Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Arrow Blu-ray I reviewed in this post. The opinions I share are my own.
Arrow‘s fourth season was a bit scattered, to say the least, and took a lot of flack from fans for some of its creative decisions. Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Felicity (Emily Bett-Rickards) are seemingly living the quiet life, happily in the suburbs, but the emergence of new threats and lack of leadership in his former team brings the happy couple back to Star City.
One of the biggest rising threats that requires the Green Arrow’s return is DC Comics villain Damien Darhk, played with exuberant camp by the great Neal McDonough, who is clearly one of the highlights of Season 4. While this version is not the over-the-top villain of the comic pages, Darhk was definitely a viable threat that the writers attempted to make more three-dimensional and McDonough made almost every line seem fun.
Unfortunately much of the season seemed distracted by other story line priorities such as Oliver Queen’s run for mayor and setting up the Hawkgirl (Ciara Renée) and Hawkman (Falk Hentschel) story for DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. But as a bonus, the set does include The Flash episode Legends of Today, which is the first part of the two-part episode that concludes on Arrow with Legends of Yesterday.
Season 4 also suffered from a tedious on-again/off-again romance between Felicity and Oliver that clearly reached a boiling point with fans. Felicity has been a very likable character for a good portion of this show, but the cartoon-ish family story line they gave her this season and the constant back and forth with Oliver continually hindered the heroes from doing what the fans want to see: them kicking ass in their roles, instead of giving ultimatums and fighting among themselves.
The flashbacks this season are no picnic either and deal with Oliver’s return to the island for Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson). Oliver goes undercover with a gang of mercenaries keeping slaves to hunt for an unknown object. The scenes are slow and drawn out way too far into the season, but they do provide an awesome episode with John Constantine (Matt Ryan reprising the role) that pleased DC Comics fans, as well as those of the canceled NBC show Constantine.
Arrow still excels at stunts and actions sequences and Season 4 still provides plenty of the punches, kicks and booms. Amell really puts himself fully into this show and you can tell he’s gladly taking a beating for the character. Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) also became the new Ra’s al Ghul this time around in a wasted story line that didn’t utilize the character or the actor in a satisfying way.
The season is also most notable for a shocking, unexpected death that drastically changes the dynamic of the show, as well as the comic book history. Much was made online about this decision, but I will say it was pulled off fairly well when they stopped dragging it out, even though I might not love the general idea of the character loss itself. But obviously there are loose threads purposely left open and these characters exist in an expanding multiverse, so it’s tough to believe any death will stay permanent forever.
Arrow: The Complete Fourth Season on Blu-ray definitely didn’t skimp on the special features that supplement a sub-par season. My personal favorite is Smooth Criminal: The Damien Darhk Story that gives an extensive back story for the comic book villain and how he was adapted for Arrow. The featurette includes interviews with the writers and Darhk himself, Neil McDonough.
The set also features two Hawkgirl/Hawkman features, the first being Star Crossed Hawks, which centers on recapping the romance and history of the two doomed lovers over the centuries. Star Crossed Hawks: The Hunt for Vandal Savage gives a similar treatment to Vandal Savage (Casper Crump), who appears in The Flash crossover episodes as well as being the Big Bad in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.
Also included is the Arrow Comic-Con Panel 2015, which is nothing all that exciting, but a high quality version of the panel with a fun intro from the San Diego event. There’s also a Gag Reel that features some pretty funny moments from a cast that usually plays it very serious onscreen.
Lastly, the 23 episodes included (24 episodes if you count The Flash one) come on four discs in the Blu-ray set and each has deleted or unaired scenes scattered about the episodes. There’s nothing amazing or Earth-shattering in this clips, but the sheer amount of scenes provided is impressive and a very welcome addition providing much for the rabid fanbase to dissect and devour.
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A disjointed, uneven season sees as many highs as lows, but Neil McDonough wonderfully chews the scenery as Damien Darhk for most of the season's episodes. Additionally, the Blu-ray set makes up a bit for the sub-par season with some extensive and interesting special features and deleted scenes.