Dark, cinematic, breathtakingly-choreographed, epic in orchestral score, & rich in character development with a brilliant island dual-plot redemption arc and career role by Stephen Amell. One of the most revolutionary TV-Series post-2000. 9.6/10.
Plot Synopsis: Notorious Billionaire Oliver Queen is shipwrecked on an Island in the North China Sea, and returns home after 5 years stranded there to bring justice to the criminals of his city as the DC Comics hero Green Arrow.
*Possible spoilers ahead*
CLC’s Best #Arrow Episodes: 1. Pilot, 2. Lian Yu, 3. The Climb, 4. Deathstroke, 5. City Of Heroes, 6. Emerald Archer, 7. Crisis On Infinite Earths, Pt. IV, 8. The Slabside Redemption, 9. Honor Thy Father, 10. Darkness On The Edge of Town, 11. Reset, 12. The Promise, 13. Present Tense, 14. Home Invasion, 15. Green Arrow, 16. Prochnost, 17. Broken Dolls, 18. Welcome To Hong Kong, 19. Invasion, Pt. 2, 20. Docket No. 11-19-41-73, 21. Legacy, 22. The Undertaking, 23. Inmate 4587, 24. Seeing Red, 25. The Dragon
Season-by-Season Reviews: S1 – 10/10 / S2 – 9.7/10 / S3 – 8/10 / S4 – 4/10 / S5 – 9.2/10 / S6 – 6/10 / S7 – 8.7/10 / S8 – 9.6/10
Series Review: Dark, Cinematic, Beautifully-Choreographed, Vigilantism-Complex, Epic In Orchestral Score, & Rich In Character Development With A Brilliant Island Dual-Plot Motif & Career Performance By Stephen Amell As The Billionaire-Turned-Emerald Archer, DC Comics’ 2012 Arrow Is One Of The Greatest & Most Revolutionary TV Series Post-2000 – Proof-Of-Concepting Blockbuster Franchises (& The Streaming Boom) On Television. 9.6/10.
Season 1 – 10/10
The Green Arrow
One Of DC’s Richest (& Most Complex) Heroes Gets His Cinematic Debut 75 Years Later
Coming fresh off The Dark Knight Trilogy in 2012, DC Comics was in a very good position in the live-action superhero adaptation market. Universally agreed to be one of the greatest movie trilogies in the history of Cinema, with one of the greatest centerpieces ever in The Dark Knight, Nolan’s movies sparked a new age for DC Comics: one grounded in realism, tonal darkness, and bold reinvention translating these beloved characters from comic books to the big screen. This scripture was to be etched in time of all their media going forward, their first project post-TDK being a feature-length TV Series based on one of DC’s first and oldest superheroes ever: The Green Arrow. Little did they know what kind of massive success and legacy would follow, with what was originally scripted as a one-off about a billionaire who gets shipwrecked on an Island being instead big enough to springboard canvas an entire universe and the biggest TV franchise of All-Time named after it. Dark, cinematic, beautifully-choreographed, vigilantism-complex, epic in orchestral score, & rich in character development with a brilliant island dual-plot motif and career performance by Stephen Amell as the Billionaire-Turned-Emerald-Archer, DC Comics’ 2012 Arrow is one of the greatest & most revolutionary TV Series post-2000 – proof-of-concepting Blockbuster Franchises (& The Streaming Boom) on Television and changing what was possible.
The Tonal Blend
Dark, Cinematic, Violent, Compelling, Epic, & *Strikingly* Nolan-esque In Vigilante Thrills
What catalyzed this chain reaction? From the very first scene of the series, it’s clear this is nothing like anything ever attempted on TV before. We’re instantly bombarded with dynamic, quick-cuts of a nomadic man running through the forest on a deserted island – who sees a fishing vessel in the distance and fires an arrow into the wind, only to light up an S.O.S. signal for the rescue of a billionaire we learned was shipwrecked in the North China Sea awya from civilization for five years. The premise alone is enough to send chills by how incredibly dark and rife with existential possibilities it is, instantly drawing into the brilliant premise with one of the best establishing shots and opening scenes I’ve witnessed on TV to this day, but the series also feels wildly cinematic and more ambitious/epic than anything ever on the medium before it as well. As the season goes on and Oliver Queen has to join us back in society and learn how to be human again after his torturous experiences on that island, the series is VERY dark, violent, & compellingly-cinematic in what feels like a love-letter and perfect alike to Nolan’s tonal cocktail of the TDK series in all the right ways. Perhaps even darker – being shipwrecked on an island after watching your entire yacht staff and friends/family aboard die, tortured by mysterious parties, covered in scar tissue, and turned into such an animalistic presence that you kill the criminals or severely injure and punish/’put the fear of God into them’ instead of locking them up is a whole lot more than your parents just being killed in an alley – Arrow has achieved tonal masterpiece blending as a rich, vigilantism-steeped crime drama with cinematic flair and an island angle for an idiosyncrasy-riddled, stylistic canvas.
The Lavish, Opulent Magnificence Of Set Design
Beyond the tonal majesty, Arrow’s triumphant stylism seeps through to set design, cinematography, and premise. The set pieces and location settings are spectacular – ranging from rich, warm mahogany tones interior juxtaposing cool green lush mossy exteriors in the Queen mansion all the way to cold, dark towering obelisk-like cliffs in the bleak canvas of Lian Yu and black dim-lit back-alleys where Oliver is free to do his vigilante (anti)heroicism work. The cinematography is crisp as an arrow, with brilliant shot constructions and dynamicism in camerawork/cuts to only add to the cinematic feel established tonally. The costume design is equally as sensational – getting everything from the elegance of evening wear in the socialite lifestyle to Green Arrow’s phenomenal suit complete for war paint as a true soldier-meets-Robin-Hood look perfectly. As previously mentioned, Arrow’s island premise might be the most instantly-grabbing hook in television history – we’re avalanched with questions we have to know the answers to from the first flickers of film in the series: Who is this man? Why is he on this island? How did he get there? Why does he have a green hood and bow and arrow? How did he make that impossible archery shot? How long has he been there? How did he survive? Is there anyone else on the Island? What is the Deathstroke totem? etc. It combines the best of Lost x Batman in a dual-storyline plot device that allows for the series to feel like two different series at once – & one we join at a fascinating place in the timeline of both at the end of one horrific journey and beginning of another as a brilliant display of dazzling, skillfull screenwriting packed to the brim with entertainment and storytelling value.
Rich Character Development & Payoff By A Writers’ Room Display Of Dazzling Skill
The writer’s room certainly reinvented the wheel here: creating a series that both blends the greatest fictional premises, while also paving its own way for unparalleled cinematic entertainment value. Lost x Batman with loads of twists – even darker and more stretched-out than any previous Crusader film by way of its cold-blooded-killer/TV flip premise or any island series in the ominous presences/motivations lurking on that Chinese isle and the character set of a spoiled rich kid being shipwrecked on the one place money doesn’t matter and he gets thrust in the real world of survival antithesizing every silver spoon he’s ever been fed with. Indeed, the character development is absolutely PHENOMENAL – rich characterization of everyone from our central protagonist (one of the most compelling and fascinating I’ve ever seen by way of his tragic/broken unfathomable backstory) to the love-interest lawyer/(future Black Canary?) Laurel Lance to warm brotherhood/moral compass presence of John Diggle to party girl Thea Queen to comedic reliefs Tommy Merlyn and fizzy, bubbly I.T. girl Felicity Smoak to the bone-chilling antagonist of Malcolm Merlyn and his Court of Owls-like socialite enablers plotting the destruction of entire infrastructures and millions of lives. The show also speaks to bigger themes of wealth distribution, classism, grief, tragedy, loneliness, sociology, psychology, nihilism, existentialism, justice, criminality, and trials of the human spirit unfathomable to most of us like what happens to the psyche of someone on an island away from every shred of civilization and society/humanity for half a decade now thrust back into it – all in a canvas that balances its edge & sharp nihilistic darkness with heart, humour, thrills, & beautiful storytelling opened up in a way that has never been done on television before.
The Aptitude & Badassness Of Oliver’s Mission – Brought To Life By Godly Fight Choreography & Neely’s Beautifully-Orchestrated Score
This storytelling prowess transcends boundaries, making itself especially known in that of Oliver Queen and his primal Mission he’s tasked with upon returning home to the real world. A list given to him by his father before killing himself, he is charged with the duty of excising everyone on that list like cancers complicit in the crime underworld of Starling City – a task he takes little mercy in exercizing and bringing justice to. The beautiful simplicity of the mission: simply crossing names off a list much akin to a Devil’s list of souls to collect by criminals deserving justice, is fantastic, and badass in all the right ways being able to do away with morality or traditional superheroicism tropes by way of the island pariah backstory and being able to deliver badass A-tier vigilantism thrills unburdened by hedge-betting or anything that’d shroud its intensity or interrogative brutality – brought to by life by god-tier fight choreography. My favorite thing about Arrow in its entirety is how absolutely breathtaking the fight and action scenes are – visceral, pulse-rattling, balls-to-the-wall and untempered by morality or anything less than surgical excision of criminal cancers from his city, plus a career performance by Stephen Amell as The Emerald Archer. Neely’s score is cold, calculating, breathtakingly-cinematic, and haunting as one of the best orchestral accompaniments I’ve heard outside Hans Zimmer x Junkie XL and a beautifully-scored soundscape that parallels the tonal darkness in every way, shape, and form.
