Welcome back! Today we’re going to talk about the characters of Arrow, specifically season three. And so buckle your seatbelts, it’s going to get ugly.
[Images are taken from the Arrow Wiki unless otherwise specified.]
Oliver Queen/The Arrow
Oliver Queen’s main arc this season, from beginning to end, seems to be the question of identity—can he be Oliver Queen, or just the Arrow? At the beginning of the season, he decides that he can’t be Oliver—he has no money, no ginormous house, no company, and on his date with Felicity she almost got blown up. And as the season draws to a close, Ra’s al Ghul makes it much harder for him to be the Arrow by framing him for several murders and turning Starling City against him. Thus Oliver is eventually forced to take Ra’s al Ghul’s option, to become the Heir to the Demon. But Oliver rejects this and decides he wants to be Oliver Queen.
And… I suppose that’s alright? But it doesn’t come across very well. At the end of the day it doesn’t seem like he’s making the choice to determine his own identity as much as him deciding that he’s leaving fighting bad guys to the others and he just wants to ride off with Felicity. Because of how disjointed this plot is, it doesn’t feel like a well-earned break from crime fighting as much as Oliver just giving up and leaving. Given all the crap he went though, I guess I get it, but it isn’t as if it’s peace time when he makes this choice; it’s right after he kills Ra’s al Ghul. He quits pretty much as soon as the action’s over, and that leaves a weird taste in my mouth.
Speaking of Oliver killing, it seemed across the board this season. The second season dealt with how he felt he shouldn’t kill people anymore, as his best friend Tommy died thinking he was a murderer. In the end he refuses to kill Slade, because that’s not who he is anymore. At the end of this season, he kills Ra’s al Ghul and it’s not treated as any big deal, despite the entire character arc of last season being about not killing. It’s especially frustrating, because all of their problems would have been solved had they just killed Malcolm Merlyn when Nyssa suggested it, but instead Oliver refuses to for various excuses that are contrived by the Plot.
Also, Oliver’s kind of sexist this season.
I don’t think it’s what the people running the show wanted, but it certainly comes across that way. Whenever a male superhero comes up, he doesn’t seem to like it but he tolerates them fighting crime. When Laurel does? He keeps insisting that she doesn’t know what she’s getting into and refuses to teach her how to fight. When Thea decides to take initiative? He tries his hardest to reverse it because he doesn’t want his innocent little sister to do something she might regret. I understand that it might not have meant to be sexist—he only accepts Ray Palmer using the Atom suit to fight crime when he can’t appear in public and no one else can deal with the threat—but that his strongest objections come up when he’s dealing with women really makes it look like he just doesn’t think the ladies can keep up with him.
And finally his relationship with Felicity was upgraded from Ship Tease to full on TWU LUV, and that’s just annoying annoying. Lord forbid two people just like each other and start dating—no, it’s drawn out into a love triangle and tons of forced drama with a “Will They or Won’t They” and Oliver throwing fits of jealousy when she’s with Ray. It feels unnatural; last we saw him in season two, he just hints he might like her. In the first episode of season three, he tells her she’s the first person he really connected with when coming back to Starling City, which contradicts everything we’ve been shown so far.
What’s worse, all the other developed relationships suffer because of it. At the end of the season he calls Diggle his best friend, but they sure as hell haven’t done much together that makes me think that. His relationship with Roy, his protégé and all, is barely developed except for a couple of episodes. It’s Oliver and Felicity that matter the most and it was really awkward and cliché.
I never thought Felicity would be one of my least favorite characters in Arrow, but here we are.
My friend pointed out that she’s basically a wish fulfillment Mary Sue of a super-hot genius-level-smart nerd girl who apparently no straight guy has discovered, and that’s entirely possible. She even has the trademarked “quirky awkward dialogue” thing going on. But she was entertaining, because she felt in some ways like an audience surrogate in the first two seasons, bringing a level of civilian normality to Team Arrow.
