Arrow #4.1: “Green Arrow” Quickshot Recap Arrow #4.1: “Green Arrow” Quickshot Recap
A recap and initial reaction to the fourth season premiere. Arrow #4.1: “Green Arrow” Quickshot Recap

New suit. New city. New season. And new format.

Going to try something a little different with Arrow reviews this season. No, you’re not going to lose that in-depth analysis you love to hate. That’s a GATV trademark that isn’t going away any time soon.

Instead, we’re going to give you two parts of the review. The first will be the Quickshot Recap, an episode recap and first thoughts that we’ll get out on show nights to spark discussion both here and over on the GATV forum. Then, we’ll follow up with the Deep Review a little later in the week to dive in on the specifics of the episode and what everything means for the season.

To kick things off, let’s recap…

Season 4, Episode 1: “Green Arrow”

Written By: Greg Berlanti & Beth Schwartz (story); Marc Guggenheim & Wendy Mericle (script)
Directed By: Thor Freudenthal
Series Episode: 70
Airdate: October 7, 2015
Guests: Lyla Michaels Diggle ( Audrey Marie Anderson )
Flashback Guests: Amanda Waller ( Cynthia Addai-Robinson )
Special Appearance: Damien Darhk ( Neal McDonough )

Special Guests: Barry Allen ( Grant Gustin )


Open on Oliver sprinting through the woods chasing or being chased, barreling through a split in the trees into … a cul de sac. Oliver, now wearing the kind of green cotton hoodie many a cosplayer has purchased to look like their favorite archer, is out for his morning jog and speeds right into his two-car garage suburban bliss all smiles and waves to the neighbors. He finds his love, Felicity, ruining her umpteenth try at making an omelet (which to make properly is surprisingly more involved than one would think). Here we get our first bit of wincing cuteness with Oliver’s line about Felicity failing the omelet. It’s noticeable primarily because they keep the saccharine factor of the romance to a minimum throughout the hour, giving it a mature tone that actually feels like a functional relationship rather than a YA novel.

It’s been about six months since they’ve skipped town following the showdown with Ra’s al Ghul and Felicity spends time reluctantly running Palmer Technologies from a distance while Oliver makes plans with other couples for brunch. Whatever keeps him from being shot at is his philosophy.

Being shot at is exactly what is happening with Team [Not-So-] Arrow as Black Canary, Speedy, and a helmeted Diggle work together to take down a hijacked Kord Industries cargo shipment. Thea, who insists on being called Red Arrow, is a bit overzealous, but she and Laurel make a good tag team, clearing the way for Diggle to finish off the thieves and take hold of the cargo. Unfortunately, a second group of thugs shows up and confiscates the loot. Licking their wounds, the team returns to base and discovers that the shipment was military grade weapons. Feeling outclassed by these militarized goons being referred to as “Ghosts” — because they appear and vanish from their attacks without a trace — Laurel suggests they ask Oliver for help, but Diggle is having not one iota of that.

Quentin Lance, the District Attorney, and other city leaders meet to discuss finding a new mayor, a job no one wants given the rather pesky life expectancy. They’ve rechristened the place Star City and have built a terminal for a bullet train directly linking them to Central City, yet there is still a lot of fear in the air. Fear perpetrated by Damien Darhk, who strolls right into the meeting and announces that he’s the one they are looking to take down. He offers them a different solution: let Star City die so that it may be reborn as something better. And behind McDonough’s icy blue eyes and devilish smirk, he’s clearly not going to give them any other choice.

Felicity and Oliver host a brunch, though the way she grips his arm, the day seems to be killing her inside. Once their guest couple starts trying to jump start their biological clocks by insisting on being overly practical about their future children, Felicity disappears to get more drinks. Oliver confirms that he’s going to propose and shows the couple the ring, one that belonged to Moira Queen.

Back in Star City, the DA tells Laurel about the meeting. Suddenly, she falls ill, her coffee having been poisoned. As Laurel barks for someone to call 911 and she and others tend to their boss, Laurel inexplicably calls Diggle to warn him of an attack on city leaders. Inexplicable not that she would call him, but that she would call him and start talking about it with everyone standing around her. As a mask, you’d think a little discretion would be a concern for her.

