Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Arrow Season 3 Review (SPOILERS)

Back in May when TV shows were ending, I announced somewhere that I was going to be doing reviews for some of my favorite shows once again. This may not have seemed like a significant announcement to many of you, but it was something that I was debating for most of the season actually as to whether or not I would continue writing TV show reviews on my blog and if so how would I go about doing so. After toying with a few options, ultimately the way I decided to do things this year was to write my TV show reviews in complete spoilerific fashion. This would narrow my audience down to people who have finished watching the current seasons of these shows instead of being a review for everyone to read, but perhaps the interest will increase as I give my full thoughts on everything that happened in these shows. So we'll see what happens. I started off by reviewing Bates Motel season 3 back in May shortly after it ended and perhaps you thought I'd given up on the idea of doing more because it's now been a couple months since then, but I didn't. I just kept putting it off for whatever reason. But now I'm back! After this review, I'm planning on giving people a review of The Flash season 1 and Supernatural season 10. But now it's time to discuss my thoughts on Arrow season 3. Once again, if you aren't up to date on Arrow, this is your cue to close the browser. For the rest of you, let's continue!

I've pretty much been with Arrow since the beginning. I think I jumped on board six or seven episodes in and quickly binge-watched my way to where they were on live TV. Believe it or not, it's actually fairly uncommon for this to happen to me. Usually I end up waiting for a show to be a season or two in before I jump on board and get sucked in. That wasn't the case here. It got me from the beginning. I will admit, though, that it took Arrow a little bit of time before it really got going. I felt that they didn't have much focus that first season. It was just villain of the week episodes and love stories for every main character. I felt that they had a plan with the show, but it took a while for me to catch a glimpse of what that plan was. Towards the end of that first season is when things really picked up and that carried into the second season where they took things up a notch. Season 2 was actually so epic that it made me forget that season 1 existed. It didn't take long at all for this to be my go to show.

With that brief summary of my thoughts on the first two seasons out of the way, let's jump straight into season 3. I almost don't know where to begin because there is so much to talk about. Season 3 took me on quite the wild ride, which means I might be taking you on quite the wild ride with this review. Let's start with something that happens right towards the beginning of the season. Sara Lance. Her character, in my opinion, was absolutely brilliant. Not only was she a super attractive blonde, but her character was a very deep character that was well-written and well-acted. Her backstory that led up to her being the Black Canary made a whole lot of sense. Her fighting style was developed after five long years in Hell, as Oliver describes at the beginning of each episode, because she was with Oliver in the initial ship-wreck. In season 2 it was great watching her progression both in the flash backs in the current day. When she and Oliver teamed up in season 2, it was so fun watching them work together and their romantic chemistry worked so well. I was sad when they broke-up in season 2 and went their separate ways, but it made sense story-wise and I was excited to see where they were going to go with her character because I felt that there was so much more to tell.

Then they killed her. What?!?! For me that was like cruising down the highway in a fancy Lamborghini when out of nowhere and without any warning there is suddenly a huge brick wall in the middle of the road that you smash into, totaling your Lamborghini while barely keeping yourself alive. Killing Sara made zero sense. I'm not going to lie, Arrow almost completely derailed for me when they did that. The only thing that really kept me going was the idea that possibly she's not dead for good. They can't kill off my favorite character in the show at the beginning of season 3. Or could they? When they killed her off, I felt that she would be back rather quickly as we knew that Ra's al Ghul was on the show and he had his Lazarus Pit that could bring people back from the dead. But this didn't happen right away. The further we got, the more horrified I became. Is Sara dead for good? Are they not going to bring her back. With the direction they were taking things, this seemed like more and more of a possibility and I didn't like it. We actually went through the whole season with no signs of bringing Sara back. I didn't like that one bit. There were a few episodes where it said "guest starring Caity Lotz" that got me excited, but I ended up just being disappointed because it was only her voice that was being used as Laurel tried to make herself sound like her sister. Luckily, though, the creators of the show are pretty bad at keeping secrets. One day after the finale, this trailer was released for the new spin-off, Legends of Tomorrow:

And there she is. It's 57 seconds when you see Sara for the first time. At 1:09, it is revealed that she will be part of this new team of "legends" as the White Canary. They refer to her as the "deceased assassin" and show shots of her rising from the Lazarus Pit. Oh. Well there we go. I guess this is a lesson in patience, which is why I didn't give up on the show. However, even with this in mind that I was right about Sara coming back by being raised from the dead in the Lazarus Pit, this death of hers caused a chain of events that I just wasn't pleased with. The first is Olicity. If you don't know that term, Olicity is the romance between Oliver and Felicity. This split Arrow fans and I'm here to tell you that I am on the side that is 100 percent AGAINST this. I love Felicity. I think she's a great character. But I don't think she has any romantic chemistry with Oliver whatsoever. Oliver had way more chemistry with Sara in season 2. Felicity had way more chemistry with Ray as season 3 goes on. Heck, Felicity has more chemistry with Barry Allen and Oliver has more chemistry with the Huntress from the beginning of the show and even Nyssa al Ghul at the end of season 3. I'd even rather see him get back with Laurel. Olicity being a thing is a complete fan service and makes no sense with the story and just doesn't work for me at all. I like Felicity. I think she works great as Oliver's best friend and the computer expert of the team, but not as a love interest for Oliver. But yet it's happened. And now they are into it so far that I actually am hoping that Felicity gets killed off just so Olicity can end for good. That's how much I hate it.

