Season 4 of Arrow is set to premiere this week, and the trailer for the fledgling series sure promised a lot: Damien Darhk, John Diggle getting a goofy helmet, new DC characters, explosions and the end of Oliver’s five-minute retirement.
Without going too deeply into the faults of Season 3, let’s just say that Season 4 has a lot to improve on… and also a lot of ways it can keep being awesome. Here are just a few of those.
This is Screen Rant’s list of 10 Things We Want To See In Arrow Season 4.
THEA’S RESURRECTION CONSEQUENCES
In case you missed this part from season 3, Thea died. Then she was brought back, courtesy of the Lazarus Pits (or the Lazarus Hot-Tub, if you prefer Barry’s terminology), and a big deal was made about how her resurrection could be even worse than letting her stay dead. The way we were told, it was as if Thea was going to return as the devil incarnate, and she definitely made an impressive first showing by leaping out of the water like a possessed animal child.
Then she went back to being Thea, and not much more was said about it for the rest of the season. Of course, as the Season 4 trailer implies, this isn’t the last we’ve heard of Thea’s hot-tub adventure. It seems this plot thread hasn’t been left dangling, and it’ll be quite a ride to see how Oliver’s sister has changed her on a deeper level. Here’s hoping it’s not simply a case of “she gets violent and kills bad guys,” as we’ve already seen this play out with the Mirakuru drug. Instead, we’re looking forward to seeing a more subtle-yet-terrifying change in Thea, one soon to be shared by Sara as she’s resurrected and carted away to a spin-off.
A STRONGER FELICITY
Remember first season Felicity? That would be the adorkable IT girl who popped up every now and then, charmed us with her wit and awkwardness and eventually figured out Oliver’s secret due to him completely underestimating her smarts. She was a hacker genius, a true friend to Oliver, and her tangled love life was kept firmly in the background.
Fast forward to Season 3, and we have Felicity bursting into tears at least once per episode and delivering saccharine speeches to all who would listen. And of course she was never in the wrong, because the fandom loved her, right? Then she was mashed together with Oliver in a pairing that we’d all realized wasn’t going to work. The writers definitely came late to that party.
Since the showrunners have already shown that they can respond to the fans, Season 4 would be a great opportunity to restore Felicity’s original personality, the one that made us fall for the character in the first place. She can quite easily be a stronger character without being turned into the show’s resident preacher.
A MUCH STRONGER LAUREL
Speaking of Season 1, remember first season Laurel? Actually… bad example. Remember season 2 Laurel, with all the angst and alcohol abuse? Yep, that’s also a terrible example. Season 3 didn’t exactly improve things, with Sara’s character being tossed under the bus after her death just so the relatively-unskilled Laurel could take on the mantle of Black Canary. It’s been a bumpy ride, but this could be solved with a healthy dose of self-awareness.
The writers need to realize that Laurel hasn’t been the most palatable character thus far. Mistakes have been made. She’s nowhere near as skilled as she needs to be to keep up with the rest of the cast, and the current Canary Cry looks kind of dumb. Laurel needs a decent, non-angsty subplot (stretching over a few episodes, not just a brief bout with hallucinations) where she confronts her faults and realizes that she needs to be better. The solution is not sticking her in fights with trained assassins and having her win every time, because that’s not impressive or believable. Season 4 is a chance to separate Laurel from her sister and make her a more consistent, likable and believable member of Team Arrow. A training montage or seven couldn’t hurt either.
MORE MEATY FLASHBACKS
Arrow tells two stories at the same time, one in the current time and one in the past that completely ruins your image of Oliver being all Castaway on Lian Yu for five years. For the first two seasons, the two were both compelling storylines that intersected with each other in various ways; most prominently, season two’s flashbacks told the story of how Slade Wilson went from kind-of-nice-guy to drug-fueled maniac, which had everything to do with his actions in the present.
This trend dipped somewhat in Season 3, with the flashbacks moving at a snail’s pace and not becoming relevant until the tail end of the season. We certainly don’t need the current events being superseded by what happened in the past, but the contrast between the exploits of buzz-cut Oliver and luscious-locks Oliver keeps the show fresh and unique. The trailers are implying that The Arrow finds his vigilante roots in Season 4’s flashbacks, so it could be interesting to see how his early adventures (and failures) craft him into the hardened killer we saw return to Starling City.
This is a darker and grittier take on the Green Arrow character, and it’s something we’ve all accepted from the start. Gone is the goofy, Robin Hood-inspired archer who wields boxing glove arrows and has the world’s most distinctive facial hair. This new version has a practical buzz cut and a willingness to kill. The show might have had brief light moments in the past, but it’s primarily been one of dangerous villains, feuding good guys and a whole lot of frowning. It doesn’t help that a frown is Stephen Amell’s default facial expression.
