Arrow (2012)

Dark, cinematic, breathtakingly-choreographed, epic in orchestral score, & rich in character development with a brilliant island dual-plot redemption arc and career role by Stephen Amell. One of the most revolutionary TV-Series post-2000. 9.5/10.

Plot Synopsis: Notorious Billionaire Oliver Queen is shipwrecked on an Island in the North China Sea, and returns home after 5 years stranded there to bring justice to the criminals of his city as the DC Comics hero Green Arrow.

*Possible spoilers ahead*

CLC’s Best #Arrow Episodes: 1. Pilot, 2. Lian Yu, 3. The Climb, 4. Deathstroke, 5. City Of Heroes, 6. Emerald Archer, 7. Crisis On Infinite Earths, Pt. IV, 8. The Slabside Redemption, 9. Honor Thy Father, 10. Darkness On The Edge of Town, 11. Reset, 12. The Promise, 13. Present Tense, 14. Home Invasion, 15. Green Arrow, 16. Prochnost, 17. Broken Dolls, 18. Welcome To Hong Kong, 19. Invasion, Pt. 2, 20. Docket No. 11-19-41-73, 21. Legacy, 22. The Undertaking, 23. Inmate 4587, 24. Seeing Red, 25. The Dragon

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Season-by-Season Reviews: S1 – 10/10 / S2 – 9.7/10 / S3 – 8/10 / S4 – 4/10 / S5 – 9.2/10 / S6 – 6/10 / S7 – 8.7/10 / S8 – 9.6/10

Series Review: Dark, Cinematic, Beautifully-Choreographed, Vigilantism-Complex, Epic In Orchestral Score, & Rich In Character Development With A Brilliant Island Dual-Plot Motif & Career Performance By Stephen Amell As The Billionaire-Turned-Emerald Archer, DC Comics’ 2012 Arrow Is One Of The Greatest & Most Revolutionary TV Series Post-2000 – Proof-Of-Concepting Blockbuster Franchises (& The Streaming Boom) On Television. 9.5/10.

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Season 1 – 10/10

The Green Arrow

One Of DC’s Richest (& Most Complex) Heroes Gets His Cinematic Debut 75 Years Later

Coming fresh off The Dark Knight Trilogy in 2012, DC Comics was in a very good position in the live-action superhero adaptation market. Universally agreed to be one of the greatest movie trilogies in the history of Cinema, with one of the greatest centerpieces ever in The Dark Knight, Nolan’s movies sparked a new age for DC Comics: one grounded in realism, tonal darkness, and bold reinvention translating these beloved characters from comic books to the big screen. This scripture was to be etched in time of all their media going forward, their first project post-TDK being a feature-length TV Series based on one of DC’s first and oldest superheroes ever: The Green Arrow. Little did they know what kind of massive success and legacy would follow, with what was originally scripted as a one-off about a billionaire who gets shipwrecked on an Island being instead big enough to springboard canvas an entire universe and the biggest TV franchise of All-Time named after it. Dark, cinematic, beautifully-choreographed, vigilantism-complex, epic in orchestral score, & rich in character development with a brilliant island dual-plot motif and career performance by Stephen Amell as the Billionaire-Turned-Emerald-Archer, DC Comics’ 2012 Arrow is one of the greatest & most revolutionary TV Series post-2000 – proof-of-concepting Blockbuster Franchises (& The Streaming Boom) on Television and changing what was possible.

The Tonal Blend

Dark, Cinematic, Violent, Compelling, Epic, & *Strikingly* Nolan-esque In Vigilante Thrills

What catalyzed this chain reaction? From the very first scene of the series, it’s clear this is nothing like anything ever attempted on TV before. We’re instantly bombarded with dynamic, quick-cuts of a nomadic man running through the forest on a deserted island – who sees a fishing vessel in the distance and fires an arrow into the wind, only to light up an S.O.S. signal for the rescue of a billionaire we learned was shipwrecked in the North China Sea awya from civilization for five years. The premise alone is enough to send chills by how incredibly dark and rife with existential possibilities it is, instantly drawing into the brilliant premise with one of the best establishing shots and opening scenes I’ve witnessed on TV to this day, but the series also feels wildly cinematic and more ambitious/epic than anything ever on the medium before it as well. As the season goes on and Oliver Queen has to join us back in society and learn how to be human again after his torturous experiences on that island, the series is VERY dark, violent, & compellingly-cinematic in what feels like a love-letter and perfect alike to Nolan’s tonal cocktail of the TDK series in all the right ways. Perhaps even darker – being shipwrecked on an island after watching your entire yacht staff and friends/family aboard die, tortured by mysterious parties, covered in scar tissue, and turned into such an animalistic presence that you kill the criminals or severely injure and punish/’put the fear of God into them’ instead of locking them up is a whole lot more than your parents just being killed in an alley – Arrow has achieved tonal masterpiece blending as a rich, vigilantism-steeped crime drama with cinematic flair and an island angle for an idiosyncrasy-riddled, stylistic canvas.

