As I said in my last post, I had a lot of thoughts about Arrow at the end of its latest season, more so than I did about other shows. While there were some things I might tinker with in The Flash or Supergirl, I felt that the story arcs of those shows played out pretty well, and Legends of Tomorrow did an amazing job throughout its second season.
Arrow, by contrast, felt rather scattershot to me, and while there were some cool things that happened in Season 5, the overall season was a mess. I thought there was a lot of tension between the theme of the season, of Oliver being haunted by and forced to revisit his past, and the idea of having a whole new cast of characters joining Team Arrow. This was exacerbated by the fact that these new characters didn’t amount to much (or at least haven’t yet), and some of the staple characters didn’t get the screen time they deserved given the story arc of the season.
So the first thing I would’ve done differently in Season 5 is double down on the older characters.
1.) Sticking With The Old Guard
Adrian Chase, or Prometheus, was a villain who was in some ways created by Oliver. We are told that as the Hood, Oliver’s vigilante persona in Season 1, he killed Chase’s father. Now, after years of training and planning, Chase is bent on revealing that Oliver, in his heart, is a murderer, not a hero. He plans to tear apart his life and his team.
Given Chase’s motives and the fact that he was born out of Oliver’s past, it feels weird that the season didn’t focus more on the classic Arrow characters. Quentin and Thea felt particularly sidelined this season. That’s something I would have changed, putting the focus squarely on the older characters rather than introducing so many new ones. As I said in my previous post:
“With the threat of Prometheus, a character who wanted to expose the fact that Oliver is a killer at heart, I think it would’ve been really compelling to see the old guard members of Team Arrow have to either grapple with their loyalty to Oliver or at the very least to really have to reconsider the whole vigilante lifestyle.”
To expand on that, I think it would’ve been really interesting to see some of the supporting cast who have been around for awhile get more front-and-center treatment for a few episodes where Chase was working on breaking them to get to Oliver, with each having to go through their own personal struggles and face regrets about the things that they’ve done or had happen to them over the past four seasons.
Quentin could be reminded about the loss of his daughters, especially Laurel. Diggle could have his family threatened or kidnapped only to be freed if he turned on Oliver. Or maybe Chase could’ve played more on Diggle’s regret at having killed his brother. The writers could have had Felicity be more angry at Oliver over the death of her boyfriend Detective Malone. And Thea might be put in a position to confront Oliver about their parents’ deaths and the chaos he has brought into their lives.
Not all of these characters would have to question Oliver. In fact, having at least one of them remain unwaveringly loyal despite the “test” might throw a wrench in Chase’s plans that would be interesting. But I think making these characters face their pasts along with Oliver would have made for a more compelling story arc than what we got.
Thematically I feel this would have made a lot more sense for the season.
2.) Villain Throwbacks
The next change I would make would be to Adrian Chase.
I thought Josh Segarra did a great job with the role, but he was only ever interesting when he wasn’t Prometheus. The whole Prometheus persona was really boring and literally just another ninja/archer who the Green Arrow had to fight against. What I thought made Adrian Chase so great were the scenes where he was face-to-face with Oliver, openly taunting and manipulating him, all while Oliver was helpless to do anything about it.
I would have focused on that aspect of the character from the start. I think I would’ve introduced Talia earlier in the season and had her be the “fighting” part of the equation. If there was an action sequence, she could be the one who showed up to do that sort of stuff on behalf of Adrian. I think it would’ve been more interesting if Chase wasn’t a trained fighter and that instead he relied entirely on his ability to control the scenario in a way that he wanted.
In order to maintain the mystery of Chase’s identity, he could wear a mask or have his face hidden from the camera whenever he showed up on screen. We could see Talia, or her henchmen, following his orders and carrying out physical violence in his name. To keep his identity hidden from Team Arrow, he could spend the early part of the season only communicating with them remotely, perhaps through voice recorders or microphones set up at sites he baits the team into investigating.
I think that would have been more ominous.