Not so anymore! She gets an episode of interesting development, but after that it’s entirely about Oliver. Hell, when she’s dating Ray she says “It’s like dating someone with Barry’s brain in Oliver’s body.” She continually worries about Ollie, and when he seemingly turns evil she refers to him as “_my_ Oliver” in front of people who have known him longer. When Oliver is pretty much forced to either join the League of Assassisn or save Thea, Felicity seemingly doesn’t care that Oliver’s sister’s life is on the line, because if he becomes an Assassin she’ll lose him. And at the end of the year, when Starling City is about to be destroyed and Team Arrow is about to be executed and it doesn’t look like Oliver’s actually a good guy, what she’s freaking out about? The fact that Oliver’s going to marry Nyssa (a lesbian) in a clearly forced marriage of dubious legal standing.
Because clearly that’s the most important thing.
And she cries. A lot. She still has a few moments of funny dialogue, but she’s just there for drama now.
I know that characters have to evolve and can’t remain static. Yes Olicity shippers of Tumblr I get that. But Felicity’s development is almost entirely about her romantic relationship to a man. I would go so far as to say that’s all she cares about this season. That’s not okay.
Ray actually signs over Palmer Industries to her, and she didn’t even read the paperwork. She was like, “What’s this?” and he said, “Oh nothing.” And Felicity fans praise this as her being a strong independent woman who has her own company. But she’s not. She didn’t work for it, she didn’t try to do it, she didn’t even know she has the company. It’s just that Ray (her ex at this point) gave it to her because he felt bad, and so now it looks like she only got the company because she slept with the CEO.
Do I need to spell out how problematic that is?
Diggle, sadly, has not had much to do this season other than be someone to bounce ideas off of, despite being one of the best and most relatable characters. Ollie does something? Diggle talks to him about it. Or talks to someone else about it. That’s it. Past seasons dealt heavily with his enmity with Deadshot (whom he ends up working with and understanding, if not quite liking for killing his brother) and his connections with ARGUS. This round has him shoved out of the spotlight significantly.
Diggle takes lead in Suicide Squad episodes, for instance, because Deadshot’s in them, but this season has him go on his Suicide Squad quest episode, and yet Oliver still takes the spotlight away from him. It’s baffling.
It got so bad that tons of fans and critics were suspecting he was going to get killed off. He gets a daughter born (who my sister and I affectionately call the Digglet), gets married, and doesn’t have any ongoing stories brought up. The fact that we still haven’t figured out why Deadshot was hired to kill his brother didn’t change any minds (though it was revealed HIVE hired him to do it, and they’re supposed to be villains next season…. So hope for that?).
Hell, people are asserting that John Diggle might turn out to be John Stewart, the African-American Green Lantern. There’s no evidence for it other than him being black and having a past where he worked in the US military. Diggle fans are that desperate for him to be relevant, okay?
Roy Harper gets thrown under a bus this season, guys.
The season starts with Roy as Ollie’s crime-fighting costumed partner in red (which should make him Red Arrow, but they make him Arsenal because no reason), but he doesn’t have much to do in this story. There’s a bit where he has weird dreams that suggest that maybe he killed Sara, but it’s quickly revealed that it wasn’t him. That doesn’t stop Felicity from telling everyone he did before they get all the facts though (God damn it, Felicity!).
C’mon guys—this long time character has now become a costumed superhero. He needs more development. He should be one of your key characters, but instead many of us thought he would die because of how little his character had to do. He almost did too, because he takes the blame for being the Arrow when there’s a citywide manhunt and gets stabbed in prison.
Turns out that “being shanked in prison” thing was planned, but we (and Ollie) don’t know that until the end of the episode where it happens. And so we’re forced to watch as Team Arrow (except Oliver) throw Roy under a bus, and instead of suspecting something’s up, it comes across as Felicity and Diggle just not caring what happens to Roy. Given how obsessed with saving Oliver Felicity is this season (she tries to do the same for Thea), it’s not that implausible.
