It's safe to Arrow Season 4 Episode 1 gave our Round Table participants plenty to discuss, huh?
From general expectations about the premiere ... to the new dynamic of Team Arrow ... to what the heck Lance was thinking joining new big bad Damien Darhk ... to what it will mean to the season going forward, we're here to discuss and debate.
Ready to join panelist Lindsay MacDonald, Hank Otero, Liz Estey, Caralynn Lippo and Carissa Pavlica in their heated discussion? Let's do this!
Did the premiere live up to your expectations for the new season?
Lindsay: I loved it! It was fun and fresh, and it definitely feels like we hit the reset button with new villains and mysteries to dive into. Oliver in particular was much more entertaining to watch, but that might just be because he's not taking himself so seriously this year.
Hank: I'm with Lindsay, this definitely felt like a reboot which is exactly what the show needed. It's amazing how much more comfortable Stephen Amell is in Oliver's shoes now. I loved the opening fake out, with Ollie running into suburbia. The domestic scenes were weird, but then again that was the whole point. It was so cool that he returned to Star City as the Green Arrow. I think the premiere killed most of last season's episodes.
Liz: I agree! It seems like Arrow Season 4 will definitely be an improvement on the last three. I'm enjoying Thea coming into her own. Generally it seems that the show has gotten a better handle on what the characters are trying to be so it's really entertaining to watch. The earlier seasons had trouble maintaining consistent character development. I also really enjoyed the fight scenes in this episode.
Caralynn: Four for four! I loved it. Arrow Season 3 was a real letdown for me, and the tone was just way too unrelentingly dark. I’m of the opinion that superhero shows really can’t take themselves 100% seriously. The best ones, for me, have a bit of fun with it. Season 3 was not having fun with it, but this one episode just nailed the mixed tone. There was humor and there was drama and there was action. So good!
Carissa: I enjoyed it, as well. There is a lot going on and I'm really looking forward to seeing what's coming next.
What did you think of the team dynamic coupled with Oliver and Felicity as a couple?
Lindsay: I think it's pretty much exactly what was teased over the break. They're still Team Arrow, but Oliver and Felicity just happen to be doing a lot more couple-y things in the Arrow Cave now. Again, I like that Oliver seems sassier and lighter than we typically see him. We're moving away from the melodrama, and his interactions with Felicity are a huge part of that.
Hank: I thought the team worked pretty well together, even with the lovey-dovey stuff in the lair. Much better than last season after Oliver "died." Diggle is the only character bugging me now. I mean, I get that he's pissed Oliver put Lyla in danger, but let's move past that ASAP. A bitter and pouting Dig just stinks in my opinion. Don't make us hate him writers. While I think Laurel is kickin' ass and taking names, crime fighting Thea is just not working for me yet. Maybe she'll grow on me, who knows?
Liz: I agree with Lindsay, Felicity really seems to lighten up Oliver so it's far more fun to watch. Unfortunately it seems like Diggle is now the mopey one in the Arrow cave instead of Oliver. At this point even Lyla has forgiven Oliver so it seems like Diggle is just being stubborn. The rest of the team is working together really well, and I like the relationship between Laurel and Thea.
Caralynn: I agree with Hank and Liz, Diggle was really bothering me. He was so cruel to Oliver, I couldn’t stand watching it. I hope that gets resolved. I also like that Laurel and Thea have bonded more. The show wasn’t so great with the whole female-friendships thing for a while there (except for those glorious brief moments where we had Laurel and Nyssa being buds) so it’s cool that they’re improving on that issue.
Carissa: That Oliver as Green Arrow noted he was joining the team already in place really worked for me. That spoke volumes about what we can expect going forward. A genuine team. Very exciting. As for Diggle, give the guy a break. He trusted Oliver with so much, and Oliver didn't return the favor. They haven't had the chance to work it out yet. I would have wanted Oliver to be man enough to sit down with me for a man-to-man, friend-to-friend talk before driving out of town so we could repair our relationship. Seems that never happened as of yet.
First impressions of Damien Darhk as the big bad?
Lindsay: I'm hesitant to embrace the mysticism aspect of his character, but Neal McDonough is wonderfully creepy. So far, I'm on board.
Hank: The mysticism angle is actually what I liked about our new big bad. Bottom line, no matter how "Dark Knight" the showrunners have tried to make this show, its got to fit better within the DC TV Universe they're creating. I think Damien Darhk and a lighter tone is a step in the right direction. The guy is an imposing figure, I hope he's not all bark and no bite like Ra's turned out to be.
Liz: So far so good. I enjoyed the hand-to-hand combat with Oliver on the train. It seems like he will be one of the better big bads. Season 3's best episodes were the ones that focused less on Ra's, it was hard following up Slade because he was one of the most compelling villains on the show. I'm enjoying the mysticism for now, but it could get old really soon.
Caralynn: I liked him! Ra’s was a HUGE let down last season, so the bar was pretty low to be honest. I agree with Liz, Slade was tops for me, villains-wise, so I’m hesitant to say Darhk will be the best villain yet. But McDonough is, unsurprisingly, killing it with that mix of creepy/sinister/charming. And I like the introduction of mysticism injecting some expanded mythology into the show.