I would also have had Chase bring back more of the old villains from Oliver’s past. We did get to see Deathstroke and Captain Boomerang, but only at the end of the season. We also got to see Cupid and a couple of other former female villains teaming up, but they weren’t working with Chase, and that episode proved to be mostly filler.
I would have had Chase hiring these villains earlier and directing them to attack Oliver or specific members of his team. For example, maybe Cupid is sent to capture and torture Felicity, and Captain Boomerang could continue pursuing his grudge against Lyla, pitting him against ARGUS and Diggle. This would have been a nice way to give throwback looks to the antagonists of previous seasons and have them return to cause some havoc, possibly for a final time before the soft reboot planned for Season 6.
On top of that, I would have added Deathstroke and possibly Merlyn to the list of villains Oliver was forced to confront.
Merlyn could fight against Oliver to protect Thea, as is his way, then heroically sacrifice himself in the end to confound Chase’s efforts and help both of the Queens survive. Or Merlyn could have the “is he a friend or a traitor” moments throughout the finale that were given to Deathstroke. I think that would’ve been a fitting way to see Merlyn go out, and it would echo his off/on alliance with Team Arrow throughout all of the series.
As for Deathstroke, getting to see Oliver face him again would’ve been epic. This would also play into the idea I set forward earlier of Chase not being a fighter. So the huge physical confrontation at the end of the season would be between Oliver and his greatest nemesis to date. Chase could flee to the boat where Oliver’s son was after Deathstroke was defeated and he saw his plans unraveling.
I will say that I did enjoy the redeemed Slade Wilson, and I am curious as to how that character will play out in Season 6, but having Oliver actually face his former foes ties in much better to the theme the writers were going for this season, I think.
3.) Keep New Characters Limited
While I’ve griped about the new characters (somewhat in this post and extensively in my last), I definitely would have added at least a couple of new people to the cast.
For instance, following the events of Season 4, I think it made a lot of sense to add Curtis to the team. He also serves a particular niche. He can help with tech stuff at any point where Felicity is doing something else, and his skill set revolves more around invention and gadgetry rather than hacking, so he isn’t redundant.
Sadly most of the other characters added this season feel either underdeveloped, like Dinah Drake who doesn’t do anything meaningful after joining the team, or redundant like Wild Dog, who is basically another Spartan in terms of what he contributes to the group. As such, I would not have added any of the new Team Arrow members outside of Curtis’ Mr. Terrific.
That being said, I think bringing in a new Black Canary was a good idea. As Amell pointed out, Black Canary is an important part of the Green Arrow mythos, so I think it’s important to have the character in the series. I just don’t think having a random character turn into her, especially one who is so underdeveloped, is very compelling.
My top choice for a new Black Canary would be having Black Siren earn that mantle.
Laurel of Earth-2 already has the Canary Cry powers as part of her meta abilities, so she’s a fit in terms of what Black Canary is supposed to do. I also think giving her a redemption arc, after her villainous turn with with Zoom on The Flash, would be really interesting. I think her interactions with the other Team Arrow members would be both fun and compelling, as they grappled with the reality that she isn’t the Laurel they knew and has her own quirks, history, or personality.
Adding new Laurel to the team would also give Quentin a more meaningful role on the show. In the penultimate episode, Black Siren hints that she cares about Quentin, saying her deal with Chase involves keeping him alive. My guess is that Quentin died on Earth-2, and so just as Quentin wants his daughter back, Laurel wants her father back. Exploring this dynamic could lead to a really great story arc. Certainly I think it would be a lot more interesting than Quentin trying to mentor and live vicariously through Wild Dog.
Another option, though one I like less, would have been to bring on a Canary who was a totally new character. However, I would have done this much earlier in the season, and I would also have made her a younger character, maybe a high school senior or a college-age woman (maybe even Evelyn?). Basically the point would be to make her young and naive so that Quentin could serve as a father figure for her. Oliver and the others might teach her how to fight, but Quentin could provide her with real life lessons and emotional support.
