6 Thoughts on the Third Season of Arrow

The third season of Arrow came to a dramatic conclusion last week, with Oliver Queen making some pretty major decisions about his life. Season 3 has been a rocky one, but I enjoyed the heck out of it. Arrow is still one of my favorite shows on television and you better believe I can’t wait to watch DC’s TV universe get bigger and better.

So much smoldering sexiness!

I’m no good at reviewing TV shows, especially episode-to-episode. So when a season of one of my favorite superhero TV shows is over, I like to do a roundup like this. You can check out my lists for the first and second seasons of Arrow. As for the third season, like I said, I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t as good as the previous season. Could it be because the creative team was split up in order to make The Flash? Who knows!

Join me after the jump to see my thoughts on the third season of Arrow. And feel free to share your own review in the comments below.

6. Not as great as season 2, but still pretty great

A season highlight!

Season 2 of Arrow was amazing television. Deathstroke was a truly memorable and monstrous threat, and watching Slade actor Manu Bennett tear apart Oliver Queen and his family was high quality entertainment. The Arrow rose up as a true hero, his supporting cast solidified, and the whole thing was just wonderful. But Season 3 just didn’t live up to those lofty heights. I still enjoyed the show, but it just wasn’t as good.

The villains never rose to the same level as Deathstroke. No matter how much the show tried, R’as al Ghul and the League of Assassins never mattered as much as Deathstroke’s personal war on Oliver Queen. And while I really liked Ollie’s team at the start of the season, a lot of time was spent tearing them apart, which wasn’t as entertaining as the show runners probably hoped. Some people on the Internet have written about how Felicity Smoake, once the show’s breakout character, was reduced to mostly crying about Oliver this season. That was definitely a bummer.

She has all the feelings!

I read another article that pointed out that the death of Moira last season, and the loss of Queen Consolidated this season, took away the important grounded elements of Arrow. I would definitely agree with that. Oliver no longer had to worry about protecting his family or his business. Everybody in his life, every aspect of his life, were tied to his work as the Arrow. Not even Thea’s club mattered all that much anymore. And when you take away the human aspects of your superhero story, the show is definitely going to suffer.

But overall, I still liked this season. I liked Oliver and Roy as Arrow and Arsenal. I loved the early stuff with R’as al Ghul and the League of Assassins. They were truly amazing through most of the season, before becoming straight up villains in the end. I especially enjoyed Ollie’s sword fight with R’as in the mid-season finale. That whole thing was amazing, and probably a series high point. And then I also loved watching Roy, Diggle and Felicity struggle to continue on after they thought Ollie was dead. Considering how much I enjoyed Arsenal and Arrow‘s treatment of sidekicks, watching him step up to be a hero and save the Glades from Brick was pretty awesome.

Of course, Ollie then had to come back and ruin everything. Arsenal had it under control, dude!

5. Nyssa is my new favorite character

She should get the damn League!

Nyssa al Ghul, played by Katrina Law, quickly became my new favorite character on the show. She just got so much more interesting once she actually started spending more time with the cast. Of course, her ascension to awesome character came at the cost of losing Sara Lance. That was an utter waste of a great character. Sara was one of the best part’s of season 2 and killing her was a bad move (so I’m glad she’s being resurrected for Legends of Tomorrow!).

But Sara’s death brought Nyssa into the fold, and there was just something kind of amazing about her scenes with Laurel and Capt. Lance. I don’t know what it was, but I just loved Paul Blackthorne having to simultaneously accept that not only did his daughter have a girlfriend, but said girlfriend was also an international assassin. That the two of interacting as civilians was one of my favorite parts of the early season. Laurel helped keep Nyssa grounded throughout the rest of the season, and Nyssa’s overall anti-hero status was generally cool. She wasn’t a member of Team Arrow, just an ally they loved to hate. I hope she’s back for Season 4.

Of course, it helps that actor Colton Haynes apparently wants to head off to Hollywood. I absolutely loved what Arrow was doing with Arsenal throughout the season, and I would have loved it even more if Colton had stuck around. But the guy is free to do what he wants with his career. I’ll suck it up, because the show isn’t done with Red Arrow yet either…

4. Thank God they told Thea something!

The face of a woman who needed to know

I totally approve of Thea taking over as Red Arrow/Speedy/Arsenal there at the end of the season. She didn’t get to actually do too much in the final set of episodes, but having her take over as Starling City’s vigilante, carrying on both Ollie and Roy’s legacies, is a pretty neat choice for Thea.