The Lavish, Opulent Magnificence Of Set Design

Beyond the tonal majesty, Arrow’s triumphant stylism seeps through to set design, cinematography, and premise. The set pieces and location settings are spectacular – ranging from rich, warm mahogany tones interior juxtaposing cool green lush mossy exteriors in the Queen mansion all the way to cold, dark towering obelisk-like cliffs in the bleak canvas of Lian Yu and black dim-lit back-alleys where Oliver is free to do his vigilante (anti)heroicism work. The cinematography is crisp as an arrow, with brilliant shot constructions and dynamicism in camerawork/cuts to only add to the cinematic feel established tonally. The costume design is equally as sensational – getting everything from the elegance of evening wear in the socialite lifestyle to Green Arrow’s phenomenal suit complete for war paint as a true soldier-meets-Robin-Hood look perfectly. As previously mentioned, Arrow’s island premise might be the most instantly-grabbing hook in television history – we’re avalanched with questions we have to know the answers to from the first flickers of film in the series: Who is this man? Why is he on this island? How did he get there? Why does he have a green hood and bow and arrow? How did he make that impossible archery shot? How long has he been there? How did he survive? Is there anyone else on the Island? What is the Deathstroke totem? etc. It combines the best of Lost x Batman in a dual-storyline plot device that allows for the series to feel like two different series at once – & one we join at a fascinating place in the timeline of both at the end of one horrific journey and beginning of another as a brilliant display of dazzling, skillfull screenwriting packed to the brim with entertainment and storytelling value.

Rich Character Development & Payoff By A Writers’ Room Display Of Dazzling Skill

The writer’s room certainly reinvented the wheel here: creating a series that both blends the greatest fictional premises, while also paving its own way for unparalleled cinematic entertainment value. Lost x Batman with loads of twists – even darker and more stretched-out than any previous Crusader film by way of its cold-blooded-killer/TV flip premise or any island series in the ominous presences/motivations lurking on that Chinese isle and the character set of a spoiled rich kid being shipwrecked on the one place money doesn’t matter and he gets thrust in the real world of survival antithesizing every silver spoon he’s ever been fed with. Indeed, the character development is absolutely PHENOMENAL – rich characterization of everyone from our central protagonist (one of the most compelling and fascinating I’ve ever seen by way of his tragic/broken unfathomable backstory) to the love-interest lawyer/(future Black Canary?) Laurel Lance to warm brotherhood/moral compass presence of John Diggle to party girl Thea Queen to comedic reliefs Tommy Merlyn and fizzy, bubbly I.T. girl Felicity Smoak to the bone-chilling antagonist of Malcolm Merlyn and his Court of Owls-like socialite enablers plotting the destruction of entire infrastructures and millions of lives. The show also speaks to bigger themes of wealth distribution, classism, grief, tragedy, loneliness, sociology, psychology, nihilism, existentialism, justice, criminality, and trials of the human spirit unfathomable to most of us like what happens to the psyche of someone on an island away from every shred of civilization and society/humanity for half a decade now thrust back into it – all in a canvas that balances its edge & sharp nihilistic darkness with heart, humour, thrills, & beautiful storytelling opened up in a way that has never been done on television before.

The Aptitude & Badassness Of Oliver’s Mission – Brought To Life By Godly Fight Choreography & Neely’s Beautifully-Orchestrated Score

This storytelling prowess transcends boundaries, making itself especially known in that of Oliver Queen and his primal Mission he’s tasked with upon returning home to the real world. A list given to him by his father before killing himself, he is charged with the duty of excising everyone on that list like cancers complicit in the crime underworld of Starling City – a task he takes little mercy in exercizing and bringing justice to. The beautiful simplicity of the mission: simply crossing names off a list much akin to a Devil’s list of souls to collect by criminals deserving justice, is fantastic, and badass in all the right ways being able to do away with morality or traditional superheroicism tropes by way of the island pariah backstory and being able to deliver badass A-tier vigilantism thrills unburdened by hedge-betting or anything that’d shroud its intensity or interrogative brutality – brought to by life by god-tier fight choreography. My favorite thing about Arrow in its entirety is how absolutely breathtaking the fight and action scenes are – visceral, pulse-rattling, balls-to-the-wall and untempered by morality or anything less than surgical excision of criminal cancers from his city, plus a career performance by Stephen Amell as The Emerald Archer. Neely’s score is cold, calculating, breathtakingly-cinematic, and haunting as one of the best orchestral accompaniments I’ve heard outside Hans Zimmer x Junkie XL and a beautifully-scored soundscape that parallels the tonal darkness in every way, shape, and form.

Stephen Amell

A CAREER-Making Performance As The Emerald Archer & Billionaire Playboy

A heroic drama is only as good as its lead role – and, luckily for Arrow, they have found a central performance so good.. it’s one that an entire FRANCHISE & UNIVERSE can be built upon. Stephen Amell’s brutal, damaged, broken, layered, morality-questionable, charming-yet-brooding, human-flawed, strikingly-badass, fear-of-God-instilling, duality-filled pariah/vigilante persona – developed with surgical skill as a character by season’s end to hero and tested in acting capabilities by full range playing two veritable antitheses and polar opposite versions of the character in both the flashbacks and present-day – is nothing short of MAGIC. Indeed, what could be a more epic story and character arc than a socialite trust-fund kid billionaire so rich-yet-morally-bankrupt he can cheat on his girlfriend with her own sister, being shipwrecked on an island where none of his status and wealth and power matter beyond cold-blooded survival, all the way into a devil’s advocate archer bringing justice but in the most sinister of ways, finally learning to become a true superhero by the end of the season. I would absolutely put Amell’s visionary take on Oliver Queen amongst the greatest hero performances of All-Time cinematically, a definitive version of the character on-screen for the first time.

