We’re back at it with our Arrow roundtables, and we’re talking all about the new season’s hot topics as we near Arrow‘s Oct. 5 return. It’s been far too long since we last did one of these roundtables, but it’s safe to say that we haven’t been complacent in the offseason.
As Arrow heads into season 5 — a season that’s been dubbed “back to basics” — there’s so much to expect, from new members on Team Arrow to Russian flashbacks, as well as a certain couple that we just need to see back together again.
Fangirlish writers Alyssa, Lizzie, Lyra, Nora, and Sarah are discussing some of the hot topics heading into Arrow‘s fifth season, including back-to-basics, Olicity, Bratva flashbacks, and legacy.
While the Berlanti-verse has been something really great for television, Arrow had to sacrifice itself to open the path for these other superhero shows more centered around “superpowered” aspects. But this season the producers have promised that Arrow is returning to the gritty, grounded show that made us all fall in love. What are your thoughts on that?
Alyssa: It’s about damn time. While I love how Arrow has been the show that is responsible for creating this amazing DC universe on television, it hasn’t been fair how Arrow has had to change what made it a success to cater to these superpowered-centered shows. Arrow’s first two seasons were its best if only because it was allowed to be Arrow. It changed with the introduction of The Flash, followed by DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl, as there was this need and opportunity to have this Berlanti-verse that encompasses all of these heroes. A Justice League on television, if you will.
Because Arrow was at the forefront of this new age of superheroes on television, it’s been responsible for shepherding in new heroes and series. Elements like magic and metahumans were introduced, and it took away from what made Arrow a standout in the first place: it was the superhero show without superpowers. It flourished with the core of Team Arrow fighting gritty crime in the streets. It took a couple of seasons, but Arrow is finally allowed to go back to being Arrow now that these other shows have been established on The CW. Executive producers have promised a return to that dark, grounded reality that captivated audiences from the start. And I expect them to deliver.
Lizzie: I like the idea a lot. Fact is we didn’t really start watching Arrow because of the other superheroes or because of the magic or the superpowers. We started watching Arrow because it was the story of a somewhat ordinary man (and I say somewhat because I couldn’t do the salmon ladder) who still found a way to be a hero. And we stuck around for all the rest, but we really liked the original idea, Oliver and then Diggle and Felicity. Maybe because it gives us hope – hope that you don’t actually need special powers to do good, to save the world.
Lyra: I’m cautiously optimistic for Arrow’s return to the gritty, grounded show that made us all fall in love. The first season of Arrow was not my favorite. Let’s start off with that little nugget. It was brooding drama for the hell of it with no real understanding why Oliver transformed into this man. Then there was the sleeping around and the back and forth with his ex, Laurel Lance. It was bland and didn’t give me the rush of love that others experienced. But I stuck with it and here we are. Years later I can appreciate the kind of man Oliver was in Season 1 and how he’s transformed because I understand what he went through.
This gritty, grounded show that we’ve been promised is going to be interesting to see because Oliver is a different man. He isn’t as closed off, angry, and pretending to go through the motions. He wants a future, he’s got experience, he has a team that’s backing him up, and even though they’ve broken up, he has the love of a women he never thought would be possible or that he was even capable of. If what producers are teasing is true, we’ve literally grabbed Oliver from Season 5 and plopped him back into Season 1. He’s going to be put through similar ringers with a different result because he’s not a brooding killer anymore. He’s a hero.
As for the “superpowered” aspects going away…they’re not. You don’t open a can of worms like that and expect it to just go away. The only difference when it comes to all the magic and metas this season, is that producers will tone it down because they’ve obviously noted that fans don’t like it. Now it’ll just be creeping on the fringes. Waiting for the right moment to pop up…
Nora: As someone who has watched Arrow since the beginning, I definitely have seen the side effects of Arrow being the “launching pad” for the other superhero shows on The CW. I think it was most apparent last season when they had to launch Legends of Tomorrow off of Arrow. Magic became so central to Arrow last season and that is something I never expected happening. Arrow thrived off of being a somewhat grounded superhero show. It flourishes with its stunts and non-fantasy elements. So, last season when it was all about the magic elements, I think that is where it suffered the most. I’m really excited about this season. From what I can tell we are getting back to basics and it already looks like the Arrow I fell in love with in the beginning. Turning away from magical powers and focusing on the gritty, raw quest to make Star City great is something I’m REALLY looking forward too!
