Moderated by: Chief Couch Potato Kylie
Who: “Arrow” is a superhero/action/crime drama centered on events and characters inspired by the Green Arrow franchise/DC Comic Universe, which currently airs on the CW, fall to spring Thursdays at 9:00 PM.
What: “Arrow,” a series developed by writer/producers Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg that is based on the DC Comics character Green Arrow, a costumed crime-fighter created by Mort Weisinger and George Papp. The series follows billionaire playboy Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), who, five years after being stranded on a hostile island, returns home to fight crime and corruption as a secret vigilante whose weapon of choice is a bow and arrow.
The series follows Oliver Queen (Amell), billionaire playboy of Starling City (now Star City), who spends five years shipwrecked on the mysterious island of Lian Yu. Upon his return to the city, he is reunited with his family, including his sister, Thea Queen (Willa Holland) and friends. Oliver awkwardly survives his days back in the city by rekindling his relationships, while he spends his nights hunting down and sometimes killing wealthy criminals as a hooded vigilante. Thea, John Diggle (David Ramsey), and Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) assist Oliver in his crusade as does his ex-girlfriend, Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy); flashbacks show how Oliver spent his time and gained the skill-set that he uses as (now) the Green Arrow.
When: Season Five aired on the CW from October 5, 2016, to May 24, 2017.
Where: The action is set in the fictional metropolis of Starling City, another name for Star City, the primary setting of the Green Arrow franchise – though as of Season Four, the city was finally re-branded to be Star City like in the comic books. The action does branch out in flashbacks to international locales, including Hong Kong, the Middle East, Russia, and a fictional island called Lian Yu.
Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the first DCTU podcast episode, where our panel covers the first two seasons of Arrow, via the embedded link below! It should be noted that CPU! Chief Couch Potato Kylie was hesitant to watch it, feeling somewhat loyal to Justin Hartley’s portrayal of the Green Arrow on Smallville, which ended in 2011, while Arrow premiered in 2012. Also, I’m pretty leery of character fatigue in comic book properties of late, which may be the subject of a separate podcast or blog entry. So, what finally convinced me to watch it in the end? Other than a few good recommendations from viewers like you, listen to that first podcast episode to find out the reasons why I finally picked up the show in the end.
What kept me watching, though, is a different question. Try this on for size:
How – as in How’s It Going? – THOUGHTS
This is the tenth episode in CPU!’s DCTU series. Here are the prior episodes in the series (as we flush out seasons, though, older episodes will only be searchable via the website – click the upper right dialog box in the header). Listen to each episode here:
DCTU Series, Episode 1, “Arrow,” Seasons One and Two
DCTU Series, Episode 2, “Arrow,” Seasons Three and Four
DCTU Series, Episode 3, “The Flash,” Seasons One and Two
DCTU Series, Episode 4, “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” Season One
DCTU Series, Episode 5, “Supergirl,” Season One
DCTU Series, Episode 6, the DCTU Mid-Season Roundup
DCTU Series, Episode 7, “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” Season Two
DCTU Series, Episode 8, “Supergirl,” Season Two
DCTU Series, Episode 9, “The Flash,” Season Three
In our last episode, our cheeky and feisty and newly full DCTU panel – namely Kyle, Hilary, Spencer, Kristen, and Nick – continued addressing the most recent full seasons of each of the four “Arrowverse” series in order of the airing of each season finale by discussing the third season of The Flash. Tonight’s episode finds the panel returning to the Water Cooler for the final time this go-round to talk the fifth season of TV universe progenitor Arrow following a rocky, inconsistent, and somewhat bloated Season Five, in the tenth episode of our DCTU series. The discussion herein evaluates the success of the Green Arrow’s season nemesis, Prometheus (Josh Segarra); the seemingly growing number of Green Arrow sidekicks; the on/off again dynamic of “Ollicity;” Oliver Queen as Star City Mayor; and an explosive season ending that could either reset everything we know about the Arrowverse’s namesake show or could be an overwrought but ultimately anticlimactic finish to a largely anticlimactic season. In fact, for most of the panel, the assignment to watch Arrow as part of this podcast series is stepping into “begrudging” territory, as most of the panel struggles with Arrow, and their waning affinity for it, more than with any of the other Arrowverse entries. In contrast, most of the panel also remains hopeful that the writers will find the story center again, return to the excellent story execution of the first two seasons, and breathe new energy into this now late-life series.
This particular episode was recorded in November 2017, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of Season Five of Arrow. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!
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Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly! Next Wednesday, our DCTU panel returns to the bench briefly in anticipation of the mid-season hiatus period, while our New Girl panel, which has experienced a personnel shift, returns to the Water Cooler after a year’s absence to digest Season Six of the quirky and nearly finished sitcom ahead of its final, truncated season. Stay tuned!
Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations
1) How will the “Flashpoint” story line on The Flash affect events on Arrow? Will we see a reversal between Star City and Central City? Will we see Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell) again? Will (spoiler) Laurel come back to life?
ANSWER: As we discussed at length in our ninth episode, covering the third season of The Flash, “Flashpoint,” as it turns out, affected very little throughout the Arrowverse, to the great, heaving disappointment of the entire panel. Our collective theory and consensus opinion basically posits that the writers and executive producers bit off more than they could chew (and ultimately chickened out) when it came to taking on one of the most critical and most far-reaching story-lines in the history of DC Comics for their live-action adaptation of same. Thus, on Arrow, the only effect of the time alteration caused by Barry Allen in Central City: Dig and Lyla’s daughter Sarah becomes a son named John, which the panel also regarded, in our ninth DCTU episode, as quite possibly the most pointless, most unnecessary, and most anticlimactic change the writers could offer.
Though not a direct result of “Flashpoint,” Ollie later sees ghosts of Tommy and of Laurel as he is considering the losses he has incurred since becoming Green Arrow. Viewers also experience a return of a Laurel Lance, of sorts – just not the one the audience previously knew. Earth 2’s Laurel appears in Season Two posing as Earth Prime’s Laurel, but she is “Black Siren,” as introduced in the second season of The Flash, not Black Canary. Black Siren allies herself with the season overarching villain, for better or for worse. Listen to the podcast episode for details.
2) There has been some indication that flashbacks in season five will involve more of the characters than Ollie. What will we learn about the supporting characters?
ANSWER: I am not certain where this indication originated, but the Season Five flashbacks only featured two familiar characters: Oliver, of course, and a brief appearance by Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) in the latter half of the season. This appearance, other than to exploit the sheer popularity of the Merlyn character and of his portraying actor, adds little to no value to the overall story of the Green Arrow. Otherwise, we learn how Oliver became a member of the Russian gang Bratva and how he positioned himself to be rescued from Lian Yu a final time, prior to his return to Star/ling City.
We also learn that Ra’s al Ghul’s other daughter, Talia, most famous from the Batman comics, helped to train Oliver in Russia and inspired him to don the “hood.” Otherwise, the show becomes positively littered with supporting characters in this fifth season, though none are introduced via flashback.
3) What will Team Arrow look like when the series returns?
ANSWER: At the top of the season, Thea, having resigned as Speedy, serves as Mayor Ollie’s Chief of Staff, while Dig remains in prison, having confessed to the murder of his brother in Season Four (though Ollie and Felicity later spring him from the joint and hide him as a fugitive). With Laurel’s Season Four death, Felicity pushes Oliver to recruit other posse members, so that he may have more freedom to serve as mayor without courting suspicion about his by-night vigilante activities. Ollie wants nothing to do with new recruits, however and at first, feeling slighted and slightly abandoned in the wake of the loss of Dig and Laurel (and of Thea by her choice), so Felicity takes it upon herself to rope in some new Green Arrow sidekicks, much to Ollie’s grousing. Tech guru and Felicity’s Palmer-Tech colleague Curtis (Echo Kellum) takes up the mantle of Mr. Terrific, while Rene Ramirez (Rick Gonzalez) joins the team as hockey-mask wearing, gun-toting hothead Wild Dog; Rory Regan joins as Ragman; and Evelyn Sharpe becomes comic-based Green Arrow sidekick Artemis. Of course, the team continues to change personnel a few more times this season. Listen to the podcast episode for details.
4) Will Arrow start before the events of The Flash season two finale, so we can see the effects of Flashpoint?
ANSWER: Arrow Season Five starts some time after the events of Arrow Season Four, regardless of Flashpoint. Again, the only effect that Flashpoint causes to Arrow is a gender change for Dig’s child.
5) Will we see any repeat villains, especially those particular to the Green Arrow, including Count Vertigo, Clock King, and others?
ANSWER: Yes! Though Prometheus proves to be Season Five’s “Big Bad,” Slade Wilson, also known as Deathstroke (Manu Bennett), makes an appearance in this season. Of course, Malcolm Merlyn/Dark Archer returns as well, but he has not been especially villainous in and around Star City as of late. The League of Assassins also returns, courtesy of their relationship to the al Ghul sisters, and Captain Boomerang is similarly released from the ARGUS holding cells on Lian Yu, though he is a Flash villain.
6) How will the four villains, with their portraying actors promoted to series regulars on all four Arrowverse programs, be introduced on each of the shows: Merlyn (John Barrowman), Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller), Eobard Thawne (Matt Letscher), and Damien Dahrk (Neal McDonough)? How will they all visit Arrow, and what will they do?
ANSWER: These four villains, otherwise known as the Legion of Doom, do not appear as a quartet in Arrow Season Five. They only appear as a group in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season Two. Merlyn stops by his home show of Arrow twice this season but without any of his “Doom” compatriots.
