This needs to be said right up front: “Arrow” is still a good show. When firing on all cylinders, it provides some of the best bow and arrow vigilante action on television; granted, that’s a niche category. The first two seasons of the show set serious bars with regards to action and compelling human drama. The problem? Season three never lived up to that high standard.

 

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD.

 

The biggest problems with this season of “Arrow” came from its inconsistent pace and crowded plot threads. Starting with the murder of Sara Lance in the present — as well as Oliver working for Amanda Waller in Hong Kong in the past — things started out on solid footing. Eventually, more storylines were added: Laurel training with Ted Grand; Roy’s guilt over the murder of a cop during season two; the love triangle between Oliver, Felicity, and Ray; Ray also having an inclination towards vigilante justice; the list goes on. Rather than focusing on a couple of strongly interconnected stories, this overabundance made it so we almost forgot some stories existed when not seen for a few episodes.

 

Some of these storylines worked better than others in the long run; watching Laurel slowly take up the mantle of Black Canary actually worked well in the end, while Oliver’s supposed ascension to Ra’s Al Ghul never once felt earned or genuine. It eventually got to the point where the show either relied on Malcolm Merlyn to provide blunt exposition, or season four plot threads — see: Damien Darhk — were quickly shoehorned in for the sake of it.

 

Generally, this season’s strongest storylines came from smaller, more self-contained storylines. “The Brave and the Bold” episode featuring Barry Allen and the three episode war between Brick and an Oliver-less Team Arrow stood out, in particular. The set-up for Ray Palmer and “Legends of Tomorrow”  felt a bit less organic than season two’s set-up for “The Flash,” though this was still ultimately effective, as well.

 

One of the biggest problems we encounter on “Arrow” is how sanitized the action has become. Re-watching earlier episodes of the show, one can definitely notice that the fights have lost some of their visceral edge. We now live in a post “Daredevil” world. Although “Arrow” has more rating restrictions on how it can portray violence, the producers need to remember that this show must exist as their dark counterpoint to the lighthearted “The Flash.”

 

Promo image of Arrow, Black Canary, and Red Arrow

Stephen Amell as the Green Arrow stands alongside cast members, Black Canary and Red Arrow. (images.vcpost.com)

Performances proved one area where the show thrived this season. Stephen Amell has taken full control of all aspects of his character. He had two particular standout moments this season: telling Diggle he didn’t want to die like Sara; and in the finale, when he defiantly declared himself as Oliver Queen to Ra’s. David Ramsey, Willa Holland, and Colton Haynes all showed increased range from their previous portrayals as Diggle, Thea, and Roy. It will be exciting to see how Thea handles sidekick duty, and whether or not Diggle ends up a Green Lantern, as some fans have theorized. Brandon Routh definitely stepped out of the shadow he cast as Superman in this role as Ray the vigilante Atom; he will no doubt be able to hold his own in the upcoming spinoff.

 

However, Emily Bett Rickards’ Felicity became decidedly one-note this season. While no doubt more assertive, she has lost a great deal of the charm that made her so loveable in the first place. Matt Nable’s portrayal of Ra’s Al Ghul also just never quite felt right; he felt more like a bruiser and less like a centuries old warrior.
Things change; billionaires become killers, killers become heroes. After some big changes on this season of “Arrow,” hopefully we will see a return to its former glory.

 

Did you catch the season finale of “Arrow”? How do you think it compares to previous seasons? Let’s catch up here, or find me on Twitter @connerws