After somehow persuading myself to binge watch the last two seasons of Arrow; I am fully ready to rank each season of Arrow. Arrow came at a great time and now takes up so much of the CW’s TV schedule it is incredible how much one show has done. It’s darker, grounded tone made it a highlight for me, but as is a custom, a show can only retain its high standard for so long, with Arrow season 4 doing so much damage – I had stopped watching halfway through Season 4, waited a year and finally finished it and then got through the first couple episodes of season 5 and quit because I saw no redemption. But, boy was I wrong and Season 5 was Arrow’s redemption and a solid return to form with season 6 following it up solidly.
6] SEASON 4
Ah; where to start? Believe me I could talk for hours about how Season 4 just didn’t work, how it was different and wrong. But the reason Season 4 felt so bad was because it felt so out there, it wasn’t anything like the original two seasons, it didn’t have a fantastic relatable villain (although I do come to like Damien Darhk in Legends of Tomorrow), it didn’t really leave us with any lasting stakes, it sort of realises this towards the climax of the season and decides to kill off Laurel; a move that was clearly made just to fuel and “blessen” the Olicity romance (but – I have vowed to never complain about that). And, although other lists will complain about Laurel’s death; I didn’t mind it – I think it could have had a better build up but at least the show did something and it had a last full impact.
The honest problem about Season 4 is two things, and both of them begun as soon as the season started. Honestly, speaking season 4 is the only bad season of Arrow; it is the only season that is not in any way salvageable. The first reason it felt so bad is because it promised to only take all the good things you liked about Season 3 and put it in season 4 thus making it better, and more relatable by “going back to its roots”. Season 3 was a misstep but surely it is only because of the masterpieces and the standard that preceded it, plus we thought Season 3 was the worst it could get, the lowest of the low. So, by setting such high expectations for a season it was always setting its self up for failure, it was a bit premature to say it would go back to its roots after one mixed season, And then when the show starts it gives us this flash forward that is somewhat interesting, and gives you a reason to continue watching, but after episode three, it becomes clear it is just a ploy to make you watch the season until the mid-season or season finale and just feels really cheap and gimmicky, and them by the time the big reveal comes around I do not even care one bit and it feels weak.
And then for goodness sake, Felicity gets shot and three episodes later she is walking. The flashbacks just felt out-of-place and are completely forgettable, the choice of magic is a decision that someone must have got fired for, it was just stupid, because ultimately you know somehow Oliver is going to beat him and win, but Damien Darkh is just too strong. There were many, many other problems as well, all of Olicity (which as I have said I will personally forgive), the complete lack of care in the fight scenes, everything you know about John being flipped with him killing his brother. And how Arrow sort of shoehorns backdoor pilots for Legends of Tomorrow in its season, meaning less time for the main cast and the season does do the least in develop future plot lines. Ultimately, there isn’t much salvageable in this season, and that is clear when you move the villain to another show and he works.
5] SEASON 3
Season 3 isn’t a bad season, it definitely has its highs, but the highs are not sustained for long enough, and it gives us a lot, I mean – a lot of lows It never really seems to show me what I want to see, always missing the main reason I am here to watch. For example, I wanted to see a better Ra’s Al Ghul – instead, we get a lot more Olicity – which I can tolerate but the injustice done to the story line was what was most annoying. Comparing Season 3 to what it could have been and what it was is why Season 3 has to be the biggest let down in the entire show. First off, it has this amazing first two season to live up to, and then it has an iconic comic story line it is going to tackle, the season that preceded it successfully brought in the Flash and set up the League of Assassins. So; I had high expectations for this season and Season 3 sort of loses what its mojo, of course, there are visible examples, like the lack of care in fight scenes and the change in action, but the main problem for me was the expectations. I didn’t mind that it kind of jumped the gun by stabbing Oliver, but instead of explaining to us how the hell he healed, it was just shown that he was and tied into the most forgettable flashback arc. I mean, a hugely, HUGELY forgettable flashback sequence, to the point were I still don’t remember it. If there was a more substantial plot of Oliver being Ra’s Al Ghul I would’ve liked it more, but it seemed that the whole season everyone wanted to see him become the top guy and then it is only a two or three episode arc. For example, Roy giving himself up as the Arrow was great but it never felt like such a big shock and is kind of forgotten within the season.
