Spoilers will be let loose.
Huh. The season premiere, Arrow 4×01: Green Arrow, hit quite a few targets but also highlighted some weaknesses in the storytelling. Yes, we have talk about that last scene. Thea has embraced becoming Speedy. John Diggle’s mask… Well, we have a lot of ground to cover. The story telling stays the course. We get the main storyline and another flashback look at Oliver’s days before his arrival at Starling City. Which is, by the way, not named that anymore.
The name is now Star City, in honor of Ray Palmer, who always wanted that name for it. The Atom will likely appear in the spinoff. For now, we get Felicity and Oliver happily living as a couple and doing so many stereotypical couple things that you just want to barf. Oliver is actually thinking about popping the question. Yes, that question, with a ring hidden in a cupcake and everything. Cue Thea and Laurel barging into scene in 5… 4… 3…
The newly renamed Star City is under siege by highly trained paramilitary called Ghosts. Because… I don’t know. The hastily mayor-deprived city council gathers to find a solution… Nope! They’re gathered together so that new season baddie Damien Darhk (with unnecessary consonant and everything), played by guest star Neal McDonough, threatens all their lives. The scene is for us. Damien doesn’t really gain anything in threatening people that he’s later going to off one by one. Yes, detective-turned-police-chief Quentin Lance, the only police officer who goes through ranks faster than Gotham’s Jim Gordon, is present.
But the real conflict in the show is not the new threat, or Oliver and Felicity’s impossible romance timing, or even John Diggle’s mask (which I will get to if you give me a minute). It’s Oliver Queen and John Diggle. The broken fraternity that seems impossible to mend. It stands to reason that trust that strong once broken will not heal itself overnight. It’s going to take a lot for John to give him a break.
On the other hand, Thea and Laurel’s request for BOTH Oliver and Felicity to return to crime-fighting duties is really summed up in another of Felicity’s quips: “Our friends need our help, we should already be in the car.” Writers do tend to give her the best lines. And of course, Felicity has been helping Team Arrow in the background while making up incidents during her getaway vacation time with Ollie.
In the end, the only thing that Oliver can do is what it’s expected to him. Which is admirable considering how much Diggle and Lance talk down to him in this episode. I half expected him to turn around and leave. He takes back the mantle, a lot greener, a lot closer to the comic look. Armed with his trusty bow and quiver again, he tries stopping an incoming train only to run face to face with Damien My-Last-Name-Is-Totally-Not-Dark. At least we did have a warning from Ra’s Al Ghul about this character, but although we’ve already seen him taking a life by mere touch we also get to see him stopping arrows in mid-air and returning them to Oliver by telekinesis in a Charmed-like fashion.
As he’s getting his butt kicked, Oliver gets saved by Diggle because… of course it has to be him. At least we know Damien can be surprised. One can wonder if Diggle had real bullets instead of the darts or whatever it is his weapon fires nowadays. But seriously now, that mask? I’m not sold. I can see the need why he needs some sort of “identity concealment” to use Ollie’s words. But that mask just seems to inhibit his peripheral vision in a worse way than a hood does. Also, he looks a little Bane-ish.
In the end, Oliver will hack into the public broadcasting system to declare himself a new ally to the cause, and call himself the Green Arrow. Damien Darhk will be seen doing some blood ritual that gives him his mystical abilities. Lance will be revealed as working for Damien because… He’s probably been blackmailed.
And then there’s the cliffhanger. Six months later, Oliver is paying his respects at a freshly buried tomb when The Flash’s Barry Allen appears. The conversation is short. Barry apologizes for not being at the funeral. Oliver understands that it’s because of Zoom. And we never get to see the name in the tombstone.
Good episode, but we do have a few misses. It’s normal and expected that there’s way too many high expectations to be realistically met. So, let’s get to the highs and lows.
- As expected, both Oliver and Felicity were not as blissfully happy as they pretended. According to Felicity, when Oliver and some random other woman started “trading cooking recipes, I wanted to gouge my eyes out.” Yes, they’ve missed this.
- The new lair needs work. It’s not as iconic as the previous one.
- Diggle needs a new mask. Sorry, the one he has is not quite working for me. Or perhaps he needs a full suit. I don’t really know, I just know it looks odd, and I can’t quite decide if it’s a step in the right direction.
- Quentin Lance is going to be playing both sides of the team. Will the whole blackmail schtick by Damien Whatever-His-Last-Name-Is just turn out to be threatening to kill Laurel? If so, lame as fuck. Quentin should know better. I expect something juicier like a secret about Sara being alive. Why is Quentin such a flaky character? Can you imagine another detective that goes from detective to trooper to suddenly captain… Ok, yes, I’m taking a dig at Gotham’s Gordon here.
- I know Damien Darhk’s name is from the comics. I still hate last names are totally trying to sound evil plus one letter to presumably “fool” us. Plus, the whole taking-over-the-city is kind of blah. A little more charismatic would have been to have him running for mayor and “working” with the council while running the criminal underworld on the side. I know it’s been done (cough Buffy cough) but it would make for a more entertaining dynamic to him killing off one of his own minions every week. I know it’s his first week, so I should give him a chance.
- Felicity! I love Felicity, but right now this whole marriage proposal thing is stunted (don’t hide the ring in the bowl with marbles, Oliver!). They need to somehow end it. Of course with that ending, it almost seems that tombstone could have Felicity Smoak’s name on it. But before we get to that…
- Thea! I love Thea. And I do not want to see her name in that tombstone. She’s really embraced becoming Speedy (sorry Red Arrow doesn’t work for me) and she does enjoy going into a fight. Oliver is sensing she’s enjoying hurting people too much. I know given the nature of the past seasons, he will turn out to be right. Which is why I would LOVE it if he turns out to be WRONG. Because Oliver has to be wrong sometimes and his judgement towards his little sister is either psychically uncanny or completely uncalled for. Can he be wrong about this one? Let him be wrong about this one. Yeah, we both know that’s not what’s going to happen.
- Oliver is actually ok, mostly. He still has some brooding and he has to put with a lot because he did turn a little too Sith last season to be immediately trusted. That being said, he puts up with a lot of being told he’s no good by Diggle and Lance this episode. And he also has to deal with Waller sending him back to the island in the flashback story. We’ll have to wait to see what he’s been set up to do. The whole announcement of him being a new Green Arrow… Well, I think he should embrace his past as well as his future.
- The tombstone and the yet-to-be-revealed identity of the fallen hero means someone of the main cast will be leaving. This could be anybody. Candidates are Felicity Smoak, Quentin Lance, Thea Queen, John Diggle, Laurel Lance. Yeah, it’s everyone. Felicity was kind of the most implied candidate for the grave. Then again Ollie has issues with both John Diggle (possibility) and Quentin (would be a ruse). I don’t think it could be Thea or Laurel.
That will do for now.