My take on ‘Arrow’ season three

As much as I will attempt to add constructive criticism, I am afraid that this post is doomed to spiral into a full-on rant about how terrible the show has become and how disappointing this season was for me.  Needless to say, I am done with this show.  I was a bit skeptical in the beginning of the season, my interest wavered in the middle so I pondered quitting, and then I was so done with it by the end I wanted to quit then and there, but I decided to just push myself to the end and finish the season.

The biggest problem I had with the show I will go into later, after covering the more general stuff.  Firstly, the whole season was a mess with subplot after subplot, a whole lot of meandering, and so many filler episodes.  The pacing was so horrendous – everything was a mess and there was so much wishy-washy flip-flopping that everything is just a huge blob in my head. There was the subplot of who killed Sara, the subplot of the bald soccer coach from ‘She’s the Man,’ the random arcs with A.R.G.U.S missions, that filler episode of Cupid who was basically a discount Harley Quinn. I outright scoffed at the line that Cupid is crazier than Harley Quinn – please.  Cupid is any insane stalker teen with obsessive tendencies in this day and age; I found nothing special about her.  And the jump from Oliver saving her from the train to Diggle informing Oliver she became the latest addition to Suicide Squad was not smooth at all.

Another problem with the show is that there are too many “They died – oh wait, nope they did not!” deus ex machinas.  How many people are going to die only to come back alive?

Another issue I had was that there was just too much exposition and dialogue in the episodes.  At first, they served to make things deep and to shed light on feelings, identity crises, and more, but these themes became repetitive.  So many lines were recycled and so many times, characters retold things that the viewers already knew because they already witnessed it unfolding.  Whenever characters came together for one of these “deep conversations,” I started to just fast-forward past it.  This could have been resolved if there were more things going on in their respective lives.  There was nothing going on besides the main conflict at hand.  In season one, there were the Tommy-Laurel love line, the Moira-Walter conflict, the Thea drug problem, the Tommy-turning-a-new-leaf plot, and other things to keep things juicy. In season two, there were Laurel’s problems with addiction, Moira’s attempt at redemption through mayorship, Thea’s maturation through club ownership, and more. In season three, there was really nothing going on in their personal lives – it was all about fighting and Felicity’s mess of a love life.

The motives behind the characters’ actions made no sense.  Merlyn using Thea to rope Oliver in to helping clear his name with Ra’s Al Ghul made no logical sense whatsoever. Merlyn beat Oliver multiple times, so what made him think Oliver had what it take to defeat the great Ra’s Al Ghul?  Oliver used Thea as an excuse to go to Nanda Parbat and save Merlyn, so she wouldn’t have the blood of her father on her hands; this was a weak excuse to go so out of his way to save someone so duplicitous.  Later, we find out he actually felt bad about being beaten by Ra’s Al Ghul and wanted a second chance, admitting to his egotistical decision.  Awareness and admittance of this does not excuse the lazy writing, dear writers.  Perhaps by this time, he knew he was going to get the offer to be the next Ra’s Al Ghul – either way, everyone was behaving on weird motives, emotions, and reasons that made me go, “What? Why? Wait, what?”

Going off that, it made no sense that Oliver would be the perfect replacement for Ra’s Al Ghul.  I scoff at the show’s attempt to make him seem god-like in his fighting skills.  I won’t buy it for a minute that his 5 years away from society plus the two or so years fighting as a vigilante gave him greater abilities than someone like Nyssa, who literally trained all of her life in one of the best and most dangerous group of fighters in the world; not to mention, she is the daughter of the current Ra’s Al Ghul. Let me just say puh-lease.

Going off that, the League of Assassins is supposed to have the best fighters in the world, but they continuously get beaten by the hands of Diggle, an army veteran; Laurel, a new vigilante with only months of real training not counting her self-defense classes; and more.  Additionally, I mentioned in the previous review that Sara gets beaten way too often for being a member. Well, this time, she dies at the hands of Thea, someone who’s trained for mere months and was under the influence of an herb or drug or whatever. Even if Sara was surprised and taken unawares by the appearance of Thea, her natural reflexes would have done something so as to prevent her from dying so easily. How are we supposed to be in awe of the power of this great enemy if we’re not even convinced they’re that great?

Continuing on the Sara train, even Sin could tell from a far off distance that the Canary was not Sara, yet the sisters’ own father could not tell it wasn’t Sara but Laurel.  Perhaps it was denial.  That seems foolish, though. One last remark, it’s hilarious to me how on every show, the women get blonder and blonder each season (I’m lookin’ at you Laurel – and I’m not talking about the blonde wig as Black Canary!).

All right… so maybe I should get to that now.  That’s right.  I was surprised to read that I was not the only one thinking this way.  I thought most people loved Felicity and would defend her, but turns out many people got fed up with her this season.  I think in most part, it was the writing of the character, but I do think in some part, it was also the portrayal of the character through the actress.  I looked up “Felicity” and what came up immediately for me in Google was “Felicity Smoak Annoying,” and I’m very glad it’s not just me who could not bear this character in this season. By the end, I kept wishing over and over she would just die already.  I mentioned before that she was starting to be too outspoken and fierce in the second season, which was quite different from her portrayal in the first one, but I didn’t realize how far it would go.

In this season, she became an unbearable, emotional bundle of self-righteousness that kept trying to force her beliefs on other people and force them to follow her rules based on how she was feeling.  I really liked her in season one, I still liked her (although not as much) in season two, and I downright hated her guts in season three.  There was just way too much of her in the show.  She was a sniveling, whiny, emotional wreck head-over-heels for Oliver, who didn’t know how to use those feelings to drive her toward a specific goal or improve as a person.

