Arrow Season 4 Review

by JustRushOnce on September 24, 2016

Hi! I am a new reviewer on this site and wanted to explain my review process. For season/series reviews, I will give a overview of the season/series, reviewing it using segments before moving on. I will then discuss the characters one by one before moving on to judge the vfx or other factors. These reviews will be scored out of 10 with series reviews having the possibility of individual season scores. For normal week to week reviews, I will employ a similar style. I will discuss the episode and will highlight characters and performances I find important to discuss instead of reviewing every single character. These reviews will also be out of 10. My scale for reviews is: (1-2:Completely Disgusting, 2-3:Unwatchable, 3-4:Horrible, 4-5:Poor, 5-6:Mediocre, 6-7:Forgettable, 7-8:Adequate, 8-9:Good, 9-10:Great/Amazing)That's all folks! :)


When Arrow returned from its 3rd season, it had much to look forward to. After a lackluster finale, an uninteresting villain, and a forced love story, the show had to redeem itself. And to some extent it did in the first half of the season. But the structure of the stories slowly degraded into a less than enjoyable experience resulting in some of the worst episodes in the series itself. From the characters to action, Arrow severely struggled as it came to a close with a whimper.


Arrow began this season by establishing Oliver as a new hero in the Green Arrow. Besides the actual logic of the situation being completely ridiculous, the execution was not half bad. Having Oliver come back to a threat bigger than him and the city itself provided a decent conflict. In actuality, the first 12 episodes were pretty good, with quality ranging from great to okay. From Roy's return to Constantine appearing in this universe, the first 12 episodes served up some great content. The story felt tight, the action was good, and the characters felt relevant. The structure of the season though was in fact in reverse of what other shows do. Instead of focusing on the villain later in the season, Damien Darkh was a presence from the first episode, having an affect on most episodes in the first half. But the villain's presence in the first batch of episodes ended up hurting his appearances in the later episodes as the conflict felt drawn out and his final plan felt very weak. The genesis plot and the missile launch was too much for Arrow to accomplish and it resulted in Felicity killing 10000 people. The flashbacks were so pointless this season, there will only be one sentence on them in this whole review. Overall, the structure of the season was good up to the second half of the season, as the show failed to expand on the story set up and the villain itself. 

Besides the structure, tone was also a issue. Oliver picking up the green arrow mantel felt rushed and the tortured soul we saw in the past three seasons felt all but forgotten. The lighter scenes promised came in the form of comedy but the acting was not strong and it felt forced. 

Now most people where this issue is going to go. The most problematic issue of the show has to do with one character. And that character is Felicity Smoak. When felicity was introduced, she was a hacker helping out Team Arrow for one purpose. As the seasons went on, she became a useful ally to team Arrow and her chemistry with the other costars made her appearances a pleasure to watch. That all changed in season 3. I will say it out front but I am not a Olicity shipper/supporter. In fact, I am dead set against Oliver having any main relationship in the show as the writers failed to make any of the women appealing enough for a relationship to be warranted. Olicity in season 3 was dreadful as they set up a forced love triangle and created drama for the sakes of drama. Nobody really wants to see felicity move back and forth from Oliver to Ray. The end of season allowed all of the drama to be pushed away and a solid relationship to be formed akin to Smallville's Lois and Clark. And Arrow delivered a form of a constant relationship. Oliver and Felicity's romance was a small part of the episodes in the beginning and allowed Oliver to remain the focus of the show. That all changed after she was shot in episode 9. Her paralysis was a stroke of genius as it could have changed her character in a way that creates personal growth. Instead the producers reversed the decision in less than 5 episodes and ended up spitting in the face of real paraplegic people all across the world. The backlash after felicity's legs were restored to full function was humongous and the lack of a producer comment is startling. I personally have a friend who refuses to watch the show after such a poor treatment of a serious issue people face today. Another issue relating to Felicity was her family. The insufferable Donna Smoak returned for a recurring role this season having a major role in Olicity and it was bad. Just pure bad. Her acting was bad, the writing was bad, and she was completely pointless in the show. Arrow is about Oliver Queen, and while random appearances from a side character's family is appreciated for back story, they should not be a recurring character. Felicity's father also appeared in the season and may I say, I feel bad for Tom Amandes. Being a fan of Everwood, it was truly depressing to see how he was used. His and Felicity's hacking was also so poorly directed, the scene of them hacking into Damien Darkh's facility lends itself as being one of the worst scenes in network TV this year. The final issue with Felicity and her family deals with hypocrisy. Felicity has stated many times that lying to a significant other is okay and the reason behind the lying is important to consider. But she completely does a 180 turn on her beliefs and leaves Oliver even after people appeal to her saying that Oliver is not to blame. Donna Smoak also has many hypocritical moments with her relation with Felicity's father resulting in even more poor character moments. 

