The fourth season of “Arrow” wrapped up a couple weeks ago on The CW, so I apologize for this rather belated review. I’m actually still stuck in season 1 of “The Flash” and season 2 of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” so I sense some catching up on superhero shows is in my future this summer. 😉
I started watching “Arrow” after reading a preview about it in Entertainment Weekly and found the show got better and better throughout its first season. The show reached its pinnacle in a strong second season, but some fans expressed disappointment in season 3. The flashbacks — which were an intriguing part of the first two seasons — began to feel a little old, and a little forced; the same thing could actually be said of the drama between some of the characters. However, a new season is always an opportunity for a fresh start — is “Arrow” now headed in a better direction?
Overall, I think season 4 was an improvement for “Arrow,” even though it didn’t rise to the heights of season 2. The show featured an intriguing new villain, Damien Darhk, and this season’s flashbacks felt a little more relevant, even though as a whole the flashbacks are weighing the show down and should probably be retired.
(Warning: Some spoilers ahead!)
In season 4, Damien Darhk uses the supernatural powers he gained from a cursed idol to attempt to “cleanse” Star City and the entire globe (and by “cleanse” he actually means “destroy”). I thought Neal McDonough did a great job with the character, and he brought a lot of personality to the role, making Darhk charismatic, dangerous, and intimidating. Although when the show first started, I liked that it had a more “realistic” tone and didn’t involve any actual super-powers, I think they’ve integrated these new supernatural elements fairly well. Supernatural detective John Constantine (Matt Ryan) even has a brief but fun cameo this season; I’d love to see him return to “Arrow” or some of The CW’s other superhero shows since the NBC show featuring this character was canceled.
“Arrow” isn’t a show to shy away from shocking plot twists, and this season we had a major one: the death of Black Canary/Laurel Lance. I’m sad that Laurel will be leaving the show, even though I wasn’t really a huge fan of the character in the beginning. She and Oliver’s romance always felt too forced, but I liked that the past few seasons the show let them return to being friends and Laurel joined the superhero team as a full-fledged member. While I feel like there were still interesting stories they could have told with the character, killing off a major character does build suspense and make the show feel a little more real.
Another character that has improved throughout the show is Thea Queen, Oliver’s younger sister. I wasn’t a big fan of her either at first, but I think the character has really grown and matured the past couple of seasons. She was a great addition to Team Arrow in season 4 and she’s interesting in that she battles a different kind of inner darkness than Oliver. At the end of season 4 she says she needs to take a break from vigilantism but I hope she’ll be back in season 5.
Season 4 doesn’t definitively resolve Oliver and Felicity’s on-again, off-again relationship, and it left me with mixed feelings about their romance. Felicity was one of my favorite characters in the first couple of seasons, and I admit I was one of those fans who really wanted her and Oliver to be together. However, I’m not a big fan of how their relationship has been handled on the show so far, and I almost feel that — as much as I want them to end up together — they are better apart. The show needs Felicity’s quirky, sassy banter, and some of that went away due to her relationship drama with Oliver. It might be nice if in season 5 they both tried dating other people who aren’t a part of Team Arrow.
Going forward, while the show’s experiment with supernatural elements has been interesting, I’d like to see “Arrow” return to its roots and go back to being a gritty vigilante drama for a season, especially if season 5 is its last. The show’s villain has been global in scope the past two seasons; why not have a powerful crime lord (similar to “Daredevil’s” Wilson Fisk) whose focus is just Star City? I’d love to see how Oliver would handle this both as the Green Arrow and as the city’s mayor. It would be great to have a season focused on crime and politics. I’d also love to see Oliver finally reveal his secret vigilante identity to the public in a pivotal moment, maybe telling the villain, on TV, that “You’d better not mess with Star City — not because I’m the mayor, but because I’m the Green Arrow.”
So, what do you think? If you’re a fan of “Arrow,” what do you hope to see in season 5?