Team GATV Roundtable: Looking Back At Arrow Season 5 Team GATV Roundtable: Looking Back At Arrow Season 5
The GreenArrowTV team looks back at Arrow Season 5 in a roundtable discussion. Team GATV Roundtable: Looking Back At Arrow Season 5

Now that Arrow Season 5 has completed, what did you think?

CRAIG: I feel Arrow got its groove back in the fifth season. There were a lot of callbacks to the show I fell in love with in the beginning, but I also felt like there was a very solid plan for Season 5’s storylines marching on to the finale. There were some things I may have wanted more of — Thea, where were you? — but ultimately, the characters were moved around in good places, Adrian Chase was legitimately scary, and I got to see some faces that were long missed.

MATT: Best overall season since Season 2. It’s was stronger, more focused, better grounded, and engaged the audience in a way that they seemed to forget over the last two seasons. The flashbacks were still problematic, as much as I enjoyed both David Nykl and Dolph Lundgren in them, but did help to bridge the gap to the Oliver we saw in Season 1. I liked how there was even more of a team focus this year while the villain story was specifically tied to Oliver.

MELISSA: I think it had a very strong string of episodes in the back half of the season and I think the strength on which a season ends often becomes how the entire season is judged, so it’s tempting to forgive and forget the strong emotional disconnect between the characters and between the audience for much of the early to middle episodes. Tempting, but those emotional connections are what drives my love for the show and during the low points of the season, my affection for the show had never been lower. At the most trying moments of season three and four, I had at least been angry or upset, passionate. Season five, though I never stopped watching or fell behind, took me to the point of indifference and that’s very dangerous territory.

So in the end, I look back at season five as a very divided season. A lot of it I could have fast forwarded through and it wouldn’t have made a bit of difference, but it also did deep character driven episodes like “Kapuishon”, “Dangerous Liaisons” and “Underneath.” Had the negative come after the positive, I probably would have considered it the worst season on record, but for me, how each season ends matters more than how they begin, and season five ended very well and set me up looking forward to season six as much as ever before.

STEPHANIE: The first half of the season was just okay, but by the second half, I was fully engaged. On the plus side, Adrian Chase turned out to be a great villain and the other new characters really grew on me over time. On the other hand, it kind of felt as if some of the main characters were in a lull. Thea excelled as Chief of Staff, then disappeared for a chunk of episodes, and Quentin’s storyline still revolved around drinking. While I wasn’t really a fan of “dark Felicity” because she’s too smart to compromise and team up with a sketchy hactivist group and fully capable of figuring things out on her own, even if she didn’t have all of the resources they did, I liked how Oliver’s fear of rubbing off on the team was made concrete, whether or not he was actually to blame.

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Craig Byrne

Craig Byrne has been writing about TV on the internet since 1995. He is also the author of several published books, including Smallville: The Visual Guide and the show's Official Companions for Seasons 4-7.

  • Arrowfan

    August 29, 2017 #1 Author

    Agree with Melissa in all her input. I read the whole article and I must say, she is reflecting my take on this season. The first half of season 5 drove me to the point of dropping the show. Already the contrive drama of 4b almost drove me to the edge. However, at that point I watch the first few episode of season 5 hoping that they made sense of an aweful storyline. Little did I know that the show was going to drive me T the point of not wanting to watch it anymore. Characters were so out of sync with what he have learned to love about them. Diggle and Thea, where they even here? Felicity and Oliver? Did they even care about each other at all? Their relationship was not worth a simple conversation or trying to give it a chance to rebuild? After so many seasons building them up? It was just too cynical to watch and pretend it made sense. Felt like 5b was worth continuing what hung the show because I saw a trace of what made me liked it in the first place. Hope they learned the lesson and give us more of that on season 6.


  • Melissa

    August 29, 2017 #2 Author

    Hey, thanks Craig for letting me in on the fun! 😀


    • Craig Byrne

      August 29, 2017 #3 Author

      Thank YOU for joining us 🙂 I loved having you as a part of this!


      • Gale Peacock

        August 29, 2017 #4 Author

        Thank you for including her. Her views were quite refreshing and on point, in my opinion.


    • Gale Peacock

      August 29, 2017 #5 Author

      You raised some really good points. I felt like I was being gaslighted by some reviewers on comic book sites who kept insisting the show was back so it was good to see that somebody else thought the early part of the season was lacking.