The Island Dual-Storyline Motif

One Of The Most Brilliant Premises For A Show I’ve Ever Seen & One Packed With Entertainment & Existential-Analysis Potential

The dual-storyline plot device is just one more piece of the puzzle and scripting prowess that allowed Arrow to springboard canvas itself into the stratosphere. As previously mentioned, it feels like the series is two different series in one – a separate island mystery arc probably its most fascinating and surprise-filled of us learning what happened to Oliver Queen when he went missing in the North China Sea and present-day flashforwarded five years from that point where he’s this morality-less vigilante who has no problem putting an arrow between the eyes of a criminal without even a second’s thought. Even if you don’t like superheroicism films/TV as a booming market this series is sure to popularize even more in the public eye, the series is entertainment and universally-accessible thematic/cinematic brilliance by its premise alone for one of the most compelling and addictive binge-watching series of television I’ve ever witnessed.

Massive Cameos Of Huge DC Comics Lore & Visceral, Breathtaking Action Sequences Of God-Tier Fight Choregoraphy And Scale

The comic book lore and MASSIVE cameo characters from throughout DC and Green Arrow’s history makes for even more enjoyment by any superhero fan. Legendary heroes/villains like Deadshot, The Huntress, allusions to Black Canary and Deathstroke, The Royal Flush Gang, The Triad, China White, Bronze Tiger, The Magician/Dark Archer, Ra’s Al Ghul, and countless more make for a canvas of featurettes unlike anything ever able to be fit in a trilogy – bolstered by the series’ length and structure having 23+-hour long episodes to explore the DC Comics lore. This is HUGE pedigree superheroic character territory any comic book fan will fall head-over-heels with – all leads me to the big bad of Season 1 and one of its biggest triumphs: Malcolm Merlyn.

Malcolm Merlyn

A Surprise Twist & Incredible Villain That Dark-Parallels G.A. & Hits Oliver Where It Hurts Most In His Bones (And WINS)

A comic book adaptation is also only as good as its villain, and – despite the fact that he isn’t the most name-recognizable big bad in DC Comics – Arrow S1’s villain is absolutely bone-chilling. John Barrowman gives a broken, tragic, thunderous, evil, nuanced performance just as traumatized husband and father losing his life’s purpose by the senseless violence that took his wife’s life in the slums of The Glades – with intent to wipe it off the face of the planet in recompense. This is downright evil – and even terrorism-laced – in every conceivable notion; most villains are trying to take over or rule the city in self-minded greed/arrogance.. Merlyn is so disgusted, he wants to leave a lifeless crater in the area entirely. Unconcerned with the millions of lives and infrastructure lost in the process in this unparalleled-stakes plan, powerful in fight aptitude and training by Ra’s Al Ghul and the League Of Assassins itself before going rogue and using their training for a mission wholly sacrilegious against their code, sharing the same ‘superpower’ as G.A. being just as good of an archer as him and carrying out this mission with just a centuries-old weapon, chilling reflection of the other side of grief and anger turning to violence and rage instead of heroicism like Oliver’s after both undergoing traumatic journeys, mysterious in the organizational plot slowly unveiling its widespread corruption among Starling’s City’s wealthy elite who are supposed to be helping the city instead of destroying it, and hitting Oliver hardest by the fact that it’s his best friend’s father and a father-figure to him since he was a child as the villain he must put an arrow through – but does not know if he can. Beyond that, the ballsy, jaw-dropping finale cliffhanger allowing this symbol of evil and angel of death to acutally win and accomplish his dark mission of destroying the city is one of most shocking and S2-segway physiological need-inducing decisions in superhero media. Brilliant.

One Of The Greatest Seasons Of Television I’ve Ever Witnessed & Game-Changing Proof-Of-Concept Bringing Blockbuster Scale To TV

Overall, Season 1 of Arrow is one of the most perfect and captivating seasons of television I have ever witnessed – and changed what was possible on the medium. Never before have I seen a TV series so strikingly-cinematic in scale and ambition/feel, it reads and thrills with the bolstrous presence and dynamicism of a feature-length film – that goes on for 23+-hours allowing for unparalleled depth and rich storytelling/characterization unlike anything thought possible. Even having watched through the season multiple times, as with The Dark Knight I credit equally in getting me into crime dramas and cinema itself as an artform changing my life: I cannot find a serious flaw. Dark, cinematic, beautifully-choreographed, vigilantism-complex, epic in orchestral score, & rich in character development with a brilliant island dual-plot motif and career performance by Stephen Amell as the Billionaire-Turned-Emerald-Archer, DC Comics’ 2012 Arrow is one of the greatest & most revolutionary TV Series post-2000 – proof-of-concepting Blockbuster Franchises (& The Streaming Boom) on Television.

