Arrow - Season 6
Arrow is a complicated show. It sets the tone for the universe set on the CW and has built the DCCW brand completely. Being more specific, this past season was also complicated. It had the tall task of following up one of the most harrowing season finale cliffhangers in recent memory. They had to establish a new status quo, bring in new villains, and find new ways to challenge Ollie and his allies in a meaningful way.
Honestly, if I were to use a word to describe this season, it would be: frustrating. If I were to use a phrase, it would be: frustrating, but fixable. At a high level, the show did things that I generally love – give the main character a compelling story arc throughout the story, make several smaller stories, give the supporting cast something to do, and have stakes that matter, and of course, rock the crossover.
Dealing with the fallout from the end of Season 5, team Arrow escaped relatively unscathed. The only real casualties were Malcolm Merlyn and William’s mother, Samantha. This went a long way to helping Ollie grow, since he had to embrace fatherhood. This was the source of some early season drama.
The first portion of the season dealt with Ollie balancing several pieces of his life: Green Arrow, Mayor of Star City, and Father. The early part of the season was scattered. Ollie struggles as mayor and deals with several villainous returns, notably Anatoly and Black Siren. During this period, Ollie struggles to connect with his son, William, after the death of William’s mother. Meanwhile, Black Siren has joined forces with Cayden James (played by Michael Emerson) who blames the Green Arrow for the death of his son. Ollie is confronted by Slade Wilson, Deathstroke, who has come to collect promised aid that Ollie offered him to help find his son, which was one of the strongest episodes of the season. Through Slade, Ollie decides to give up being the Green Arrow and pass on the mantle to Diggle. This led up to the crossover, which I’m sure we’ll address at another time on the TC, but notably, the crossover sees Ollie and Felicity get married alongside Barry and Iris. This finally solves the will they-won’t they nature of the “Olicity” relationship. I’ve always felt like this relationship was important and should just be permanent and now it is.
In the fight against Cayden James, Vigilante is reintroduced as Dinah’s assumed deceased partner Vince. This leads to Dinah getting close to him again, despite knowing that he’s working for James. Eventually, he helps Team Arrow against Cayden James as he becomes more and more unhinged. This leads to him being killed by Black Siren setting Black Canary on a path for vengeance. Because Cayden James has sewn seeds of distrust, Original Team Arrow (Ollie, Diggle, and Felicity) begin investigating their teammates without their knowledge or consent. This is amplified by an investigation into Ollie by the FBI. Despite Cayden James having access to a bomb, the team splits into 2 and has a full-blown fight, leading to Wild Dog getting hurt and hospitalized. This was a big point of frustration for me as the season developed. We all love a good hero vs. hero showdown (not you BvS, you were straight trash), but this made almost every hero on this show unlikable. This should never happen. The cast is probably too big now, which leads to writing problems. Some of the acting from the “junior” heroes wasn’t good either, which hurt this development.
Cayden James is informed that he has been manipulated into his crusade against Ollie and that Ollie has been framed for the murder of his son. He turns on his superteam of villains and eventually gives up. Cayden James is killed in custody and it’s revealed that Ricardo Diaz (who has been working with James) has been the mastermind behind the entire season and is the real villain. We get a few filler episodes – one with the return of Roy Harper which leads to Thea’s exit from the show, and one with Nyssa. Thea will be missed, but it leads to some writing questions as we know that Roy Harper will be a season regular next year.
Team Arrow continues to fray at the seams leading to a falling out between Diggle and Ollie over who should be wearing the Green Arrow hood. They talk out their differences, only to leave them unresolved and they eventually come to blows. This brother vs. brother thing has been done like once per season. It’s about time to put this concept to bed and show that their bond cannot be broken or even tested. Ollie begins to work alone as Diaz adds more power over his hold on the city. Diaz controls multiple layers of city officials, including the DA’s office, the police, and members of City Hall. Speaking of City Hall, Ollie has been impeached and removed from the mayor’s office, leaving Quentin Lance as mayor. This may have been the best thing for the season. The narrative of Ollie being mayor seemed to get the short shaft this season. The only tension came from Cayden James in the first portion of the season and then fell off after that.
Ollie goes completely solo, waging a one-man war on Diaz. Unbeknownst to him, Diaz has joined and strong-armed a secret criminal organization called the Quadrant. Here, we get some insight into Diaz’s backstory through the eyes of Black Siren, who ultimately sees him burn his childhood bully alive. Ollie “getting back to basics” proves to be stressful to his marriage and ultimately proves to be ineffective. Diaz makes a final push for the city by attempting to make Lance give up control of the city by threatening Black Siren who has slivers of his daughter’s personality. The decision to reveal Diaz after the whole mess with Cayden James felt like a bit of a disconnect and almost made the Cayden James arc almost feel like a waste.
The odds are so stacked against Ollie, that he seeks help from his old teammates and an unlikely source, the FBI agent who has been hunting him as the Green Arrow. Ollie shows the growth and maturity that was seemingly abandoned throughout the season as he makes amends for his sins of this season. It brings the team back together in the hunt for Diaz. The finale did a couple of big things, which it always does. It killed off a long time cast member, Quentin Lance, and set up a big status quo shift for the main character by putting him in a supermax prison. This would have felt bigger if it hadn’t been such a big plot point on Arrow’s sister show, The Flash, earlier this season.
Here’s the silver lining – there were some blisteringly excellent action scenes and some scenes that were terrifically acted this year. Whenever you see James Bamford as a director, you should feel good that the action scenes are going to be fast, technical, and beautifully shot. With Stephen Amell anchoring the show, you know that he’s capable of putting up a dynamic acting performance. However, the writing on this show needs to get better and become more focused, or the show will become more and more of a mess. The good news is, they’ve added a new showrunner for next season, so we’ll see where it goes.
Final Score: 6.5/10 - There were some excellent fight sequences and some strong acting performances, but they were overpowered by flimsy writing and some bad acting performances.