After a rough couple of seasons, there has been a lot of talk as to what Arrow season 5 will be like, and whether or not the series can achieve the back-to-basics feel that star, Stephen Amell, and co-showrunner Wendy Mericle have alluded to in interviews and sound bites since before the season 4 finale aired. For Amell in particular, it is important to see the street-level vigilante series return to the same grittiness the show became known for in seasons 1 and 2, one that took a backseat to the larger-than-life adventures that came into play once a certain Scarlet Speedster made his debut. After that, the Arrowverse found itself dealing with immortal time-traveling villains, multiple Earths, and, as fans of Arrow can attest after season 4, death-loving magicians who specialize in stopping arrows mid-flight.
Since then, there has been some question as to how involved Arrow will be in the universe it essentially helped bring into existence, and whether or not this return to a more "grounded" approach would see the series take a step back from its connections to The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow, and any possible relationship it might have with Supergirl, now that Kara Danvers is joining The CW superhero club for more than a high-profile display of cross-network corporate synergy.
As it turns out, the events of other CW series will still have a direct impact on Arrow, as Amell made clear that, despite previous statements to the contrary, The Flash's Flashpoint storyline will not only be felt over in Star City, but it will have a major influence once both shows get up and running this October. As such, there may be some questions as to how Arrow can get back to "doing what it does best" when reality-altering time travel storylines are sending shockwaves through the very universe it helped create. But thankfully, most of the series' core cast was on hand for the Heroes & Villains FanFest in New Jersey over the weekend (as reported by TVLine, and there, Amell, along with David Ramsey, Willa Holland, and Paul Blackthorne shared a little insight into what fans can expect with season 5.
One of the first things Amell spoke to was Oliver's relationship status, and whether or not he and Felicity will rekindle their romance or if Team Arrow will be the limit of their interaction. Amell said:
“I was chatting with a couple of fans earlier and they were saying there hasn’t been a lot of positivity and reassuring notions when it comes to Oliver and Felicity’s relationship. I think that it’s important to remember that relationships on the show don’t have to be only defined by romance. Oliver and Felicity could have a wonderful, fulfilling, dynamic relationship and not be together, right? That wasn’t a question, OK. That’s how the world works! So we will see where they are this year.
I hope that they’re both in a happy positive place. Whether that means they’re together or not remains to be seen.”
Questions of whether or not Oliver is dating aside, Amell did steer the conversation back to the question of how the series plans to evoke a similar tone and style of storytelling as it did in its first two seasons. As Amell put it, the season kicks off with a pair of episodes that, from sound of it, will set it down a promising path. He also confirms (again) that the flashbacks will take place in Russia.
“The first two episodes [of season 5] refocuses us on what the core mission of the show should be, and that to me is very exciting. Plus? Russia.”
It is already known that the first episode of season 5 involves a complicated single shot with a lot of stunts and one shirtless Oliver Queen, but now the question is: how will that sequence factor in to what Amell just described? And what, according to Amell and the other people making the creative decisions, is the show's "core mission"? Given some of Amell's previous statements about moving away from storylines featuring characters with superpowers or focusing Arrow's energies on developing characters and plotlines for something like, say, Legends of Tomorrow, it might be safe to assume that avoiding these two pitfalls and emulating the success of seasons 1 and 2 might qualify as the show's core mission.
Some of what's being said about the upcoming season does sound like course correction – and that's not just in response to David Ramsey assuring fans that Diggle's Spartan mask will be getting a much-needed upgrade. As positive as this all sounds, though, this isn't the first time the series has adjusted in the face of criticism. The beginning of season 4 was in many ways a direct response to the dreariness of season 3's Ra's al Ghul storyline. Hopefully, season 5 will be able to make better use of its new beginning over the entire season, and give audiences a great take on an Emerald Archer who is now a veteran superhero and mayor in his civilian life.
The Flash season 3 will premiere Tuesday October 4 at 8pm on The CW, Arrow season 5 will premiere in the same timeslot on Wednesday October 5, Supergirl season 2 on Monday October 10, and Legends of Tomorrow season 2 on Thursday October 13.