Season 3's overall story feels a bit unfocused at times, but it still has several strengths and I'm so anxious to see how it'll end. You've done an amazing job redeeming Thea and Laurel, Matt Nable is killing it (both literally and figuratively) as Ra's al Ghul, Vinnie Jones' Brick was good fun, and the crossover with Flash was so full of awesome. To be brutally honest, there's a lot of issues with this season (sorry, I still can't get over how easily Oliver recovered), but one thing has many of us concerned about the show's future: the frequent parallels to Batman's story. At times, this show almost feels like "The Dark Emerald Archer Knight." Look, I totally get it. Batman has this rich mythos that's packed with interesting characters and Green Arrow's rogues gallery has been, well, to call it "lackluster" would be putting it nicely. But now that the show's a success and it has established a fan base, how about you delve deep into Oliver's universe and do what you can to flesh those characters out instead of pulling from Batman's world? It's not like there's a lack of good Green Arrow stories out there to draw from, after all.
*There's obviously spoilers in here.*
Here's the thing: no matter who you select as the big bad (okay, assuming it's not someone like Condiment King), odds are we're going to tune in and hope for the best. You could use Bane in the next season -- a direction that myself and many others wouldn't be happy with -- and the fact is a majority of us would still watch and hope it's excellent. Ra's al Ghul's inclusion gives us a better look at what the CW-verse has to offer and you've done a great job capturing the iconic villain's presence. It may not be the direction many of us wanted, but it's been an entertaining storyline and it fits well with Malcolm Merlyn. However, the latest twist was a real shocker and my knee-jerk reaction was a very negative one. Ra's al Ghul wants Arrow to become his replacement? I don't think this is a good idea. Not at all. That's one hell of an offer -- one which I don't believe Oliver has earned.
"You're nitpicking. Ra's al Ghul doesn't have to be just Batman's villain and he's brought other people under his wing before. Stop hating, hater." You're right (there was no need for name calling, though), he has and he's certainly fought other heroes before. He's even appeared in GREEN ARROW/BLACK CANARY. But his offer to Oliver doesn't feel justified. I get the reasoning behind it but I don't think it's enough. Oliver's driven, willing to face impossible odds to save what he holds close to him, he lasted longer than most did in combat with Ra's (despite showing zero technique in the fight), and he came back from the impossible just to take on Ra's again. Countless people fear the Demon's Head, yet Ollie went back for more. And when faced with death, Mr. Queen didn't break down or beg to be saved; he kept calm and simply asked that Ra's would spare John Diggle, a.k.a. the guy who deserves more of the spotlight.
Oliver's strong, driven and has potential -- that's why Ra's thinks he'll be a good replacement. I have the audacity to disagree with Ra's decision. Arrow is lacking a few of the qualities that made characters like Batman or Bane impressive to the Demon's Head. Where's the brilliant mind? The exceptional display of tactics? Oliver's plan was to assault Ra's head-on and hope for the best. If anything, he should be viewed as stubborn and foolish enough not to realize when he's in over his head. "Batman doesn't exist in this world and Oliver could be the best person he's come across." Leading the League of Assassins takes more than being a good combatant. Oliver continues to make foolish, brash and even stubborn decisions in the show and that's something Ra's al Ghul shouldn't be oblivious to. How does no one under him offer the potential to one day take his place? We obviously haven't seen everyone who's part of the League of Assassins. I would understand if Ra's wanted Oliver to join the group, but to offer the highest position possible right away? It just doesn't feel earned and as of right now, there's no logical reason why Ra's would rush to find a replacement. The man has been around since at least the mid-1800s and we know he's still enjoying dips in something that has the same properties as a Lazarus Pit. I understand Ra's respecting Oliver and seeing potential in him, but immediately making that kind of offer? It's tough to swallow.
According to TVLine, this season's finale will reveal "a major, formidable, fierce new foe for Oliver, and his reign of terror will continue well into Season 4." I would love for this to be a lesser-known or doing some major work to flesh out someone from Oliver's history. Remember how they totally wasted Constantine Drakon in the first episode? Maybe his brother was away in Central City, developed above average speed when the particle accelerator accident occurred, and now he has returned to Starling City with one thing in mind: revenge. He even teams-up with Deathstroke in the comic! There's so much potential for epicness there. Or maybe Onomatopoeia will get an extended arc as he eludes Arrow's sights and kills more and more people? None of the heroes are safe. Well, except for Arrow because his fight with Ra's proved he can apparently survive just about anything. This fiend could even cut off one of Roy's arms and the team at S.T.A.R Labs could build a replacement. Or maybe Count Vertigo will get the revamp and depth he deserves instead of being a plot device and way too much like Scarecrow?
