It was tough to decide whether to dread or look forward to Arrow’s fourth season. On one side, season 3 was a massive disappointment despite some of its high points. On the other, the changes that were announced for the new season in regard to villains, costumes and tones indicated that the creators are moving the show in a new and possibly right direction. If the premiere is any indication, it seems that the Arrow is now on firmer footing as it brings about change in Oliver Queen’s status quo. Ollie is the most prominent difference in the episode rather than the costume changes and villain.
Watching our tortured and morose hero so peaceful and happy with himself is definitely a major and welcoming change. While the season 3 finale was unable to provide proper justification for Ollie’s decision to put his vigilante days behind, the premiere of the fourth season was better able to explain the psychological change that led Oliver to make this decision. Stephen Amell most definitely needs to be praised for his perfect and successful portrayal of the new Oliver. Amell was able to convince us that Oliver is no longer the same person that he was in the previous season through the change in his voice and the way he moves.
It seems as if Amell is playing two entirely different characters. While the current Ollie may be cheerful and happy, we have never seen Ollie as adrift and lost as he is post-China as we see in the flashbacks. The contrast was intriguing, even if the flashback storyline doesn’t have a lot of meat as yet. It would be exciting to see how these two versions of Oliver Queen evolve and struggle during this season. The episode also gave us a glimpse of the flight jacket of Martin Jordan in the Coast City bar. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for a Green Lantern, shall we?
The show also gave Olicity fan their dream as Oliver and Felicity are living a life of domestic bliss and quiet and have built quite a rapport. The chemistry comes off even more authentic as Ollie is more affectionate and open now. Another plus point of the season 4 premiere was how they showed that it was Felicity who gets bored of the domestic life instead of Oliver and craves action enough to go behind Ollie’s back and assist Team Arrow while Ollie is content in cooking and could do so for the rest of his life.
Oliver eventually has to dive back into the superhero life and put his other one on hold and we were provided with a pretty good justification for it; Damien Darhk. Neal McDonough has again proven why he is such a good actor as he provides us with a strong and impressive foe for the season. His entrance and his charm wasn’t that far off from that of Ray Palmer in the previous season, portrayed by Brandon Routh. It doesn’t take long for Darhk to show that he is a force to be reckoned with and the terrifying villain the show needs.
His grip on sanity is fairly tenuous, but he has considerable resources and power and a mystical element to complete his aura. The light and dark elements were successfully balanced in this episode even though Darkh and his H.I.V.E agents were downright terrifying. The newly christened Star City is clearly suffering as businesses are shutting down, population is declining and there is a sense of desperation amongst the residents. But, the emergence of Green Arrow provides them with a sense of optimism. Ollie wants to prove that he is a different vigilante, which brings him in line with the actual incarnation of his character.
His costume is more accurate and sleeker than before as he wishes to step out of the shadows and become an inspiration for the city. Team Arrow was the real disappointment in this episode, not including Diggle. His bromance with Oliver isn’t going to heal as quickly as he has a lot of baggage, but David Ramsey did a good job of conveying his feelings in the reluctant reunion of the two characters. However, they really need to get rid of Diggle’s superhero outfit, particularly the helmet. The real downside were Laurel and Thea.
It doesn’t seem as if Laurel became a better fighter in the last six months. She seems the same as she did when she first donned the costume of the Canary and is barely competent. The scene at the train station when she rescues the boy comes off as very awkward. As far as Thea is concerned, it seems as if the writers have run out of ideas of what to do with her and have made her Roy 2.0. Her behavior and everything else seems a bit forced and sort of shoved into the story unnecessarily. Hopefully, the next few episodes will help define her character in a better way.
Apart from the flaws, the premiere proved to be highly interesting and it is a good start to the season. The end of the episode gives us hints of a really good story that will unfold soon. It seems as if there is a lot about Damien Darhk that doesn’t come to light immediately such as his reference to his ‘associates’ and his ritual with the strange knife. The second twist was revealing that H.I.V.E and Detective Lance was working together. However, the most dramatic scene was the flash forward where Barry and Ollie are standing over someone’s grave.
It was obviously implied that they were mourning Felicity, but if that was the case, the camera should have panned to show us her tombstone. Regardless of who is dead, one thing has become quite apparent; the path set ahead for Oliver Queen is going to be a dark and long one and is clearly going to lead to a loss. Let’s hope the rest of the season is able to follow on the premiere’s path and give us a good story.