After the relative epicness that was the Arrow season 2 finale, the archer and his band of buddies are back to keep Starling City safe. We hope. It’s something of a chore, as we keep finding out. But if you were worried that the start of season 3 would be as calm as its title suggests, don’t worry—we’re not even close to downtime.
Thar be spoilers for the premiere below, so don’t peek if you’re not caught up!
Starling City almost fell apart at the hands of Slade’s ‘roided up warriors at the end of last season, so it’s something of a pick-me-up to find out that Oliver’s crew has been cleaning house in style since the last time we saw them. Crime is down, morale is up, Roy’s new sidekick costume is envy-worthy. Problem is, Oliver is still poor. So he should probably get his company back. Good thing he has a Felicity to help. Wait, except that doesn’t work. They still really don’t address what everyone is going to do for money, which is probably something they should do quickly. Felicity is on her way to a better job, clearly, but I doubt she can support the whole team on her salary alone.
The flashbacks this season are going to be set in Hong Kong, with Oliver at the not-so-tender mercies of Amanda Waller, but precisely where that is headed is a proper mystery. She has him holed up with a family there, the Yamashiros, but if Oliver’s vague hints to Felicity are anything to go by, there is more to them than meets the eye. It’s unclear if Oliver can trust them or not, and that is likely to be the crux of the flashback sections this year.
Diggle is dealing with new fatherhood and all the uncertainty that comes with it. By the end of this episode, he seems committed to staying safe so he can be a dad to his new baby girl, but we know it’s never so clean cut. What’s more, it would be awful if Diggle was sidelined this season because A) he’s awesome, B) he’s a very helpful second opinion when Oliver is being a jerk, and C) he is awesome. Speaking of his being helpful when Oliver is feeling a little pig-headed, he’s the one who keeps prodding Oliver to go out with Felicity, which finally happens. Of course, it does not turn out well.
The shipping games they play on this show are interesting, even if they do being to wear after a while. If you like the idea of Oliver and Felicity as a couple (*raises hand*), this episode might have felt like a bait and switch. Oliver has had the same crisis before—deciding he wants to take a shot at a relatively normal personal life before some shooty-bad-guy thing happens and he realizes that he can ONLY EVER BE THE ARROW, ARRGHHH.
This conversation might be more interesting if he didn’t always change his mind on a dime. It only ever takes one bad thing to make Oliver Queen throw his hands up in the air and decide that his manpain takes precedence over everyone else’s choices. He does this to Diggle by benching him (though Diggle later agrees with him once he sees his baby), then to Felicity by dangling a relationship in front of her and yanking it away as soon as their date is interrupted by explosions. Hopefully this isn’t the end of this conversation—the show needs to make the balance of being the Arrow and being Oliver Queen a part of the show’s overall narrative regardless—but it would be nice to see them engage it a little more consistently, instead of this endless back and forth.
Then again, it is likely that the decision to immediately ruin Oliver and Felicity’s first shot at romance is just a big set up to Oliver getting all jealous when Ray Palmer tries to snatch her away from him. It’s kind of hard to get a read on Brandon Routh’s portrayal so far, unless he’s intended to come off as some combination of awkward and smarmy. He trips over himself too often to be suave, but he’s also aggravatingly overconfident. It will be interesting to see where the show takes him; comics fans will know that Palmer is the alter ego of the Atom, so the assumption would be that he’s destined to take on a more heroic role (or at least a lovable mad scientist sort of role). But currently, he’s just being a pain. And trying to rebrand Starling City as Star City—it’s actual name in the DCU. And taking over the Queen family legacy without any indication as to what he really wants with it. Fingers crossed for Routh—any former Superman deserves good material to play with.
Roy is on the back burner this episode, but he seems to have stepped into his sidekick role pretty cleanly. There’s no word from Malcolm Merlyn or Thea Queen yet, so most of his development probably coming down the pipe. Instead we have a lot of drama coming from the Lance family (it’s what they do): Laurel is firmly back on her feet and putting away the criminals Oliver nabs, but her pops doesn’t know when to quit and keeps going out to solve crimes at night against his doctor’s orders. It’s for the best initially, since this presence prevents Oliver from getting taken down by Vertigo, but then he almost dies of a heart attack. It would be sad to lose Captain Lance, but he’s not making this easy. Unless something changes, it’s likely that we’re going to have to let him go.
It’s still weird that Vertigo (taking place of the Count, ha) is basically using Scarecrow’s fear drug, but we’ll take what we can get, I suppose. Just calling him Vertigo seems a little silly, is all.
But the episode was clearly planning to lead with its parting shot, which sees Sara return for a brief stint to Starling City to lend a hand and say hi to her family. After giving Laurel a hug and telling her to get lost, she is promptly murdered and falls off a building a few yards from where her sister is walking. (I think we can assume Ra’s al Ghul did it? This seems like where we’re going.) So we get to watch Laurel crying over the dead body of her sister, and sure, in comics people come back to life all the time, but that was a pretty solid death unless they’re planning on bringing in the Lazarus Pit and doing some freaky stuff, so you know what, no, not okay, SHOW, YOU BRING BACK CANARY, YOU BRING HER BACK RIGHT NOW.
I guess that’s one way to start a season.