‘Arrow’ Season 6 Review: Inconsistent Storytelling Mars Promising Season

By

If there was one good thing to come out of Arrow’s sixth season it’s that Beth Schwartz is stepping in as showrunner for season 7 at a time where this show needs some new life. She’s proven as a writer on this show that she knows how to focus on the emotional aspects of this story and these characters, which makes everything else more meaningful.

Honestly, this might be the most optimistic I’ve been in several seasons about Arrow’s future. But, that doesn’t mean that this show has regained any of my trust.

Overall Impression

Season 6 felt a lot like other recent seasons of Arrow in that it’s never quite able to consistently pull together a complete season. Typically it’s the beginning of the season that seems to struggle to find its footing, whereas the end of the season finally seems to pull itself together. But Arrow season 6 began promising focusing on the emotional arcs of the characters before completely nose diving with the introduction of OTA vs. NTA and switching from a capable villain like Cayden James to literally the worst villain to ever plague our screens in Ricardo Diaz. The NTA mess coupled with this show forcing this whole “Diaz is a terrifying villain that is smart enough to carry all of this out” was beyond ridiculous. Both of those storylines just ruined a promising season.

What Worked

Arrow — “Irreconcilable Differences” — Image AR609a_0104 — Pictured (L-R):, Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak and Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen — Photo: Dan Power/The CW — © 2017 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Oliver & Felicity

While it was Oliver and Felicity that Arrow effectively misused for a good portion of last season, Olicity was probably one of the more well-done elements of season 6. Not that they were perfect — seeing as these producers left Felicity in the dark about a couple of Oliver’s important decisions he should’ve discussed with her — but for the most part, Arrow let its main draw do the talking this season. Not only did we get to see some build-up to their reunion, but we got to see them finally get married and get to exist as a married couple and everything that comes with being a family with William. This was something that we deserved back in season 4 before these producers thought it was a good idea to throw senseless drama their way and have them broken up for a season and a half. Watching a married couple navigate the ups and downs of life isn’t boring. It’s far more exciting than the contrived drama this show has been spewing out. Hopefully we’ve bid adieu to that and can get back to Oliver and Felicity, husband and wife. For better or worse. Always.

OTA

When in doubt, focus on OTA. The very thing that made Arrow the success it was has not left this show. But the showrunners have sure done a good job at pretending that it has. The thing that has always and will always work on this show is the dynamic between Oliver, Felicity, and Diggle. OTA has been the heart and soul of this show and is the perfect example of what happens when you allow characters to be themselves and drive the plot. That’s why they work. Because they haven’t been backed into a corner and forced to be something other than themselves. Although these showrunners have sure tried to force them into something else. The one good thing to come out of the NTA madness was that we got OTA by themselves for the first time in a long time. And it felt good. Watching how all three of them seemed to cover more ground than when they had more bodies on the team is impressive. They all have a role, they know what they need to do, they communicate, and they trust each other. Makes for amazing execution.

Thea’s Send-off

Good for Willa Holland for escaping a show that underappreciated her and misused her character. While Arrow’s dealings with Thea over the past few seasons have infuriated me beyond measure, I was relieved that she got one of the better episodes of the season to bid adieu. Her send-off, which consisted of her leaving with Roy and Nyssa, left the door for a possible return open while also giving us the closest thing she’ll apparently receive to a happy ending: going off to continue her mission with Roy (and Nyssa) by her side. We got some beautiful scenes between Oliver and Thea that highlighted just how amazing their relationship has been for Arrow and how this show seemed to have forgotten that. I count it a win that they didn’t kill her character off, to be quite honest.

Lyla Helping Out Team Arrow

Honestly, can we just get rid of all of NTA and replace them with Lyla next season? Just imagine the badassness of Lyla Michaels-Diggle fighting alongside her husband and being the kind of strong female character we need on television and in this Arrowverse. In the few episodes that Lyla appeared — most notable in Arrow’s impressive penultimate episode — she brought with her an air of excitement and thrill that this show has been trying to create with these Newbies in masks. I’m sorry, but just because you put a mask on something doesn’t make it the very least compelling or something that works. Lyla is a dual threat: She’s a badass that exemplifies strong female characters and also manages to be one-half a married couple fighting crime together. Gotta love that.

