Following last season’s literally explosive finale, the Arrow Season 6 premiere had a lot to live up. Season 5 of the CW superhero drama is considered by many to be one of its best seasons, if not the best, and it reached such dramatic heights by the end of its 23 episodes. There was absolutely no chance that the Arrow Season 6 premiere could keep that same intensity going, and “Fallout” doesn’t even attempt to. Despite the numerous action sequences, from Oliver and Dig taking down henchmen together in the Arrowcave to the two face-offs that Black Canary and Black Siren have, this Arrow premiere is a quieter, more contemplative episode of television, one that tries to examine how the events on Lian Yu five months ago changed all of our main characters’ lives for better and for worse.
The two men at the focus of this examination are Oliver and Quentin, who both are struggling with the idea of what it means to be a father in very different ways. Oliver questions every single word and action he takes with William, whom he is now the sole parent of after Samantha dies in Chase’s explosion from last season; Samantha uses her dying words to tell Oliver to be a true father to William, but how can he be a source of love and comfort to his son when all William sees when he looks at him is the “bad man” that’s responsible for his mother’s death?
Meanwhile, Quentin struggles with a secret that only Dinah knows: he shot and believed he had killed Earth-2 Laurel, Black Siren, on Lian Yu in order to save Dinah’s life. However, even though he was protecting his friend, Quentin still can’t believe he was able to pull the trigger on his own daughter. As he tells Oliver later in this episode, it doesn’t matter that she’s from a parallel universe; there’s an unspoken, unshakable connection that he feels to Black Siren—she is still every bit his daughter as the Laurel that was killed by Damien Darhk. That bond that Quentin feels with Black Siren, despite her villainous actions throughout this episode, is what causes him to nearly relapse into drinking and what also stops him from pulling the trigger again on his Earth-2 daughter after she escapes the Arrowcave near the end of the premiere.
Although the specifics of Oliver and Quentin’s situations are entirely different, both men are able to find common ground in their conversations with each other. Neither of them says anything too insightful or profound. Oliver keeps reminding Quentin about how good of a father he has always been to Laurel and Sara and also tells him to not wallow in guilt like Oliver has so many times before. Meanwhile, Quentin tells Oliver to forget about his fears and worries when it comes to William and just show up—just be a father, which is why Oliver tells William that he can feel whatever way he wants to about Oliver but he’s never going to leave him because that’s what a father does, he stays with and stands by his son. By the end of the premiere, neither of them have completely overcome these hurdles; however, they’re making slow and steady progress, and they both have strong women by their side to help them as their journeys continue, as Oliver can turn to both Raisa and Felicity (who serve as symbols of the good man he always was and the better man he has transformed into) and Quentin can lean on Dinah, who in many ways has become a type of surrogate daughter to him, much like Thea was throughout Season 5.
And speaking of Thea, she is unfortunately the main character that suffers the worst from Chase’s evil plan. While Oliver and Slade initially believe she’s dead when they find her on the island, we discover during the final minutes of the premiere she is actually alive but totally unconscious and in Star City hospital. Given that Willa Holland is still a series regular on the show, I’m expecting that Thea will wake up and find her way on the road to recovery sooner rather than later this season. But even when that does happen, it doesn’t take away the pain Oliver must feel over his sister’s condition, which has to also amplify the guilt and worry he feels towards William.
Unlike in past seasons, though, Oliver Queen is handling these challenges in mature, non-destructive ways, a welcome sign of growth given the evolution he went through during Season 5. However, even if Oliver feels like he’s handling his current issues well, he still has to be concerned about how he’s going to deal with the major problem he’s handed at the end of the Season 6 premiere, as crystal-clear photos of him as the Green Arrow are made public on the news. How will Star City’s mayor explain the fact that he’s also the city’s vigilante, an individual that is still considered to be a criminal after last season? I have no idea, and I’m anxious to find out.
- Welcome back to Arrow reviews! Thank you so much to anyone and everyone who discovered my writing last season and is back for my thoughts on Season 6. I mentioned on Twitter earlier this week that, due to my schedule with graduate school, these reviews will be going up a little later than they did last year, at least this fall. Instead of being posted an hour or two after the episode airs, you can expect them either very late on Thursday night or Friday morning. I hope you all enjoy what I have to say, no matter when it’s posted!
- It seems like Diggle is struggling with PTSD of some sort after the events on Lian Yu, as he has difficulty firing his gun throughout “Fallout” and opts to stay back in the Arrowcave when the team is on its mission at City Hall. Dinah is the team member that takes notice to this, and I’m excited for this storyline because I loved the friendship that developed between Dig and Dinah last season. Here’s hoping she can help him get through this like he helped her get through the grief of her partner and boyfriend.
- A couple of other nice father moments throughout the episode: Slade checks in with Oliver before leaving for Calgary to find his son. Before he goes, though, Slade warns Oliver that the time is coming where he’ll have to decide between being the hero that people need him to be and the father his son needs him to be. That certainly sounds like this season’s central conflict right there. Also, Oliver uses his power as mayor to get Rene another hearing for custody of Zoe, and it’s a super sweet moment between the two teammates and friends.
- While Oliver and Felicity never explicitly state that they are a couple in this episode, it’s made pretty clear that they’re together during the scene early on in “Fallout” when she brings Big Belly Burger to the team in the Arrowcave. Oliver asks her to join him back at his apartment so that they can talk to William about the two of them, but Felicity suggests they do it another night. I’m very much here for this drama-free, openly communicative version of Oliver and Felicity. Please keep that going all season long, Arrow writers.
- My only real gripe with this episode is that the editing and pacing of it felt very off. The creative team doesn’t give certain moments enough time to really breathe and stand on their own, and it really lessens their emotional impact for me. Hopefully, that’s only because they were trying to cram so much into this first episode, and it’s not indicative of what the series will feel like all season long.
What did everyone else think about tonight’s Arrow Season 6 premiere? Are you excited for the season ahead? Comment below and let me know.
[Photo credit: Dean Buscher/The CW]