This year, Arrow proved itself to be The Comeback Kid of the comic book TV landscape. Despite having given birth to a shared universe that spans several nights of prime time television – appropriately dubbed the “Arrowverse” – many viewers seemed to favor its sister series, The Flash, especially after Arrow churned out a highly divisive fourth season.
But to my amazement and delight, showrunners Marc Guggenheim and Wendy Mericle were able to recapture the magic of yesteryear by focusing less on romantic pairings and (mostly) doing away with the supernatural elements that sent the previous season off the rails. Yes, this series is set in a world where superpowers exist, but it’s centered around non-powered urban vigilantes. Thus, viewers expect a semblance of realism even when suspending their disbelief.
When you really think about it, so much serendipity surrounded season 5, thereby making it the perfect time to bring the series back to its roots. Not only did the 100th episode happen to arrive this year, but it also marked the end of the serialized flashbacks, with the backstory of Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) now being fully fleshed out.
Anyway, when we rejoin Oliver at the top of the season, he’s very much burning the candle at both ends. By day, he’s the newly appointed mayor of Star City and, at night, he’s a Green Arrow who’s being forced to fly solo for the most part due to some of his cohorts hanging up their costumes. As such, a few new recruits join his crusade – most notably Mr. Terrific (Echo Kellum) and Wild Dog (Rick Gonzalez) – thereby broadening the experience throughout 23 episodes.
One major element that should be credited for allowing Arrow to reclaim its spot at the top of the hill is that of the big bad, Prometheus. What made him so great was that not only was he so calculating and ruthless, but that he also had a connection to Oliver’s past, one our hero’s not made aware of until midseason. It’s a dandy reworking of the creating one’s own villain trope, and is a perfect fit in this case. After all, there are bound to be at least a few consequences to come about when you spend your nights putting arrows into criminals.
Furthermore, the overall theme of “legacy” is to be applied here, with Oliver being forced to examine what he’s accomplished and will leave behind. Obviously, Prometheus leaves nothing but a legacy of death, instead honoring his father’s legacy in his own twisted way, the specifics of which you’ll learn once you get to the ninth episode.
And while we’re on the topic of legacies, there couldn’t be a better time to bring up the Black Canary situation. As you may recall, Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) met her end in season 4, but now her Earth-2 doppelganger, Black Siren, has hopped on over from The Flash in order to cause a myriad of headaches for Team Arrow. Most fortunate for them, though, is that a new Black Canary has emerged in the form of Dinah Drake (Juliana Harkavy), who’s managed to make a believer out of me.
Like I said earlier, the 100th episode just so happened to fall during this season – and during the three-show DC TV crossover, no less. But as was the case with the other Blu-ray sets, only this show’s chapter is included in this particular offering, so you’re also going to have to pick up The Flash season 3 and Legends of Tomorrow season 2 if you want the complete experience. Fortunately, Arrow’s part of “Invasion!” is the third that best functions as a standalone, with a companion featurette included on the very same disc.
As for other supplemental content to be included, I very much enjoyed the featurettes titled “The New Team Arrow” and “Returning to the Roots of Arrow: Prometheus,” both of which are pretty self-explanatory. Personally, my favorite may have been the 2016 Comic-Con Panel. Sure, it may not offer any new information to us now, but I’m always elated to see how laid back the cast are, and how much fun they have when not on set. As someone who has met several people to have starred on this series, I can attest to the fact that they’re all very approachable and genuinely kind.
When it comes to visual and audio presentation, this set is just as solid as any of its other recently released DC TV brethren. Granted, it’s not as heavy on the visual effects aspect, but it’s still quite striking nevertheless. A fine example would have to be my favorite scene from a cinematography standpoint, the big showdown near the end of “The Sin-Eater.” In it, Team Arrow must take down a cadre of villains in a snow-covered graveyard, making for a scene rife with breathtaking photography and dynamite fight choreography.
For my money, Arrow: The Complete Fifth Season is without a doubt the best superhero show you’ll purchase this fall. Really, the action is solid, the drama is intense and the performances are all top drawer. The bar has been reset, but knowing how good Stephen Amell is at climbing that salmon ladder, I firmly believe the next rung is easily in reach for this series.
With its spectacular fifth season, Arrow has reclaimed its spot at the top of the superhero TV mountain.
Arrow: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-Ray Review