Arrow: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray Review: Darkness Consumes Several Characters as Loyalties are Tested

Arrow's fourth season pushes several characters to their limits.
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Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the DVD reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are those solely of the writer.

With the popular CW show, Arrow, about to begin its fifth season, The Complete Fourth Season has been released on Blu-ray. The show picks up directly where Season Three left off. Oliver Queen/Green Arrow (Stephen Amell) has packed up and left Team Arrow with his girlfriend Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards), opting for a life of domestic bliss. As the show is called Arrow, it does not last long before Queen is dragged back into Star City to help ward off the forces of Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough).

In the opening episode, titled “Green Arrow,” we learn that Starling City has been renamed to Star City in honor of Ray Palmer/The Atom, who is believed to have died in an explosion at the end of Season Three. Queen is happy to be away from the darkness and is ready to propose to Smoak when Laurel Lance/Black Canary (Katie Cassidy) and Thea/Speedy (Willa Holland) arrive to convince him to return to the team to go after Darhk, who seems to be commanding a ghost army and wielding supernatural powers. Queen is determined to do things differently this time, wanting to get away from the darkness that consumed him in years past and broadcasts a message to the people of Star City announcing his intentions and his “new” name, Green Arrow. By changing both Queen and the city’s name, they are more in line with the comic books now. Queen also learns that Smoak has been secretly helping the team out and that she didn’t like the domestic life as much as she had let on. We also see Thea lashing out with extreme violence, which concerns Queen both as her brother and also because he is trying to get away from the darkness himself. The episode throws a lot at the viewer, but does a good job of setting up the rest of the season. It also reintroduces the concept of the island flashbacks for Queen, with him being sent back to Lian Yu by Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai Robinson).

“The Candidate” finds Queen’s friend Jessica Danforth (Jeri Ryan) announcing that she is going to run for mayor. At her speech, she is attacked by one of Darhk’s agents. Thea’s violent streak isn’t getting any better, which forces Queen to tell her about the warning Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) gave him about the Lazarus Pit before using it on her in Season Three. Laurel decides to try to use the pit to resurrect her dead sister Sara (Caity Lotz) but also to cure Thea’s apparent bloodlust. They tell Queen they are going to a spa. This keeps up the theme that even though they are all part of a team, the characters keep dark secrets from one another. We also learn that Smoak has taken over Palmer’s company and enlists the aid of Curtis Holt (Echo Kellum) to help design tech to save the company’s financial problems. Holt becomes Mr. Terrific in the comics and it will be interesting to see if they choose to go that route here. In the flashbacks, Queen kills a soldier and seeks out a military operation run by a man named Reiter (Jimmy Akingbola). Reiter recruits Queen to his team. The flashback scenes do a good job of showing the darkness Queen is trying to escape and what the island did to him mentally.

Laurel and Thea go to Nanda Parbat in “Restoration” in an attempt to cure Thea’s bloodlust and revive Sara, who they have dug out from her grave. Merlyn claims the only thing that will cure the bloodlust is to kill people, which Thea does not want to do. Against Nyssa al Ghul’s (Katrina Law) wishes, Sara is brought back using the pit, but the results are not what anyone expected. John Diggle/Spartan (David Ramsey) receives information about one of Darhk’s H.I.V.E. associates, Mina Fayed (Carmen Moore), who brings a metahuman named Jeremy Tell (JR Bourne) to Star City to help Darhk take down Team Arrow. Diggle is still not trusting of Queen after Season Three, but reluctantly agrees to team with him to go after Tell. Merlyn sends a team of henchmen after Thea, with the hopes they’d be killed to satisfy her bloodlust. Thea wants a normal relationship with Merlyn, who claims he’d do anything for his daughter, but quickly learns that is less and less likely. The pair shares one of the more interesting dynamics on the show. On the island, we see Queen torture, rather than kill, a prisoner and he frees a woman. He learns the prisoners are being used to create heroin-cocaine hybrid plants.

