Saturday, May 28, 2016

Arrow Season 4 Review (SPOILERS)

I've now reviewed three of the TV shows in the DC TV universe. Now it's time to review the final one. The one that started it all. Arrow season 4! If you missed my reviews of season 1 of Supergirl, season 1 of Legends of Tomorrow, and/or season 2 of The Flash, I now have them linked right there for you to catch up on. The quick review of all three of them is that I enjoyed them all. All three had their fair share of issues, but they came around in the end and left me with a positive feeling. If I were to rank them all, The Flash narrowly holds on to my favorite spot, but is followed very closely by Legends with Supergirl being a close third. If I were to add the crapfest that was Arrow this season into the mix, I've made it no secret that it would come in a very distant fourth place. I'm planning on being very blunt about things in this review. I hated Arrow this season. Hated. The only reason why I didn't outright drop the show following a certain episode is because I wouldn't feel comfortable writing this review without having endured to the end. It's really sad because just two seasons ago, this was my favorite show on TV. Now it's time for an outright spoilerific roastfest. Let's begin.

We start the season picking up from one of the dumbest cliffhangers ever. At the end of season 3, Oliver had decided to retire from being the Green Arrow and go live a romantic, quiet life with Felicity. That's all fine and dandy and everything, but do you really expect me to believe that Oliver Queen, the Green Arrow, is really going to stop being the Green Arrow on a show called Arrow for longer than like 10 minutes into the season opener? And to send him off with Felicity freaking Smoak, a character that has single-handedly ruined this entire show? And you think I'm exaggerating. The moment they started shipping Olicity on this show is the moment that I mentally threw in the towel, especially since it coincided with them prematurely killing off my favorite character, Sara Lance, and the rest of the season 3 garbage. So anyways, Oliver and Felicity are off in whatever land and Oliver is about to propose to Felicity (excuse me while I throw up at the thought of that), when... surprise! They get sucked back into Star City because an evil maniac is taking over and the Green-Arrow-less Team Arrow needs their help. So they're back. Like me, and everyone else who watched the season 3 finale, predicted the second that season ended.

At least I had the hope that they could fix all of the crap that they threw at us in season 3. That's why I continued. Hope. Even the best of TV shows have their down seasons. Even though it was kinda sloppy, the beginning of this season showed some hope that this show would get better. They brought on a personal favorite actor of mine, Neal McDonough (Forever Strong, RED 2, Captain America: The First Avenger) to play a villain named Damien Darhk, who controls a secret organization called H.I.V.E., whose soldiers are worse aim than the original Star Wars trilogy's stormtroopers. In this universe, Darhk (I always second guess myself on where that "h" in his name is supposed to go) is a former member of the league of assassins and is someone who Ra's al Ghul fears. If you're going to try to top Ra's al Ghul and the league of assassins, might as well go with the guy he fears. At least that's the idea anyways. I think this show made that up. But oh well. It's a decent premise, so long as you make him a good villain with a believable backstory and good motivations. They did a poor job with following through with that this season and completely wasted the talents of Neal McDonough. But I'll get into that later. At the first part of this season, I was completely sold that this season could be good.

But first we had to wade through some childish drama. Poor little baby Diggle was butt-hurt that Oliver Queen actually came up with a good plan of stopping Ra's al Ghul. And no, I'm not talking about actual baby Diggle. I'm talking about John Diggle, who has been one of the coolest characters on the show. But man, bless David Ramsey's heart, they totally turned him into a whiny little jerk this season. They didn't even bother giving him a cool outfit. That little helmet of his? Eek. Anyways, Diggle is mad at Oliver because Oliver didn't tell him of his plan in season 3. I don't blame Oliver for that. Had the team known of Oliver's plan, it probably wouldn't have worked. Granted it shouldn't have worked anyways as it ended up being way too easy to kill Matt Nable's Ra's al Ghul, but that's beside the point. Diggle is angry and I was starting to get sick of this little sit-com that we were in. Let's just get to the superhero stuff. Eventually Diggle gets over it, despite claiming that he'll never be able to forgive Oliver, and we're almost back to normal. But then we have to put the show on hold and have Arrow do their part in setting up Legends of Tomorrow, which is a significantly trickier job than The Flash had because Sara is dead and people for some reason think Ray is dead as well.