The other thing that the death of Sara spawned is the emergence of Laurel Lance as the Black Canary. This is something that I saw coming from the very beginning of the show. See, I did this thing where I researched the Green Arrow comics so that I could be more knowledgeable about the show and in the comics, the Black Canary's alias is Dinah Laurel Lance. It only makes sense that the eventual game plan for the show would be to eventually include Laurel as part of team Arrow as Black Canary. Oliver even marries Laurel in the comics, so there's more hope that Olicity will end. However, despite this not being a surprise for me, I really didn't like how she became Black Canary in season 3. While Sara's character was well-developed and her progression in becoming Black Canary made sense, Laurel's did not make sense. In fact, it was rather rushed and forced. In fact, she goes from lawyer-type girl with no battle experience at all to being Black Canary just because her sister died. So she trains with a random dude and only a few episodes she has completely transformed? No. Just, no. It doesn't work. Then there's the idea that the best character on the show, Sara, was just used as a stepping stone for us to get to the real Black Canary? Ouch. That hurts.

Then in addition to this, there is the whole messed-up relationship between Laurel and her father. Laurel's sister has died. The second Laurel finds this out, the first thing she should do is go talk to her father and tell him that Sara is dead. There is absolutely no reason that she should've held this from him. Her excuses on the show are completely bogus and frustrating. When he finally finds out, he has every right to be as awful and horrible as he is. His own daughter, for absolutely no reason at all, has decided to keep the death of his other daughter a complete secret. But they carried this on way too long. Quentin Lance is one of my favorite characters on this show. Or he was in the first two seasons. I liked how his progress and relationship with the Arrow developed into a Gordon/Batman type of relationship. But then he goes completely awol in season 3 and is the biggest jerk-face of the show. Yes, he had every right to be mad at Laurel. No, it didn't make sense for him to take it as far as he did. And his vendetta against Oliver in season 3 also makes no sense. I hated Quentin Lance in season 3. Paul Blackthorne did a great job with what he was given, but the writing of his character was completely awful in just about every way.

So yeah. Just about everything the show decided to do with the whole Lance family in season 3 almost completely ruined this show. Sara will be back next season and hopefully they can redeem themselves. But I fear that they are just going to bring her back just to dish her off to this new show, Legends of Tomorrow, and not actually use her on Arrow. Guess that means Legends of Tomorrow will take precedence over Arrow. But we'll see. Speaking of that, let's talk about Atom. Ray Palmer. I actually really liked his character. He comes on the show, buys Oliver's company, and for the first half of the season you don't know if he is good or bad, which I liked. Then we realize that he is just a really likable character. The casting of Brandon Routh was an interesting one because he did play Superman in Superman Returns, thus when I see him I expect him to be Superman and not Atom, which since we're in the DC world it is a plausible thing for Superman to exist. But despite this, Ray Palmer works as a character. As I mentioned before, his love story with Felicity works much, much better than Olicity. I'm sad they ended that. I also like how he fails so much with his suit he builds, which gives a contrast to the likes of Tony Stark as Iron Man. Tony is a billionaire who builds a suit that makes him immediately unstoppable. You think that the same will happen with Ray in this universe, but it doesn't. I like that development. But my big concern with Ray Palmer as concerning this show is the same with Sara. Did they introduce him just to dump him off to Legends of Tomorrow. Is that what Arrow is becoming in general? A show that exists mainly to create a bunch of other shows? I hope not.

Can we talk about some good, real quick? Yes? Ok, cool! Then let's talk about our main story line in this season. Ra's al Ghul and the league of assassins. The league played a small part in previous seasons, which foreshadowed it being a much bigger element of the show in the future and that future started here in season 3. I pretty much loved most things pertaining to the league in this season. Season 2 with Slade Wilson as the main villain was excellent and I was wondering how they were planning on topping that going forward. I was definitely pleased that Ra's al Ghul was the answer. Matt Nable as Ra's al Ghul was especially a home run. He played such a great villain not just because of how strong and powerful he was, but also because of how smart he was and how unafraid he was to take everything from Oliver if Oliver didn't concede to what he wanted him to do, which was become the next Ra's al Ghul. Oliver has no choice but to do this. Join the League of Assassins and become Ra's al Ghul. Thus this whole plot had a very Batman-like feel to it, which was cool. If we can't bring Batman into this universe, the next best thing is.