Sarah: It makes me really excited for the upcoming season, more than seasons three and four honestly. While I’ve loved that Arrow has gotten to serve as a jumping off point for the Flash and Legends of Tomorrow, the “grittiness” as you say still lands the first two seasons as my favorites thus far. The idea of going back to basics in season five is nothing short of awesome.
Perhaps the most-talked about element of Arrow has been Olicity. While the two broke things off in the middle of season four, we never really saw resolution. The producers have said that Oliver and Felicity both have to work on themselves before they can focus on the romance. What are your hopes for Olicity this season?
Alyssa: First off, if you have any doubt that Oliver and Felicity are endgame on this show then you need to accept it already. Sure, things aren’t entirely blissful ala the season four premiere, but look at how well that ended. While there are some that are unhappy with the lack of focus on Olicity, I’m perfectly okay with it if only because it allows for organic development between the two. Some of the best moments between Oliver and Felicity have come not because of the romantic focus but the organic moments that are happening in a given situation.
But Arrow will eventually bring that focus back to the romantic aspect of Oliver and Felicity’s relationship. There’s no doubt that their relationship has so much yet to be explored this season. Both Oliver and Felicity need to figure out their own personal issues before they can even think of exploring their romantic relationship again. For Oliver, he’s going to be juggling the responsibility of being mayor of Star City by day and Green Arrow by night. For Felicity, she’s going to be dealing with the fallout from Monument Point. There’s no doubt that they both need to get their personal lives under control first before they give their romantic relationship another go. It’s that whole, seeing it explored on screen aspect of their relationship that I want to see. And it sounds like it’s coming.
Lizzie: I hope the writers remember how to write this couple? Is that mean? I kinda (and by kinda I mean I really, really do) think they screwed up last year and added an element of drama for the sake of drama that was never present for Olicity, and now this is just dealing with the ramifications of that. There were better ways of dealing, of course, but this is what we’re stuck with. That being said, I would like to see them being partners and friends before I see them getting back together romantically, though I want that too. Hopefully the drama was just a momentary detour. Hopefully we’ll get to see them have the adult talks people in their situation would have before getting back together. Hopefully they’ll treat this with the care they use to give the relationship, once upon a time. Hopefully.
Lyra: Exactly what you just said. I want them to work on Oliver and Felicity separately. They’ve got issues within themselves that they’ve got to deal with if they want to make Olicity successful. Oliver is still not 100% comfortable in a relationship. He struggled with having a partner in his hero life and in his personal life. I’m looking at you baby mama drama. He needs to find a balance between these two parts of his life while understanding that there are consequences when you make a decision that throws off that delicate balance. As for Felicity, she’s got guilt because of Havenrock. Technically she didn’t kill these people. That was Damien. But she did redirect it to a less populated area. She made a decision and it resulted in a different group of people dying. There’s gonna be guilt there no matter what. Bae has to spend time forgiving herself and understanding that the true villain was Damien, not herself.
Unfortunately getting over guilt like this or finding a balance in your work & personal life, takes time. So as much as I want them to run into each others arms, they need to work on themselves. They also have to remember that even though they’re not lovers anymore, they’re friends. Oliver and Felicity can lean on each for support like they did in season one. Not all is lost. It’s just time for rebuilding *throws arms in the air* ALL OF IT! And maybe this time they’ll avoid the problems before they come. Maybe this time they’ll be a stronger, more united front. Hell, maybe this time they’ll actually make it to the wedding and the honeymoon after.
