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Arrow – Mishandled Ambition: Talkin’ Season 3
October 8, 2015Posted by on
The first and second seasons of the CW superhero show Arrow were wildly entertaining with the second improving on the first. Going into a third season, anticipation was high, but hopes were dashed as this last year was a real let down and a bit of a narrative mess.
There were a lot of good, little things sprinkled throughout Arrow’s third year, Brandon Routh being a prime example. His addition to the cast really livened up what could really have been a dreary show (seriously, why does this guy not get more work – he’s great in almost everything he is in!). There were some nice character moments for most of the main cast with Laurel, Roy, and Thea coming into their own. And the show continued its push of not holding anything back or trying to stick to the status quo. I liked it for that.
However, the real problem with the season was the overall story arc. I can’t tell if it was too ambitious or if the showrunners just didn’t know what to do with the season and winged it as they went along. Let’s recap: Malcom uses an unknowing Thea to kill Sara (a death that I didn’t mind in the least as, I think, I am the only one who disliked Sara in season 2). Since Sara was a member of the League of Assassins, their mysterious leader, Ra’s al Ghul, descends upon Starling City to avenge her death, but Oliver challenges this so Thea won’t be killed in retaliation. After a duel, Ra’s is impressed with Oliver and wants him to become the next Ra’s (it’s a title, you see). Oliver rejects this, so Ra’s destroys Oliver’s reputation as Arrow and exposes him, prompting a switch-a-roo to clear Oliver. But Oliver decides to pretend join the League only to discover that Ra’s plans to launch a biological weapon against Starling City. Oliver and his crew stop him.
Just typing that made my head hurt. Of course there were a lot of subplots weaving in and out, but the main arc was all over the place. By the time we get to the “real plot” of the season, we were about 2/3 through it. And when we got to the bioweapon element in the last handful of episodes, it really felt like the showrunners didn’t know how to end the season, so they dipped into the “destroy Starling City” well again.
Now, I don’t think I would have had a problem with the year’s story arc if it didn’t involve characters acting completely out of character or turn into complete idiots in order to facilitate it. Even more irritatingly, there were times when the characters would become total hypocrites. Namely, Diggle, Roy, and Felicity fake Roy’s death, but keep it from Oliver so they can “sell it” to the public at large. The following few episodes, Oliver joins the League of Assassins as a ruse, but keeps it from Diggle and the rest so he can “sell it” to Ra’s. When learning the truth, his team (especially Diggle) is unforgivingly upset with him. I wanted to yell at the screen, “You did the same thing!”
And then there is the romance between Felicity and Oliver. The online fandom loves this while I think it’s obnoxious. I have no problems with characters finding romance, but outside of working together and both being attractive, there is no reason why these two should have developed feelings for one another. I can maybe buy Felicity falling for Oliver given his selfless actions over the course of the series, but Oliver has never shown any interest in her whatsoever other than he values her as a member of Team Arrow. It also doesn’t help that the actors don’t really have romantic chemistry. I know the show is going forward with it, so I’ll just have to deal. To me, though, it didn’t work.
I still liked Arrow’s third season. I just wasn’t as into it as I was the previous years. The story was a bit of a mess and frustrating at times. There was some good stuff there just around the corner, but they just couldn’t tap into it. The new season, which started yesterday, promises a new beginning. Here is hoping the showrunners have learned lessons from season three and return the show to greatness.