Thursday, October 08, 2015

Arrow S04 E01: Green Arrow


How do you make a fanboy giddy? Easy. Make them wait three seasons of a Green Arrow television series before ever even uttering the words "Green Arrow" or "Star City." Finally, they're here.

Now, that said, the last episode of last season could have easily have been the end of the series. Starling City was protected. Malcolm Merlin was now the gentler and friendlier R'as Al Ghul. Arrow was no more. And Oliver and Felicity had driven off to Coast City to live happier ever after. But nothing ever stays happy and shiny in Starling City for long...

Nothing says domestic bliss like a smiling Oliver saying, "Felicity Smoak, you have failed this omelet." I'm not sure I care for Oliver having most of his tattoos removed either. Felicity is still having trouble convincing Palmer Technology she's a good replacement for Ray - who we all know is just shrunken, not dead.

I loved seeing the Black Canary and Mia, I mean Thea as Speedy try to stop a hijacked Kord Industries truck. I also loved Speedy wanting to called Red Arrow, and Diggle replying that "a red arrow just means you can't make a left turn." And then lo and behold, Diggle shows up in a costume(!). Is that T opening in his helmet supposed to remind us of Mr. Terrific? Interesting. All in all, as much as I enjoyed her debut here, Willa Holland is an unconvincing action heroine, unless of course she's acting like an untrained amateur. Which she is not.

Next we have the info dump of a town meeting. Starling is now Star City, and they can't keep a mayor, or even interest one because they keep getting killed. The latest person to decline is Walter Steele, who folks might remember as Oliver and Thea's stepfather. The city has a high speed rail line to Central City, and it's jokingly suggested they have a Flash Day. The baddies are the newest problem however, better and sleeker than regular criminals, they call them ghosts because they disappear into thin air, just like they did with Team Diggle in the last scene.

Just then they get a visit from the big bad of this season, Damien Darhk, chillingly played with the arrogant confidence of a veteran a-hole by Neal McDonough. You might know him from HBO's "Band of Brothers," or as Dum Dum Dugan in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and on "Agent Carter," but here he is all villain. He wants this town council to just let the city die, to let his ghosts do their jobs, and he'll be in touch.

And then the ghosts start to off members of the city council, and that's just the first ten minutes of the episode. We all knew it was coming, Laurel and Thea go to Coast City (or is it Ivytown?) to rouse Oliver out of his "domestic life of tranquility and souffl├ęs." Speaking of Coast City, flashbacks are back, but neither on the island nor Hong Kong. It's Coast City where the unreasonably thin Amanda Waller tries to coach Oliver in vigilantism. We all saw Hal Jordan's flight jacket in the bar, right?? No matter, he's quickly back to the island…

Much like the stubbornness obstacle in this week's season premiere of "The Flash," the grudge between Oliver and Diggle borders on ridiculousness. When faced with the task of saving your city, you put this kind of crap behind you. If you're going to live in a superhero world, you have to realize that certain pettiness is beneath you. To Oliver, Diggle, and even Barry, just grow up. You're wasting screen time.

As the reunited Team Arrow watches from the shadows, Damien Darhk punishes one of his ghosts by touching his chest and seemingly sucking the life force out of him. Afterward Oliver suggests this is mystical rather than metahuman. Possibly this is setting up the John Constantine appearance this season? I can't wait. Personally I was never really a big Hellblazer comics fan, but I dug the NBC show.

Team Arrow, featuring Oliver with a new suit and a new name, save the day from the exploding rail line, and they didn't even need help from the Flash - which I thought for sure was coming when I spied Grant Gustin's name in the opening credits - holy spoiler, Batman! The Flash does show up in a teaser scene several months later with Oliver swearing lethal vengeance in front of a grave Batman style. We don't see the grave, but is it Felicity? Thea? Diggle? Time will tell.

And while I try to ignore the obvious distraction of Oliver attempting to propose to Felicity, making her the obvious choice in the grave, it's the other ending of this episode that is really upsetting. Quentin Lance is cahoots with Damien Darhk. This is not good, and perhaps it means that maybe the disguised Larry Lance's time on this show is coming to an end? Surely they wouldn't off the super popular Felicity, right?

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