Diggle goes after the Director of Emergency Services at the hospital but is too late to stop him from being stabbed. Thea tries to stop an attack on the city comptroller at city hall but he’s shot dead. And Laurel runs to the precinct to protect her father, who is attacked by the Ghosts and winged in the shoulder. Laurel mostly holds her own but you can thankfully still see aspects of her inexperience. Overwhelmed, Laurel and Thea visit Oliver, interrupting dinner and his proposal.

Oliver is willing to offer advice but not to step back into the game. Felicity disagrees. So off to Star City it is, where Oliver sees firsthand the way the city is being abandoned and wonders aloud if they did any good. At the base, Diggle is surprised to see Oliver with Laurel and Thea, and none too happy. Honestly, you don’t kidnap a man’s wife and put his baby potentially in harm’s way and expect warm receptions. But to brush aside the ugly tensions of bro-vorce, Felicity hacks Kord Industries in no time flat and discovers they stole a sub-nuclear, yet devastating all the same, bomb.

Old habits rear their heads and Oliver catches himself totally stepping on Diggle’s toes and ordering everyone around. As they disperse to handle business, Oliver notices that Felicity is able to pull up information on the Ghosts a bit too handily; he calls her out for having been helping the team this whole time behind his back. Laurel informs her dad that the baddies have a bomb and tries to get a bead from him on what they might want to hit. Meanwhile, Diggle spends time with Lyla and baby Sara and tells his wife Oliver is back. Lyla is not surprised and is actually forgiving of what Oliver had to do to take down Ra’s. She suggests John do the same.

In a rather charming exchange, Oliver goes back over the past few months to explain weird absences or moments away on Felicity’s part and finds out all were while she was helping the team. He’s shocked because he thought driving into the sunset meant she wanted to give all of the crimefighting up. Turns out she’s bored, not with him but with a life that doesn’t have a purpose like they had in Starling. A computer blip interrupts and they discover that part of the bomb has a GPS tracker, which leads the team to a transport warehouse.

At the warehouse, Damien Darhk addresses his troops, expressing his disappointment at their job performance. As penance, he grabs at a man’s chest Temple of Doom style and begins to suck the very lifeforce out of the man. Team Arrow, including a masked but not suited Oliver, watches on in horror and then jumps into the fray. They make quick work of the scene before the cops show up and Oliver has to stop Thea from beating a man to a pulp and running him through with her sword. On the way out, Oliver gets a man to confess that they are planning to blow up Star City train station.

Back at base, Thea is genuinely freaked by what Darhk did, which Felicity assumes means he’s a metahuman. Oliver corrects them and tells them that it is mystical. They rightfully ask him to elaborate but Oliver gives his patented “I’ve seen some things” response, which likely means that the flashback storyline is going to conveniently feature elements of magic and the dark arts that have otherwise never been touched on in the years since, Lazarus Pits aside. And in Classic Oliver®, he immediately shuts the conversation down to focus on something else.

The team scours the train station trying to detect any sign of the bomb, which they don’t find. Oliver asks Thea if she’s doing okay, worried about her aggression out in the field. She wants no part of big brother’s concern or lectures. As Oliver tries to talk to Diggle about her, Dig also puts up a roadblock. He realized that Oliver is just not capable of love and/or trust, and that’s why he wants as little as possible to do with the guy who actually stood at his side during his wedding. After that hit, Quentin steps up to the plate, there because Laurel informed him of the possibility of the bomb. Lance lays into Oliver with both barrels, blaming him for the rise of the villainous masks that have plagued the city and calling him a monster. Oliver insists he’s no longer such a thing.

Oliver talks to Felicity about the darkness that used to be such a big part of his life. He wants to be in Star City, he wants to help people, but he doesn’t see doing that without embracing that darkness. She suggests he finds another way. The others arrive having found nothing at the station. It clicks with Felicity; they’re bringing the bomb in on the train. Everyone suits up, including Oliver in a new outfit designed by Cisco Ramon.

Diggle and Oliver go for the train Teen Wolf (the movie not the TV series) style — van surfing. Thea and Laurel get the cops and evacuate the train station. To this point, it seems like the entire team has been out of their stock of voice changers as no one bothers much with trying to disguise their voices while in costume. Until Oliver confronts Darhk, of course. Darhk offers Oliver his name and a taste of his magic and easily overpowers the hero. As he begins to om-namah-shivaya Oliver’s lifeforce, Diggle hits Darhk with a tranq dart. Oliver thanks him for the save, and they discover Darhk is gone. With the brakes out and no way to stop the train, they jump from it and blow the train up from outside. Sure, it was necessary, but as the whole thing went up, even Oliver had to be thinking it might have been a bit excessive.