What Didn’t Work

Arrow — “The Dragon” — Image Number: AR619a_0112.jpg — Pictured: Kirk Acevedo as Ricardo Diaz — Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW — © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

OTA vs. NTA

There are not enough angry words in the English dictionary for me to describe how much I hated this whole OTA vs. NTA shit. Well, how I hated NTA because OTA was just standing there wondering what the f*** was happening and who the hell these people thought they were getting this superiority complex. This is an NTA issue, not an OTA one. But these producers were so determined to have the team split — into the good side and the bad side — and have this feud that was laughable beyond measure because it was like Chanel (OTA) vs. Walmart (NTA). Oliver, Felicity, and Diggle are the reason these newbies are here, Oliver especially. They gave them a chance to be something greater than themselves. They gave them a chance to be heroes. But heroes have to be selfless, which NTA was not. Can we focus on the fact that it was Rene that started this whole mess? How he betrayed Oliver by turning him into the FBI as the Green Arrow? Are you freaking kidding me? And yet, he tried to paint himself as the victim here. He and Curtis criticized Oliver whenever they had a damn line in this show. It was disgusting and infuriating to listen to these boneheads whine. Not to mention whatever this show was trying to go for with this whole “sympathy toward NTA” was stupid from the start. No one ever gave a damn about them. It’s like they never realized that. The heart and soul of this show is Oliver, Felicity, and Diggle. Nothing could or will ever change that.

Ricardo Diaz

The worst villain — not Big Bad, villain — that Arrow or the Arrowverse has ever given us. What an absolute joke Ricardo Diaz, the Dragon, was. If I were the character’s creator, I’d be personally offended. You mean you took Cayden James, who was a great villain, away from us for this garbage? A whiny, spineless, punk ass loser who only knows how to cower in fear and pretend that he’s intimidating. How these characters — especially someone like Black Siren — was ever afraid of this guy is laughable. But it goes back to the former showrunners, who had no idea what they were doing with this guy. A Big Bad should be someone that is capable of taking on Oliver Queen. Someone that is worthy of Oliver Queen. Diaz was neither. Oliver could’ve and should’ve defeated him with one hand. This show tried so hard to force this narrative that Diaz was a viable threat that it blew up in their faces. Ah, look, more “plot over character” garbage. The worst thing about this whole thing is that Diaz isn’t dead, and this finale showed him alive as if hinting that there’s a possibility that he could come back. I’m done. Just done.

Quentin & Black Siren

Arrow has been making Quentin Lance suffer since its first season, and I’m relieved for his sake that he’s in a better place. Though I’ve loved his character, he’s the perfect example of what happens when a show ruins a character and realizes they don’t have any more use for him now that they’ve recycled this whole “alive daughter back from the dead” storyline again — and the girl wasn’t even his daughter. Quentin has long suffered the “looking like an idiot and losing all common sense” trope with Arrow in recent history. He used to be one of the more well-adjusted characters, which was saying a lot given all that he’d previously gone through. But this show managed to make him look like a raging lunatic that was focused on making this stranger into his daughter because she wore the same face. He put others in danger repeated times and forgot about Sara, his actual daughter that is alive and well. I understand where they might’ve been coming from — the father-daughter bond between Quentin and his daughters has been beautiful — but Black Siren isn’t his daughter. I understand they might’ve been trying to develop that relationship like they attempted to do with Quentin and Dinah, where it’s a friendship where Quentin is a father figure. See, that would’ve worked. But the execution just failed.

