Let’s face it, Arrow season three had it’s issues. Quite a few. My biggest challenge for this list was trying to show all the shortcomings of the season in ten lowlights. Luckily, thanks to creative grouping of poor plots and just overall fishy characterization, I think this list managed to do that. I’ve done the Ten Highlights of Arrow Season Three, now I present the ten lowlights.
Ra’s Al Ghul goes from adversarial villain to random nut job.
Given the exposure of the League of Assassins the past two seasons, Oliver and company were bound to cross paths with Ra’s Al Ghul. When he became the villain main foe for season three, that didn’t come as much of a surprise. Heck, I was excited about it. The casting of Matt Nable was inspired. Too bad the writing of his character was anything but.
How random could this guy get? He kills Oliver and then…makes him his heir? He ruins Oliver’s reputation and vigilante career (not much of a stretch if you ask me), kills Thea and allows her to take a dip in the Lazarus Pool after ruining Oliver and ordering the death of innocents in Starling City to convince him to be his heir rather than saving trouble by doing that first, and then…attacks Starling City with a bio weapon for fun? After making Oliver marry his daughter? His talk was of his lineage and legacy but wasn’t he himself just a random guy picked to be Ra’s? What did he have to gain from anything he did, including insisting his daughter and Oliver give him grandchildren? In the end, Ra’s Al Ghul grossly suffered from unfocused plotting and disasterous characterization. By the time Oliver took him out in the final episode, he was already dead to us.
Which leads us to…
Thea killed Sara? What?
Let me get this straight. The biggest mystery of the season, the death of Sara Lance, was because Thea was mind controlled by Malcolm Merlyn to kill Sara? For no other reason that the hope that Oliver would challenge Ra’s Al Ghul to a fight to the death? Forget the fact that this whole idea makes no sense. The biggest weakness of season three was that so many events cascaded based on half baked premises and it all started with this one. If I squinted hard enough, I could see that Malcolm was perhaps a diabolical genius, but so much else could have happened, like Thea could have decided to kill Malcolm next. The whole plot was like watching a story built on a house of cards. One little thing could go wrong and then it all falls down.
Which leads us to…
Oliver dies (mostly)
This definitely falls in the “WTF were they thinking?” category. Let’s take why Oliver decided to even challenge Ra’s Al Ghul in a sword fight to the death, especially when it was abundantly clear that Oliver sucked at sword fighting. He did it so that Ra’s Al Ghul wouldn’t kill Thea? Why not just turn over Malcolm instead as a peace offering? Oh right, Thea’s daddy. But wait, who would Thea rather loose, her slimy Dad that she has hated most of her life or her brother, who’s always been there for her and someone she actually looks up to?
So Oliver gets a sword through the chest for his troubles and, lives? The sword just went through major organs like heart, lungs, maybe a gallbladder or two. THEN he gets pushed off a mountain and lands on a rock. All he needs is to be healed in a cabin by Tatsu with herbs and plenty of rest! No need for surgery for major organ repair. Honestly, I would have believed the Lazarus pool. That wouldn’t have been hard, right? I would have made the whole thing plausible. But no, we were expecting the Lazarus Pool, so there!
Which leads us to…
Oliver returns from premature death, and it kind of sucks.
While Oliver was out getting killed, his team had to struggle without him. Yeah, it was an adjustment, and Laurel Lance stepping up into Black Canary role was hardly a suitable replacement, but they made up for their lack of skill with moxie and spirit! They realized that when they were outnumbered on the bad guy front, it was time to involve ordinary citizens to fight for their city as well! It was inspired! It was epic! It was totally awesome until…The Arrow showed up. He killed one bad guy with an arrow and then proclaimed, “Great job guys, don’t worry, I’m back now, even though you all defeated the enemy without me. But I’m back now so you’re safe and I won’t leave you again.”
At least not for a few more episodes, when Ra’s Al Ghul came back into town with a flimsy prophecy and some well planned murders. See how fast Captain Lance and the citizens of Starling City turn on the vigilante! It was like shooting fish in a barrel.
Which leads to…
Oliver is the new heir to Ra’s Al Ghul?
Yeah, I pretty much gave up on the story line making any sense at this point. It was almost like the writers got together, had too many donuts and Red Bull, then when constructing a plot got distracted by furry rodents. “Look, squirrel!” Whoever survives the sword of Ra’s Al Ghul must become his heir. So everyone he’s stabbed has died before? He picks Oliver? Really? This guy couldn’t lead a rag tag bunch of misfits in the basement of a nightclub. He ran his father’s company into the ground. He’s suddenly good enough to lead the most legendary, totally feared group of assassins in the entire world because he lost a fight in the worst, most gruesome possible way to the current guy, who BTW is doing an acceptable job as leader?
It reads too much like “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”
King Arthur: I am your king.
Woman: Well, I didn’t vote for you.
King Arthur: You don’t vote for kings.
Woman: Well how’d you become king then?
[Angelic music plays… ] King Arthur: The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. THAT is why I am your king.
Dennis: [interrupting] Listen, strange women lyin’ in ponds distributin’ swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony…Oh, but you can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you.
Wait, it gets worse.
Malcolm Merlyn is the new Ra’s Al Ghul?
