Season premieres are generally utilized as tools to set up the real conflict of a story yet to unfold. They make a point to tease at the year’s villain, creating a reality for our heroes that eases them into a greater battle to be fought episodes down the way. Rarely do you see a show hit the ground running the way Arrow did for its Season 4 premiere this week.
When we last saw Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), he had left his superhero persona behind to settle down in the suburbs with the incomparable Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards). Not surprisingly, all that unraveled in less than a few minutes during the season premiere.
The newly renamed Star City is (as always) in peril. Covert operatives are raiding weapon supplies, and then disappearing without a trace, all while the city falls into complete ruin. The Arrow is presumed dead, while Thea, Laurel, and Diggle take to the streets to try and stop these “ghosts.” Finding themselves overmatched, they call on Oliver to come out of retirement and help them fight. Right about here is where most season premieres would call it good and let the rest of the season do the talking. Arrow affords us no such relief.
We’re quickly introduced to our latest villain, Damien Darhk, as he waltzes into a room of city leaders to kindly inform them of his plans to destroy Star City. Later on, we see him exhibit the ability to kill a man with a single touch, telepathically stop arrows, and put on Neal McDonough’s general air of blue-eyed menace. The episode wraps up with our titular hero (finally) adopting the “Green Arrow” moniker, the reveal that Captain Lance is reluctantly in league with Darhk, and a six-month flash forward to Oliver in tears, grimly standing over an unmarked grave.
The flash forward tells us one thing: Someone’s going to die this season, and we probably aren’t going to like it. The fact that it happens directly after an adorably romantic scene between Oliver and Felicity hints that the latter of the two is doomed. Even with this, Arrow has been nothing if not insistent that death is far from permanent in this universe. Some examples:
- Thea was killed by Ra’s al Ghul in Season 2, only to be resurrected an episode later.
- Sarah Lance will be similarly resurrected this season following her death at the hands of a hypnotized Thea last year.
- Ray Palmer died in the closing moments of Season 2, but given his status as a founding member of the Legends of Tomorrow, we know that cannot to be true.
- Oliver died at the hands of Ra’s al Ghul, but was inexplicably brought back soon thereafter.
Permanently killing off a fan-favorite like Felicity would have some not-so-great repercussions for a show that sold her so hard for its first three seasons, although it’s entirely possible the flash forward was a bait-and-switch. We still haven’t seen the name on the headstone, and it wouldn’t be the first time Arrow threw us for a loop.
We’re just one episode into the new season, and already this one’s promising to offer far more continuity and consistency than the last. Season 3 was marred by a scattered tone and oddly-placed standalone adventures. With the stakes set early and often in the premiere, it would appear as though these problems will be addressed this time around. The Flash may have outstripped its predecessor in terms of quality after just one season, but Season 4 could very well put Arrow back on top if it keeps going at this rate.
Follow Nick on Twitter @NickNorthwest
More from Entertainment Cheat Sheet:
- ‘The Flash’ Premiere: 5 Shocking Events That Will Shape Season 2
- ‘Sleepy Hollow’: 4 Reasons to Watch This Fox Drama
- ‘Arrow’: Everything We Know About Season 4
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