Black Siren’s Redemption

I was actually intrigued by Black Siren’s return this season because I loved watching Katie Cassidy slay it as a villain. She just slips into that role so naturally, and it’s magnetic to watch. When they made her a series regular for this season, I knew that with her expanding role would be the focus of a redemption arc. It was always going to happen. This is a show about a man that went through five years of hell, was a monster, and went from killer to hero. The theme of this show has always been: Every one’s capable of redemption. Arrow laid the groundwork for her redemption arc early on, but when Diaz was introduced into the mix things just went to hell. Again, instead of letting Black Siren’s character guide her actions, these writers forced her into certain situations — like killing Dinah’s boyfriend — because they wanted the drama that would ensue. This show wanted Black Canary vs. Black Siren — and they made BS do something that went against her character’s current arc. And that was the beginning of where they lost me. The rest was when they led me to believe that this metahuman was afraid of a whining twit like Diaz. I’d like to see her redemption arc done right.

Diggle’s Uncharacteristic Behavior

It’s one thing to mess with the Newbies, who I care nothing about. But when Arrow decided to touch John Diggle, I about lost it. This show forced Diggle into something he’s not. They were so focused on taking everything away from Oliver this season that they made Diggle obsessed with this idea of being the Green Arrow. Being the visual leader of this team has never been important to Diggle. He’s a soldier. But this show was so focused on putting this rift between Oliver and Diggle that they were forced to make Diggle act so completely uncharacteristic and un-Diggle like — and can you believe this was the best storyline they could come up with to divide the two? It all came to a head in “Brothers in Arms,” where Diggle fired insults at Oliver like he was on the battlefield, something he hadn’t done even when Oliver betrayed him at his worst. Again, it felt like this show was forcing these characters into a “situation” rather than letting these characters create a situation of their own that was organic.

What We Wanted to See More Of

Arrow — “Collision Course” — Image Number: ARR614a_0029.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak, Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen/Green Arrow and David Ramsey as John Diggle/Spartan — Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW — © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

Focus on Focal Characters

There’s nothing more infuriating about being fed something that you don’t want. Especially when it’s in overwhelming portions. That was what Arrow did with its most annoying characters, including Curtis, Rene, Dinah, and Diaz. There were times, especially that unnecessary and boring as hell episode about Diaz, where Oliver himself was hardly present or a focal point. Characters like Felicity were pushed to the side — where’d that storyline about her company go? — or Diggle was forced to become something he wasn’t just to be relevant. Meanwhile, we had NTA becoming the most annoying specimens known to man until Diaz was given a starring — and undeserving — role. There wasn’t enough focus on Oliver, Felicity, Diggle, Thea, or even Quentin at times.

Any Storyline Involving Felicity

It feels like a lifetime ago that we were promised a Felicity storyline that had nothing to do with her relationship with Oliver Queen or Team Arrow. Remember when we were promised a storyline involving Felicity creating her company? Not only did the showrunners force Curtis into her storyline, they forgot about it. It was something that the showrunners didn’t deem important, so it was forgotten. Just another reason I’m excited for the new direction next season. This show has already proven that it struggles when it sidelines its core characters, Felicity being one of them. And that was certainly felt. Arrow put way too much on its plate and forced the good stuff to the side while focusing on characters that they made fans hate, which caused this immense frustration and anger towards this show at times.

Always OTA

The one thing that this show has proven on numerous occasions is that this show is always better when the dynamic between Oliver, Felicity, and Diggle is on display. It’s something that has helped grow this show into what it is today and the hero that Oliver Queen is today. It’s also something that these producers make it a habit to forget. They’ve gotten better this season, but it’s still not where it needs to be. Where they’re utilizing and taking advantage of occasions where OTA can shine instead of passing it over to other characters. The only good thing to come out of this whole OTA vs. NTA thing was that we got an OTA focus, however short lived it was. This show would serve to sever the NTA binds and return to OTA, with some Roy Harper next season.

Lyla Michaels-Diggle

I know Lyla wasn’t a central character — and maintained a guest starring role — but each and every time she is on this show it’s better for it. Lyla as an individual — a badass mother that is also the head of ARGUS. Lyla as one half of a married couple — the wife of John Diggle, and the couple that beautifully parallels Oliver and Felicity of the future. I don’t know if it’s because of availability or if it’s the story that the producers are crafting, but if it’s possible to include Lyla more in season 7, this show needs to do it.

