‘Arrow’ (Season 5): A Look Back at 100 Episodes

Like any long-running television show, Arrow has had its fair share of up and downs. From a rocky start, to the fantastic heights of season two, to the mixed bag of seasons three and four, the adventures of Oliver Queen and Team Arrow have offered viewers a lot over the past five years. Now, as it celebrates the landmark moment of episode 100, it seems like a good time to look back at all of those highs and lows.

Focusing on the positive, Arrow’s 2012 premiere makes it not only the starting point of the entire Arrowverse, but the modern superhero television boom. In addition to its immediate spin-offs, Gotham, Agents of SHIELD, and a whole slew of other Marvel and DC properties have sprung up. Obviously, they aren’t all directly the result of Arrow, but that first show signaled a shift towards even more superhero content on TV.

Of course, the show succeeded most by quickly distinguishing itself as a solid action show in its own right. The first season was a bumpy ride, but by the final showdown with Malcolm Merlyn, the show had found its groove. With season two, the show delivered what, at the time, was arguably the best superhero season ever put on screen – remember, this was before The Flash, Daredevil, and Jessica Jones – a year full of thrilling conflicts, fantastic subplots for a large cast of characters, and an outstanding multi-part final battle with Slade Wilson.

And even in the show’s lesser years, there’s still plenty to enjoy. Seasons three and four both offered a number of great moments, from the Brick mini-arc following Oliver’s disappearance to a plethora of fun crossover moments, including a special appearance by Matt Ryan’s John Constantine. And last season can’t be thanked enough for introducing the Arrowverse’s most deliciously evil antagonist in the form of Damien Darhk.

And even better is that the show has seemingly found itself again, with the introduction of a new group of vigilante recruits infusing season five with fresh energy. In spending so much time setting up a larger universe, Arrow got a bit too tied up in mystical, magical forces that didn’t fit its more street-level sensibility. Prometheus’ arrival this year brings the show to a simpler time, and it’s all the better for it.

Of course, the show is still part of that bigger universe, and so the 100th episode also serves as the middle part of the Invasion! crossover event. However, the show still manages to nail the right tone as it has time and again this season, focusing in on Oliver and several other longtime Arrow characters as they find themselves trapped in a dream world created by the Dominators. There’s no time for a full review here, but the episode manages to pay astounding tribute to the show’s entire history, barring a few actors that were unavailable to reprise their roles.

Even as the Arrowverse continues to grow and develop, there’s a reason that the original show continues to chug along. Though it may not feature metahuman speedsters, Kryptonian superhumans, or time travelers, the adventures of Oliver Queen work because viewers still care about the character and his trials. As long as the creators choose to keep telling that tale, I’ll be tuning in.