A CAREER-Making Performance As The Emerald Archer & Billionaire Playboy
A heroic drama is only as good as its lead role – and, luckily for Arrow, they have found a central performance so good.. it’s one that an entire FRANCHISE & UNIVERSE can be built upon. Stephen Amell’s brutal, damaged, broken, layered, morality-questionable, charming-yet-brooding, human-flawed, strikingly-badass, fear-of-God-instilling, duality-filled pariah/vigilante persona – developed with surgical skill as a character by season’s end to hero and tested in acting capabilities by full range playing two veritable antitheses and polar opposite versions of the character in both the flashbacks and present-day – is nothing short of MAGIC. Indeed, what could be a more epic story and character arc than a socialite trust-fund kid billionaire so rich-yet-morally-bankrupt he can cheat on his girlfriend with her own sister, being shipwrecked on an island where none of his status and wealth and power matter beyond cold-blooded survival, all the way into a devil’s advocate archer bringing justice but in the most sinister of ways, finally learning to become a true superhero by the end of the season. I would absolutely put Amell’s visionary take on Oliver Queen amongst the greatest hero performances of All-Time cinematically, a definitive version of the character on-screen for the first time.
The Island Dual-Storyline Motif
One Of The Most Brilliant Premises For A Show I’ve Ever Seen & One Packed With Entertainment & Existential-Analysis Potential
The dual-storyline plot device is just one more piece of the puzzle and scripting prowess that allowed Arrow to springboard canvas itself into the stratosphere. As previously mentioned, it feels like the series is two different series in one – a separate island mystery arc probably its most fascinating and surprise-filled of us learning what happened to Oliver Queen when he went missing in the North China Sea and present-day flashforwarded five years from that point where he’s this morality-less vigilante who has no problem putting an arrow between the eyes of a criminal without even a second’s thought. Even if you don’t like superheroicism films/TV as a booming market this series is sure to popularize even more in the public eye, the series is entertainment and universally-accessible thematic/cinematic brilliance by its premise alone for one of the most compelling and addictive binge-watching series of television I’ve ever witnessed.
Massive Cameos Of Huge DC Comics Lore & Visceral, Breathtaking Action Sequences Of God-Tier Fight Choregoraphy And Scale
The comic book lore and MASSIVE cameo characters from throughout DC and Green Arrow’s history makes for even more enjoyment by any superhero fan. Legendary heroes/villains like Deadshot, The Huntress, allusions to Black Canary and Deathstroke, The Royal Flush Gang, The Triad, China White, Bronze Tiger, The Magician/Dark Archer, Ra’s Al Ghul, and countless more make for a canvas of featurettes unlike anything ever able to be fit in a trilogy – bolstered by the series’ length and structure having 23+-hour long episodes to explore the DC Comics lore. This is HUGE pedigree superheroic character territory any comic book fan will fall head-over-heels with – all leads me to the big bad of Season 1 and one of its biggest triumphs: Malcolm Merlyn.
A Surprise Twist & Incredible Villain That Dark-Parallels G.A. & Hits Oliver Where It Hurts Most In His Bones (And WINS)
A comic book adaptation is also only as good as its villain, and – despite the fact that he isn’t the most name-recognizable big bad in DC Comics – Arrow S1’s villain is absolutely bone-chilling. John Barrowman gives a broken, tragic, thunderous, evil, nuanced performance just as traumatized husband and father losing his life’s purpose by the senseless violence that took his wife’s life in the slums of The Glades – with intent to wipe it off the face of the planet in recompense. This is downright evil – and even terrorism-laced – in every conceivable notion; most villains are trying to take over or rule the city in self-minded greed/arrogance.. Merlyn is so disgusted, he wants to leave a lifeless crater in the area entirely. Unconcerned with the millions of lives and infrastructure lost in the process in this unparalleled-stakes plan, powerful in fight aptitude and training by Ra’s Al Ghul and the League Of Assassins itself before going rogue and using their training for a mission wholly sacrilegious against their code, sharing the same ‘superpower’ as G.A. being just as good of an archer as him and carrying out this mission with just a centuries-old weapon, chilling reflection of the other side of grief and anger turning to violence and rage instead of heroicism like Oliver’s after both undergoing traumatic journeys, mysterious in the organizational plot slowly unveiling its widespread corruption among Starling’s City’s wealthy elite who are supposed to be helping the city instead of destroying it, and hitting Oliver hardest by the fact that it’s his best friend’s father and a father-figure to him since he was a child as the villain he must put an arrow through – but does not know if he can. Beyond that, the ballsy, jaw-dropping finale cliffhanger allowing this symbol of evil and angel of death to acutally win and accomplish his dark mission of destroying the city is one of most shocking and S2-segway physiological need-inducing decisions in superhero media. Brilliant.
One Of The Greatest Seasons Of Television I’ve Ever Witnessed & Game-Changing Proof-Of-Concept Bringing Blockbuster Scale To TV
Overall, Season 1 of Arrow is one of the most perfect and captivating seasons of television I have ever witnessed – and changed what was possible on the medium. Never before have I seen a TV series so strikingly-cinematic in scale and ambition/feel, it reads and thrills with the bolstrous presence and dynamicism of a feature-length film – that goes on for 23+-hours allowing for unparalleled depth and rich storytelling/characterization unlike anything thought possible. Even having watched through the season multiple times, as with The Dark Knight I credit equally in getting me into crime dramas and cinema itself as an artform changing my life: I cannot find a serious flaw. Dark, cinematic, beautifully-choreographed, vigilantism-complex, epic in orchestral score, & rich in character development with a brilliant island dual-plot motif and career performance by Stephen Amell as the Billionaire-Turned-Emerald-Archer, DC Comics’ 2012 Arrow is one of the greatest & most revolutionary TV Series post-2000 – proof-of-concepting Blockbuster Franchises (& The Streaming Boom) on Television.
Official CLC Score: 10/10
Season 2 – 9.7/10
The Ultimate Villain Of DC Comics & CBM History Rivaled Only By Joker Comes To Town
A finale destroying the entire city of the superhero/guardian angel that was supposed to prevent it from happening. That’s what Arrow S1 accomplished – in what is one of the most cinematic, dynamic, and game-changing seasons of Television post-2000 era. How do you follow-up such subversive and top-tier TV? Make it bigger, badder, and even more ambitious – here accomplished near-instantly by mention of one name who sends chills up the spines of any fan of comic book history: Deathstroke. One of the greatest villains of All-Time, already richly-character developed as a friend in Slade Wilson in S1, the decision to tackle such unchartered territory is what launched Arrow – and the subsequent UNIVERSE it gave birth to – into the stratosphere. and DC History and one of my top 5 favorites ever, was going to be the main villain. By way of more rich character writing, a bone-chilling performance by Manu Bennett as the ultimate villain of comics (rivaled only by The Joker), a full hero’s transformation in further development, perfect Black Canary by Caity Loitz, more-enthralling treasure hunting island storyline, and the best action scenes the series has ever witnessed, S2 of Arrow is another near-*perfect* season of television – and even bigger and (arguably) better than Season 1.
Mirakuru x Shado
The Island Arc in S2
Lian Yu is the major battleground for S2 – being foundational setting off the chain reaction of events that lead to the emergence of its two biggest non-Oliver characters: Deathstroke and Black Canary. From the opening flickers of the season, the island is the focus – starting off with the most cinematic scene the series has seen to date to open revisiting that fateful island present-day in an establishing scene that screams blockbuster sequel, where Oliver is hiding away from the world unable to face the gravity of his failure. The way S2 splices its flashback and present-day storylines into a singular blend is a showcase of extreme skill and screenwriting prowess that allows the season to achieve a cohesive feel that none other quite accomplished. Flashbacks center around a treasure hunt of sorts – with a mysterious patron and his forces after a miracle drug that somehow – as if S1’s island arc wasn’t already mysterious enough – wound up on Lian Yu. Dr. Ivo is a sensational alt-villain – combining the best of Frankenstein-ic sci-fi/physiological horror with a strong performance and ruthless need to find a cure after his wife’s backstory (almost reading like a Mr. Freeze showing how cinematically-beautiful his premise can be, when done right – sorry, Schwarzenegger). Shado is also given a phenomenal arc making for a masterpiece mix of character drama, betrayal, brotherhood, jealousy, and guilt balancing all arcs beautifully in a dazzling Victorian display that feels distinctly-human and sets the stage phenomenally for Deathstroke’s plans later on.. as well as the most shocking addition to the series yet: Sara’s return.
