(Disclaimer: Spoilers for Arrow Season 5 Episode 13 ahead. Continue at your own risk!)
Arrow has typically not been a launch-pad for political discussion. Across its 5 seasons, Arrow has followed a certain set of principles that usually revolve around the hard choices Oliver must make as the Green Arrow, and then dealing with the consequences of said actions. The Arrow showrunners recently threw fans a bit of a curveball, as they tackled the subject of gun control.
Season 5 Episode 13, titled “The Spectre of the Gun”, revolved around a man with an AR-15, who walked in the City Hall and started firing at will. This incident killed 7 people, and became the sole focus of the entire episode. It’s not rare for comic books to tackle social or political issues; however, this is the first time Arrow has done it this blatantly in 5 seasons, and it was a bit jarring at first.
Arrow Tackles Gun Control
The beginning of the episode was a bit ham-fisted, and it felt like the show beating you over the head with the idea that guns are bad and they kill people. However, as the episode progressed, it actually presented both sides of the argument. The show uses Rene (anti-gun control), Curtis (pro-gun control), and Felicity (avoids the issue) to frame the typical points of view on gun control in America.
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Every person speaks their mind on the issue, and it becomes clear that the episode doesn't take a definitive stance one way or another. The voice from the pro-gun control characters was more prevalent; however, the episode was about the need for people to discuss the hot-button issues. It doesn’t matter if you’re for or against a certain law or opinion, it matters that we can discuss our differences and find common ground, because without communication, nothing gets accomplished.
Arrow Executive Producer On "Spectre of the Gun"
Arrow's Executive Producer Marc Guggenheim recently held a press-screening for the episode, and had this to say regarding why they decided to tackle such a hot-button political issue:
We felt that gun violence was the right topic because of its topicality, but also because of the level of gun violence that is on Arrow.
He went on to explain why the episode started off pro-gun control, and then became about the state of the country and our need to be able to discuss all the issues openly:
I wrote the first half of the script before November 7th, and the second half of the script after November 7th. That week, I was writing the script. I write chronologically and linearly, and I think you can see that, in the second half, it’s about guns and gun violence, but it’s also about the state of discourse in our country. I’m an unapologetic progressive, but the thing that I’ve noticed is that not talking about issues serves a conservative agenda, not a liberal agenda. I do agree with Curtis that the country is where it is right now because we stopped talking to each other.
Twitter Responds To Arrow's Political Episode
Given Guggenheim's firm stance on politics and the liberal message at the beginning of the episode, I was certain Twitter would explode with white-hot rage. If there is one thing I have learned from Facebook comments sections, it’s that people are getting less tolerant of TV and movies containing political messages. However, as I browsed #Arrow on Twitter, I found something very strange: people were being profoundly positive:
The positive comments vastly outweighed the negative; however, people were not happy with how Felicity had no opinion on gun control in the episode episode - which does seem odd, given she was paralyzed as a direct result of gun violence. Fans of the show remembered how guns affected Felicity’s life, and chimed in on her non-stance on the issue:
Comic books have always been very upfront about political issues, and it’s not surprising that their television counterparts would follow suit. The show handled the topic very well, and chose to focus on finding a solution to problems, rather than just bury our heads in the sand (that’s right Felicity, you need to stand for something). Hopefully, Arrow will continue to improve as it has over the course of Season 5, and we can finally find out the identity of Prometheus. You can catch Arrow Wednesdays 8PM/ET on The CW.
Sound Off! What did you think of Arrow’s political episode? Let your voice be heard in the comments section below.