This again would give Quentin a much more compelling story arc, and at the inevitable point where he says this character can take the Black Canary title it would be more resonant. Actually in both cases it would be more resonant than Dinah taking the mantle because whether with Earth-2 Laurel or this hypothetical daughter-like character, Quentin would essentially be accepting her as a daughter in that moment, not just as a superhero.
Anyway, aside from Curtis and a new Black Canary, I don’t think I would’ve added any other characters to the mix. The show has started to feel confused with its overly large ensemble. As I’ve mentioned, many of the characters don’t feel like they add a whole lot to the dynamic and mostly they just seem to clutter the screen.
4.) Moving Into Season 6…
That being said, I definitely think I would add a couple of people to the cast moving into Season 6.
I know there may have been behind-the-scenes reasons that this didn’t happen, but I think it’s a crime that Katrina Law was never a series regular on Arrow. I am biased because Nyssa is one of my favorite characters, but still, there isn’t really any reason she shouldn’t be on the team.
After being recruited by Oliver to fight against Talia, I think it makes a lot of sense for Nyssa to officially join Team Arrow. Her character could provide some great comic relief with her whole “fish out of water” and not knowing what milkshakes are shtick, and being “married” to Oliver might add some interesting tension between her and Felicity or even between her and Samantha. And, of course, there would be some unresolved feelings with Thea, which might crop up if she had to deal with her on a regular basis.
Nyssa has a similar skill set to Oliver, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing, especially in a world where Team Arrow is slimmed down a bit. I think she could have a really great plot arc about adapting to modern life in Star City, finding a day job, and maybe even trying to date again, as Sara has moved on to become Captain of the Wave Rider. Heck, that could be a show all in itself.
Talia could also be roped in as a villain again, and we could see more showdowns between the al Ghul sisters. In fact, after surviving Lian Yu, Talia could end up being the Big Bad for this hypothetical take on Season 6. She could recreate the League of Assassins, undoing what Nyssa had done, and then directing her new forces to take down Oliver and the rest of Team Arrow.
So my team in Season 6 would be (if you couldn’t tell from the above image):
Oliver, Diggle, Felicity, Curtis, Nyssa, and Earth-2 Laurel as the vigilante wing of Team Arrow. Quentin and Thea would be included of course, but their character focus would be in Oliver’s mayoral life, sort of like how they were written this season only with a smaller cast they would have more screen time, and the writers could give them better subplots.
I would also bring Samantha and William into the mix, maybe not as series regulars, but certainly as recurring characters who appear consistently throughout the season. I think it would be great to see Oliver as a father, as that would expand his character. And I think it would be interesting to see Felicity as a step-mother, navigating a relationship with Oliver as well as relationships with William and Samantha.
I think that would be a solid ensemble full of characters who all have fun and meaningful back stories and potential character arcs. Arrow has a lot of great characters, many of whom I don’t think saw their full potential, so I don’t see the need to bring on a ton of new ones. Leaning on the old cast (or new interpretations of older characters, in the case of Black Siren) would make for much cleaner and more engaging story arcs.
Also, with Nyssa and Black Siren in the mix, think of the crossover potential. How fun would it be to see Nyssa and Sara working together again. Or maybe how awkward, if Nyssa has started to move on with someone else? And how cool would it be to see Team Flash have to work with Black Siren? Scenarios like that are what crossovers are all about.
Obviously we don’t know what’s in store for Season 6, but we do know some of the casting decisions already, and it’s clear that many of the newer characters will be staying on the show. Katie Cassidy (Black Siren) is confirmed as a series regular, but how that will play out is unclear, especially since Juliana Harkavy (Black Canary) is also a series regular.
The writers may choose to do more with Nyssa as well, but with so many people added to the cast in Season 5, it seems unlikely she would join as a series regular.
I think the Season 6 I’m proposing would only be possible following the changes I suggested for Season 5, namely because the cast would be small enough for my suggesting cast additions to work and for the subplots to be given enough screen time to be worthwhile.
But what do you think? Do you agree with my proposed changes? Are there different ones you would make, or do you think Season 5 was just fine? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Thanks for reading, and I’ll catch you next time!