Before we begin; our pals at Warner Bros. have politely asked that I include the following message: “Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the DVD [or Blu-rays] I reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions I share are my own [or in this case Shane’s].” Moving on…
Welcome back creeps! My ol’ pal Shane from The Cathode Ray Mission has come a knockin’ at the door of the Crypt o’ XIII once again; this time he’s gonna give us his two cents on the new Blu-ray release of ARROW – SEASON 4!
ARROW – SEASON FOUR
- RELEASE DATE: Available August 30th on Blu-ray (Click Here to Purchase a Copy)
- WRITTEN BY: Various
- DIRECTED BY: Various
- STARRING: Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy, David Ramsey
ARROW SEASON – ONE was about as good as a first season could be; we meet Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), billionaire playboy of Starling City, who’s spent the last five years shipwrecked on the mysterious island of Lian Yu, and follow him on his journey home. Once there he rekindles relationships with family and friends (who thought him dead for five years), while he secretly wages a war on the rich criminals of the city as a hooded vigilante. Each episode also contained flashbacks to Oliver’s time shipwrecked and his struggle to survive; and this dichotomy made for a perfect blend of serialized television and gritty superhero action.
The following seasons upped the ante. Season Two added new heroes like The Canary and Arsenal and gave us a great big bad in Deathstroke; while Season Three is where things started taking a turn, adding Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) who would become The Atom (which brought a much needed lightness to the show which had been getting increasingly darker), but also taking much of the focus away from Oliver by focusing on Team Arrow. The team started out as a support team to Oliver, but by Season Three you have so many characters on the team it side-lined Oliver; and at times he got pushed to the side to tell tales of the other members of this overstuffed roster. Another problem in Season Three were the flashbacks (yup, the flashbacks stuck around from Season One); once interesting and action packed they began to go off the rails.
So, going into season four I was a little hesitant. Now I can hear you ask “Shane you TV guy you, after all that…how does the fourth season stack up?” Well; I’m gonna tell ya!
At the end of Season Three, Oliver and lady love Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) rode off into the sunset; giving up the hero biz and Team Arrow to live in Ivy Town. Season Four picks up with them enjoying suburban bliss. Meanwhile in Starling City (now called Star City); the remaining members of Team Arrow: John Diggle (David Ramsey), Laurel Lance aka The Black Canary (Katie Cassidy) and Oliver’s sister, Thea Queen aka Speedy (Willa Holland) have their hands full. A terrorist group called H.I.V.E., run by Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) is tearing the city apart. Before you can say “Isn’t this show called Arrow?” Thea and Laurel convince Oliver (who now calls himself by the more comic book appropriate name Green Arrow) and Felicity to come back to Star City to help them take down H.I.V.E. and Darhk.
Since the city believes the Arrow to have died, Oliver decides maybe the best way he can help the city is to run for mayor (as a plus, he can protect himself better than any of the previous mayors could) as H.I.V.E. has scared off the newest candidates.
As for Oliver’s cohorts; Diggle plots revenge on H.I.V.E. (as the group ordered the murder of his brother), Speedy struggles against a growing bloodlust (brought about by a dip in the famed Lazarus Pit of Ra’s Al Ghul…the big bad of last season), and speaking of the Pit, ol’ Canary wants to use it to resurrect her sister Sara (Caity Lotz), who was murdered last season.
In the flashbacks portion of this series, Oliver is sent back to Lian Yu by Amanda Waller to recon a shadowy organization that’s set up shop there. He meets a Russian prisoner named Taiana, and has his first run in with the mystical forces.
That’s a lot going on, but it can be boiled down to “Rebirth” and “Redemption”…for me that’s what Season Four’s main themes are. Oliver and Thea both had a bit of a rebirth last season with Oliver finding happiness with Felicity last year plus his run for mayor and re-branding as “Green Arrow”, and Thea literally being reborn in the Lazarus Pit. Both characters are looking for redemption as well; Oliver for sins of the past and betraying the team and Thea for the aforementioned blood lust (not to mention Diggle seeking revenge for failing his brother).
Season Four was a definite step in the right direction after last year; the tone was lighter and the story much more epic, but the real highlight this time around is Neal McDonough as Damien Darhk who was, in a word, fantastic. Darhk was a glib James Bond type bad guy with magical powers who just so happened to steal every scene he was in. That’s not to say there weren’t a few problems with him, such as his being basically plopped into the first episode with no real set-up (and his motivations are kept a mystery for most of the season). I also really enjoyed all the mystical stuff (a big part of the DCU) being brought in this year including the return of John Constantine to the airwaves.
Another highlight for this comic book lover was all of the great DC guest stars; Vixen, Katana, Anarky, Cupid, The Atom, Cutis Holt (the alter-ego of Mister Terrific), Hawkgirl, Hawkman, and Vandal Savage (which of course this was all a set up to LEGENDS OF TOMORROW, the spin off show which I reviewed right here). Speaking of LEGENDS, the set-up for the show slowed part of the season down a tad, but once that was done the season got back on track, more or less.
Speaking of “back on track”, the flashbacks this year where a whole lot better than last season’s. They weren’t as interesting or thrilling as the first two seasons, but they served more of a purpose (unlike last year’s Hong Kong shenanigans). And as much as the flashbacks were improved; the flash-forwards (yeah, it’s complicated) ripped my heart out and kicked it across the floor (though to say more would ruin the “fun”).
So the most of the episodes hit a bullseye this season, but that is not all that makes this set great…you also get a quiver full of extras (yeah, I just did that). We get four nifty featurettes; one about the Hawks, one on Vandal Savage, another on Mr. Darhk, and the Arrow 2015 Comic-Con panel. Plus we get The Flash episode of the crossover episode of the season, a gag reel, and a whole bunch of cut scenes.
This is a weird one. Was it as good as the first two seasons? No. Better then Three? Yes! As I said, I think they’re fixing the problems that cropped up last year, and if you’ve been following the show since Season One, you’re going to want this. The season had its ups and downs, but at this point I’m very invested in these characters and along for the ride…wherever that may lead.