And then… Laurel becomes Black Canary after three weeks of fighting, apparently anyone can do it then – and in a way Arrow loses it what it is about as I said, it doesn’t feel as grounded anymore, plus Oliver survives a stabbing some how, there is less care in the action sequences, and it doesn’t really become about the city anymore. I don’t mind that and it did set up a great story-line between Oliver and Malcolm, it has Oliver get stabbed with an amazing final battle with Ra’s Al Ghul in the mid-season finale, but it felt like it didn’t focus on what we wanted to see and instead focused on others things (*cough like Laurel’s stupid boxing arc cough*). Ra’s is a bad villain just because he isn’t given enough time, but I thoroughly enjoyed everything they set up. And, oh – yeah, Ray Palmer has a forced arc for some reason, no doubt just to add to the Olicity drama – (once again – I will not be hating on it, because it needs to be done for the audience so I get it). Although I didn’t mind it, when Oliver gets stabbed and thrown down a cliff it is a bit of a turning point, where do you go from that?
Whilst it definitely contributed to the fall of season 4 as they said it would be a return to form, you have to say that the high Season 2 tainted this season by setting high expectations on things the season had to deliver in terms of storytelling and quality that it would’ve been hard to maintain that high standard
4] SEASON 6
All Season 6 had to do was drive straight, put their foot on the accelerator (gas – for my american audience 😉) and go straight. After Season 5 successfully puts the show on the right path after Season 4 and course corrects, all season 6 needs to do is keep it on the straight path. And to be perfectly honest it does that, it isn’t a disappointing season but it isn’t one that will be remembered as the best, it just maintains a good enough quality that you don’t switch off like we all did for Season 4. It is a season that has a lot going on in terms of both the supporting cast coming in and out of the show and where we find Oliver himself (as I will explain), whilst also picking up the pieces from the fifth season. As I will explain later it also has lasting stakes by him admitting he is the Green Arrow and progressing his character in the show. something I might not have liked all that much,
I liked the season, but felt it really could have been better in a weird way I liked each of the character developments, with it moving on from Oliver’s determination that he doesn’t kill to Oliver’s lack of trust and that being the main reason he fails. He knows he can’t beat the villain and he is lost, he goes back to basics, everything is on the line and everything changes and I like this. It’s actual new character development. I really liked the Old Team Arrow vs New Team Arrow but the reasons behind the hatred just felt forced – even though I said I liked the fight with trust, it meant nothing coming from the likes of the New Team Arrow, Felicity is a bloody hacker, of course she can track anyone down, and if I am not wrong, you all did betray Oliver. If Oliver had gone against Diggle then I understand the reaction but Oliver was right to suspect something. Oliver having to take care of his son was great, and although his kid is an idiot, it all adds so much to Oliver as both the Green Arrow and the Mayor, plus the hunt for Oliver as the Green Arrow – with Tommy Malcolm appearing had me really excited. But, it just never really felt exceptional – it was good but never anything really special. The best episodes are the ones that include call-backs to the seasons before hand. like the trial, like the one where he is high on Vertigo and we get to see season 5’s villain.
This season’s villain wasn’t bad, his dedicated Dragon episode was good and how he is still alive leaves much to be desired but he never felt like a Deathstroke, it was very bold of the creators to change the villains half way through the show and I think it really did work. Up until the crossover event, the season is very slow, with Deathstroke’s son being stupid. Another thing I will say is the final scene with Quentin was nice, with both Thea and Oliver’s last scenes with him explaining that he was basically like a father to them and then Thea leaves because she only signed an eight episode contract. And then of course, I liked how this season also meant something and will definitely change the show some how. It has lasting stakes now and how season 7 goes about tying up those loose ends like Oliver going to prison will determine how I feel. If within the first episode he walks out of the prison I will be fuming.
3] SEASON 5
Season Five works, it really does.
Chase is the second best villain the show has had, it successfully adds supporting cast members (although it took them a trial and error period), sufficient and lasting stakes that changed the show (with him having to look after his son, them blowing up the island – one of the best episodes in the show), a minimum and only necessary romance for Olicity (once again I am not hating on it), a good arc for Oliver with a villain challenging the very thing he has been determined to change, Oliver deciding to fight as both the Mayor and the Green Arrow, the return of gritty, more grounded, great action scenes and not a too drawn out story of who the villain is. It just works. Did I mention the villain was fantastic, with his appearance in the sixth season being on the best episodes of that season. Plus the idea of Team Arrow works and was executed perfectly. That all being said the show does struggle in the beginning (but I think that is the trial and error period), some random rag dude is boring in it, the new Black Canary was annoying and the show dropped both of them, bringing in Dinah – who is fantastic, Rene is great and Curtis is tolerable…… at times. The first few episodes of Season 5 is hard to get through but the rest of the season is great, and there is a compelling, grounded villain that actually changes things leaving us on a cliffhanger of who died on the island. (spoiler alert – no-one of significance)
It really couldn’t have gone better – plus it gave us the end of the flashbacks something we had invested five years into so we could learn how he was “found” on the island, so you are probably asking why put in third and not first but for me it just wasn’t the same experience I felt the for the first two seasons. Even though the season contains one of the best episodes, I don’t think it is the best season.
