Arrow was previously a really good show. It was awesome in season one, season 2 kicked up the stakes and the quality, and left me wondering what season three would do to top it. Pretty much nothing, apparently.
After Oliver’s defeat of Slade Wilson at the end of season 2, things are looking up. Team Arrow has become a well oiled arrow shooting machine, and the city is (for the most part) saved. But all that changes when one of Oliver’s friends is killed, and Malcolm Merlyn starts stirring up trouble across the globe, Oliver must confront an evil that spans generations, with power that he cannot even comprehend. But there’s something even worse than fighting that evil… becoming it.
To be honest, I knew something was wrong with this season ever since the first episode. In the end of that, Sarah was killed. This was shocking. I “liked” it. I mean, I was sad that she was dead, but I thought that killing off a main character like that was pretty ballsy. Soon after though, I started to see some cracks in the story. Now that Sarah was out of the way, Laurel was up to the plate to become the Black Canary. This seemed pretty cool at first, because it put the show more in line with the comics. But they killed off an amazing character to do it! I don’t get it. I physically cannot understand how getting rid of a really great character like Sarah sounds like a good idea in order to change the name of one of your superheroes.
And Laurel as Black Canary was completely incompetent! Remember when Sarah was kicking ass out on the streets, using martial arts, and those cool nightstick thingys (you know, like the ones Nightwing has)? Laurel does none of that. Absolutely none. She literally beats people over the head like an idiot. She went through training with around two to three different people, and she just hits people with a stick. In addition to that, there’s no character development involved in this. She’s just regular Laurel, as the Black Canary.
But believe it or not, Sarah’s death leads to more problems. Now, with Laurel as the Black Canary, there’s literally only one person fighting for good in the “right” way. That’s Captain Lance, who is as cool as ever. But, he is slowly dying of a heart condition. Hold on, let me explain. In the first season, Team Arrow was a very small thing. For the first half, it was really just Oliver, and then Digle and Felicity joined later. In the first season, Oliver also murdered people. He would shoot them straight with arrows, and then leave the bodies for the police. At the end of that season, though, he makes a no kill rule. Now, he shoots people with trick arrows, or just in the leg or something.
Sure, Oliver’s methods were very questionable in the first season. And that made it a good thing when the writers decided to not portray Oliver as the hero. All the time, he was never referred to as a hero. He was a vigilante and a murderer, and it didn’t matter who he was killing. Captain Lance was trying desperately to bring him in, and got very close a couple times. Laurel also was a lawyer, and solved crimes with the help of the law. Having Oliver be a questionable kind of guy was fine, because there was a significant presence in the show that were officials, and law abiders, and they were doing everything in their power to bring down the crazed vigilante.
Now, flash forward to season 3, and pretty much everyone is a vigilante. I’m not kidding. Oliver is the Arrow, Felicity talks in his ear, Digle works with them all, Roy is Arsenal, some guy called Ray Palmer is the Atom, Laurel is the second Black Canary, she trained with some other guy called Wildcat, and Team Arrow is starting to feel really bloated. Sarah’s dead, and they took Laurel to replace her, so the lawyer aspect of the show is gone. Now, all they have is Captain Lance, who, as I said before, is slowly dying of a heart condition. It just wasn’t the same. By this point, everyone knew of, or was part of Team Arrow. It’s like how Suits started to suck right around when everyone in the firm knew that Mike didn’t get a law degree. It was just too bloated, and wasn’t really that much fun to watch.
This isn’t even mentioning that the intensity of the show took a massive blow. Coming off of season two, where the enemy was literally in Oliver’s home, and had known him since the island, season three was a massive disappointment. This time, they weren’t fighting someone close to home, they were fighting some medieval-like immortal ninja guy from all the way across the planet. The mid-season finale had a duel with Oliver and Ras Al Ghul, which I quite liked, but it just pulled up more questions. Ex, How the HELL did Oliver survive being impaled, and also the fall down a mountain? That’s insane! They had the Lazarus Pits, but they were never said to have been used in that instance. That’s kind of a big plot hole.
But soon enough, the show picked up. This was around episode 17. Seventeen was Suicidal Tendencies, and had the Suicide Squad in a fun standalone episode. I LOVE them on this show. They’re so great. So, yeah, that was about where it started getting good. But before that, I had to sit through sixteen episodes somewhere between “meh”, and “crap” before finally reaching eighteen (Public Enemy), one of the best episodes Arrow has ever churned out. This one showed Captain Lance, who feels betrayed (with good reason) by Oliver not telling him about how his daughter died until months after it happened. This was so great. Captain Lance made the best “villain”, and I felt like I was back in the old days again, as the entire episode was one massive manhunt for Team Arrow. By the end, Lance knew that the Arrow was Oliver Queen, and had him arrested.
