I don’t want to write a recap. I don’t want to talk about the absurd and stupid idea that Quentin (Paul Blackthorne) becomes Prometheus during his alcoholic blackouts. I don’t want to talk about how the new recruits aren’t working or how last night’s episode was maybe the most formless, boring hour the show has ever produced. I want to talk about what has happened to Arrow. I want to talk about what we, as a fandom, did to turn it into an unoriginal pile of excrement.
I’ve spent all season bitching about how pandering to the fandom’s baser instincts is ruining the show, but I haven’t really gotten into the nature of those complaints. There were a lot of problems with last season (an uninspiring villain, magic, lazy plotting), but for years, criticism has largely been directed at one thing: Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards). While many fans–myself included–thought Team Arrow’s resident tech guru was one of the show’s biggest assets, others saw her as the nexus of soapy relationship drama that distracted from all the vigilante-ing.
Now I knew, I knew a lot of people disliked Felicity and the direction Arrow had taken. But I simply did not understand how someone could look at capable, caring, brilliant Felicity Smoak and see the embodiment of everything they hated. The sexism seemed so obvious to me, even if it wasn’t always conscious on the part of those expressing it. So, I underestimated–or was perhaps unwilling to admit–just how many people felt that way. However, the show’s creators and writers did not have the same luxury. Their very jobs depend on viewers continually choosing to watch the show. And while I could fault them for giving in, their hands are tied: they have to give us what we want in order to keep going.
So this is the sad truth of the situation: WE ruined the thing we love. We forced the show to return to the Batman Begins rip-off it was at its start. We are the reason the beautiful sign of hope that was Baby Sara became John Diggle Jr., a meaningless fanboy Easter egg that only serves to emphasize the horrible cycle of self-destruction these characters can’t seem to escape. We are the reason these personality-less new recruits have wasted so much screentime this season. And worst of all, we ruined the Green Arrow.
Instead of the progressive, almost obnoxiously socially conscious Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) of the comics, we get (formerly) rich playboy Oliver Queen, a man who lost the only job he ever had as the CEO of his family’s company and yet still managed to ride his privilege all the way to the mayor’s mansion. A guy who lacks the experience or work ethic to fix the city he supposedly loves. A guy who will probably fuck an unethical journalist into not revealing his sordid past to the public—all while his intelligent, socially aware ex-fiancé sits in an underground bunker all day because she’s been relegated to his pretty, quippy Girl Friday again.
To put it simply, what Arrow has done in the mind-numbingly short expanse of six episodes, is turn its back on everything that made it great. This is a show that gave us television’s first openly bi-sexual superhero, a show that made intelligence and skillfulness equally as heroic as physical strength, a show that repeatedly reminded us that some arrogant white guy had no right to tell women or people of color what they could and couldn’t do with their lives. And now it’s all gone. Now, all we have is the formulaic, brooding, self-important, bro-y waste of time we started with. This is what we wanted. We deserve every bad episode we get.