The big bad is very unlikely to be any of those characters because the site claims the cast and crew of Arrow are referring to this upcoming fiend as "Damian Dark." Seeing as the current story involves the League of Assassins and it'll introduce the next main villain, it's easy to assume this means Damian Wayne. That's right, Bruce Wayne's son. They may not be able to show Batman in this series (or at least that's what I've heard), but that doesn't mean they can't have a gazillion strong nods to him and his world. Oliver getting the offer would surely piss Damian off and this could introduce Ra's other daughter, Talia. As much as I love Damian, I sincerely hope this isn't the path they're taking.
Thankfully, it hasn't been confirmed that Damian Wayne will be the next villain, and this leaves us thinking about other options. Why not Emiko Queen? Yeah, the report said "he," but if they're using an alias, maybe the "he" is there to throw us off even more? I'm probably stretching things here, but she's similar to Damian and started off as a villain. Originally siding with Komodo before becoming a hero, this character would offer readers of the comic some major fan service and bring the team a new dynamic. She could be this badass the League of Assassins have been relentlessly training. And yes, she could still technically be Komodo's daughter. Another possibility is Connor (Hawke), but that seems very unlikely considering he's living with his mother over in Central City. They could work around that, but it doesn't seem probable.
TVLine updated its report with a candidate that seems way more likely and is something I'd definitely embrace: a lesser-known named Damien Darhk. I'm all for this because it's focusing on a different part of the CW-verse (H.I.V.E.), can generate more material with John Diggle and the Suicide Squad, and gives the show a chance to sell audiences on a character that barely anyone knows. The show already has dedicated fans, so they don't need to show their take on A-listers at this point. They can incorporate lesser-knowns and it isn't a risk for them (unlike Beware the Batman), so that's exactly what they should do. Fingers crossed it'll be Emiko or Damien and not Bruce's son. I still love you, little dude, but you don't need to steal the spotlight in this show.
Arrow could make Joker the villain in the fourth season and honestly, I'd still watch. I'd think it's a shameless and ridiculous direction, but I'd still want to see how it's handled and what it means for the characters I've grown to care about. The point is, this show needs to embrace Oliver's world and it has built a strong enough following so it can develop characters the general audience -- and even some comic fans -- haven't heard of and it wouldn't be a dangerous move. It needs to take a look at Oliver Queen's history and embrace all of that mythos with open arms; not pull from big parts of Batman's story. This is Arrow, not the Green Crusader or the Dark Green Knight. I love many of Batman's stories, but I don't want to watch Arrow and think he's taking part in what is clearly another character's tale. An episode shouldn't leave me feeling like this is Oliver Queen in a Batman story and I know many of you feel the same way about the latest twist. For the most part, the show has done a good job bringing in more of his characters and he has more than enough content to make this feel like it's his story as we move forward. Over the past couple of years, Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino, and Marcelo Maiolo showed us it is possible to create a modern Green Arrow story that's big, compelling and exciting. I have faith you can also do the same with Oliver Queen's world, Arrow. I was so happy you gave Brick three episodes and now it's time to give another one of the Emerald Archer's villains the spotlight in Season 4. They deserve it. If their comic book versions aren't interesting enough, then that just gives you even more freedom to reinvent them and make them awesome. That should be a challenge you'd want to accept, right?
I know this article is being pretty harsh on the show, but I view it as tough love. I enjoy watching new episodes on Wednesday nights and I want nothing but the best for Oliver. I'm glad they've taken big steps to improve the supporting cast and I really hope we see even more of that in Season 4. I just hope it'll begin to feel more like his story and not remind us of Bruce Wayne's adventures. Using Damian Wayne for Season 4 is a step in the wrong direction and I say that as someone who can't get enough of the character in the comics. (Read Tomasi and Gleason's BATMAN AND ROBIN, people.) The Flash is only in its first season and they've already done plenty to celebrate the Scarlet Speedster's history. I mean, they've already introduced a Gorilla with telepathic abilities! How crazy is that? We'd love for you to do the same in the next season. Take what makes Ollie's story unique and run with that. Use Ra's to get the Batman parallels out of your system and then show us something new or at least something that's clearly pulling from one of Oliver's many great stories. We're all rooting for you, Arrow.
A fan who'd love for Oliver to start be called "Green Arrow" in Season 4 and to have him lighten up just a wee bit. Pretty please?