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Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Arrow S4 (Second Half)

Another day, another roll of the Dice of Disappointment, and another the CW show.

Series 4 (Second Half)

It's fair, I think, to say that Arrow's been declining since the end of its second series - which given that it took the first half of its first series to build itself up into something good, basically means there's only a thirty-six episode period where it was actually all that fun to watch. Part of that is that it seems like the series hasn't really known what to do with itself, how to pitch its villains, how to up its threats, and so on, and so forth. Another part of that is that while its sister shows The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and now Supergirl are all pretty pure superhero action shows, Arrow has always tried to be a kind of 'drama with superhero action' show, with a heavy focus on relationship strife and interpersonal conflict.

Which is how we ended up getting the 'surprise, Diggle's brother was alive and evil' storylines, and also the 'Felicity/Ollie separation' storyline.

- What was the plot of this series? I watched it, I watched the entire thing, but now that I'm actually at the synopsis section of the review, I can't for the life of me remember what happened. Hang on while I actually go and look up episode summaries for episodes I've already seen.

In the meantime, here's a Bee Robot.


Picking up after Felicity's shooting, which leaves her paraplegic, the second half of Arrow's fourth series sees Ollie's mayoral race meeting resistance when Damien Darhk's wife, Ruve Adams, enters the race as his opponent, while Darhk pushes his plan - Genesis, revealed to be a plot to wipe out all life on Earth with nuclear missiles while a select few remain safe in an underground town - into its final phases. Meanwhile, Diggle encounters his younger brother, Andy, who he'd believed to be dead, but who has actually been working for corrupt paramilitary Shadowspire, and after that, HIVE.

I said in my last Arrow review that I had high hopes for the second half of the fourth series. Those hopes were dashed pretty quickly, as the show flung itself into a quagmire of relationship drama and angst, while paying lip service to a pretty tired and cliche plot involving Darhk (whose magic is constantly bigged up as being powerful and impressive, despite the fact that we see people with more impressive abilities on The Flash all the time) and wanting to destroy the world and yadda yadda yadda.

Look, I just want to throw this out here for television writers to consider: Nobody actually enjoys the perpetual see-saw of on-again-off-again relationships that television shows use to drag viewers back. They'll watch them, because they're invested in the relationship, but nobody watched Felicity leaving Ollie and the subsequent 'will they get back together or not' plotline and had any reaction other than a kind of exhausted disdain.

No clear reason is given for Andy Diggle being so evil or so short.

When you combine that with soap opera antics like Diggle's plotline with his brother (which could have come straight out of Dallas for how silly it is), and repetitive plotlines cribbed from earlier series (oh, no, Malcolm's doing evil things for the fourth series in a row), and flashback sections that feel increasingly unnecessary, you end up with something that's just kind of tiring to watch.

All of which isn't even touching on the biggest problem with this series, which is its bonafide Woman In Refrigerators Moment, as Laurel is killed off in a prison riot, managing to hold onto life just long enough to tell Ollie that she always loved him (because of course) before dying and becoming fuel for everybody else's angst. Mostly Ollie's, but also Quentin's and, oddly, Diggle's.

Darhk always stands in a really weird way.

It adds pretty much nothing of substance to the show, and it isn't even shocking, because we were already told that someone was going to die, and we already knew it wasn't Ollie or Felicity, meaning that it was always going to be Laurel, Diggle, or Thea. It was an empty moment that existed only to give everyone else in the cast something to be sad about, and it's no surprise that fans reacted so strongly against it.

(Darhk even gets his own refrigerated women later when his wife dies, apparently solely to motivate him to just destroy everything, which he was - already planning on doing? It doesn't really change anything about him. It certainly doesn't make him an any more effective villain.)

Arrow's been renewed for a fifth series, so I guess I'll be watching that, but at this point, I think it needs to make as dignified an exit as it can. There are other DC Comics properties you can adapt, the CW, and you're already getting Supergirl moving over to you, you don't really need Arrow anymore. I heard someone say that you have the rights to use Nightwing and Oracle, make a Nightwing and Oracle series instead.

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