Arrow closed out its sixth season last night with a cliffhanger that might feel ingenious had The Flash not already put its lead character in the same situation. That supposedly new status quo caps a season of rehashed ideas not just from Arrow‘s past, but the history of its cousins on The CW.
When the year began, it was following the confident fifth season and looked poised to continue the momentum now that the flashback structures was being discarded. Michael Emerson appeared as Cayden James, a hacker introduced in the fifth season who appeared to be the new big bad for the year. Sadly, he was replaced with Kirk Acevedo’s Ricardo Diaz at the mid-season and the show began to flounder. The original stated intent — giving each member of Team Arrow a proper nemesis — gave way to Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) dismantling the team as Diaz took control of Star City.
The villain also sought to discredit Oliver in a manner similar to Prometheus (Josh Segarra) attempt the year before. The disquieting sense of familiarity began to take hold. Diaz’s motivations did not explain away his recycling of Prometheus’s plan. Oliver’s trial mirrored Barry Allen’s (Grant Gustin) murder case from earlier in the year. Even dismantling Team Arrow and the breakdown of trust between Oliver and John Diggle (David Ramsey) were rehashed plot points from Seasons 3 and 4.
Meanwhile, Acevedo did nothing to distinguish himself as a worthwhile primary antagonist.
At the same time, there were still good performances and character interactions. The overall warmth of Diggle and the quips of Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) did a lot to maintain goodwill even as Oliver’s story became tedious. Even among the so-called “New Team Arrow,” the friendships of Dinah Drake (Juliana Harkavy), Rene (Rick Gonzales) and Curtis (Echo Kellum) made it possible to forgive some of the cliched conflicts as they allied against the old Team Arrow. Meanwhile, Katie Cassidy’s return as a season regular proved successful for the most part. Black Siren is an interesting character even if the show had to stall her progress or even regress it sometimes so she could be involved in the plot. If nothing else, Season Six put the character and performer in an interesting place to grow from going into the next year. Will she eventually become Black Canary? It remains to be seen, but it would be a worthwhile story.
On the whole, season six of Arrow felt directionless in a way the program had not since season 4’s turn to magic; and even that had a charismatic villain in the form of Neal McDonough’s Damien Darhk. But the production seems to sense this with the news that co-showrunners Wendy Mericle and Marc Guggenheim are stepping aside for the incoming Beth Schwartz. The sense of fatigue is obvious when you look back at almost any episode of the season. Perhaps Schwartz will offer the show a new energy when it returns in the Fall.
Sadly, Diaz will still be on the show. But maybe those Longbow Hunters he mentioned will deal with him before Ollie gets out of jail. Or, alternative, Ollie will meet the real Richard Dragon and learn how to end Diaz before the show’s new status quo begins in the Fall.
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