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'Arrow' goes off the rails in a 'very special episode'
Stephen Amell is DC Comics' Green Arrow in the CW TV series "Arrow." - photo by Jim Bennett
So, as I promised last year, Ive streamlined my superhero TV viewing habits. I only skim Marvels "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D," Ive scrapped Gotham altogether and Ive resisted the urge to watch the new X-Men show Legion. So as of now, all of my superheroes on television inhabit the Arrowverse, which is the nickname for the shared universe of The Flash, DCs "Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl and, of course, the titular Arrow, which, sadly, is the worst of the lot.

It didnt use to be. The first two seasons of Arrow arguably represent the best comic-book television content ever produced. But it went off the rails in the third season, and its never found its way back. I keep watching dutifully in the hopes that itll return to greatness, but after the recent Spectre of the Gun episode, Ive come to accept that Arrow is only going to keep getting worse.

Spectre of the Gun was in the tradition of all those very special episodes that dotted the TV landscape back in the 1970s and '80s. You remember those, dont you? Thats when a sitcom or light comedy decides it wants to tackle some kind of serious theme, like when Arnold on Diffrent Strokes was suddenly confronted by a child molester or when Horshack on Welcome Back, Kotter started doing drugs.

The deadly serious nature of the special episode content is always wildly inconsistent with the tone of the rest of the series, and thorny social issues intrude into the narrative only to be tidily wrapped up in less than 30 minutes. So Arnold suffered no lasting damage from his encounter with a pedophile and Horshack kicked his drug addiction before the last commercial. In the course of the rest of the series, these earth-shattering events were never mentioned again.

Now I realize Arrow is no Diffrent Strokes, and, to be fair, it actually has explored some rather meaty material during its run and done so effectively. The problem is that the issue it chooses to highlight in its very special episode was gun violence, which is an area where the Green Arrow/Oliver Queen holds absolutely no moral high ground.

The show begins with a mass shooting at Star City Hall, where Oliver serves as the citys mayor when hes not dressed up like Robin Hood and fighting bad guys. The rest of the episode consists of a great deal of hand-wringing by Oliver and his cronies about what kind of legal ordinances Star City ought to adopt to prevent future gun massacres. Character dialogue is peppered with trite partisan slogans that sound like they were cribbed from both MSNBC and Fox News, and the whole thing has the feel of a dreary town hall meeting gone to seed. In the end, Mayor Queen, who is opposed to guns, convinces a gun rights city councilwoman to support a compromise ordinance, and everyone is happy.

The problem is that they never provide any details of this magical compromise, so real-world politicians get no guidance as to how to craft their legislative panacea to a problem that has long eluded easy solutions. But even worse than that is the blindness of both the writers and producers to their galling hypocrisy.

Remember, these are characters that dress up in Halloween costumes and blow things up on a nightly basis, using arrows, bullets or whatever they have on hand. How are we supposed to believe the Green Arrow, a vigilante who routinely kills people by shooting arrows into their chests, has any credibility when it comes to telling people they shouldnt use guns?

That was the final straw for me. Ill still visit the Arrowverse in all of its spin-off shows, but that very special episode of Arrow was my last episode of Arrow.
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