This Arrow review contains spoilers.
Arrow Season 4 Episode 1
Read enough of my reviews, especially when it’s of new shows, you’ll see me dig up some form of “you can’t judge a show by its pilot.” I say this because of the sheer amount of set-up your average hour long network drama needs to do, and it’s virtually impossible to get anything more than the most superficial feel for what the series will actually be like.
I may have a new variation on that, though.
Sometimes you can’t judge a beloved returning show by its season premiere. I say this because I honestly don’t know what to make of the Arrow season 4 premiere, “Green Arrow.” I certainly enjoyed it. There’s nothing obviously wrong with it. But I’m also a little bit blinded by how happy I am to reconnect with this cast and these characters, who have made even the series’ less distinguished moments tolerable. I like them. I give a damn.
Which makes “Green Arrow” so tough to get a read on. It’s fun. It’s possibly the bounciest, funniest episode of Arrow I can remember. Oliver and Felicity’s apparent domestic bliss is good for a smile, and I do feel it’s something that the characters earned organically over the last couple of seasons. It’s the need to rush to some kind of resolution to that which is rubbing me the wrong way.
Kind of like Oliver’s “bad guy” phase in season three, we knew it wasn’t going to last, so I’m not sure what the point of the illusion was. I realize that keeping Ollie out of action for more than an episode or two might have seemed risky, but c’mon, we’re four seasons in. If you’re going to take a chance, take a chance!
The early introduction of Damian Darhk does feel like it could flip things a little bit. Usually, we have to wait until midseason for the big baddie to reveal himself, let alone before he comes to Star City and starts offing public officials. But his whole thing about the city being sick and needing to be put out of its misery kind of (once again) reminds me of Ra’s al Ghul in Batman Begins. I suspect there’s more to it than that, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Damian is answering to somebody else. Who that might be is anybody’s guess.
But somehow, this all feels a little rote by now. Evil badass bringing shadowy army to town. Fractured Team Arrow reuniting. Some (but not too much) navel-gazing from Oliver. It feels like we’ve been here before, doesn’t it? It might be a little too obvious, and perhaps the surprises are on the way. Well, there’s at least one…
Wait, wrong show. But for real, whose grave is that?
We’re obviously meant to believe it’s Felicity, but I think that’s far too obvious. I’m willing to rule out Diggle or Lyla, because the decorations around the grave seem to sparse. Folks with a military background would probably have some flags. Could it be Captain Lance (despite his apparent betrayal), or is it too sparse for that, too?
It kind of leads me to believe this could be a glimpse of Thea’s exit, but I could be wrong. The fact that this is “six months from now” and Arrow tends to take place in real time means we’re going to get this answer well before the season finale, and will probably be what sets off those final few episodes.
And as for who the “him” is that Oliver is going to kill, Damian seems to obvious and too new. A Slade Wilson return? We still need Malcolm Merlyn to show up and cause some shit. I don’t know what to believe.
Meanwhile…On a…wait, what the hell?
All I know right now is that I really hope this year’s flashbacks are better than last year’s. I was really looking forward to another change of scenery, and I really hope that Oliver isn’t going to end up marooned on this island again for the duration of this season’s (and next season’s) flashbacks. The show is going to have to do an awful lot of work to convince me that they haven’t exhausted this device.
Oh yeah, and speaking of the flashbacks, this is a perfect time to transition into…
DC Universe Watchtower
– It turns out the picturesque little suburb that Oliver and Felicity were hiding out in is Ivy Town, home of Ivy University, where the comic book Ray Palmer first discovered his shrinking powers.
– No, your eyes didn’t deceive you. That was most certainly a flight jacket with the name “Jordan” on it in the Coast City bar. Hal Jordan is, of course, Green Lantern, and we all know those test pilots love to drink. Whether they choose to take this any further is anybody’s guess, but I have reason to believe that we might actually get to see a little more of Hal later this season.
– Damian Darhk first appeared in Titans #1 in 1999. He is an exceedingly minor DC villain. So minor that he has only made a handful of appearances, and hasn’t been seen since ’99! From what we saw of Damian here, he has very little in common with his comic book counterpart. I have a whole lot more on Damian Darhk right here if you want to keep reading.
Needless to say, the comic book version doesn’t have mystical powers.
– The HIVE agents have a color scheme that’s almost the yellow and black traditionally associated with a bee-themed supervillain organization, so I guess that’s kinda cool. The goggles add to the vibe nicely, don’t they?
– Kord Industries plays a major part in this episode. Ted Kord is the man behind this one, and he’s the coolest version of the Blue Beetle, a character I’m still really hoping we get to see one of these days.
In addition to all the weapons Kord Industries manufactures, you can see they’re working on some microprocessing technology. I wonder if it’s the kind of thing that could power a super suit, or cool Beetle-esque goggles or something similar?
I really need to see Blue Beetle happen.
– You kind of have to appreciate the amusing reference to how unlucky people who hold high office in Star City are.
– It’s interesting that they’re drawing an additional distinction between standard metahumans and mystically powered superbeings in this universe. Now, if Arrow or The Flash actually get around to introducing aliens to the mix, we’ll have the full set of potential superhero and supervillain types present and accounted for. Then again, Supergirl should handle the alien angle nicely, but since we still don’t know where that show fits in with all the rest of these…I don’t know what to think.
Anyway, you all know the drill by now. Tell me what I missed in the comments! I probably won’t get around to doing anything about it until after NYCC, though. And if you’re going to NYCC, track me down and say hello!