Official CLC Score: 10/10

Season 2 – 9.7/10

The Ultimate Villain Of DC Comics & CBM History Rivaled Only By Joker Comes To Town

A finale destroying the entire city of the superhero/guardian angel that was supposed to prevent it from happening. That’s what Arrow S1 accomplished – in what is one of the most cinematic, dynamic, and game-changing seasons of Television post-2000 era. How do you follow-up such subversive and top-tier TV? Make it bigger, badder, and even more ambitious – here accomplished near-instantly by mention of one name who sends chills up the spines of any fan of comic book history: Deathstroke. One of the greatest villains of All-Time, already richly-character developed as a friend in Slade Wilson in S1, the decision to tackle such unchartered territory is what launched Arrow – and the subsequent UNIVERSE it gave birth to – into the stratosphere. and DC History and one of my top 5 favorites ever, was going to be the main villain. By way of more rich character writing, a bone-chilling performance by Manu Bennett as the ultimate villain of comics (rivaled only by The Joker), a full hero’s transformation in further development, perfect Black Canary by Caity Loitz, more-enthralling treasure hunting island storyline, and the best action scenes the series has ever witnessed, S2 of Arrow is another near-*perfect* season of television – and even bigger and (arguably) better than Season 1.

Mirakuru x Shado

The Island Arc in S2

Lian Yu is the major battleground for S2 – being foundational setting off the chain reaction of events that lead to the emergence of its two biggest non-Oliver characters: Deathstroke and Black Canary. From the opening flickers of the season, the island is the focus – starting off with the most cinematic scene the series has seen to date to open revisiting that fateful island present-day in an establishing scene that screams blockbuster sequel, where Oliver is hiding away from the world unable to face the gravity of his failure. The way S2 splices its flashback and present-day storylines into a singular blend is a showcase of extreme skill and screenwriting prowess that allows the season to achieve a cohesive feel that none other quite accomplished. Flashbacks center around a treasure hunt of sorts – with a mysterious patron and his forces after a miracle drug that somehow – as if S1’s island arc wasn’t already mysterious enough – wound up on Lian Yu. Dr. Ivo is a sensational alt-villain – combining the best of Frankenstein-ic sci-fi/physiological horror with a strong performance and ruthless need to find a cure after his wife’s backstory (almost reading like a Mr. Freeze showing how cinematically-beautiful his premise can be, when done right – sorry, Schwarzenegger). Shado is also given a phenomenal arc making for a masterpiece mix of character drama, betrayal, brotherhood, jealousy, and guilt balancing all arcs beautifully in a dazzling Victorian display that feels distinctly-human and sets the stage phenomenally for Deathstroke’s plans later on.. as well as the most shocking addition to the series yet: Sara’s return.

The QUEEN Of DC Heroines

A *PERFECT* BLACK CANARY By Caity Loitz

The most shocking addition to the season – and one of the best All-Time – additions to the series is Oliver’s shipmate who was supposed to be dead but given new life and a mystery arc of her own off-screen: SARA. I cannot describe how masterful a plot twist it was when she reveals herself to Oliver, sending his life into chaos trying to process how one of his biggest regrets and character cruxes in S1 being twanged with guilt for not only cheating on her against her sister but being the punk who got her killed has completely changed. After finding herself also on Lian Yu and being equally-connected to Slade and Ivo’s plans, she is again shipwrecked and cast out to sea thought to be gone forever – this time landing on the far-off shores of Nanda Parbat (made even more breathtaking by the symbolism of a Canary being what gives her strength as she floats on the desolate sea), she is picked up and trained by the ultimate trainers: The League Of Assassins x Ra’s Al Ghul. When she returns to Starling City, she is the absolute *PERFECT* Black Canary in every remote sense of the words – brought to life by a career-making performance by Caity Loitz. Bold, badass, brutal, intimidating, capable fighting-wise, romantic with Oliver both training & fighting crime vigilantism-style for the iconic chemistry-riddled power couple, and sexy (complete with a fishnet-clad comic-accurate suit and motorcycle), she is the definitive comic book Black Canary I’ve ever seen – one boasting the same acting chops Oliver displayed in S1 as her character is developed from helpless, cute, innocent girl into assassin. I only wish she had a sonic device on her neck or something instead of a hand-held to imitate the infamous Canary Cry as what would’ve then been easily a Top 5 comic book hero adaptation ever. Regardless, brilliant.

Flashbacks: The Real Green Arrow In Training, By Way Of More Godly Character Development

Also fit into that masterful flashback half of the season is a godly character development arc that brings Oliver into the early-stages of Green Arrow-readiness. Through a rigorous fitness and training regiment, he’s finally able to wield that bow-and-arrow on target, hold his own in hand-to-hand combat/stickfighting, and maneuver with some aptitude as the episodes roll. The island backdrop plays phenomenally off this training highlighting the reason why Green is such a foundational color schematic for G.A. being the predominant color where he trained and found his love and calling for archery. Even more so, we see Oliver start to become more sure of himself and gain some of his confidence, swagger, personality, trust, and soul back after the life-changing/breaking events happened to him when he first washed ashore on Lian Yu. However, while our hero is also starting to enjoy life a bit again, a cyst of darkness and devil’s tricks are set into motion of the beginning of the end: Slade Wilson’s miracle-fueled dark transformation from brother/best friend to public enemy.