Heading over to Legends is Caity Lotz as Sarah Lance and Brandon Routh as Superman... I mean Ray Palmer. I spent three paragraphs in my Legends review talking about why I love Caity Lotz as Sara Lance so much, so I'll be quick here and just talk about her revival, which was rather poorly handled. Laurel decided to dig up Sara's corpse and take it back to Nanda Parbat with the idea of convincing Malcom Merlyn, the new Ra's al Ghul, of using the Lazarus Pit to revive her. They spoiled all of this long before the season started, so none of this was a surprise. That said, the conversation between Laurel, Thea, and Malcom made zero sense. At first he wasn't budging on the issue, but then for some reason that I don't understand, he gave in. So we have Sara back! Wahoo!! Except rotten corpse Sara was disgusting and demon Sara was horrible. Poor Caity Lotz. I'm glad she persevered and made it to Legends because these Arrow writers have zero respect for these Lance sisters. As far as Ray goes, he was one of the consistent bright spots in season 3. And yeah, his lab exploded, but he was obviously alive after just shrinking himself. The rescue Ray story was much better than the revive Sara story. But now that both officially came back, poor Arrow had to give them up, which is sad for them because the show could've used their best two characters, but happy for me because I don't have to watch the Arrow writers screw them up. They are safe on Legends. Let's hope they stay there.

Back to our regular story. Very early in the season, the show decided to start playing a game with us. Who is going to die this season? That's right. Apparently the writers of this show feel like they need to fulfill a quota on this show of killing at least one main character every season. Why? I don't know. Maybe they fill like they need to keep killing our beloved characters in order to make this show feel dark. But that's just a guess. So the infamous scene at the beginning of the season is Oliver in funeral clothes standing in front of someone's tombstone looking angry. Barry walks up and apologizes for not making it the the funeral. They have some small talk about Zoom and then Barry speeds off. But of course we don't see the name on the tombstone. That's the game they're playing with us. Who's name is on the tombstone? The rumor is they didn't even know when they first shot that scene. They just knew they were going to kill someone. So who was it? I'm not going to like, I enjoyed the mystery and intrigue surrounding this. And it was fun to speculate. Was it Thea? No, they already killed her once. Diggle? No, they weren't going to kill their only main black character. Laurel? No, they can't do that. She's the Black Canary. Felicity? I wish, but they don't have the guts to do that. Captain Lance? I didn't want that to happen. But that was my guess. And it would make sense plot-wise.

Then they kept stringing us along. At the mid-season finale, right after Oliver and Felicity officially get engaged (yuck), they get shot down and Felicity appeared to be dead. What?!?!?! Were they actually going to do it? I know this sounds extremely morbid of me, but I got excited. Killing the character that has ruined your show might actually fix the show. And it would give Oliver the necessary anger and rage to forward the plot of the show. Then he can have a few seasons of being single before finally getting together with Laurel, who he marries in the comics. All would be perfect. But wait, this was December. Way too early. The grave scene said "six months later," meaning it would be the end of the show before we knew. Probably April. This whole Felicity thing was just a red herring. She was safe. Throwing one red herring at us was acceptable I guess. Throw us a curveball. Keep us guessing. Twists and turns are fun. But then they kept throwing us red herrings. It didn't take long at all for me to be completely sick and tired of this grave mystery thing. But they kept going. Like an annoying little brother who keeps doing something over and over long after it stopped being funny. Every time they threw a new red herring at us, I knew that character was safe. Just stop it, show. STOP IT.

