Arrow is back!! The season four premiere opens with what appears to be a chase scene through the woods, but no one was fooled because it’s season four and yes, we ALL saw the trailer. Oliver and Felicity have settled into adorably schmoopy domestic bliss in Ivy Town after several months of world-traveling. Over brunch (seriously guys, brunch), Oliver reveals to his nigh-Stepfordlike neighbors that he plans to propose to Felicity that evening with Moira’s ring.
The diamonds are in the soufflé, but Oliver’s plans are not to be. Things are bad back home. Bad enough that Laurel and Thea have gone behind Digg’s back to ask for Oliver’s help. There’s a new gang of baddies in town. The minions are dedicated enough to suicide instead of getting caught, and their leader is bold enough to walk right into a city council meeting and tell them to join him or die. 24 hours later, the entire council (except for Quentin, whom we assume has Plot Armor) is dead by nefarious hands.
Oliver and Felicity come back to the newly renamed Star City to lend a hand, but not everyone on the team is on board. Digg still doesn’t trust Oliver, but he puts that aside for a moment when Felicity discovers that the “Ghosts,” as the new minions are called, have stolen some super-powered cluster bombs. Felicity seems suspiciously able to jump back into the groove immediately. As it turns out, she’s been secretly helping Team Arrow while on the road. She loves Oliver, but suburban life in Ivy Town is a little slow for her.
The newly reunited Team Arrow sneak in to eavesdrop on a Ghost meeting. The as-yet-unnamed head bad guy starts magically sucking the life out of one of his minions as punishment for almost failing in their mission to obtain the cluster bombs. The good guys wind up in a tussle with a whole passel of Ghosts, who quickly bite down on their cyanide pills as soon as the SCPD busts in to break it all up. Before he dies, the aforementioned Featured Minion confesses to Oliver that the bombs are going to be used to blow up the new rail station for the train from Central City.
A search reveals no bombs in the station, which means they must be coming in on the train, itself. If only we knew someone in Central City who could get to a train really fast, but nope, it’s not time to cash in that guest-starring credit just yet. Thea and Laurel clear the civilians out of the station while Oliver boards the train to deal with the bombs. Head Bad Guy is waiting for him and finally reveals himself to be Damien Dahrk. (Yes, we all knew who he was thanks to the dozens of promos, but now we know officially.) He starts chi-sucking Oliver (but not in the sexy Lost Girl way), but is stopped by Diggle. Dahrk literally disappears, leaving Oliver and Digg just enough time to blow up the train before it gets to a populated area.
With the city temporarily safe once more, Oliver decides that it’s time to let the citizens know that there’s a “new” vigilante in town. He broadcasts a Hero Speech identifying himself as the Green Arrow.
Meanwhile, in case we weren’t sure that Dahrk is both evil and a wizard of some sort, we get to watch him perform a creepy bloodletting in front of an even creepier statue. As soon as he’s done, he gets a visit from his man on the inside, none other than Quentin Lance!
Flash (ha!) forward to six months later, Oliver and Barry are dressed in black, very upset, and standing in front of a new grave. Barry apologizes for missing the funeral, and Oliver says that now it’s his responsibility to “end it,” and that he’s going to kill an unnamed “him.” Barry leaves Oliver to cry alone over the headstone. Since the scene immediately before this one ended with Oliver and Felicity making out and she’s nowhere in sight here, there’s a strong implication that it’s her grave that the boys are standing over.
Not a bad episode, you guys. Not a fantastic episode, but not a bad one, either. It’s entirely possible that whenever a scene started going south, the writers decided to distract us by dangling a shot or two of Oliver and Felicity being ridiculously stinking adorable. And that tactic seems to have worked for the most part, at least for me. So let’s talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly.
For the good, we have a sinister new bad guy (played to a T by Neal McDonough) who brings with him an entirely new (to us) set of rules for the Arrow-verse. We already know that Damien Darkh is the one man feared by Ra’s al Ghul, and I bet finding out why is going to be a heck of a ride this season.
Also good, Quentin’s face-heel turn. Paul Blackthorne told us at San Diego Comic Con this year that Quentin was going to have a “what the hell?” moment before the end of the first episode, and boy, did he ever deliver! I know that he just wants what’s best for the city, but this CAN’T be it.
And then there’s the bad. Let’s talk about Laurel and the SCPD for a second. Stroll through the garden of logic with me. So Quentin Lance has been a cop in Starling City for years upon years, long enough that he’s worked his way up to Captain. I think it’s probably safe to assume that the Lance girls grew up around the precinct. Don’t you think the cops are going to be able to recognize not only Captain Lance’s daughter, but a former ADA? Y’all, her mask is not that big.
For the ugly, I’ve chosen the Green Arrow speech. I know heroic, voice-modulated speechifying has become one of Oliver’s favorite things about wearing the hood, but this one just wasn’t that inspiring to me. It also rather tries my suspension of disbelief to ask me to accept that the authorities of Star City are going to see this guy who’s dressed remarkably like the Arrow, reappears right around the same time as Oliver Queen, and calls himself the “Green Arrow”, and then think “Hey, completely unrelated vigilante guy. Totes not Oliver Queen.” Really?
For all of that, I can forgive a multitude of Arrow sins for a few good Olicity scenes, and this episode had those in abundance. That being said, that grave scene better be a red herring, or the CW and I are going to have WORDS.
Arrow 4.01 Episode Recap and Review
Oliver: “Felicity Smoak, you have failed this omelette.” (Shut up, it was cute.)
Things to Ponder:
- Obviously we’ll be finding out over the course of the season’s flashbacks, but where did Oliver encounter Darhk’s particular brand of magic before?
- Being the mayor of Star(ling) City has become like being a Defense Against the Dark Arts professor: no one wants the job, and you can’t keep it for more than a year, anyway.
- The one secret Oliver is still keeping from Felicity? You know that man is a closet Pinterest junkie now.