An Eye For An Eye

Manu Bennett’s Legendary Performance As Brother-Turned-Enemy Slade Wilson (& One Of The Greatest Villain Performances Of All-Time)

Finally, Manu Bennett’s Deathstroke/Slade Wilson. EASILY the highlight of the season – and one of the greatest villain performances of All-Time cinematically, I’m honestly at a loss for words trying to translate how flawless it is into print. Absolutely merciless with a bone-chilling black-and-orange suit, cocky swagger in his walk and talk stylism (bolstered by the joyous comic-accurate Australian accent), fueled by intense hate/jealousy and revenge-minded rage at the loss of his love who really loved Oliver at his own hands after being put in an impossible place to choose who dies between Sara and Shado, ruthless enough to turn that decision back on Oliver in one of the most jaw-dropping and emotional shock scenes in the history of TV in his murder of Moira Queen, phenomenal hand-to-hand and sword-wielding combatant, guerilla warfare-spawning and string-pulling mastermind exuding power in his every chess move, and able to hit Oliver where it hurts most in his bones through thorough knowledge of his psyche, persona, and every secret he ever told him on the Island as a once-best friend (as always, make the best villains) now turned public enemy #1.

The Choice: One Of The Most Breathtaking & Shocking Plot Twists I Have Ever Witnessed

Is that a good enough description? That’s about as best I can describe one of the most powerful and deliciously-dark/tension-filled villain performances comic book media and TV has – and will – ever witness. If there’s one flaw to be found in the season (along with Sara having the sonic device on her neck instead of handheld as more Black Canary), it’s that I wish the finale centered a bit more on him and Oliver than a widespread city apocalypse.. and that the final fight between Green Arrow and Deathstroke had a better backdrop. But these are minuscule nitpicks not even remotely the fault of Manu or any of the cast beyond cinematographers and costume design it would be ludicrous to weigh seriously in what’s otherwise a masterpiece TV season.

Filled To The Brim With Easter Eggs

And A Spin-Off Of One Of The Biggest Superhero Names *Of All-Time*

Beyond the plot and arcs itself, S2 is one of the biggest seasons of television ever attempted in history for how much it took on its plates outside it. Recurring villains from S1 are back like Huntress and Deadshot, formation of The Suicide Squad with more fantastic addition characters like Bronze Tiger, one of DC’s best and most differentiating quirks in sidekicks with (Colton Haynes’ fantastically-acted) Roy finally earning his mantle as Green Arrow’s famous sidekick Red Arrow, and the surprise cameo and name to end all names: BARRY. ALLEN. Grant Gustin’s cameo in S2E8 is one of the most iconic moments in comic book media ever accomplished; perhaps signaling a spinoff of one of the biggest and most legendary superheroes of *ALL-TIME* finally getting his big screen debut 75+ years later as well: The Flash. Gustin is yet another career casting as CSI Barry Allen: he gets the geekiness, humour/awkwardness, bleeding sci-fi/lab love, pain, and yet unbridled optimism and hope of the Scarlet Speedster absolutely perfectly – for what I hope will become its own show Arrow births for a one-two punch of legendary comics adaptations.

Bigger & Better Than S1 In Almost Every Conceivable Way – & One Of The Greatest Sequels Of All-Time.. On *Television*?

Season 2 of Arrow is what cemented it as one of the greatest & most game-changing TV Series post-2000. Though I prefer S1 by the slightest of (almost imperceptible) margins simply by its limitless possibilities and more stunning finale, S2 is near-perfect itself as well. Bigger, bolder, beautiful, richly-emotional, more blockbuster-feeling, more streamlined & action-packed, human-based in its visceral character drama, and bolstered by a TRINITY of new characters in three of the biggest characters in comic book history coming to town: Deathstroke, Black Canary, & The Flash, Arrow Season 2 is a masterpiece sequel I cannot believe is on TV over theaters. This is a legendary moment for cinema we’re witnessing in the diversification of media and what’s possible outside of only picture palaces once-thought to be the only place you could see this type of entertainment. A New Era is here though, and it’s glorious time to be a cinephile (and comic book fan).

Official CLC Score: 9.7/10

Season 3 – 8/10

If Deathstroke Wasn’t Already Big Enough Of A Comic Book Lore & DC Villain Name..

Ra’s Al Ghul x The League Of Assassins

After the legendary first 2 seasons of Arrow, I was both eager and reluctant to dive into Season 3. Almost all shows I can think of have 1-2 phenomenal seasons, and the rest are alright but heavily declined in quality. With Arrow using up its 2 perfect seasons already, and a good half its writing team leaving to help set up the monumental (and wildly successful) Flash show, I was worried it would fall into that same trap, as the odds seemed to be against them. However, Season 3 of Arrow was surprisingly very good, and although it is not as good as Seasons 1 and 2 and mildly struggled keeping its footing towards the end of the season, I was not disappointed in the end result, and it even put to screen some of the craziest moments in the show’s history.

