While Arrow’s third season garnered a lot of flack for its overall deliverance, the show’s fourth season is already poised for a strong run at its midway mark. With a new look Oliver Queen that’s embraced his fated persona the Green Arrow and a focus on the man under the hood as well as the hood, Arrow‘s fourth season has had the perfect blend of action, romance, intrigue, humor, and character development that has made it one of television’s best shows.
With nine episodes in the books there have been some things we’ve loved and some things we didn’t love. We’re looking at our rants (bad) and raves (good) for the first half of Arrow’s fourth season. Luckily there are more raves than rants, so let’s start with the positives first!
1) Oliver and Felicity’s Relationship
While some fans felt like Oliver and Felicity were the root of season three’s problems, they were actually one of the season’s high points. Season four has been really amazing so far and a big reason for that has been the exploration of Oliver and Felicity’s relationship as they navigate life as partners both personally and professionally. It’s a rare thing nowadays on television to truly explore a healthy relationship on television, but Arrow is nailing it, with the exception of a certain storyline in our “rants” section, this season and showing us what a healthy, successful relationship looks like. But more than anything they’re letting the natural chemistry between Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards work its magic, and that’s a huge part for the popularity of the pairing and the success of the relationship.
2) Damien Darhk as the Big Bad
I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I was disappointed in season three’s big bad Ra’s al Ghul. But this year’s big bad Damien Darhk is everything that we were promised in Ra’s al Ghul: intelligent, suave, cunning, and insanely evil. Neal McDonough inspires genuine terror as Darhk, who despite the reveal that he has a family, shows no sense of morality or humanity. He also has no problem using brutal tactics to take out Oliver and his loved ones. Darhk is everything that I could want in a villain: deliciously evil and charismatic with a compelling back story that we’ve only begun to delve into.
3) Oliver Queen Running For Mayor
A storyline that I was reluctant for the show to explore at first, what originally seemed forced as another piece of Green Arrow comic book canon has actually evolved into a good arc for Oliver this season. When the idea was first introduced it had all of the makings of coming off as insincere, but the storyline has actually served a dual purpose of exploring how Oliver fights the darkness both as the Green Arrow and as Oliver Queen the man. But perhaps the most pleasant surprise has been the intriguing dynamic between Oliver and Darhk — and I don’t mean Green Arrow vs. Darhk, I’m talking about Oliver Queen vs. Damien Darhk. They are two separate dynamics, but the most intriguing one has proven to be Oliver vs. Darhk as it’s now taken on a more personal feel and showed that you don’t need superhero costumes to generate good storylines.
4) John and Andy Diggle
We’ve waited four years, but it’s finally John Diggle’s year. One of the storylines this season that we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of is Andy Diggle’s return from the dead and how John has had to deal with Andy’s return and his allegiance to Damien Darhk. This is a storyline four years in the making, and it’s been great to see it come to fruition the way it has. It’s become more than Diggle’s need for vengeance over HIVE, the organization he believed had his brother killed, and it’s become about Diggle dealing with his brother’s betrayal. About how Diggle realizes that it was better when he thought his brother was honorable and dead. With Andy locked away in Team Arrow’s headquarters, this is a storyline that is far from resolved, and I can’t wait to see how it plays out.
5) Thea’s Bloodlust
With Thea joining the ranks of Team Arrow following her dalliance with near death and suiting up as Speedy, one of the things that we’ve been waiting to see is the effects of the Lazarus Pit on our youngest Queen. Introducing Thea’s bloodlust has provided a great arc for Thea as she grapples with darkness, something that her brother has also dealt with in his past. Thea’s struggles with her bloodlust look to only be beginning with 14 episodes remaining this season. But it’s Oliver’s journey from monster to hero that proves that redemption is entirely possible for anyone who wants it and is willing to fight for it.
6) New and Familiar Faces
While Arrow‘s been known to grow overcrowded at times — *cough* season 3 *cough* — something that’s been really great about this season have been the new and familiar faces that have been brought aboard, and how the show has handled their arcs. Whether it’s the new additions of Damien Darhk and Curtis Holt or the familiar faces of Mama Smoak and Constantine, Arrow has managed to not let their inclusion completely overtake the show so as to take time away from the leads. Well, Damien Darhk is the season’s big bad so he rightfully gets that, but the guest appearances haven’t overshadowed the core cast of characters that makes Arrow the show we know and love.
7) Who’s In The Grave?
There’s no denying that the talk of Arrow season four – besides Olicity – is surrounding the mystery about who’s in the grave that we saw in the season premiere. It’s so hyped about that it’s become a weekly discussion where fans – and us at Fangirlish – evolve our theories around who we believe is in the grave and why. The producers have only added fuel to the fire when they revealed that this death will stick. There’s no Lazarus Pit anymore, and this death will be permanent. It’s generated a frenzy, slight terror, and anticipation like no other. This storyline has generated so much discussion already, and it’s not even slated to emerge more prominently for another three months.
1) Oliver’s Baby Mama Drama
While I was never a fan of this storyline that’s being explored as a means to pay homage to the source material, there was a right way to handle this and a wrong way to handle this. Unfortunately, we were dealt the latter, which involves drumming up cheap drama as a means to spawn chatter. The whole Oliver lying to Felicity feels out-of-character no matter how you try to spin it. The show has essentially set it up for Felicity to find out that Oliver has been lying and for the couple to take a break for an episode or two. And for what reason? To create cliched drama to fill the in between episodes leading up to what will be a possible wedding or at the least a second proposal? There are other ways to handle this storyline that show the strong foundation of Oliver and Felicity’s relationship instead of driving an uncharacteristic wedge between them.
2) Laurel and the Resurrection of Sara
While I’ve never been a big fan of Laurel, my feelings towards her have evolved from hatred to acceptance from season two to now. But the one storyline involving Laurel this season that I despised was her involvement in Sara’s resurrection. Like the above issue with Oliver’s baby mama drama, there was a right way and a wrong way to handle this storyline. And unfortunately this storyline took the latter route. While it started out with a potential to be redeeming, it eventually just made Laurel look incredibly selfish as it was she who needed Sara alive and breathing. It wasn’t about Sara’s well-being it was about Laurel’s. Perhaps if we’d seen her more conflicted about what would become of Sara through the process it would’ve felt more genuine.
3) The Island Flashbacks
Not to sound crass, but does anyone really care about the flashbacks at this point? With the tease that this would be the series’ best flashback story, all that we’ve gotten this season is another forgetful series of flashbacks that makes me angry every time we have to cut away from the present day action. At least Oliver is sporting his present-day haircut and looking hot as hell. Perhaps the best flashback happened in “Haunted” when Constantine made his debut on the show. It was compelling and explained the present-day connection between Oliver and Constantine. Sure there’s more story to be told, but nine episodes in and I really don’t care anymore. I’m just praying we can skip a mostly-flashback episode this season.
4) Setting Up DC’s Legends of Tomorrow
Look I’m just as – if not more – excited as anyone about DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, but I couldn’t help but be bothered that Arrow continues to serve as a launching point for spinoffs. More than anything it has to do with taking valuable screen time away from characters that are actually on the show, But it’s also due to a certain disrespect for the show that started it all. This is more a personal preference than anything, but I can’t help but feel like Arrow is the disrespected older brother that is often forgotten or used as a stepping stone for the younger siblings. Arrow isn’t given nearly enough credit for all of the shows — both on The CW and on other networks — that it’s helped launched. But with Legends premiering this month at least we won’t have to worry about the propping up…until the next spinoff.