To be clear, I love Arrow. It’s dark, gritty and borrows from Batman enough to be enthralling. Telling the time of Oliver Queen’s years away from home in flashback whilst tying it in to his present day struggles, absolute genius. But the distinctive two-story timeline has a crucial flaw just waiting to kick in. Let’s take a quick stroll down memory lane.
Oliver Queen arrives back in Starling City and begins his mission to stop the Undertaking. A sinister group of the city elite, their leader had concocted a plan to destroy the most crime-ridden parts of the city. In flashback, the viewer sees that his father had a pocketbook containing all the names of the people involved in the Undertaking. After washing up on Lian Yu, Oliver becomes embroiled in a plan to destroy a passenger airline and tries his best to stop it with assistance from Slade Wilson, Shado and her father.
After failing to stop the Undertaking, Oliver runs back to his Island. In Flashback, a group of armed mercenaries land on the island in search of something. Back in the present, super-strong thugs start appearing and torment Starling for a second time. The source of their strength is Slade Wilson, old friend turned bitter enemy. Oliver beats Slade and imprisons him on Lian Yu, the island they first met on. During the course of this season, Slade kill Moira Queen as punishment upon her son and Barry Allen makes his debut in his civilian role with the accident in his lab making a brief appearance later on.
In this season, things become more like Batman than Green Arrow. Introducing Ra’s Al Ghul, Team Arrow is the targets of the League of Assassins. Darth Ghul decides that the Arrow would make a suitable replacement and sets about destroying his reputation and blackmailing him into the role. Flashbacks focus on the discovery of a bioweapon named Alpha–Omega. At the close of this season, Oliver kills Ra’s and hands control of the League to Malcolm Merlyn as payment for his assistance with taking on the League. We also have the first superhero cross-over in episode eight: The Brave and The Bold.
So far, season four has focussed on Damian Darhk and his organisation’s attempts to control Star City. In his flashbacks, Oliver is once again on his Island and now under the control of a maniac intent on finding a mystical object. Most notably, John Constantine from the TV show of the same name makes a one-shot cameo that proves integral to the plot, the death of Amanda Waller and her subsequent replacement of Lyla Michaels and, since the most recent episode, the passing of Black Canary.
We’re eager to see what the future will bring for the collective Arrowverse. Season five will most likely be the last season in which flashbacks can provide a vital part of the story — looking back five years would just be a peek back into the first season. Will the absence of a secondary plot in each episode be detrimental to Arrow?
And what about The Flash? There’s a show that’s running out of plot faster than Barry Allen can traverse Central City. Apart from other speedsters, almost every villain should be safely wrapped up soon. (Also, ‘fastest man alive’? Literally every other speedster, including the one who didn’t originally have any speed powers, is faster than he is.) Admittedly, Trickster proved himself a foe capable of conning the Flash with various traps and befuddling gadgets (or Jedi Force Powers) and Weather Wizard can simply fly away but few other people can hold their own.
Yeah, I might have just ruined the Flash.
Just a quick recap: Captain Cold, Heat Wave and Golden Glider were just normal (if psychotic) people with some (high-tech) guns and now two of the three have decided to join Rory Williams… I mean Rip Hunter… on his journey through time and space in his flying time machine, righting wrongs and stopping villains in various eras(hang on, that’s Doctor Who… at least it used to be). The meta-humans usually have severe weaknesses (Oh no, Rainbow Raider! Whoops, I’m wearing glasses) and spend most of their time locked up in inescapable cells (in the words of Ray Palmer, “How do they complete the ‘transaction’”?) or died in various ways (Plastique: General Eiling, Girder: Blackout, Deathbolt: Ice-Gun to the face).
At the end of the day, the Arrowverse is running low on characters to throw into the mix and Flash is extremely overpowered with only the Reverse-Flashes to provide any valuable intrigue. Barry has the ability to breach the time barrier, stopping crimes before they can begin. In Kingdom Come, Keystone City is under the protection of a Flash with such a strong connection to the Speed Force that the only death is by natural causes. Arrow is creating more and more heroes and only retiring a few of them. Thus the laws of comic books have caused every criminal in Star City to become expert in martial arts. Everyone from drug dealers to the occasional third-world soldier can now hold their own against people who trained (in some cases for years) to attack, maim and kill with everything from nerve clusters to complex ninja maneuvers.
At least Ra’s Al Ghu had the foresight to see what was coming and died trying to send everyone out on high note. Let’s admit it, the Demon’s Head is the real hero here.