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Tag: opinion

Arrowverse report card: What we learned from Flash, Arrow, and Legends this season

Contributed by
May 23, 2018

It's been a big year for the Arrowverse, both good and bad. There have been weddings, there have been funerals, and there have been myriad superhero battles along the way.

With the fall season now complete for the flagship Arrowverse shows, we decided to take a look at the big picture to figure out what we just watched over the past year, whether it was any good, and what it means as we look ahead to next season. From Arrow's slugfest with Diaz, Flash's face-off with Devoe, and the Legends of Tomorrow's big fluffy battle for the future itself — here's our take on this year in the Arrowverse.

Editor's Note: Yes, we realize Supergirl is still airing new episodes, and Black Lightning wrapped a while ago. But both those shows are in different realities within the multiverse, and not in the Arrowverse proper. Because, yeah. Gotta love comics, right?

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DC'S LEGENDS OF TOMORROW

Unlike its more grounded superhero brethren, Legends of Tomorrow is the craziest corner of the universe when it comes to The CW's superhero shows. It's basically a spaceship of misfit toys, filled with fan-favorite characters from across the flagship shows, who often stumble onto the Waverider when they've run out of usefulness on a solo series. On its surface, it's a model that shouldn't work nearly as well as it does. That said, Legends is consistently the best show of the bunch week to week.

Season 3 had its flaws, namely recycling Damien Darhk once again as the main villain, but it was still a great season. We got true character growth for several players, a mythical story that pushed the boundaries for what this series could support, and (as usual) some great cameos for characters like John Constantine and Jonah Hex. The season culminated in arguably the goofiest thing ever to be put on prime-time television, with the team channeling their energies into a building-sized stuffed animal that fought a giant demon to the death. It was as gloriously goofy as it sounds, and peak Legends at its best: heartfelt, silly, and just plain fun.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Big deaths and roster shake-ups: Legends has had a revolving cast since its inception, and that grand tradition continued on this season. Original team member Martin Stein died heroically; fellow team member Jax left the team and returned to civilian life following Stein's death; totem-bearer Zari joined the team; Kid Flash (aka Wally West) joined the team toward the end of the year, though he's noticeably absent from early promo material for Season 4. Lastly, Vixen (aka Amaya) returned to her life in the 1940s, though she's still listed as a main cast member, so there's little doubt she'll be called back into service pretty quickly.

Sara found love: The journey of Sara Lance, from assassin to de facto team leader, has been one of the best arcs in the Arrowverse. In Season 3, Sara finally found a love interest who could keep up with her crazy life: Ava Sharpe. Ava is the director of the Time Bureau, and also a clone from the future (yes, really). Though their relationship ended the season in a slightly rocky state, Ava is set to return as a main character next season, so look for this love connection to persist.

They can cheat time: The Legends spend most of their time correcting anomalies in the timeline, putting historical figures back where they belong or fixing wacky changes to history (i.e. zombies during the Civil War, etc.). In Season 3, new team member Zari realizes there are ways to "cheat" time by fixing the anomaly but still making a change that doesn't mess things up too much. They do this by dropping Helen of Troy off in ancient Themyscira to give her a new life, and looking ahead to Season 4, it stands to reason that little tidbit could come into play even more.

Constantine joined the gang: One of the show's biggest developments came in the final moments of the season finale: John Constantine shows up to join the team. This is a big deal for a few reasons, namely because he's a major name from DC Comics and will be a full-time cast member next season, with a season-long arc designed to keep him around. The team will spend Season 4 dealing with the fallout of all sorts of mythical creatures and demons being released upon the world, with Constantine helping out with capturing them all. Kind of like a demonic, pansexual Pokémon adventure.

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ARROW

To put it simply, this season of Arrow was not great. With the show in its sixth season, moving beyond the five-year plan that had played out with the long-running flashback cycle that brought the first five seasons of Arrow full circle, the series struggled to find its footing. The main arc found Team Arrow largely expanded with new heroes, then torn apart due to infighting that led to two super-teams in Star City.

The show split its narrative focus with too many characters and team rivalries that spun in the mud for weeks on end (the phrase "This doesn't change anything, hoss" became a meme unto itself), and suffered from lack of a compelling villain, only revealing Ricardo Diaz as the "real" Big Bad in the home stretch. It became abundantly clear that Season 6 was a transitional one. Here's hoping a creative shake-up behind the scenes can right the ship next season.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Oliver gets a son: Introduced in earnest last season, Oliver Queen officially became a present father in Season 6. Oliver's estranged son William came to live with him following the death of his mother at the end of Season 5, and there's no doubt the introduction of a son brought in some real narrative weight and changed up the status quo. Oliver grappled with what it means to be a father and vigilante, even letting Diggle take over his mantle for a while. Of course, Oliver ended up back where he started as the Green Arrow by the time it was over and made up with most of his estranged team, so hopefully Season 6 will quickly be put in the rearview mirror.