What We Wanted to See Less Of

Arrow — “We Fall” — Image Number: AR611a_0393.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Rick Gonzalez as Rene Ramirez/Wild Dog, Juliana Harkavy as Dinah Drake/Black Canary and Echo Kellum as Curtis Holt/Mr. Terrific — Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW — © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

NTA

Talk about force-feeding something that’s not only unhealthy but something you never asked for and will never want again. That’s what happens when you force a storyline and characters — characters you ruined — on an audience that shows up for the reason you’re not giving them. Curtis, Rene, and Dinah became the real villains on Arrow this season. Forced into roles and actions they never needed to go, they were the central force of my frustration this season. It’s one thing to allow these characters to grow and evolve, but it’s something else entirely when you force them into unnatural situations because you’re perpetuating this OTA vs. NTA bullshit that no one ever gave a damn about. It was as if Arrow believed the only way to give these characters a storyline was to alienate them from Team Arrow. And, in the progress, they alienated them from a large portion of the fanbase, as well. And yet, we were still forced to watch NTA way more than we should’ve. One of the worst parts of the season for me, honestly.

Ricardo Diaz

Can you believe there was an entire episode devoted to this loser? Can you believe other, more worthwhile villains didn’t get that luxury? But I know you can believe that I fell asleep during this episode as there were really one two minutes that mattered — and a minute of half of them involved Oliver’s entire 90 seconds in this episode — ON HIS OWN SHOW. I had no desire to see any more of the few minutes I was forced to sit through of this poor excuse of a villain. He’s seriously an embarrassment to villains everywhere. He wasn’t intimidating or threatening or even capable of coming off something other than a joke. Even when he tried to yell and be intimidating it felt like a comedy. What a joke. So the fact I had to sit through so much of this guy was just disgusting. That’s time I’ll never get back.

Shitting On Oliver Queen

Do these showrunners hate their hero? They have to, right. For all of these characters to magically forget how Oliver Queen has helped them become better versions of themselves and continuously badmouth him and question his heroism. F*** that. It was bad enough when it was other shows crapping all over him. It’d be one thing if Oliver deserved it, and lord knows he has in the past. But the same people shitting on him — Rene, Curtis, and Dinah — after he was the one that gave them a second chance, after he gave them a chance to be a damn hero in the first place. After everything he’s done for them and in spite of everything they’ve done for him. Oliver Queen is a selfless, forgiving person. If anyone deserves to be shit on, it’s the newbs.

Plot Over Character

I remember the good ol’ days when Arrow was a show that valued character above all else. Where the stories they told were centered around Oliver, Felicity, Diggle, Thea, Laurel, Quentin, Roy, etc. Where they let the characters guide where the story, as it should be, and not vice versa. But somewhere along the way, in the expanding universe of DCTV, Arrow felt like it had to go bigger and bolder — and that was at the expense of the characters. There have been countless times dating back to late season 4 where the plot has dictated the direction of the show. Instead of putting these characters in situations where they’d be allowed to grow and be themselves, this show has forced these plots and forced these characters to exist within them. These characters shouldn’t have be forced to exist. They should be freely living in this universe and the plot should adapt to them. It’s frustrating, because there were a few instances this season where Arrow allowed the characters to guide the plot. But most of the time, as it’s come to be expected, the characters weren’t the central focus. Case in point: OTA vs. NTA. Case in point: Diggle blowing up at Oliver. Case in point: Quentin believing Black Siren was his daughter. I could do this all day.

Favorite Episodes

“Irreconcilable Differences”  (Episode 6×09) – This was the episode where the first half was everything I’d wanted and more and the other half, well, let’s just say these showrunners started their biggest f*** up of the season. But the first half was so good — with everyone coming together to celebrate Oliver and Felicity’s love and marriage — that I’ve blocked he rest out of my mind.

“The Ties That Bind”  (Episode 6×22) – The episode that really should’ve been the season finale because it was just that good. This hour centered around Oliver & Felicity and Diggle & Lyla and how they were outsmarting Diaz. It was a character-centered hour that reminded me what I love about this show.

