Arrow enters its fifth season come October, making it the longest running live-action comic book based series currently on air. Arrow was the vanguard when it first began, ushering in this new wave of comic book based television that had not been seen in a long time. It was dark (well as dark as you can get on The CW), visceral, gritty, unapologetic at times, and truly a creature of its own creation. Since that time we’ve seen a proliferation of comic book based television shows, many of which are connected to the universe in which Arrow resides and is the foundation for. While this proliferation has been amazing in some aspects, it arguably has not been so amazing for Arrow itself. In a few words, Arrow has not been Arrow.
Arrow, over the last few seasons, has become a pseudo-breeding ground for the proliferation of the DCTV universe. Launching both The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow directly, and Supergirl indirectly and many of the characters that compose each of those three shows. This position has left Arrow in a detrimental position, sidelining possible and plausible storylines for the show and its core characters in return for ones that do not naturally fit within the core characteristics of Arrow. The end of the fourth season brought many of those detriments to a close: the conclusion of Laurel Lance’s storyline, the end of mystical/superpower narrative, and the cease of being the launch pad for other DCTV shows (I hope). With every end, there is a beginning, the conclusion of season four opens up a vast pool of possibilities for its fifth season.
While the enthusiasm and drum for Arrow’s fifth season have not reached levels it has in previous hiatuses, it does exist. I, for one, have not been one of Arrow’s most enthused fans thus far this hiatus, that status may change as we draw closer to San Diego Comic-Con and afterwards. (I hope it does.) The vast possibilities have thus prompted me to create a wishlist of things that I would like to see in Arrow’s upcoming fifth season.
Here they are.
1. Bratva Flashbacks
We know that during five years that Oliver was away from Starling City, he became a member of the Solntsevskaya Bratva and a captain in the Russian Mafia organization through his connection to Anatoly Knyazev, whom Oliver met and saved on Lian Yu. Oliver’s connection to the organization was mentioned throughout Arrow’s first and second season but has not appeared since. After the godawful flashbacks of season four, I’m hoping to see how Oliver became the cold-blooded, single-minded, “Hood” vigilante that we saw when he returned to Starling City four years ago. What better way to do so than showing us how Oliver became embedded in and the only American captain in the Solntsevskaya Bratva? Stephen Amell has mentioned that we will be seeing a character that we haven’t seen since season two in the upcoming season and we haven’t seen Anatoly Knyazev since then season two.
(My truest wish would be to see Richard Armitage on Arrow, portraying a high-ranking member of the Bratva but I know how wild that sounds. He would be absolutely great in the role. I can still hope and campaign, though.)
2. Malcolm Merlyn’s Death
I love John Barrowman, he’s a great guy, awesome actor, one of the nicest and funniest celebrities that I have met but Malcolm Merlyn has got to go. Redemption IS NOT a possibility for this character anymore. It ceased being a possibility in season three when he drugged his own daughter, brainwashed her and had her murder Sara Lance in cold blood. Malcolm Merlyn is a mass murdering, lying, cheating, power-hunger, and immortality-seeking man that has got to go. Not only that but the repetitive storyline between Malcolm and Thea of Malcolm “saving” Thea constantly has reached a level of toxicity that should not exist between two individuals, never mind the two of them are actually related to one another. Malcolm Merlyn is the Arvin Sloane of Arrow and deserves the same painful death that Sloane did. Preferably at the hands of Thea Queen whom he has harmed the most out of anybody on the show. Malcolm’s character no longer serves a purpose to the narrative of Arrow. Yes, he’s a villain and a formidable opponent for Oliver but we can only go around the narrative hamster wheel so many times before I want to crawl through the screen and throw Malcolm off a balcony myself. (That point was reached during the back half of season 4.) Plus it would mean that the Arrow cave isn’t constantly being infiltrated by Malcolm, which they really need to fix.
Arrow, and the DCTVU, in general, has a problem when it comes to balancing all the different storylines of the characters on screen, especially between original core characters and the rookies. We’ve seen this issue pop up throughout the last few season of Arrow, more predominantly in seasons three and four with the addition of new characters like Ray Palmer and alter egos like Laurel Lance’s Black Canary. While these new additions beefed up the show in terms of characters and vigilantes, it did not do so in a way that was conducive to a wholly natural arc of storytelling and character development for Arrow. This kind of imbalance does not bode well for a show heading into its fifth season and one that Arrow needs to bring to heel sooner rather than later as a flurry of new additions to the show has recently been announced.
