Holy spectrum of emotions!
The "Arrow" season 4 premiere was everything we could have wanted from the new season. It launched a new chapter in the story of Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and his band of heroic vigilantes by introducing magical villain Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough). It gave us happy Olicity — and the dynamic was even better than we imagined.
And it left us with one terrifyingly compelling question: whose grave will Oliver Queen be left standing over seven months from now? (Don't say Felicity! Or Diggle!)
Here were the biggest moments from "Green Arrow."
Olicity is everything.The CW
Guys, Olicity is the most adorable thing to ever adorable. We got (adorable) mid-day sex romps. We got Oliver (adorably) trying to nervously propose using souffles. We got 192 (adorable) smiles from Oliver Queen which, according to my statistics, is a roughly one million percent increase from the previous three seasons.
The episode picks up five months following the events of the season 3 finale — i.e. Oliver and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) driving off into the sunset to be happy. And they totally were. They have traveled the world. Oliver has gotten great at cooking. (Felicity has not.) And now they are living the domestic life in the 'burbs.
Everything is perfect. Until Thea (Willa Holland) and Laurel (Katie Cassidy) come to ask for their help defeating the latest, greatest Big Bad who has made it his sole purpose to destroy Star City. (And it's not even May!)
Actually, it's more complicated than that. Because Felicity has been secretly helping Team Arrow behind Oliver's back. She misses saving the city. It gives her purpose and, when Oliver and Felicity are faced with abandoning their friends to try to defeat aforementioned Big Bad for the rest of the season, of course they decide to stay. And (adorably) move into Thea's former apartment together.
It's OK. They're going to get a rug to cover the spot where Ra's stabbed Thea. What could possibly go wrong?
Darhkness has come to Star City.The CW
I like my villains understandably-motivated and terrifying. "Arrow" succeeds with the latter of the two in its first face-to-face introduction of Damien Darhk. He is seemingly all-powerful, swaggering into Star City and driving what was already a struggling metropolis into an even faster decline.
According to Darhk: "Cities are like puppies — you see them writing in agony in the streets, you put them down. You don't let them suffer." I have different associations with puppies than Mr. Darhk does, but he definitely gets his point across. And when the city leadership doesn't support his Puppies (And This City) Should Be Put Down Initiative, he puts down the city leadership instead.
Darhk is aided by a band of cyanide-capsule-in-tooth-level committed men the rest of the city has taken to calling "ghosts." He's also aided by the fact that he appears to be a straight-up magician. When Oliver tries to stop his bombing of Star City Station, he stops the Green Arrow's arrows with a wave of his hand.
It's very scary, but Darhk's menace is somewhat undercut by the fact that he keeps leaving people alive. Rather than kill the city leadership in their meeting, he does it ever-so-slightly later. And, though he is obviously more than a match for Diggle and Oliver, he flees the train and lets them save the station.
I'm all aboard the mysticism bandwagon — I followed "Arrow" to the Lazarus Pit, why stop here? — I just hope the show commits to a system of mysticism logic from the get-go. Otherwise, this could all fall apart relatively quickly. And for a show that started very much grounded in reality — albeit a hyperbolic one — there sure are a lot of metahumans and magicians running around Star City these days.
The bro-fight rages on.The CW
Um, yeah. Diggle (David Ramsey) is gonna need more than five months to get over the fact that Oliver kidnapped his wife back when Al Sah-him was gunning for League Assassin of The Month.
Lyla and Felicity have forgiven Oliver for not trusting them enough to let them in on his plan with Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman), but Dig has not. And it's kind of great. As much as I want these two to make up, I also think the audience needs a surrogate for season 3 frustrations. And Diggle is that surrogate.
But, man, is Dig harsh, telling Oliver: "You don't trust. You don't love. You were able to fool The League because, inside, you are every bit as dark as they are." Tell that to the homemade souffle.
The worst part, though? Dig seems to be taking lessons from the Oliver Queen School For How to Lose Friends and Manipulate People. When Oliver mentions Darhk might be working with something called H.I.V.E. (dun, dun, dunnn!), Diggle purposefully withholds the fact that H.I.V.E. killed his brother. Valuable information. Withheld. Total Oliver Queen Move.
