May 12, 2015

Arrow needs a Birds of Prey spin-off (spoilers)

Those of you keeping up with CW's Arrow, you won't have to worry too much about spoilers, but if you haven't seen up to episode 22 of season 3, you might want to hold off reading this.

The time is ripe in Arrow for an all-female team. We've had Oliver, Roy, Diggle, Barry, and Ray all fighting the fight, leaving the Arrowverse heavily weighted towards male heroes. Over time, though, more and more women are coming to the fore, and I'd argue not only is having a female-led show a great idea, it's the decision which, right now, makes the most sense from a strong narrative point of view.

Spoilers after the cut...

Season 3 of Arrow has been quite messy. The writers don't seem to be able to decide which way to take the show.

They set up Thea as a potential villain, then neutered that idea sharply. Malcolm Merlyn switches from ally to enemy and back again like he's making all his decisions with the toss of a coin.

The mid-season break seemingly killed off Oliver, only to reveal him as alive in the next episode, with no special effort or explanation other than his "force of will." His return to Starling City was rushed, and ultimately a meaningless gesture.

The last seven episodes have had a particularly weak narrative, as all the drama over whether or not Oliver would join the League of Assassins, and the sacrifices made by him and his friends (not least of which was Roy's, who gave up his entire life and identity to save Oliver after Ra's told Captain Lance he was the Arrow), were made moot by Oliver's decision to, after all that, give in to the demands of Ra's al Ghul. Yes, it was to save his sister, but it's sloppy story craft to set up all that tension and conflict only for the writers to fridge their way out of it in the end.

This last point irks me most of all, because in order for the reveal of the Arrow's identity to work in a legal sense, Captain Lance would have had to reveal his source in order to get the warrants to search Thea Queen's nightclub and issue an arrest warrant for Oliver. Police don't just get to perform searches and arrest people because of an anonymous tip, and somehow I don't think "I was told by the centuries-old master of a secret society of assassins that's been steering history for over a thousand years" will fly in a court of law.

And worse, it leaves us with a very real problem, from a storytelling perspective.

How can Oliver Queen ever go back to being the Arrow?

Let's look at the current situation, as of episode 22 (I know episode 23 airs tomorrow, but I won't get to see it for a while after, so please don't post spoilers in the comments).

  • Captain Lance is utterly convinced that Oliver is the Arrow, and the moment he sees someone in a green hood, he's going to go after him. 
  • The city has been told that Oliver is the Arrow. Roy revealed himself in the costume and confessed, and now everyone thinks he's dead. What are people going to think if they see the Arrow on the streets again? Some, especially those who've encountered the Arrow before, will have to recognise it's the same man, and realise that Roy took the fall for Oliver. 
  • Oliver has completely alienated and betrayed every single person who has ever trusted him. Even if he goes back to being the Arrow, who would want to work with him? 
So how to fix it? Well, the writers will do whatever they want and we'll have to live with it, but here's what I'd do, what I think is the best decision for the story.

Either do a Birds of Prey spin-off, or turn Arrow INTO Birds of Prey.

Felicity is the Arrowverse's Oracle. She has all of the skills necessary, and has been filling the role of hacker, information-gathering, and tactical co-ordinator since first joining the team.

Laurel has taken over as the Canary, and even has a cool voice-activated canary cry device.

Thea is a master martial artist now, and we've even had a hint of her putting on a mask of her own, as Roy's note mentioned he thought the old Arsenal costume would look better on her than on him. If you were to remove Oliver from the show, she would be a solid successor as the new Arrow.

We've got Tatsu, who can join the new team as Katana, and you could throw in Nyssa for a bit of that Lady Shiva style from recent comics.

Diggle would probably stick with Felicity, too, since he's the one who Oliver has betrayed the most, and has every right to never work with him again.

That's a great foundation for a crime-fighting team! And if it were a separate show, it would give the writers a chance to strip Arrow down, get away from all the complicated mess going on, and get back to where it all started: Oliver's journey. 


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