The Premiere

Let’s start with the premiere. With an awesome opening scene and a great team of Green Arrow-centered superheroes, the season premiere delivers some cool moments, and keeps some of the most intriguing storylines from S2 including Thea’s Malcolm-assisted transformation arc and Roy/Sara’s developments. This is cut short though by one of the craziest plot twists ever: Sara’s death. That took me completely by surprise, especially that they would show it in the season premiere – a truly ballsy move but one that would carry the season well and spur what I called, and rightfully proven: Laurel becoming Black Canary to carry on her legacy and name.

The Mystical City Unfazed For Centuries: Nanda Parbat & More Breathtaking Set Design

While I got really hyped to see Laurel as BC and loved her training arc in the first half of the season, I have to admit a potentially unpopular opinion but one that I stick by 100% as a huge superhero fan and comic reader: I did not like Laurel (Katie Cassidy)’s Black Canary. She is weak, whiny, improperly trained, has a cringy mouth opening to scream with no vibrations or anything to show her iconic Canary Cry, and the costume looks pretty awkward on her (strange, since it looked incredible on Sara). I also could not stand how she constantly moaned and cried about the team wanting to protect her and not let her get killed when she basically only had the equivalent of 1-2 months of training.. from a gym teacher (may have been Wildcat, but still no League of Assassins or Slade).

The League Of Assassins

Speaking of League of Assassins, let’s discuss the big bad of the season, and one I absolutely LOVED: Ra’s al Ghul!! Every superhero fan instantly knows the name, anyone who’s heard of Batman is familiar with, and anyone who’s simply seen The Dark Knight trilogy will remember. The decision to have Ra’s al Ghul as the big bad was an awesome thing to behold: it solidified and even crossed over the implied Green Arrow/Batman connection, got to flesh out the iconic villain from a greattt (although cluttered) Batman Begins, and was impeccably acted by Matt Nable in what is so far my favorite take on the character ever – sorry not sorry Liam Neeson. He exudes power, darkness, and the old-world tradition that Ra’s should, while also being able to fight extremely well, as is seen in my favorite and one of the most jaw-dropping moments in television HISTORY: Oliver vs. Ra’s mountaintop duel and Oliver’s death. I could not believe my eyes when I saw them make that bold a decision to kill off the main character, and with the music, cinematography, snowy setting, and chilling realism, that scene will go down in history.

The Climb

One Of The Most Jaw-Dropping Episodes Of Television & Plot Twists I’ve EVER Witnessed

Although Ra’s story arc is phenomenal in the first half of the season and slightly after the finale, it begins to lose its way in the second half. Perhaps this is due to how many episodes are in each season for CW (23 episodes, WHYYYYY?! -.-), but there are some obvious fillers with dumb side plots and lazier writing like Oliver marrying Nyssa (gets too Batman-y trying to emulate Bruce-Talia) and pretending he’s bad. Also, perhaps the biggest problem of this season in my opinion: I do NOT like the decision to go to China in the flashbacks. I was severely let down by this decision: Oliver is supposed to spend all his time on LIAN YU during the five years, as it makes his return much more heartbreking because he was on a deserted island cut off from civilization, not eating Take-out in Hong Kong. It takes a lot of wind out of the sales, and is not comic accurate or good show value because his exploits are far more uninteresting than either S1 or S2.

The Finale & 3B

Finally, this season started one of the biggest problems for this show going foreward and one that millions of haters started to hold against Arrow unfairly: Oliver and Felicity’s relationship. I despise “Olicity” as it’s called by girls watching this show who demanded this romance and inexplicably were given it by the producers instead of the comic-accurate Oliver/Laurel, but to see some people say they’re quitting Arrow because Felicity has become annoying and too in the spotlight, and even go on to badmouth a show they supported fullheartedly before Season 3 breaks my heart and is extremely unfair and ungrateful to the indisputable greatness that was Seasons 1-2.

Overall, Top DC Pedigree & The Sum Of Its Whole > The Vices Of Its Flaws

Overall, Season 3 of Arrow delivers some iconic Green Arrow and DC Comics moments and characters, making it a good season of television for Arrow, but great season of television by regular TV show standards. It is definitely not as good as Seasons 1-2 and has some noticeable and infuriating flaws like the start of Olicity, a misdesigned Laurel Black Canary, and a Ra’s story that starts out breathtaking but loses its way through lazy writing towards the end of the season, but it delivers on the central tenets of superhero media and is a memorable bout for the Emerald Archer.

Official CLC Score: 8/10

Season 4 – 4/10

Things Are About To Get (Justice League) Dark

Damien Darhk x H.I.V.E.

Few seasons of television have disappointed me as much as Arrow Season 4 did. In fact, I would actually tell anyone watching the show through for the first time to skip S4 entirely (except maybe the season opener and finale) in order to see the show in its best quality, something I almsot never have to say about a show season. After 2 perfect seasons with legendary quality and execution in S1-2, as well as another very good season in S3, there was a huge decline in quality for S4. I don’t know why it happened: perhaps because Berlanti and his team had taken too many project under their belt building a DC Television Empire with new shows Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow making DCTV a 5-pronged powerhouse, or maybe it was sheer ignorance, but what the Arrow showrunners did in Season 4 was unexcusable, to the point that many people stopped watching and began to talk hate about the show, a sad fall of a titan of TV.

H.I.V.E.