The QUEEN Of DC Heroines
A *PERFECT* BLACK CANARY By Caity Loitz
The most shocking addition to the season – and one of the best All-Time – additions to the series is Oliver’s shipmate who was supposed to be dead but given new life and a mystery arc of her own off-screen: SARA. I cannot describe how masterful a plot twist it was when she reveals herself to Oliver, sending his life into chaos trying to process how one of his biggest regrets and character cruxes in S1 being twanged with guilt for not only cheating on her against her sister but being the punk who got her killed has completely changed. After finding herself also on Lian Yu and being equally-connected to Slade and Ivo’s plans, she is again shipwrecked and cast out to sea thought to be gone forever – this time landing on the far-off shores of Nanda Parbat (made even more breathtaking by the symbolism of a Canary being what gives her strength as she floats on the desolate sea), she is picked up and trained by the ultimate trainers: The League Of Assassins x Ra’s Al Ghul. When she returns to Starling City, she is the absolute *PERFECT* Black Canary in every remote sense of the words – brought to life by a career-making performance by Caity Loitz. Bold, badass, brutal, intimidating, capable fighting-wise, romantic with Oliver both training & fighting crime vigilantism-style for the iconic chemistry-riddled power couple, and sexy (complete with a fishnet-clad comic-accurate suit and motorcycle), she is the definitive comic book Black Canary I’ve ever seen – one boasting the same acting chops Oliver displayed in S1 as her character is developed from helpless, cute, innocent girl into assassin. I only wish she had a sonic device on her neck or something instead of a hand-held to imitate the infamous Canary Cry as what would’ve then been easily a Top 5 comic book hero adaptation ever. Regardless, brilliant.
Flashbacks: The Real Green Arrow In Training, By Way Of More Godly Character Development
Also fit into that masterful flashback half of the season is a godly character development arc that brings Oliver into the early-stages of Green Arrow-readiness. Through a rigorous fitness and training regiment, he’s finally able to wield that bow-and-arrow on target, hold his own in hand-to-hand combat/stickfighting, and maneuver with some aptitude as the episodes roll. The island backdrop plays phenomenally off this training highlighting the reason why Green is such a foundational color schematic for G.A. being the predominant color where he trained and found his love and calling for archery. Even more so, we see Oliver start to become more sure of himself and gain some of his confidence, swagger, personality, trust, and soul back after the life-changing/breaking events happened to him when he first washed ashore on Lian Yu. However, while our hero is also starting to enjoy life a bit again, a cyst of darkness and devil’s tricks are set into motion of the beginning of the end: Slade Wilson’s miracle-fueled dark transformation from brother/best friend to public enemy.
An Eye For An Eye
Manu Bennett’s Legendary Performance As Brother-Turned-Enemy Slade Wilson (& One Of The Greatest Villain Performances Of All-Time)
Finally, Manu Bennett’s Deathstroke/Slade Wilson. EASILY the highlight of the season – and one of the greatest villain performances of All-Time cinematically, I’m honestly at a loss for words trying to translate how flawless it is into print. Absolutely merciless with a bone-chilling black-and-orange suit, cocky swagger in his walk and talk stylism (bolstered by the joyous comic-accurate Australian accent), fueled by intense hate/jealousy and revenge-minded rage at the loss of his love who really loved Oliver at his own hands after being put in an impossible place to choose who dies between Sara and Shado, ruthless enough to turn that decision back on Oliver in one of the most jaw-dropping and emotional shock scenes in the history of TV in his murder of Moira Queen, phenomenal hand-to-hand and sword-wielding combatant, guerilla warfare-spawning and string-pulling mastermind exuding power in his every chess move, and able to hit Oliver where it hurts most in his bones through thorough knowledge of his psyche, persona, and every secret he ever told him on the Island as a once-best friend (as always, make the best villains) now turned public enemy #1.
The Choice: One Of The Most Breathtaking & Shocking Plot Twists I Have Ever Witnessed
Is that a good enough description? That’s about as best I can describe one of the most powerful and deliciously-dark/tension-filled villain performances comic book media and TV has – and will – ever witness. If there’s one flaw to be found in the season (along with Sara having the sonic device on her neck instead of handheld as more Black Canary), it’s that I wish the finale centered a bit more on him and Oliver than a widespread city apocalypse.. and that the final fight between Green Arrow and Deathstroke had a better backdrop. But these are minuscule nitpicks not even remotely the fault of Manu or any of the cast beyond cinematographers and costume design it would be ludicrous to weigh seriously in what’s otherwise a masterpiece TV season.
Filled To The Brim With Easter Eggs
And A Spin-Off Of One Of The Biggest Superhero Names *Of All-Time*
Beyond the plot and arcs itself, S2 is one of the biggest seasons of television ever attempted in history for how much it took on its plates outside it. Recurring villains from S1 are back like Huntress and Deadshot, formation of The Suicide Squad with more fantastic addition characters like Bronze Tiger, one of DC’s best and most differentiating quirks in sidekicks with (Colton Haynes’ fantastically-acted) Roy finally earning his mantle as Green Arrow’s famous sidekick Red Arrow, and the surprise cameo and name to end all names: BARRY. ALLEN. Grant Gustin’s cameo in S2E8 is one of the most iconic moments in comic book media ever accomplished; perhaps signaling a spinoff of one of the biggest and most legendary superheroes of *ALL-TIME* finally getting his big screen debut 75+ years later as well: The Flash. Gustin is yet another career casting as CSI Barry Allen: he gets the geekiness, humour/awkwardness, bleeding sci-fi/lab love, pain, and yet unbridled optimism and hope of the Scarlet Speedster absolutely perfectly – for what I hope will become its own show Arrow births for a one-two punch of legendary comics adaptations.
Bigger & Better Than S1 In Almost Every Conceivable Way – & One Of The Greatest Sequels Of All-Time.. On *Television*?
Season 2 of Arrow is what cemented it as one of the greatest & most game-changing TV Series post-2000. Though I prefer S1 by the slightest of (almost imperceptible) margins simply by its limitless possibilities and more stunning finale, S2 is near-perfect itself as well. Bigger, bolder, beautiful, richly-emotional, more blockbuster-feeling, more streamlined & action-packed, human-based in its visceral character drama, and bolstered by a TRINITY of new characters in three of the biggest characters in comic book history coming to town: Deathstroke, Black Canary, & The Flash, Arrow Season 2 is a masterpiece sequel I cannot believe is on TV over theaters. This is a legendary moment for cinema we’re witnessing in the diversification of media and what’s possible outside of only picture palaces once-thought to be the only place you could see this type of entertainment. A New Era is here though, and it’s glorious time to be a cinephile (and comic book fan).
Official CLC Score: 9.7/10
Season 3 – 8/10
If Deathstroke Wasn’t Already Big Enough Of A Comic Book Lore & DC Villain Name..
Ra’s Al Ghul x The League Of Assassins
After the legendary first 2 seasons of Arrow, I was both eager and reluctant to dive into Season 3. Almost all shows I can think of have 1-2 phenomenal seasons, and the rest are alright but heavily declined in quality. With Arrow using up its 2 perfect seasons already, and a good half its writing team leaving to help set up the monumental (and wildly successful) Flash show, I was worried it would fall into that same trap, as the odds seemed to be against them. However, Season 3 of Arrow was surprisingly very good, and although it is not as good as Seasons 1 and 2 and mildly struggled keeping its footing towards the end of the season, I was not disappointed in the end result, and it even put to screen some of the craziest moments in the show’s history.
Let’s start with the premiere. With an awesome opening scene and a great team of Green Arrow-centered superheroes, the season premiere delivers some cool moments, and keeps some of the most intriguing storylines from S2 including Thea’s Malcolm-assisted transformation arc and Roy/Sara’s developments. This is cut short though by one of the craziest plot twists ever: Sara’s death. That took me completely by surprise, especially that they would show it in the season premiere – a truly ballsy move but one that would carry the season well and spur what I called, and rightfully proven: Laurel becoming Black Canary to carry on her legacy and name.
The Mystical City Unfazed For Centuries: Nanda Parbat & More Breathtaking Set Design
While I got really hyped to see Laurel as BC and loved her training arc in the first half of the season, I have to admit a potentially unpopular opinion but one that I stick by 100% as a huge superhero fan and comic reader: I did not like Laurel (Katie Cassidy)’s Black Canary. She is weak, whiny, improperly trained, has a cringy mouth opening to scream with no vibrations or anything to show her iconic Canary Cry, and the costume looks pretty awkward on her (strange, since it looked incredible on Sara). I also could not stand how she constantly moaned and cried about the team wanting to protect her and not let her get killed when she basically only had the equivalent of 1-2 months of training.. from a gym teacher (may have been Wildcat, but still no League of Assassins or Slade).
The League Of Assassins
Speaking of League of Assassins, let’s discuss the big bad of the season, and one I absolutely LOVED: Ra’s al Ghul!! Every superhero fan instantly knows the name, anyone who’s heard of Batman is familiar with, and anyone who’s simply seen The Dark Knight trilogy will remember. The decision to have Ra’s al Ghul as the big bad was an awesome thing to behold: it solidified and even crossed over the implied Green Arrow/Batman connection, got to flesh out the iconic villain from a greattt (although cluttered) Batman Begins, and was impeccably acted by Matt Nable in what is so far my favorite take on the character ever – sorry not sorry Liam Neeson. He exudes power, darkness, and the old-world tradition that Ra’s should, while also being able to fight extremely well, as is seen in my favorite and one of the most jaw-dropping moments in television HISTORY: Oliver vs. Ra’s mountaintop duel and Oliver’s death. I could not believe my eyes when I saw them make that bold a decision to kill off the main character, and with the music, cinematography, snowy setting, and chilling realism, that scene will go down in history.
