Arrow: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray Review: A Period of Uncertainty Awaits Team Arrow

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided us with a free copy of the Blu-ray reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions shared are the writer’s own.

At the end of Season Four, the heroes of Team Arrow had gone their separate ways, leaving Oliver Queen/Green Arrow (Stephen Amell) and Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) behind as the only members left. This is a comic-book series however and there are villains to be fought so, in spite of their efforts to bail on Queen, he ends up drawing them back in, albeit in somewhat different roles. Arrow: The Complete Fifth Season takes a look at the fragile, ever-changing dynamic of Star City’s band of heroes.

At the beginning of Season Five, Queen, who is now the mayor of Star City, is finding that his dual role of mayor and Green Arrow is not as easy as he thought it would be. He is spreading himself thin and, as a result, both of his personas are suffering. This has led to not only a new group of villains popping up in Star City, led by Tobias Church (Chad Coleman) but also a new group of vigilante heroes following Green Arrow’s lead, including Rene Ramirez/Wild Dog (Rick Gonzalez).

As mayor, Queen gives a press conference to unveil a statue in tribute to Laurel Lance/Black Canary (Katie Cassidy) and is kidnapped by Church. Thea/Speedy (Willa Holland), who had been working in the mayor’s office and trying to leave her costumed life behind, dons the Speedy costume to save Queen and is disheartened when she sees him kill one of his captors, quitting the team for good.

The show does a good job of contrasting Oliver and Thea, showing that he is willing to protect Star City by any means necessary, with Oliver telling Thea he won’t take the high road, while she is trying to leave that life behind and be normal. Smoak, sensing Queen can’t be effective as Green Arrow or mayor on his own, encourages Queen to form a new team to help him. He reaches out to Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne), the former police captain, who has fallen off the wagon, for help.

In “The Recruits,” Queen begins to train his new team, which includes Ramirez, Curtis Holt/Mister Terrific (Echo Kellum) and Evelyn Sharp/Artemis (Madison McLaughlin). Queen is in costume, not trusting his recruits to know his identity and has them line up to try and pass him to ring a bell. None of them are able to do it and they grow frustrated with Queen and quit, much like his old team did. We later learn through one of the flashbacks to Russia, that Queen himself had to do this very same exercise and he reveals that they were supposed to work as a team to ring the bell. Both here and throughout the season, the show does a good job of drawing parallels between things that happened to Queen in Russia and his current life, showing how they shaped him as a man and a hero.

As mayor, Queen wants to open a free health clinic and AmerTek offers to partner up with him to help with the costs. They try to pull out though when Queen’s security team fails at a press conference and one of their men is killed by the mysterious Ragman (Joe Dinicol). We later learn that Ragman was he sole survivor of the Haven Rock missile bombing at the end of Season Four, an event that he blames on AmerTek as it was their missiles used in the attack.

As nothing can ever go smoothly in Green Arrow’s world, AmerTek’s CEO, Janet Carroll (Suki Kaiser), is seen dealing weapons to Church, which she later blames on AmerTek’s financial woes. Church is later attacked by Prometheus (Josh Segarra), who says he will kill Church if he kills Queen, as he wants to do it himself. Smoak convinces Queen that he needs to reveal himself to his team so that they can trust him and he reluctantly agrees. The show is consistent in its portrayal of Queen as someone who, in spite of knowing better, keeps making the same mistakes over and over again with those he is close to or working with.

“A Matter of Trust” finds Green Arrow threatening a drug dealer named Derek Sampson (Cody Runnels) for selling a drug named “stardust.” Runnels in real life is better known by his wrestling name of Cody Rhodes and he has wrestled under the name Stardust. While the drug name on the show may have been an homage to this, it is more likely a dig as Runnels did not like the Stardust character and asked for his release from the WWE. Against Queen’s wishes, Wild Dog and Artemis raid the drug lab where Sampson works and he inadvertently becomes a metahuman unable to feel pain.

Meanwhile, Thea recruits Lance as deputy mayor in an attempt to get him on the team and keep him sober. When faced with a public backlash, she threatens to quit, but Queen endorses Lance to get her to stay. Smoak admits to Ragman, who has since been recruited to Team Arrow, that she was the one responsible for redirecting the missiles to Haven Rock and she also convinces Queen to trust his team and accept them for who they are, warts and all. Rickards is excellent in her portrayal of Smoak as the voice of reason in the face of Queen’s often rash actions. Trust issues are nothing new for Queen, however, as we see in the flashbacks that he had trouble trusting his team while in Russia as well.

The episode “Vigilante” sees a character calling himself Vigilante killing off criminals. Green Arrow confronts him and Vigilante tells him he doesn’t understand that this is a war and sees no problem with killing the people he has killed. At the same time, Lance is drinking more heavily and wakes up after a blackout with blood on his hands from a throwing star. He believes he is being framed as the throwing-star killer and resigns as deputy mayor. Showing her concern, Thea takes Lance to rehab so he can dry out. We find out that Artemis is working with Prometheus in secret and that he most likely knows who Green Arrow is. This episode is a transitional one and it does a good job of setting up many of the subplots that continue throughout the season.

As Arrow shares a universe with The Flash and Legends Of Tomorrow, crossovers are common. With the episode “Invasion!” Season Five of Arrow featured Part Two of a crossover that ran through all three shows. The episode is really dependent on the other two shows to fully make sense, but in it, Queen is back at Queen Manor, where he is to wed the very much alive Laurel Lance. It turns out that he, Diggle (David Ramsey), Sara Lance (Caity Lotz), Thea and Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) are being held captive in pods aboard a spaceship known as The Dominator.

This portion of the storyline is very similar to one done on Marvel’s Agents Of Shield, in which the characters were stuck within a computer framework and their realities were drastically altered. While the team is eventually rescued by The Waverider, they learn that The Dominator is headed toward Earth, surely up to no good. These episodes are where the Arrowverse excels and the show is most comic book like. These characters all appear in each other’s books, so why not each other’s shows?

The season finale, “Lian Yu,” finds Green Arrow returning to the island that played host to many of the flashbacks of seasons past. In the previous episode “Missing,” many of Queen’s allies were kidnapped: Mad Dog, Dinah, and Curtis by Adrian Chase’s (Josh Segarra) team; Thea and Lance by Black Siren aka the Earth 2 Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) and Artemis; and Smoak and Diggle by the League of Assassins. Queen reluctantly agrees to let Thea’s father, Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman), help him take down chase. “Lian Yu” finds their search leading them to the island, where Queen finds out Chase also has his son William Clayton (Jack Moore). The episode wraps up all of the season’s storylines but opens new ones, as we don’t know who will be left standing when season six begins.

The video is presented in 1080p High Definition 16×9 (1.78:1) and looks great. Audio options include DTS-HD Master Audio English 5.1 and Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0. The discs also include bonus scenes, a gag reel, four featurettes about the show, and a special about the crossover between the other Arrowverse shows.

Arrow has been renewed for a sixth season and, much like with the ending of Season Four, Oliver Queen’s life and the future of Team Arrow is a mystery. Arrow: The Complete Fifth Season effectively ties up all the previous storylines (There will apparently be no more flashbacks, at least for Queen, in Season Six) and leaves many questions for the new season. Well worth checking out for DC Comics fans.

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