When the star of your show is freely admitting the poor quality of last season, that's not a good sign. What's caused Arrow's Stephen Amell to express his disappointment publicly?
I really didn't care for Season 4 of Arrow. The flashbacks – something I really wish the show would have done away with – were absolutely grueling to watch. They felt forced in rather than necessary to tell the story, even though they might have been the most literally connected flashbacks of the entire series.
The introduction of magic seemed like a tough sell on the most realistic of The CW's comic book shows but it had potential. While no one on Team Arrow was theoretically built to deal with a magical villain, they brought in Constantine. And then they only utilized him for one episode to get Oliver on the road to the magical potential he needed to defeat Damian Darhk. And then things just kind of went off the rails. I was discussing the show on Twitter the other day and a follower said they were only still watching to stay in the know of the larger DC TV context and I feel the same.
I wouldn't say I'm surprised Amell agrees with fans that last season was underwhelming, but I'm surprised he decided to talk about it so openly. CBR.com pulled some quotes from Entertainment Weekly's new issue promoting the big superhero crossover event that had Amell speaking with a great deal of candor about the situation saying he felt Arrow was “at a crossroads.”
“There”s a lull in any relationship, where you have a come-to-Jesus moment, and that happened to me in Season 4,” he said. “We are a street-level crime-fighting show. We”re at our best when we”re focused on those things.”
While it's true, Arrow is “a street-level crime-fighting show,” and can stand out on its own in that regard compared to The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, or Supergirl, I don't think the direction Season 4 took was necessarily bad. If they kept the evolution going, included Constantine or another magic character on the show regularly, I think things could have gone in an exciting direction. But they didn't do that. So Season 5 is trying to get back to their roots by creating a new team filled with almost all street-level crime fighters.
But in all honesty, I'm still kind of waiting to see where this season is going. I was talking about this just the other day. While others have guest-starred, Season 5 is the first time they have a character consistently on the show with actual superpowers (Ragman). I thought that was a huge positive considering we know there are larger forces at play in the DC TV universe and not everything can be solved with an Arrow or a computer. But they've gone back to fighting simpler enemies and in Amell's mind, focusing on saving Star City on a more simple level is what the show should be doing.
“We”re either going to do what we do and do it well, or it”s the last year. If we find the magic formula – which is not magic, it”s just hard work and playing to your strengths – then the show could go on for a really long time,” he told EW. “I do really believe that this season is sort of a throw-down-the-gauntlet year for us, where we”re either going to do what we do and do it well or it”s the last year.”
Perhaps this is just the actor's way of saying he's personally not being fulfilled in the role or wants to make sure they're delivering a better product than last time but that's a hell of a comment to put into a major entertainment magazine. At this point I wouldn't be too sad if Arrow wrapped up and then continued to have some of its characters guest on the other shows, particularly if it made room for another character to get their own show (like Vixen).
Here's the first promo for the upcoming crossover. How have you been feeling about Arrow lately?