  • Lizzie

    August 29, 2017 #6 Author

    Cool. I thought S5, like the rest of the seasons, was a mixed bag. Started strong then went off the rails and was a complete mess, then ended strong from about 5×17. I disliked many of the decisions they made and thought they focused on the newbies in the first half too much. I didn’t really like Dinah’s intro as it felt kind of cheap and like women were interchangeable as long as they had a comic book name. I’m still yet to be impressed there though I have hope. I also thought acting like Olicity never happened for 18 episodes was really bad writing and very confusing. Good things were Prometheus – Segarra was flawless and impressive – and a huge improvement on the stunts and fighting in general. I have some hope for S6 but again, I think it might just be the same. Every season has good and bad episodes, good and bad story/character choices. I’ve come to realise that’s just Arrow.


  • Gale Peacock

    August 29, 2017 #7 Author

    Interesting viewpoints. I found most of Season 5 a mess and I didn’t understand what Oliver was doing. They wrote him as too stupid. There were also all these new characters with whom I had no connection and I felt like they were being shoved down my throat while the characters and dynamics I enjoyed for seasons were totally ignored — Oliver and Felicity, Felicity and Diggle, Diggle and Oliver, Lance, Thea. I agree with Lizzie about the show finding its groove around episode 17, although that “secret” was so stupid. It wasn’t supported by the five seasons of Arrow, but whatever. The best episodes this season were the two-parter Dangerous Liaisons and Underneath, and not just because Olicity returned with a bang. Those episodes showed tension, action, romance, humor, suspense — all the things I enjoy about Arrow. And those episodes showed that the new masks can maybe work, but only if they are placed firmly in the background. I hope Arrow learned its lesson because only having 5-6 watchable episodes in a 23-episode is not good.


  • Billie

    August 30, 2017 #8 Author

    This was a really interesting, in depth roundtable, thanks for taking the time to do it.

    It’s so interesting, when you look back on a season as a whole, to see how it all fits together. I agree with Melissa that seasons are often judged by how they end, and I think this is what happened in season 5.

    It always confuses me when I see people say that season 5 was ‘a return to form’, because for me, whereas some things did improve (no magic, better fights, villain who was intrinsically linked to Oliver), it also lost a lot of what had made it my favorite in the first place.

    The things it lost, or cast aside for a significant period, were the character relationships – the heart of the show. They introduced too many new characters too quickly, and expected me to care about them the same as I might characters I’ve seen for 5 years. For much of the first half, Felicity and Oliver were barely allowed to meaningfully interact, with Curtis or Rory or one of the many other unnecessary bodies in the bunker, interrupting as soon as they started to have an actual meaningful conversation. Diggle was off in prison for a significant stretch, when he wasn’t a fugitive babysitting Rene. Thea started off super strong, doing a fantastic job as Chief of Staff, having beautiful scenes with Lance that paid tribute to their years of knowing each other and how much they care for each other. Then, she started to get really interesting, when she let her Moira-ness out of the bag a bit to get things done. It was inexplicable that Oliver – OLIVER – would think that Thea taking action to protect him from Susan exposing him is somehow morally crossing a line. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so bizarre. And then Thea disappears for basically the rest of the season and Lance is shipped off to rehab for ages.

    Susan Williams was a confusing misstep all season – she starts off manipulating and playing Thea, then is shown to be investigating Oliver’s past, then starts coming on to him. Oliver’s response was odd too – at first, he’s not interested, until he hears that Felicity is seeing Billy. Then he goes to meet her as a ‘friend’, has one conversation that he could have easily had with one of his teammates, if they were still letting them actually converse. That’s 507, 508 is the (terrible) crossover, so that doesn’t count, and then BAM! 509 he’s turning up at her house in the middle of the night for a deep and meaningful conversation and make out session, after he’s just killed an innocent man, Felicity’s boyfriend no less. Not a good look for you Oliver. Not a good look at all.

    Prometheus only really got interesting after they revealed that he was Chase, which at 15 episodes in was a bit late. They should have played with the dramatic irony of the audience knowing who he was while Oliver was in the dark for longer than one episode, it was fun. The real emotional crux of the season only really started when Chase captured, tortured and broke Oliver down. That allowed for real character work to happen that had been sorely missing until that point. The two parter of Dangerous Liaisons and Underneath was the real turning point, both fantastic episodes that had everything – drama, excitement, great stunts, character driven interactions and developments, and a commitment to honoring the history of these characters and this show. So yes, the last 7 episodes were fantastic. But if you only start watching the season at episode 15, and you haven’t missed much, that’s not the sign of a great season.


