Arrow Season 3 Countdown: Ranking Episodes Pt. 1 Arrow Season 3 Countdown: Ranking Episodes Pt. 1
GATV reviewer Matt Tucker ranks the 23 episodes of Season 3. Arrow Season 3 Countdown: Ranking Episodes Pt. 1

The annual tradition continues. As the hotly anticipated fourth season premiere, “Green Arrow,” quickly approaches, GATV reviewer Matt Tucker offers reflection on the shaggy, uneven Arrow Season 3. With ecstatic highs for some and aching lows for others, the series’ third year has proven to be its most divisive so far.

In two parts, Matt presents a countdown of his ranking of each of the twenty-three episodes and awaits the heated debate.

Previous Countdowns

Season 1: Episodes 23-19Episodes 18-14Episodes 13-9Episodes 8-4Top 3 Episodes
Season 2: Episodes 23-14Episodes 13-4Top 3 Episodes

Agree or disagree? Have your own rankings? As always, we welcome your feedback and discussion. Tell us what you think in the comment section below or over on the GATV forum, presented by KSiteTV.

Countdown #23 - 312: 'Uprising'

Series Episode: 58
Original Airdate: February 4, 2015
– [Original review at link]
Guests: Ted Grant/Wildcat ( J.R. Ramirez ), Tatsu Yamashiro ( Rila Fukushima ), Sin ( Bex Taylor-Klaus )
Flashback Guests: Young Tommy Merlyn ( Arien Boey ), Young Oliver Queen ( Jacob Hoppenbrouwer ), Young Nyssa al Ghul ( Taylor Dianne Robinson )
Special Guests: Danny Brickwell/Brick ( Vinnie Jones )

“An episode with essential movements completely let down by its execution.”

This is still one of the more baffling episodes of the series. The plot points that it has to hit are all valid, and you can check them all off on a list perfunctorily. Yet, so much seems misplaced and out of rhythm. What should have been this climactic orgy of aggression to close out the Brick/Oliver’s Dead arc is severely undercut by odd filming and editing choices, reducing an impressively sized melee for television to near inconsequential status. Oliver returns to give the Arrow a big-screen union boss-style rallying speech that’s completely out of character for his hooded persona. And the troublesome flashbacks hit a true nadir with a noteworthy bad performance from one of our usual faves, John Barrowman.

Countdown #22 - 323: 'My Name is Oliver Queen'

Series Episode: 69
Original Airdate: May 13, 2015
Guests: Ra’s al Ghul ( Matt Nable ), Nyssa al Ghul ( Katrina Law ), Tatsu Yamashiro/Katana
Flashback Guests: Maseo Yamashiro ( Karl Yune ), Tatsu Yamashiro, General Matthew Shrieve ( Marc Singer )
Special Guests: Ray Palmer/The Atom ( Brandon Routh ), Barry Allen/The Flash ( Grant Gustin )

“A rushed and disappointing finale exemplifies its inconsistent season.”

An episode that perfectly encapsulates both the good and the bad of the season preceding it, but mostly the bad. We touched on this again in our Season 3 roundtable, but the hour showcases what was both inconsistent and generally flat about much of the year. The sunset ending didn’t feel earned because much of the relationship drama over the season felt forced. More important, Oliver’s identity quest was mostly nebulous until they turned it into a deep undercover story that would’ve played better if they’d given more time to it. That led to an inert final showdown with Ra’s al Ghul and that still rather cringe-inducing save by Felicity. There are some good points in the finale but most of it felt like the last gasps of an overall down year.

Countdown #21 - 307: 'Draw Back Your Bow'

Series Episode: 53
Original Airdate: November 19, 2014
Guests: Carrie Cutter/Cupid ( Amy Gumenick ), Lyla Michaels ( Audrey Marie Anderson ), Chase ( Austin Butler ), Dr. Avery Pressnall ( Jill Teed ), Isaac Stanzler ( Nathan Mitchell ), Digger Harkness ( Nick E. Tarabay )
Flashback Guests: Maseo Yamashiro, Tatsu Yamashiro, Akio Yamashiro ( Brandon Nomura )
Special Guests: Ray Palmer

“A serviceable main plot offers a chance at character and relationship insight.”

Amy Gumenick is a wonderful presence, even if her Cupid gets a tad too broad at points. It’s the episode itself that is a letdown. The story is okay enough from a plot perspective, but it’s just rather tepid and forgettable. It also leaves hanging the intriguing idea of exploring the repercussions of past events on the show. The highlights of the episode are Ray and Felicity’s business dinner and the first reveal of the A.T.O.M. suit design.

Countdown #20 - 301: 'The Calm'

Series Episode: 47
Original Airdate: October 8, 2014
Guests: Werner Zytle/Vertigo ( Peter Stormare ), Lyla Michaels, Ted Grant, Sara Lance/Canary ( Caity Lotz )
Flashback Guests: Maseo Yamashiro, Tatsu Yamashiro, Akio Yamashiro, Amanda Waller ( Cynthia Addai-Robinson )
Special Guests: Ray Palmer, Barry Allen/The Flash

“A decidedly uneven start to the new season with one hell of a wallop that changes everything.” (Matt’s View)

“A mixed bag of an opening is fun and shocking, resetting the stage for the new but also rehashing some of the old, with troubling implications.” (Derek B. Gayle’s View)

It’s easy to forgive this rather blah season premiere with the closing shock of Sara’s death, but the signs that the season was going to be shaky are evident right in this uneven opening hour. Given the title, there was an expectation that this was going to be a setting builder from which to go crazy. It does that, but it’s ponderous and mostly directionless, which makes the central theme of Oliver’s season arc flimsy. Oliver’s interest in Felicity seems boyishly kicked into overdrive, but his forced decision that he can’t be with her because of what he does in his nights — even though she’s already a part of it — is more frustrating, especially because it is a well-worn and tired trope in superhero stories.

Countdown #19 - 305: 'The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak'

Series Episode: 51
Original Airdate: November 5, 2014
Guests: Donna Smoak ( Charlotte Ross ), Cooper Seldon/Brother Eye ( Nolan Funk ), Myron Forest ( Matthew McLellan ), Mayor Celia Castle ( Christina Cox ), Ted Grant
Flashback Guests: Cooper Seldon, Myron Forest
Special Guests: Ray Palmer

“A rather standard story improved by its participants.”

Again, here’s an episode with a pretty standard story, both in the present arc and in the flashbacks. Just like with “Draw Back Your Bow,” it hits all of the expected points but doesn’t really offer a tremendous amount of insight nor that engaging of a plot. It’s unfortunate because getting background on Felicity is a premium prospect for the series, and Emily Bett Rickards and guests Brandon Routh and Charlotte Ross are stronger than this particular material. While there was little known of her past beyond her education at M.I.T., which bespoke her intelligence, they still manage to retcon Felicity’s abilities to world class. On the surface, this would seem to be empowering or enriching, but it rather suggests that she was somehow lacking as a character. Advancement is one thing but retroactively, artificially filling ability doesn’t serve story or character well. It also just doesn’t match up well with the character we were first introduced to.

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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