Green Is The New Arrow: Arrow Season 4 Premiere Review
I went all Damian Darhk on Arrow producer Greg Berlanti yesterday, with a thinly veiled threat about meeting the fandom's season 4 expectations. Apparently, he took me seriously, because that was one incredible premiere.
I watched the show live at 2:00am and owe Greg an apology. Arrow is back, baby. With a vengeance.
As usual, the episode begins with Oliver running in the forest in a green hood. Before we have a chance to panic that Oliver has regressed to season 2 (although we find out in flashbacks that Amanda Waller has tracked him down and indeed sent him back to Lian Yu), he runs through a kid-friendly neighborhood, complete with sprinklers and bicycles.
And friends! Friends outside the Arrow lair! Friends who know for a fact he has the engagement ring on him, and demand to see it. Friends who know about the proposal before Felicity does.
Let's just say Emily Bett Rickards wasn't kidding when she said Oliver Queen might want to be a stay-at-home dad. Their passion, happiness, and easy companionship is so, so, so compelling and welcome.
And long-awaited. They deserve this, and so do we.
But when Laurel and Thea show up unannounced, what Felicity calls "diet saved by the bell," Oliver calls "perfect soufflées go to waste."
The season 4 premiere is overflowing with callbacks to seasons 1-3.
The limo ride Oliver takes with Felicity into Star City is the same route Oliver took from the hospital to the Queen Mansion in the pilot, and he's surprised both times at the city's disintegration during his absence. Oliver's amazement at his new Green Arrow costume is the same expression he had in "City of Heroes" (season 2, episode 1), when he returned from post-Undertaking self-exile to the renovated lair, and to the bow Felicity had custom-made for him.
His TV announcement as the Green Arrow is very similar to the one he gave to Starling City as the Arrow, promising never to abandon his city again. The difference: "Green Arrow will be a symbol of hope the Arrow never was."
Oliver at last believes that he, as the Green Arrow, can be a giver of hope. #absolutelyhugecharacterdevelopment
However, some people are reverting to their prior season selves, and not in a good way. Thea "you're already lecturing me" Queen. John "he's not a soldier" Diggle. Laurel "you can't change who you are" Lance.
Felicity is the one Team Arrow constant, and proud of it. She's been helping the team behind Oliver's back, lying to him about it, and isn't remotely sorry. (She doesn't know her insistence on driving immediately to Star City derailed Oliver's proposal, or she might've suggested setting off in the morning.)
Oliver really tries to be mad. He's completely unsuccessful.
Diggle, on the other hand, is steadfastly mad. "You don't trust. You don't love." Is he honestly questioning Oliver's love for Felicity, too, after all he's done to promote it?
Everybody's going to have to get over themselves. There's a new guy in town who mass-murders the city leadership, corrupts the police department, and uses phrases like "The grazing of the levers God uses to move the world." before killing men with green rays emanating from his palms?
Are those mystical powers that Oliver won't talk about what got Andy Diggle killed that Diggle won't talk about? Those two stubborn brothers deserve each other.
Damian Darhk is exactly the villain the Arrow fandom ordered for season 4. Ra's Al-Ghul, Slade Wilson, plus Malcolm Merlyn times 10 million don't even come close. I have a really hard time believing Neal McDonough is a great guy in real life.
Then there's the funeral shocker, for someone who may or may not be one of Darhk's many victims.
The simple fact that Barry and Oliver are the only two people standing by the grave together shows how much they've grown as friends, not just as fellow heroes. Gone is the snarky teenage competitiveness we saw in the season 3 crossover.
Trust me: Felicity didn't die. If she did, Oliver wouldn't be standing next to her grave with Barry. He wouldn't be standing anywhere at all. He'd be in the hospital on life support.
Oliver Queen is an addict of emotional pain and self-hatred, and will be less than a year into recovery. He's gained significant resilience since driving off into the sunset with Felicity in the season 3 finale, but to have him survive a such devastating loss so soon would take a massive suspension of disbelief.
And an alternate CW revenue stream, because let's face it: the off-the-charts chemistry between Emily Bett Rickards and Stephen Amell sends Warner Brothers executives laughing all the way to the bank.
It's somebody close, for whom Oliver feels deep love. But it's not the love of his life.
There will be 1000s of articles speculating who died. My thought: one of season 4's prevailing themes is family.
If Captain Lance dies, it might be him going out a hero like Moira Queen, as penance for consorting with the devil. If it's Laurel, either her Black Canary story has reached a natural conclusion, she sacrifices herself to resurrect Sara from the Lazarus Pit, she moves over to Legends of Tomorrow, or Damian Darhk kills her to keep Captain Lance in line.
Oliver told Laurel that he'd loved her for half his life. Tears at her grave, paralleling the two of them standing together in tears at Tommy Merlyn's grave in the season 2 premiere, would be beautiful.
Thea is unlikely. She basically died in season 3. It's somebody else's turn.
If it's Diggle who dies in pursuit of HIVE, that'd close the circle on all the times in seasons 1-3 when Diggle told Oliver things weren't his fault. In basically every episode since he joined the team. At Diggle's grave, Oliver says what Diggle hoped he'd say one day: there's a difference between fault and responsibility.
If it's Oliver's Baby Mama, or their son, his grief would be about lost opportunity, of having a child all this time who he never had a chance to know.
Thanks to Moira, whose ring Felicity, the future mother of her other grandchildren, will have found in that glass bowl by then.
Nobody said family wasn't complicated.