Nora: Honestly, my hope is that they learn to stand alone while they blossom together. I love Olicity as much as the next fan, but one of my issues with them in the relationship was that once they were in it, they almost lost their individual qualities. Everything Felicity did had something to do with the relationship or Oliver. So, my hope is that Oliver and Felicity can have somewhat separate storylines to begin the season and eventually find their way back to each other romantically. I think them working together on building Team Arrow 2.0 while they each deal with their separate issues will help achieve this. In the end, I would love to see them get back together!
Sarah: My hope for Olicity is that both Oliver and Felicity individually, are given enough time to find their own personal motivations for what brought them together in the first place and forge their own paths. With everyone going their separate ways in the season four finale (for their own valid reasons), they both deserve this time to figure themselves out. To live life without worrying about how their actions will affect so much, especially each other. Everything they’ve experienced up to this point, and their heartfelt desire to do good in the world still continues to connect them. It may take a part of the season, or even the whole of season five but I have faith they’ll find their way back to each other romantically, and I’m so excited to see that play out.
Following season four’s finale, Team Arrow was left with just Oliver and Felicity. But as we’ve seen teased, that won’t be the case in season five as Oliver and Felicity recruit new members for the team, including Mr. Terrific, Wild Dog, and Artemis. What are your thoughts on the new members of the team and how Team Arrow will evolve this season?
Alyssa: While Original Team Arrow is one of my favorite aspects of Arrow, I understand that Team Arrow has evolved to the point where it can’t just be the three of them anymore. The stakes have been raised, the threat growing larger, more vigilantes making their presence known. It doesn’t make sense for it to just be Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity. But with that said, I’m hoping that the show takes into account the importance of that core dynamic that has shaped the show into what it is today. Find moments for the three of them to do what they’ve done best; find moments for these three friends to reflect; find moments for Stephen Amell, David Ramsey, and Emily Bett Rickards to showcase that electric chemistry between them.
As far as the new members of Team Arrow, I’m excited to see Oliver take on that mentor role with these three newbies: Mr. Terrific, Wild Dog, and Artemis. There’s a fun dynamic that we’ve seen showcased in the trailer that adds one of those humorous elements that Arrow has been lacking. Not to mention, watching Team Arrow get back in the business of fighting crime in the streets makes my heart go boom. It’ll be interesting to see when Diggle returns to the team and how he handles that. But when it’s all said and done, the core of Team Arrow has always been and always will be Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity. So I’m praying that the producers capitalize on that.
Lizzie: It’s hard to keep a show with just the original cast for many years. In order to be successful a show has to evolve, and Arrow is doing that. I don’t mind it. I’m not in love with any of these characters yet, but that’s okay. We’ll see how it goes. I’ve got an open mind, at least, and Curtis already has a leg up in the competition as my favorite newbie. I’m looking forward to shots of Oliver training these guys, and to them questioning Felicity and them coming to accept her as the badass she is. I’m looking forward to Diggle coming back and being all like –who are these people? It’s going to be a different element, and a fun one.
Lyra: As much as I love OTA (Original Team Arrow) I’m all up for some new recruits. Fresh blood and fresh eyes is always a good idea when it comes to a team. It allows for a fresh perspective guided by your trained hand. That hand just happens to be Oliver Queen, who is far from perfect, and could always use a helping hand.
To be clear, these people are NOT going to replace Oliver, Felicity, Diggle, and Thea. They’re going to be backup when our favorites need help, when they can’t get to a situation on time, or if they want a breather. The only way that our OTA is going to survive and live to a ripe old age is if they don’t have to take all the risks themselves. Do you want Sara to grow up with Diggle in her life? Do you want Oliver and Felicity to have a chance at building a home and family together? Do you want Thea to find Roy and be happy with someone who gets her inside and out? Then Team Arrow is going to have to evolve.
