Nora Dominick ‘17/ Emertainment Monthly Assistant Stage Editor
Arrow returned this week and it’s shaping up to be the best season to date. Arrow left off last season with Oliver (Stephen Amell) hanging up the hood and driving off into the sunset with Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards). This week’s Arrow episode entitled, “Green Arrow,” picks up several months after the season three finale. Arrow is back and bigger and better than ever, if that was even possible.
The premiere episode of Arrow season 4 started the way every other season has: Oliver Queen running in the woods. Instead of being on Lian Yu or in Starling City, Oliver is running home to Felicity Smoak. Right from the start, this season puts an emphasis on Oliver and Felicity’s budding romance. Arrow drops fans right into their domestic bliss with Felicity attempting to make Oliver breakfast. Since Felicity showed up in season one, fans have been waiting with baited breath for her and Oliver to get together. That day has finally arrived. Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards have been playing the sexual-tension of the Olicity relationship for three seasons now, and it will be nice to see them actually portray a couple. Amell and Rickards continue to be the heart and soul of Arrow.
There were several key Oliver and Felicity moments throughout the Arrow season four premiere, however one of the most poignant and sob-worthy came within the first twenty minutes when Oliver reveals that he’s planning on proposing to Felicity. When the night arrives, Oliver is the most nervous fans have ever seen him, but before he can pop the question, Thea (Willa Holland) and Laurel (Katie Cassidy) show up and ask for the duos help. With this, Rickards delivers one of the best lines of the night by saying, “Our friends need our help, we should already be in the car.” Amell and Rickards continue to have unbelievable chemistry and it will be interesting to see them portray the boyfriend/girlfriend dynamic in season four of Arrow.
Although this episode of Arrow dealt a lot with the Oliver and Felicity’s relationship, it also dropped fans right into the new, re-imagined Team Arrow. Fans watched as Laurel/Black Canary, Speedy and a newly suited-up Diggle (David Ramsey) fight crime in the renamed Star City. All three characters are already experiencing some of the biggest character changes this season. Katie Cassidy has taken Laurel from an attorney, to a drug addict to a fully formed superhero. Laurel shines in this episode as she finally comes into her own as The Black Canary. For a character that began to fade into the background, Cassidy and the Arrow writers have given Laurel a complete makeover. The Black Canary can now hold her own and has become an essential part of Team Arrow. It’s safe to assume that Laurel will continue to step into the forefront of Arrow and it appears her relationship with Thea is blossoming even more.
Willa Holland has probably undergone one of the biggest character changes on Arrow. Thea began as simply Oliver’s little sister and now she has ascended to the crucial role of Speedy. Like Laurel’s character development, Thea has come into her own and it’s already interesting to see her mesh with the Team Arrow dynamic. Holland has become one of the key players on Arrow and it’s a very gratifying character development that fans have witnessed. With Thea wrestling becoming a superhero and the aftereffects of the Lazarus Pit, it will be an interesting journey for Holland to play.
Last season on Arrow, Diggle faded into the background and his storylines were lost among the shuffle, but season four of Arrow seems to be remedying this. Diggle has a new costume and has finally assumed a secret identity for fighting crime. Ramsey has taken Diggle on an incredible journey throughout Arrow as well and this season it appears to finally be the “season of John Diggle.” When season four picks up, Diggle still hasn’t forgiven Oliver for betraying him and leaving Starling City. One of the most heartbreaking quotes of the night comes when Diggle and Oliver are working together to stop The Ghosts, a new breed of criminals, from blowing up the new Star City Train Station. Diggle turns to Oliver and says, “After everything we’ve been through, I couldn’t fathom why you didn’t trust me. You don’t trust, you don’t love.” Ramsey leaves fans hanging on his every word throughout the season four premiere as he portrays Diggle’s pain effortlessly. Ramsey and Amell have always played the “best friends” on Arrow, so this season it will be interesting to see them play the reverse of this.
Of course one of the major difference in Arrow season four is the addition of the team’s newest and biggest foe, Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough). From the moment McDonough steps on screen he commands. He delivers the lines with such eloquence and hatred that it’s safe to assume he will be fans favorite Arrow villain within episodes. McDonough’s ability to play the villain shines in Arrow and with a character so complex as Damien Darhk, it will be a privilege to watch him deconstruct this role and play with it week after week. During the entire premiere episode, fans watched as Team Arrow fought Darhk’s army of “Ghosts” as well as Darhk himself. Damien Darhk is already proving to be a formidable foe when he uses mystical powers to almost kill Oliver. This is one of the few characters that has been able to bring Oliver to his knees and with this only being the first episode, fans are waiting on the edge of their seats to see what havoc Darhk with bring this season. McDonough melds into the Arrow world flawlessly.
The flashbacks in Arrow season four are also going a new and exciting direction. Last season, the flashback sequences involving Oliver in Hong Kong faded fast into the background and were often the weakest points of episodes. This season Oliver appears to have been dropped back on Lian Yu by A.R.G.U.S and Amanda Waller. This will be an interesting new component to Arrow and hopefully the flashbacks will shine and further the overarching story of Arrow instead of getting lost in the background.
By episodes end, Oliver has finally suited up and taken on the moniker: The Green Arrow. Stephen Amell is the blood, sweat and tears of Arrow and it’s hard to imagine this TV show without him. He’s paved the way for countless other superheroes on television and it’s been an amazing journey to witness. In this premiere episode, Oliver addresses Star City by revealing The Green Arrow and telling them that he wants, “to be the symbol of hope The Arrow never was. I. Am. The Green Arrow.”
Arrow took fans on a much lighter, emotional rollercoaster than previous seasons. Of course, it wouldn’t be Arrow without some major twists in the last fifteen minutes. By episodes end, it’s revealed that Quentin (Paul Blackthorne) is working with Damien Darhk and H.I.V.E to take down The Green Arrow. If that wasn’t enough, Arrow flash forwards six months to reveal Oliver and Barry (Grant Gustin) standing over a grave with Oliver crying. Talk about an emotional ending. Arrow is back and it’s shaping up to be one of the best seasons of Arrow to date. With Oliver and Felicity going strong and more secondary characters coming to the forefront, Arrow is back and better than ever.