These new additions include Wild Dog, played by Rick Gonzalez, who joins Star City’s active vigilante population. Adrian Chase, played by Josh Segarra, will take on the role of Star City’s new District Attorney and vigilante codenamed Vigilante. Evelyn Sharp, whom we saw as faux Black Canary last season, will don the mantle of Artemis. Carly Pope has snagged the role of investigative reporter Susan Williams hailing from Coast City. Chad L. Coleman takes on the role of Tobias Church, this season Big Bad. Curtis Holt’s presence will also rise as Echo Kellum was promoted to a series regular role for season five. Roy Harper will also make his return for an indeterminate amount of time as well. We still have yet to hear any news about the return of Donna Smoak or Lyla Michaels for season five, which I am hoping for. The majority of the roles will be recurring ones but a balanced integration of old and new characters will be a considerable and vital task for Arrow as it heads into its fifth season. Leave the wibbly wobbly character imbalances to The Flash, please.
4. Olicity Reunion
Olicity is endgame. How could these two not be? Theirs is a relationship built upon friendship, belief, love, and trust, which is understandably shaken at the moment but it’s still there. Season four threw the two of them through a whirlwind of emotions and events neither of them could have ever expected. From the utter bliss and happiness at the beginning of the season, to their engagement, to the near-fatal shooting that caused Felicity’s paralysis, to the reveal of Oliver’s child, to their breakup. Not to mention everything that went on through Oliver’s mayoral campaign, Felicity’s position as Palmer Tech’s CEO, Team Arrow, their families, and Damian Darhk. Season four was one hell of a rollercoaster for these two. Hopefully, season five will remedy some of those events and bring these two back together, but it’s not going to be easy sailing that’s for sure.
Oliver’s decision to lie to Felicity about his child (for which he has still yet to apologize for) and then subsequently shutting her out of future decisions concerning said child deeply fractured the trust, one of the core foundations of their relationship, between the two of them. That trust has to be rebuilt before the two of them can move forward. I, for one, believe that they can, that they can rebuild and be even stronger and better for it than before. It’s not going to be easy, both of them have deep, underlying issues that each of them needs to address, individually and together, before they can take that step forward. Unfortunately for us, we’ll have missed five months of that journey, but don’t think it won’t be tension-filled when they return to our screens in the fall. These two love each other, deeply and with their whole hearts, they’re also pretty attracted to one another. (Hello, sexual tension filled hot summer Arrow cave.) I’m ready for the longing and heated gazes, the dates, the wooing, the communication and the rebuilding of Olicity come season five. Who is with me?
5. Spotlight Team Arrow
One of the reasons why I fell in love with Arrow and kept coming back for more and more was the Original Team Arrow, the original three, the OGs, aka. Oliver Queen, Felicity Smoak, and John Diggle. The three of them are foundational pillars of the show, Arrow’s heart, head, and soul. The three of them together is absolute magic, a magic that other shows in the DCTVU have tried to recreate. Unfortunately for us, we’ve seen that magic greatly diminished in the past two seasons in favour of an expanded Team Arrow and a cast of characters. Now, that’s not an entirely bad thing, evolution is key to any show, but that doesn’t mean it has to shy away from the core traits that help make the show great. In a season that was touted as the storyline for John Diggle and Felicity Smoak we have all been waiting for, it left many, myself included, wanting for more, more of the team together, greater concentration on their individual storylines, a greater focus on their individual relationships. (Who else is missing seeing Delicity on their screens?)
The possibilities that season five allows will hopefully mean we will see a greater focus on these three characters and their relationships with one another. These three individuals have grown, become better, stronger, smarter, more compassionate, over the last four years but they haven’t done it alone. A greater spotlight on the three of them will give season five that needed jolt to restart that magic that Arrow has always had but has kept hidden for so long. The three of them ground and drive the show forward like few others can. They draw you in, they get you invested and make you want to see the journey forward through their eyes. Let’s hope sees the spotlight returned to the three that help make the show great from the very beginning.
Arrow serves as the foundational core of the DCTVU and rightly deserves the role to lead it and be promoted as such as they move forward in the ever-changing world of television. As we head into Arrow’s fifth season, I am tentatively optimistic about what we will see and eagerly yearning to see many on my wishlist fulfilled. The titular 100th episode mark will be reached in its fifth season. What do you hope to see in that episode? What do you hope to see for the entire season? More action? More stunts? More emotional and grounded storytelling? More Olicity? More mayoral Oliver Queen? The creation of Smoak Technologies possibly? The fifth season of Arrow premieres October 5, 2016, on The CW and CTV Two.