Throughout Roy gets some scenes with Thea, but they’re not really important other than showing us that they still have a relationship, and at year’s end when he hangs up the hood he gives it Thea, so now she can become a superhero.
We do get some more reassurance that Roy has huge guilt and self-esteem issues; upon finding out that he unconsciously killed a cop last season, Roy takes it upon himself to help out the family as an atonement for his perceived flaws. It’s an interesting idea, but like I said, he doesn’t get enough time to really shine on his own this season. It’s a shame.
I never thought that Laurel would be one of my favorite characters on Arrow, but here we are guys. She still has her failings (like not telling her father that her sister’s dead), but she decides pretty early in the season that she wants to fight crime as the Black Canary. When Oliver tells her that he refuses to train her, she goes to other people and gets badass training. Unlike almost every other character, we see her get her skills over time and lose in fights, instead of being an expert in only two or three episodes.
And she constantly calls out Oliver on his shit! It’s wonderful! Even when I disagree (like Oliver having a secret prison on the Island), it still gives her an interesting character. She has things to do! She teams up with Roy a few times and they make a great team!
Her not telling her dad that Sara was dead was stupid. Incredibly stupid. I don’t know why that story was done other than to create unnecessary drama between her and her father. There’s a point where her mother finds out, and she’s just like, “No, don’t tell Dad yet, I’ll get around to it.” No, that doesn’t work. It didn’t make much sense for her as a character, and it only served to make the Plot more convoluted. It easily could have been re-done or written around if you wanted that drama that badly.
Basically I’m saying she should have had more screen time and interaction with the rest of Team Arrow if she was supposed to be a major character, but as it is she did okay.
Thinking it over, I think I just decided that Quentin Lance is yet another character that didn’t have enough to do this season, which makes no sense at all because his daughter’s death kicks it off.
He’s there for the drama, basically. Earlier seasons had him hunting the Arrow for being a vigilante and working with him to bring down bad guys, but this season? Yeah, he works with Team Arrow for a bit, but mostly he’s there to get angry when he realizes that they’ve lied to him to cover up Sara’s death, and then try to arrest Oliver when he’s framed for multiple murders.
I get that his manhunt for the Arrow is supposed to be basically an excuse to act on his emotions of being betrayed about his daughter’s death, but it comes across pretty weakly. In the first season when a copycat archer is murdering people, he immediately overcomes his personal emotions and points out that it doesn’t fit the M.O. This time, there’s more powerful feelings involved, but he’s completely willing to jump on the idea that the Arrow became a crazed serial killer who would try to assassinate the mayor with no build up. It doesn’t make sense.
Thea in the past two seasons has been whiny, entitled and selfish. And I’m not going to say that goes away here completely—she starts the season talking about how Malcolm Merlyn has made her badass and therefore he cares about her and trusts her like no one else, though she does seem a bit wary about him. But after finding out that her brother’s the Arrow, she immediately apologizes for being so whiny the past couple of years, and upon finding out that Merlyn had her kill Sara, she flips and turns on Merlyn and blames herself for trusting him.
It’s an interesting character arc; it’s clear that the writers understood that making Thea a badass was not enough to make her character likable. They fleshed her out into an interesting person that audiences could root for despite having been a whiny brat the past two years. In the end, I’m surprised to say it but Thea Queen was one of my favorite characters this season.
That’s not to say there wasn’t wasted potential. When she’s seemingly killed by Ra’s al Ghul and he tells Oliver the only way to save her was a Lazarus Pit he had in his hideout, we’re told that the pit changes people and that she might not come out the same. She gets in the water, comes out screaming and only remembers bits and pieces, but the next day she seems absolutely fine and it’s never brought up again. That’s a wasted storyline.
