Being the first and longest running of The CW's DC Comics TV series, Arrow fills a unique role in what come to be known as the Arrowverse. It is the only series among the likes of The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and now Supergirl in which the main superheroes do their super work without the aid of superpowers. That distinction shaped the series from its inception, and in the wake of the network stepping up its superhero game, afforded it a sense of individuality as well. And yet, in recent seasons, storylines have steered away from that characteristic, pitting the members of Team Arrow against magical adversaries who perhaps took the show too far outside its comfort zone.
That's set to change as Arrow readies season 5, a season that's been described by Stephen Amell as a back-to-basics approach, one that will once again play around in the gritty, street-level storytelling that helped make seasons 1 and 2 work as well as they did. But according to Amell, the turnaround is about more than getting the Green Arrow back on the streets, dealing with criminals not in control of mystical hot tubs or magic powers; it's about exploring the most important relationship on the show – the one between Oliver Queen and the city he's been tasked with saving.
During an interview at San Diego Comic-Con 2016, Amell spoke about how season 5 will speak to the core essence of the show and reinvigorate the primary objective its green-hooded hero was tasked with back in season 1. Talking specifically about the next season, Amell said:
"To me, this season feels very grounded and very patient… [Oliver's] father asked him to make Star City a better place than the place that he left it. And that really is where we get to with Oliver. Oliver's most important relationship in the show is not with Felicity, it's not with Thea, it's not with Diggle; it's with Star City. And that's what we focus on this year. Arrow has always been… a street level-crime-fighting-make-Star-City better show. And it feels like we're getting back to that this year, which is cool."
With Amell continuing to double (or triple) down on the idea of getting back to a familiar and successful mode for the series, it's interesting to hear him throw in the idea of a renewed focus on Star City and Oliver's relationship to the troubled burg. Back when it was Starling City, the location wasn't just where the series was set; it was the physical representation of the hero's motivation and the manner in which he introduced himself (admittedly to those who were about to be perforated by an arrow, but still). Now that Oliver has ascended to the position of mayor, it's the perfect time to refocus the character's (and the season's) energy into the city's future.
That renewed focus is due in part to what transpired during season 4 and how the Damien Darhk maybe wasn't the right fit for the show.
"It's interesting; I thought Neal [McDonough] was wonderful and I love working with him and I wish he was still around because he was such a joy on set. At the same time, the magic and all of that, I feel like it was important but I feel like it also taught the show a lesson. Which is: I personally think that we are better when we are a little bit more grounded."
Amell made it clear that a part of being more grounded was having a villain who will have his roots in Star City, and will come to be in part because of something Arrow did in his recent past.
"…one of the things that we do this year [that is] very cool is that the villain, the big bad this year, was created by Oliver. [He] was created based off Oliver's actions in season 1. I think that that's a cool place to take the show."
Amell's descriptions of the upcoming season, along with an acknowledgment of what the producers and writers are looking to explore more of – in addition to a promising new trailer –seems to indicate the series is headed in an encouraging direction. Fans have a few months to wait before the find out whether or not what's been seen and discussed so far is as promising as it sounds.
Arrow season 5 is scheduled to premiere on Wednesday, October 5, 2016 at 8PM ET; The Flash season 3 is slated to air on Tuesday, October 4, 2016 at 8PM ET; DC’s Legends of Tomorrow will return on Thursday, October 13, 2016 at 8PM ET, Supergirl will make its season 2 debut on The CW on Monday, October 10, 2016 also at 8PM ET.