Of course, the better choice was made earlier in the season when everybody FINALLY told Thea the truth about her brother! I was tearing my hair out through the first half of season 3 as everybody kept lying to Thea! They’d passed the point of making any sense a long time ago, and keeping Thea in the dark was a disservice to the character and the show. She’d already gotten involved with Merlyn, and everybody else knew, so Ollie lying to Thea just didn’t work anymore. So thankfully they told her and Thea immediately reacted with all the coolness and maturity we’d come to expect from the character.

As we saw with Iris on The Flash, leaving one character in the dark while everybody else knows the secret is a surefire way to cripple that character.

3. Atom didn’t fit/Black Canary was fine

It was super important that his mouth remain unprotected

Did you know that the Atom was actually supposed to be Blue Beetle in season 3? The show runners wanted to have Ted Kord (as did I), but they were told by WB higher ups that there were other plans for the character (where?). So they forced the Atom into the Ted Kord role, turning him into an Iron Man knock-off. I didn’t particularly care for the Atom or Ray Palmer this season, though I’ll admit that Brandon Routh was pretty entertaining in the role. He had a very cool, quirky charm that worked well. But as a superhero, he definitely stuck out like a sore thumb in the more grounded world of Arrow.

It also just didn’t make much sense that billionaire Ray Palmer would just up and decide that the best way to respond to his girlfriend’s murder was to build an Iron Man suit to specifically fight crime in Starling City. There are other cities out there, you know. There are lots of ways a billionaire can help out.

On the flip side, I actually liked Laurel as Black Canary.

At least she’s not Oliver’s love interest

Like everybody else, I didn’t care for her in season 2. But if we were going to lose Sara Lance, having her sister step up to take her place was pretty cool. I liked that Laurel had to struggle to become a vigilante. She wasn’t a fighter, and even though she started training, she didn’t immediately become a badass — though I remain skeptical that she would ever be capable of fighting multiple League of Assassin members at once, like she did in the final episodes.

2. Hong Kong was largely unnecessary

Just a lot of this

I think we can all agree that the flashbacks in season 3 didn’t really amount to a whole heck of a lot. Yes, they eventually tied into that bio weapon at the end of the season, but largely they were just about Oliver running around Hong Kong. It didn’t help that I really dislike the show’s Amanda Waller, and she played a major role in the Hong Kong scenes, at least in the beginning. I did like Karl Yune as Maseo and Rila Fukushima as Tatsu though, so I suppose their connection to Oliver’s present day troubles was important to establish. But the death of their son was telegraphed early, and they too suffered from the whole Hong Kong storyline being largely unnecessary. Some weak efforts were made to tie Hong Kong into Oliver’s brutal transformation into his season 1 self, but it just didn’t accomplish as much as it should or could, in my opinion.

1. I was completely in favor of Ollie joining the League of Assassins

An offer he shouldn’t have refused

I might be alone on this, but I absolutely wanted Oliver to take over as the new R’as al Ghul. Until the very end, the League of Assassins was actually pretty cool. In that mountaintop sword fight, R’as was a man of honor. He knew what Ollie was doing and let him do it anyway. He was quite honorable throughout, actually. I could have done without a prophecy making him choose Oliver as his heir, but he seemed to be very gracious about the whole thing. At one point, he even told Oliver he could have the League’s assassins stop killing, if that’s what he so wanted. That sounded like a good idea to me.

Oliver Queen takes his mission global as he rises to the head of the League of Assassins. His operations in Starling City had done a lot of good, but he’d lost his family, lost his company and lost his money. He could have easily stepped up as the new Demon’s Head and used his position to bring justice to more than just Starling. He could have brought Roy, Diggle and Felicity along with him. It would have been awesome.

Traditions I can support

But then R’as and the League had to turn into evil jerkwads in the end. That brain washing came out of nowhere as Oliver apparently had to let go of his former self and his former friends. What’s up with that? Merlyn seems to be himself just fine. He joined the League and eventually went back to his old life. Then R’as turned petty and angry, and he wanted to wipe out Starling City with a bio weapon. Why’d you have to go and do that? I know you’re R’as al Ghul, but you seemed so cool in the beginning!

Oliver would have made a great R’as. I’m just sayin’.


What did you think of season 3? Great season? Or has the show lost touch? Who were your favorite characters? What were your favorite moments? Let me know in the comments!


About Sean Ian Mills

Hello, this is Sean, the Henchman-4-Hire! By day I am a mild-mannered newspaper reporter in Central New York, and by the rest of the day I'm a pretty big geek when it comes to video games, comic books, movies, cartoons and more.

Posted on May 20, 2015, in DC, Lists of Six!, Television and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. 6. Ollie joining the League of Assassins made sense to me too. If it wasn’t for destroying Starling City, marrying Nyssa against her will, and the weird brainwashing to kill an imaginary Diggle, it wouldn’t have been a great plan.

