TV Review: Arrow (Season 3, 2014-2015)

Spoilers for season 1 and 2 of Arrow follow.

Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) has returned from five years on a hellish island to Starling City, with a fancy new bow and accuracy that would make Legolas jealous, not to mention some crazy good abs. Interspersed with flashback scenes to show what happened in his half-decade away, Oliver and his ragtag bunch of vigilante friends is trying to save his city from a bigger threat than ever before.

Season one needed roughly ten episodes to get the ball rolling, and for the actors to find their grooves, but season two was fantastic from start to finish. Several episodes in season two also introduced the character of Barry Allen, as a backdoor pilot for spin off show, The Flash.

+ Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen / The Arrow (still not using his Green Arrow alias, nor spouting his signature facial hair just yet) has ups and down in his acting, but overall manages to swing between his emotions nicely. Essentially, he is playing two characters at once, in the current and flashback scenes
+ John Diggle (David Ramsey) was the highlight of the season. With no super powers or over the top abilities, he was often the moral compass of the group
+ Katie Cassidy (Laurel Lance / Black Canary) started off annoying as hell, but once Oliver/Felicity romance became more obvious, Laurel became much more bearable. Her transition into the Black Canary was surprisingly enjoyable
+ Ray Palmer, soon to be known as The Atom (played by Brandon Routh, of Superman Returns fame) was another highlight, and his constant smiling and happy-go-lucky attitude was a very welcome change from the grim and brooding everyone else. In terms of romance, Ray/Felicity was a far better pairing than Oliver/Felicity.
+ other supporting characters were welcome, though perhaps slightly underutilised; Willa Holland (Thea Queen), Paul Blackthorne (Quentin Lance), John Barrowman (Malcolm Merlyn) and Colton Haynes (Roy Harper / Arsenal). Each at least had a few big moments here and there
+ the cross-over episodes between this and The Flash were my pick for the best things on TV this year

– holy crap, Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) just turned into an unbearable character after the first few episodes. She flip flopped from wanting Oliver to kill his enemies, to never kill his enemies, to loving him, to loving someone else, to loving him again… her appearances turned into the worst part for several episodes. Similarly, I can only feel sympathy for her getting teary eyes and sobbing so many times before it just gets annoying.
– the flashback sequences in the new location of Hong Kong seemed very dragged out, and solely served as a reason to have someone say something in the past that would be echoed in the present, which often felt forced and cheesy
– the character of Ra’s al Ghul (played by interesting choice of Australian Matthew Nable) just had far less gravitas than someone like Deathstroke (Manu Bennett) in season two, which is a shame considering his comic book history
– several high profile actors (such as Vinnie Jones and Peter Stormare) were cast as villains whom were squandered or treated as jokes, at points where the show could really have used a big moment to keep the stakes high
– it really makes no sense at all that some only slightly trained (or not trained at all) vigilantes could take out any of the League of Assassin members. I would have liked some more explanation as to how a few boxing lessons are the equivalent of a lifetime of training under Ra’s al Ghul.

> Now that meta-humans (aka, people with powers) have been introduced on The Flash, it adds the new factor of why Flash didn’t just save everyone, in the same way that ‘Superman stays out of Gotham City’.
> With the introduction of Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Assassins, this show more than ever became ‘Batman-lite’. I wish the show would stick to the themes (political or otherwise) of the comics, rather than use The Dark Knight films as it’s basis.

Should you watch this show: This season is admittedly the worst so far, since the show found it’s groove in season one. The characters’ personalities seemed to change to suit the situation, rather than being a believable evolution of what they had already established to be like. If you are deeply invested then you will have already watched this, but if not then I say watch the crossover episodes with The Flash, and then just read a summary of the rest.

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