And her new skillz still don’t stop Oliver and the rest of Team Arrow from trying to coddle her. Diggle insists that Thea will freak out and hate Oliver if she finds out he’s the Arrow. When Oliver finds out she sold out Merlyn to the League, he decides to storm Nanda Parbat get back Merlyn not because he’s necessary in any way, but because he doesn’t want his sister to have killed the lying scumbag because he’d feel bad about that I guess. Honestly, all of the guys on the show seem like they’re trying way too hard to protect her, and by the end of the season she shows she doesn’t need it. Hopefully next season we won’t have that crap.
Lyla Michaels Diggle
Despite being the wife of one of the main characters, she doesn’t do that much. I figured she’d have an expanded role after last season’s finale, where we find out she’s pregnant, and this season had her and Diggle get married again. Half the time she’s out on ARGUS business, which makes sense, but we don’t get to see at work that much. But she basically just shows up for ARGUS scenes and sometimes when her husband’s at home. The last half of the season the only thing she does is get kidnapped by Ollie pretending to be evil.
She’s badass in the scenes she does have though. I just would have liked for her to have been given more screen time. There’s no glaring inconsistencies or issues other than that.
Ray Palmer/The Atom
Acts nothing like Ray Palmer. That’s because he was originally going to be the previously-much-hinted-at-in-previous-seasons Ted Kord, who would have built himself a supersuit and become Blue Beetle. But the bigwigs at DC Entertainment decided they might want to feature Blue Beetle in a movie, and because they’re assholes, prevented him from being used on the CW show. Despite them being different continuities specifically to avoid this.
So Ted Kord/Blue Beatle was hastily re-written into Ray Palmer/The Atom. And he ends up reading like a knock-off of Tony Stark/Iron Man, what with being an insensitive billionaire inventor who talks fast and has a set of power armor that flies and shoots energy blasts.1 He’s amusing to be sure, bringing some snark and light-heartedness to a season that desperately needs it. In his first few episodes though, he can kind of come across a creepy jerk though, in his pursuit of Felicity.
Which kind of brings to another point: Ray Palmer is partially there just to make a love triangle. It’s kind of heart-breaking for him though, once he realizes that his girlfriend is madly in love with Oliver, but you wonder why he didn’t figure this out before considering Felicity is hardly subtle with how she feels about things. He also, for no apparent reason, tricks her into having the company passed over to her, which is really weird because there’s nothing to suggest she’d be any good at it (tech savvy =/= business savvy) and now it looks like she’s only CEO because she slept with the last one.
Ray is clearly supposed to be a foil for Oliver: cheerful while he’s broody, tech smart while he’s street smart, et cetera. But he ends up being much more likable than most of the characters this season (in part because he’s played by Brandon Routh, who was great) who happened to be unlucky enough get in the way of the popular ship Olicity (Oliver x Felicity). I have hope that he’ll get better treatment in the spin-off, but in this season he’s not much more than a comic relief from the stupid, and only when he’s not written into a scene for unnecessary drama.
Ra’s al Ghul
The leader of the League of Assassins, the Demon’s Head, arguably the greatest assassin alive and one of the DC Universe’s greatest fighters is… disappointing to say the least. It might be because of the acting, in which Matt Noble was trying so hard to channel Liam Neeson, and ended up sounding like he doesn’t care about anything. But I honestly think it’s more due to the fact that his writing is so inconsistent that we have no idea what it is he actually cares about. Unlike in Batman Begins we don’t get an explanation what the League is for or why it kills people, only vague hints, and Ra’s changes his motivations and traits at the drop of a hat.
