Welcome back, Arrowheads, for this look at the good and bad of the third season of Arrow! Considering how much I enjoyed season two, would this season measure up? The short answer is: not really. The long answer we’ll start talking about below, beginning with the good points of season three:
Team Arrow, not Team Arrow.
If there’s a solid plus I can unreservedly agree is one, its the work of this season to beef up Oliver Queen’s supporting cast. A lot of the tension of seasons one and two has been Ollie’s vigilante life clashing with his regular life. By the time we reach the end of this season, almost everyone in Ollie’s circle is either aware of Ollie as the Arrow or (in the case of Laurel and Thea) pretty much costumed parts of the Team already. Considering how tangled this season got, this was welcome for our supporting cast, although it wasn’t without its share of problems (as we’ll get to later in this…).
Roy Harper, Hero. Its a surprise to see that one of our supporting cast had maybe the best story arc of the entire season, and more that its Roy Harper. He was barely coming into his own last season, but season three elevated him from being a sidekick to being the big hero by pulling a sacrifice play to save Ollie from being arrested as the Arrow. That he now has to go into hiding seems like a relief (and a nice open ended way to come back if the fates are decent) in comparison to the emotional issues he’s had to contend with. It’s a phrase I would have had difficulty saying back in season one, but now I can say: Godspeed, Roy Harper.
Atom-smashing. One of the biggest pushes of Arrow into a more comic book-ish universe was obviously Barry Allen/The Flash in season two, but as Barry was off fighting crime in his own show, the push of season three came in scientist Ray Palmer. His constant tinkering with his ATOM exo-suit turned into a fun story arc (which the show needed this season to lighten the mood), and thanks to Brandon Routh’s performance, made him a pleasant sight during some of the more emotional points of the season. That his fate is left up in the air in the season finale (although if you saw the trailer for the midseason Legends of Tomorrow, you may know what happened to him after he accidentally blew up a floor of his building) was a surprise, but knowing the good professor, I have no doubt he’ll be coming back.
Crossovers. Speaking of the Flash and Atom, both shows have been nicely sharing characters from both Arrow and Flash this season, to make a more connected universe. The first Arrow/Flash crossover event was one of the best things on TV last year, and it looks like there may be another when both shows return in the fall. Although I do hope we won’t be doing this too often, lest we soil such an event’s novelty (see the recent Arrow appearance on Flash, which is a hard plot conceit to accept considering where Ollie was at that time).
And now, you gotta take the good with the bad (I believe that could be a good TV theme song lyric there), so here’s the bad of season three:
Malcolm Merlyn needs to die. NOW. Ok, as much as regular John Barrowman appearances on TV are welcome, I have to seriously question if keeping Malcolm alive is a good thing for the show going forward. Maybe it’s his arc for the season that bothers me, so let’s break it down: he drugs Thea into killing Sara, rigs it so Ollie will have to fight Ra’s al Ghul, and when that fails (and how did he think Ollie would win against an almost-immortal swordsman?), tries to help Ollie fight Ra’s, destroys his relationship to his daughter once she finds out what he made her do, and after all of this turmoil that was started BY HIS ACTIONS is solved, he becomes the next Ra’s because Ollie says so? And let’s not forget, misguided rage or not, he did kill a lot of people at the end of season one. At the very least, he should be cell mates with Deathstroke and Boomerang in Lian Yu. His redemption shouldn’t be to go back to the group he was kicked out of (for once again, plotting the murder of many civilians) and then ending up back there, now running them! There’s a lot of people who might forget civility and just get their pound of flesh from Malcolm, so there’s that to look forward to, at least.
Rules? What rules in the League of Assassins? The more we got to learn about this group this season, the more I became thoroughly convinced Ra’s made up the rules for it as he went along. He let Maseo live one time too many for his dereliction of duty, and probably everyone else who ended up in Nanda Parbat as well. I’m not saying it wouldn’t have been interesting to have a villain whose usage of the Lazarus Pit was affecting his judgment, but that’s not what was presented here.
The flashbacks. This was probably the weakest of the flashbacks this season, especially with the odd retcon of Ollie being back in Starling years earlier. Although the payoff of Ollie’s turn to becoming the hero we meet at the beginning of the show was effective, boy it was a long and shaggy road getting there. I don’t know what the flashbacks next season will involve, but here’s hoping it’ll be a bit less long-toothed.
The Issue With Ollicity. Now I’m not pulling some “but in the comics, this never happened” card, but I think I have issues regarding how we got to Ollie and Felicity driving off into the sunset (for now). Because I enjoyed her time with Ray so much (and jeez, the cuteness level of that), it just seemed weird she would go back to the guy who lied to her (and the whole team) and had a track record with women that seemed cursed to ruin. But look, I’m trying to be optimistic about what will happen in season four to bring both of them back into the fold, so maybe I’ll be proven wrong with my doubts. Fingers crossed.
So that’s it until the fall, but what did you think of the season as a whole? Are there some favorite moments from the season I left off (I probably did, BTW)? Comment below, and cross my fingers, I’ll be back here for season four…