It’s not exactly a secret that I wasn’t a fan of Arrow’s third season. It didn’t hit the heights of the previous two seasons and ended on a bum note with an underwhelming season finale. Last night, we got our first glimpse of Arrow season 4. So, are things looking better this time around?
Mixed. That’s pretty much my reaction to the trailer. I wasn’t blown away. Any anticipation I had for the fourth season remains unchanged. Yet, I wasn’t full of dread either. I wasn’t underwhelmed. So, what worked and what didn’t?
One thing that really let down Arrow’s third season was how weak a big bad, Ra’s al Ghul turned out to be. Matt Nable was decent in the role. The writing was not. For a man of his reputation, Ra’s was really lacking in basic sense, made some illogical choices which served to suit the plot rather than were what a man of his role would do – sparing Maseo in 3×20 for example. For someone who should have been memorable, he really wasn’t.
Season 3 gave us the name Damien Darkh and this trailer gave us our first glimpse of him. Neal McDonough was cast as Damien earlier this summer and from browsing internet forums, reaction seemed to be pretty positive. Personally, I’d never seen him in anything so Arrow will be my first glimpse and if the trailer is anything to go by, signs are good that he’ll be a better villain than Ra’s. His presence is good. In his scenes (if you weren’t aware he was the big bad) you felt he was. He’s sharply suited. And, we learned he’s in the newly christened ‘Star City’ on behalf of an organisation that wants them to let their city die – *cue eyeroll* – seriously residents of Star City. Just move.
Nevertheless, even if Oliver’s city being constantly under threat is getting old, it wasn’t much to go by but I’ve got a feeling Darkh will be more on the level of Slade and Malcolm, rather than Ra’s. When you consider that, that trailer is only made up of the opening four or so episodes, it shows Darkh has a substantial role early on. That can only be a good thing.
The flashbacks were another area in which season 3 really faltered. They were boring. Sitting back now, I can remember very little from them. I may have blocked it out. Who knows? From the season 4 trailer, we saw ragged Oliver in the hood in the past, with Waller popping up as well. Again, it’s not much but hopefully it bodes well for a better set of flashbacks than the repetitive pretty boring set we were offered up in season 3.
Another key aspect, for me at least, as to why season 3 faltered was the execution of Olicity. Before shippers sharpen their pitchforks, I’m criticising the writing rather than the couple. We had a will they, won’t they, Ray thrown in for an unnecessary love triangle which didn’t really do anything except serve up drama on a weekly basis and give Oliver opportunities to brood. We had The Fallen devoted to Olicity when really it should have been about Thea. We had Felicity herself regress as a character rather than develop, capped with a rather nauseating moment in the finale where she was willing to sacrifice the city for Oliver’s life.
I didn’t really care for the Olicity scenes in the trailer, but with season 3 in my mind I’m sure that’s why. As long as it’s not as shoved to the forefront as it felt at times in season 3, as long as there’s no unnecessary drama and Felicity has things going on outside of her lovelife – I’ll be absolutely fine with it.
Other highlights in the trailer included Malcolm and Nyssa’s interactions, that’s certainly going to be an interesting battle throughout the season. I’m hoping we’ll get more Thea, her ‘This is so cool!’ line was one of my favourite moments and we should get some focus on life after the pit for her. Furthermore, Lance’s frustrations rather than sheer anger look encouraging. We’ve had the anger and hunting the Arrow before. Let’s go a different route this time.
Oliver’s new costume looks decent in action, on the flip side, Diggle’s couldn’t look worse. What on earth is that helmet all about? Was he off to Comic Con as Magneto and decided to fight a little crime on the way? I really don’t see that thing growing on me.
There’s a good number of new characters entering the fray as well it seems, to this I’m a little cautious. It’s important that episodes don’t feel too crowded yet at the same time, characters new and old get development. It’s a difficult balancing act and something that has to be done better than season 3.
Elsewhere, we have Sara returning. On the face of it, I’m happy about this. Caity Lotz is great. But, I struggle to really find the point of killing her off in the first place now. I guess if she hadn’t bit the bullet, then season 3 wouldn’t have really happened – then again, that probably strengthens the argument to have never killed her off in the first place. If we’re having her returning, let’s have her main interactions with Lance and Laurel and make it their story. I’ve seen murmurings Olicity will be involved. Just don’t. Like Lance’s fixation on the Arrow, Sara returning from the dead again is a story we’ve seen before so let’s do it a little differently but all the same, do it right too.
There was a lot of good. There was bad. There was stuff in the middle. I can’t deny our first look at season 4 was solid enough. I’m still looking forward to a good number of other shows ahead of Arrow, but hopefully, after a few weeks, I’ll be eagerly awaiting a new episode of Arrow.
Let’s hit the heights of season 1 and 2. Let’s make sure season 3 is a distant memory.
What were your thoughts on the trailer? What did you like? What didn’t you like? What do you want to see in season 4? Let us know in the comments section below…