We’re told he wants to kill Merlyn for breaking the Assassin code of honor about killing innocents in the first season, but then has no problem killing innocent people at the end of this season. He tells us that he doesn’t care about Sara’s death because she never truly committed to the Assassin cause, but then he does when the Plot needs him to become a threat again. He’s shown time and time to be an amazing swordsman and martial artist beyond any other character, and yet he’s killed by Ollie pretty easily in the season finale without any explanation.2 He’s been after Merlyn to punish him as a kind of murderous heretic for years, but then lets him go when Ollie comes to rescue him as a sign of good faith after he announces that Oliver will be his heir. And despite the League’s supposed mission, he keeps ranting about Damian Dahrk and HIVE and their evilness, in order to foreshadow next season’s villains. And most infuriating of all, he helps prop up the Olicity ship, as when Oliver accepts the offer to be his heir, Felicity walks up to him and whines, letting Ra’s respond with basically him telling her to bang Oliver while she has the chance.
The show uses Ra’s al Ghul to move a relationship along. Think about that for a second.
Ra’s al Ghul is one of the greatest DC villains to use. And yet here he’s completely wasted. The audience has no idea what the guy is like because he keeps changing. He doesn’t become an actual threat until the Plot contrives a way to make him so, and though his first fight scene was incredible to behold (he utterly destroys Oliver in their duel), it can’t make up for the utterly inability to make him work as a villain.
Nyssa al Ghul
[This image is from Comic Vine.]
Oh right, the lesbian Assassin.
Nyssa doesn’t have a ton going for her this season. Her girlfriend gets killed, her father replaces her with a man (Oliver), and tries to force her into marriage with him. And yet we also get to see her relax and act like a normal person when she’s Laurel’s fighting teacher, and then we see her panic when she finds out that Oliver seemingly accepts his position as Heir to the Demon. In short, we see a huge range from her, and she becomes a really well-rounded and sympathetic character.
She’s fairly active in the Plot too. When she finds out Sara (who she considers the love of her life) is dead, she immediately goes after Malcolm Merlyn and wisely assumes he’s the one who did it. When she discovers Oliver will be sent by her father to take her out, she starts preparing and arms herself for a last stand. When her father makes her marry Oliver, she smuggles a dagger to the ceremony and tries to kill him, and it’s implied she’s considering killing herself as well.
And considering how full of grief she is over everything, she’s pretty reasonable. She takes pity on Laurel and encourages her training, eventually becoming her new fighting teacher. When Thea confesses exactly how Sara died, Nyssa straight up tells her it’s not her fault.
And yet where does this season end Nyssa? Bowing to Merlyn with the entire League of Assassins, because he’s in charge now.
Yup, the man who killed the love of her life is now her boss. She’s clearly not happy about it, but the fact that the writers thought this was something she would actually do is beyond the reaches of sanity. Yeah, sure, she could be playing the Long Game and waiting to take him out, but that’s not how Nyssa works—she’s confident and rash, not manipulative or scheming.
So her ending this season is outright disgusting: the sympathetic, heartbroken badass assassin is made to kneel before one of the men who took everything from her, and had little role in the final battle with her father who disowned and humiliated her.
Malcolm Merlyn/Dark Archer
Past seasons showed him as being a sociopathic monster, torn by the death of his wife (partially because he wasn’t a great husband and father to begin with). His son Tommy died at the end of the first season, but he never seems particularly torn up about it. But this season tries so hard to make him a sympathetic character, and it keeps failing. We get a flashback where he comes across as a loving father and husband before his wife’s death, despite that contradicting earlier implications the show has made. Several scenes try to show us how much he cares about his daughter Thea, despite him mind-raping her into killing Sara just to blackmail Ollie. There’s even a scene where Roy comes forward and claims that while he’s a douche, he’s only a misguided douche, and his plot in season one to destroy the Glades (the poor neighborhood where Merlyn’s wife died and Roy actually lives) was only “just trying to help.”
It’s also pretty clear that we’re supposed to see him as this clever schemer who always gets what he wants, but Merlyn is an awful manipulator. Him killing Sara had awful repercussions: Thea hates him and outright tries to have him and herself killed, Oliver nearly got killed and he just got back in the crosshairs of the League of Assassisn again. At the end of the season he becomes the next Ra’s al Ghul by chance more than anything else, mainly because Oliver fixed the situation and that was his price for working together. It basically falls in his lap; he didn’t kill Ra’s, but the Assassins bow to him because the only thing that marks his authority is Ra’s al Ghul’s ring, a McGuffin that was never hinted to have any significance until the last episode of the season.
