Arrow has developed a reputation for being a dark and grounded look at the DC Comics universe, an aesthetic that truly sticks out now that we’ve seen the more “light” and “fun” side with The Flash. However, as Oliver’s journey from vigilante to superhero continues, so does the series’ slant toward a more comic book feel.
That’s not to say that Arrow has gone all soft on us. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. While things have surely gotten better for Oliver and company – crime is at an all-time low, the cops are no longer hunting The Arrow, Oliver and Felicity are starting to explore their romantic feelings for one another, and Diggle will soon be a father – it doesn’t take long for things to start going to hell.
Season three picks up five months after the events of the season two finale. Starling City may be enjoying a reprieve from crime sprees and terrorist attacks, but it and its citizens are still recovering from Slade’s attack. Personally, I appreciated this development, as it helps the show feel more realistic and demonstrates that the things that happen actually have weight. Too many series are hyper-focused on the core group of characters that they seldom take a step back and look at the normal citizens and how what happens on the show effects them. While we don’t see a lot of that in the premiere, the seed has been planted and I’m sure that Starling’s “rise from the ashes,” as Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) puts it, will factor heavily into the proceedings this year.
The episode starts off with a bang, and drops us right into the action of Oliver and Roy in costume in hot pursuit of a truck full of weapons. Diggle and Felicity are also offering a hand and showing that the team dynamic has never been better.
While it’s great to see Roy suited up as Arsenal (though no official codename was given in the episode) and in more of a traditional sidekick role, rather than as the Mirakuru-raging hothead he was for most of season two, he still wasn’t given much to do in this episode, as much of the hour was devoted to focusing on the core group of characters: Oliver, Felicity and Diggle.
Ironically, as things get better, Oliver has begun to doubt how effectively he can be both the Arrow and Oliver Queen. He’s lost his company, his mother has been killed and (unbeknownst to him) his sister has run off with her father, Malcolm Merlyn. Other than as a way to keep up appearances, there arguably isn’t a need for there to be an Oliver Queen, logically anyway.
Yes, Oliver can’t just devote his life to being a vigilante, but he’s having a hard time putting those he cares about in danger. We see that when his date with Felicity gets blown out of proportion (literally) and when he dismisses Diggle because he’s about to be a father. Diggle eventually thanks him for that decision, but I fear that things with Felicity will be especially hard for him this year, especially if she winds up in the hands of the swarmy and powerful Ray Palmer.