It is certainly no stretch to say that season five of Arrow was one of the series' best: It featured perhaps the show's most intense villain, Adrian Chase, aka Prometheus, who put Oliver through the ringer on several occasions. But one of the more talked-about episodes of the season was "Spectre of the Gun," which largely stood apart from the series' ongoing Prometheus story.
"Spectre of the Gun" centered on a hot-button (and risky) discussion. Rather than focusing on Oliver Queen as the Green Arrow, the episode was all about his position as mayor of Star City, and the ongoing political debate over gun control. As such, the episode's primary adversary was not a masked supervillain, but an ordinary man with a gun.
Responses to the episode were generally positive, though peruse enough comments sections and you'll find some fans were turned off by Arrow's foray into a political discussion. For the most part, though, the decision to tackle the issue was seen as an appropriate creative decision for the series.
The episode was written by Arrow executive producer Marc Guggenheim, who recently appeared on Entertainment Weekly's SiriusXM radio show, Superhero Insider, and discussed the decision to have the series go in this new direction.
"I had gone into season five with sort of a bucket list of items, of things that I wanted the show to do, and one of those was I wanted to do a topical episode," explained the writer. "I grew up, you know, on shows like L.A. Law and St. Elsewhere, that really confronted and dealt with the issues of the day."
The producer noted that one-hour dramas do not tackle these issues nearly as much at the moment, but since "Arrow does 23 episodes a year, we’ve earned the right, five seasons in, to tell one episode that is a bit of a departure and a bit more topical."
As for how the Arrow writing team landed on the issue of gun violence, it was pretty natural: "The issue of gun violence felt very relevant to the show," Guggenheim said. "We certainly deal with gun violence almost every episode on Arrow, so it felt like a very appropriate topic to tackle."
Moving beyond season five, much of the discussion surrounding Arrow is how the year's explosive cliffhanger will be resolved. After all, viewers have no idea who made it out of the season alive — outside of Oliver, of course. And while Guggenheim remained pretty tight-lipped about how Prometheus' final act will be addressed, he did tease that there will be more departure episodes in the future. "We will do another topical episode as well," he said.
"Our intention is to make the gun violence episode a tradition, not in the sense that we'll do a gun violence episode every season, but rather do something that is a little more topical."
The next issue Arrow will tackle will largely depend on the timing, but like "Spectre of the Gun," it is likely that the creative team will look to a topic that is truly relevant to the show, rather than attempting to talk politics just for the sake of doing so.