As we return for Season 5 of Arrow, safe in the knowledge that a sixth season is on the way, there’s the feeling that things are changing, and that they can never go back to the way they were before. Team Arrow’s line-up is very different, and there is a revolving door of new adversaries, with Prometheus being this season’s big bad, it feels like a show that refuses to stand still.
“I think the trick is to continue to find new stories to tell with Oliver,” elaborates executive producer Marc Guggenheim. “Whenever any show gets into its fifth season, the show has to reinvent itself, otherwise you run the risk of becoming very repetitive.
“One of the things we said about Arrow from the beginning was we wanted the show to evolve,” he continues. “We wanted the season to have its own identity so no matter how many seasons it ran, you could watch an episode at random and immediately know what season it was from. For better or worse, I think we’ve accomplished that so far, and the challenge for us going forward is how do we continue to do that, but also do it in a way that doesn’t feel forced?
“There’s a reason why the ‘jump the shark’ phenomenon is a real phenomenon: it’s because if you’re doing your job, you’re constantly trying to push the show and push boundaries, but there’s no clear delineation as to where ‘too far’ is. So it’s a bit of a ‘feel’ thing, but I’m really excited. The response we’ve been getting to Season 5 is absolutely wonderful, and I’m really optimistic and hopeful that people will continue to come along for the ride.”
If they do, there will be a much bigger shake-up. For one thing, the flashbacks will essentially come to an end, meaning that the approach next year will be different. In some sense, it will likely result in some form of reboot for the show. As executive producer Wendy Mericle explains it, one of the things that the writers make a point of discussing while crafting the fifth season is what ideas might be better suited for the sixth, mostly because they need to be thinking about the ‘end game’.
“When you’re thinking about the end game of Season 5,” she notes, “Those are the seeds of the next chapter. There’s no question that it is going to be a reboot. Even as we’re writing Season 5, it’s the closing of that chapter. When we come back for 6, we’re really looking down the barrel of, ‘Well, we don’t know how many more seasons we have. We hope we have 6, we hope we have until Season 10,’ and then you start planting those seeds for what is going to sustain the show for another season or two or three or four.
“That is a tricky endeavour,” Mericle adds, “but it’s also exciting, because it gives you an opportunity to radically rethink the show. Not too radically, because you want it to still feel like Arrow, but we have a lot more real estate now, because we won’t have flashbacks in every episode. We do have the luxury of having created that structure in the past, and if we want to use it for the one of our characters or for a new character, to get into their heads or to understand their back story more deeply, we have the advantage of having that in our arsenal to use. A lot of questions are raised, and I think we’ll be answering those while hopefully really setting some of that stuff up in the finale this year. It’s going to be a good challenge.”
Arrow: Season 6 will return to Sky 1 on 2 February 2017. For all the latest TV news, pick up the new issue of SciFiNow.