I believe not a lot of people are a fan of Laurel, either, but I actually prefer her to Felicity by a lot.  She’s not only the better actress but she’s also the better character because she’s always striving to better herself and look out for the city first – she’s always testing her abilities and pushing herself to become a better, stronger person, much like Thea this season.  While those two women continued to become stronger and tougher, Felicity was a pathetic child.  Even when angry, her voice was shaky with emotion, not steady with conviction like Laurel, and I think this is at the fault of the actress.  I got very sick of her acting style – fast.  There’s an unnatural, forced element to it so that she’s easily outshone by the other actresses, reminding me she was only supposed to be in one episode.  Looks like she was not ready to carry a show.

Moving on, she’s by far the weakest female character despite the show trying to portray her as strong and forward. When she told a member of the League of Assassins, “Don’t you dare touch me,” I honestly just wished she’d be beheaded on the spot.  Where does all that self-importance come from?  She’s not even that great of a computer whiz – multiple times she was outsmarted by the enemy, and the enemy are always made to be ruthless and cunning, but not people who majored and excelled in computers like she did.  Can’t they find someone better, to be honest?

She’s the weakest female character because her greatest concern and conflict always have to do with her love life.  Now this is definitely the fault of the writers.  Laurel is about her career, herself, her family, the city – she has more depth and more going on in her life. Felicity is seriously all about her love life.  Even the filler episode dedicated to Felicity with her mother visiting had to do with her past love life as an ex-boyfriend comes into the picture.  On the other hand, Laurel had a beautiful episode dedicated to her when she was victim to the new version of Vertigo.  She fought her sister and her dad – or her feared images of the two – and rediscovered herself not as Canary but as Black Canary.  Also, Laurel fought way better in the first season… She had some moves when taking on that man at some party. Now she just throws punches – can we give her cooler moves, please?

They keep trying to give Felicity god-like instincts, too.  She wouldn’t believe Oliver was dead or that he was brainwashed – the show really became all about Felicity and how “wonderful” she is, how much she loves Oliver.  The whole Olicity thing is total bullshit. There’s no chemistry there. I hate when shows and movies try to pull off the whole, “I think I actually fell in love with you the first time I saw you.”  How do we know Oliver really loves Felicity?  How many women has he loved and confessed to already?  He’s loved Laurel, Shado, Sara, and then Felicity.  He’s slept with more, like the crazy business lady in the former season. This man is just super easy. He shows great respect and love for women, which is nice, but he’s really not a particularly hard man to win over. What lady on the show hasn’t he fallen for or slept with besides his sister and women who are already taken like Lyla and Tatsu?  I can’t buy that he truly feels something special for Felicity compared to the other women he’s already been with.

Her relationship with Oliver was really all that was important to Felicity. Even when they were all trapped in the dungeon by Ra’s Al Ghul, she was only concerned about Oliver’s pending marriage to Nyssa (whom I love by the way).  She’s all, “I can’t believe Oliver is going to marry her,” and Malcolm’s all, “I’d worry more about coming out of this alive,” which made me do a “Thank you!” but she doesn’t learn, because later, she makes a “honeymoon” dig at Oliver. This is really not the time, get your shit together, Felicity.

A few other problems I had with the season were Ray becoming a total idiot thinking he knows so much more than Arrow and is so much greater than Arrow when Ray isn’t even a full superhero yet.  That was uncharacteristically cocky of him.  Also, when he fights Roy and Arrow, the hilarious thing is he knocks Roy against a fence, but Arrow just defeats him, says some cool words, then strides off all macho without even helping Roy… Great partner, there.

In a plane of fifteen or so assassins, how was there only one parachute? How come Ra’s Al Ghul was after Merlyn because of his trying to destroy the city with the earthquake machine, which “breaks the code of the league,” but he attempts pretty much the same thing with the Alpha/Omega outbreak at the end of the season? Those are just small, petty complaints, but how come every season finale seems pretty much the same – some massively destructive force is out to destroy Starling City?  It’s like deja vu, and it gets boring after…. the third time.

Maseo gives Oliver the pass card to the A.R.G.U.S field office, but they’ve been on the run for a while now – how was that not deactivated already? And remember how I joked that Felicity’s long-lost sister might as well appear in this soap opera of a TV series?  Well, Shado’s twin sister made a random, unnecessary appearance, so there’s that!  Close ’nuff.

If Ra’s Al Ghul is supposed to be so great, how come he is so bad with his kill shots?  Or kill strokes, or whatever?  He stabbed Oliver in a place that gave him a fighting chance to survive, and then later, he’s all, “Ohhh you’re the prophecy come true.”  Why not stab him in the heart?  Pretty much the same with Thea.  He meant to revive her, but he could have really killed her. He really likes that ambiguous area of the chest.

One good point of the season was that some comic relief came back later on in the series, but the show definitely could use more of it.  Another was that it definitely does a good job with the cliffhangers, making you want to watch the next episode, but not good enough that I’m willing to take on the fourth season.

I’m really glad I’m not the only one who got so fed up with the sniveling, pathetic lady who took over Felicity’s body. You can check out the post and comments for this old petition, because these people make good points, too.  I really hope they kill her at some point.  Sounds extreme, I know, but that’s how terrible the character’s become.  Anyway, I’m so done with this series – it’s such a shame that it had great potential but was rendered a total mess.  Sara was probably like, “Ah, thank goodness I got out of it when I could.”  Thank goodness, indeed.

What did you think?

-Annie

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