If we want our favs to survive this crazy rollercoaster of a ride we have to see Arrow for what it is, a show about how one man inspired many to change their world for the better. Mr. Terrific, Mad Dog, and Artemis will make their world better.
Nora: I’m pumped about seeing Team Arrow 2.0! Curtis/Mr. Terrific became one of my favorite characters last season. I think Echo Kellum brings something new and exciting to Arrow and I’m so excited to see where he takes Mr. Terrific this season. Also, Artemis and Mad Dog joining the team just makes it even more epic. I will always have a soft spot for Original Team Arrow, but I’m excited to see Oliver and Felicity train this new team. I think the new team is necessary after they’ve experience so much change in the last two seasons. They lost Roy, they lost Laurel, Diggle lost his brother and Thea has been through hell and back. I think it’s time to change things up and rebuild and I’m excited to see how this new team affects Star City, but also Felicity and Oliver. I have high hopes for them.
Sarah: I’m really excited that some new blood will be coming to Team Arrow. How that’ll work dynamic wise in and out of the “bat cave” so to speak, will be the most interesting and entertaining part. Up to this point they’ve only recruited people they know, but the willingness to bring in relative newcomers means the world to me. As scary as it can be to trust people you haven’t worked with for a long time, especially in this line of work is a leap of faith but I believe it will ultimately turn out to be a change for the better. As for the new team members, I can’t wait to meet them, but I’m most excited to see “Mr. Terrific” aka Curtis Holt join Team Arrow. It’ll be a challenge, but I think it’ll also give back some light that’s slowly been lost over the struggles of the past four years.
There’s no question that the island flashbacks have been a controversial part of the show and have lost impact since the first two seasons. This is the final season of the island flashbacks, which find Oliver in Russia as he delves deep with the Bratva. How are you feeling about the potential of the flashbacks this season?
Alyssa: The flashbacks have never been my favorite part about Arrow, but it’s something that I’ve always wanted to like because it’s such an important part of Oliver Queen’s story. These are the five years that have shaped the man that we met in the pilot; the man that was a murderer; the man that eventually became a hero. This is something that we should give a damn about. We should sit up tall in our seats when the flashbacks come on. But instead it’s a time for me to grab a quick drink.
Now that we’re heading into the final year of island flashbacks, it’s important more than ever that these flashbacks be meaningful. And honestly they couldn’t have picked a better year for flashbacks. This is the year where Oliver Queen should reach his darkest. Also, we get to see how Oliver became involved with the Bratva, which means shirtless fighting scenes galore. Bless. One of the things that made the flashbacks in season two effective was how they were linked to the present in a relevant way. It tied into Slade Wilson as the big bad. So I’m hoping that this year’s big bad has something to do with Oliver’s time in Russia. More than anything I’m hoping that I finally start caring the way I should about the island flashbacks.
Lizzie: Feels like we’ve been waiting for Bratva for ages. Does that mean it’s going to live up to our expectations? I don’t know. The last two seasons of flashbacks have been so disappointing that, right now, I’m trying very hard not to get my hopes up. But hey, it would be nice not to feel like there’s literally a part of the show made so I can get up and go get snacks. It really would.
Lyra: I’m bored with the flashbacks. And as much as I’m excited for Bratva, I don’t understand why Oliver would go to Russia. He could’ve sent a postcard, a text, or a carrier pigeon. Anything besides going to Russia for a stranger. It comes down to fear. Oliver was scared of what came next or if he could even go home, and decided to hit up Russia.
Back to the flashbacks. The only thing that has me remotely excited for these flashbacks is that they’re going to be the reason that Oliver Queen is such a hot mess in season 1 of Arrow. Whatever happens to him with the Bratva will put him in a high ranking position, make him a killer, and twist the mission his father left upon his shoulders for Starling City.
It’s going to be an eye-opening experience to compare the best version of Oliver we have so far in season 5 with the dark brooding killer he was in season 1. It’ll shine a light on how much he’s grown and how much his life has changed for the better. It’ll give us and Oliver the perspective we need as we move past these flashbacks and into a new age of Arrow.