Damien Darhk stabs Laurel with an Arrow. What?!?!? NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!! I take it back, show! Keep going!!! Let this be one final red herring! Out of all the characters to kill off, this is the one that is absolutely unacceptable. This is Dinah Laurel Lance. The Black Canary! The second biggest comic book character from the Green Arrow comics besides Green Arrow himself. The Girl that Oliver is supposed to marry. The character that is a part of the Justice League at certain points. Would Smallville be dumb enough to kill off Lois Lane is season 4? No! Would any Superman movie be dumb enough to kill off Lois Lane at any point? No! But that's what this is like. Killing the Black Canary in season 4 on a Green Arrow TV show is the most disrespectful I've seen any superhero TV show or movie be towards the comics. But I get it. They don't have to follow the comics. They can do what they want. However, even if for a moment we pretend the comics don't exist, this is still a stupid decision. Laurel has been there from the beginning. And when I say beginning, I mean the very, VERY beginning. Long before Oliver got lost on the island. She's the one who knows him best. She's the one that understands him. She's the one that's been there as a light for him in times of darkness. She's the only one remaining on the show that has any sense of logic. Why kill her?

Do you know what was even more frustrating about this? Right before she dies, she has a moment with Oliver. She confesses to him how she truly feels, that he is the love of her life. Then the show does some very touching flashbacks between Oliver and Laurel as a tribute of sorts. And do you know what? Stephen Amell and Katie Cassidy actually have some amazing romantic chemistry! That was so beautiful to see. In fact, five minutes of Oliver and Laurel together, even if it was flashbacks or Laurel confessing her love on her deathbed, was a much better romance arc than the two seasons of this painfully awful Olicity. I'm sorry. I'm being really mean to Felicity in this review. Perhaps I should mention that none of it is Emily Bett Rickards' fault. I love her as an actress. But man these writers have completely destroyed her character, who I actually enjoyed in the first two seasons. Her and Oliver don't make sense together. They don't. They have zero romantic chemistry. But the writers have pushed Olicity so hard that it has been poisonous. In fact, it has been so poisonous that it caused them to kill off Oliver's actual romantic partner from the comics so that it would leave us zero question as to where the direction of the show was going. Down the toilet.

This led us to the worst episode of the season and perhaps the worst episode of the entire show. Canary Cry. The episode where they shoved it down our throats for 40 painful minutes that Laurel was really dead and was not coming back. Katie Cassidy is done with Arrow. Poor Captain Lance doesn't want to accept the fact that she's dead and tries his best to think up a way to bring her back. In fact, we learn that there is an imposter Black Canary running around. Could that be her? Did Laurel fake her death? Nope. The morgue proved that she's as dead as a door nail. The imposter story was an absolute insult. How about the Lazarus Pit? That brought Sara back! Nope. Nyssa apparently drained it. After disbanding the League of Assassins. Another stupid story arc from this season. Captain Lance finally accepts her fate, which is supposed to be a sign to the audience watching that she is done. Ignore the fact that Oliver has a friend who can run back in time and save people. Ignore the fact we have a group of friends who are time-traveling at the moment of Laurel's death. But no, the writers aren't going to use them. Having Barry show up in the episode confirmed they aren't using him. The Legends season finale confirmed that they aren't doing anything about it. She's gone.

Hatred. Anger. Rage. That's what I was feeling. I was practically Anakin Skywalker after that episode ended and I was this close to making Canary Cry my personal series finale for Arrow. But I needed to write this review and I couldn't do that after having stopped four episodes before the season ended. So I decided it was time to put Arrow on trial. They had four episodes to convince me why I should return for season 5. Oh, did I mention Oliver and Felicity broke up? You would think that would make me happy, right? Nope. Felicity broke off the engagement because she learned Oliver had a son. That made her positive that Oliver would always have secrets and apparently that was a deal-breaker. Even though she's known him for five years and knows that he's gone through some serious crap that he's trying to work through. What a jerkface she is. That reasoning made no sense. I'm also not buying for one second that they are over for good. Especially not after killing Laurel. Did I also mention that Diggle went back to being a bonehead? The fact that he trusted in brother despite it being the most obvious thing in the world that Andrew Diggle was still working for Darhk was dumb. And it was frustrating to see him not even listen to Oliver. "My brother is good!" No, he's not you idiot. Twist! He's still bad! No one saw that coming, right?

