Arrow returned this week with a decidedly lighter, happier Oliver Queen (well… mostly) in the CW series’ fourth season premiere.
While this episode marked a tremendous, decided improvement over the intensely, unrelentingly dark Season 3, the hour wasn’t without its jaw-dropping, heart-wrenching “OMG! WHAT?!?!” moments (can we talk about that flash-forward twist ending?!)
In all, this was an excellent return to form for The CW’s preeminent superhero series–so naturally it set us off into pondering what we hope for more of (and less of) over the course of Season 4.
More Happy Olicity
Domestic bliss sure looks good on Felicity Smoak and Oliver Queen. Far away from the turmoil of Starling City Star City, sequestered away in a well-maintained suburbanite’s dream house, the opening scenes of the episode featuring adorable, couple-y Olicity were some of our favourites. They gave us love in the afternoon, witty banter, homemade couples brunches, and a nervous Ollie trying desperately to find the right moment to propose to Felicity. This is a much more enjoyable iteration of Arrow’s signature couple–far better than Season 3’s weepy, self-sacrificing bummer Olicity. We sincerely doubt that it is Felicity lying in that grave in the episode-closer flash-forward, but if by some awful chance it is, we demand maximum blissful Olicity up until then as compensation! Take heed and be warned, Arrow writers!!
Less Trouble in Bromanceland
The friendship between Diggle and Oliver was always one of our favourite parts of Arrow. Diggle is an incredibly strong and interesting supporting character, and we really enjoyed the gradual development of the close bond between the two heroes.
Diggle: Oliver, after everything we’ve been through, man, I couldn’t fathom why you didn’t trust me. Then I realized you couldn’t. It’s not who you are. You don’t trust. You don’t love. You were able to fool Ra’s and join the League because inside you are every bit as dark as they are.
Obviously we can’t fault Diggle for holding a grudge against the (now Green) Arrow–after all, Oliver kidnapped Diggle’s wife, put his infant daughter at risk, and (somehow this one is the worst of all) didn’t even feel he could let Diggle in on the fact that the whole thing was a ruse to get in with Ra’s and company.
All that said, Diggle was stone cold to Ollie throughout “Green Arrow” and it was upsetting to watch. The above quote actually made us catch our breath with how deeply cruel and wounding it was. Like Olicity, if it happens to be Diggle buried six feet under by the time we catch up to that flash-forward (PLEASE NO), we will be sorely disappointed if we have not seen a Diggle/Oliver reconciliation before that point.
More Compelling Villains
Neal McDonough killed it (literally!) as Damien Darhk. Not only does he have that whole “super creepy dude” look down pat, he exuded legitimate scary bad-assery throughout all of his scenes. We’re also dying to know more about how he’s managed to coerce morally-stringent Lance to partner up with him and with H.I.V.E.
We appreciated that the show didn’t waste any time with subplot villain-of-the-week type baddies (as they’ve tended to do in seasons past). Right off the bat we know that Darkh is going to be the force to be reckoned with this season. His arrival also hearkens the concrete arrival of mysticism in Arrowverse, which is a nice (and necessary) addition after the Lazarus pit just kind of conveniently popped up last season with not much accompanying mythology to go along with it.
Oliver picked up on this almost immediately upon his return to Star City: there is something totally off with Thea. She is extremely aggressive, and seems to be taking a bit too much pleasure in beating the ever-loving snot out of the baddies. Diggle brushed it off, saying that the unchecked aggression was due to her being a newbie–similar to Ollie in his immediately post-Lian Yu state. But could there be something more? We’d love a deeper exploration of the serious side effects that resurrection via Lazarus Pit causes.
Speaking of Ollie on Lian Yu…
Less Flashbacks (Or none. None is also fine.)
The flashbacks were a cool thing in the first two seasons. We especially enjoyed all of the Slade/Shado flashbacks, because those were directly relevant to the main timeline plot at hand. The flashbacks have only been tangentially relevant (at best) for a while now. And they certainly have not been engaging. The Hong Kong flashbacks dragged the already heavy Season 3 down.
We don’t have high expectations for these Lian Yu flashback sequences at this point, so maybe this season’s ongoing flashback subplot will surprise us. More likely, We’re expecting the flashbacks to feel like pointless filler, detracting from the main timeline’s plot–a story we’re far more interested in! We’ll even take a parallel flash-forward subplot over a flashback subplot.
On that note–
No More Wigs.
Seriously. That Flashback Ollie wig is killing us. The show’s made good progress with tossing Laurel’s wig and revamping her Canary image, so that was a plus. But the Ollie wig needs to die. Burn it. We beg you, show.
More Speedy/Canary Team-Ups
We think we can all agree that female friendships have not been a point of particular focus or aptitude in Arrow thus far. Luckily, this season appears to be starting off strong in that department, demonstrating for us firsthand that Thea and Laurel have not only been fighting side by side for the past five months, but they are also living together! Yay friends! Laurel, in particular, definitely needs some friends. Recently undead Thea could also use a pal or two.
What did you all think of the premiere? Did it live up to your expectations? What are your must’s and must-not’s for season four? Chime in with your comments below!
Caralynn is a freelance entertainment writer. She also writes about all things television for TV Fanatic, Tell-Tale TV, HelloGiggles, and New York Observer. In her spare time, when she's not writing about TV, she's tweeting about it over at @caralynn_marie.