Although Arrow remains one of The CW’s highest-rated shows, a few significant changes would strengthen the show’s plots and characterizations. The DC Comics series has changed significantly since its debut in 2012. Arrow has strayed so far from its original premise — Oliver Queen’s origin story as the Green Arrow — that much of the show just isn’t working anymore.
Arrow, now entering its fifth season on the CW this fall, could recapture its superhero magic with just a few changes.
Drop the Flashbacks
In Arrow’s first season, flashback scenes to Oliver’s time on the island served two purposes. First, those scenes let viewers in on what had happened to Oliver Queen after he was shipwrecked on a mysterious island. Second, the flashbacks underscored current storylines, filling in blanks for viewers, while leaving Oliver’s friends and family in the dark.
However, the flashbacks have outlived their usefulness. The flashbacks in Season 4 showed Oliver and island slave Taiana teaming up to defeat Baron Reiter. The flashbacks may have explained the origin of Damien Darhk’s mystical idol, but was that even necessary? One scene with Damien drawing on the idol’s powers would have been enough to show the audience everything they needed to know. The entire flashback throughline could be lifted from Season 4 with no damage to the season as a whole.
Furthermore, the time that’s wasted on flashbacks could be spent fleshing out secondary characters. Curtis Holt, Felicity’s genius employee, is a fantastic addition to the regular cast. He’s what Felicity used to be to Arrow, a comedy break with heart. Spending more time on Curtis, and how he invents his devices, would go a long way toward cementing him as one of Team Arrow. Wasted flashback time could have been spent on the friendship between Nyssa and Thea, or exploring Darhk’s intentions, which seemed to come from nowhere.
While the flashbacks served an important purpose at the outset of Arrow, they’re no longer necessary to keep the show moving. In fact, they just interrupt the main storyline.
Make the Green Arrow Unique Again
In the first two seasons of Arrow, Oliver was the superhero with a secret. Nothing creates conflict like the main character keeping a secret from everyone around him. Soon enough, however, nearly every character on the show was in on his secret.
Once Diggle, Felicity, Laurel, Roy and Thea knew Oliver Queen was the Arrow, everyone became a superhero. Certainly, Oliver was still a better fighter than the others, but within a season, the characters became nearly indistinguishable. The Green Arrow, as he’s now known, is no longer a unique character at the center of the show. Now that every character can fight, and every character spouts nearly the same lines, Arrow has become almost boring. The characters are interchangeable in almost every scene.
Making each character unique again, while maintaining their training and history, would be a challenge. But gradually, over several episodes, Oliver could regain his importance while giving secondary characters other jobs to do. The time that’s wasted on flashbacks could be spent building lives outside of the lair for the team members, leaving Oliver to be the incredible Green Arrow fans are craving.
Along those lines, characters need to stop having the same old argument about who should be risking their lives. That argument, which has happened between every possible combination of characters on Arrow, is tired and unconvincing. At this point, Oliver should let people risk their lives, or Arrow should find something else for those people to do.
Felicity and Oliver Should Move On
Saying that “Olicity” — the relationship between Oliver and Felicity — was a terrible idea isn’t popular on the Internet. Legions of ‘shippers adore seeing Oliver and Felicity as a couple. But time and again, TV shows have proven that getting two characters together is a terrible decision. In this case, getting Oliver and Felicity together was an even worse decision than usual.
First, holding two characters apart who are attracted to each other creates instant tension, instant conflict, and enduring viewer interest. It’s the classic “will they or won’t they” scenario. As soon as the couple comes together, that conflict and interest is over. Zero conflict equals a boring story. So having Felicity and Oliver in a happy relationship was boring.
Second, not only is Olicity boring, but also Oliver and Felicity aren’t suited to each other at all. Seeing them together was more like seeing a big brother and little sister together; it never worked well. Felicity’s cock-eyed optimism and high I.Q. made her a beloved character. Plus, a small dose of Felicity goes a long way. Seeing almost too little of her in an episode made the audience crave more of her. Once she became Oliver’s girlfriend, not only was she too much on screen, but also her optimism got sucked into the black hole that is Oliver’s brooding personality. Both of them devolved into weep soapy opera characters.
Matching Oliver with Laurel would have been a much better idea. They come across as equals. And Stephen Amell, as Oliver, and Katie Cassidy, as Laurel, had truckloads more chemistry than Amell and Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity. Oliver needs a mate who understands his darkness, and goes there with him. Having Felicity shine her bright light on him just made both of them gray.
Arrow used to be an action-packed superhero show. The fourth season was a mess of sappy characters and boring flashbacks. A few important changes could make Arrow, and Oliver Queen, super again.
Thanks for reading! Click here to get my free Guide to the DC Extended Universe.