I think the writers kept him around because they love John Barrowman (which is understandable), but c’mon—he just waffled around the season’s Plot making things worse for everyone and smirking smugly about it.
[picture from The Wrap]
The former vigilante-turned-boxing instructor Ted Grant shows up to give us an arc on Laurel training. But his tenure is cut short—when the show came back from winter hiatus, there was a huge fight where he got injured. Was he supposed to be dead? Was he crippled? Is he fine? We don’t know; no one tells us. He’s never brought up again though.
Ted does seem really cool though, but the episode dedicated to developing him falls short because so much of it is Oliver being a dick. Basically someone is framing him for murders and saying that because he was a vigilante called ‘Wildcat’ that it must be him, despite him having alibis. Oliver instantly assumes he must be behind it all and takes issues with Laurel talking to him, condescendingly telling her that she doesn’t know jack shit and she’s clearly got a thing for Ted (despite there being no indication that Ted and Laurel’s relationship had any romantic or sexual tension).
Ted was awesome, and I’d love for him to come back and kick ass. It’s entirely possible that he’s supposed to be dead though.
[image from IGN]
Ah yes, Maseo. The pinnacle of wasted storylines. I mentioned in the comments of the last article that it felt as if the writers hadn’t quite worked out what they wanted to do with the season? Maseo embodies that. He starts out as a flashback-only character, showing Ollie around Hong Kong and helping his missions there. But we find out that after his son died he became a member of the League of Assassins codenamed “Sarab” (“Phantom”). He’s a sympathetic member of the League, loyal to the Assassins but trying to reason with Oliver.
And then he’s not. Because in the second half of the season, he switches around so much it’s dizzying. Maseo gets Oliver to his wife after Ra’s beats him so he can heal, and when Assassins come to investigate, he kills them in order to help protect Oliver. But when Ra’s offers Oliver a position as his heir, Maseo strongly encourages him to take it, insisting that soon he won’t have a choice. But towards the end of the season we see him help Team Arrow fight Ra’s’s goons, and then turn around and follow the Demon’s Head without question until his death. It’s as if there was a redemption arc planned and then scrapped, so as it is it looks as if the guy can’t make up his mind as to what kind of guy he is and who he cares about. In the end, he is completely committed to the League of Assassins and is killed by wife Tatsu in a duel to the death, insisting that “Maseo is no more!” as if he was a clichéd Sith Lord.
[From the DC Wiki]
IS AWESOME YEAH
Unfortunate that she doesn’t do much. Tatsu shows up in the flashbacks to be there and be that person who distrusts Oliver but then helps him and then mourn over her son’s death. But in the present, she’s even more of a plot device. She goes to heal Oliver with BS tea in a cabin when he gets nearly killed by Ra’s al Ghul. Then she shows up at the season’s end to convince Team Arrow that Oliver’s not evil (despite none of them having met her, something they tell her to her face), and then helps them fight the League. When captured, Ra’s just takes a look at her sword and says how amazing it is. At the end of the season she leaves to God knows where.
Rumor has it that DC Entertainment banned her from being used more so she can be in the Suicide Squad film, which is a shame, but she’s still reduced to a plot device to move the story along. It sucks.
We find out that Amanda Waller was the one who took Oliver from the Island to Hong Kong, and we also find out that she was the Bigger Bad who hired Fyers to take out that airplane; not to stage an international incident, as Fyers claimed, but to kill China White, a minor villain who apparently she thought was important enough to risk an international incident to kill. We also see Waller telling Ollie to torture people for information, which was pretty sketchy. She acted basically like a villain in the few times she showed up.
