To say that the past seasons of #Arrow weren't good would be a lie. They were crap. But the fact that the show is recognizing this and is changing things so avidly just goes to show how much the creative team of Arrow believes in its fans.
Almost all #superhero movies and TV shows are driven by their fandom, both the pre-existing comic book lovers and the newer, less geekier ones. It has therefore been great to see the writers and actors of Arrow so pointedly blast their own show, and as the phrase goes, "call out their own bullshit." It means they are willing to shake things up, even if it means sacrificing their own joy. Because, seriously, no one loved Felicity and her family more than the writers themselves.
This season has made a complete 180, with better choreographed stunt sequences, stronger flashbacks and tougher villains. Arrow's Season 5, Episode 7, "Vigilante" showed exactly what works and what doesn't.
Anyone who's googled "the Vigilante" will find that his story is very close to #MarvelComics' antihero #Punisher, most recently seen in the sophomore season of #Netflix's Daredevil. I was pretty sure, when Arrow decided to bring the Vigilante, that he wouldn't outdo Jon Bernthal's Punisher, and would come across as a tamer version of the same character. But Josh Segarra's portrayal of both Adrian Chase and the Vigilante has been superb.
He has this strange appeal, and he is sort of like a sociopath in his scenes with criminals. This became evident in the fourth episode of the season, when he was confronting one of Church's confidants, and it was present again in the latest episode when he was talking to Laura and recounting his time in hell. It not only hinted at the Vigilante's psyche, but also at his own (yet to be explored) tragic backstory.
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His scenes with Team Arrow were also fun, highlighting just how different this season is to the past seasons. Before, I'd begun to think that Arrow needed to reduce its cast in order to bring back the fight scenes we'd grown to love in the first season. But it's been a delight to see Arrow balance its theme of legacy with action. The fact that the Vigilante and Arrow are not working together is also great in terms of storytelling. We're left to wonder if Oliver will decide to go kill everyone again, since clearly criminals are more scared of the Vigilante than they are of the #GreenArrow.
In other news, Carly Pope's Susan Walters remains as uninteresting as ever. It's been very clear on Arrow that #OliverQueen needs to remain celibate in order for him to not be an idiot for the rest of the season. Susan Walters would be more compelling if she was just a friend whose hidden agenda is to expose Oliver's true story to the world. But so far she seems like the type who's going to give up on the story the minute they start dating.
Nonetheless, it's peculiar just how obsessed she is with the mayor, since she wants to bury him as much as she wants to date him. Arrow is doing a good job of not trying to rush their encounters, but still so far her plot isn't as gripping as everyone else's, especially if she's just going to be a romantic interest for Oliver.
It seems like it's been forever since I found Arrow's flashbacks cool, but ever since this whole Bratva affair, I've been hooked. And now that the showrunners have chosen someone as talented as Dolph Lundgren to play an important villain in Konstantin Kovar, things should only get better from here on in.
Lundgren is a natural fit for the role. He brings charm and fear into every scene he's in, and his quip about Oliver being weak was spot-on. He started this crusade in Russia with the Bratva, without having any idea who he'd be getting into bed with. Good villains are always the ones who cause the hero to second guess themselves, and so far Konstantin Kovar is proving to be a great one.
Mister Terrific is another one of those characters that the writers love more than the fans. Don't get me wrong, I've all the respect for the original comic book character, but the TV incarnation's B-rate jokes and lackluster fighting is really dragging the whole down to whole push to make Arrow great Again.
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While it was good to see Laurel get beat up, simply because it felt realistic, Olympic athlete Curtis Holt is just really annoying, both on and off the field. I actually would've been happy had Vigilante pulled the trigger and shot Holt, because it would've propelled the team into action and rejuvenated their stance on killing. Arrow didn't make great use of Curtis back in Season 4 (though he was bearable in the office scenes) and it's certainly not doing a better job now. At this point, all we can do is hope that the character's gadgets soon come into play, lest this character become even more banal.
Thea And Lance
It was surprisingly sensible of Arrow to not consider Lance as a suspect for #Prometheus, something I whole heartedly expected the show to do to fill in scenes. But kudos to the showrunners for exceeding expectations.
By the way, how great are the Thea and Quentin Lance scenes?! Both make the best of their scenes, and it's terrible to say, but I love it when Lance cries. It's always heartbreaking. Oliver is always playing the martyr, but the real saint has always been Lance. I've lost count of how many times he's lost his daughters. Falling off the wagon was expected and Thea's role as his daughter also felt quite genuine, since she's always looked for father-figures (Robert Queen, Walter and Malcolm).
I know some people have reservations about Speedy's reduced role on the battlefield this season, but it seems like a natural order of things, given the stuff she's been through. One question, though, if she's really given up on her crimefighting ways, then why isn't she going to Roy Harper? Wasn't that the reason they broke up?
Turns out Oliver Queen's been so busy trying to build a legacy, he forgot to vet his recruits properly. #Artemis's reveal as Prometheus's ally was a good twist. Not only did it make up for the lack of character development, but it also made her character far more interesting than the others. This was somehow reminiscent of some Season 2 cliffhangers, which is a really good thing. More than that, it logically makes sense. Artemis's frustration at finding out Oliver isn't really as noble as he appeared to be in previous episodes made an alliance with the enemy much more likely. It also puts quite a new spin to their fight in the train on Episode 6, "So It Begins."
Furthermore, Madison McLaughlin, the actress who plays Artemis, is only a guest star along with the other recruits, which makes it much more likely for her to be eventually killed off. Maybe then we'll get the proper comic book Artemis.
There Is Hope For Arrow
The Artemis twist, Lundgren scenes, the lack of focus on Felicity's love-life, and the introduction of the Vigilante really showed how far Arrow has come since its disastrous Season 4. As strange as it is to say, it really is beating its competitor #Flash, and proving that giving second chances to this show may not be such a bad idea. Let's hope Arrow continues it's streak as it heads into the future.
Get ready for the DC 4-part "Invasion!" event, starting November 28. Check out the trailer below.
Arrow's Season 5, Episode 8 "Invasion!" airs Wednesday, November 30 at 8 p.m. on The CW. What did you think of Season 5's "Vigilante"?