After two successful seasons, Arrow became one of The CW's highest-rated dramas and one of the network’s strongest hits. Not only had Arrow successfully set up its first spin-off with The Flash, but the third season became the year when the annual crossovers started happening. The Green Arrow drama’s third year was considered one of the show’s darkest seasons of all time as the series took things to the next level.
With the introduction of Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable) as the big bad of that season, Oliver (Stephen Amell) and his team had their hands full. But this antagonist was done differently to the Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) and Deathstroke (Manu Bennett.) With that said, these are the best and worst episodes of Arrow season three.
10 WORST: Draw Back Your Bow (Episode 7)
Throughout Arrow’s many seasons, the show has had its ups and downs when it came to introducing certain DC characters into the series. One of these newcomers who we could have lived without was Carrie Cutter a.k.a. Cupid (Amy Gumenick), a recurring foe in the Green Arrow’s rogue gallery in the comics.
This season's seventh episode made Cupid the main threat of the week which was, for the most part, ridiculous since she had an obsession with The Arrow. Oliver deserves a better class of threat.
9 BEST: The Calm (Episode 1)
For most of this episode, Team Arrow's on a good roll as they brought crime to an all-time low. Roy (Colton Haynes) finally suited up as Arsenal and Oliver took his relationship with Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) to the next level.
We also get introduced to Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) as he began his origin story as The Atom. But the peace doesn't last as Werner Zytle (Peter Stormare), the new Vertigo, crashes the peace. As if the premiere wasn’t big already, the episode ends on a massive shocker when Sara (Caity Lotz) is brutally killed off.
8 WORST: The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak (Episode 5)
While Felicity became one of the breakout characters of the series, the third season dedicated a whole episode to her, exploring the hacker’s origin story.
The fifth episode gave viewers a deeper look into Felicity’s life before she met Oliver as she was incredibly different back in the days. But nothing about her origin story really stood out. In the end, all her origin episode did was set up the backstory for her ex-boyfriend who served as the villain of the week.
7 BEST: The Climb (Episode 9)
The fall finale gave fans a bigger taste of the League of Assassins' leader: Ra's Al Ghul. With Ra’s focused on finding Sara’s killer, Team Arrow does everything they can do find out who killed Sara so that Ra’s doesn’t kill 50 innocent lives in Starling City.
Malcolm tells Oliver that he had Thea kill Sara to wipe himself free off his blood debt to the League. This all leads to an epic showdown between Oliver and Ra’s. The finale ends with an epic duel, where Ra’s defeats Oliver despite some severe injuries.
6 WORST: Left Behind (Episode 10)
While the winter finale left viewers shocked and eager to find out what happens next, the winter premiere didn’t live up to the hype. Though Oliver should have died from his duel with Ra’s, he somehow survives and this is where the series demanded too much suspension of disbelief.
Even though Maseo (Karl Yune) states that he brought Oliver to Tatsu (Rila Fukushima) so she could bring him back to life, it doesn’t seem like Oliver actually died in the previous episode. The way that the series seemed to solve this problem was through some weird tea medicine.
5 BEST: Suicide Tendencies (Episode 17)
Arrow’s time with the Suicide Squad didn’t last long once their feature film version happened. Despite this, it still didn’t take away the enjoyment of the seventeenth episode where we got one last Suicide Squad themed story with Michael Rowe back as Deadshot.
Not only does he get to be the hero of the mission by sacrificing himself, but viewers also got to see Floyd’s days before he became Deadshot through some nice flashbacks. While it was disappointing to see Deadshot die, it was still one powerful episode for the former Task Force X member.
4 WORST: This Is Your Sword (Episode 22)
One of the two final episodes became the reason why season three ended on a weak note. This episode features Oliver getting prepped to become the next Ra’s al Ghul even though he is playing Ra’s big time. It was at this point in the season where it became clear that Arrow’s version of Ra’s was incredibly flawed.
Out of nowhere, Ra’s forces his daughter Nyssa (Katrina Law) to marry Oliver for no good reason. It really didn’t look good of the series to feature an openly gay woman being forced to marry a heterosexual man.
3 BEST: Canaries (Episode 13)
The third season became Laurel’s (Katie Cassidy) year of evolving into her comic counterpart as the Black Canary. However, her early days were challenging. As she was doing everything she could to honor Sara’s legacy, Werner was back to drug Laurel so she could face her deepest fear.
“Canaries” deals with Laurel’s inner struggle of not being able to be what Sara was. But thanks to some encouragement from Felicity, Laurel realizes that she needs to stop pretending to be Sara and instead be herself. Starting problematic, “Canaries” becomes an empowering hour for Laurel in the end.
2 WORST: My Name is Oliver Queen (Episode 23)
Following its penultimate episode, the third season's finale was incredibly lackluster despite having one of the biggest DC villains as the big bad. After having not been open with his team what he was doing this whole time, Oliver ends up defeating Ra’s.
Team Arrow isn’t exactly happy with how he acted throughout these past few months and this causes a rift between Oliver and Diggle. The finale ends with Oliver giving up his life as the Arrow as he and Felicity leave Starling City together, making it the most anticlimactic season wrap-up imaginable.
1 BEST: The Brave and the Bold (Episode 8)
This episode served as part two of the first annual crossover with The Flash. Here, the team-up continues in Starling City as Team Arrow deals with Captain Boomerang (Nick Tarabay): one of the Scarlet Speedster’s recurring foes.
As Digger Harkness causes trouble, Team Flash comes to Oliver’s city to stop him. It was genuinely fun to see the season take a break from the drama with Ra’s and let the Arrow team-up with a super-friend like The Flash. While the following crossovers got even bigger, the first one will always be memorable because of how entertaining it was.