Arrow’s fifth season went out with a bang. Literally. Adrian blew up Lian Yu with the majority of Team Arrow on it, which is why the CW has been so cagey with its season six advertising. They’ve wanted to maintain the mystery over who made it off the island and who didn’t. Turns out, they need not have bothered because “Fallout” gave us one confirmed casualty (William’s mom), one implied casualty (Talia) and one survivor laid up in a coma (Thea). That’s it.
Obviously, it’s not a good look that the victims all turned out to be women or that their goodbyes were so poorly handled (too short, too laughably taking place on a clearly fake set meant to be a burnt island, too reminiscent of Black Canary’s terrible death), but it’s likely more the practical result of contractual concerns than any kind of intentional fridging. Arrow’s history in this area with its female characters is not good meaning what happened here probably shouldn’t be surprising, even if it is upsetting. In this case, they essentially cleared out a couple of part-time characters (which is what Thea had become), made room for one new part-timer (Slade) and brought back all of their regulars, which now also includes Katie Cassidy’s Black Siren.
Of course, “Fallout” was more than just a roll call of season 5’s survivors and victims. The season premiere also used a five month time jump to advance some of the characters. Rene now has Thea’s old job, an updated costume and another shot at getting his daughter back, thanks to Oliver and the new DA. Dinah also got a promotion, to Lieutenant, as well as a new costume and slight hair color change. Curtis has leaned even harder into his role as tech guy, enough that he’s basically a one-man THAAD against ballistic missiles. Diggle is back to keeping secrets, hiding a serious injury from the team and avoiding questions over his sudden cases of the yips when it comes to his aim with his gun. Oliver and Felicity appear to be dating again (i.e., talking like a couple, yet no kissing or hugging or any such outward display of being more than friends), but not to the level that he’s introduced her to William yet. Plus, oh yeah, Oliver is raising William with the help of his old family maid we haven’t seen since the pilot.
The most meaningful changes in the bunch, not surprisingly, are those involving Oliver, specifically his updated dating status and sudden parental responsibilities. That’s the biggest hint of what direction season 6 is heading. For better or worse, this is going to be the season of Oliver learning how to raise a son. I was initially resistant to this storyline because the history of shows adding kid characters mid-stream is not good, thank you very much Ally McBeal and Angel. It’s usually an act of desperation and results in obnoxious little teenagers mouthing off to our beloved protagonists.
However, Oliver’s had so many surrogate father figures over the years it only makes sense for him to become a literal father, this time a full-time one, finally seeing his son more than just once or twice a season during sweeps week. Plus, we’re into season 6, and Oliver is easily the oldest central hero in the Arrowverse (he’s got over half a decade on Barry and Kara, and though they’re similar in age or older neither Ray nor Professor Stein anchor Legends the way Oliver does with Arrow). Why not give him a more mature storyline? But they’ll have to walk through this very carefully. This could so wrong so quickly because a kid character can easily overtake a show and turn it into something else. And William might not be the only kid character around if Rene somehow gets his daughter back. Add on top of that Quentin’s ongoing “She’s not my daughter! She is my daughter! Oh, I don’t know what to do” drama with Laurel and you have a real sense that season 6 might as well be subtitled “Parenthood.”
The real question is whether or not you or I will be sticking around to see what they do with this. Because “Fallout” was a fairly poor episode. It started out strong enough, efficiently running down the Team Arrow roster mid-battle to immediately answer who died and who didn’t while also holding back on “Felicity’s alive!” just a little longer to heighten tension. However, the five-month time jump also meant there wasn’t quite as much emotional immediacy to the flashbacks as there could have been, and because this is Arrow drama had to come from characters keeping secrets for no good reason. Looking at you, Quentin, Dinah and Diggle. The flow in and out of the flashbacks was completely off, granting Oliver a mere 30 seconds or so to mourn the apparent loss of his sister (they played real fast and loose with whether or not we were supposed to believe she’d died). The fight scenes were fairly uninspired and lacking in sensible geographic spacing. Plus, Katie Cassidy’s a lot of fun as Black Siren, but we know she isn’t the real big bad. Regardless of who that turns out to be, the odds of them being as compelling as Adrian aren’t good.
We’ve had five seasons of this show. At this point, we generally know what Arrow is, and the show’s producers do as well, successfully walking back from the fantastical and over the top and more toward a grittier, street-level identity. Good for them, but in the age of peak TV there are newer and more compelling shows I’d rather watch and write about. I’ve already given Arrow longer than most, considering how many people have quit the show over the years. I don’t know that I have much more to give.
What about you? Will you be watching season six? Do you still want me to review it? Or would you rather see me review better shows like, maybe, I dunno, Gifted, The Exorcist, Star Trek: Discovery, The Good Place, The Deuce, Mr. Robot, Preacher, or indeed the far more enjoyable Legends of Tomorrow? Even The Orville. Because, frankly, I feel like I’ve run out of things to say about Arrow. Like, this, this here should give me a geekgasm:
Black Siren vs. Black Canary! OMG! Let’s go crazy!
But, honestly, I just don’t care, or at least not as much as I probably should.
Take to the comments to let me know what you think about “Fallout,” Arrow season 6 and whether or not you want me to keep covering the show.
- Oliver briefly bested by a random henchman at the beginning? Huh. He’s losing a step.
- The maid from the pilot? Where you been all this time?
- Can’t decide if, based upon his age, William should be playing Minecraft instead of action video games.
- After everything that’s happened at the police headquarters, kind of surprised this is the first time a villain has simply blown the place up.
- Bad man? Could my mother have been wrong? Seinfeld fans get it.
- The big secret is that Quentin killed Laurel to save Dinah? Note everybody else’s near complete lack of surprise or empathy.
- It maybe drew more attention to itself than it should have, but the oner at City Hall during the Police Academy ceremony is one of the more inventively directed sequences in Arrow history.
- Exactly how close is City Hall to the Arrowcave?
- Love the generic baseball photo over William’s bed. Go Fightin’ Baseball Squad.
- My theory about Diggle: He died on the island, and just like Laurel was revived by the mysterious man. Now, that man has some control over him or at least sway, which is how Laurel’s team had so much intel. On top of that, he’s struggling to even discharge his weapon because his death experience has left him traumatized.
- My second theory about Diggle: Everything I said above is wrong, and he’s just gunshy because of his injury.
- What’s the over-under on the number of times William is taken hostage this season?