Carissa: He's sinister, witty and keeps us on our toes. But, like I said in my review, I liked Ra's al Ghul when he was first introduced, so I have to reserve final judgment. So far, so good!
Talk about Capt. Lance working with Damien and the repercussions for the season.
Lindsay: Lance was such a one-dimensional kill joy last year, so I'm excited to see him sink his teeth in what looks to be a double-agent story. I just wish he was a double-agent for the good guys!
Hank: Honestly, Lance has done so much flip-flopping on this series he just bores me. My first thought was, "here we go again with this guy." I doubt they'll kill him off, but my hope is he meets a heroic end this season.
Liz: I'm kind of sick of Lance. He's one of those characters where it feels like he's just too bland to do anything with. Maybe if he fully embraces working for Damien Darhk I'll find him more entertaining.
Caralynn: Yeah, I am also tired of Lance. He was never one of my favorite characters and something about him just always made it really hard for me to ever fully sympathize with him. I’m sure that his working with Darhk will be super important and will certainly have a direct effect on his relationship with his daughter. I am curious to see whether it is a double agent thing or if it’s something else, like that he’s been coerced into doing this for some reason.
Carissa: He's going to have a damned hard time with his high and mighty morality routine now, isn't he? I'm guessing Laurel will see through him fairly quickly. He's never seemed like a good liar. I want to know what Darhk has on him.
What would you have liked to see that you felt was missing in premiere?
Lindsay: So many things! Malcolm Merlyn, anyone? Maybe a tease or two about Ray's "death?" Context of any kind about those flashback scenes?
Hank: No Merlyn! If we ever see him again it will be too soon. Talk about a character that's overstayed his welcome on Arrow. A tease about Ray's "death" would have been great, but we know that's coming to tie-in with Legends of Tomorrow. Seeing Barry at the end was awesome. I'm a huge fan of the crossovers, so perhaps that scene could have been extended a tad.
Liz: I would have appreciated more time spent with the team as a whole working out their new dynamic. I think it's a very different vibe from when Roy was on the team so I wanted to see more of that addressed. I also would've liked more insight into how Thea became so out-of-control.
Caralynn: I wanted a little bit more of Team Arrow being Arrowless in the very beginning. Maybe a few more scenes of Thea, Laurel and Diggle doing their hero-thing before they realized they needed to go recruit Ollie back to the team. I guess I just really liked that one scene of the three of them in action and wanted more of it!
Carissa: I agree with Caralynn. A few more scenes of Team Arrow working as a well-oiled machine would have worked for me, but Arrow has never quite believed in its supporting characters enough to carry an hour. They wouldn't even allow us to think Oliver was dead for what, ten minutes?
And finally, the question on everybody's mind. Who is in the grave and give your supporting evidence?
Lindsay: The best I can do is tell you who we all know it's NOT. Felicity Smoak. Cutting from the engagement ring to the headstone? Way too obvious. I'm going to throw a wildcard into the mix and say it's Oliver's baby mama from Arrow Season 2 (briefly featured in The Flash crossover last year). Assuming they drag the mystery out to the finale, that would saddle Oliver with a kid he never knew he had just in time for Season 5.
Hank: It's got to be either Felicity (which is way too obvious as Lindsay mentioned), or Thea Queen. I don't think Oliver's reaction would be as strong for the baby mama he hasn't seen in years. It's entirely possible the effects of the Lazarus Pit force Oliver to take Thea down. Not only would that raise the stakes once again, but it would change Oliver moving forward into the fifth season. Yeah, my money's on Thea. I can't imagine the show without Felicity.
Liz: It would be a really dumb move to kill Felicity. The show has been building Oliver from a bitter vigilante into a full-fledged superhero so killing Felicity would force his character backwards into hating the world and being filled with darkness. I'm partial to the Thea theory. Her death would be really interesting in terms of re-defining the show and the characters.
Caralynn: It’s definitely not Felicity. Oliver was not nearly distraught enough at the grave for it to have been Felicity. Nor was Barry. Same goes for Thea – I feel like Oliver would have been more upset than he appeared to be if his sister died (again). I was trying to form a theory based on how griefstricken Barry and Oliver were (which, to me, read as “pretty upset and vengeful but not inconsolable”) so my best guess was Captain Lance or Laurel. Both would be upsetting options but wouldn’t render Oliver totally inert with grief like I think Felicity’s or even Thea’s deaths would.
Carissa: It depends upon whether the writers are telling the truth or not about having decided that scene up front. If they honestly don't have a final plan in place, then it could be any of the major players. If they do, then it's probably Thea, mostly because she's the only person who has already been dunked in the Lazarus Pit. Follow-ups by that logic would be either of the Lance family or Felicity, because none of the Lance family may want to resurrect another family member after what they witness with Sara, and ditto with Oliver for Felicity after what he experiences with Thea.
AND HERE IS YOUR FIRST LOOK AT ARROW SEASON 4 EPISODE 2:
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA), enjoys mentoring writers, wine, and passionately discussing the nuances of television. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.