Welcome to season four! Admittedly I’m jumping into it about four weeks late, but in this binge viewing fueled society of TV entertainment, I’m fitting right in.
For anyone that reads my reviews, you would know that my critique of the second half of season three is basically, “The wheels fell off the wagon.” The writers essentially painted themselves into an origin story corner and there was only one way out, Oliver and companion riding off into the sunset. For a hero it’s either that or death, and they stupidly pulled the death card for the S3 midseason finale.
So season four in a sense set the new setting. Seasons 1 through 3 were the fake out “prequel” to the real saga of The Green Arrow. Thanks to Ray Palmer’s demise, Starling City is now Star City, and “The Arrow” we know is dead, but there’s a new guy in town. Who’s essentially the old guy, but it’s not like the world knows that. No, he just needs to look the same, use the same voice disguise, put on an updated but still very similar green leather super suit, but none of that matters when you have a new name. Meet your new superhero, “The Green Arrow.” Now we’re current with the comics.
But wait, I’m jumping ahead (I do have a nasty habit of that). The whole illegal and very lame speech didn’t happen until the end of the premiere episode. There was a beginning and middle before it. The episode checked all the boxes. Resolve hero personal issue/predicament left at the end of the previous season. Check. Get together all the principal characters to give you warm fuzzies that your show is back (although I wasn’t happy that Malcolm Merlyn was missing). Check. Throw in a few patented action sequences to get you all pumped up. Check. New costumes for the crew. Um, okay, maybe not something I need to see every year, especially when I’m trying to figure out how Oliver’s old green hooded costume is different that Oliver’s new green hooded costume. Still, I like. Thea’s costume is just badass. And Diggle, whoa! It’s about time the man got some really hot action gear.
I can’t possibly explain why, but I loved seeing Oliver and Felicity in domestic suburb bliss in the beginning. It defies all logic especially since I hated them driving away into the oceanview sunset in a Porsche of all things at the end of last season. Shouldn’t he have been driving a Honda since he was broke? Speaking of broke, they aren’t anymore. We learn from a sweet new city limits sign that blown up hero Ray Palmer is indeed dead, and Starling City is such a damn mess they figured a name change to Star City would fix things. After all, no one wants to like in cesspool Starling City, but now that it’s Star City, oh yeah, count them in! It kind of reminds me when I was a kid the time that East Detroit renamed themselves East Pointe, after the much affluent Grosse Pointe. Oh yes, the name change really helped the fact that it was a low income community with about 100 percent less mansions that Grosse Pointe. But yeah, back to my point, we’ve got same city, new name, and a new high speed train from Capital City that is prime for blowing up.
I felt for Oliver though. I think he was truly trying to make a go of being a homemaker and he didn’t think he was doing too bad a job. He was happy! How he didn’t notice his partner sneaking out and going back to the cave in Starling City to help the others on nighttime escapes is beyond me. Still, did it take much to twist his arm to put on the new outfit that the others just happened to make for him, as if they knew that he would cave in like a cheap super suit and join them? I wish Oliver had seen the suit, said “nah” and gone back to the burbs. The others were doing fine without him.
Speaking of the others, I love that Diggle is leading the pack, but once or twice my mind wandered and I wondered, what does he wear with the helmet on casual Fridays? A Flash t-shirt and jeans? Something that says “I’m with stupid” that points at Oliver? I’m glad that this little rift between him and Oliver isn’t being resolved quickly. It shows just how hurt Diggle was. If it was Laurel and Thea, they would have been BFFs in scene one.
I’m most confused by Oliver and the engagement ring. So why did he hide it? Moving back into the city and into Thea’s loft while resuming activities changed all that? So he’s thinking marriage isn’t in the cards now that they’re superheroes again? Episode five is coming up and I’m still waiting for that explanation, especially since he showed it to neighbors, his sister, and who knows how many random strangers. Do we want to see an Oliver/Felicity wedding? Come to think of it, maybe I’ll drop the issue.
The most relevant takeaway from the episode is the introduction of new bad guy Damian Darhk. Can I say that the casting of Neal McDonough as the greatest coup ever? Now that’s a bad guy to reckon with. Talk about failure never being an option. I’m fascinated that he has these powers but they’ve been traced to mysticism. That’s something new and out of the box compared to “Metahumans.” I suspect that’s where the flashbacks of Oliver returning to the island are headed. I’m still questioning the need for the flashbacks, but at least he’s on the damn island where he belongs.