This prompted one of those stupid “take one for the team” back-and-forths, where pretty much everyone on Team Arrow tried to pass themselves off as the Arrow, in order to save Oliver. Ultimately, Roy wins, and gets arrested. That was kind of sad, but this whole thing was exactly what the show needed. Public Enemy was exactly the right kick in the ass that Arrow needed, and flipped the entire show on it’s head. I rushed to finish the season. By the end, plot twists just kept coming, and Ras Al Ghul, in an interesting twist, wanted Oliver to be the next Ras, instead of just trying to kill him.
Now, the past kept coming too. In this one, Oliver was off the island and on Hong Kong. I wasn’t on-board with this originally, but it won me over. There was a point where Oliver went to his own house in Starling City, and sat down in HIS LIVING ROOM! That was unacceptable. The writers took the show WAY too far then, and I won’t forgive that. But the rest of the Starling City flashback was pretty fun, and that’s exactly what the rest of the flashbacks were. It was just fun and odd. Oliver was in a strange country, and once they got Amanda Waller out of the way, it was just Oliver, lost, teaming up with two Chinese former secret agents, to stop a previous (one off) villain from using a bio weapon on the city. It was funny, fun, action packed, and also worked with the present as well. There was an air of “buddy-cop” to it, and I really enjoyed it.
And even though Laurel as the Black Canary was really bad, I loved the Atom, who was the new character that they had introduced. He’s basically a discount Iron Man, and he’s really freaking fun. He had a positive attitude about everything, cracks jokes all the time, and generally just reeks enjoyable TV. There were a couple other additional problems, or good things. So I’ll just make a list.
Other Things I Liked:
- Roy. He totally grew as a character, and he got a worthy send off.
- Laurel’s sonic scream. Near the end of season (last episode or two), Laurel got a device that made the sonic sound that Sarah used, but it would happen whenever she did the little screaming thing. She looked like an idiot when she was doing it, but it was a really nice touch from the comics.
- The end-ish. This was probably the second to last episode, where everyone teamed up to rescue Oliver. I’m serious. Everyone, except for Roy (because he had already left), and Oliver (because the whole point was to rescue him) was there kicking ass with the newly minted Kitana. She was cool.
- Nyssa. She was already a cool character, but she got a good spotlight, and I liked her relationship with Laurel.
- The Flash. Barry showed up for around two seconds. It was short, but he was as fun as as always.
- Wildcat. He was just an all around cool kind of guy.
- The Atom’s entrance. I already said that I loved Ray as a character, but his entrance later in the season was one of the coolest things in the show period, and had me giggling like a little kid when it happened.
Other Things I Disliked
- Thea, to an extent. For most of the season, she was either being used as a tool, or sulking about how she was being used. But in the end, she used her newfound martial arts madness to her own advantage, which I loved.
- The Slade episode. This was absolute crap, and completely demeaned the entirety of season 2. In addition to this, it was useless, big picture wise. It had almost no bearing on the story, meaning that the writers only wrote it because they thought it would be cool. It wasn’t.
Deadshot’s death. I LOVE Deadshot’s character. Suicidal Tendencies was an awesome episode, and where the season started picking up. But in the end, Deadshot was sacrificed himself, and went out as a hero. It was the best end I could have hoped for for Deadshot, and it was done very well. There’s still a chance that they could bring him back (I hope), but for now, it looks final. It was done so well, but I would have preferred for him to stay awhile longer.
- The final fight between Tatsu and Kitana. It was well executed, but I wished Tatsu could have a little redemption, and before they locked swords, they honestly looked like they were wearing terrible cosplay. I was begging them to get to fighting so I wouldn’t have to look at their costumes anymore.
- Ras’s endgame. It was done well, but I thought that this medieval ninja lord would do something a little different than using a super modern bio-weapon to achieve his goals. Something felt kinda… off there.
Anyway, season three was a little rocky. Actually, it was a lot rocky. The first sixteen episodes were like climbing a sharp and jagged mountain for me. But ultimately, it all ended well. It took a while, but season three became what I wanted. I just had to get through a whole lot of “certainly not what I wanted” to finally get there. 6 out of 10.
Arrow’s third season was indisputably bad for a while before it got better. Characters were either killed or ruined, the plot fell off it’s hinges, and the whole thing became a really weak show overall. But eventually, it shot back to fame. The end brought everything I ever could have wanted, and threw twist after twist at me. By this point, nothing can ever be the same, and I’m not sure I want it to be.