I remember the exact moment I fell in love with you. Not when I decided to keep going after a sluggish couple of episodes — episode 3 kept me going — but the moment where I realized that this was my show. The kind of dedication that led me to writing these reviews and countless editorials. The kind of dedication that made me feel a personal connection to this show, which is honestly the most important thing a form of art can do.
Season 1, Episode 15, “Dodger.”
It was the first time that we saw Oliver Queen, John Diggle, and Felicity Smoak working together as a team — no secret identities, no laughable excuses, just an open book. Team Arrow was still in the crib, but there was an instantaneous chemistry and sense of comfort that seemed to fly off the screen. It felt like you were watching something special. Team Arrow was going after the Dodger, a weirdo thief that liked to hitch bomb collars to people and let it go “boom.” And yet, I’ll always remember the guy. In a way, I’ll kind of be thankful to him. Not that he did anything but be the first villain that OTA took on as a unit.
That episode solidified Team Arrow as a unit. Everyone had their role, they did it well, and they gelled perfectly as a team; a family. What would follow through the rest of season 1 and in season 2 — where Arrow was at its absolute best — was the stuff of magic. Team Arrow was a well-oiled machine with a rapport that was infectious. And the beautiful thing was that we got to see their relationships — as a unit or individually — progress on a weekly basis. It’s the exact definition of the writing tip “show, don’t tell.”
Everyone has their reason loving Arrow. That’s the beautiful thing about television and all forms of art. There are so many things to love and so many different reasons people watch. For me, it’s always been because of the core dynamic between Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity.
OTA has always been, and will always be, the heart of your show. It’s a dynamic that makes Arrow so much more than just a superhero show. In a world of copycats and over saturation, having a rich dynamic like that sets you apart from the others. I could give a rip about action and stunt sequences if it meant I didn’t get the relationships I get with OTA. Why should I care if I don’t care at all? Oh, that superhero guy got an arrow through the heart? Poor guy. I hope someone sends him flowers. And also remembers to remove the arrow from his chest. That could be a traumatic and awkward open-casket service.
Honestly, Arrow’s midseason premiere was a letdown — well, minus OTA and Thea & Quentin. If you were trying to make the Newbies — Curtis, Dinah, and Rene — sympathetic or somewhat less annoying, then you failed miserably. If you believe that anyone actually cares enough about the Newbies, then you’re sorely mistaken.
Chanel vs. Walmart; NFL vs. Pee Wee; OTA vs. Newbies.
This whole “OTA vs. Newbies” thing was off putting. Not only is it incredibly unfair — to the Newbies — but it didn’t come off well. This entire midseason premiere was centered around this “great divide” between Team Arrow. Only it didn’t feel like a great divide. If anything, it felt like a rebirth. In an ironic way, “Divided” actually reunited Original Team Arrow — that is just Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity. And that, in itself, was a pleasant result.
I don’t care about the Newbies. I’m not going to pretend to. It’s one of the hazards that a seasoned series like yourself, which is in its sixth season, faces when contending with what its audience has known and loved for years. OTA is the gold standard. Sure, we’ve seen several versions of Team Arrow, but we all know where it started. With the three of them.
You’d think you would want to make the Newbies likeable — especially Rene, whom I’ve despised since his introduction. But instead, you’re putting them in a position where they come off as entitled and almighty. I didn’t think it was possible to dislike the Newbies more than I already did. Clearly, I was wrong.
“This started with me, you, and Felicity. Whatever comes our way, we can handle it.”
That line right there says it all.
It represents the start; it represents the height of the show; it represents the success; it represents why a person, like myself, still watches. Honestly, Arrow has declined in the past couple of seasons. It’s not unexpected. Shows tend to decline over time. They have their great seasons, their good seasons, their so-so seasons, and their bad seasons. This season, while easily the best in the past couple of years thus far, still doesn’t capture the early magic of your show.
Times were simpler when it was just Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity. Hell, even when Roy joined the team. But then again, I also understand the need for progression and evolution. Team Arrow wasn’t going to remain the three of them forever. It was going to evolve. But there’s still a part of me that lives for those OTA moments — like “Divided” provided — as it reminds me of the time when OTA was at its height. This episode provided OTA in the field — well, Oliver in the field while Diggle was sidelined and my girl Felicity leading the way. But if the end of “Divided” is any indication, OTA is back bitches. Get ready for Oliver and Diggle in the field as Felicity guides the way.
Honestly, you can keep OTA and the Newbies as separate teams. I know you’re going to find a way that they all need to work together to take down Cayden James and Co. — I know, I know, they’re outnumbered — but maybe it can be like a temporary partnership before both teams go back to doing their thing. Like when you’re forced to work with that one person in class that you hate. But you also understand that you need each other to pass the damn class. And besides, you’re not going to be the one to cut open the damn frog. (I don’t actually believe that’ll happen, but it was a nice thought.)
You guys struck literal magic with Original Team Arrow. And you know it. You can’t fake that chemistry, that ease, and that evolution that has laid the trusting foundation that has defined OTA over the years.
This show has proven that it’s at its best when Original Team Arrow is at the center of the show. No matter where time takes this show, don’t forget what got you there. Don’t forget that it started with the three of them.