TV News

Feeling Obligated to Discuss the Arrow Season 4 Trailer

Do I have to talk about the new Arrow season 4 trailer?  Everyone else already is.  Surely, I should follow suit.  After all, Arrow is responsible for some of the most-read articles in the history of this site.  Yeah, but Arrow was a tough show to watch last season, specifically in the second half when Oliver’s “will to live” helped him survive a sword through the chest and a shirtless nap atop a snow-covered mountain.  Then when he came back, he sided with Malcom Merlyn, but then he sided with Ra’s al Ghul, but then…wasn’t there some big prophecy at one point?  And Thea rose from the dead!

This Is Your Sword FelicityFelicity cried so much that even Emily Bett Rickards got sick of it.  The producers have promised less of that this year.

Arrow Sara EpThe way the show had to contort itself to satisfy the on-going will-they, won’t-they with Oliver and Felicity was usually to its own detriment.  Now, they’ll finally be a couple in season 4, and he’ll even have a girlfriend in his flashbacks, too.  Oliver Queen, you dog!

Nanda Parbat Oliver Ra'sMatt Noble’s fine performance as Ra’s al Ghul was somewhat wasted by a writing staff which really let the whole Nanda Parbat storyline get away from them.  Now, they again have a fine actor, Neil McDonough, playing the new big bad, Damien Darhk, who they describe as “pure evil.” Meh.

ar317b_0363bThe new supporting characters were generally hit and miss, with Brandon Routh’s Ray Palmer never fitting in with the rest of the show, though he was ultimately a lovable doof. The new season will try to do better, delivering Rutina Wesley as Lady Cop (seriously, that’s the character’s name), David Ramsey as Magneto (correction: that’s just Diggle’s new costume), Echo Kellum as a homosexual version of Mr. Terrific (again, seriously, that’s the character’s name), Alexander Calver as traditional Batman villain Anarky and Jeri Ryan as Starling City’s latest mayoral candidate.

Arrow Climb Hong Kong guyThe season 3 Hong Kong flashbacks were a real chore, the “Do we have to talk about this part of the episode?” section at the bottom of many a TV recap.  Karl Yune (Maseo) and Rila Fukushima (Katana) deserved better.  Marc Guggenheim even told TVLine, “I’ll be honest: The episodic connection, week to week… that cart started to drag the horse for me a bit.  So toward the end of last year I said to the writers, ‘What we really need to do is not worry so much about the connection between present and past and just tell a really amazing story in the past.’”  The result is that Guggenheim feels “like we have our best flashback story ever.”  Not the first time Guggenheim has made that promise.

stephen-amell-on-summerslam_612x380I’ve had had a whole summer to simply forget about Arrow‘s third season.  My most recent Arrow-related memory is watching Stephen Amell wrestle at WWE’s SummerSlam, and perform a jump off the top of the ropes which excited him so much he clearly forgot to sell the idea that the move should have hurt him as much as it did his two opponents.  Stone Cold Steve Austin thought it was embarrassing; I thought it was endearing, “Ah, look at that – Stephen’s living out a lifelong dream.”  That was a pleasant memory.

And now my most recent Arrow-related memory is watching the season 4 trailer, which I only tentatively embrace because that third season left me feeling pretty burned:

I like what McDonough is doing as Damien, particularly the, “You’re all fretting about this city dying.  I’m here on behalf of an organization that wants you to let it die” moment.  Echo Kellum’s Mr. Terrific seems like an instant hit as Felicity’s comic relief assistant.  Katrina Law’s return as Nyssa should elevate things, though I’d prefer to have her out of Nanda Parbat entirely and back struggling at civilian life with Laurel.  Alas, Malcolm Merlyn must be dealt with.  At long last, the whole “there will be side effects” part of the “bring your sister back from the dead in our magic hot tub” story with Thea will finally play.  Plus, it’s nice to see a quick shot of Matt Ryan’s John Constantine from his one-shot episode, and Diggle’s new costume doesn’t seem quite as Magneto-like in action.  Removing all of the Felicity-Oliver romantic angst might finally let this show get out of its own way, hoping their life as an actual couple won’t be overly angsty. Also, as suspected Sara comes back thanks to the Lazarus Pit.

But this is a show which just released a trailer opening with Oliver Queen jogging around town in a green-hooded sweatshirt.  You know – because he’s the Green Arrow.  That type of subtlety is vintage Smallville, and a reminder that while it is easy to get twisted up in knots over Arrow’s messy plotting and unintentionally funny moments it is ultimately a show meant to be enjoyed for what it is, flaws and all.  Did anything in the season 4 trailer look bad? Not really.  Did anything look spectacular, in a “Holy shit!  I can’t believe I just saw that!” kind of way?  Not really.  It looks like another season of Arrow covering similar ground (Team Arrow struggles to work together, someone’s trying to destroy the city, Captain Lance love/hates the Arrow), except this time everyone is a costumed vigilante except Felicity and Captain Lance.  Plus, Felicity fires a machine gun and gives a thug a good kick.  Cool.

Arrow season four premieres Wednesday, Oct. 7.


  1. Having just re-read your write-up of the season 3 trailer, my practical side has now taken over the side that is going “OMG WE’RE GOING TO HAVE A RELATIVELY STABLE AND HAPPY COUPLE THIS YEAR!! TAKE THAT, WHEDON – YOU DON’T HAVE TO KILL PEOPLE JUST WHEN THEY GET TOGETHER TO CREATE DRAMA!!”

