Arrow isn’t Arrow. Not anymore.
It pains me to say it, but it’s the truth. This fifth season, which should be one to celebrate given its upcoming 100th episode, has been nothing but a complete reinvention of a show that needed absolutely no fixing in the first place.
All I’ve seen this season is how Arrow has managed to sideline major characters not named Oliver Queen in favor of a cast of new characters and lazy storytelling. Even Felicity, who gets a decent amount of air time, has been sidelined as she’s been reduced to her season one role of comedic relief and background noise. Her whole Havenrock storyline? Yeah, lasted one episode. That kind of trauma is not solved in some, what, 15 minutes of airtime?
Here’s the thing, I’ve tried to be optimistic this season. With the new recruits coming to Team Arrow, I’ve been open and accepting even when Wild Dog pushed my buttons. But I’ve finally been pushed to the edge.
I don’t recognize this show. This show where the characters aren’t themselves, where action trumps storylines, where romance – real romance – is a curse word, and where contrived drama is worshipped.
Where is the show I loved? Oh, it’s in the grave. That’s what really died last season.
I don’t like Arrow right now. I’ve never said or written those words in the four years that I’ve been watching this show. Not even during season three when it was pure hell to be an Olicity shipper. Not even during the God-awful flashbacks. But I’m writing it now because I’ve finally been pushed too far.
Prior to “Human Target,” the four episodes of Arrow that have aired in this fifth season have been less than satisfying. And I’ve been trying to be optimistic – telling myself it’ll turn around. But it was “Human Target” that really exposed just how bad this show has gotten. Even Flash, which hasn’t been my favorite this season, is still Flash even when it’s not good. But Arrow isn’t Arrow.
And I’m angry. Because Arrow – the real Arrow – is a show that understands its true strengths – characters and heart. This imposter Arrow only cares about stunt sequences, comic books, and contrived drama.
Give me Laurel Lance back for crying out loud. While she was never my favorite character, but there’s no denying that this show was better when she was on it. We didn’t appreciate season four as much as we should’ve, guys. I miss it.
This far surpasses being a shipper. Hell yes, I am a loud and proud Olicity shipper, but this is about so much more than just that. (Don’t worry, I’ll get to my Olicity rant later) This is about being a fan of the show as a whole. This season is like a poor man’s season one. It’s already been done, and it’s not being done well.
Not to mention everything is just off. The core characters aren’t acting like themselves in the very basic ways, core characters are being sidelined, contrived drama is spewing out of every crevice, and the storytelling is just not working. The good name of this show, what it’s accomplished and what it’s meant to so many people is being dragged through the mud.
Hell, even the producers are getting in on it. Marc Guggenheim insulted a huge segment of the fandom, which is pretty much kicking the fandom while it’s down. You don’t do that, man. You should know better. You don’t insult or alienate your fandom. The fandom that has gotten you to a fifth season.
Hey, maybe this whole thing is a hallucination or a really shitty nightmare? Seeing as Arrow will be having aliens in its 100th episode (yeah, aliens, nice return to that “grounded” reality), perhaps season five is one big hallucination or nightmare. Maybe this whole aliens storyline can retcon what season five has produced so far? Or maybe we are the ones that have been abducted? And we’re hallucinating? Maybe we’ll wake up and discover this has been one massive, ugly nightmare?
Okay, it’s Olicity time. You knew it was coming. This is me, after all. I’ll reiterate the stance I’ve had since before this season began: Oliver and Felicity will reunite by season’s end. Actually, at this point I’m aiming for the season five finale exactly. Because these writers are going to milk this ludicrous drama for all that it’s worth.
Despite all of the anger that I felt in watching “Human Target,” the one thing that I did manage to clearly take away from this episode is that Oliver and Felicity’s journey is far from over. It’s just beginning this season. And they’re going to get back together. It was written all over their faces and foreshadowed in their words.
But that doesn’t mean I agree with the journey in season five. I don’t write the show (we wouldn’t be in this mess if I did), but I’ve watched for the past four seasons how these writers have crafted Oliver and Felicity’s relationship. What they’ve been doing in season five is not doing justice by these two characters and their beautiful love story that has inspired a fandom.
The reason that Oliver and Felicity are no longer together is because of a lack of communication. It’s something that we’ve seen them addressing early, which was definitely a good sign of what’s to come for their relationship.
But what Arrow is about to do is pull them apart and then put them back together in a way that would’ve made sense for season one Oliver/Laurel but makes no sense for Oliver and Felicity. Their relationship has never been about that. There’s always only been each other. But Felicity has a boyfriend, and with the casting of these new female characters you know Oliver is going to bang at least one of them. These writers are going to have Oliver and Felicity both move on, be in relationships with other people, and then somehow manage to put them back together by season’s end.
I’m not saying it doesn’t make sense (it does, it’s happened on television before), but it’s not what Oliver and Felicity are about. Oliver and Felicity were in a relationship that worked. It was healthy. They were a team within a team – a team in both their personal and professional lives. It worked, and it was damn entertaining to watch. Oliver and Felicity were the epitome of a healthy relationship. Until they introduced the baby mama drama, which has led to this mess we currently find ourselves in.
It’s all about the drama. And the writers are really hammering home this nonsensical drama. Make no mistake, their endgame is still Oliver and Felicity. But they’re going to make this journey as painful as possible. And to be honest, it’s really hard right now given how there’s absolutely no positive PR in this fandom. We’ve been through season three, but there was always a sense of positivity and reassurance from producers and actors. We don’t have that this season, and that’s part of the problem.
But I remain firm in my belief that Oliver and Felicity will end up together. This kind of forever love and chemistry on television is rare, and you know damn well the producers are aware of this. They know the end game. But right now it’s all about the journey. And, guys, strap in. It’s not going to be an easy one. It’ll make season three look like a siesta.
Here’s the thing, we’re five episodes into the new season. It’s torture to watch right now, but there’s always a chance – albeit a slim one – that this show can redeem itself by returning to the show that audiences fell in love with in the first place. The show where the characters drove the story and where action was just a bonus.
Maybe the producers have woken up to the harsh reality to series low ratings and lack of buzz that has typically defined the Arrow fandom? Maybe they’ll learn a lesson here? Don’t fix what isn’t broken. Cause if you do that all you’re doing is breaking the fandom that has gotten you this far in the first place.
I’ll continue to hold out hope for the return of Arrow – I love this show too much to give up on it. I am a Chicago Bears fan after all. And one thing you should know about us sports fans is that we don’t give up on our team. We might step back for a moment, but we never walk away.
And hey, if the Chicago Cubs can win the World Series after 108 years of pure misery, then anything is possible. Right?
Say it with me:
Arrow isn’t Arrow. Not anymore.