One Of The Most Jaw-Dropping Episodes Of Television & Plot Twists I’ve EVER Witnessed
Although Ra’s story arc is phenomenal in the first half of the season and slightly after the finale, it begins to lose its way in the second half. Perhaps this is due to how many episodes are in each season for CW (23 episodes, WHYYYYY?! -.-), but there are some obvious fillers with dumb side plots and lazier writing like Oliver marrying Nyssa (gets too Batman-y trying to emulate Bruce-Talia) and pretending he’s bad. Also, perhaps the biggest problem of this season in my opinion: I do NOT like the decision to go to China in the flashbacks. I was severely let down by this decision: Oliver is supposed to spend all his time on LIAN YU during the five years, as it makes his return much more heartbreking because he was on a deserted island cut off from civilization, not eating Take-out in Hong Kong. It takes a lot of wind out of the sales, and is not comic accurate or good show value because his exploits are far more uninteresting than either S1 or S2.
The Finale & 3B
Finally, this season started one of the biggest problems for this show going foreward and one that millions of haters started to hold against Arrow unfairly: Oliver and Felicity’s relationship. I despise “Olicity” as it’s called by girls watching this show who demanded this romance and inexplicably were given it by the producers instead of the comic-accurate Oliver/Laurel, but to see some people say they’re quitting Arrow because Felicity has become annoying and too in the spotlight, and even go on to badmouth a show they supported fullheartedly before Season 3 breaks my heart and is extremely unfair and ungrateful to the indisputable greatness that was Seasons 1-2.
Overall, Top DC Pedigree & The Sum Of Its Whole > The Vices Of Its Flaws
Overall, Season 3 of Arrow delivers some iconic Green Arrow and DC Comics moments and characters, making it a good season of television for Arrow, but great season of television by regular TV show standards. It is definitely not as good as Seasons 1-2 and has some noticeable and infuriating flaws like the start of Olicity, a misdesigned Laurel Black Canary, and a Ra’s story that starts out breathtaking but loses its way through lazy writing towards the end of the season, but it delivers on the central tenets of superhero media and is a memorable bout for the Emerald Archer.
Official CLC Score: 8/10
Season 4 – 4/10
Things Are About To Get (Justice League) Dark
Damien Darhk x H.I.V.E.
Few seasons of television have disappointed me as much as Arrow Season 4 did. In fact, I would actually tell anyone watching the show through for the first time to skip S4 entirely (except maybe the season opener and finale) in order to see the show in its best quality, something I almsot never have to say about a show season. After 2 perfect seasons with legendary quality and execution in S1-2, as well as another very good season in S3, there was a huge decline in quality for S4. I don’t know why it happened: perhaps because Berlanti and his team had taken too many project under their belt building a DC Television Empire with new shows Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow making DCTV a 5-pronged powerhouse, or maybe it was sheer ignorance, but what the Arrow showrunners did in Season 4 was unexcusable, to the point that many people stopped watching and began to talk hate about the show, a sad fall of a titan of TV.
Now, there are some good things about Season 4, don’t get me wrong. For one, the S4 premiere is very good, premiering a new, lighter tone that felt fresh to coincide with Oliver’s new happiness now that he’s taking a break from being Green Arrow to see what the normal life is like. It also features some funny jokes and good action sequences as the team (and Thea as Speedy!) try to keep the city safe without him. It also introduces DAMIEN DARKH, another iconic DC villain and one which I was extremely hyped to see one the silver screen for the big time, in spectacular fashion with scenes like the Warehouse power show and fight on the train where he stops Oliver’s arrows in mid-air with magic. Finally, the show makes an awesome decision to bring the flashbacks back to Lian Yu (my biggest complaint from S3), introduces some incredible teases and story arcs like the Green Lantern tease (are they going somewhere with that?!), Constantine crossover, and the death scene at the end of the premiere that will keep fans guessing and means someone is going to die for good, and delivers an incredible new suit (still prefer the original one but this one is undoubtedly badass) and name change to what we’ve all been waiting for Oliver to be called: the Green Arrow.
The 4-Season Payoff: That Name Drop
Other than that though, and a great performance by Neil McDonough as Damien Darhk that was sadly wasted, the seasons is a complete mess, and borderline competely skippable for anyone watching the show through for the first time. Where to start? First, bringing everyone back from the dead. Starting the 2ND episode of the season, they start this weird streak of episodes where they bring back everyone who was presumed dead, including Diggle’s brother, Sara, Ray Palmer, etc. This is a cheap trick and seems like something you would only do if you ran out of ideas, and is infuriating as it means their deaths meant nothing and has been overdone already in this show and television in large. Sara’s original return was a phenomenal plot twist due to its rarity, but now it’s just borderline insulting to have her come back again after her death was the central crux of Laurel’s transformation to Black Canary and the entire Ra’s al Ghul arc.
A Breathtaking New Suit & Badass Look
Next, who died. *MAJOR SPOILER just fyi* but there might not be a television or storytelling decision of All-Time I hate more than Arrow’s decision to kill off Laurel in S4, aka Green Arrow’s ICONIC and TRUE lover and WHO HE’S SUPPOSED TO BE WITH AS A CHARACTER. It was literally one of the angriest moments I have ever experienced watching cinema, as it was so disrespectful to the comics and everyhting Green Arrow/Black Canary was, I almost threw up. It is also a cheap way to get out of the death, as she was the easiest character to kill off since they criminally underused her in S4 and there were rumors speculating that the show’s producers and her were having problems. Finally, just for shock value, if the death was literally anyone else in the entire show, espeically Felicity or Thea or Diggle, the death would’ve been FAR more impactful and mean something. That decision understandably made a lot of people quit Arrow, and almost made me as well if I’m being perfectly and painfully honest. Disgraceful.
The Dystopian Horror & Intrigue Of Darhk’s Plan Unutilized
Following, Olicity. I absolutely HATE Olicity (Oliver and Felicity’s romance). Ever since S3, I have been saying that this could be problematic as teenage girls who watch the show and have no interest in the superheroics or comics of Green Arrow but instead in some stupid relationship they could go to another show for are begging for this on social media, and it looks like the showrunners sold themselves to their demands. Felicity is a nobody in the comics and not even on the radar for Oliver’s love in any other medium, so it does not make any sense why she would be given that big a role in the show. Felicity also acts wayyyy more annoying now that she has a bigger role, even bossing Oliver around and acting hypocritically. She is no longer the cute and funny IT girl with refreshing and cleverly-written one liners from S1-2, but a huge burden on the show as their relationship sickens vast amounts of true comic fans who know it should be Laurel/Black Canary who Oliver’s in love with and fighting crime beside. The show literally spends more time on this relationship drama in S4 than actual superheroics, feeling more like a soap opera than dark, gritty crime show that made fans love it in S1. Sickening.
The Worst Decision Of The Show’s Entire History
Finally, the finale. Season 4’s finale was absolutely awful in every sense of the word. In fact, it was one of the worst season finales I’ve seen in years, highlighting just how big there was a drop in quality this outlier season compared to previous ones. It was so uneventful even after having a great H.I.V.E. noah’s ark like story arc buildup one of the few saving graces as it was interesting and a dope teaser of Darhk getting all the mystical power, but copied TDKR in all-oout war in city and Lian Yu arc was such a waste and boring uneventful just to connect ot present. I have to admit, I have rarely seen a show take a collapse in a season as drastic as S4 of Arrow, but luckily the show completely rebounds to its former greatness and glory in Season 5.
Official CLC Score: 4/10
Season 5 – 9.2/10
A Return To Roots
A Chilling, Dark Reflection Of Golden-Age Arrow As Rich & Mystic As Our New Antagonist
A return to form completely. I was skeptical to even watch Season 5 of Arrow after being so let down by my favorite tv show ever in S4, but thank God I did. I am here to definitively say: ARROW IS BACK AND BETTER THAN EVER!!!! It feels like a rebirth of the show, turning back time to the S1 premiere and S2 tone, quality, writing, and darkness that so eluded us in S4. Sometimes it takes a stumble to get back to greatness, and I’m so glad Arrow is back to being one of the best shows on TV and the best superhero one.
There are so many aspects of the show S5 corrects that it’s hard to know where to start. For one, the tone. From the first shot of the season of Oliver taking down the criminal in that silky blue night-lit background and near-torturing Wild Dog, it is clear that Arrow isn’t messing around anymore with that failed lightened-tone experiement in S4 and is back to its Batman-level darkness approach, so thankfully as that is what made the show so fascinating to begin with as a radically different and innovative approach to Green Arrow. Next, the fight scenes. The fight scenes and choreography are SO much better this season. The fights are well-shot, well-set, and exhilarating – the same of which certainly cannot be said of S4 and even not necessarily for S3 (besides Ra’s mountaintop duel, of course). The writing is also night-and-day better than S4, in another league with how wide-spanning and rich it is, going back to the basics, but also making Oliver’s story more complex with a whole host of new characters, and a beautifully-written and jaw-dropping revelation story about his true origin from Prometheus.
