Arrow – Season 3 (TV, 2014 – 2015)
Showrunner: Greg Berlanti
CW’s most successful comic adaptation since ‘Smallville’ has thrown a lot at us this season with this third season offering bigger story arcs and higher stakes than before. This tense season has featured a number of romances (not all lasting) and deaths (also not all lasting), now poising the show to give birth to another spin-off.
With ‘Arrow’ I’ve not always been sure about the dual timeline structure that the episodes take, the past segments are often not linked in a clear way to the present, though they come in line more understandably by the season end. This season was the same, possibly even more so. Though they add insight to Oliver’s past and the threats they are facing, often these scenes just feel like a hindrance to the dramatic tension and development of the present action.
What helps save the show however are some huge character transformations. Characters have really developed a lot this season, and while some leopards can’t change their spots, characters can don new outfits and personas. There’s also been some excellent drama thanks to the brilliant antagonist Ra’s al Ghul played superbly by Matt Nable, so well in fact that I would rank his portrayal up there with Liam Neeson’s in ‘Batman Begins’.
The conflict between Oliver and ‘Team Arrow’ against Ra’s and his League of Assassins led to what I think was one of the best mid-season break episodes I’ve seen in a very long time. It left things off on a superb cliffhanger, literally! In the same way the end of the season came to a dramatic pinnacle in the penultimate episode with little way out of peril, and while we know there must be a way, thankfully the writers made sure it was not obvious.
Biggest change to this season has clearly been the fact that ‘Arrow’ has a closely tied sister show now in ‘The Flash’. The two, while often tied in to each other, are nicely distinctive. Generally, ‘Arrow’ is often very serious and somewhat dark in tone while ‘The Flash’ is much more light-hearted and while matters do get serious there are moments of humour and levity throughout as Barry Allen is a much more fun character. This season of ‘Arrow’ has had medieval-looking locations, while ‘The Flash’ usually stays very modern. Despite these tonal and aesthetic differences, their team-ups work partly due to the fact that by bringing a little of each other’s tone and look to the other show it adds either needed gravitas or lightness, freshens things up, and on the whole the mix works.
Their team-ups have proven so successful that the new show springing from them ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ rather than focussing on one single hero, will be a much more equally able team. Hopefully this show’s new offshoot will prove to be as enjoyable as those that have given birth to it, and if this season of ‘Arrow’ is anything to go by, there’s a lot of potential there for something really fantastic.