“Fundamentals”  (Episode 6×18) – The episode where Arrow got back to its fundamentals, aka its hero: Oliver Queen. This served as a self-examination of our hero. Felicity and Adrian Chase (via hallucination) were present to highlight the good and bad sides of our hero in one of the smarter episodes of the season.

“Doppleganger”  (Episode 6×15) – This was the episode that, after several straight episodes of agony, where I felt like I was watching the Arrow I loved from three seasons ago. Where Oliver, Felicity, Diggle, Roy, and Thea were the Team Arrow I loved. It was everything I wanted.

Least Favorite Episodes

“The Dragon”  (Episode 6×19) – The only episode of this show where I have ever fallen asleep for a portion and it had no bearing whatsoever. No one asked for a Diaz episode. No one needed it. Oh, yeah, and this was the episode where it took 48 minutes for Oliver Queen to appear in his own damn show. And he was only in it for 90 seconds. Pathetic.

“Brothers in Arms”  (Episode 6×17) – I understand the whole nonsense of NTA. I understand shitty writing. But I don’t understand how writers can attempt to soil the good name of an established and wise character like John Diggle. This was the episode where these writers actually pit Oliver vs. Diggle in a way that was unbelievable and laughable. Diggle threw insults like fastballs in the most uncharacteristic behavior in which he shit continuously on his brother.

“Collision Course”  (Episode 6×14) – The whole NTA having their heads up their asses for several episodes came to its tipping point in an episode where these Newbies actually fought Oliver, Felicity, and Diggle in the episode that was it for me. That’s when I was officially done with NTA. That’s when Arrow dumbed down our intelligences beyond belief.

“Divided”  (Episode 6×10) – This was the episode where the newbies thought that they were so much better than what they are. This is where Arrow began one of its huge downfalls in attempting to make OTA vs. NTA an even fight. As if that could ever happen.

Season Finale Impression

While Arrow has struggled with its middle part of the season, usually its season finales are somewhat impressive. Even last season, the season finale managed to fix what was perhaps the worst season of the series, in my opinion. But this season’s season finale was quite underwhelming. It wasn’t thrilling or exciting or hopeful in the slightest. It felt like the passing of the baton from showrunner to showrunner. Thankfully. While there were a couple of nice emotional moments, those weren’t enough to redeem it. We were forced to watch Oliver apologize to everyone, particularly people who didn’t deserve apologies. We were forced to watch Diaz whine like the bitch he is. We were forced to watch Quentin die after being a moron all season. We were forced to watch Sara Lance not get to say goodbye to her father but the doppelganger daughter Black Siren get to. The only reprieve was its ending, which found Oliver cuffed and imprisoned setting up a somewhat intriguing season 7 and emotional arc for the characters.

Next Season Speculation

With Beth Schwartz taking over as showrunner next season, my hopes for what Arrow season 7 have jumped exponentially — mostly because Marc Guggenheim and Wendy Mericle tried to destroy the show and these characters. But Schwartz has proven in her writing experience that she favors character over plot, which was a huge factor in the show’s struggles. The cast have been singing Schwartz’s praises saying she’s “the best thing to happen” to this show in awhile. Safe to say, I’m actually both optimistic and excited for the new season.

Following Arrow’s season finale, Oliver Queen is in prison. Naturally he’s not going to remain there forever — but how long he remains there is the better question. Obviously our real-time time jump of 5-6 months will take place, so Oliver will have been in prison for about half a year. That doesn’t mean that a premiere prison break is the desire here. I’d expect several episodes of Oliver in prison and Team Arrow working to get him out. Now, everyone knows he’s the Green Arrow. He can’t escape from his enemies with or without the hood. Seeing that will be interesting. Of course, Schwartz’s turn as showrunner gives this show a chance to return to its strength: Character and heart, which hopefully means plenty of more Oliver and Felicity and OTA. Not to mention Roy Harper is returning as a series regular next season, which means he’ll be rejoining Team Arrow. Hopefully that means NTA is gone — or at least their roles significantly reduced. Oh, and Diaz? He’d better be dead and gone before this upcoming season begins.

What were your thoughts on Arrow season 6?

We also recommend