Arrow Season 3 Review: Right on Target

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Arrow doesn’t get as much credit as it deserves. It’s easier to see now what the show is that we have The Flash and Daredevil to compare it to, but standing back and looking at the entire third season, this series is pretty remarkable.

This year, Arrow sacrificed some of its darkness to match The Flash‘s bright and sunny tone and feel cohesive to the DC universe that the CW is trying to build. The show’s second season was already heading in this direction, but season three solidified the shift.

This was a season full of the supernatural and one that allowed every character to wear a costume at some point. Yes, even Felicity.

The greatest work Arrow did this year was on its supporting cast. It used to be a chore to watch Laurel and Thea, but they both became strong superheroes over the course of the season. Laurel took up her sister’s mantle as Black Canary, while Thea took up Roy’s and became the Red Arrow. By the end of the season, Arrow felt like it was using its entire ensemble to their highest potential.

Of course, to allow these characters to grow and become the heroes they were intended to, Oliver had to take a bit of a backseat. The show did that by having him question what fate he intends for himself as the Arrow. Oliver doesn’t give himself a chance to live this season, refusing to be with the one he loves and no less than two times going into a fight with Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable) with no intention of coming out alive.

Ra’s made for a great season-long villain, with Nable giving the character a better treatment than most of the series’ villains get. The League of Assassins took Oliver out of Starling City for multiple stretches of the season and gave way for the supporting players to make a name for themselves.

This is how Arrow became less about the story of one man and more about the legacy and power of superheroism. Combine that with the show finding a sweet spot between the darkness of Daredevil and the cheery tone of its sibling series The Flash, and we got the most entertaining but also emotionally satisfying superhero show on the air. What more can you ask for? Grade: A-


Some Other Thought Bubbles:

– Standout episodes for the season include “The Magician,” “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak,” “The Brave and the Bold,” “The Climb,” “Left Behind,” “Midnight City,” “Uprising,” “Suicidal Tendencies,” “Public Enemy,” “Al Sah-him,” “This is Your Sword,” and “My Name is Oliver Queen.” Yeah, there were that many.

– Though there were some low points. The two that immediately come to mind are how long it took for Laurel to tell her father that Sara died (again) and Roy’s awkward departure from the series.

– Besides Ra’s, some other cool new villains introduced this year were the second Count Vertigo, Cupid, and Brick. As for returning villains, Malcolm Merlyn and Nyssa al Ghul both had a great presence throughout the season, while Deadshot had a great one-off arc in “Suicidal Tendencies.”

– But the runaway new hero character was easily Brandon Routh’s Ray Palmer, a.k.a. the ATOM. It’s no wonder the CW locked him in to headline the upcoming spinoff Legends of Tomorrow.

– Well, that’s that. Thanks for reading all year and I look forward to reviewing season four in the fall. It looks like this could be a very different show then!


By Matt Dougherty

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