2] SEASON 1
Ahhh – simpler times. Whenever I do these lists, I always put the original at number 1, after all – it is the one that had the biggest impact and it is very rare that another season would be better than it. But, whilst season 1 is amazing, season 2 is just that little bit better, as I will explain more on that later. Whenever I read these lists everyone names the main reasons Arrow was such a great, refreshing show – it was grounded, it was gritty, it was real, it was different. And, here at this blog, I don’t want to just reiterate what everyone else says, and the first season really made me fall in love with the show.
It made me fall in love with the show for one reason and reason alone, they lost. I had never seen a show or film where they lost. I have never seen a show or film where in the end they lost, they destroyed the Glades, and Oliver had failed, he had lost. Don’t get me wrong I loved the gritter and darker tone of the show something that Arrow had done first and no doubt led the way for the likes of the NETFLIX MARVEL shows to thrive and there were amazing action scenes and the story was great and simple. With Oliver just wanting to cross names of a list his father gave him, it was a breath of fresh air for his origin story, and it used the flashbacks to great extent as it was an escape from what was happening and allowed us to see what had happened during the five years. Stephen Arnell was amazing as Oliver McQueen, and there was a freshness about the show. It was a good cohersive season, with a plot carried throughout the season, instead of just teasing until the last few episodes. There were lasting stakes, Merlyn was a good villain, Oliver’s fears to live up to his father was great, Oliver’s mysterious flashbacks were intriguing unlike later seasons where there were just there to explain the story of that season, this also includes the mysterious relationship Oliver has with the Bratva. Tommy dies but him and Oliver make up, and it is also the start of relationships we would come to love, Roy is introduced, Speedy is teased and it sets up storylines that would become relevant in future seasons; like Oliver’s Russian connections.
Season 1 was fresh it was dark and gritty, set the foundations, this is what I meant by saying I normally put the first season first because it sets it’s own foundations. The only problem and reason this is second is because it never felt like it had its own identity, it had its own style but not its own identity. The reason this is second, however is because Season 2 created an identity for itself, Season 1 laid the foundations but Season 2 built the house and decorated it and then sold it, it was complete as I will explain.
1] SEASON 2
One word – Deathstroke. Arrow season 2 was it’s peak, a peak so high I think only a few will ever be able to replicate. I have never been so addicted to a show as I was when season 2 came out. Everything was right, and it is genuinely hard to find a fault in the entire season. Season 2 works both in terms of its content and fan service, as well as in its world building. Arrow made its fans very happy with the season but no doubt made the CW much happier, with “Arrowverse” now taking up five nights of its schedule coming this fall.
There is so much to speak and praise in this season that I will probably not do it justice, but I have to start with the villain. Whilst Arrow has had some amazing villains except from Ra’s (but that is just because he isn’t developed enough) and Darkh was in the wrong show. It is Deathstroke that is the best villain, it is close between him and Chase, but I have to give it to Deathstroke, everything about him worked, his motivations for wanting to get back at Oliver, the Mirakuru, his fighting scenes, his flashback scenes, Shadow (hell I even remember her name), SLADE STABS OLIVER’S MOTHER! He was honestly great and one of the best TV villains I have ever seen, his return in the fifth season had me so excited, (plus I didn’t know about it) shows his importance. But Season 2 works much beyond just the villain, after Tommy dies – Oliver changes, the supporting characters have better arcs, the stakes (especially after the first season) are higher with the season finale being great. It just built on the first season in every way from the cast around Oliver to Oliver himself, this season Oliver has an arc of change, one that would be the centre of Season 5 and no doubt be the reason it was so good. With Oliver realising he needs to do and be more than just a list of names – giving him an identity something the first season never really had, the scene where Oliver stabs Slade in the eye was a favourite of mine. New characters work, current characters like Felicity are given bigger roles and are given just enough screen time to impress (unlike season 4 – once again I am not hating on the love story between them), it is the start of the team Arrow builds around him that would go onto carry the show.
It was a fast-paced, perfectly balanced season with the flashbacks working, unlike later seasons where they just didn’t. It isn’t as if Season 2 had some bad episodes but each episode had a reason, it is a jam-packed season that you wouldn’t think would fly by as it did, Barry and the Flash are introduced starting the Arrowverse, it teases Ra’s Al Ghul and teases Thea becoming Speedy. It is just honestly great.