A Real Comics’ Black Canary To Atone For S4’s Sacrilege
That brings me to Prometheus. OH MY WORD, Prometheus is one of the greatest villains I’ve ever seen in superhero TV, 4th of All-Time imo after 1. Manu’s Deathstroke, 2. Cavanaugh’s Reverse Flash, and 3. Daredevil’s Kingpin. He is SUCH a badass in his style and fighting ability, impeccably designed with an almost Scarecrow-meets-Dark-Green-Arrow touch, and psychologically insane and thoroughly disheartening villains ever, the first to actually be able to claim that he broke Oliver Queen in the torture episode Kapiushon (one of the greatest TV episodes of All-Time with legendary acting by Amell as we learn he wanted to kill at first because he liked it). Masterpiece. The new characters are also intriguing and richly developed.
A Villain So Damn Good, He Does What None Could Do Before: Break Oliver Queen
Wild Dog is a phenomenal addition to the team, Artemis a good (and cute) addition and plot twist, and Ragman a cool addition. The only one I have a real problem with is Curtis. I never liked Curtis to begin with as he feels just like another Felicity which is unbearable if you don’t like Felicity in the first place which vast amounts of fans don’t. His ugly-suited and whiny Mr. Terrific is borderline painful to watch in my opinion, and I sincerely hope he doesn’t make it to next seasons as his jokes aren’t funny and he detracts from the experience. Felicity is much better and more tolerable this season as she gets her own Helix arc to keep her busy, and the show gets away from Olicity – THANK YOU!!!!!!
The Mayoral Arc
That brings me to the best character of the season and one I literally almost lost it cheering for: a NEW BLACK CANARY. It is no secret that I was never a fan of laurel’s S3 Black Canary and disgusted by Season 4’s decision to kill her off, but Season 5 nearly, dare I say, corrected it by introducing Katie Cassidy back as Laurel’s S2 doppelganger Black Siren (basically like og Laurel all over again, but better looking, stronger, less whiny, and WITH THE ICONIC CANARY CRY W/ EFFECTS) and a brand new Black Canary too by Dinah Drake (schooled the haters with the fact that Dinah Drake is technically hte first Black Canary in the comics so they’re comic-accurate).
A Cinematic Blockbuster-Film That Could Change The Show Forever Going Forward
The new Black Canary is sooo much more badass and no-nonsense, fighting better, with iconic touches like the motorcycle and a proper black suit, and a canary cry with actual effects that look amazing. I hope Black Siren gets a redemption arc to become the full-fledged Black Canary going foreward as Katie Cassidy has that nostalgia factor, but I’m fine either way.Finally, the Russia backstory and finale. The Russia flashback arc is complex, tough, and extremely dark – exactly what I came to the show for. It is phenomenally written and designed to show how Oliver makes the last step of his 5-year journey taking him back to Lian Yu for the pilot. Having legendary tough actors like Dolph Lundgren who is incredible as the crime boss Konstantine Kovar and the Bratva brutal story is jaw-droppingly epic and action-packed, feeling almost like a film noir, which as a cinemaphile I respect immensely. It sets it up perfectly leading to the season finale.
The Russia Arc x Dolph Lundgren
Now, Arrow’s Season 5 finale. I literally cannot put into words how breathtaking that finale was. It is one of the greatest TV episodes EVER MADE by every conceivable metric of television, earning 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, IGN, Screen Rant, & Forbes, and currently ranked the 23rd greatest TV episode of All-Time on iMDb with hundreds of thousands of votes, up there with shows like Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and Hannibal. This is some legendary company, but not surprising as the finale is perfect, it literally feels like a Green Arrow movie and had fans drooling at the idea. It is epic in scale going back to Lian Yu and featuring every major character in the show’s history, including Green Arrow, Black Canary, Deathstroke, Talia Al Ghul, Black Siren, Nyssa Al Ghul, Merlyn, Speedy, Wild Dog, and Artemis. My word, that is a testament to the skill olf the showrunners when they are on their A-game to show off and juggle that many characters and stories and fight scenes simulataneously in a single episode. The cliffhanger at the end of the S5 finale blowing up the island is JAW-DROPPING and one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen, as we don’t know who, if even any, will survive into S6
Official CLC Score: 9.2/10
Season 6 – 6/10
The Ultimate Martial Artist Of DC Comics Is Here
A finale blowing up the entire island Oliver called home and seemingly everyone Oliver loves with believed major character deaths. A promise of THE most badass fighter and martial artist in DC Comics in Richard Dragon. A return to form after the abysmal season 4 with a phenomenally-executed Prometheus arc and Season 5. These are what we were promised and expected coming into Season 6 of Arrow, and I was PUMPED. My favorite show period and the show that not only opened the flood gates for the modern landscape of superhero shows but really made me like superheroes and view the genre as an art form, I have always had a love-hate relationship when it came to Arrow. Either jaw-droppingly perfect and legendary like in Seasons 1 and 2, or unwatachably awful like in S4, the show seems to teeter between these two alter-egos almost as much as the titular hero does between his personas. I thought it was maybe a one-time thing with S4 and they had corrected it going forward, but I’m sad to say that although S6 of Arrow has exceptionally strong points and still somewhat passes overall, it pales in comparison to last season and is a sign of dire things to come if they keep up this quality and care.
A Failure To Use ANY Potential Or Stakes From The Breathtaking S5 Finale
Let’s start with the positives of S6 since I like to be as optimistic as possible. First, a return to basics. One of the many storylines this season sets into motion is a fracturing of Team Arrow into separate factions, alienation by Oliver towards his subordinates, and the return to Original Team Arrow and even Oliver solo for a little. This was one of the best things about S6, as it shows hints of willingness from the writers to try to listen to their fanbase and finally answers a call I and millions of other hardcore Arrow fans have been begging for YEARS for: get back to the show’s foundations and what made it such a massive success in the first place: a badass, brutal emerald archer who brings swift justice the hard way and avenges his city in a skilled and solitary mission (with occassional help from one or two side characters). The show finally gets back to that for a couple of episodes and most of 6B and it was glorious seeing hints of the show that I loved come back. Some of the new ideas for the show are interesting too like Oliver getting to know his son and what it’s like to be a father while also being a superhero, so I can at least respect that they tried pushing the boundaries, especially in 6B.
Queen x Diaz
On a related note, the back half of the season is great. After an absolute MESS of a first half of the season with an awful villain, muddled plot-juggling, a disgraceful botch handling the consequences of the legendary S5 finale, and lazy retreading of past storylines, season 6 finally gets its legs and delivers some All-Time great episodes for the series in 6B. Docket 11-19-41-73 (Top 10 episode of the show and masterpiece of legal/superhero television imo), The Dragon, Doppelganger, Fundamentals.. these are amazing episodes that are all S1/2/5 quality and show that the showrunners are still at least capable of greatness when they really try: the official Queen-As-Green-Arrow trial is phenomenal television and legal intrigue, Katie Cassidy back as a season regular is a real treat and her Black Siren storyline intriguing, good fight scenes with an increased attention and reutn to focus and form in cinematography and fight choreography/set-up, there are some wild moments and cameos including ROY and Thea as Speedy again as well as a mini night-lit Civil War between OTA and NTA and Oliver/Dig confrontation and fist fight, a well-needed and overall respectable sendoff for one of Arrow’s original and best characters in Quentin now that there are few storylines left to tell for him and he can be used in a Black Siren redemption arc, and, best of all, Richard Dragon.
Kirk Acevedo’s Swanky, Power-Exuding Mafia Don Ricardo Diaz & The Subsequent Power Struggle On The Streets Of Star City
That is probably my favorite thing about this season and what almost single-handedly brought S6 back from the depths to almost positive territory: Richard Dragon. When finally unleashed from his blasphemous demotion to underwhelming team of B-villains in 6A, Kirk Acevedo’s cocky, swagger-filled Pacino-like crime lord Richard Dragon adds a freshness and kick to the show that, coupled with an overtaking of the city on a level and depth rarely if ever seen in superhero TV having all city officials and cops under his control, and phenomenal fast-paced fight scenes ranging from rain-soaked night lamps in the finale to blue-backlit martial arts training in his dojo in Doppelganger, and even thoroughly developed in his backstory with a glimpse into the trauma that made him such an evil person, why he chose that name, and his psyche/motivations as a villain in the bully/fire-lighting treat of an episode in The Dragon.
