If you’re a fan of Arrow, you likely already know, this many seasons into the show, that the glue that holds everything together is Stephen Amell. Amell was one of the first people involved with the series to acknowledge the weaknesses of Season 4, and how the show needed to go back to its grittier, vigilante roots in Season 5. It worked, and Amell has proven again and again that when it comes to knowing what’s best for the show, he is the best source.
The actor recently spoke with TV Line about the success of Season 5, and teased a little bit about where things are headed in Season 6. But Amell also talked about a dinner he had with (super)producer Greg Berlanti about the show’s direction last year, aptly stating:
“We’ve built out a really interesting universe on The CW, and I think that there are things that we [on Arrow] do better than everybody else. Supergirl has a bigger budget for VFX, I think, and it has aliens all the time, and The Flash is super power-laden, and Legends travels through time. We are best when we stay within the limits of Star City […] I said, “You know, I think that there’s a lot of things that we do well,” and Greg goes, “I would agree,” and I go, “Can we do those things?” Doing a show is like a relationship, right? You get in. It’s hot and heavy. Things are going great. You move in together. And then one partner turns to the other and says, “You know, you haven’t been to the gym in a bit….” That to me was us. If we’re going to do this show, let’s really do it. Let’s be morally ambiguous with the characters and make it more three-dimensional and put killing back on the table, let’s move away from trying to be like everyone else. Let’s focus on being Arrow.”
Preach, Amell, preach! He also addressed the death of the flashbacks, and Oliver’s relationship with his son William in the new season, including this interesting nugget:
“I remember when I read the [premiere] and it was just a bunch of Oliver calling William “Sport.” Like, “Hey, Sport!” And I got [co-showrunner] Wendy Mericle on the phone and she goes, “I know what you’re going to say. I know what you’re going to say. Oliver’s never going to call him Sport. You find what you’re comfortable calling him. It can be what you call your [own] kid, it can be ‘Buddy,’ it doesn’t matter.””
You have to be a certain calibre of star on a series, and have the right relationship with the producers, to be able to call audibles like that. But thank God he did on that one. I think it really speaks to how much Amell gets what works for this show and his character and what doesn’t, maybe more so than anyone at this point. And while some fans are really cautious about the William storyline and where it may take the show, Amell also said he was proud of what they’ve done with it. If you think that’s all fluff, though, consider how honest he’s been in criticizing some of what the show hasn’t done so well, such as when he commented that,
“I think that there’s a way to fill Oliver with a little more contentment without domesticating him in the way that we did a bit in Season 4.”
That, of course, will make fans start thinking about Olicity’s role on Arrow and its influence on the storyline, something that Season 5 actually handled pretty well after the missteps of Season 4. But while Season 5 did do a lot of things right, other parts didn’t work as well, like the new recruits (almost without exception — that was, honestly, about when I was ready to quit the show, until Prometheus showed up). The Adrian Chase storyline and how he interacted with Oliver, and the consequences of Oliver’s past, really gave the season some interesting stakes. Hopefully, Season 6 can do more of the same.