Arrow Season 4, Episode 1 “Green Arrow”
Written by Marc Guggenheim & Wendy Mericle
Directed by Thor Freudenthal
Airs Wednesdays at 8pm ET on The CW
Arrow‘s fourth season is perhaps its most important yet, following a third season stuck in the shadows of Deathstroke, The Flash, and the overwhelming number of characters and stories it tried to service at the same time (does anybody remember anything about the Hong Kong arc beyond Oliver running down alleys? Didn’t think so). After a mediocre season finale that neatly pressed the ‘reset’ button, “Green Arrow” was the first chance for Arrow to express itself creatively – unfortunately, what it delivered was mostly a carbon copy of previous season premieres, with a tacked on, laughably desperate ending to boot.
We’ll get to that final stinger: for the majority of the episode, “Green Arrow” is Arrow in its usual early-season rhythms, with Oliver contemplating the man he was last season, and the man he wants to be this time around. This time, it’s whether he wants to be a hero at all anymore, if he can do it without “letting the darkness slip on” (“darkness” is mentioned about 48 times in this episode); well, that and trying to find the right time to ask Felicity to marry him, to complete their dream of becoming suburban borings in Boringstown, Whateverstate (does this episode have a kitschy meal with the neighbors, who reflect just how much Felicity and Oliver hate this new life? You bet your ass it does). Immediately, “Green Arrow” mires itself in the Olicity nonsense, the first of many red alarms that this “new direction” for the show, is just more of the same.
The next signifier of Arrow bein’ Arrow is the sheer amount of exposition in this episode: like The Flash the night before it, any progress made in the overarching stories are lost among the sheer amount of information being explained in every scene. This happens in little moments – why does Diggle have to explain that his kid makes him forget the world for the millionth time! – and in big ones, like the airport scene, which is literally a running line of exposition carrying one character to another, openly explaining the episode’s themes and story points, while simultaneously recapping last season’s emotional arcs and previewing what is to come. Sure, some of this leads to mildly pleasant material – I’m always down for a scene where Lance dresses down Oliver – but a lot of this feels like it’s forcing obvious bits of information to the audience, forgetting to pause and remember there are actual three-dimensional creatures on this show besides Oliver Queen.
From there, “Green Arrow” is all about putting people in position, emotionally and physically: Thea has to beat the crap out of some guy randomly because she’s a little “off”. We’ve got to reference Diggle’s new suit, because nobody noticed that he suddenly looked like Dredd and Magneto’s love child (that plastic visor looks particularly cheap, though). We’ve got to kill off another D.A., and threaten another large-scale event on the city through a singular, mystical villain: there’s no doubting how energetic the episode is, but slow down and consider any scene, and it quickly dissolves into a series of familiar (and thus, predictable) Arrow story lines. How many times have we heard about Oliver letting go of the darkness to find hope in his world? The suit may get brighter and brighter with each season, but the story remains abundantly familiar – and to top it off, we’re going back to Lian Yu in the flashbacks, a further reminder of how cyclical and redundant a lot of “Green Arrow” feels.
Now, let’s talk about that ending.
In an interview with EW.com, Wendy Mericle talked with the site about that scene, where Barry takes a break from fighting Zoom to pay his respects at a funeral Oliver is attending, alluding to a major character death this season. Forget the implications of this, and how it ultimately gives away that Arrow WILL be returning to the darkness this season – Mericle says they don’t even know who is going to be in that grave yet! Per the interview (which you can read here):
“We don’t necessarily know who it is right now,” Mericle says. “We’re still figuring the plan out for the season, but we wanted to have resonance. If it doesn’t mean something to the characters, it won’t mean anything to the audience either.”
Now, how does this sound like a good idea? Why would this be inserted into the season premiere, if it’s literally an allusion to nothing? This doesn’t mean that Felicity or Diggle are dying, as many people on Twitter freaked out about – this could be somebody we haven’t met yet, someone whose tangential connection to the plot we haven’t seen play out yet, could gain some temporary “importance” exploited to create this emotional moment. Nobody knows – not even the writers, turning what could be an ominous moment into an exploitative one. Even without that context, the moment feels cheap: knowing how loosely Arrow plays with the rules of death, seeing Oliver crying over someone’s grave is already an image we’ve seen, and seen the show back away from him. Given how it’s the show’s fourth season, the logical suggestion is the character that eventually will be written into that grave will be a series regular, as Arrow tries to shed the identity of who it was in its first three seasons, into the slightly different (but mostly the same) fourth season, where one powerful enemy terrorizes the city while Team Arrow tries to figure out the one extremely intricate, luck-based way to beat him.
- Wow, Black Canary’s strong because a little kid said so! Thanks little kid!
- Love how callous Oliver is about living where his sister was killed. “She was stabbed right here!” he tells Felicity.
- Pretty sad Oliver would have the Shado tattoo removed: kind of ruins her legacy on the show, and reduces the big conflict of season two to something Oliver wishes we’d all just forget. I get the sentiment of ‘moving on’ – but he keeps his other tattoos, and can never get rid of his scars. So why this one?
- Laurel gives no shits about her colleague once she realizes she’s poisoned.
- Wait, Felicity does all that fancy computer work WITHOUT A MOUSE?
- don’t you think Darhk would have criminals that didn’t kill themselves? I mean, they’re easy to find, but they can’t be that abundant.
- Stories I AM interested in: H.I.V.E., Lance fighting the Darhk fight (even though it really makes no sense, considering it corrupts the show’s last beacon of honesty), and the city council that is proving to be as effective as the now-empty mayor’s position was.
- “What did we really accomplish?” Oliver asks, as he suddenly drives his limo through The Wire, in the episode’s oddest sequence.
- I like that The Flash defines the weird powers metahumans have, on a scientific level. The “mysticism” of Arrow never feels the same, because it always remains vague, something that’s too powerful for Oliver to defeat until the season finale, when he handles it smoothly.
- Yo, what the fuck is Hal Jordan doing in that bar Oliver and Amanda Waller were drinking in?
- What did you think of the season premiere? Promising, or frustrating? I would really love to hear what others have to think about this episode.