UK TV recap: Arrow Season 4, Episode 1
"I am...Green Arrow"8
Matthew Turner | On 21, Oct 2015
Warning: This contains spoilers.
Now that we’ve had a bit of time to think about it, it’s fair to say that Season 3 of Arrow was not its best season. It often seemed like they were either dragging their feet or, worse, that they didn’t really know where they were going. After all the build-up, Ra’s al Ghul turned out to be a bit dull as a villain (certainly compared to the how wonderful Slade Wilson was in Season 2) and the show came dangerously close to veering off the rails with the whole Oliver-doesn’t-tell-anyone-his-plan thing (although, to be fair, they are addressing the fall-out from that this season – Arrow is nothing if not a show that learns from its mistakes).
Season 4, though, is off to a cracking start. For one thing, there’s no messing about in setting up this season’s Big Bad: he’s Damien Darhk (briefly teased last season, one of the few things Ra’s was useful for), he’s got seemingly unlimited mystical powers (well, he can drain someone’s life-force and make arrows hover in mid-air), he’s got designs on Star City (which has been re-named to match the comics, “in honour of Ray Palmer”) and we’re only in Episode 1 and he’s already offed all the potential candidates for Mayor. He’s also played by Neal McDonough, which is excellent news, as he’s a terrific character actor and on the strength of his appearance here, he’ll make a very memorable villain. He’s chewing up the scenery to John Barrowman standard, so there’s a lot to be excited about. (Fun fact: McDonough previously voiced Green Arrow in a cartoon.)
Anyway, so Darhk has these henchmen called Ghosts that are terrorising Star City, and as much as Thea (now fully suited as Red Arrow), Laurel / Black Canary and Diggle (wearing a helmet that makes him look like Magneto) would love to be able to take care of things on their own, they’re forced to concede they need Oliver’s help, so they yank him out of his domestic bliss with Felicity (“Felicity Smoak, you have failed this omlette…”) and we’re off and running. In a nice twist, it turns out it was Felicity who missed all the crime-fighting excitement and had been secretly helping out Team Arrow behind Oliver’s back; it’s a sign of how much Oliver has mellowed (set to be a theme this season) that he doesn’t give her any grief over it.
We also finally get Oliver adopting his comics name of Green Arrow – “The Arrow” is dead, after all, so he has to have a clever disguise. What better than… um… introducing a colour into his name? On a more thematic note, there’s a strong indication that the show is going to take a leaf out of The Flash’s book and lighten up a little (even the lighting was brighter and more colourful this week), and this ties in perfectly with that. It’s a lovely moment, anyway.
Meanwhile, Diggle still isn’t ready to forgive Oliver over kidnapping his wife and child – frankly, he has a point – although it’s hard to see where they can really go with this, given that he doesn’t leave the team in protest. Expect some sort of redemptive moment on Oliver’s part somewhere around the mid-season break. As for Thea, she’s kicking serious amounts of ass and is clearly enjoying the hell out of the whole superhero lark, although there’s a suggestion that she might be a little… intense. Is this the after-effects of the Lazarus Pits that we were warned about? We’ll have to wait and see.
Laurel doesn’t get a great deal to do this week, but her fighting moves have seriously improved. As for Felicity, her return to Star City means she has to take her position as the head of Palmer Industries now that Ray Palmer is “dead” – except we know he isn’t dead, because we’ve seen the trailer for Legends of Tomorrow – which could set up some interesting sub-plots for her in future… or could fall horribly flat, as her interaction with Ray was the only thing interesting about Palmer Industries.
Then, of course, we have the glorious return to Flashback Island. We have to admit, we laughed out loud when it turned out Oliver was strong-armed into returning to the Island and practically pushed out of a plane. Still, at least his episode-opening monologue for Season 1 is a bit more truthful now. No idea what’ll happen on the island this season, but at some point Flashback Oliver needs to morph into Season 1 Oliver, which involves a) learning Russian and b) getting a haircut (and a deeper voice), so we can look forward to that.
We are given not one but two twist endings this week, one excellent and one annoying. The first is that – GASP! – Captain Lance is working with Damien Darhk. They had better really sell this in the next few episodes, because it doesn’t seem all that convincing. The second is a cruel “Six months later” flash-forward to Oliver and a guest-starring Barry Allen staring mournfully at a grave, with Oliver vowing to kill someone. We don’t see who is in the grave and Barry’s presence indicates that we’re meant to think it’s Felicity, but it could be anyone, really. Let’s just see how this plays out. Welcome back, Arrow – sorry, Green Arrow.
Arrow: Season 4 is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video, as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription.
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Photo: Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.