One of the most controversial moments of the season came in Laurel Lance's death. While Laurel initially was not the best character, she really grew into the role and Katie Cassidy gave a good performance in season 4, especially before she died. The episodes before her death featured some of the best moments of her on screen including some great Oliver and Laurel moments highlighting how well they know each other. But her death came and was completely unwarranted. Out of all of the characters, she had the most potential. But the producers killed her off and her death was one of the weakest moments in the show's history. The fact that her death was so poorly written fueled even more people into leaving hateful messages and leaving the show. Here is an excerpt from the Arrow Open Letter to Geoff Johns detailing how poor her death was executed. "Maybe it would have been justified if Black Canary had been given a story arc and development before she was killed, but that never happened. Marc Guggenheim has gone on record saying, “of course we can [kill the Black Canary]!” which is a statement of complete arrogance. Surely that is an action which is earned, and not a privilege? Black Canary’s death falls into the “Women in Refrigerators” trope, which is disrespectful to women across the world. This unplanned death shows how ill-prepared the showrunners are at performing their jobs. Their inability to plan what they called “a major death” shifted story lines and cut short story arcs. Characters were pushed to the side in favor of a relationship that they felt was more important than the death of a main character. This resulted in many problems, including a rushed and poorly finished arc for the Black Canary. Her death, combined with a focus on relationships over story, proves that Arrow has now diverged from its place as a comic book show, becoming a soap opera with costumes." If anyone would like to read more from this letter, a link will be provided here: 

The finale also created more drama within the fanbase as many were torn. I am on the side of that the finale was poorly executed but still I found some enjoyment in it. Oliver's speech was corny but worked for me personally. The fight scene, while it ended poorly, was cool to see. But Felicity's role was completely trash and it was unbelievable for any missile to be stopped by Felicity pointing her tablet to the sky. Also the ending was poorly conceived. Felicity remaining behind to help Oliver was completely unreasonable and made no sense. Any logical showrunner would use this time to separate herself from the team as she just killed a town. Due to all of these mistakes, Arrow ended on a literal whimper as the characters we knew and loved were gone.

VFX/Action Sequences/Set Locations:

Arrow suffered some major drawbacks from what people to believe is a budget cut. While the first half of the season was filled with various locations, the second half was mainly stuck in three locations, the loft, the bunker, and Palmer Tech. Also the action sequences were generally weak with some exceptions. James Bamford's episodes were a pleasure to watch but besides that, there weren't many episodes that featured prominent action scenes until Glen Winter came back to direct in which Oliver shot more arrows than most of the season itself. The grittiness that defined Arrow Season 1 and 2 was lost and in replacement came fighting based solely on the plot. Consistency was lost creating scenes in which Oliver would be losing to a foe who is weaker than Deathstroke, Ra's Ah Ghul, or even Malcolm Merlyn. Finally the VFX only had one purpose this season. And that was to create a green filter over the Green Arrow Suit. I understand why a green suit is unable to be created due to green screen issues, but this green filter was extremely obvious and very poorly done. 

  • Oliver Queen: His character arc was tough to nail but the end goal was achieved as he is closer to the green arrow from the comics than ever. But his use of darkness and light was over extensive in his speech. A highlight of his character was in 4x04. His conversation with Quentin was one of the best acted scenes in the past two years of Arrow. 
  • Laurel Lance: A character taken too soon. After having one mini arc that was decent about her sister, she was avoided and became a background character. I am truly sad that this character died with so much potential. You will be missed.
  • Quentin Lance: Lance had one mini-arc of being a spy for Darkh that ended up being over before the mid season finale. Otherwise he had a relationship with Donna which reeked of no chemistry and was pointless. But his scenes with laurel were always enjoyable and a treat to watch. He truly should have been in the grave as he has lived beyond his purpose in the show. 
  • John Diggle: This truly was Dig's year. He had three overall arcs (being mad at Oliver, finding his brother, and his guilt over laurel and his brother). He had some great moments and great action. His ending also made sense as he needed a break to find himself. If only his helmet was better.
  • Damien Darkh: Portrayed to near perfection by Neal McDonough, this character, while having a great charismatic presence on screen, lacked layers and was pretty uninteresting after his first couple of appearances. At least he will get a chance to redeem himself on Legends of Tomorrow. 
  • Felicity Smoak: While she was enjoyable in season 1 and 2, she has become the epitome of a mary sue. She no longer serves a strategic purpose in the team besides hacking which itself is a joke on the series. She had a disability arc which was a middle finger to anyone who is disabled. Her relationship with Oliver is toxic and should not occur in the future as she acts like a hypocrite with him.
  • Donna Smoak: I don't know why she is one this list. She is a pointless, waste of human space on arrow as she is hypocritical and only eye candy for the audience. She serves no purpose and wastes time in the story which is supposed to be about Oliver, not felicity and her family.
  • Curtis: I liked him and want to see where he goes.
  • Thea Queen: Like Laurel, Thea was sidelined. She was handed roy's identical plot from season 2 and didn't have any character development. Her relationships were pointless and she was more of a tool in Malcolm's plot.
  • Malcolm Merlyn: While this character is portrayed well, even john barrowman is tired of playing this guy. His phoned in performance is evident and Malcolm's constant switching sides becomes purely annoying. He needs to die or go through some severe character development.

All the actors are good people and I wish them no hate. I specifically hate how specific actresses are being targeted by olicity shippers. These actors are people doing a job and don't deserve death threats and constant stress over who their character on a tv show interacts with.


Arrow season 4 truly struggled to find its landing after creating an interesting first half. Its characters and action struggled with barely any remnants of the show I and many other people fell in love with. But even with its failures, the beginning half of the season showed some real promise and has some great moments. Hopefully Arrow season 5 lives up to the statements made by the producers and the actors. 

Season 4 Grade: 7.2/10



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