Please let Damian Darhk continue to be this frightening and not have him turn into the cartoonish figure Ra’s al Ghul was. And yeah, WTH Quentin? How did you get caught up with this jerk? How did you let him kill the City Council like that??? No matter what you’ve gotten yourself into, that’s pretty whacked. It’s a great way to introduce your new villain and I’m very interested in learning more about him.
Oh wait though, there’s a gotcha! I was rather surprised that the cameo from Grant Gustin came from that final scene, Oliver crying over a grave site six months later. If that means Barry was there, it has to be someone they both knew. My money is on Felicity, but the producers even said they don’t know who it is. Oh great, making it up as they go along!
So yeah, episode 4.01 was pretty solid and I enjoyed the lighter tone. It was all great until the whole “I am the Green Arrow” announcement. That is worthy of hijacking TV screens, which is essentially a public nuisance worthy of the most sophomoric villains? Put it out on YouTube Oliver. It gets more views that way. Instead of inspiring hope I’m sure half of the citizens were going “That ham again? Get a life.” Did Diggle do this and introduce the whole team when he took over?
That brings us to episode 4.02, “The Candidate” aka Thea loses her shit. Actually, they did need to go back to that. We needed to see the after effects of the Lazarus Pit just because season three went there. She has the need to kill, which puts Ollie’s “no kill” policy in a bind. I’m sitting here thinking, “Oh come on, there has to be some bastard that deserves it.” You created this mess Ollie. So now everyone knows what’s going on, Malcolm’s warning about the pit wasn’t him blowing smoke. Oh, except Laurel, who didn’t know about the Lazarus Pit. I’ve seen the previews for “Legends of Tomorrow.” I know exactly what is going on in her mind!
But yeah, back to Thea, at least she has the right job to fix that bloodlust. There’s a lot of scum in Star City that need fixing. Wasn’t that a really cool fight scene between her and Oliver? Arrow still manages to have the best stunt choreography of all the action shows, and they were really pushing the action these two episodes. I love that she was able to kick his ass! Like I said, Ollie started this mess, so he kind of had it coming. I suppose if anything it was a cool setup for her to go to Nanda Parbat, aka we finally get to see Malcolm. Sadly we have to wait until 4.03 for that, and it’s lame.
There is a main crux to this story and that’s one of Moira’s friends, who has a young vulnerable daughter, has decided to run for mayor. You know, the job that always ends in premature death. Oliver and team run security and apparently they do a way better job than the police. They save the candidate, but the police can’t manage to keep her daughter safe. They have one job… It’s too bad in the end she back away, because I would have loved to have seen Jeri Ryan, aka Seven of Nine, have a recurring role on this show. She would have been badass. But no, this was a very logical setup for another candidate which I’ll get to in the next review. Quentin’s words to Oliver about hiding behind the mask is the sledgehammer clue.
It’s kind of interesting though that the daughter was rescued thanks to a tip from Damien Darhk to Captain Lance (who I’m still not sure why he’s in this mess). All I’ve heard is this Darhk is plain evil, but he has standards in being evil. In this case, the scumbag who ruined the whole kidnapping also kept mentioning H.I.V.E. to Darhk, and that was enough to make Damien realize this guy shouldn’t be alive anymore. Good thing Thea was around, huh? Diggle is digging around for H.I.V.E. too, so I do hope this is a setup for their paths crossing in the future. BTW, did you enjoy that Diggle confided in Laurel of all people? Aww, she’s officially one of the guys.
I’m a sap. My favorite scene in the episode was Oliver sending Felicity off to her first day at work with a packed lunch and a plant. Arrow needs these lighter moments. I vote Ollie as being the designated chef for the new cave. Can you imagine how great the Crepes Suzette would be? They’d all have to go out and fight to work off their meals. Right, topic. Felicity has her hands full and I want to know how can she be a CEO for a major corporation and help the Scooby Gang at night? I know that the introduction of the nerdy tech that has become her new go to boy is probably relevant down the road (Don’t you love that she lied to him at first the same way Oliver lied to her when they first met?). Don’t tell me though, I love surprises and it’s obvious he’ll be the next superhero. On this show or “Legends of Tomorrow” though?
4.02, just like 4.01, was an enjoyable way to move the plot bunnies along. It was a smooth hour and I like the way it is all unfolding. No, these two episodes haven’t blown us away, but we’re comfortable enough with the ensemble where it feels familiar. We want to know what happens next. We like it. Too bad 4.03 ruins it all. That and 4.04 will be explored in the next review!