At the base, Oliver and Felicity decide to stay and Oliver reveals that the man they are fighting is Damien Darhk. Diggle asks if Ra’s gave him any insight into Darhk and Oliver recounts that he had a “‘hive’ of operatives at his disposal.” This, of course, raises a red flag for Diggle, who immediately recalls his conversation with Floyd Lawton in Russia two years ago about a group called H.I.V.E. behind his brother Andy’s murder. When Oliver asks if it’s significant, Diggle hides the truth and says no. As Diggle tries to head home and not deal with Oliver staying at the moment, Oliver suggests there is something they need to do.

The team hacks all broadcast media in the city and the masked Oliver offers everyone a message. He assures them that, though the Arrow “died” months ago, his cause was right and just. That other heroes took up his crusade because of that and he will join them. He says he will be light to fight the darkness plaguing the city, that he will be a symbol of hope that the Arrow could never be. And so’s they know who they are dealing with, he offers up a new moniker: Green Arrow.

Darhk completes a blood ritual to whatever dark master he prays to and his power is replenished. And because we need a big What the Hell?! moment, he’s interrupted by a visitor: Quentin Lance. Turns out ol’ Captain Q agreed to work with Darhk. His intentions, though, aren’t exactly clear yet. Darhk wants him to find out everything about the Green Arrow, and he doesn’t offer Lance a choice.

Oliver and Felicity move into Thea’s loft, as being stabbed by Ra’s al Ghul and driven through the big wood and glass coffee table doesn’t exactly evoke feelings of home for Thea in the place. Oliver takes a moment to hide the engagement ring in a decorative bowl of beads for the time being. And then, like Lost during its Season 4, we get the show’s first flash-forward: Barry Allen joins Oliver at a gravesite six months into the future. Oliver tells Barry whoever died wasn’t his fault but he has a responsibility to kill “him,” the man responsible for the death. Is the “him” Darhk? Is it Lance? Is it Diggle?! And just who is in the grave?


Five years ago — or two years prior to Oliver arriving in Starling City in Season 1, for those keeping track — a drug dealer is being chased on Coast City rooftops by Oliver in proto-Arrow mode. Wearing Yao Fei’s hood and wielding his bow and arrows from the island, he’s even taken to putting grease paint around his eyes to help hide his identity. Sadly, the whole look isn’t very polished and neither are his skills; the pusher manages to shove Oliver off the roof and he gets tangled in some power lines in the alley below. He’s confronted by Amanda Waller, who seems to know exactly what he’s been up to.

Waller takes Oliver to get a drink and expresses her surprise to have not found him in Starling. Oliver doesn’t want to be near his family, and Waller correctly guesses it’s because he views himself as an animal after what he did to General Shrieve in Hong Kong. (Though, it was Papa Bear Maseo who actually ended Shrieve’s life for what happened to his son.) Waller still wants Oliver to work for her, to use the monster, and he finds out too late that she drugged his drink.

He wakes up on a plane, where he’s forced at gunpoint to put on a parachute and jump from a plane. His destination: Lian Yu. He’s supposed to infiltrate some new military presence on the island and assess the situation. To get there and avoid radar detection, he’s supposed to HALO (High Altitude Low Opening) parachute, which requires a fair amount of consciousness and concentration. So, of course, one of the guys kicks him in the head to get him off the plane.

Oliver manages to complete the jump and finds himself right back in purgatory. Without skipping a beat, he’s facing down the gun of a soldier. Some things never change.

Three Quick Thoughts

Neal McDonough is perfectly cast as Darhk, and introducing him as the major threat early is a smart move.
Does Quentin think that Darhk can finally get rid of the “mask” problem in Star City?
Diggle’s helmet works a hell of a lot better in action than it does in photos.

What did you think of the season premiere? Let us know in the comments below. And join us later in the week for our “Green Arrow” Deep Review, where we dive on in to the new status quo.

Matt Tucker Editor/Senior Writer/Reviewer

Matt Tucker is a stage and film actor, writer, Seattleite, comics nerd, sports fan, and aspiring person. Someday, he’ll be a real boy. He's an editor and senior writer for KSiteTV network (GreenArrowTV, DaredevilTV) and the sports blogs Sonics Rising and Cascadia Sports Network. Follow him on Twitter at @MattBCTucker or @TuckerOnSports