Arrow Season 4 Episode 1 – TV Review
And so it begins: the first of five episodes to determine whether or not I stick with Arrow.
Well, they’re still doing the flashbacks. So that’s not a good start.
TL;DR Oliver and Felicity are quickly roped back into vigilante life; Damien Dahrk has magic powers; Starling (Star?) City is marked for death by Damien; Diggle cannot forgive Oliver for his transgressions; flashbacks show Amanda Shanghai-ing Oliver into service again.
No, seriously, Amanda, you can’t find anyone else? The marooned pretty rich boy is your best asset? You don’t run a very tight ship, do you?
So we pick up a couple of months after last season’s finale, and Oliver and Felicity are living in suburban bliss while Laurel, Diggle, and Thea continue to fight crime in Starling (Star?) City. Then Damien Dahrk shows up and wrecks everyone’s shit, so the girls appeal to Oliver to return to help. Diggle, on the other hand, can’t trust having a wife kidnapper around. But when it becomes clear that Damien is pretty good at this “murdering city officials and planting a bomb on a train” thing, they come together and get the job done. With the bomb threat thwarted, Oliver officially announces himself to Starling (Star?) as the Green Arrow (everyone still thinks Roy was the Arrow, and is dead), while Damien secretly blackmails Quentin into helping him with his plan to kill Starling (Star?). Then we cut to a six month flash forward, and Oliver and Barry Allen mourn over a mystery grave. But, this being Arrow, we still have tedious flashbacks to endure, too, and a fresh-off-killing-Shrieve Oliver is drugged and abducted by an impressed Amanda Waller and sent on a new mission in an old haunt: Lian Yu.
Gotta save on that location scouting money where you can, CW.
This episode is another solid entry using the Arrow formula of TV-level action scenes paired with incremental soap operatics. It’s great to see everyone again, and Oliver even has a new suit that bares a teensy bit more flesh.
But the other part of the Arrow formula is, unfortunately, the flashbacks.
You’d think that by season bloody 4 we would have seen all there is to see from Oliver’s life in limbo, but nope. There’s even more padding to trudge through, baby.
Why I hate this episode:
I complained about a similar flashback-induced problem with this week’s premiere of The Originals, and it’s a problem Arrow has faced pretty much since the end of season 1: why didn’t you tell us this before? It’s implied that these flashbacks will illuminate how Oliver has seen powers like Damien’s before. Umm, I’m pretty sure the fact that you encountered people with magic fucking powers would have made for a good anecdote at some point over the last several years you’ve been back, Oliver. Jesus.
And come on, Amanda. You need to cast a wider net for agent recruitment, girl. Oliver Queen? Really?
Oliver has apparently been so enamoured with his boring, suburban life that he was about to propose to Felicity. Thank God Laurel and Thea burst in when they did.
What the fuck is Damien’s problem with Starling (Star?)? He’s going on about how the city needs to die, which is all very derivative of Christopher Nolan’s Ra’s al Ghul from Batman Begins. And it was hard enough to take seriously from Liam Neeson. Coming out of Neal McDonough’s “I’m just here for the paycheque” mouth, it doesn’t ring true. Why does Damien care about Starling (Star?) City?
Diggle finally gets a vigilante costume/disguise, and it looks like cheap garbage.
His inability to forgive Oliver for his kidnap gambit with Lyla last season is needlessly obstructive. Lyla herself doesn’t give a shit about it. Let it go, Diggle. Stop being such a White Knight.
I was wrong about Ray: he evidently did give Felicity the nod to take over his company. Also, his supposed death has little impact because we’ve seen him plastered all over the marketing for Legends of Tomorrow.
Oh, and Quentin is still a fuckhead to Oliver.
But it’s not all bad:
Quentin is the only city official the Super Friends manage to save from Damien’s assaults, and Laurel is largely responsible for it. Sara who?
Laurel, praise be to the universe for listening to me, has also ditched the stupid Black Canary wig, and now just wears her own hair while in costume. It looks a thousand times less ridiculous. Thank you, Arrow.
Thea is proving herself competent enough as Laurel’s sidekick. She’d prefer to be called the Red Arrow, but Laurel and Diggle seem to be sticking with Speedy for now. In any case, I hope Thea can keep herself out of “obligatory ball and chain character” territory for a while.
She displays some unnatural aggression, surely symptoms of Lazarus Pit side effects. Oliver notices it, but Thea is in denial about it, and Diggle waves it away, too. Hey, if it helps her be a better fighter, I say they shouldn’t complain.
Unlike Oliver, Felicity has actually grown to loathe the uneventful, suburban life. She jumps at the chance to help the Super Friends out, and eventually Oliver realises she’s been providing tech support for them for a while. That slinky minx.
Damien’s powers include being able to stop a henchman’s heart with just a touch, and telekinetically stopping arrows in mid-air. While the Super Friends freak out at the feats, Oliver just grimaces that he’s seen this kind of thing before. Damien later privately offers blood to a shrine thing, so I suspect that’s where his powers come from. Where can I get one?
Amanda’s Shanghai-ing of Oliver is classic Amanda Waller. She was impressed with his torturing of Shrieve. As were we all, right? I don’t know what his new mission entails, and neither does Oliver: he just wakes up on a plane and an agent forces him to parachute out at gunpoint. And then Oliver is immediately accosted by a soldier once he lands on Lian Yu. Amanda probably wouldn’t make a great travel agent.
HIVE is the name of Damien’s organisation. Diggle has a flashback of Deadshot telling him that the name of the client who ordered the assassination of Diggle’s brother was HIVE. Cool.
I’m putting my money on Felicity for the flash forward grave’s occupant. That bitch needs to back off and get out of Laurel’s way.
Oh, and I love the fact that the citizens of Starling (Star?) are dumb enough not to realise that the man calling himself the Green Arrow is the same as the old Arrow. I’ve come to accept their idiocy.