Two years ago, as Arrow was moving into Season 2, there was a lot of talk about what a great show the series had become. Which is not to say the first season wasn’t good, though I think many would agree that things got a lot better around episode 14, and it was a non-stop thrill ride from there on out, but Season 2 is where the show finally had an all-the-way-through good year.
Season 2 was helped by a strong Team Arrow, growth for the characters, and a genuinely scary villain.
I’ve been kind of honest in roundtables and such that Season 3 wasn’t my favorite season of Arrow. However, much like how Season 2 was helped by learning what did or didn’t work from the first year, I’m getting the feeling that Season 4 also has that thing where they’ve learned from what did or didn’t work. And what do you know, we start with a strong Team Arrow, growth for the characters, and a genuinely scary villain.
Here are some things I liked about the premiere which airs on Wednesday, October 7. Obviously, some SPOILERS will be discussed within:
Team Arrow. While Oliver and Felicity are away in Ivy Town, Diggle, Thea, and Laurel — along with added assistance from a fourth character that is revealed in the episode — are a force to be reckoned with. Season 3 gave us a fractured Team Arrow, which made for great drama, but let’s be honest: It’s so much more fun to see a bunch of people who like each other. Additionally, all three of the members in the field seem to be proficient in what they’re doing, and they all seem to respect one another. It feels good.
Olicity. I’ve also been kind of vocal in not liking how the “Oliver and Felicity” pairing felt rushed last season, especially at the end, but I have to say, the time jump of several months has really helped to define them. We definitely see what Felicity means to Oliver and the premiere more successfully shows that than they have in the past. Likewise, we see a Felicity who is not just taking a back seat to Oliver Queen… she feels more like the strong character many fans fell in love with, and I appreciate that. I also think the two characters are handling conflict a lot more maturely than they might have in the drama-filled Season 3. Both Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards play the sides of the relationship and their new situations very well.
The Oliver Factor. Obviously, it’s not a spoiler that Oliver and Felicity make it back to what is now called Star City. The re-insertion of Oliver into Team Arrow does revive some of the negative feelings, especially after what he did as Al Sah-Him late last season, but that drama feels very earned. Him and Diggle, especially, have a lot to discuss, and I’m happy that the team doesn’t just wait for commands the second Oliver comes back. As I said, they make for more of a cohesive team now, and I hope that stays.
DC Comics shout-outs! You can’t go to Coast City without a Green Lantern shout-out of some sort, right?
The Green Arrow is here! And finally, Oliver Queen has a cooler costume than everyone else. I approve of this, and I’m curious to see how Captain Lance will be with this idea. Speaking of Lance, there’s a great scene with him and Oliver at a train station that sums up his feelings about the Arrow.
No Backseats. Aside from Malcolm Merlyn, who does not appear in this episode, I feel like no characters take a back seat in this episode. I hope Season 4 continues on that path. Arrow has a lot of good actors and good characters, and it’s a shame when development for some falls by the wayside. Not so much here.
A Scary Villain! I will admit, Neal McDonough’s Damien Dahrk is a bit over-the-top (which means I can’t WAIT to see him opposite Malcolm at some point), but he does fit that mold of “actually scary.” I don’t really know what he’s up to but he brings some scary elements to the show that we have not seen before. He’s certainly a great threat.
A Changed Thea? Through Thea, I think Arrow is going to get to explore one of those ideas they could only barely touch upon in the Huntress episodes, and that is: What happens when Oliver sees someone using the same strong tactics he did when he first started? It leads to growth for Oliver, and growth for Thea, and it adds some mystery as to just how much she changed as a result of being in the Lazarus Pit. Speaking of Thea, her team-ups with Laurel are fantastic, and I can see a good friendship growing there too.
Movie-style action is back. Not that it was ever away, but there are so many action sequences and big stunts… it feels like a movie, and it doesn’t disappoint. The only thing bad about it is that now I notice when action isn’t as good as what we get from the folks up in Vancouver, on other shows.
Setting up more mystery. That’s all I can say about that for right now.
When Arrow is good, it is really, really good, and I hope others like the season premiere as much as I did. If Season 4 continues this path, I think the entire audience will leave happy.