some spheres” Curtis or “shoot everyone in sight” Rene. Her relationship with Vigilante is certainly a creative way to link the characters, but seems like it should have been a story from last season, when Vigilante was more relevant. Since Canary, Wild Dog and Mr. Terrific all just “quit” the team, the jury’s still out on how she’ll fare in the long run.
So far season 6 has been highly inconsistent:
- I don’t know why they keep shoving Anatoly into the story, and it seems like they’re setting up a mini Legion of Doom with all the bad guys converging to… well, we don’t know yet.
- Michael Emerson is great as Cayden James, but I wish they’d explain what he’s up to, since stealing a bunch of stuff and blackmailing people is just boring; it seems like the story is being made up as it’s going along, which is never a good sign.
- Now that Deathstroke is off limits for TV, due to DC’s bizarre movie universe policies, we probably won’t be seeing Slade Wilson for a while. It’s a shame because Deathstroke Returns and Promises Kept were great Slade-centric episodes, and Manu Bennett is perfect in the role.
- The team “breakup” obviously won’t last, and Oliver-as-mayor and being investigated by the FBI storylines are just absurd. It’s understandable that Oliver can’t be mayor/Arrow/dad to William at the same time; it’s just sad the writers chose to sideline Oliver as Arrow, when the mayor storyline is so ill conceived.
I still enjoy Arrow, and despite the folks at Reddit changing their support to The Punisher, I’ll keep watching. However, I think it’s time the CW starts to think of ways to wrap up the series with season 7, as this arrow lately misses its mark more often than not.