The Best and Worst of Arrow Season Three
Another season of the CW's Arrow has finally come to an end. Though the show has continued to be quite the success, this season still hasn't been without criticism. And honestly, some of that criticism isn't unfounded. But while season three was much more uneven than its wildly acclaimed sophomore season, there are still several high points to consider. So with that being said, here's everything we love and hate about the third season of the CW's Arrow:
As always, the show shines brightest when honoring the source material. Some of the most compelling enemies team Arrow faced this season were Cupid and Brick (both of which made their first appearances in Green Arrow comic titles). And while the television versions diverged significantly from their comic counterparts, it was interesting to see how Arrow was able to bring to life some of the baddies from the comic books in new and original ways.
Arrow was also extremely successful in incorporating the Suicide Squad into the show. The team of villains and anti-heroes organized by Amanda Waller has played a unique role in Arrow since the second season, and episodes featuring the Squad have quickly become fan favorites. For instance, "Suicidal Tendencies" was certainly one of the more memorable episodes from this season, as it revealed a new take on the origins of Deadshot. The Suicide Squad is one of the best things Arrow has going for it, and with the leader of H.I.V.E. (the organization that hired Deadshot to kill Diggle's brother) set up to be next season's big baddie, we could be seeing more of them in the near future.
DC Heroes Take Over TV
The show has also done a great job at expanding DC's shared TV universe. Several new heroes have arrived on the scene this season, and between Arrow, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow, each of them will continue to have active roles in the future of the shared universe. Fans finally got to see Laurel Lance become the Black Canary, which we've been waiting for since the pilot episode. Plus, Atom and Katana were introduced, and Thea transformed into DC Comics hero Speedy, all of which was entertaining and generally well-done.
While this may seem like a lot of new heroes and heroines to bring into the show, maybe too many, Arrow has done a great job of developing these characters over the course of several episodes (or even over several seasons). None of them felt rushed into the mix; they were woven carefully into the overall fabric of the show, and these new heroes are part of what keeps the show fresh and fans coming back for more.
Finally, the hugely benefited from crossovers with the Flash this season. Stephen Amell and Grant Gustin come together naturally - not one scene between these characters feels forced, and the dynamic between the two is absolutely phenomenal. The writers of Arrow only used one crossover episode (with the Flash making another brief appearance in the finale), but it was certainly one of the greatest parts of the entire season.
The Ever-Present Laurel
Despite all of the good things Arrow had going for it this season, it still wasn't without its faults. First of all, while it was great to see Laurel finally undergo her transformation into the Black Canary, it was ultimately a letdown. It's clear that Sara and her crime-fighting career were simply meant to be stepping stones on Laurel's way to becoming the Black Canary (at least on Arrow, though Sara will be brought back as the White Canary in Legends of Tomorrow). But Sara owned her role as a vigilante so well that it's hard not to make comparisons between the two, and Laurel suffers from those comparisons. While Laurel can't be expected to immediately become a hardened crime fighter in her first year as Black Canary, she'll need to develop a more powerful onscreen presence and a greater chemistry with team Arrow if she's to become the amazing heroine we know from the comics.
"Arrow" Becomes a Misnomer
For a show called "Arrow," Oliver Queen hardly spent any time being the Arrow this season. For almost three whole episodes he was recovering from his wounds after his fight with Ra's al Ghul. Likewise, he spent several episodes near the end of the seasons playing double agent in the League of Assassins. This means that for over a quarter of the season, Oliver Queen was not the crime-fighting superhero that everyone tunes in to watch.
While some might argue that the show needed to mix up its regular formula, fans ultimately want to see the Arrow under that green hood we've all grown to love, kicking butt and taking names. Instead, we got a season where Oliver was either half dead or pretending to be Ra's al Ghul's sidekick. And considering that the season ended with Oliver deciding to give up being the Arrow and driving off into the sunset, it makes you wonder how much of season 4 is going to be the same.
While many fans had been dying to see Oliver and Felicity get together, in the end their relationship detracted from the quality of the show. See if this sounds familiar: an amazingly hot guy with a hero's personality chooses the geeky chick who many think of as a nobody, but he pulls away because he's afraid that his secret identity will end up hurting her. What you have is the synopsis for Twilight - arguably one of the most annoying and ridiculous love stories of all time. This also happens to be the exact description of the relationship between Oliver and Felicity.
While there are some who are attached to the idea of these two being together, the relationship can't last if Oliver is going to develop into the hero everyone needs him to be. Think about it: Oliver knew he couldn't be both the Arrow and a man with a normal life and normal relationships. There's no way that this reality is going to change, and so his connection with Felicity only holds him back.
And not all of the problems with "Olicity" are purely practical; Felicity whining and crying because of Oliver's "death" or his decision not to be with her due to the dangers of being a vigilante got so very old over the course of the season, and it very well may have destroyed all of the progress Felicity made in the first two seasons. While the end of this relationship (and yes, it will most likely end - the writers have hinted that the endgame is for Oliver to be with Laurel) may eventually become a great plot device used to bring Oliver back into action, the soapy antics were mostly a burden on season 3.
Lack of character development
And finally, there's the fact that Oliver did not grow any as a character at all this season. In season 1, Oliver learned how to be an effective crime fighter in his first year back in Starling City; the growth was evident. In season 2, Oliver decided to choose justice over vengeance as he gave up killing in order to honor the memory of his friend, Tommy. Again, the character had a clear emotional arc. But in season 3? Oliver resorted to killing to gain the trust of Ra's, and later killed(?) Ra's himself. He continually made bad decisions throughout the entire season, and resorted to teaming up with one of the worst criminals he knows. And while the argument could be made that Oliver was basically forced into these situations, it's still disappointing to see so little character development when Oliver's growth as a hero was part of what made the first two seasons so special.