Now, there are some good things about Season 4, don’t get me wrong. For one, the S4 premiere is very good, premiering a new, lighter tone that felt fresh to coincide with Oliver’s new happiness now that he’s taking a break from being Green Arrow to see what the normal life is like. It also features some funny jokes and good action sequences as the team (and Thea as Speedy!) try to keep the city safe without him. It also introduces DAMIEN DARKH, another iconic DC villain and one which I was extremely hyped to see one the silver screen for the big time, in spectacular fashion with scenes like the Warehouse power show and fight on the train where he stops Oliver’s arrows in mid-air with magic. Finally, the show makes an awesome decision to bring the flashbacks back to Lian Yu (my biggest complaint from S3), introduces some incredible teases and story arcs like the Green Lantern tease (are they going somewhere with that?!), Constantine crossover, and the death scene at the end of the premiere that will keep fans guessing and means someone is going to die for good, and delivers an incredible new suit (still prefer the original one but this one is undoubtedly badass) and name change to what we’ve all been waiting for Oliver to be called: the Green Arrow.

The 4-Season Payoff: That Name Drop

Other than that though, and a great performance by Neil McDonough as Damien Darhk that was sadly wasted, the seasons is a complete mess, and borderline competely skippable for anyone watching the show through for the first time. Where to start? First, bringing everyone back from the dead. Starting the 2ND episode of the season, they start this weird streak of episodes where they bring back everyone who was presumed dead, including Diggle’s brother, Sara, Ray Palmer, etc. This is a cheap trick and seems like something you would only do if you ran out of ideas, and is infuriating as it means their deaths meant nothing and has been overdone already in this show and television in large. Sara’s original return was a phenomenal plot twist due to its rarity, but now it’s just borderline insulting to have her come back again after her death was the central crux of Laurel’s transformation to Black Canary and the entire Ra’s al Ghul arc.

A Breathtaking New Suit & Badass Look

Next, who died. *MAJOR SPOILER just fyi* but there might not be a television or storytelling decision of All-Time I hate more than Arrow’s decision to kill off Laurel in S4, aka Green Arrow’s ICONIC and TRUE lover and WHO HE’S SUPPOSED TO BE WITH AS A CHARACTER. It was literally one of the angriest moments I have ever experienced watching cinema, as it was so disrespectful to the comics and everyhting Green Arrow/Black Canary was, I almost threw up. It is also a cheap way to get out of the death, as she was the easiest character to kill off since they criminally underused her in S4 and there were rumors speculating that the show’s producers and her were having problems. Finally, just for shock value, if the death was literally anyone else in the entire show, espeically Felicity or Thea or Diggle, the death would’ve been FAR more impactful and mean something. That decision understandably made a lot of people quit Arrow, and almost made me as well if I’m being perfectly and painfully honest. Disgraceful.

The Dystopian Horror & Intrigue Of Darhk’s Plan Unutilized

Following, Olicity. I absolutely HATE Olicity (Oliver and Felicity’s romance). Ever since S3, I have been saying that this could be problematic as teenage girls who watch the show and have no interest in the superheroics or comics of Green Arrow but instead in some stupid relationship they could go to another show for are begging for this on social media, and it looks like the showrunners sold themselves to their demands. Felicity is a nobody in the comics and not even on the radar for Oliver’s love in any other medium, so it does not make any sense why she would be given that big a role in the show. Felicity also acts wayyyy more annoying now that she has a bigger role, even bossing Oliver around and acting hypocritically. She is no longer the cute and funny IT girl with refreshing and cleverly-written one liners from S1-2, but a huge burden on the show as their relationship sickens vast amounts of true comic fans who know it should be Laurel/Black Canary who Oliver’s in love with and fighting crime beside. The show literally spends more time on this relationship drama in S4 than actual superheroics, feeling more like a soap opera than dark, gritty crime show that made fans love it in S1. Sickening.

The Death

The Worst Decision Of The Show’s Entire History

Finally, the finale. Season 4’s finale was absolutely awful in every sense of the word. In fact, it was one of the worst season finales I’ve seen in years, highlighting just how big there was a drop in quality this outlier season compared to previous ones. It was so uneventful even after having a great H.I.V.E. noah’s ark like story arc buildup one of the few saving graces as it was interesting and a dope teaser of Darhk getting all the mystical power, but copied TDKR in all-oout war in city and Lian Yu arc was such a waste and boring uneventful just to connect ot present. I have to admit, I have rarely seen a show take a collapse in a season as drastic as S4 of Arrow, but luckily the show completely rebounds to its former greatness and glory in Season 5.

Official CLC Score: 4/10

Season 5 – 9.2/10

A Return To Roots

A Chilling, Dark Reflection Of Golden-Age Arrow As Rich & Mystic As Our New Antagonist

A return to form completely. I was skeptical to even watch Season 5 of Arrow after being so let down by my favorite tv show ever in S4, but thank God I did. I am here to definitively say: ARROW IS BACK AND BETTER THAN EVER!!!! It feels like a rebirth of the show, turning back time to the S1 premiere and S2 tone, quality, writing, and darkness that so eluded us in S4. Sometimes it takes a stumble to get back to greatness, and I’m so glad Arrow is back to being one of the best shows on TV and the best superhero one.