I mentioned that I pretty much loved most things pertaining to the league this season. I do say "most" because there were a few things I didn't like. After wondering Oliver is going to actually become the next Ra's al Ghul and thus turn into the villain of the show for a while, we quickly learn that he has decided that the way to beat Ra's is to beat him from within. Join the league. Train with the league. Get Ra's al Ghul's trust. Then strike. This is a pretty darn good plan in my opinion. However, when team Arrow learns of this plot, they are pissed to no end because Oliver decided to keep this a complete secret. My first minor problem is that Oliver could've let his team in on this plan. My second minor problem is that team Arrow could've reacted much better when they learned of this. I think this was a very logical thing to do and instead of being pissed at him, they should've recognized that this was a dang good plan. But no. They decide to be all pissed off at him. I can understand being a little mad. But instead they just acted like whiny cry babies. Especially Diggle. "I'm never going to forgive you for this, Oliver." Oh shut-up Diggle. No cares about your crying. Probably more blame for that should go to the writers for turning such an awesome character in Diggle into such a big cry-baby.

I also wasn't a huge fan of the final battle between Ra's al Ghul and Oliver. Ra's al Ghul totally owned Oliver in the mid-season finale without much effort. Yet all it takes is for Oliver to train with the league for a few days or weeks to suddenly become skilled enough to own Ra's al Ghul in a fight. Felt a bit rushed. On the other hand, after Oliver has defeated Ra's al Ghul, I really loved how Malcolm Merlyn was the one who took over as the new Ra's al Ghul. That was excellent. In general, Malcolm Merlyn's character is probably one of the best and most well-written characters in the show. He was great in season 1. After thinking he was dead, it was great to see him show up again in season 2 and again play a big role in season 3 in trying to befriend Oliver and team Arrow enough so that he can rise up and take over as the new Ra's al Ghul. Excellent. In a season that was full of a lot of disappointing elements, it was great seeing at least a few things done well and Malcolm was probably the best thing from this season. The other part of the finale that wasn't done well in my opinion was the very, very end where Oliver decided to "retire" and run off with Felicity to live a different life. Because that's going to last like 10 minutes into the next season. This show is called Arrow for crying out loud. Oliver isn't going to retire after three seasons. Also the lack of a cliff-hanger was disappointing. Season finales are always much better and memorable when there's a really good cliff-hanger. Oliver "retiring" or Malcolm taking over as Ra's didn't count as a cliff-hanger. Thus this finale was a lot less memorable than the previous two finales and a lot less memorable than the season 1 finale of The Flash.

I've covered most of what I've wanted to cover, but there are some things that I have left out. Instead of taking one paragraph for each of them, let me just shove them all into this paragraph. I was really disappointed with the flash backs in this season. They added almost nothing to the plot. This was disappointing because the flash backs in previous seasons at times were even more interesting than what was going on in the present time. They did provide two great characters, though, in Maseo and Tatsu. Tatsu finally introducing herself as Katana at the end was great and the scene where she was forced to kill Maseo was probably the best and most emotional scene towards the end of the show. Also done well was Roy in this season. I was sad to see him go, but I realize that this was more due to the decisions of Colton Haynes as an actor not wanting to stick around full-time anymore. How they wrote of his character was perfect. Also,I did like Thea a lot more in this season than in the previous seasons. Before she was just Oliver's slutty little sister always wearing clothes that were way too tight and/or revealing. This season she actually became something. Once again, her progression was rushed, just like Laurel and Oliver at the very end, but at the end of the show when she was fighting, it was great to watch. And when she took over Roy's red suit and told Oliver that she wanted to be called the Red Arrow, that was just gold. That means Oliver will finally be known as the Green Arrow. His official comic book name.

So yes, as you could tell, this was a much more rocky season for me. During season 2, Arrow became my favorite show on TV. If I only had time to watch one of my shows for the week, Arrow would be the show that I would watch. Season 3 I didn't hate. I'm not ready to give up on the show. I am tuning into season 4 and I am excited to see where they go with things. But looking back on season 3 and comparing to the first two seasons, I do have to admit that this is the worst season of the three so far and I hope that they can pick things up and get this show back on track because it deserves to be epic again. I just think that the creators of the show saw how much people were loving the show and decided that they wanted to go even bigger and bolder than ever before and many of the decisions they made just didn't work for me. They need to take a few steps back and remember what made this show so great so that they can have a great season 4 that matches the level of epicness of the second season. I don't have a rating system for TV shows like I do movies, but overall this borders on the line of average, just below good. There were some really great moments of season 3, but there were even more extremely frustrating moments and thus towards the end of the season, I found myself being a lot more excited for The Flash each week. That review will be the next TV show review you'll get on this blog, so stay tuned!

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