The REAL Green Arrow Is Back
Now, the flaws and ooooooh boy there are a lot of them. First, the first half of the season is AWFUL, starting with the season premiere. After the legendary and All-Time great in the history of television Season 5 Finale of Arrow: Lian Yu, I said okay at least several main characters HAVE to die when Chase blew up the island, right? There’s no way everyone could’ve survived, right? Well, turns out the writers have absolutely no idea what they’re doing because that’s EXACTLY what happened!!!!.. Curtis, Rene, Dinah, Quentin, Thea, Felicity, Dig.. ALL of them survived……………. Literally the only person who died was William’s mom, a not-even-B character but like Z-character who had maybe 3 lines of dialogue in the show’s history and has a weakly-acted death scene that S6’s showrunners apparently thought was supposed to make us say “wow the S5 finale has consequences now.” That could not be any farther from the truth, I cannot believe they punked out on an opportunity to have a season and finale that broke the boundaries of cinema and stood the test of time, instead opting for a complete negation of everything good about S5 and making it seem like Prometheus never even happened or accomplished nothing. Curtis is one of the most annoying characters I’ve ever seen on TV and I cannot help but trult marvel at the fact that he is one of the easiest side characters to kill off while still maintaining the black racial dynamic with Dig and LGBT with Sara in Legends, but they refused to kill him or any other like character off… Also, the first half of a season is supposed to be the best to get people invested to watch the whole season and leaves the crucial first impression and S6’s is so bad people may not stick around to even watch when it does actually get good in the 2nd half. Shame.
Legion Of Doom(ed)
Adding to how crushingly bad the first half of S6 is is the villain, or as I like to call them, the Legion of Underwhelming B-Villains (as a joke on the Legion of Doom dynamic they were clearly trying to achieve but drastically failed at). We were promised Richard Dragon: THE most badass fighter and martial artist of a universe that has characters like Batman and Ra’s Al Ghul and the legion of shadows in it in DC.. but instead for a whopping 14+ episodes, we get stuck with an IT nerd (played by Michael Emerson who is a good actor but weirdly deprives the character of seemingly any soul or persona, added to the horrific writing of his weak and annoying motivation just avenging his son from a clearly faked situation and being another hacker to add to Felicty who already gets people’s eyes rolling with all the hacking/tech stuff, and her father and boyfriend and Helix who were all past villains..), a Deadpool/Red Hood-wannabe in Vigilante (although Deadpool was copied from Deathstroke) in Vince who was also a dramatically underwhelming reveal after all that time making us wait in S5, Anatoly who is a great and classic character but not good enough to be a big bad level for a season, Black Siren who is well-played by Katie Cassidy but makes there too many Black Canary/screamers on the show and forever serves as a areminder that the only reason she’s there is because of how badly they fcked up Laurel’s character to begin with in S4, and finally… Richard Dragon who seems like all he’s doing is twiddling his thumbs and underwhelms in the first half of the season but actually turns out to be great later even though it’s still blasphemous how he got demoted to such a low position in the first half of S6.
Finally, a good portion of the storylines set in motion in S6 are just bad or even insulting to the show and the sterling reputation it had earned in S1-2 but feels like it’s turning as the writers are running out of ideas and just randomly picking ideas out of a hat and throwing sht to the wall and hoping something sticks. The Dig-As-Green-Arrow storyline is blasphemous AND insulting as that should be Stephen Amell’s hood and only his – have not even the slightest desire to watch this show without him, Dig looks weird in it, and is just disrespectful to the hero having the audacity to suggest that even the show’s main protagonist is replaceable too. The FBI storyline is stupid too as it just way overcomplicates the idea of superheroes as of course they wouldn’t be able to outsmart or hide from a real organization like the FBI and their tech and resources with also an infuriating ending that they betterrr fix and Oliver not be done forever as I’m not watching the show without him on it but the writers have dug themselves into a seemingly impossible-hole to exit gracefully and get him back as Green Arrow when he admitted to the whole world and FBI that he’s him. The idea of actually having to quit Arrow is pretty hard as it was my favorite show of All-Time through its first 2 seasons, but if they even go 3-4 episodes without Stephen Amell I am done. Finally, they give side characters and the side team that’s fractured off of Team Arrow WAY too much screen time, and the finale decision to carry over S6 and Richard Dragon’s storylines over to S7 is just not a good idea and will make it worse as one villain per season with reoccuring guest appearances is what’s work for all superhero cinema and should be followed to make people not get sick of a villain.
A Wild Finale Plot Twist & Cliffhanger But Problematic Tour To Get There
Overall, season 6 of Arrow is kind of a mess. It has phenomenal pros that keep it buoyed and above water just enough to keep from completely sinking like a seeming start to return to roots and focus on Oliver and Original Team Arrow again, cool action sequences, fine sendoff for one of its original and best characters in Lance while he’s still not completely stale, a wowing back half to the season with All-Time great Arrow episodes like Docket 11-19-41-73 and Doppelganger that proves the show still has potential and is capable of storytelling magic, and a great villain once he’s finally given time to shine in Acevedo’s Richard Dragon. But it also has tremendous flaws like an awful first half and ‘Legion of Underwhelming B-Villains’, complete cop-out from the potentially legendary S5 finale on Lian Yu in stakes and consequences/Chase’s legacy, and some blasphemous and even insulting storyline choices like Diggle as the Green Arrow, FBI coming to a superhero show, and sequestering Oliver as the main character’s time in the spotlight of his own show. Arrow has gotten renewed for a Season 7 and will get new showrunners as well as different storytelling methods, so I hope (again) they will finally fully take the show back to basics and turn it back into the incredible dark crime drama about a brutal, alienated billionaire archer who returns after being stranded on a brutal, hellish island for 5 years to get justice and exact revenge on its most corrupt criminals we fell in love with back in Seasons 1-2.
Official CLC Score: 6/10
Season 7 – 8.7/10
Green Arrow x SuperMAX
A Ballsy, Ambitious Premise: Lock Your Main Character & Superhero Behind Bars
The penultimate season. The Longbow Hunters. Emiko Queen. Dante and The Ninth Circle. Slabside Prison. Green Arrow/SuperMAX. S7 put all its cards on the table teasing some serious comic lore for its 2nd-to-last hurrah bringing the TV show that revolutionized the superhero genre back in 2012 to close. A legendary Shawshank-y/Alcatraz-like superhero-in-prison arc start innovative to superhero TV – along with a masterpiece 150th-episode found-footage vigilantism documentary, correction of burdensome characters/arcs from past seasons, & intricate future-dystopian plot – despite a poorly-casted Emiko & short Longbow Hunters arc, let Arrow S7 set the stage for a spectacular final season next fall.
The Slabside Life & A Tone So Dark, It Pushes The Boundaries Of Network TV
The Slabside Redemption, 150th-episode, & innovated superhero TV conventions. The season starts with a ballsy, unfathomable arc we never thought we’d ever see: our star superhero and main character locked behind bars. No longer Oliver Queen/Green Arrow but now Inmate 4587, this is an incredibly innovative plot choice lending for some seriously-entertaining and out-of-the-box story possibilities the writers’ room clearly exploits. A brilliant, dazzling cocktail of Shawshank-y/Alcatraz/Count of Monte Cristo-like themes and homages mixed in fresh new ways under a superhero motif, with a decidedly-darker and more violent array returning Oliver to (alone) S1/2 badassness like in its opening 5-to-1 shower assassination attempt that turns wrong.. for the attackers – makes for one of the greatest arcs I’ve ever seen in superhero TV tens of seasons and shows in. Beyond the first 9 Slabside-set episodes (wish was given a longer arc as I’ll address later), there are several other masterpiece-level episodes.
ANOTHER Dark Archer & Family Surprise..?
Emiko Queen: An AWFUL Villain Choice
The best of these, being also one of the greatest episodes in series history, is Arrow’s 150th episode intricately, decidedly showing us what an Arrow movie would’ve been like as a found-footage vigilantism documentary complete with quick-cuts and jaw-dropping cinematic fight scenes that feel 10x-higher budget and perfect in every way (why, why, WHY WB did you not up the budget for DCTV currently blowing away the comparatively overexpensive messes of films like BvS and Suicide Squad). The season also ends on an emotionally-resonant, tear-jerking, epic finale arc rife with character development for Oliver and setting the stage for another masterfully-innovative TV finale with our main character being taken who-knows-where in the Multiverse before a teased death in this fall’s finale season and ultimate superhero-crossover event: Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Back To Lian Yu
The Best Decision In The Show’s History Post-S2: Flash-Forwards
Correction of burdensome characters/arcs from past seasons. The season also leads into the final run by cutting some of the dead weight and problematic characters it built up over the years – while also bringing back some fan favorites to the absolute JOY of its biggest fans and detractors alike. Previously-annoying characters Curtis and William are given satisfying exits, Dinah is no longer Black Canary leaving the door open for fan-favorite and meticulously-redempted Katie Cassidy’s Laurel-E2/Black Siren to become the ultimate BC next season, Diggle is more nostalgically-Diggle with fleshed out-character development glimpses into his past & father, Roy/Arsenal is back, Tommy is back in visions as Oliver’s conscience, and best of all: FELICITY IS BEARABLE as a much watered-down-romance version of the annoying hack-girl given more screentime than Green Arrow in previous seasons to her original awkward geekiness and light-treaded greatness pre-Olicity for a smoother time even given great character development plus an exit from the show in heartbreaking multiversic death fashion. All these amount a perfect set-up for a final season focused on the only character the show should be worried about: Oliver Queen as Amell’s final run as Green Arrow, while also securing his legacy on E1 with glimpses into the future of Star City by way of its future-fractured arc and strong new characters.