Nora: I’m definitely not the first person to say that the flashbacks in the last two seasons have been my least favorite part of Arrow. I felt that they detracted from the present day storylines and they just felt like they were thrown in there because they had too. I barely even remember what happened in the flashbacks last season besides Constantine and it eventually ending with Oliver going to Russia. I’ve wanted to see Bratva Oliver since season one when that side of him was introduced and I’m super excited to finally get it! Just from the behind the scenes photos and teaser footage it looks like they are knocking the flashbacks out of the park. I have pretty high hopes for the flashbacks this season. I’m excited about Bratva Oliver and I can’t wait to see that story be told.
Sarah: The flashbacks lost their appeal for me longer than I care to admit (the mute button is a fantastic invention on a modern tv remote), but having them potentially end this season makes them a lot more interesting now. The idea of seeing the events leading up to Oliver’s rescue and his state in the pilot, is the mystery I’ve been waiting to see come around full circle the past four seasons. His dealings with the Bratva were likely as dangerous as anyone else he encountered during those five years, eventually did land him back on that island alone. I’m hoping that having this story fully resolved will mean the fabric of the flashbacks will change in future seasons (I’m hopeful dang it), but for now bring on Oliver’s last year on the “Island.”
We’ll see an equal focus with both parts of Oliver’s life with his being the mayor of Star City by day and the Green Arrow by night. What are your hopes for Oliver juggling these two parts of himself this season?
Alyssa: One of the biggest struggles for Oliver throughout this series has been juggling two sides of himself. First it was being Oliver Queen and the Arrow, now it’s going to be being Oliver Queen, Mayor of Star City by day, and the Green Arrow, protector of Star City by night. As we’ve all seen, Oliver isn’t too good at juggling more than one part of himself.
With this mayoral storyline I want there to be a purpose in terms of furthering Oliver Queen’s story. Not just that it was in the Green Arrow comics. This needs to mean something. So I was glad when Stephen Amell told me at SDCC that Oliver is doing a shit job as mayor when the season begins. Being mayor isn’t something you can just slide into without effort. It’s good that Oliver is struggling with this. It means that he’s going to grow as a person because of the struggle. Oliver has done a good job in growing in some way each season. He’s far from perfect, but he’s shown that he wants to change and that when he does put forth the effort that it’ll show in the end. Oliver will struggle, yes. But he’ll also want to – and eventually find – a way to be a productive mayor for Star City, as well as continue his most important job at night.
Lizzie: I want more Mayor Oliver. Not just because Stephen Amell can rock a suit, either. I want to see the Green Arrow becoming a well-rounded person. I want to see Oliver grow. The mask and the leather is all fine and well, but we’re here for him. What he does to save the city when he puts on the mask and what he does when he’s not wearing it …those are both stories worth telling, and both stories that I’m interested in seeing. I just don’t know how he’ll juggle it without people noticing, but then again, I’ve already suspended disbelief for this show many times before. Why stop now?
Lyra: My #1 hope for Oliver juggling these two parts of himself this season is…that he accepts that he can’t do all on his own and that it’s ok to ask for help. But he’s a team player, you shout! He’s worked with John, Felicity, Roy, Thea, and countless others! My response would be, how many times has he actually let others take the rein and actually work as a team? Not as many as you’d expect to be quite honest. We’re entering into a new age with Arrow and if he’s going to successfully balance out these two parts of himself, he’s going to have to let these people support him like he’s supported them.
Note: Not everything’s black and white. Oliver has had moments but we’re going for a continued balance with no relapses into doing shit like joining the league of assassins, working with Merlyn, or lying those he loves. That last one includes John, Thea, and everyone else in his life; not just Felicity.
