Arrow 5×06 Review: The Flaw in Reinventing the Past

Following last season where the mystical reigned supreme, Arrow has been obsessed with going “back to basics,” which we assumed meant returning to its roots — the real roots. The core group of characters, balancing heart, plot, and action, and managing to be so much more than a photo op. But season five has been more than a letdown mostly because I’d always put my complete faith in these writers and producers that Arrow would always be the Arrow I fell in love with in season one.
But it’s this obsession with being like its first season which has been Arrow’s downfall in season five. It was cute in the beginning when it was subtle and not in your face with moments that were callbacks to season one. But with each passing week it’s become clearer that they aren’t nods to the first season so much as they’re recreating these moments to recreate its freshman season.
This season is basically a reinvention of season one. And why? It makes no sense. There have been four years of character evolution for all of the remaining characters that have been there since season one. Recreating season one doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t work. So why is Arrow trying so hard to make it happen?
I understand, and agree, that the mystical aspect of season four wasn’t the best. Arrow has always been at its best when it’s grounded in its reality, but that includes a reality where the currency isn’t strictly action. Even in its first season, Arrow balanced the action out with storylines and heart that allowed emotional connections to form.

Here’s the sad thing, I don’t feel that emotional connection to Arrow that I’ve felt since I first started watching the show four years ago. It’s the reason that Arrow has always been my favorite of the superhero shows. It was so much more than the superhero that bore the show’s title. Arrow was about the characters — Oliver Queen and those important in his journey so much that they became worthy of journeys of their own.
Something that I’ve always said — and used Arrow as a positive example of — is that a superhero is more than their persona. If you don’t give a damn about the man or woman underneath the costume then you don’t give a damn at all. And the scary thing is that that’s exactly what it feels like this season.
There was a moment in this episode that depicted what Arrow’s fifth season has come down to: comic book opportunities. This new team was assembled on top of a roof looking down, all perfectly lined up and posing like on the cover of a comic book. It suddenly dawned on me: creating comic book moments like this is more important than the actual story. The focus isn’t on the story, as this season has proved. It’s about generating as many costumed heroes as humanly possible so every week they can create one of these moments to please the comic fanboys.
Arrow feels like an empty shell right now. It’s like those in charge don’t know what they’re doing. Like, hey, congrats on syndication. Now what?
Also, Arrow has been downright boring. I’ve never felt bored yet alone admitted that I’ve been bored during Arrow. But this hour was spent glancing at my phone checking the time and wondering when it was going to come to an end. And I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all.
Here’s the thing, I’m not going to give up on Arrow. But what’s happening right now is very disheartening. I’ve wanted nothing more than for this show to succeed and manage to tell stories on a superhero show that all superhero shows aspired to do. But right now Arrow doesn’t make sense. It’s not fun like it used to be. Everything feels forced. Everything feels wrong. Even those Original Team Arrow moments felt forced.
Arrow used to be a show where the writers let the characters drive the plot. Now it’s become a show where the plot drives the characters and even takes them in a direction where they’re out of character. I don’t know what happened. But I’m praying that someone in charge realizes something’s not working and fixes it. And fixing it is possible. Just look at Legends of Tomorrow, which has gone from my least favorite DC show to my second favorite this season with the way that it’s managed to reinvent itself for the better. Arrow needs to embrace what made it a success in the first place. Only then will it recapture that magic that we were drawn to.
Here’s a rundown of events that happened in “So It Begins”:

Oliver Isn’t Season One Oliver.

Despite what Arrow is trying to do with this fifth season and basically rewriting season one, this Oliver Queen isn’t the Oliver Queen that we met in the first season. The man that was led by this blind rage and a book left by his father where he felt like he was protecting his city. The newbies spelled it out for us: Oliver Queen from season one was a serial killer. It’s easy to forget how much different Oliver was four years ago. How killing was always his first resort instead of his last resort. So while the newbies were shaken by this revelation of him being a killer, he clearly has evolved into someone who is not that killer we know. Even if Arrow is putting him back in a season one-like year. Despite the regression that Oliver has made this season (which is on the writers), I’m proud of how much Oliver has evolved since season one.

Two Team Arrows.

Well, at least Arrow was so kind to admit — and let the newbies know — that there are two Team Arrows. Original Team Arrow and Team Arrow 2.0. Always will be. The newbies were awfully crabby about this division. Like I understand you’re upset for the lying, but how do you expect for Oliver, Felicity, and Diggle to tell you everything? Original Team Arrow is a team that has been five years in the making. It’s a result of five years of trust and working together and being a family that this new team quite frankly hasn’t earned. Get over yourselves. You were never owed anything.

Is Prometheus Framing Lance?

The one thing that I really enjoyed about this episode was the mystery and allure of Prometheus. Knowing that he’s the direct result of Oliver Queen’s actions over the past four years really opens the book as to who it could be. You also have to think about their motivations. I’ve been holding out hope that Prometheus is actually Tommy Merlyn. But the show delivered us a revelation that feels more like a setup than a reveal. Following an episode where Quentin Lance was a no-show to work and continuing to drown his sorrows in a bottle, Felicity dropped a truth bomb about the throwing stars that Prometheus has been using. Turns out they’re each created from the arrows that Oliver put in his victims dating back to season one. And of course it’s someone from the SCPD, who has access.
So the shot cut to Lance waking up from unconsciousness to find his arm all effed up and holding up a throwing star. Basically, Lance has been framed. Because there’s no way or reason that Lance would have to do any of this. Perhaps it really is Tommy? We all know he and Lance were never the best of friends. But given that bit about the arrows coming from the SCPD, me thinks it’s probably going to end up being Felicity’s temporary, generic looking boyfriend. Because what other real purpose does he serve?

Oliver Hasn’t Slept with the Reporter…Yet

Ew. Just hearing Oliver say those words “not yet” makes me cringe. It’s so uncharacteristic of Oliver and even Thea and Quentin were nauseous. We know that Oliver is going to sleep with the reporter and the other women that come on this show. Remember, Arrow is rewriting season one in season five, which means manwhore Oliver is returning. But it won’t ease the blow of the inevitable sewage that will be that sex scene and the regression of a character who has come a long way in four years.

Felicity’s Temporary, Generic Looking Boyfriend Remains Irrelevant and Annoying.

Seriously, what’s the point of Felicity’s boyfriend? It’s like Arrow wants us to think he’s important, but they’ve shown no reason for him to be other than the fact that he’s an obstacle for Olicity. Whatever this BF’s name is (don’t know, don’t care) is supposedly a detective which you’d think would make him relevant, but it doesn’t. He just exists to infuriate Olicity fans. And don’t even get me started on the fact that Felicity came clean to him about working for the Green Arrow. Like first he called Felicity a criminal, then he fanboyed over her knowing the Green Arrow, and then all was forgotten and they grossly shared a kiss in a scene that had me audibly asking, “What just happened?” Arrow has lost all sense this season. This is another example why.
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.

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