How would any of those highly trained assassins even accept this? Heck, why did Nyssa even go back? She obviously hates the guy and he did arrange for the killing of her beloved Sara just so this could happen? (Sorry Nyssa, but not one bit of this outcome adds up no matter what he did). This guy was hated by the league. They obviously must have figured out that the old Ra’s had a screw loose and maybe their organization isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. What did Malcolm promise them, tacos every Tuesday? How did not every assassin just walk away and thumb their noses at their new leader? “Yeah, try to stop us.”
It wasn’t just this “gotcha” at the end though. Malcolm’s character all season was all over the map, and everything he did just didn’t make sense. They finally snag John Barrowman as a regular and they do this to Malcolm? He’s a devoted father, oh wait he’s a snake, oh wait he’s a trained assassin on the good guys’ side, oh wait he has to be rescued after being turned in by Thea to alleviate her guilt (???), oh wait let’s have Thea heal him, oh wait he’s secretly helping Oliver take down Ra’s even though they had no time to discuss a plan, oh wait he’s got a hidden agenda and is turning Oliver into Ra’s, oh wait he planned all this randomness perfectly to leave Starling City and become Ra’s himself, oh wait absolutely none of that was worth it.
Thea finds out Oliver is The Arrow and they go on a family retreat to…the island?
“The Return” in my mind is easily the worst episode of the series, so it grabs two items on this list (yes even worse than the whole season finale mess). Why would they go to the island for bonding time, at insistence of Malcolm, especially knowing there is an A.R.G.U.S. prison there? It also happens to hold mortal enemy Slade Wilson. How did Oliver not think that Malcolm would release Slade as a test? What am I saying, everything Malcolm did was a total random act (maybe that’s why he should be the new Ra’s Al Ghul). The confrontation between Slade, Oliver, and Thea was anti-climactic at best, and it really didn’t have to happen. It was a stunt to work in Manu Bennett for an episode this season. He deserved far better. In the “WTF?” department, only Thea could get them out of the cell by using her small frame to reach for switch that opened the cage? Who thought of putting that switch within arm’s length of anyone? And they wondered how Slade escaped?
But that wasn’t as bad as….
The flashbacks in general , but especially the reveal Oliver paid a visit to Starling City in that five years.
Way to totally invalidate established canon from season one and two in just one ill conceived episode. The idea was that Oliver was trapped on the island for five years. He said so in his introductions. So yes, when he woke up in Hong Kong at the end of last season, we were already not impressed. But when Oliver, who was essentially a prisoner of Amanda Waller, ended up tracing a bio weapon (another useless and poorly done plot in the season) to Starling City, that just crossed a line. He got to see Thea talk to his grave. He got to see she was doing drugs and he killed her dealer at one of Tommy’s parties, wearing nothing more than a hood to disguise himself. Considering the pilot had him coming back to town with no knowledge of what had happened with his family in five years, with Thea’s drug use catching him by surprise, we can call this a canon buster. Better yet, a canon buster that served no purpose at all except as a desperate attempt to generate an “emotional moment.” It didn’t work.
Will the real Felicity Smoak please stand up?
I love Felicity and her character, but week to week this writing team just had no idea what to do with her. Everything she did was a contradiction to what she did the episode before, and sometimes even the scene before. Dating Ray Palmer was the really strange part. I get that she was trying to get over Oliver, but Ray as a distraction took her away from key moments when her team needed her. Like when they were running from the law and she was hanging out with Ray and her mother trying to give him an injection of nanites, something the doctor refused to let him have. Gee, what was the doctor going to do, stick him jail if he didn’t listen? All he needed to go was go back to his lab and have anyone give it to him there. Anyone other that Felicity, because her team needed her the most!
Half of the time Felicity whined about Oliver and had hissy fits, the other half she found some balls and decided to be the hero she always believed in being with her technical prowess. She slept with Ray Palmer and then dumped him on a whim for Oliver, who was too busy being the new Ra’s Al Ghul. She had angry rants around Malcolm Merlyn and would never see reason in his presence, even when he was actually being useful and the team decided to have him there. Not to say she was wrong about Malcolm, but she just always seemed like a “high road” team player to me in other seasons. Bottom line, no one could really write her consistently and she ended up annoying just as much as making us love her. She was too eager to abandon the mission for her own personal hang ups a lot of the time.
Which leads us to…
Felicity saves Oliver, they ride off in the sunset together. What???
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not upset that Oliver and Felicity ended up together. They have been leading up to that for a long time so it seems natural. I like them as a couple. But it just didn’t come together in any logical way. It just…happened. I already had a hard time believing that Felicity could put on an A.T.O.M suit for the first time and use it with enough precision to swoop in and catch Oliver falling off a dam, which was setup in a ridiculous set of events itself (the police took him down after fighting and killing Ra’s Al Ghul?). But hey, beginners luck, right? Yeah, no.
I would have more believed that Oliver and Felicity met up with aliens and rode off together in a spaceship at this point (Come sail away, come sail away, come sail away with me…) But giving up the whole superhero thing, getting in a very expensive car and riding up the coast never looking back seemed so…wrong? It didn’t seem right, that’s for sure. It invalidated everything these characters are about. It probably would have made more sense to show Felicity turn into the Happy Hills insane asylum after that drive to get Oliver that long needed help. But when your selfish hero bails on his town and his life mission because…well we really don’t know why…it was just the perfect “WTF?” ending to go along with this “WTF?” season.
So those are my choices, is there anything I missed? I’m sure there is, but as I said earlier, I only had ten choices. Whats on your list?