It's understandable given what Diggle has gone through with Oliver, but it's also compellingly tragic to see Dig pick up Oliver's worst habits just as Oliver seems to be dropping them. Speaking of which...
Thea may be going mad.The CW
You know how Thea got dipped in the Lazarus Pit and brought back to life last season? Yeah, apparently that has repercussions. (Thank god. Otherwise, why isn't everyone swimming in that thing?)
In many ways, Thea has just returned from her own "island." Diggle even points out that she is just like Oliver was when he returned from Lian Yu — i.e. overly-aggressive, teetering on the edge of control. She is addicted to the violence of the vigilante lifestyle and almost kills one of Darhk's lackeys before Oliver stops her. If Diggle has picked up Oliver's dropped habit of keeping people in the dark, then Thea has picked up Oliver's former habit of using violence to solve all problems.
In other news, Thea and Laurel are now roomies, which warms my female friendship-loving heart. If only we could have gotten a scene of them discussing Oliver and Felicity's return. Le sigh. For now, I will have to make due with allusions to female friendship rather than actual text that supports its existence.
Lance is working with Darhk.The CW
What the what?! I have to admit: I did not see this coming. In a last minute twist, we learn that Lance (Paul Blackthorne) is helping Darhk and H.I.V.E. Easy money says Darhk is coercing Lance in some way — most likely by threatening Laurel — but who knows? This seems totally out-of-character, but I'm willing to go with if only because it is something plot-wise for Lance to do. "Arrow" doesn't usually seem to know what to do with him.
Plus, secretly working with the season's super-villain? A total Moira Queen Move. And I miss Moira Queen. A LOT.
Oliver is back on Lian Yu.The CW
We're baaaack. And by "we," I mean "Oliver." And by "back," I mean "on Lian Yu." It's a bit like running into an old friend that you didn't expect to be happy to see, but you kind of are? However, you're still not sure if you want to hang out with them again for any extended period of time...
TBH, nothing much happened in the flashbacks, which were more-or-less treading water until the big reveal. (Get it?! Treading water? Because Oliver was shipwrecked on Lian Yu!) Oliver is a proto-Arrow vigilante-type in Coast City for awhile before Waller shows up, tells him to embrace the darhkness (yep, we're spelling "darkhness" like so now and you should, too) inside of him, and promptly drugs him.
I feel for Oliver, I really do. Dude's got the worst luck in the history of luck. But maybe don't share a drink with Amanda Waller if you can avoid it?
Anyway, Waller's men literally kick a parachuted-up Oliver out of a plane and onto Lian Yu where he is tasked with "assessing the threat." Upon landing, he is promptly hit in the head with a gun butt and asked to introduce himself. Geez, for a "deserted" island, Lian Yu continues to have a lot of people running around it.
Someone Oliver loves will die in seven months.The CW
OK, now for the real twist-in-the-gut. The episode ends with a seven-month flash forward to Oliver standing over a fresh grave, numb with grief. Barry shows up, apologizes for having missed the funeral, then leaves Oliver alone to cry.
Um, what?! I'm trying not to freak out here because this scene was definitely transitioned to from a close-up on the engagement ring Oliver is intending to give to Felicity, so it was pretty much implied that it was Felicity in that fresh grave. Which. Um. Yeah. There are no units of measurement yet invented to describe the amount of tears I will cry if Felicity's death occurs.
Something tells me that there may a) a way of avoiding this tragic eventuality, b) a way of bringing the anonymous loved one back to life, or c) a Fake Death Reveal (this show love its Fake Death Reveals, and so do I) that leads into next season. But we shall have to wait and see. In the mean time, I'm starting a Kickstarter to fund the construction of a Star City Lazarus Pit. Just in cases.
Whatever the explanation, I am giving major kudos to the "Arrow" writing team for imagining this season premiere-ending scene up. I literally just wrote an article about how "Arrow" missed so many great opportunities for dramatic irony in season 3. This episode opener was gloriously heavy with them. The flash-forward gravestone?! The Lance/Darhk reveal?! I can't wait to see what happens next...