7) Will the show return to the “darker edge” of seasons one and two? Or, will it grow campier? Or, will “Flashpoint” throw the whole tone out of whack?
ANSWER: By and large, Arrow Season Five does hearken back, tone-wise, to that of the first two seasons – it is generally darker than Seasons Three and Four, except for when Oliver is playing Mayor. Because the writers appear to struggle for story consistency in the fifth season, however, the tone also reflects some of that imbalance. Incidentally, the podcast panel universally believes that Season Five is the series’ worst season to date.
8) Will Ollie’s use of the salmon ladder increase? The female members of the panel vote yes! He’s been avoiding it lately!
ANSWER: He only used it once! And barely! Instead, Ollie elected to flirt with Felicity in an odd little flashback in which we see that Ollicity has something like make-up sex in the lair. Prior to working up that sweat, though, Felicity warmed up, poorly, on the salmon ladder.
It just wasn’t the same.
1) (keeping in mind that several Season Six episodes have aired as of the publication of this post) Who, if anyone, survives the destruction of Lian Yu by a suicidal Prometheus, since everyone but Ollie and his son William presumably stood on the island rigged with dynamite, triggered to explode by Prometheus’ “dead man switch” and self-imposed death, at the end of the fifth season?
2) Does Oliver choose to raise his son in the wake of this explosion, since William’s mother follows Ollie to the island after learning that William has been kidnapped by Prometheus?
3) Presuming that Felicity survives the explosion, are Ollicity back on, in their on/off again relationship? The panel, particularly panelist Kristen, votes that the writers pick one of the two statuses and stick with it for these charismatic and chemically engaging lovers.
4) Is Malcolm Merlyn truly dead? Prior to the overall explosion of Lian Yu, Merlyn sacrifices himself by moving on to an old landmine in place of Thea, who triggers the mine during her rescue (after Prometheus and allies manage to kidnap Green Arrow’s entire posse and whisk them off to Lian Yu for the explosive season climax). The show offers a scene in which we hear what is presumed to be the explosion of the landmine, but it occurs off screen, creating the possibility of a Merlyn who has once again escaped death. If he does, will we learn how he did it?
5) Is Deathstroke back for good? How will he affect Ollie/Green Arrow in future, now that he is presumably less psychopathic and Mirakuru-enhanced?
6) Will Dinah Drake (Juliana Harkavy), the new Black Canary, survive her stint in the leather jacket and black mask – she was one of the posse on the exploding island? Black Canaries have a high mortality rate on this show.
7) Will we see the al Ghul sisters and the League of Assassins again? Will Talia become more interesting and more like her comics counterpart?
8) Now that the flashbacks and Ollie’s past have caught up to the events beginning the series in the first season, will the series continue to employ flashbacks to tell Oliver’s story? Or, will the portions seen by the viewing audience finally all be in the present?
9) Which villains will we see next season? Who will be the season “Big Bad?” Will any of Green Arrow’s traditional rogues return, including Count Vertigo, Clock King, etc. (panelist Kyle is very concerned)?
10) Did Artemis survive the Lian Yu explosion – and will she see the error of her ways and join Green Arrow’s team in good faith, provided that Oliver is in a forgiving mood?
11) Provided that Thea also survives the explosion, and despite donning the red hood for the fifth mid-season crossover episodes, is she done being Speedy for good?
12) Does Oliver remain Green Arrow as Season Six begins? How does he juggle mayoral duties with vigilante duties without a team? Does he recruit even more new team members?
13) Please bring back the salmon ladder. We are sure that Ollie is stressed out and needs to work on his upper body. Shirtless.
Our DCTU panel universally agrees that Arrow Season Five represents a new low point for the series, given the uneven portrayal and unbelievable motivations of season nemesis Prometheus, who seems to be several steps ahead of Oliver at all times and who seems able to affect Ollie in ways that other, more menacing villains have not. The panel, by and large, also proves mostly unimpressed by the Russia/Bratva flashback stories and some of the side plots on the season, including Felicity’s involvement with hactivist organization Helix and the frustrating love square between Oliver and reporter Susan and Felicity and police detective Billy. The panel further offers mixed reviews surrounding the new Green Arrow sidekicks, with more positive reactions aimed at Mr. Terrific, moderate support for the new Black Canary, lukewarm reactions to Wild Dog and Ragman, and generally negative reactions to Artemis. The panel continues to regard The Flash as the best show in this particular television universe, while the original entry, Arrow, flounders and stumbles, owing primarily to sloppy story mapping, despite the steady (and handsome) portrayal of the Green Arrow by Stephen Amell and the superb production values, particularly the fight choreography, marking the Star City based quadrant of the multiverse.
Arrow was renewed for a new season; Season Six premiered on October 12, 2017! The DCTU podcast panel will next chat Arrow during our mid-season roundup of the Arrowverse, which will occur in or around January 2018, when the panel will discuss all four Arrowverse shows in one longer episode. Until then!