As anyone who has read my old TV Thursday posts, Arrow set the bar very high for comic book TV shows and I raved about the first season, and to a certain degree, the second season. Now we’ve just wrapped the third season and with a fourth already on the way, is it keeping up with that high bar, especially since the DC TV Universe is growing by leaps and bounds? I’m going to take a shot at exploring the third season and see if the show has dodged an arrow.
Honestly, and this very well might have a lot to do with the phenomenal job that Flash did this year and there will be a review of that season in a couple of days, but I felt somewhat disappointed by season 3 of Arrow. There are a lot of good things that I enjoyed but also a lot of things that I simply didn’t, most notably the repeated times that Oliver lied to his team, even though you’d think that by now, he’d realize he’s not a one-man operation. The team keeps getting larger, but the opening narration remains “Hi, I’m Oliver Queen and it’s all about me!” In fact, the team has gotten so large, between Arrow and Flash, that they’re spinning off at least one new series, hopefully to pare down the cast a little. It works better with fewer people around in my opinion.
The season is essentially about Ra’s al Ghul desperately trying to get Oliver to take over as his successor, he does everything in his power, first to convince Oliver, then to harm Oliver’s friends, family and city, so that Oliver will finally agree. This is where a lot of the deceit comes in, Oliver doesn’t want to tell anyone what’s going on and as things get worse, he still can’t come clean to those who are going to be hurt by his actions or inactions. By the end, when Ra’s impales Thea and Oliver has no choice but to turn to the Lazarus Pit to bring her back, it’s something they’ve been dragging out all season. I really don’t care much for Ra’s anyhow. Sure, he’s a classic DC villain, but in the show he was never really allowed to grow like, say, Deathstroke was. Then again, we got to see Slade Wilson’s backstory and understand not only how he got the way that he did, but why he had such an animosity toward Oliver. That’s not the case with Ra’s. He was largely a mystery throughout the season, we didn’t really understand why he picked Oliver, why he rejected Nyssa, why he put up with Malcolm at all, etc. Even when he died in the finale, his actions all season remained a mystery.
I still don’t get why Oliver fought so hard against becoming the Demon’s Hand, especially since Ra’s told him that he could use the Assassin’s Guild for anything he wanted. He could have disbanded it, trained all of the assassins to do good deeds and help little old ladies across the street if he wanted, especially since he had no idea what was awaiting him once he finally, reluctantly, agreed. They didn’t explore this in any significant way either. I figured that eventually, they’d have Oliver take over the Guild, then when Flash did their Flashpoint reset, all of it would go away. I suspect that’s still what’s going to happen now that Oliver has given up being the Arrow (what are they going to call the show now?), but really, the idea that Oliver would leave the safety and security of his city to others, that just doesn’t jive with the character at all. It’s terribly inconsistent writing. Worse yet, even though it was required by the situation, Oliver’s return to killing, first as an assassin, then when he takes out Ra’s, is totally contrary to the way the character has grown. It just makes no sense and he doesn’t seem particularly bothered by it.
Maybe that’s why I was so disappointed though, this season of Arrow bears very little resemblance to the first season that was so excellent. Some of it was the large cast that they desperately need to pare down. Some of it was the clear setup for Flashpoint. Some, perhaps, was that the writers really didn’t know what to do to finish this Ra’s storyline. They made Ra’s a dick, not a competent leader. They made Oliver even more of a liar than usual and worse, they made him a devious loner.
Even though I’m ultimately giving it a 4, Arrow should always get a 5. Always. Let’s hope that next season they get back on track.