TV Recap: Arrow, ‘Green Arrow’ (Season 4 Premiere)

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Green Arrow Plot Summary:

After five months away from Starling–now Star–City, Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) have settled into a quiet suburban life. Their happiness is interrupted, however, when Laurel (Katie Cassidy) and Thea (Willa Holland) ask for Oliver’s help in stopping a dangerous new group terrorizing the city. He’s reluctant to return and Diggle (David Ramsey) is reluctant to work with him again, but when the team discovers that Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) is behind the latest crime spree, it becomes clear that the Arrow might have to permanently come out of retirement.

What’s up Arrow fans? Have fun traveling around the world this summer with the one you love? And barring that, did you at least have fun writing fan fiction about Oliver and Felicity doing it (not a double entendre)? Well, time to get serious because our favorite green, hooded hero is back.

There was a lot to this episode, but that ending demands to be addressed first. Flash forwards give the story that precedes the teased event a deeper meaning, everything that happens feels like the calm before the storm. In this case, that storm is a major death. The way the episode was edited–cutting from Felicity and Oliver being lovey-dovey to Oliver looking crushed and standing in front of a grave–leads us to believe that Ms. Smoak is not long for this world. But there is not a snowball’s chance in hell that that will happen. First of all, Felicity is the breakout character of this show, hands down, no way the network lets her get killed off. Second, on a storytelling level, there’s a much more meaningful option: John Diggle. Now, Oliver and Diggle aren’t exactly inches from a marriage proposal (at least as far as we know), but their relationship is as important to Oliver’s evolution as Oliver and Felicity’s.

A lot of the conflict this episode sprang from the fact that Diggle still can’t forgive Oliver for putting Lyla (Audrey-Marie Anderson) and baby Sara in danger at the end of last season. What Diggle said about Oliver being incapable of trust or love was really harsh (and untrue), but it plays directly into Oliver’s self-doubt. And Diggle knows that. It’s going to take a lot of work on Oliver’s part and a lot of forgiveness on Diggle’s to fix that friendship. So wouldn’t it be heart-wrenching that just as they finally do, Diggle dies in his search to understand exactly why Damien Darhk and H.I.V.E. killed his brother Andy all those years ago? Wouldn’t it be even more devastating if Oliver didn’t learn of Diggle’s secret mission until after his friend is gone, forever blaming himself for not being a better partner in the first place? And you better believe that will affect all of Oliver’s other relationships, including Felicity’s. It’s a perfect storyline.

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Or Thea dies. That would also work.

Whatever the case, that storyline is 6 months away and this episode set up a lot of stuff to explore until then. Since last season’s finale felt like a series finale, the premiere was very much about setting up new storylines. Most shocking was the reveal that Captain Lance is working with Damien Darhk. By this point, we know that Quentin is essentially a good man. So, the idea that he was desperate enough to fix the city that he teamed up with a man he doesn’t know (especially given Team Arrow is filled with people he should trust but doesn’t) is going to be fun to explore.

Usually, I’d be more excited about the new Arrow costume and Oliver’s re-commitment to the vigilante life, but this show is always kind of about Oliver finding his true identity, so it’s a little difficult 4 seasons in. However, Oliver’s struggle to define himself as a hero and have a healthy romantic relationship is exciting. Probably not every fan is happy about Oliver and Felicity getting together, but the relationship is already complicating his journey toward heroism in a new and interesting way. For most of the episode, they were light and fluffy—almost disgustingly sweet. But there’s a blemish on their perfect picture of happiness.

There’s a risk when a slow-build couple gets together that it will ruin a show, you know, the ol’ Moonlighting Curse. While that aforementioned flashforward may want us to believe the writers are going to sidestep that problem by eventually killing off Felicity, the real cause of their future problems looks like it will be something much smaller, more realistic. While Oliver thought he was living a dream life with Felicity the past 5 months, she had one foot in their relationship and one in Star City helping their friends fight crime. Amell gets better every season and the way he played Oliver’s sense of betrayal and hurt was really something. Emotion and the situations that create them on this show can be so heightened that it’s hard to think of them in real world terms. But this–the fear that one person is more invested in a relationship than the other–is universal. That’s a big, emotionally complex storyline and a sign that Arrow is growing from a superhero show into something more sophisticated. No way they give that up just to shock us. Sorry, Digg.

Rating: 8.5/10

By day, Marisa Carpico stresses over America’s election system. By night, she becomes a pop culture obsessive. Whether it’s movies, TV or music, she watches and listens to it all so you don’t have to.