But you know what? That’d at least be interesting, having Waller as a villain. Instead, she walks on screen to boss people around to immoral things for global security then strolls out, having relatively little effect on the story. And one of her final scenes has her wounded after General Shrieve attacked, making her look pretty helpless, which I don’t think is something that should ever be used to describe Amanda Waller.
Barry Allen/The Flash
Next to Oliver, Barry was a breath of fresh air. He’s genuinely likable, and not broody or hard to get along with like Oliver is. But more than that, when he came in the story just felt like it was more fun, even when it was downright silly or weird. I liked Barry in his own show, and I like him in this one.
I did like how sometimes he’d talk to Oliver and show him that he doesn’t have to be the violent angsty vigilante, and how that seemed to take hold on Ollie, despite Ollie usually being the one to mentor Barry. I liked their friendship whenever it came up, so I’m hoping he’ll pop up every now and again in the next season.
Well maybe. He dies in an explosion, so if the writers tried hard enough, they could work a way around it, but rumor has it that DC Entertainment demanded it so that the character wouldn’t be confused with the version in the upcoming Suicide Squad film in which he’s played by Will Smith (see a running theme here?).
But yeah, he only gets one episode this season, in which we get his sympathetic backstory as a war veteran with PTSD. Then he gets killed. Which is a shame, because we still don’t know why he killed Diggle’s brother (other than HIVE hired him to do it and he didn’t ask questions) and he was an interesting character that added to the dynamic of the Suicide Squad. I’m pretty bummed that he’s dead.
On the other hand, they’d already done a lot with him considering he’s not a major Big Bad, so at least in this one case, it seemed as if you could argue there wasn’t much left to do with the character that wouldn’t have taken time away from other plots. So… it’s a mixed bag.
Slade, in his one episode, helps prop up the Felicity x Oliver ship. Go figure.
Okay, so he was going on about how Oliver alienates the people he loves and gets them killed, then mentions Felicity. So it wasn’t as bad as Ra’s al Ghul, but I really hate how that ship was done so it stick out to me like a sore thumb.
He’s depowered and so only shows up for one episode as a one-off threat, and many people (including Slade’s actor, Manu Bennet) were disappointed for how he was taken down by Oliver and Thea, but given that he’s off of mirakuru and has been locked up for months, I didn’t mind so much. I thought he worked well enough. But I do hope he comes back again to kick ass. He at least had clear motivations that didn’t change with the Plot.
The Big Bad of the flashbacks, who uses the super-virus that Ra’s al Ghul later gets his hand on in order to attack Hong Kong because… he hates the Chinese, or something? Honestly, I don’t know and I don’t care. The guy’s just some military jackass villain who barely makes things interesting. Shrieve is introduced, and then not soon after it’s revealed he’s planning to unleash a virus on Hong Kong because Reasons. So yeah, he’s an asshole, but there’s no character traits that make him stick out. He’s just boring.
I use the term ‘wasted’ quite a bit in this essay, but that’s really what it amounts to. It seemed that so many characters were distorted or pushed out of focus in order to tell the story the writers wanted to tell, which didn’t actually make sense. I understand that they wanted to do something different than previous seasons, but in the end it all got jumbled and garbled into nonsense that fumbled to find its footing. A few characters emerged alright, becoming more developed and interesting against all odds. But overall, your average viewer was probably beating his or her head into a wall at the sheer ineptitude the characters were forced to have in order to make the Plot move.
Next time, in our final look at Arrow season three, I cover Themes and Ideas. We’ll see how that goes.
1 This is to be fixed in the upcoming spin-off Legends of Tomorrow in which he gets his actual comic book power of shrinking.
2 Despite the suckiness of season three, the fight scenes are all pretty good. Except for the final one with Ra’s al Ghul, which is just ‘meh’ as if the stunt coordinator gave up, and since both Ra’s and Ollie are wearing identical Assassin outfits at the time, it’s impossible to keep track of who’s winning most of the time.