A Badass Heroine That Steals The Show – & Is The Only One Deserving To Carry On G.A.’s Legacy
An intricate future-dystopian plot. Terminator/cyberpunk-like in all the best ways showing a dark distinct future where all our past seasons of vigilantism mattered little, the Star City 2049 half of the season is sublime. A wildly-twisting mystery cleverly beginning at Lian Yu for maximum nostalgia before going back to the Glades and invoking future-torn versions of Team Arrow from Dinah to Arsenal, involving screenwriting keeping us involved and interested in classic whodunnit manner, and a whole slew of incredible new characters make it easily the highlight of the season aside from the Slabside arc. Newly-added, highly-redemptive characters include grown-up versions of William – WAY better than the whiny immature version complaining his dad is Green Arrow we were given in S5/6 – and a canary-leading Zoe, but that’s nothing compared to Connor Hawke and the show-stopper, screen-stealer of the whole season: Katherine McNamara’s Mia Smoak. An absolutely BADASS street-fighter, slums-sleuthing outcast with fiery kick and secret agendas/baggage to solve, she is one of the best new characters ever introduced on Arrow, after Deathstroke, Merlyn, and Prometheus of course. I would be happy to see her become a future-version of Green Arrow as one of the only people (and skilled archers) who proved herself enough to don the sacred forest colors – and sincerely hope we see more of her in any capacity.
The Longbow Hunters x Diaz (Again..)
Emiko Queen and The Longbow Hunters/Diaz. Flaws in Arrow S7 largely center around one (problematic) character: Emiko Queen. While she makes for a decently-interesting villain hitting Oliver at emotionally-vulnerable spots where it hurts most bringing back well-treaded psyche-breaks for him in his family’s wrongdoings pre-Gambit sink and even serving as a crux for remarkable character development giving Oliver a reason to go back on his promise to Tommy of never killing again by threatening his entire family only for him to choose hope, she is WOEFULLY miscast with an *awful* actress in Sea Shimooka not even remotely deserving of the role and big bad presence. She is shaky as an actress, unemotive, and doesn’t even give a believable performance of how heartbroken and messed-up someone with her kind of backstory would be – or counter Amell’s always-compelling performance with any sort of might.
A Back-Half That Sacrilegiously Wastes Its Jaw-Dropping First One
Also, her wearing the Green Arrow costume – sacred territory – for so much of the season and even being written Mary Sue-ish to be as good an archer as Oliver was a poor choice that comes across as pandering and disrespectful to the lore when no one except Oliver (and maybe Mia by season’s end since she thoroughly earned with a way more deserving/badass performance) should be wearing that suit. Beyond her, the Longbow Hunters – incredible GA villains from the comics – are given too short an arc, slabside was given *way*too short an arc (should’ve been 2-3x longer or whole season being easily the best part of the series), and Diaz overstays his welcome going from good villain last season to just a pain in the neck now with a comparatively wimpy exit for as good as he was last season as Richard Dragon.
A Spectacular Penultimate Season That Sets The Stage For A Farewell Tour Unlike Anything Ever Seen Before Next Fall
Overall, S7 of Arrow is a spectacular penultimate season that sets the stage for a JAW-DROPPING series finale next fall. A legendary Shawshank-y/Alcatraz-like superhero-in-prison arc start innovative to superhero TV – along with a masterpiece 150th-episode found-footage vigilantism documentary, correction of burdensome characters/arcs from past seasons, & intricate future-dystopian plot – despite a poorly-casted Emiko & short Longbow Hunters arc, this masterful build-up to the unfathomable cannot come soon enough this fall: The Death of Oliver Queen.
Official CLC Score: 8.7/10
Season 8 – 9.6/10
The End Of An Era
16+ Shows, 42+ Seasons, 750+ Episodes, & A Legacy That Changed The Course Of TV History
The final season. In the early 2010’s, a man named Greg Berlanti & his two friend-screenwriters by the names of Kreisberg & Guggenheim pitched an idea at the plush studios of a Warner Bros. coming fresh off one of the greatest movie trilogies of All-Time in The Dark Knight: expanding DC’s cinematic portfolio to TV; a hero-based blockbuster you tune in for weekly. The plan originally only had in mind a one-off Nolan-esque series giving another dark vigilante of DC Comics the cinematic treatment: Green Arrow, but when that opening shipwrecked sequence first aired – it changed *everything*. Today, 8 years later, that series has blossomed into an entire Universe & Empire unlike anything ever accomplished in television history before it – and wholly reinvented what was possible on the medium itself. The Flash, Black Lightning, Supergirl, Legends Of Tomorrow, Lucifer, Titans, Doom Patrol, Swamp Thing, Watchmen (HBO), and dozens more – as well as, in large part, The Streaming Boom itself shaking the cinematic industry – all owe tribute to Arrow for proof-of-concepting the premise (and profitability) of blockbuster entertainment on TV. The Emerald Archer is back for one more go-round and farewell tour – and it feels like a year-long event & final celebration of series canon unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed in a series finale.. as one of the best & boldest/most ambitious final seasons on TV ever.
Back To The Beginning
From the opening flickers of S8, it’s clear this is going to a farewell tour unlike anything you’ve ever seen before: we’re taken back to the very opening scene of the series, reinvented. By way of its brilliant Elseworlds/Crisis On Infinite Earths setup, we are able to be taken back through previous seasons one-by-one on a 10-episode joyride and remembrance tour that serves as a warm-and-fuzzy love-letter to fans encapsulating the series’ best moments like a finale should do – while also not losing any entertainment value in possible perceived nostalgia-pandering as a cop-out to real storytelling. These trips back down memory lane are loaded with Easter Eggs and multiversal shake-ups where things played out very differently on that Earth and that reality – perhaps encapsulated best by the opening Deathstroke-totem from S1 on Earth-1 being now a Batman-mask (gasp!) symbolizing that reality’s difference of Bruce Wayne being stranded on that island with Oliver instead of Slade Wilson. What begins with a beautiful tribute to the first (and to this day, best in CLC’s vote) season of Arrow in Episode 1 cascades into a season-long series finale taking us through every backdrop we know and loved – from the cold, desolate shores of Lian Yu to the plush royalty-adorned mansion of the Queens to an E2 version of early-Starling City to Hong Kong slums to ancient Nanda Parbat ruins to Deathstroke-bunkers to Russia fight clubs to Twilight Zone-ic alternate reality dreamscapes & everything in between.
S1 Tone, No Olicity, A Finalized Black Canary, Original Team Arrow Back In Reign, Brilliant Cinematic Neely Orchestration, & Correction Of ~All Series Sins
More than backdrops though, the series encapsulates and summarizes everything that came before it by abandoning the tonal and team diversification it tried to (ill-advisedly) enact in later seasons to back to what first made us love the show in the first place: the magic of its premise of an ultra-dark/gritty vigilante crime drama of a billionaire who had to endure unconscionable hardship getting shipwrecked on an island for five years and now joins us back in formal society with a mission. The REAL Arrow is back – in all its bone-crunching, blood-spewing, anesthetic-less, amputation-filled, fight club-set, breathtakingly-fight choreographed glory. Berlanti and the showrunners have managed to listen to their fans again – fixing nearly every conceivable past flaw or sin the series committed in an atonement canvas of pure badassery and dark thrills that blends both old and new skillfully.
The REAL Black Canary Is Finally Here
FELICITY SMOAK is gone – giving a glorious vision of Golden-Age Arrow before it got into the mess of Olicity overshadowing Oliver Queen’s story and superheroicism in later seasons, E2 Laurel’s rich character development and redemption arc climaxes into a perfect finalized Black Canary (down to the purple-infused hideout and gold-trimmed suit) to make up for S4’s sacrilege, real Team Arrow is given reign atop the throne again – with its top three characters back in the spotlight of Oliver/Dig/Laurel only instead of crowded canvases of non-G.A. heroes that overstayed their welcome and clouded things, and the season is given NORMAL length of every other drama TV series to work with – an infinitely-easier task than The CW’s (imbecilic) decision to strictly enforce 23-episode season orders that’s a downright death sentence to anything less than top-tier screenwriting to be able to tell a cohesive story across and keep viewers engaged for, in one – let alone 8, 10, 12, etc. – years without loads of pointless filler. The Neely score equals this nostalgic fervor in sequences and themes from past seasons literally re-worked or spliced in new ways to take us down memory lane from the Prometheus theme to Hong Kong one – as well as some new flair in booming, even-more cinematic orchestration that gives the season a glossy finish with the best-scored title of the series. Most striking though about S8 is not in its backdrops, set-pieces, score, and lore-revisitation – it’s foremost in its character arcs.
