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TV REVIEW: Arrow Season 3 Premiere “The Calm”

BY The Screen Spy Team

Published 8 years ago

TV REVIEW: Arrow Season 3 Premiere

By Justin Carter

If you told me three years ago that one of my favorite shows would be about Green Arrow, I would have laughed. A lot of people would have laughed, because the initial commercials and marketing didn’t do the show any favors. Many used the fact that pictures of a shirtless Stephen Amell as the primary marketing was a clear sign that Arrow would be hot garbage. And in return, the show has made those naysayers eat their words with fun characters, interesting deviations to the character mythology and a careful, deliberate blend of DC universe characters with Green Arrow’s own internal one. While the exact episode count of when the series began to become truly great is up for debate, there’s no denying that Arrow has come a long way, in terms of its ambitions and scope.

Last season ended on a note equally high and dark. Starling City was saved, but Moira Queen was dead and Thea went with her father Malcolm Merlyn. Slade was kept on Lian Yu, but Sara went off Nyssa al Ghul and the League of Assassins, Detective Lance looked to be nearing death after his injuries from the Mirakuru soldiers caused him to collapse. Roy donned his costume for the first time, but Oliver did a massive backtrack on spilling his feelings to Felicity. Season three picks up five months after, and most of the plot threads mentioned above are resolved, or at the very least leading to new directions for the cast.

First up to bat is that Oliver Queen, notorious for having four girlfriends on the show, three of which having attacked him at least twice (this depends on if you count Isabel from last season, which I do), finally gets the guts to ask Felicity out on a date. The pairing up to last season’s finale has been mostly one sided on Felicity’s end, but hasn’t stopped people from shipping it like FedEx. That story takes up most of the screentime, going from Oliver’s initial reluctance to casually asking about where they should eat in the middle of a mission and then realizing he can’t have his cake and eat it too.

The problem with ‘will they or won’t they’ pairings is that eventually either they have to be together and given a new relationship problem to deal with every week, which is what Suits does, or things have to build up right before going back to square one. Emily Bett Rickards and Stephen Amell have great chemistry together in all their scenes–this is more her forte than Amell’s, who works better when he’s as the Arrow–and I just couldn’t stop feeling for that girl. It’s a testament to the bond that’s been established between the two over the past three years that I wanted the show to let her win, to let her finally have this thing that she’s wanted but has always been yanked away from her just as she gets close. She rightly tells Oliver to quit yanking her around and decide what he wants, and even though she finally gets what she wants from him–an admittance of love and a kiss–it still feels bittersweet because while the city may eventually never need the Arrow, Oliver will always need the Arrow.

That need puts Oliver into overprotective mode, ordering Roy around and benching Diggle, who’s on his way to becoming a father. It’s a very Batman thing to do, but in this context, it makes sense. Oliver’s had to watch both of his parents and multiple people that he loves die right in front of him, and survivor’s guilt would eat at him if Diggle were to die in action. David Ramsey’s always been great playing the slightly less straight man with his quips and general look of confirmed badassery to Amell’s quietly brewing intensity, and he completely sells Diggle as someone who has been by Oliver’s side long enough to not back down when his leader, for lack of a better word, tries to lay down the law without a fight. The show is at its best when the original three of Team Arrow (it’s sticking, per Felicity) are interacting with each other.

If it feels like I’m not spending enough time on what else happens in the episode, it’s because before the end, not a lot really happens. There’s a new Count Vertigo, this time played by Peter Stormare, who has added some new chemicals into the Vertigo drug and is taking out crime bosses so he can be on top. He’s fine, though he suffers from typical Arrow villain of the week syndrome and doesn’t get a lot to do. The flashbacks in Hong Kong are pretty much just Oliver trying to escape from Amanda Waller’s clutches and whatever she wants him to do, with not much else happening besides Oliver learning that his handler’s family will be killed by Waller if he doesn’t comply. Lance has been promoted to Captain, but his injuries from the Mirakuru soldier are still affecting him, and he could possibly end up dying this season. The show doesn’t dwell on these things for long, instead focusing on the Oliver-Felicity romance, but it’s nice to know that Paul Blackthorne can rock a shaved head and still kick ass before popping meds. I’m really hoping he manages to last at least one more season, if only because Laurel would lose it if she lost her father weeks after losing her sister.

And now we’re getting to it: Sara Lance gets killed at the end of the episode. Her appearance is insultingly brief, given how vital she was to the last season, and in some ways feels like a last minute addition that could’ve been on the cutting room floor for the season two finale. While comic book fans knew that this would only end one way if it meant Katie Cassidy was going to morph Laurel into a badass this season, it doesn’t make it any less sad to see Caity Lotz not even get to defend herself against this unseen enemy. Many are going to see this as fridging Sara to get at Oliver, and while that assumption may be partly true given their romantic relationship last year, it’s also unfair to Laurel. I never thought I’d say this after two straight seasons of wanting Laurel off the show somehow, but I’m genuinely rooting for Katie Cassidy to do her sister proud and kick ass this season.

Like I said at the start, if you told me three years ago that I’d be looking forward to the adventures of Green Arrow and his group of heroes, I would’ve laughed in your face. The CW, Andrew Kreisberg, and Greg Berlanti have made me an avid watcher and believer, and I just can’t wait for this season to kick it into high gear after last year’s consistent greatness. The season opener may not be perfect, but one thing’s for certain: Team Arrow is more than ready to hit the mark.

 

Additional notes

  • It’s been so long since we’ve heard “You have failed this city!”, and it’s so good to hear that properly again.
  • Rewatching the episode, it’s clear that Sara was at least going to give up the Canary mantle to her sister if only because Laurel’s a blonde now.
  • Also related, check out this Instagram photo from a few days ago. If Laurel and Oliver don’t have a salmon ladder competition by the end of the season, I’ll be so disappointed.
  • Diggle actually does have his daughter, though she isn’t given a name, despite her immense cuteness. But she’s got two little arrowheads made by her uncle Oliver, so that’s something!
  • Grant Gustin guest stars for like a quick second at the very end before Sara dies, but I don’t really see why they needed to show him actually calling when a voice would’ve done.
  • Brandon Routh shows up as Ray Palmer, and he’s got big plans for the city and Queen Consolidated. He’s charming, smug, and there’s a bit of his performance from Scott Pilgrim in him. Enough for Felicity to hack his data and fill it with audio of farting porcupines.
  • Oliver and Diggle hug, officially cementing them as Bros 4 Life.
  • Olicity shippers, I feel for you right now. Never forget this episode. But on the bright side, you’ll have a snarky Felicity to look forward to in the next few weeks. After the whole Sara death is handled, I mean.

New episodes of Arrow are Wednesdays at 8/7 pm CST on the CW.

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