Prometheus

There are so many aspects of the show S5 corrects that it’s hard to know where to start. For one, the tone. From the first shot of the season of Oliver taking down the criminal in that silky blue night-lit background and near-torturing Wild Dog, it is clear that Arrow isn’t messing around anymore with that failed lightened-tone experiement in S4 and is back to its Batman-level darkness approach, so thankfully as that is what made the show so fascinating to begin with as a radically different and innovative approach to Green Arrow. Next, the fight scenes. The fight scenes and choreography are SO much better this season. The fights are well-shot, well-set, and exhilarating – the same of which certainly cannot be said of S4 and even not necessarily for S3 (besides Ra’s mountaintop duel, of course). The writing is also night-and-day better than S4, in another league with how wide-spanning and rich it is, going back to the basics, but also making Oliver’s story more complex with a whole host of new characters, and a beautifully-written and jaw-dropping revelation story about his true origin from Prometheus.

DINAH. DRAKE.

A Real Comics’ Black Canary To Atone For S4’s Sacrilege

That brings me to Prometheus. OH MY WORD, Prometheus is one of the greatest villains I’ve ever seen in superhero TV, 4th of All-Time imo after 1. Manu’s Deathstroke, 2. Cavanaugh’s Reverse Flash, and 3. Daredevil’s Kingpin. He is SUCH a badass in his style and fighting ability, impeccably designed with an almost Scarecrow-meets-Dark-Green-Arrow touch, and psychologically insane and thoroughly disheartening villains ever, the first to actually be able to claim that he broke Oliver Queen in the torture episode Kapiushon (one of the greatest TV episodes of All-Time with legendary acting by Amell as we learn he wanted to kill at first because he liked it). Masterpiece. The new characters are also intriguing and richly developed.

A Villain So Damn Good, He Does What None Could Do Before: Break Oliver Queen

Wild Dog is a phenomenal addition to the team, Artemis a good (and cute) addition and plot twist, and Ragman a cool addition. The only one I have a real problem with is Curtis. I never liked Curtis to begin with as he feels just like another Felicity which is unbearable if you don’t like Felicity in the first place which vast amounts of fans don’t. His ugly-suited and whiny Mr. Terrific is borderline painful to watch in my opinion, and I sincerely hope he doesn’t make it to next seasons as his jokes aren’t funny and he detracts from the experience. Felicity is much better and more tolerable this season as she gets her own Helix arc to keep her busy, and the show gets away from Olicity – THANK YOU!!!!!!

The Mayoral Arc

That brings me to the best character of the season and one I literally almost lost it cheering for: a NEW BLACK CANARY. It is no secret that I was never a fan of laurel’s S3 Black Canary and disgusted by Season 4’s decision to kill her off, but Season 5 nearly, dare I say, corrected it by introducing Katie Cassidy back as Laurel’s S2 doppelganger Black Siren (basically like og Laurel all over again, but better looking, stronger, less whiny, and WITH THE ICONIC CANARY CRY W/ EFFECTS) and a brand new Black Canary too by Dinah Drake (schooled the haters with the fact that Dinah Drake is technically hte first Black Canary in the comics so they’re comic-accurate).

The Finale

A Cinematic Blockbuster-Film That Could Change The Show Forever Going Forward

The new Black Canary is sooo much more badass and no-nonsense, fighting better, with iconic touches like the motorcycle and a proper black suit, and a canary cry with actual effects that look amazing. I hope Black Siren gets a redemption arc to become the full-fledged Black Canary going foreward as Katie Cassidy has that nostalgia factor, but I’m fine either way.Finally, the Russia backstory and finale. The Russia flashback arc is complex, tough, and extremely dark – exactly what I came to the show for. It is phenomenally written and designed to show how Oliver makes the last step of his 5-year journey taking him back to Lian Yu for the pilot. Having legendary tough actors like Dolph Lundgren who is incredible as the crime boss Konstantine Kovar and the Bratva brutal story is jaw-droppingly epic and action-packed, feeling almost like a film noir, which as a cinemaphile I respect immensely. It sets it up perfectly leading to the season finale.

The Russia Arc x Dolph Lundgren

Now, Arrow’s Season 5 finale. I literally cannot put into words how breathtaking that finale was. It is one of the greatest TV episodes EVER MADE by every conceivable metric of television, earning 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, IGN, Screen Rant, & Forbes, and currently ranked the 23rd greatest TV episode of All-Time on iMDb with hundreds of thousands of votes, up there with shows like Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and Hannibal. This is some legendary company, but not surprising as the finale is perfect, it literally feels like a Green Arrow movie and had fans drooling at the idea. It is epic in scale going back to Lian Yu and featuring every major character in the show’s history, including Green Arrow, Black Canary, Deathstroke, Talia Al Ghul, Black Siren, Nyssa Al Ghul, Merlyn, Speedy, Wild Dog, and Artemis. My word, that is a testament to the skill olf the showrunners when they are on their A-game to show off and juggle that many characters and stories and fight scenes simulataneously in a single episode. The cliffhanger at the end of the S5 finale blowing up the island is JAW-DROPPING and one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen, as we don’t know who, if even any, will survive into S6