  • Kate

    August 30, 2017 #9 Author

    Like season 4, this was a season split into two parts. Season 4 I loved the beginning of it but disliked the end when it seemed they were just treading water trying to defeat Darhk. For season 5, I was ready to quit after episode 9. I didn’t care about the new characters except for Rory and there was far too much time spent on them and not enough on the characters I watch for especially Thea ad Quentin. Episode 10 was great though and fortunately they pulled it together for the last half with a few exceptions (e.g. the gun episode where they chickened out of having a real debate because they were too afraid of offending people)..
    I thought Chase was one of the best villains they’ve had. I’d even put him ahead of Slade because he was more interesting and the fight was psychologically based.

    Why is it okay to have two metahumans with a sonic screams on the show, but not magic rags? That said, Dinah was my second favorite addition to the team, Rory being the first.

    Why wasn’t the one character who had been paralyzed (and traumatized) by bullets allowed to have an opinion on the gun question?
    .The best thing about the season was how it ended and how well it has set up season 6.
    The worst was the vast amounts of filler, from too much of the new characters in the first half to the pointlessness of Susan Williams. Billy at least had a point, to give Oliver someone to kill who had weight but who the audience was not too attached to. Susan just made Oliver look like a fool — spending five seasons saying how much you love your sister and then getting into a relationship with a woman who not only was trying to dig up the dirt on you to bring you down but had stabbed her in the back and then blaming the problems in the relationship on your sister does not a sympathetic hero make.
    Speaking of Susan Williams, Matt wrote “. I might be one of the few who enjoyed Susan Williams and her relationship with Oliver last year, so it can be done.:” Doesn’t the fact that very few members of the audience enjoyed Susan and Oliver prove that they couldn’t do it?
    Stephanie wrote ” This season, we saw Oliver and Felicity with Susan Williams and Billy Malone, respectively, and neither of those relationships ended because they were in love with someone else,” Felicity couldn’t even call Billy her boyfriend in the episode in which he died. Oliver only got involved with Susan when he found that Felicity had a boyfriend and Susan had to guilt the playboy into sleeping with her. I’d say neither relationship got even started because they were both in love with someone else.


    • Kate

      August 30, 2017 #10 Author

      Just to clarify: Billy and Susan were never written as real relationship for Felicity and Oliver so it’s hard to tell whether there could be a believable relationship for either… We never saw them meet of knew why Felicity was dating Billy; Oliver only started to pay attention to Susan when he knew Felicity had moved on and he couldn’t drop her fast enough when the lead-up to the finale started. Billy and Susan existed only to be killed and kidnapped respectively and as filler to justify why Oliver and Felicity stopped talking to each other.


      • Lizzie

        August 31, 2017 #11 Author

        It came across to me like they gave them new “love” interests because they knew it would be unrealistic and unbelievable for Olicity to be apart otherwise. They still had so much chemistry (especially in the first two episodes of S5) and were still in love so I guess without the new love interests, I would’ve been wondering why they hadn’t just got back together. (As a side note I still feel like the network told them to break them up for a while when they learned the show would be going for more than 5 seasons. Had the show just wrapped up at the end of S5, I feel sure the break up wouldn’t have happened & Olicity would have ended the show married.)


  • Mike

    September 1, 2017 #12 Author

    In my opinion The Flash & Supergirl were better in their 3rd and second seasons than this season of Arrow. I did like the approach they took with Prometheus that he was different compared to other villains and that the fight choreography was better than what it has been. I didn’t like with where they took some of the relationships with some of the characters. I’m still going to give season 6 a shot with where the finale ended and see what has become of some of the characters and and the type of impact it made on them. One thing that was definitely better to a degree was the the finale didn’t involve having some type of siege over the city and took it to a different route. One thing I wouldn’t really call a shocker this season was of Laurel being alive since it was her doppelgänger; it was interesting of how Chase was able to get under Olivers skin in a different way that we have not quite seen. This season for me had some very small parts to it but overall could have been much better in my opinion. Hopefully the next season can not only make up for it, but can have better shockers and some better storyline.


  • Bert

    September 1, 2017 #13 Author

    (As a side note I still feel like the network told them to break them up for a while when they learned the show would be going for more than 5 seasons.)

    I think this was confirmed by Marc at some point, I think he said that they were planning on resolving Oliver and Felicity’s issues by the end of season 4 and then found out they were renewed, so basically had to drag the reconciliation out for another year.


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