11. Arrow: Season 3
Full spoilers for the whole of this season
Coming off the back of its incredible second season, I had extremely high hopes for the third run. Finally bringing in Ra’s Al Ghul after so much teasing of him was exciting, as was seeing how Team Arrow could try and take him on. Things started off relatively well too. Sara’s death was a shock, Thea’s transformation was fun to see and it looked like whilst not being quite as great as what came before, this could still be an entertaining run. But as soon as Oliver met the grizzly end of Ra’s blade and was sent tumbling off of a mountain, the season lost steam and ended on a note that was frankly horrible.
To say that season 3 is a mess would be putting it kindly, but let’s look at the positives first. Matt Nable was a great Ra’s, not the kind of Ra’s you may have expected admittedly but I enjoyed his performance. The ‘who killed Sara’ mystery was nicely done and I enjoyed the ramifications of Thea being unwittingly responsible. Malcom Merlyn was a ton of fun too, as ever he was unpredictable and he’s a joy to watch. Stand out of the cast for me though is Brandon Routh’s Ray Palmer. He’s just so damn likeable throughout. A constant breath of fresh air whilst everything around him gets misery dumped on them.
Palmer is a great way to lead into what doesn’t work about the season. He is well and truly shafted by the time year three drew to a close. The audience is supposed to be rooting for Oliver and Felicity to get together, but when they do it’s right in Ray’s face without either of them giving the remotest of shits about him. The two characters became so self absorbed that when they literally rode off into the sunset, I couldn’t help but be angry because neither of them deserved that temporary happy ending. Especially Oliver. What a complete and utter tool this guy is here. He’s transformation into the next Ra’s is just one massive cheat, the bigger problem though is that he does so much terrible stuff that he may as well have joined the league anyway.
I do not buy for one second that Oliver couldn’t and wouldn’t bring a single person in on his plan, especially Diggle. There was nothing to stop him from giving Dig the heads up and having him play along. Instead, Oliver puts the mans child as risk and carries on like a total twat to everyone around him. How he was forgiven is beyond me, this season almost lost me all the love I had for that character due to the terrible writing that he was forced to play out. Imagine if Oliver truly had changed sides? Wouldn’t that have been a much more interesting story to tell? Apparently not. Then there was Laurel and her awfully unconvincing and far too easy turn into the new Black Canary. Then there was Quentin suddenly hating vigilantes again because of plot reasons. Then there were pointless characters like Wild Dog and a horrible exit for the always interesting Roy. Honestly I could go on and on about what didn’t work here.
There was some fun to be had in the season. Vinnie Jones was surprisingly entertaining as Brick and those episodes where Oliver was missing allowed other members of the cast to step up. Then there was Oliver’s battle with Ra’s (the first one, definitely not the second). Seeing Oliver impaled and hurled off the cliff remains one of the Arrowverses stand out moments. It’s just a shame that the resolution to how he survived it was so laughably glossed over. I guess they just thought we would be happy he survived?
I haven’t mentioned the flashbacks here because honestly there isn’t a lot to say. With the exception of one episode that showed Oliver home way before he should, everything else was bland and forgettable.
Hey, on a separate non Arrow note. Forces is officially up for pre-order here. It’s only £1.99 in the UK (other regions vary) but wherever you buy it, it’s cheap! July 31st is the day it will come out and be delivered straight to your kindle, and if you don’t have a kindle there’s an app you can get your phone. Because there’s an app for almost anything. It would be awesome if you could check it out, the second instalment is well on the way too.