Ever since the Newbies were first officially introduced in Arrow Season 5, fans have been wondering about their place on Team Arrow. What started out as a group of five (including Rory and turncoat Evelyn) narrowed down to three (Dinah, Curtis, and Renee), but it still felt like a lot in a show that is already overcrowded. And since their introduction, it hasn’t been particularly clear what they add to the team dynamic, since NTA has remained in a constant fight when it comes to questions about Oliver’s leadership. In the Season 6 midseason finale, the team finally had a hard split — OTA was spying on NTA, and NTA said they couldn’t deal with Oliver’s lack of trust.
As always with Arrow, everything comes down to trust. Though both sides did do a lot of shady stuff (Rene revealing Oliver as the Green Arrow, Dinah and her secret meetings with Vigilante, the who surveillance thing from OTA), this time it was too much to overcome. And while Arrow EP Marc Guggenheim told TVLine that the writers were looking to make the arguments as even as possible, they didn’t factor in viewer loyalty to Oliver, Felicity, and Diggle:
“I think if I miscalculated anywhere, it’s probably on the order of not taking into full consideration the fact that while all the arguments may be equal and equally strong, there’s always going to be a love and affection for the original characters that the new characters don’t get a chance to enjoy. In crafting these arguments, we were being, I think, very evenhanded. At least we were trying to be. But we were not taking into account the familiarity factor.”
Fans haven’t really been very supportive of NTA, and in our poll of who should be the next to leave the show, the Newbies as a group edged out the Lances (Quentin has been through so much, you guys — let him rest). As a long-time viewer, it’s been hard to get invested in these characters for a number of reasons. Still, Guggenheim continued that,
“Superheroes having a falling out and fighting amongst each other is one of the most longstanding comic book traditions. Again, this is maybe where we miscalculated, but I always assumed the fans would go along with us in this regard, because it is such a tried-and-true comic book [convention].”
Yeah … but in order to feel like there are real stakes in that fight (like, say, in the MCU’s Civil War storyline) you have to care equally about both groups of characters. The balance on Arrow is way off, and it’s been a major contributing factor to Season 6’s lagging storyline. The Newbies have had some interesting arcs (like Dinah with her powers and Vigilante), but the show no longer has the narrative space to really get us invested in them as part of the team. Plus, having Diggle leave throws the balance off even more in all of the wrong ways. After such a potent villain in Prometheus from Season 5, the in-fighting of Season 6 has really been a let-down (as was the team-up of villains that petered out).
Guggenheim cautions us to reserve judgement, of course, until the season is over. But it’s a gamble to think that viewers will keep wanting to hold out for a payoff that seems increasingly unlikely to come.
Arrow airs Thursday nights on The CW.