Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this blog post. The opinions I share are my own.
The CW’s Arrow is coming back for year five soon, so let’s take a look at the WB release of The Complete Fourth Season, available now. The four-disc set contains all twenty-three episodes of the run (of course), plus a handful of bonus features.
The end of season three found our hero, Oliver (Stephen Amell), and his gal, Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards), riding off into the sunset together. It’s no surprise that they will be drawn back home early in the season, as Arrow wouldn’t work without the whole team, which also includes Laurel (Katie Cassidy), Diggle (David Ramsey), and Thea (Willa Holland), in Star City. It’s also no surprise that the couple will go through their share of drama over the course of this run, as an hour-long series needs personal strife in order to keep it humming along.
Thus, season four is as much about Oliver and Felicity finding identities apart from one another as it is them finding a way to work together. While Felicity struggles to run the company she is now CEO of, Oliver jumps into a frantic election for mayor of the city. It’s good material for each to work with, even as long-time shippers will ache each time something comes between them, and the frequent additions of Felicity’s mother, Donna (Charlotte Ross), and employee, Curtis (Echo Kellum), are a delight.
A lot of the first half of this season is very obviously gearing up for the mid-year launch of spin-off DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Several of the characters announced for that show (which was released on Blu-ray, Digital, and DVD a week earlier) are dead in the Arrow cannon, so in order to prevent that new program from being bogged down in origin stories, they must be brought back on Arrow. The result is lots of screen time having to be given up from the main arcs in order to accommodate this set up, though it isn’t too distracting, since these are mostly characters Arrow fans already care about.
Speaking of caring, a nearly year-long tease of Oliver at a grave provides a compelling mystery that propels the plot. By the time we realize who has been buried, there have been multiple false starts, but not enough to take away from the impact of the death. (SPOILER!) Press materials promising a return in some form do not do much to lessen the sting, at least at this point, and did not come to light until well after the fateful hour aired.
The main drag on year four is the same one that brought down years two and three: the flashbacks. Even as each subsequent present-day story gets better and better, Oliver’s journey leading up to the beginning of the series has become tedious and unimportant. While it does give some scant clues about the Big Bad this season, Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough), it’s not enough to be worth it. Hopefully, knowing season five will complete this arc will infuse the events with a new sense of urgency to make them less cumbersome in the upcoming installments.
The best bonus on this set is The Flash crossover episode. Arrow and The Flash did a two-parter in the fall, and while I suspect most of the audience is shared between the two, I appreciate that Arrow makes it easy for those who just watch this show to follow along. Three featurettes are more mixed. I think the one on Darhk is definitely appropriate, but cared much less for those on Hawkman and Hawkgirl, the most forgettable characters in Legends, introduced in this episodes in this set. There is also another regrettably truncated Comic Con panel, as well as some deleted scenes and a gag reel. So, overall, the amount of material included is fine, but the quality is a bit lacking.
Still, I definitely recommend checking out Arrow – The Complete Fourth Season, now on sale.