The show doesn’t have to swing the opposite direction to Flash levels of goofiness, but at the same time, it could use a bit of lightening up. Too much darkness means that the audience stops caring, because we become desensitized to the nonstop grit. The main characters don’t always have to be embroiled in a tangled web of deceit and malcontent, and the idea of having a Christmas-themed episode where Oliver leaps over the rooftops and deliver presents to sick children is not out of the question. Or rather, it shouldn’t be. Still, Barry Allen would make a much better Santa.
A FALLIBLE MALCOLM MERLYN
Malcolm Merlyn was a great villain… in Season 1. While John Barrowman’s portrayal still carries the character, since his leveling of the glades, Merlyn has done pretty much nothing except commit one terrible crime after another, with little to no repercussion. Despite being an incredibly untrustworthy snake who used magic mushrooms to force his own daughter to kill Sara, he just keeps coming out on top for stupid reasons. His various crimes vanish from most people’s memories in the space of a few episodes, and the only reason he wasn’t hauled off to Nanda Parbat to receive his just desserts was Oliver protecting him… again, for reasons so forced that Stephen Amell couldn’t even keep a straight face while explaining them. It was to “save Thea’s soul,”
if you remember; because shame on Thea for sending a mass-murderer away to receive justice, saving the lives of her friends and family in the process.
Malcolm Merlyn can be a manipulative mastermind, incredible fighter and all-round magnificent villain. All of these are what endeared him to people in the first place. What he cannot be is infallible. He might be in charge of the League of Assassins, but this only means he has further to fall. Season 4 could be a chance to finally satisfy the audience and hand him a proper defeat. And not a defeat that was all part of his plan, or one that ultimately benefits him. The writers might be in love with the character, but some of us just want Malcolm taken down a peg or two.
Part of the intrigue of both Arrow and The Flash is the dynamically expanding universe. If you’re familiar at all with the comics, it can be incredibly gratifying to hear a throwaway line referencing Green Lantern, or see an obscure villain represented on-screen, or possibly find out that an entire spin-off featuring several DC heavy-hitters is coming soon. Arrow is the one that started it all, which is why we’re all for more of these references and crossovers.
Some of the best episodes have included Flash characters, and the best villains are ones taken directly from the comics (when done right). Part of the reason for the show’s success is its reimagining of a familiar character, and the throwaway lines mentioning major DC names are always a huge plus, in that they make the TV universe just that little bit deeper in just a few words. There’s still plenty of room for original storytelling, but it’s hard to argue when such characters as John Constantine will soon be gracing our screens. And on that subject…
John Constantine deals in magic. It’s kind of his thing. It’s a bit of a jump for Arrow, which until now has only skirted the idea of the occult. Even with the Flash’s super-powered shenanigans happening over in Central City, the rate of actual metahumans has been low so far, which was no doubt intentional on the part of the writers. Heroes like Green Arrow and Batman have traditionally fought enemies with skills and intellect, not powers. Still, having Team Arrow face off against metahuman threats would be a good mix-up of the formula, and may even inject a bit of necessary silliness into the mix.
It has already been hinted that powers exist outside the particle accelerator explosion, so there are no real rules that have to be followed when introducing an empowered character. The universe keeps expanding, and as it does so, Oliver and friends may find themselves facing threats well out of their league… or at least people who can shoot lightning bolts from their hands.
FOcUS ON THE CORE CAST
At the heart of Arrow is that mish-mash of a family that hang around Oliver’s various caves and presumably have jobs when they’re not busy saving the city. It may have started with Oliver, but the cast has expanded… not a bad thing in and of itself, but the dynamics between the core cast members could always use some development. The Season 3 finale left us with Roy still out of the picture, Thea joining the team, Diggle mistrusting Oliver, Felicity in love with Oliver, Ray dead (yeah, that’s not gonna last) and everyone just sort of tolerating Laurel. Meanwhile, Detective Lance is presumably taking a few months to sleep off his sudden transformation into a raging jerk.
Support acts and glitzy flashbacks are all well and good, but the show would do well to focus on the characters who’ve we’ve been watching since Season 1. Some are in need of development, others just need a bit of a relationship update, but the dynamics of Team Arrow should always be at the forefront; and once again, this doesn’t mean making them love and hate each other in back-to-back episodes. Also, it’d be really great if they removed Diggle’s habit of starting half of his sentences with ‘AH-LIVER’. Seriously, go back and take a look.
THAT FACIAL HAIR
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Arrow season 3 is now available on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital HD. Season 4 begins on The CW on October 7, 2015. Anything you’re looking forward to seeing this season? Leave us a comment!