The Series’ Biggest Triumph Climaxes: Phenomenal Character Development & Exits For All Characters – Best Of All, Oliver
This is not just shameless nostalgia-pandering by any means though – there are crisp, clear-cut missions and stakes at every stop on this multiversal map, as Oliver is forced into servitude of the cosmic being The Monitor coming to reclaim a past debt to help the Justice League get out of Elseworlds. This ‘What If?’; scavenger-hunt to find artifacts and people – laced with Easter Eggs, comics references, and the aforementioned alterations from past seasons – is tremendously-entertaining, and makes Garrett’s Monitor an intriguing supervision we’re not even sure whether he’s a benevolent god or chaos-minded demon. One thing’s for sure: he keeps fans on their toes and edge of their seats through wildly-unpredictable god-like reality shifts bringing characters back, pushing them forward, into new realities, and emotional combos not normally feasible by the laws of physics. First, everyone you could possibly hope for from series history cameo’s – Roy, Thea, Prometheus, Mia, Tommy, Connor Hawke, Quentin, Anatoly, Deathstroke, William, Curtis, Talia Al Ghul, Malcolm, Moira, Sara, YAO FEI, Shado, Fyers, Rene, Dig, Dinah, Laurel, & everyone in between is back for the festivities. Little do their know they’re to be pawns for The Monitor’s games – using temptation, supernatural mindgames like the brilliant Groundhog Day-esque episode Reset, and even betrayal sending moles into the camp to spy and guide them towards his goals in Lyla – all before merging the past, present, and future in ‘Present Tense’ as one of the most brilliant character dynamics and final development arcs for Oliver Queen: meeting his kids, all-grown-up.
Crisis. On. Infinite. Earths.
The future team Arrow maintains a strong flashforward cyberpunk/sci-noir arc through all of this, continuing S7’s biggest triumph other than The Slabside Arc and one of its best (and most badass) characters ever: Katherine McNamara’s Mia Smoak/Queen. When they’re merged into Oliver’s present timeline, it makes for one of the most shocking – and fascinating character dynamics the series has ever seen: How does one come to grips with being a dad to children he was never there to even know most of – or all – of their lives? How do Mia & co. not tell the legendary superheroes that their legacy was meaningless in the current future timeline, with the city being plunged back into darkness the second Green Arrow goes M.I.A. in Crisis? How do you change things to avoid fate – focusing on the future, but not losing the tender moments both camps can enjoy now like Oliver training and shooting tennis balls with his daughter or talking about his son’s coming-out firsthand, and the morality of telling Rene about Zoe’s fate, at the hand’s of Diggle’s own son nonetheless? The series is heartbreaking, poignant, and advanced in archer-focused storytelling and screenwriting prowess here for one of the best canvases of character development, trajectories, and arcs the series has ever enjoyed – only made better by the grand-daddy of all follow-up events: Crisis On Infinite Earths!
The Death Of Oliver Queen
The season (and arguably, DCTV Universe) has all been leading to this: Crisis On Infinite Earths. The biggest stakes ever attempted in a comic book event, bestial Anti-Monitor, & MEGA fan-service from throughout DC Film/TV history going back to the 1960’s – with an epic orchestral score, classic-Justice League tone, and *game-changing* aftermath: A New DC TV/Film MULTIVERSE that could change blockbuster media as we know it, COIE was one of the most revolutionary superhero-team portrayals to date – even despite a few scripting flaws and problematic cameos. The ultimate culmination of superhero TV and vision of what Arrow could be and have led to all those years ago, the event gives the Justice League a glorious home on TV (stunningly more successful than its attempt at the Movies with infinitely more resources but showcasing yet again why storytelling prowess > budget) and our old friend Oliver Queen the sendoff he deserved. On paper, Green Arrow’s arc throughout Crisis is fantastic. The man saves over a billion more lives than fate intended by dying a hero’s death holding off doom just a little bit longer at the cost of his own life, his daughter and League can’t accept the finality and resurrect him using a Lazarus pit, he becomes the freaking SPECTRE (another huge DC legacy character brought to life spectacularly), and uses his new mystical/primal powers to defeat the Anti-Monitor and create a new universe of life – a *brilliant* parallel to the universe of DCTV and streaming trend of franchises moving to TV Arrow played a massive or even foundational role in proof-of-concepting and starting as a universe just like the one Mr. Queen does metaphorically here. Sure the first death of Oliver in Ep. 1 is admittedly very anticlimactic in executional flaw – but it’s used as a springboard to use the Lazarus Pit, become Spectre, and have a real fight against one of the most powerful cosmic beings of DC Comics 1v1 power-wise and win, thus forgivable and allows for an endgame of Oliver accomplishing his Mission once and for all: save not only his city, but the entire MULTIVERSE.
The Green Arrow & The Canaries backdoor pilot that follows is objectively a phenomenal pilot (wherein we fully endorse Mia Queen being the torch-bearer Green Arrow’s daughter to carry on his legacy), and the series finale heartbreaking seeing the funeral of Oliver Queen. The finale fits in tons of emotionally-rich moments and wraps up most of its 8 years of storylines and arcs beautifully – with Roy & Thea finally getting married, Tommy/Moira/Emiko/Quentin given new life by way of a multiversal reality-rewrite to cameo and attend the funeral as well as remind of the series’ biggest deaths, all other Team Arrow members given great sendoffs like Rene as mayor and Dinah moving to a new life, hidden Easter Eggs expanding the Mutliverse with more Smallville and Powerless references, a classic Golden-Age S1-2 Arrow fight scene that’s gloriously dark, ruthless, and even technically-impressive as a long take boasting some of the best fight choreography ever in-series as a final rememberance of its previous shine, legacy-filled shots in fantastic cinematography like the Green Arrow statue and funeral itself, revisit of the beautiful documentary stylism (and Slade-kills-Moira moment: the most shocking in series history other than The Climb), and best of all: DIGGLE BECOMING GREEN LANTERN!
John Stewart x Green Arrow & The Canaries
This is the ultimate sendoff Oliver #2 and right-hand-man – as well as one of the most poignant and nuanced performances perhaps in TV history by the impeccable David Paul Ramsey – deserved: becoming one of not only DC’s, but comic book history’s most iconic superheroes ever and satisfying fans after years of teasing and dancing around the bush. Phenomenal. Flaws are limited to a small gripe in The Monitor’s appearance back from Elseworlds, more time with Deathstroke, Black Canary-romance, and the final shot. As we mentioned back in 2018’s DCTV Crossover, The Monitor’s look is okay – but LaMonica Garrett is far too small for the role, needed exponentially more make-up and sci-fi flair as his Thanos/Darkseid-level minion lore demands (and they got perfectly in the bone-chilling appearance of Anti-Monitor), and too prominently featured with these flaws as a sore for the eyes. I cannot fathom why the legendary Manu Bennett’s real Deathstroke could not have even freaking cameoed once in the final season of the show and universe he helped skyrocket as one of he best villain performances in the history of superhero cinema – and makes the series feel a bit incomplete that CW/DC/WB should’ve absolutely thrown all resources needed to get done.
Full Circle: Oliver’s Mission Is Complete
As does the fact that Black Canary and Oliver Queen (despite being phenomenal finalized versions of the characters brought to life by sensational performances by their respective actors that will go down in history books as definitive versions of the characters) never quite got the romance fated for them in the comics and iconic interplay between the King and Queen of archery and siren cries. Finally, I wish the finale was a bit more emotional and dramatic not having the backdoor GA & Canaries pilot to interrupt the flow and featuring Oliver’s Death in it instead of a post-epilogue, plus the final shot of the series being an Olicity pander is a dagger through the heart of the sizeable part of the fanbase that hated it as a singular sour note & unnecessary provocation in conclusion. The series could’ve – and should’ve – ended with a final shot on Lian Yu or forest or something more Green Arrow-reminiscent (even with an afterlife vision of Oliver & his love going off into the everlasting beyond) instead of Queen Consolidated as an admittedly-inconsequential and minuscule gripe to what’s otherwise one of the best finale seasons of television probably ever.
One Of The Greatest & Most Revolutionary TV Series Post-2000 & Our Favorite TV Series Given A Near-Perfect Final Sendoff
Overall, Season 8 of Arrow is one of the best finale seasons of television likely in TV history – beautifully ending what was one of its most game-changing and revolutionary post-2000. Ambitious, cinematic, and packed to the brim with Easter Eggs, literal callbacks and a joyride through seasons past in characters and storylines/locations through new ways by its brilliantly-written Crisis/Monitor multiversal set-up, top-tier quick-cutter fight choreography again, a nostalgic Neely score, massive stakes unparalleled in superhero media, a humble servant’s heart and ear to the fans reversing and atoning for every sin across the past near-decade of superheroicism & vigilantism, S8 is a showcase of what the show was in S1-2, back when rich storytelling, character development, and arrows reigned supreme. This is nearly the perfect farewell tour and celebration of what was (and is now again) our favorite superhero TV series and one of our favorite overall TV series of All-Time. Oliver’s mission is now complete – and he and the series can now enjoy the everlasting beyond and reward for all their hardship and struggle with knowledge of a legacy that changed the face of what was possible on television. Dark, cinematic, beautifully-choreographed, vigilantism-complex, epic in orchestral score, & rich in character development with a brilliant island dual-plot motif and career performance by Stephen Amell as the Billionaire-Turned-Emerald-Archer, DC Comics’ 2012 Arrow is one of the greatest & most revolutionary TV Series post-2000 – proof-of-concepting Blockbuster Franchises (& The Streaming Boom) on Television.
Official CLC Score: 9.6/10