    Now I see the season 3 trailer again, and all I can think is “oh, my sweet summer child.” Awesome action sequence after awesome action sequence does not imply good storytelling. Your theories on the Olicity storyline were spot-on – but at least we got one the hottest sex scenes ever on network TV – again, sorry Buffy-and-Spike-Against-a-Wall-with-Bonus-Zipper-Sound. I still love you (in all your messy, problematic glory), but you no longer reign supreme.

    Going back and covering similar ground might be the best choice after “doing something different” meant “breaking up the band, killing the lead guitarist, replacing her with someone who is… not-her, and going through the sad, depressing parts of a VH1 Behind the Music special.” The things they do change for season 4 may also be good ideas:

    – Laurel and Thea are made a zillion times more endearing by being battle buddies – great use of a single and free-wheeling Thea and we might even get a playful Laurel who is actually easy to love (instead of requiring mental gymnastics to appreciate what she might have been)

    – The bad guy is in your face, played by a known actor with a proven track record, and fucking awesome (and he could plausibly be Felicity’s Papa – Damien Darhk could have been a red herring and Anarky was suggested as Donna’s baby daddy, but we’re not seeing that happening)

    – Original Team Arrow is together again (and Felicity will force her boys to work out their issues), though I don’t think H.I.V.E. was mentioned and Diggle’s new mask was a little bit… unoriginal

    – Felicity gets a ‘gay bestie’ and it looks like instead of giving rom com relationship advice he’s there to give her a straight (heh) man for her comedy riffs and opportunities to be badass

    – Constantine is pulled into continuity to help hand-wave the plausibility of current and future necessary plot points (like raising Sara from the dead; I think the ‘hot in a wet corset from the Lazarus pit’ thing is a fake-out because we don’t need another iteration of Thea’s “the Lazarus pit makes you cray cray” storyline)

    – And – oh yeah – Sara Lance is back as our resurrected Lord and Savior.

    Based on other things chatted up, I’m hoping we’ll get SuperHotProgressivePolitician!Oliver running for mayor against SuperHotConservativePolitician!Jeri Ryan, Fun with CEO!Felicity and her Trusty Sidekick, Gay!Mr. Terrific, and set ups for Legends of Tomorrow that don’t feel like forced attempts to make new characters (or replacement characters) likable by putting them next to fan favorites.

    And I’m actually looking forwards to Nyssa handing Merlyn his ass and taking over the League of Assassins, correcting something that felt really wrong, very unjust, and actually kind of sexist from last season.

    1. I had to go back and re-read what I wrote about the third season trailer. It was a reminder of why I’ve tried a little harder to stay away from Arrow spoilers this summer in advance of the fourth season. I like that when I read your list of suggestions for what could happen this season I can’t immediately say something like, “No, the producers have already said this is what’s they have planned for Laure. You’re wrong.”

      Also, your joke that – “Going back and covering similar ground might be the best choice after “doing something different” meant “breaking up the band, killing the lead guitarist, replacing her with someone who is… not-her, and going through the sad, depressing parts of a VH1 Behind the Music special.” – made me laugh out loud.

      Laurel and Thea – my only reservation is simply getting past my own mental block against the fact that everyone on this show other than Felicity and Quentin are costumed vigilantes at this point. That’s just my own thing to get past. Now that Thea is in costume as a compromised sidekick it should open up a lot of new story ideas, and I hadn’t really pondered what she’d be like with Laurel. I could see it playing out as a big sister-little sister kind of thing (they have known each other for Thea’s entire life), Laurel attempting to find a surrogate Sara, all as foreshadowing for Sara’s actual return.

      Damien Darhk – He definitely brings a lot of legitimacy to that role. I’m not overly keen on ever finding out who Felicity’s father is just because it seems like the type of soap opera Arrow would screw up, but if it’s going to happen that actor would be an interesting choice. Hadn’t even considered that until now.

      Felicity’s gay bestie – That actor used to be one of the best parts of the short-lived Fox sitcom Ben & Kate, and could be exactly the extra dose of comic relief Arrow could use.

      Constantine – the only real logical place for him is to help raise Sara from the dead because that’s the one area of the show which has allowed straight-up magic to enter into things. The dude can’t come and help them fight demons. I get what you’re saying about Sara coming back wrong just like Thea would seem redundant, and maybe that shot with the Lazarus Pit is a misdirect. However, I took it at face value. As long as Sara doesn’t jump straight out of the water and attack someone before being talked down and behaving completely normally for the rest of the season since that’s how they handled it with Thea last year. We know Sara will come back different; exactly how different will be interesting.

      Nyssa – I liked her a lot with Laurel in Starling City and wished that hadn’t been cut short so soon since it really only happened in that one episode. However, you’re right – they need her to clean up that heaping mess they made with Malcolm and the League.

      Mayoral Candidates – Having Oliver run against Jeri Ryan’s character would be a logical move, but also very similar to Moira vs. Sebastian in season 2. Familiar is not necessarily bad, but I struggle to see them going that direction even though I don’t know what else they’d do with Oliver Queen the civilian this season when he’s not busy saving the world.

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