Nora: I’m curious to see Mayor Oliver considering Stephen Amell has teased that Oliver isn’t the best mayor. I can’t wait to see him have a role outside of being Green Arrow. In terms of his life outside of the Arrow Cave, I’m really excited to see Oliver and Thea interact. I think it will be interesting to see Oliver and Thea work together on the mayor side of things. I really hope Arrow can juggle the worlds affectively. I’m a little nervous that the mayor side may get lost amongst the Green Arrow side, but I can’t wait to see Amell play with it. I’m curious as to how his performance will change between the two parts. I’m 100% ready for Mayor Queen.
Sarah: I’m hoping it’ll help him find a better balance between his personal life and his nightly crime fighting, and not just in the public eye but for himself. In years past he’s always prioritized the mission (aside from his vacation with Felicity) at the detriment of everything else, especially his own life. As excellent as he has been at helping others as the Green Arrow, I think being forced to maintain this balance will help him personally more than anything else has before.
The theme of this season is said to be “legacy,” which relates to all of the characters. What are your thoughts, hopes, and expectations for this theme this season?
Alyssa: I’m quite intrigued and excited to see this theme of legacy unfold. From the start, Arrow was planned as a five-season story. Obviously the show will extend beyond that, but this is going to be the final chapter in the creators’ original story. Legacy seems like a viable theme. While Arrow has always been and always will be about Oliver Queen, there’s no denying that this isn’t just his show anymore. The people that he has surrounded himself with in his life have become a significant part of his story thus they’ve become a significant part of this show. This theme of legacy is said to apply to all of these characters as they begin to think about the legacy that they’re leaving. Not that they’re going anywhere as Arrow is expected to extend a few seasons.
Obviously this theme of legacy extends far beyond Green Arrow. This theme of legacy applies to both their professional and personal lives. That’ll be interesting to see play out as we know that Oliver and Felicity, who we know are the endgame of this show, have to rebuild their relationship and find their way back to each other. Legacy is something that you don’t necessary get to see. It outlasts you. It keeps your name, your impact ongoing in time. I’m excited to see these characters think about their legacy and how that impacts how they live their lives moving forward.
Lizzie: I literally only want their legacy, and by their I mean the show, to be that they wrote a good story. So no gimmicks. No soap-opera style drama, or at least, not SO much of it. Give me a good story, a real story, of people who act like actual real life people put into extraordinary circumstances. Give me Oliver and Felicity growing together, give me Diggle with issues with trying, give me Lance mourning and Thea trying to find her own way in life. That’s what I want.
Lyra: Thoughts: Need to stop the lying & depend on each other, asap. Hopes: Olicity gets back together & no one significant dies. Expectations: Perspective on season 1 Oliver Queen vs season 5 Oliver Queen.
Nora: I’m really excited for the “legacy” theme. I think it’s a great driving force for the season, especially with episode 100 coming up! I love that we are beginning to close a chapter in Arrow and I think “legacy” is the perfect way to encapsulate it all. Legacy has always been at the heart of Arrow I think. We start with Oliver trying to change his father’s wrongs and change the legacy of the Queen name on Starling City. It’s definitely always been prevalent in Oliver’s mind and even Felicity’s. She is introduced to Team Arrow as someone who wants to change the world for good and leave her mark. My hopes for the theme are that we see every core character grapple with their own legacy. Whether it be Oliver leaving his legacy on Star City as both Mayor and Green Arrow, Felicity’s legacy within Palmer Tech and Team Arrow and Diggle’s legacy in the military and Team Arrow. I think that driving force will be very interesting to see and I hope it plays well on screen. I’m excited to see what they have planned.
Sarah: My thoughts about the theme is I cannot wait to see every character make their own legacy to be something they’re proud of. Whether it’s personally, professionally or crime fighting with the Green Arrow, every single person on that show deserves this. I’m hoping that it means we’ll get to see each character fight for what they’d like to pass onto others, whether it’s the new blood coming in or to the young people of Star City. I’m not one to have a lot of specific expectations, but if they’re saying the theme is legacy I only would expect the writing to live up to that especially for these characters.