I will say, though, that Diggle actually killing his brother was a shocking moment. It was the most obvious thing ever that he was still bad. Diggle shooting him did shock me. I've been doing mostly complaining on this review, but I have to give credit where credit is due. That was an emotional moment and I thus I totally bought Diggle needing to take some time away from Team Arrow to process everything because of that. But now let's go back to this Damien Darhk thing. As I stated, I love Neal McDonough. He's a great actor and he started out as a fantastic villain. I was excited to see where they were going to go with this, just like I was excited to see where they were going to go with his story just like I was intrigued to see where they were going to go with the grave story. And Damien Darhk had magic. How is Oliver Queen supposed to stop magic with his arrows? Sadly, though, just like the grave story, I got really tired of Damien Darhk after a while. They didn't really give his character much to do, but he showed up in 19 episodes anyways. I feel his character was probably suitable for a four to five episode arc, but he got stretched for the whole season. Thus he was just dilly-dallying for the majority of the season along with the whole show in general.

Coincidentally, it was right around Laurel's death that we learn what Damien Darhk's master plan is. I can't say this reveal filled me with the same level of anger and rage as Laurel's death did. But I was certainly disappointed. Darhk decided that the world was beyond saving, so he is going to wipe out the whole world and start over. Yay!!! The villain trying to end the world cliche! This is the same thing that The Flash did this season. And Legends of Tomorrow. And Supernatural. And the recent X-Men: Apocalypse movie. Supernatural was the only situation where this actually made sense. Honestly, I'm kinda done with this plot. Can we please stop trying to destroy the world? And if we do, can we make it make sense? Like seriously, what did the world do to Damien Darhk to deserve getting destroyed? Nothing. "The world is corrupt" isn't enough. A villain's motivations need to make sense in order for a villain to be good. Arrow nailed that with Slade Wilson in season 2. He was an amazing villain, so I know this show is capable of writing good villains. But it was a total swing and miss with Damien Darhk and thus a complete waste of an amazing actor. And what a horrible finale! The end battle was a joke and anything to do with the nukes heading towards earth and how they stopped them was an even bigger joke.

I do like giving credit where credit is due. Although this season isn't deserving of much of that, there are three characters in this season that I loved that need to be given credit. First up is Constatine. I didn't actually watch his TV show that got cancelled prematurely, but I here it was great! And Constatine's episode in this season was quite fantastic! It made me want to go back and watch his show as well as hope he comes back. Second character is Vixen. Same thing with her, except she wasn't from a cancelled show. Her show is an animated mini-series where Oliver and Barry show up. I've been meaning to watch it, but haven't got around to it yet. I would totally be down for Constatine and/or Vixen to become a regular on Legends of Tomorrow. Because all good characters should avoid Arrow like the plague right now. But I want to see them back and that show would fit them well. Final character will be a recurring character on season 5 of Arrow and he was the one bright spot of season 4. Curtis Holt as played by Echo Kellum. He literally stole every scene he was in. He was terrific! That pun intended because Curtis will become Mr. Terrific on this show, an actual comic book character. I heard that from Echo himself when he showed up on one of Collider's Arrow recap shows.

That's Arrow season 4 for you! After the train-wreck that was season 3, I had hope that season 4 would get this show back on track to it's season 2 glory days, which wasn't that long ago. There was a point in time where I actually looked forward to Arrow every week. But that seems like such a long time ago. Despite a naturally rough start after season 3 left off in a disastrous way, season 4 showed potential, but it didn't take long for me to become completely bored of everything that was happening. There were a few good individual episodes here and there, but the show was losing me. And then they made one of the stupidest decisions ever to kill off Laurel Lance. That just might be an unpardonable sin. Then that disaster was followed up by another train-wreck ending as everything about the final four episodes was the most cliche superhero stuff you can get. And did you remember that there were flashbacks this season? Yeah, neither did I. They literally all sucked. In the end, Laurel is dead. Diggle is joining the army. Thea is taking a break somewhere. Captain Lance is leaving because he is permanently off the police force. Oliver Queen accepted the mayor role, which is actually cool. But the very end of the season saw the one character who should've been written off this season declare that she is with him for good. Felicity. Ouch. I don't even know if I'm coming back next season. This season was that bad.

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