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!
Felicity cried so much that even Emily Bett Rickards got sick of it. The producers have promised less of that this year.
The 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!
Matt 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.
The 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.
The 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.
I’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.