Developed by Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg
Returns Oct 7, 2015 at 8 pm ET
The Premise: After spending five years missing and presumed dead, young billionaire trust fund kid Oliver Queen returns to his home of Starling City a changed man, in more ways than one. Armed with a bow and newly-learned fighting skills, he takes on the unsavoury elements of the city, wherever they might come from, with a growing number of allies.
Where We Are: Season four begins this fall; 69 episodes have already aired
What You Need To Know: While the voiceover proclaims that Oliver Queen spent five years on a deserted island, the truth is a lot more complicated. Not only did Oliver not spend all five years on the island, but it was far from deserted, as it exposed Oliver to numerous people, including friend-turned-nemesis Slade Wilson, aka Deathstroke, and ARGUS leader Amanda Waller, who shares an uneasy alliance with Oliver even in present day, on occasion. Meanwhile, Queen’s pursuit of cleaning up his city as the vigilante Arrow has gone from a solo mission to a team effort, with his former bodyguard John Diggle leading the charge for a team that has included, at various times, Assistant District Attorney Laurel Lance (aka Black Canary 2), her sister and League of Assassins trainee Sara Lance (aka Black Canary 1), street thug turned fellow vigilante Roy Harper (aka Arsenal), Oliver’s sister Thea Queen, fellow billionaire Ray Palmer, and IT wizard Felicity Smoak. Also in Oliver’s world is Captain Lance as a reluctant civilian ally, Nyssa Al-Ghul as an uneasy ally to Oliver, and Malcolm Merlyn as a former enemy with whom Oliver works simply to ensure the protection of his sister Thea, who is Malcolm’s daughter. Last season saw Thea, after learning how to fight from Malcolm, get resurrected thanks to the Lazarus Pit, while Laurel, heartbroken over her sister’s murder, took up Sara’s superhero identity, determined to continue her legacy.
Where We Left Off: The third season saw Queen face his biggest challenge yet as he took on the League of Assassins, eventually joining them in an attempt at a double cross. The season finale saw the fruition of that plan, as Oliver hung up his cloak and bow after killing Ra’s Al-Ghul and handing over control of the League of Assassins to Malcolm. Oliver left town with Felicity, declaring himself finally happy, as Nyssa promised to take control of the League from Merlyn before bowing to him. Diggle and Laurel promised to continue fighting crime in Starling City, while an explosion left the fate of Ray Palmer and his suit uncertain.
Why You Should Start Watching: Arrow quickly became one of the most exciting action shows on television, with strong fight choreography anchoring a careful attention to story and world-building. Led by a strong central performance from Stephen Amell, the show has displayed a penchant for solid casting, from Caity Lotz as Sara Lance to Michael Jai White as Bronze Tiger, building a universe that’s fun to visit week in and week out. The upcoming season will also see Lexi Alexander helm an episode, indicating a continuation of its strengths.
The show’s fourth season also promises to add to a memorable villain’s gallery that has previously included John Barrowman and Manu Bennett, with Neal McDonough stepping into the role of the Big Bad as the head of the long-teased H.I.V.E. In addition, the entrance of the organisation promises to give centre stage to Diggle, a stalwart character who’s due for a major focal storyline, allowing David Ramsey a turn in the spotlight. Along with the promise of supporting characters getting their chance to shine and McDonough’s entrance comes the show’s continuing streak of strong casting, with Ben and Kate‘s Echo Kellum and Enlisted‘s Parker Young set to join the series as well.
Another of the show’s strengths has been its display of the journey the characters take to become expert fighters. The fourth season promises an arc with Thea Queen in this vein, which just adds to the reasons why this fall is the best time to jump in.
What You Should Watch Beforehand: Here are a few episodes that demonstrate what makes the show so entertaining.
Season 1, Episode 7, “Muse of Fire”, and Season 1, Episode 8, “Vendetta”: A two-parter, these first season episodes showed the first signs of the show’s potential, focusing on Oliver discovering and teaming up with a fellow vigilante in Helena Bertinelli, aka Huntress, before differences in their worldview emerged.
Season 2, Episode 17, “Birds of Prey”: This season two episode is a great showcase for two key members of Arrow‘s supporting cast, as both Caity Lotz’s Sara Lance and Jessica de Gouw’s Helena Bertinelli get prominent screentime, illustrating the strength of the show’s supporting and recurring characters.
Season 2, Episode 23, “Unthinkable”: The season two finale is an exciting hour that showcases the show’s skill with fight choreography and action set-pieces, and remains a high-water mark in the series.