When Arrow premiered 6 years ago, viewers were instantly hooked onto the new show. After all, the CW did need a new superhero mascot after their run with Superman in Smallville was done. Arrow took a big inspiration from Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, with a gritty tone and realistic action.
After what looked like a great start, the show started dipping ratings around season 3. The reason for why it did so, as the fans will tell you, is because some felt the show was going a little too dark.
Bringing in Ra’s Al Ghul and lifting a story more fitting for Batman got a mixed reception. While some viewers started hating the darker tone, the bigger complaint was towards the handling of certain characters. Oliver Queen was a ghost of his former self, while Felicity was starting to get on the nerves of a lot of people. Who was once (arguably) the heart of the show had suddenly turned into a hate train. Many people even blamed Emily Bett Rickards (the actress who plays Felicity), but the damage was done. It certainly wasn’t Rickards’ fault, that blame lies on the writers.
Going into season 4, the network knew that they had to get their core audience’s faith back. So how did they combat the overly dark tone? They lightened it. Maybe a bit too much. Personally speaking, I really liked the Season 4 premiere “Green Arrow”. It showed promise of a better show. A show which would go back to being great. Stephen Amell really seemed to have found a balance between the brooding archer and a light-headed person. But alas, that was far from reality.
As we know now, the fourth season turned out to be one of the show’s worst. Neal McDonough gave a terrifyingly good performance as Damien Darhk, the chief antagonist of that season, but somehow the writers had again managed to dumb down the writing of the characters. Felicity became even more annoying, and Queen even less smart than the previous seasons.
It was around this time that its spinoff show, The Flash, was taking off. With a strong first season, the Flash was seeing more and more viewership as that of Arrow’s declined. It even came to the point where people would skip on Arrow completely, only to return and catch up a bit when it was time for the annual crossover event. This, as you can guess, hurt the show really bad, but never enough to warrant a cancellation.
Now, if you’ve noticed, over the years the roster of Team Arrow has also increased quite significantly. What started out a small team of 3 members has grown to one having almost 10. And this has had a very big effect on screen time and narrative writing as well. Oliver in season 1 is a much different beast than the one in season 6. The action has gone to (pardon the language) shit as well. A show which once had one of the best fight choreographies now uses boring tracking shots of 5 people in a circle. Don’t believe me? Just watch the pilot episode, and follow the action.
Now, a show which has been going on for so long can only do so much to keep all of its cast members around. This season saw series-regulars Willa Holland (Thea) & Paul Blackthorn (Quentin Lance) exit the show. Many will argue that Blackthorne was one of the members who kept the energy of the show alive, even after it was kinda smoldering in the last few seasons. Older cast inclusions (Caity Lotz, Brandon Routh) have either left the show or transcended to its other spinoff Legends of Tomorrow, where they can get the screen time and importance they deserve.
From what we know, next season is going to be vastly different. SPOILER ALERT: Oliver just revealed himself to the world as being the Green Arrow. Showrunner Marc Guggenheim has since revealed that season 7 would focus on how that revelation ties into Oliver’s public life. While that does sound interesting on paper, we’ve seen before just how bad the writing on this show can get. I’m still holding out my breath on it though, but we’ll just have to wait and see. And with characters such as Batwoman making their debut next season, it really feels like Arrow is at the end of its rope here. I used to love the show in its early seasons, back when the characters were adapted in a nice fashion. Since then the standard CW drama angle on the show has ruined it for me.
As a long-time fan of the show, we deserve better. So we can only hope for season 7 to step up and deliver on the quality that we have so yearned for over the years. We’ve seen the character go from being the emerald archer to a pseudo-Batman and then to a generally weak “hero”. It’s time we get the Green Arrow as we know it.