Arrow - Season 7
Final Score: 3.5 / 5
Another year, another season full of melodrama, betrayal, and action have concluded in The CW’s Arrow. Since its beginnings in 2012, the show has gone through many ups and downs. Season 6 saw the show return to more of its roots but was also a bit of a garbled mess as far as the story was concerned. After a season or two of the show dragging its feet a bit, the show attempted to recapture that old flame with season 7 and while this season wasn’t too bad, it certainly didn’t rekindle the magic that we haven’t seen since the early days of the show.
This season picks up after the events of season 6 which saw Ricardo Diaz (Kirk Acevedo) disappear, the death of Quentin Lance, and Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) being sent to prison after striking a deal with the FBI. The early part of the season splits its focus between how Oliver is coping with prison, how Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) is adapting to constantly looking over her shoulder for Diaz, and the introduction of flash forward scenes which show a dystopian view of Star City in the year 2040, taking the place of the series regular flashbacks. As the season progresses, Oliver is released from prison, Diaz is apprehended, and Team Arrow has to learn how to handle the fallout from a shocking revelation as to the identity of the city’s newest vigilante. This season sees the return of John Diggle (David Ramsey), Rene Ramirez (Rick Gonzalez), Dinah Drake (Juliana Harkavy), Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy), Curtis Holt (Echo Kellum), and Roy Harper (Colton Haynes).
One of my biggest issues with this show over the last few seasons has been that the cast of characters had gotten so bloated that no one character ever really got a decent storyline. When there’s seven main characters all fighting for screen time the stories all get diluted and uninteresting. With the departure of Quentin Lance at the end of season 6, and the mid-season departure of Echo Kellum in this season, the cast has started to thin out a bit which significantly helps the show. I felt that this season had much tighter storytelling than previous seasons with only about two present-day storylines being pursued at any moment.
Just because the storytelling got better though doesn’t mean that the writing was improved any. The show is still as melodramatic as ever and had me rolling my eyes at times. The plot twists and curveballs throughout the season were all so well telegraphed that they never came as a surprise. Some of the characters were poorly written as well. The one that comes to mind is Diggle. Diggle always seems to be the least interesting character in any scene he’s in mainly due to his flat dialogue.
As much as I enjoy dystopian storylines, I also had to question the purpose of the flash forward scenes in this season. I realize that the flashbacks that the show has relied upon over the previous six seasons had run their course, but did we really need more filler content? They could have taken this time to develop the existing characters further instead of introducing a secondary cast of characters.
One thing that this show has always done well is their action sequences. There were several moments this season where the action is incredibly well choreographed. The one episode that immediately comes to mind is the prison riot/takeover by Diaz near the midway point of the season. There were moments where I was given serious Daredevil vibes showing just how well performed these scenes were.
Let’s start talking a bit more of the spoiler territory. About a third of the way through the season the new vigilante archer in Star City (because there always has to be some new vigilante/villain archer) is revealed to be Emiko Queen (Sea Shimooka), Oliver’s half-sister that his father had abandoned at a young age. After attempting to connect with her, the team realizes that she is working with a shadowy organization known as the Ninth Circle and is hellbent on destroying the Queen legacy and killing Oliver. My biggest problem with the story this season is that it didn’t really seem to have a central backbone or villain that most other seasons have had. We start the season with Diaz, move onto Dante a third of the way through, and then move onto Emiko for the remainder of the season. At least with Diaz we had previous experience with him and knew what he was about from last season. Dante is a complete unknown and by the time we get to really know him, he’s immediately killed and replaced by Emiko as the main villain.
Towards the end of the season I started to question Emiko’s motivations as well. She wants to dismantle the Queen legacy, okay I get that. Robert Queen abandoned her and she has a grudge against the Queen family because of it. But why did she want to kill Oliver? What did Oliver have to do with Robert abandoning her? Oliver didn’t even know that she existed which, again, was not Oliver’s fault. So how can Emiko place blame on Oliver, especially after the attempts he made to reason and connect with her?
This part was probably just me thinking too much about it, but how exactly did Felicity’s ARCHER program’s DNA tracking system actually work? How could she remotely track somebody in an instant by a single DNA sample? DNA analysis takes hours, if not days, in real life so how was she able to instantaneously identify someone accurately, and remotely, using what seemed like just a computer program?
Before we wrap up let’s discuss the finale. During the flash forwards we see Felicity and her children William and Mia team up with various future people to stop an evil corporation from invading and enslaving (maybe? I kind of lost track…) Star City. One person that’s notably absent though is Oliver. During the finale it’s revealed that The Monitor returned to Felicity and Oliver after the Emiko threat was dealt with and about a month after the birth of their daughter (the aforementioned Mia). He tells Oliver that it’s time to repay his debt that he incurred during the events of Elseworlds. He also informs Oliver and Felicity that he has seen the future and that Oliver dies doing whatever it is he’s being called to do. After a tear-filled goodbye, Oliver disappears with The Monitor. In the future, we see Felicity walk off with The Monitor with the promise of a one way trip to wherever Oliver has been. I honestly felt like the show didn’t need a season 8 after this. With Team Arrow having gone their separate ways and the only remaining loose thread being how Roy ended up on the island (a thread I really don’t care whether it remains open or not), they could easily have ended the show right here and just finished up Oliver and Felicity’s story in the upcoming Crisis on Infinite Earths and it would have been an overall satisfying ending.
Season 7 of Arrow wasn’t its finest hour but it also certainly wasn’t the worst that the show has been. Overall the writing got much tighter than in previous seasons thanks to a shrinking cast, but it also felt somewhat rushed and piecemeal. The action sequences were as well done as ever but the decision to include flash forward sequences became increasingly questionable as the season went on. The show is still entertaining to watch but I question if there’s really a need for a season 8. It feels like they managed to wrap things up nicely as is and that an eighth season would just end up dragging things out much longer than it needs to be.