We've said it before and we'll say it again: we’re living in the golden age of superhero television, and much of the genre's success can be traced back to the early victories of The CW’s Arrow. It started as a simple, grounded vigilante series and has since evolved into a genuinely enthralling, faithful adaptation of the Green Arrow comics. Casual audiences and die-hard comic book fans alike have become enamored with the story of Stephen Amell’s Oliver Queen over the last four years, and we can likely assume that we will get at least one more season out of the landmark Emerald Archer's series.
That being said, Arrow experienced a fairly notable dip in quality during its third season, and has spent much of Season 4 trying to atone for those errors. While just about everyone would agree that Season 4 of Arrow marks a major improvement for the series, there’s still quite a few things that the show needs to fix before it can reclaim the glory of its early seasons. Is it still a good show? Yes. Can it be great? Most certainly. We’ve compiled a list of the seven things Arrow must do in order to improve itself; without further ado let’s get the ball rolling with No. 7…
7.Cut Down On The Members of Team ArrowThe CW’s Arrow started as a show about Oliver Queen’s journey to become a fully-fledged hero; it has since grown into more of an ensemble series around a tight-knit team of crime fighters – rather than a singular loner. While we’ve generally appreciated that creative decision, Team Arrow has become decidedly overcrowded as Oliver brings more and more people into the fold. Unlike Team Flash, which has carved out neatly defined roles for every member of the ensemble, pretty much everyone on Team Arrow (minus Felicity) specializes in stealth and brute force. Even with one person guaranteed to go down by the end of the season, the membership of Team Arrow has become somewhat untenable. For future threats on the show to seem credible, Arrow will absolutely need to muster up the courage to take down some more of Oliver’s friends and family.
6. Figure Out How To Use Malcolm MerlynThere was a time when John Barrowman's Malcolm Merlyn genuinely terrified the Arrow audience. During his tenure as the Season 1 big bad and his brief appearances during Season 2, he carried with him a smug sense of menace, experience, and unmatched skill. However, his appearances on Arrow have become way too formulaic over the last two seasons; he appears from the shadows, effortlessly defends himself from some sort of attack, and then delivers heavy-handed exposition. All evidence seems to indicate that the rest of Season 4 will provide him with a more villainous role and a clearer sense of purpose, but Arrow needs to ensure that whatever it does with Malcolm, it must be definitive and substantive.
5. Bring Back The Training SequencesNot just because we want to see Stephen Amell take his shirt off again. The training sequences used to play a major part in the Arrow narrative by offering a look into the lives of these heroes when not out on the streets fighting crime. These sequences not only showcase the dedication of these characters to their line of work, but they lend a sense of believability to their impressive athletic abilities. Oliver Queen now lives in a world populated by metahumans and nearly omnipotent magical beings; we as an audience need to see him preparing for increased threats. Show us how Team Arrow trains together as a unit, or better yet, show Oliver sparring with someone like Grant Gustin's Barry Allen because they can help each other get faster and more skilled, respectively.
4. Improve The Pacing Of The FlashbacksFlashbacks to Oliver Queen’s missing years once served as a fundamental way of informing the action taking place in a given season. The Season 1 flashbacks showed Oliver’s journey from spoiled rich kid to survivor, while the Season 2 flashbacks echoed his feud with Slade Wilson in the present. Season 3 sort of meandered through Oliver’s time in Hong Kong and shoehorned some plot relevance to the central narrative at the end, and that’s exactly what Season 4 seems to have done as well. Oliver has barely a year left to become an even better killer, join the Bratva, and (most importantly) grow out his hair and beard while on Lian Yu. His past is just as important as his present, and it's time for it to once more get the attention it deserves.
3. Make The Fight Scenes BetterThe overall quality of Arrow’s fight scenes has seen a sharp decline over the last couple of years. While actors like Stephen Amell and David Ramsey still give it their all every single time, Katie Cassidy just looks pitiful swinging her nightstick as Black Canary. Think back to Season 1 when Oliver took on a hallway of armed thugs during The Undertaking, or during Season 2 when he brutally fought to save Thea from Slade Wilson’s men. Even in a post-Daredevil world those sequences still hold up incredibly well. Does this mean that all of the fight scenes on Arrow suck now? Of course not. Earlier this season we saw one of the best action sequences the series has produced to date during the episode titled “Brotherhood,” however, sequences of that caliber have become increasingly difficult to come by.
2. Strike A Consistent ToneOliver continually insists that he’s trying a new method of crime fighting as Star City’s new vigilante, but the show has yet to truly flesh out the fundamental difference between his time as The Arrow and his time as the Green Arrow. In many ways the show continues to struggle with its identity; the writers want to capitalize on the success of their more cheerful sister program The Flash, but in doing so fail to remember the spirit of Arrow. While Season 3 definitely leaned a little too close to an overbearing, depressing tone, Season 4 has overcompensated and become too afraid to get dark. Season 2 of Arrow kept things serious while still finding time for appropriate levels of humor; that’s where we need to get back to.
1. Ditch OlicityThat’s right; I said it. I am ready to draw the ire of the entire Internet with this one; Arrow needs to get rid of the Olicity relationship. It's simply not working. During the early years of the show it seemed as though the writers were building towards an organic Arrow/Canary romance – first with Laurel Lance, and then with the even more popular Sara Lance. However, during the series’ third season the writers seemingly brought all of that development to a halt in order to bring Oliver and Felicity together – a response to the vocal Olicity “shippers” on the Internet. While Oliver and Felicity’s flirtations admittedly came across as cute in the beginning, their actual relationship by and large has felt more like fan service than a genuine romance that developed over time. As of Arrow’s March hiatus, Oliver and Felicity have officially decided to take some time off from one another; we will have to wait and see if that decision sticks in the long run.
Which Of These Do You Think Arrow Needs To Improve Most?