After the completely abysmal fourth season, there was very little hope for Arrow going into its fifth. Yet surprisingly, this most recent season stands as the best season of Arrow to date.
From the very beginning, it was clear that the mistakes from season four had been fixed. This season sees a new cast of characters joining Team Arrow, an overarching villain and a plot which poses an actual threat and most importantly, Oliver as the Green Arrow is actually a competent individual, worthy of believably leading a team.
As with every other season, Arrow season five follows two plot lines, one set in the present and another five years ago, usually connected with a theme. With season five, the present day follows Oliver working as Mayor of Star City by day, and the Green Arrow by night (It’s a shame more Politicians don’t dress in leather and fight crime, perhaps Corbyn already is). The flashbacks follow Oliver in Russia working with the Russian Mob, while also finally becoming the Arrow, under the training of Talia al Ghul. This creates a good contrast between the two timelines, a seasoned Green Arrow fighting to protect the city, and Oliver just before the start of season one, where he is still very much a violent killer, killing those who have “failed his city”. Mostly corrupt businessmen on his Father’s list.
This contrast is very important, as Oliver deals with the sins of his past throughout the season. This is mainly through the villain of the season, Prometheus. Prometheus is more or less another dark archer, who is revealed to be (we warned you there’d be spoilers) the son of a businessman Oliver killed in season one, and is back to not kill Oliver, but to break him. To get him to understand that everyone around him gets hurt because of him, and to make Oliver realise who he really is, a killer.
Prometheus is easily one of the show’s best villains, second to Manu Bennett’s Deathstroke. In his own words, “he’s ten steps ahead of Oliver”, and commands a large onscreen presence whenever he’s shown. This is an amazing breath of fresh air, as Damian Darhkalarkalark and his powers made no sense, and his plans were vague, uninspiring and completely uninteresting. “Nuke the world just because” is about as cliché a villain can get.
The side cast also gets a chance to shine this season. John Diggle is as great as ever, Felicity has been drastically toned down from a Godlike-yet-vastly hypocritical figure she was in season four, and Curtis actually has something to do. New to the cast are Artemis (who joins Prometheus early on and doesn’t really do much), Ramierz/Wild Dog who early on butt heads with Oliver, but grows into an outstanding guy who fights to regain custody of his daughter, and Dinah Drake, a metahuman with a canary cry who eventually takes on the Black Canary mantle, after her death in season four.
Initially, the introduction of a new Black Canary seemed insulting to Katie Cassidy, who was horribly killed off in one of the many bad decisions of the show’s previous season, but Katie Cassidy isn’t wasted. Instead, she’s brought in to serve as Black Siren. Introduced in The Flash, Black Siren is a metahuman with the same powers as the Black Canary, only working for Prometheus in this season. Katie Cassidy also plays a much better villain as Black Siren than she did as the Black Canary.
Every character has their own compelling sub-plot as the season goes along, and it all comes together in a finale which is easily the best episode Arrow has seen. The finale sees the return of Nyssa, Malcolm Merlyn and even Deathstroke, as Oliver and his team clash with Promethus, Talia Al Ghul and Captain Boomerang in a amazing episode which ends with the destruction of Lian Yu, ending Oliver’s connection with the island after a long decade in dealing with the island, haunting him years after his return to civilisation.
Arrow season five feels like a season long in the making, planned since the show’s inception back in 2012. Everything fans of the show enjoyed in season one and two is brought back, everything bad about season three and terrible about season four has been removed. If anyone quit watching Arrow because of season three and four, then I heavily recommend returning to season five, it’s more than worth it to see the show back on track after losing itself for so long.