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ComiConverse Contributor, Fanny Pack, is here to talk about why her beloved Arrow has jumped the shark in Season 4, and why she believes it will be great again.
This article contains spoilers for Season 4 of Arrow. Catch up and then read on!
I’ve been a huge fan of Arrow from the beginning. Season one had some rough patches, but things picked up and the show was consistently strong once season two got under way. I’ve had some issues with Laurel Lance’s character, and there have been a few other questionable character choices. Most of these were inconsequential and did not detract from my overall enjoyment of the show. Season four has so far been a letdown, however, because of the reemergence of some of my past gripes, with a few new additions to my list of grievances. I’ve come up with a few of my top reasons why Arrow seems to have “jumped the shark” a bit in season four. I still think Arrow can be a good show, and sincerely hope this drop in quality is just a bump in the road for Team Arrow.
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Malcolm Merlyn is becoming absurd. First he’s bad, really bad, and then he’s helpful. Yes, he wanted to become Ra’s al Ghul, so he had an interest in defeating the incumbent Ra’s, but he did “help” Team Arrow in defeating the League of Assassins. We’ve already learned that Merlyn is Thea’s father, and watched as he has tried to build a relationship with her. But then we also watched Merlyn force Thea to kill Sara Lance, so the whole “fatherly love” story is not entirely convincing. Thea, however, gets over that event and ultimately allows him to be in her life; except that when push comes to shove, Merlyn makes it evident that he values being Ra’s al Ghul over having a living daughter. His reason: there are other evil forces out there. Seems like a pretty good reason to want to hold power over the deadliest of global assassination clubs. After all, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, right? Apparently all it took was Oliver to save Merlyn’s daughter’s life and turn the title of Ra’s over to Nyssa al Ghul, for Merlyn to join the other evil force in the city that he had originally wanted to protect the world from. All this back and forth makes my head hurt. Make. It. Stop. Merlyn needs more consistency.
Nyssa al Ghul and the League of ZZzzzzzzz
The League of Assassins storyline was kind of a disaster. First off, I felt like I was having déjà vu watching more League-centric episodes, but it was the final resolution that really blew my mind. Nyssa al Ghul believes Merlyn to be a usurper and has garnered the allegiance of some of the more traditional League of Assassins members who believe her to be the rightful heir. Nyssa plans to return to Star City with a cure for Thea’s soul flu and to blackmail Team Arrow into killing Malcolm Merlyn in exchange for the cure. Plenty of casualties ensue during the fight for the Demon’s Head ring, but at the end of the day, Nyssa must have been so pleased. Nope! Instead of throwing a victory party, Nyssa just disbands the League and melts the ring? I don’t understand. Were all of the other assassins cool with that? Did she plan that from the beginning? Does this mean she and Oliver are divorced? Is there a support group for ex-League of Assassins members who have nothing assassin-y to do now? This was an anticlimactic non-resolution to a long-running, recurring aspect of the series.
Damien Darhk’s Super Powers
Damien Darhk can kill people through a video conference. Why not just squeeze the life out of Oliver while he’s giving a speech on live television? I’ll just leave this here.
I’ve been a huge fan of Felicity and Oliver since the beginning. I cried when Oliver gave Felicity his fake “I love you” speech in the former Queen mansion. Felicity is the smartest person in the room, and usually she’s also the most reasonable. She’s strong and supportive; a rock for everyone on Team Arrow. So why have the writers given her material that results in her not giving Oliver the benefit of the doubt and not following her own advice to her mother about Detective Lance? This trend in her character began when Felicity, and frankly everyone else on Team Arrow, could not forgive Oliver for having a plan to deal with Ra’s al Ghul that he didn’t include them on. I got over that infraction because it seemed to work itself out fairly quickly; it’s the later issues that have really bugged me. Felicity and Oliver are engaged and we all view them as soulmates. So it would seem as though now, more than ever, Felicity should know what Oliver is made of and that he only thinks about the safety of those he cares about. What we have seen in season four now are several instances where Felicity demonstrates baseless doubt, feelings of betrayal, and a willingness to walk away over a single small conflict. This is not the Olicity I’m used to seeing in my Tumblr stream. This is a weird trivial version of Olicity that I simply do not like. All I can say is: change it back, please. (P.S. Felicity’s ring finger is clearly bare four months from now, see below)
Is it just me, or are these flashbacks moving in slow-motion? At this point, there are 5-10 minutes of flashbacks each episode in which nothing is happening. The same conflict is served each episode, but from a slightly different angle. Oliver has a magic tattoo; Oliver is not popular with the other prisoners; Baron Reiter has a plan; Baron Reiter is going to kill them all — which comes out like an epiphany each time he mentions it even though there is literally zero indication that any other outcome is likely. At least bring back Constantine so I have something interesting to dissuade me from using the flashbacks as breaks.
I still have confidence this train will get back on track. Highs and lows are to be expected, especially when the show is attempting to navigate both DC Comics material and the fact that they are building a unique DC television universe. I only hope that the remainder of the season cleans up some of the messy writing and iffy story directions.
Watch this season of Arrow on Wednesdays at 8/7c on the CW.
Fanny Pack is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow her on Twitter: @Onapack