Arrow: Season 5
In the perennial battle for supremacy between the top two comic book publishers, Marvel and DC. After over fifty years of rivalry, the stakes are currently in the billions of dollars thanks to the migration into feature films. While the Marvel Cinematic Universe, MCU, has dominated the cineplex, DC has tried to offset they're less than stellar box office performance by creating a unified universe on television. The flagship of this inclusive franchise is one of DC’s second-tier heroes, The Green Arrow. Like many DC characters, the Green Arrow was included in the expansive roster of heroes and villains in the long-running CW series, ‘Smallville.' Ostensibly about the maturation of Clark Kent into the iconic Man of Steel, Superman, the greater achievement of the series was to acclimate viewers to the deep roster of DC. Over its ten-year run, the prototype for the Justice League was introduced including Star City’s most famous vigilante archer. When it came time for DC to launch their invasion of broadcast television, the charge was lead by ‘Arrow.' Reimagining the origin story set the tone as very dark and brooding. The series has just completed its fifth season, and to the surprise of some and delight of many, the series has become the cornerstone of a franchise currently encompassing four distinct shows comprising what is commonly referred to as the ‘Arrows’. It is only natural that after five seasons any show would be subjected to some degree of wear and tear, an understandable decline in the effectiveness of the stories. What sets this series above most it its robust nature. It retains an ability to change with time. Along the way, primary characters loved by fans have fallen with other heroes and villains rising in their wake.One negative observation has been levied against the series that does warrant some valid consideration. Death has become a plot contrivance that is too easily reversed. Although at least one example of this is used in this season, it was achieved with a better-integrated method that has repercussions throughout the Arrowvese, the Multiverse. This season is a crucial pivot that will substantially alter the fabric of the series going forward.
In the wake of the last season with Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), finds himself for the most part alone in his nocturnal crime-fighting activities. Although no longer engaged to be married Team Arrow’s white hat hacker extraordinaire, Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards), remains steadfast in their hidden headquarters. She realizes the extern=me strain that being Star City’s mayor and Green Arrow was destroying him. Her suggestion is to locate several talented amateurs and train them as a new Team Arrow. After initial resistance, Oliver yields to the idea. Curtis Holt (Echo Kellum) was introduced through Felicity when she was involved with tech genius Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh), who purchased Queen Enterprises rebranding it as Palmer Technologies. Curtis was an engineer in the R&D area until Felicity encountered him. Curtis is not only a genius and able to build amazing high-tech devices. He is also a high-level martial artist and an Olympic athlete. He takes on the personae of Mister Terrific. He often helps Felicity in her new role as Overwatch. Renee Ramirez (Rick Gonzalez), is an independent street vigilante under the nom de guerre of Wild Dog, his face obscured by a hockey mask. There were initially a couple of others including one man, Rory Regan (Joe Dinicol), otherwise, know as Ragman. His magical rags could act with a life of their own. Evelyn Sharp (Madison McLaughlin), under the alias of Artemis. Both would have brief tenures with Team Arrow but a replacement, Dinah Drake (Juliana Harkavy), is a police officer with the metahuman ability of a sonic scream. She takes up the mantle of the Black Canary. Oliver is rejoined by his best friend and former team member, John Diggle (David Ramsey), as Oliver’s Second in Command, Spartan. Besides the obvious contribution of refreshing the lineup of primary characters, the presence of these characters provided fresh material to reignite fading storylines and create new plot devices to weave into the overall grand narrative.
One of the defining aspects of the series is the interspersing of flashbacks detailing Oliver’s missing five years while he was ostensibly trapped on a deserted tropical island. Over the preceding five years these flashbacks wove their own story of Oliver’s journey from a spoiled rich kid to a hardens combat machine. During this story, his time spent becoming indoctrinated into the Russian mob, Bratva. It was unheard of to recruit a non-Russian, so Oliver had to demonstrate an above the usual degree of brutality. This season that storyline catches up to the time five years before the current story point. This leaves loyal fan left to wonder what, if anything, will replace this plot point going forward. It was inevitable that this moment would arrive when the flashbacks catch up to Oliver’s return home to his family. This story segment served a crucial function contributing a substantial amount of the substance that carried the narrative. In typical fashion, the writers took a concerted effort to coordinate the past and present. A few characters have arcs that span both the past and present. The culmination of this season does incorporate a couple. Most notably is the Russian ally who sponsored Oliver in the Bratva, Anatoly Knyazev (David Nykl). When Oliver comes up against a foe who is exceptionally dangerous, he heads off to Moscow to reconnect with Anatoly. The season concludes with the return of Oliver’s nemesis from the island, Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett), the deadly assassin, Deathstroke.
There were several more solid villains encountered this season, but the ultimate Big Bad is Adrian Chase (Josh Segarra). Chase worked alongside Mayor Queen as the Star City District Attorney. When a criminal mastermind is calling himself Prometheus begins to terrorize the city, He is a serial killer clad in a dark hood who has the penchant for using ninja shuriken as his weapon of choice. The press referred to him as the ‘throwing Star killer’ as a result. He uncovers the mayor’s dual identity using it to frame and blackmail Oliver. He repeatedly placed everyone close to Oliver in dire danger. This included the final act of kidnapping Oliver’s son, William (Jack Moore). The season concludes with one of the most exciting cliffhangers seen in a very long time. Oliver is disillusioned at how ineffectual all his efforts have been. No matter how hard he works at cleaning up the city evil is always assuming different forms. Trying to work both sides of the law, mayor an Green Arrow ruined his relationship with Felicity and destroyed everything in his life that was good. Typically, when a series reaches a point in the story like this, it stagnates to cancellation. Considering the series was renewed through at least season seven, the talented writers and showrunners are certain to have something amazing waiting for the future.