It’s taken some time and perhaps the storyline that’s been percolating thus far this season has proven a bit extraneous to some ardent watchers. Arrow the premiere superhero series on The CW that launched the combined primetime DC Comics universe thanks to Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg, had (admittedly) lost some of its shine especially in the shadow of a scarlet speedster, time-traveling legends, and a girl that could leap tall buildings in a single bound. Now in its fifth season, Arrow starring Stephen Amell as billionaire playboy turned vigilante Oliver Queen has had to hold its own against some very stiff competition.
When the series launched in 2012, hot on the heels of the hit Smallville, it immediately established a rich backstory redefining the idea of the “origin story”. The producers of the series had always intended for the slow development and intricate nuances of Oliver Queen’s life to lead into his decision to become the legendary Emerald Archer. The Green Arrow is after all among one of DC Comics most prolific characters with a 75 year history and a myriad of incarnations, including one that was woven into the coming of age narrative on Smallville when that series’ writers were presented with the challenge of introducing some of the Man of Steel’s famous friends.
Though the version of Oliver Queen that was established for Arrow would be seismically different from the one that was last seen on Smallville. Drawing closer comparisons to another famous caped crusader, from the beginning Arrow delved deep into Oliver Queen’s near-obsession to deal his own brand of justice against a corrupt underbelly that was threatening to destroy his city. Using the skills he acquired while stranded on a (somewhat) deserted island, the privileged socialite, turned survivor to exact his revenge once he returned to Starling City. Five years later, Queen’s urban warfare has escalated and his presence has become widely known.
And the world of the Green Arrow has changed dramatically since the television hero’s ascension! Now entering into his fifth season, Oliver has had to deal with a great deal of loss, most recently the loss of one of his most treasured friends and allies in crimefighting, Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) was an integral part of his team, both as one of the city’s most dependable assistant DAs and as the street-fighting Black Canary. In a battle with the malevolent forces of Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) the villain murdered Canary and effectively dealt Oliver a major blow, though not entirely defeated the Green Arrow and his prevented Darhk from unleashing Armageddon…
…not without its consequences. The resulting Season 4 cliffhanger saw Oliver Queen assuming the role of Star City’s mayor and most of his team appeared to splinter, each going their own separate way, some like Oliver’s sister Thea (Willa Holland) decidedly giving up their superhero alter egos to mourn the passing of Black Canary. With Green Arrow left alone to defend the streets, a vigilante element begins to take rise, and in its wake a criminal mastermind named Tobias Church (guest star The Walking Dead’s Chad L. Coleman) preparing to strong-arm all of Star City’s crime families under his reign.
Realizing that the Green Arrow is going to require some back-up in the field, Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) decides to bring in a squad of fresh recruits that include the volatile Rene Ramirez (Rick Gonzalez) as Wild Dog, Rory Regan (Joe Dinicol) the metahuman Ragman and Evelyn Sharp (Madison McLaughlin) who last season assumed the identity of Black Canary but is now known as Artemis. Rounding out the team are Curtis Holt (Echo Kellum) as Mr. Terrific and John Diggle (David Ramsey) the Spartan now a fugitive hiding from the law. The group successfully take on Tobias Church, but just as the criminal is being transported to Iron Heights his convoy is attacked.
Intercepted by a lone attacker calling himself Prometheus, this new threat is determined to unravel the Green Arrow’s world and no one is getting in his way! In the comic books the villain known as Prometheus is a one-man arsenal and a formidable adversary to the JLA. This week on Arrow the mysterious weapon-smith revealed a possible be connection to Oliver Queen’s past and begins a murderous spree that at first appears to be random. Felicity and Curtis are successfully able to deduce there is a secret message, an amalgamation, hidden in the names of the victims that links them to the names on Oliver’s “Book of Names”.
The revelation of which does not sit well with the rest of the new recruits who have now been made privy to the fact that Oliver began his career as a vigilante essentially as a serial killer. Though everyone who has decided to join the Green Arrow in his fight to protect Star City may all have their own reasons for risking their lives, they don’t take it lightly that they may have aligned themselves with a murderer. “So It Begins” the sixth episode of Arrow’s Season 5 finally appears to have taken the trajectory necessary and hits its mark! Showing some signs of wear and tear, the series limped through a dicey and often convoluted Season 4.
That season’s big bad Damien Darhk didn’t really have the gravitas that put him in sync to menace Star City’s Emerald Archer and his friends, and his master plan was on a near James Bond nemesis scale that didn’t really sit in with the scope of a street-fighting urban avenger. The character has since moved on to become a thorn in the time-hopping madness on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow which seems fitting considering that a “Legion of Doom” is taking shape this season that includes a secret society of bad guys from all the primetime DC shows. Darhk may have had a clear arc when introduced at the beginning of Season 4, but he just lost his steam.
The series appeared to have gone deep off the rails by the time the season’s final act was coming into fruition. Killing Laurel appeared to ground the reality, and Oliver’s decision to become the city’s mayor has cemented his place as Star City’s leading advocate, but as for Green Arrow — the hero is only now taking his proper place in the crusade. Prometheus appears to be just the villain to for Oliver and his team to take on, and the fact that the recruits are on the short list of DC Comics expendables — Wild Dog got offed in his own title, while Artemis was seemingly killed during her run as a character on the widely popular Young Justice cartoon series — this is getting interesting.
“So It Begins” not only brings John Diggle as Spartan properly back alongside Green Arrow, but the recruits will find themselves tested even as more supporting players emerge on the scene. Next week will introduce the Vigilante, whose alter-ego has already been integrated into Mayor Oliver Queen’s associates (don’t want to spoil it for anyone who doesn’t read the comics) and after a rather sticky start, Season 5 is showing some real traction. This season’s flashbacks are promised to be the last, as they would account for Queen’s five-years missing in action before returning to then Starling City, but the Russian backstory is more colorfully executed.
Rumor is that this may be the final season of Arrow but so long as the series keeps pace with the narrative of its main players as set in this latest episode, there may be a chance that Oliver Queen has more of an arsenal of trick arrows still left up his sleeve. Hanging up the hood is simply not an option.
Arrow Season 5 airs Wednesday nights @ 8pm on The CW.