Cast shake-ups: This show has struggled to find compelling stories for Oliver's younger sister Thea for years and finally wrote her off this season, sending her on the road with her long-lost love Roy Harper. Interestingly enough, the character of Roy will be returning as a series regular next year, though Thea is apparently gone for good. This season also saw the Earth-2 version of Laurel Lance get a good bit of screen time after the Earth-1 version of the character was killed off a couple seasons ago. That story was met with mixed reactions, though she seems to be on a path toward redemption in Season 7. Oh, and Diggle is still around, he's just working for Argus now.

Olicity ties the knot: It'd been a long time coming, but Oliver and Felicity finally tied the knot this season — literally piggybacking on Barry and Iris' wedding during the annual crossover event. The relationship has always been a point of consternation for some fans (in the comics, Oliver's true love is Dinah Laurel Lance), but the writers committed to it years ago. Now, love it or hate it, it's officially official.

R.I.P. Quentin Lance: Word broke before the Season 6 finale that Paul Blackthorne's Quentin Lance would not be returning next season, and in the finale we found out why. Quentin is shot by Diaz while trying to protect Earth-2 Laurel and dies off-screen on the operating table. He'd been with the show since Season 1 and was a great character to boot, so it was a shame to see him reach such an ignominious end.

The Longbow Hunters are coming: Diaz ended the season still on the loose and dropped hints he'd be teaming up with some new pals soon: The Longbow Hunters. The name should be familiar to comic fans, and they're teased as a dangerous group of killers who will certainly be causing a lot of trouble in Star City next season.

Oliver behind bars: To take down Diaz's web of corruption that's engulfed Star City, Oliver had to cut a deal with the FBI. Part of the deal found Ollie admitting to being the Green Arrow and going to jail for his vigilantism. The season finale ended with the clink of the jail cell and Oliver behind bars. He obviously won't spend too much time there, but look for that plot to definitely carry over into Season 7.

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THE FLASH

After having the Fastest Man Alive face off with other very-fast people for three seasons, Season 4 of The Flash flipped the script and introduced a non-speedster villain — and it was certainly a breath of fresh air. While Season 4 wasn't perfect, it still turned out some exceptional episodes with a compelling story and villain to tie it together.

Barry found some positivity and grew as a leader; the team made some big strides forward; Devoe was a fantastic foil for Barry and his team. Season 4 is arguably a template for how this series can break free from always using speedster baddies, and certainly looks to be blowing the doors wide open for the show to mine deeper into the character's comic canon in the years to come.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Joe had a baby: Cecile spent much of the season pregnant, and that story came to a head when she welcomed a new daughter into the world. Joe and Cecile now have a daughter, so look for Season 5 to feature ample diaper jokes and an exhausted Joe.

Kid Flash hit the road: Wally West became a major character over the past couple seasons, but hit the road on a quest for meaning and left the ensemble this year after Barry returned to duty at the start of the year (he also broke up with his longtime girlfriend Jesse Quick). It wasn't much of a surprise to see the character's role reduced, considering Ralph Dibny (aka Elongated Man) joined the team, so something had to break to clear some space in the ensemble. Thankfully, Wally did resurface on Legends, so hopefully we'll see more of him there.

Barry and Iris got hitched: Barry and Iris West's relationship is a linchpin of his comic story, and this year saw the two lovers tie the knot in the annual four-show crossover event. They're closer than ever at this point, as Iris leads Team Flash and Barry does the running. Though it'd be easy to mine for drama, their relationship has quickly become the heart of the series.

The life and death (and life) of Ralph Dibny: This one hurt, but thankfully things eventually came up Dibny. Season 4 introduced Ralph Dibny, aka the Elongated Man, to the roster. He quickly became a breakout character and even carried the torch as Central City's main hero while Barry was briefly in jail. He came a long way and found what it means to be a hero. Then he was brutally killed by Devoe, who took over his body for the back half of the season... until Barry helped him take back control and return to the world of the living. Looking ahead to next year, he'll still be a member of Team Flash.

Hello Flashtime: Barry continues to experiment with his Speed Force powers, and this year he tapped into a new ability: Flashtime. By tapping Flashtime, Barry can move so quickly that he shares his Speed Force "wake" with someone else, allowing them to interact and move as quickly as he does. He used it to talk with Iris during his trial, and expanded his use of it on a mission against Devoe, enlisting Caitlin and Cisco to help out at super speed. Look for this one to resurface, because it's too handy not to use.

Mystery Girl revealed: A mysterious speedster had been kicking around most of the season, and the season finale finally revealed her identity: Nora West-Allen, Barry and Iris' future daughter (named after Barry's late mother). We don't know much of her story, other than she's made a huge mistake and comes 30 years into the past to fix it. She looks to be a big factor in Season 5.

We're getting another Wells: Season 4 of Flash ended with Harry making the decision to return to his home on Earth-2 to reconnect with his daughter, so the team will be in the market for yet another version of Harrison Wells next season. No word on who we'll see, but the creative team has promised a fresh version of Wells for Year 5.

The Flash, Arrow, and DC's Legends of Tomorrow will all be back on The CW this fall.