    5. Captain Lance became the bad guy and he won. That was awesome. I agree that for the most part, the villains of season 3 were pretty lousy. Brick was nothing. Ra’s started great, then became weird. Laser Eyes was a Flash Villain who got lost. The jury is still out on Captain Boomerange. And Merlyn was a very difficult fit into the show. Is he good? Is he evil? Can we trust him? Etc. But Captain Lance was a villain I could believe in. His daughter dies and she was killed by the super villain from season 1 who is also alive and being protected by the Arrow and nobody tells any of this to Captain Lance. He should absolutely be pissed! He has every right to team up with Ra’s al Ghul, expose the Arrow, and arrest everyone with a mask. Up until his heel turn, Captain Lance had absolutely no agency over his own life. So when the truth finally comes out, he decides to seize control of his life and his city. That’s villainy I can get behind.

    4. Maseo and Tatsu were pretty great. If you took their story as an entirely separate entity to Ollie’s journey, it worked really well. Their biggest problem was that their story was interwoven with a lot of stuff that had nothing to do with them. But a Japanese secret agent moves his family to Hong Kong to work for ARGUS. They fight a mob boss intent on creating a virus to wipe out the whole city, but just when they’re about to save everybody, it turns out ARGUS was evil all along and they’re the ones planning to unleash the virus. So Maseo and Tatsu team up to stop ARGUS and protect their son from the virus. But they fail and their son dies in Tatsu’s arms while she sings him to his sleep. Maseo gives up and joins the League of Assassins; abandon’s his name and his wife. But 5 years later Maseo is going to unleash the same virus on a new city and Tatsu must draw her katana once again. She fails to stop the virus a second time and in the process kills her husband. He dies in her arms and she sings him to his sleep. I thought that was an amazing story and it’s only real problem was that it was stretched out and stuffed into a show about a kidnapped rich dude who shoots arrows.

    3. Ollie’s “Death” was awesome. All of it: the fight, the Arrow Team on their own, the return, it was all amazing television.

    2. What a waste of Suicide Squad! The episode with them rescuing the senator and Deathstroke and Cupid was really bad. It boggles my mind that over on Flash, they’re making Vibe one of my favorite characters, but Arrow is dropping the ball on Deadshot. This episode came out around the same time some of the movie photos were coming out. And now I’m looking forward to the movie more than the show…which was not the case up until this episode.

    1.Diggle’s wedding was awesome. You’re right that without Moira or Queen Consolidated that this show just sorta dove into the hero stuff pretty deeply. This wedding was an excellent chance for everyone to be cool out of costume. It was your mantra (people first) made manifest. And actually Diggle in general was MVP this season. A lot of this show has characters doing some pretty dumb things most of the time. But Diggle constantly remains the voice of logic and reason. He’s such a good guy too. Let’s get him a mask…if for nothing else, it’ll make the mask-less moments that much better.

    • Oh man, when you put the Hong Kong storyline that way, it is pretty amazing! Ollie was just getting in their way the whole dang time.

      And you’re definitely right about Diggle. He’s a pretty solid guy and carried as much weight as he could in season 3. No complaints on him.

      I likewise though that Suicide Squad episode was pretty lackluster. Cupid was a solid addition to the team, but why the heck kill Deadshot like that? What a waste of both the character and the team.

      • According to rumors since they are making a Suicide Squad movie with Will Smith as Deadshot WB told them they couldn’t use the character anymore, which is bullshit.
        So rather than have the character just disappear they killed him.

      • Awwww man, that’s too bad. I mean, it makes total sense, but sucks for Arrow.

  2. I also love Laurel as Black Canary, but maybe for different reasons. One are where Season 2 did not deliver was making Laurel a respectable character. Her alcoholic romp was so silly, that I couldn’t take her seriously, especially as she suddenly decides to become a superhero. But when Laurel became the Black Canary, she did cool things, but the show didn’t try to force us to think, “wow, Laurel is such a badass.” She’d try to face, like, a single mugger and get her ass kicked. It was hilarious. In every fight, Laurel took a bunch of hits – like she was just some girl in a costume that the superheroes let tag along. Even in one of the last episodes, Laurel has to be saved by Nyssa by a single mugger with a knife. This was great.

    And then she takes on multiple League Assassins at once. WTF

    • I was a little dismayed when almost everybody took on multiple League Assassins at once, but with Laurel especially it was hard to believe. But you’re absolutely right about her growth as a superhero. I’m so glad they didn’t make her an ultimate badass right away. She had to earn everything…though it all remained a little silly. It definitely felt like she was play-acting, especially in the beginning.

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