The fifth Season of Arrow dropped on Blu-Ray/DVD/Laserdisc on the 19th of September, coming straight off the back of a magic laden Season four where Oliver Queen and Team Arrow faced off with Damien Darhk (still never getting used to the spelling). Season five is a back to basics that serves as a sort of swan song for everything you loved in the previous seasons, in preparation for season six, where reportedly things are going to be vastly different (goodbye flashbacks).
If you’ll remember from our Season four review, Season four served to jump start the separate series Legends of Tomorrow as well as introduce magic into the show, something which was fresh and gave viewers a chance to see Matt Ryan’s Constantine again. Ultimately though, I thought Season four suffered an unenthused bloat of samey fight scenes, in fact, here’s what I said: “Arrow is going to have to get its act together a little bit, trim the fat and frame its action in a more energetic way, or at least, make sure there is some narrative impact from these abundant scuffles.“. And it certainly seems like these concerns, echoed by fans as they were, might have at least partly been heard by the show-runners.
If you read that as code for “playing it safe” then you’d be correct in that initial feeling, for it does seem as though in serving as a coda for the previous four seasons, the fifth ends up recycling similar tropes that may feel tired to the viewer. It’s a risk. About as much as a risk as reviving Star Wars in much the same circumstances. But, as is obvious in that example, the addition of different characters makes it different enough to warrant being called different. So, with new villain Tobias Church feeling very much cut from the same cloth as previous villains in the Arrowverse, it would be impossible for fans not to detect a certain air of creative bankruptcy. Though as the performances are enjoyable and the additions they admittedly do make towards proceedings do raise the stakes enough to justify the ever burgeoning list of characters in Arrow.
Indeed, this is a season that struggles under the weight of a growing cast, in particular as it sees the growth of Team Arrow into two teams, but that by no means that the sins of season four are repeated. We get improved focus on Oliver this time around, belaying the dangers of growing the cast. And in fact this lack of focus is felt in these newer ancillary characters, who, it often feels like, are each in need of a little more screen time to properly allow the audience to connect with them, though this doesn’t mean that each character isn’t distinct enough to make them at least memorable throughout the season. Artemis, Ragman & Rene each providing the team with something distinct enough to bounce off of the main cast and create enough intrigue over the 23 episodes.
The real winner this season is Prometheus, who initially appears as nothing more than a Dark Archer clone (Yawn, I know) but quickly pushes Oliver into dire circumstances, cementing himself as not only an important villain this season, but in the Arrowverse at large. There’s an intensity shared between Oliver and Prometheus that lends this season enough dramatic heft so as to nicely round these five seasons off, and its one that goes back into the history of the show so as to lend Prometheus a sense of importance, that was perhaps lacking in previous villains of the show.
The future of Arrow looks a lot brighter after this season. Whilst I noted last season that I felt like changes needed to be made to the formula, I think great lengths have been travelled to transition the show to a newer, fresher modus operandi.
I’m looking forward to Season Six.
Extras include The New Team Arrow, Allied; The Invasion! Complex (Arrow), Arrow: 2016 Comic-Con Panel & Returning To The Roots Of Arrow: Prometheus; Plus obligatory Gag reel and deleted scenes.
Joe Crouch is a crusty mollusc with delusions of grandeur and pretensions of artistic endeavour. His tea is served between two and four. He tweets, infrequently @itsJoeCrouch and Instagrams his food @Sourcrouch.