Whenever I take on the task of reviewing Arrow either at the start of a new season or months after it whenever the requisite home video release drops, I often wonder if I’ll run out of things to say. After all, this show’s about to head into its eighth and final season, and I’m about to reflect on the seventh. Fortunately, the producers aren’t keen to rest on their laurels (or any other Lances, for that matter), and are willing to take a few risks even late in the game.
When it comes to those risks, though, I think it may be subjective as to which viewers enjoyed them most. If for any reason the past year of broadcasting proved divisive, I can certainly understand why, because the Arrow we received was very different from that of years prior.
For those not up to speed, it’s important to remember that season 6 ended with Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) publicly revealing he’s the Green Arrow and going to prison. Due to that, the show changes forever because it’s not like you can just put that cat back into the bag. That may have been the biggest calculated risk in recent memory, but did it ever breathe new life into the continuing saga.
Long story short, we start off with Ollie in Maximum Security lockup, where he must now get used to his new neighbors who just so happen to be former nemeses like Danny Brickwell (Vinnie Jones), Derek Sampson (Cody Runnels) and Ben Turner (Michael Jai White). Turner’s presence in particular confused me because the Bronze Tiger did die in the Arrow Season 2.5 comic books, but I guess that’s now wiped from canon.
So, while the Emerald Archer we know and love must live out his own version of Prison Break for seven episodes, the rest of the gang is seemingly existing over on NCIS: Los Angeles on the outside. Yeah, it’s like watching two distinctly different TV shows concurrently, which sometimes took me out of the experience. On the one hand, we did get to see guys like John Diggle (David Ramsey) and Curtis Holt (Echo Kellum) still fighting the good fight, but then they weren’t exactly Spartan and Mister Terrific for that period of time. When people tune in to watch Arrow, they want to see a superhero show, not a police procedural or something comparable.
What did add some sizzle to the steak on the outside, however, was the arrival of a new Green Arrow in Star City. Though their identity has been known to the world since last fall, I’m not going to spoil it here for those who aren’t caught up. Just know there’s more to this person than meets the eye, and you’re going to see a lot more of them after the unmasking occurs.
Getting back to the idea of Oliver being in prison for so long, I remain conflicted regarding that. Part of me applauds the producers for not going the safe route because they could’ve easily adhered to formula by springing the protagonist in the season premiere. Instead, they stuck to their guns by showing actions have consequences. But again, we’re forced to loop back to saying this is a superhero show at its core, and it’s important to know your audience. Maybe that’s why someone else was running around in a Green Arrow costume for a time, so that The CW not re-title the show something like “Slabside Prison Blues.”
Once Oliver is freed, we kind of go back to business as usual – but with a twist. You see, Mr. Queen does resume suiting up in green leather, only he’s now been deputized by Star City PD. That’s right, he’s working within the law and so, too, are the rest of Team Arrow. In doing so, the series returns to form, yet there’s a new dynamic at play. It took some getting used to, but it was an easy pill to swallow.
But when it comes to something I didn’t dig all that much, I’d have to give mention to the flash forwards. Much like how the first five seasons would cut to Oliver’s origin story, we’re transported to Star City circa 2040 this time around. While there, we meet the grown children of Oliver and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) – Mia (Katherine McNamara) and William (Ben Lewis) – as they go about their adventures.
At first, I didn’t mind these segments, but I lost interest around halfway through the season. I can’t quite put my finger on it. It’s just that these legacy characters didn’t resonate with me, nor do I like the premise that every corner of the Arrowverse falls into complete social disarray in ten or twenty years. If so, then what good did any of the heroes existing in the present really do?
On the plus side, all three parts of the “Elseworlds” crossover are included on the Blu-ray edition. If you were to buy this on DVD, then you’ll get only Arrow‘s segment. To me, at least, an event that introduces Batwoman (Ruby Rose) to the Arrowverse just isn’t the same without The Flash and Supergirl‘s parts as well. Plus, Tyler Hoechlin returns as Superman and Elizabeth Tulloch debuts as Lois Lane, and you can’t go wrong with them. And if that weren’t enough, this Oliver Queen-Barry Allen body-swap sets up “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” so be sure not to miss a single moment.
On that note, it’s worth mentioning how there’s quite the expansive featurette focusing on the mashup, that being “Inside The Crossover: Elseworlds,” which sees DC’s Hector Navarro sitting down with various Arrowverse producers to discuss the story. It was especially cool to see these little interludes peppered throughout featuring comic book creators reminiscing on the “Elseworlds” concept and the history of alternate universe storytelling originating from DC Comics.
While I did very much enjoy that and the other bonus features, nothing is exclusive to this set aside from deleted scenes and a gag reel. That’s right, “Inside The Crossover: Elseworlds,” “Villains: Modes of Persuasion,” and “Best of DC TV’s Comic-Con Panels San Diego 2018” can all be found on other home video sets dropping this summer. If Arrow is all you’re picking up, then it won’t matter. But if you buy them all, you may find yourself frustrated.
Still, the pros supporting Arrow: The Complete Seventh Season far outweigh the cons. More often than not, this show continues being one of the best in the small screen superhero genre, and I’m sad to learn it’s soon coming to an end. That said, it’s recommended you add this set to your collection.
Hey, the seventh season may not exactly be Arrow's finest hour, but it's guaranteed to keep you glued to your seat for 20+ hours. Even after all these years, I still can't get enough.
Arrow: The Complete Seventh Season