In “Beyond Redemption,” Captain Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) has Queen investigate the death of two police officers and his team learns rogue officers calling themselves the Anti-Vigilante Task Force killed them. Lance eventually gets the officers to surrender but not before Queen discovers Lance had been working with Darhk in secret. When pressed, Lance revealed that Darhk had threatened Laurel (his daughter) if he did not cooperate. Lance sees Sara and is horrified by what the Lazarus Pit has done to her. Darhk tries to convince him to kill her, and Laurel attempts to talk him out of it. The dynamic here between the father and his two daughters is strong and one feels for all Lance has gone through. On the island, Queen hides the woman Taiana and convinces one of the officers he killed her. The officer later becomes suspicious when he discovers a communication device left behind by Queen. Throughout his time on the island, Queen has to straddle the two worlds of trying to survive and doing the right thing and it is this conflict that haunts him as Green Arrow.

Diggle reveals to Queen in “Brotherhood” that he too has a secret. In this case, the secret is that H.I.V.E. murdered his brother Andy, as he was a criminal and rival of theirs. As a nod to the comics, the Diggles were likely named after comic book writer Andy Diggle, who wrote Green Arrow for a time. When Darhk’s men later attack Team Arrow, Diggle discovers that Andy is alive and possibly under mind control by Darhk. John Diggle will not accept that his brother is anything but a traitor and it takes some convincing from Queen to get him to give his brother a second chance. When Darhk attempts to use his powers on Thea, it doesn’t affect her the same way it does others, which leads her to believe he may be at the root of the cure for her bloodlust. In the flashback scenes on the island, one of the soldiers reveals that the worker Queen killed was Taiana’s brother but Reiter uses a magical object to realize that the soldier was trying to set up Queen and has Queen punish him as a result.

The Arrowverse crosses over with the characters from The Flash, and two episodes — “Legends Of Today,” which was a Flash episode with Arrow characters and “Legends Of Yesterday,” which was an Arrow episode with Flash characters — help to set up DC’s newest show, Legends Of Tomorrow. In it, an immortal villain named Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) shows up in Central City to kill Kendra Saunders (Ciara Renée), a barista and current girlfriend of Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes). Saunders has no idea that she is the reincarnated priestess Chay-ara and the eternal soul mate of Carter Hall/Hawkman (Falk Hentschel). Savage has hunted the pair for millennia, with his immortality coming from draining their life essence. Savage has found the Staff of Horus, a powerful weapon, and Flash and Green Arrow join their respective teams to try and stop him. We also see Queen notice Samantha Clayton with a child who turns out to be his son. This will later cause tension between him and Smoak.

“Sins Of The Father” begins with Thea in the hospital, consumed by her bloodlust and in a coma. Nyssa offers Queen a potion she says will cure Thea on the condition he kill Merlyn. Meanwhile, career cyber criminal, Noah Kuttler/The Calculator (Tom Amandes) appears to want to make good with Smoak, his daughter who he abandoned many years ago. She is naturally reluctant. A parallel can be drawn between his relationship with Smoak and Merlyn’s with Thea — bad guys who on some level still care for their families. Queen convinces Merlyn to duel Nyssa for control of the League Of Assassins, but has a surprise waiting for him.  Merlyn, angry with Queen, then gives Darhk some information that is damaging to Green Arrow. Throughout the series, Merlyn is consistent in that even when he tries to do good, it is always to benefit himself first. In flashbacks on the island, Oliver has an ancient stone, which Reiter takes. Throughout the season, we see the parallel of the madness caused by the ancient relic, first on the island and now with Darhk.

We find out Andy Diggle’s true loyalties in “Eleven-Fifty-Nine.” He tells his brother that Merlyn told him Darhk planned to break out of prison, but this was a setup so Marlyn’s men could steal the artifact for Darhk. Queen’s suspicions about Andy prove to be correct as he has the missing piece of the artifact that was hidden in a separate location as a fail safe. Suspecting Captain Lance had double-crossed him, Darhk goes after his daughter Laurel to get his revenge. On the island, Queen helps several prisoners escape. This was an excellent episode that tested the loyalties of several characters. Queen had gotten John Diggle to give his brother a second chance only to be the one to find out he was working with the enemy.

The fourth season ends with “Schism.” Darhk has gotten control of all of the world’s nuclear weapons and his power has already grown exponentially, having detonated one and absorbing the life forces of those killed. Darhk’s wife, Ruvé Adams (Janet Kidder), had been assassinated after becoming mayor of Star City. This loss drove Darhk over the edge and made him want to launch 15,000 nuclear missiles at once to destroy the world so he could be with her again. Queen and Team Arrow go after Darhk while Smoak tries to convince a rogue computer operator to help disarm the nukes. On the island, the darkness has consumed Taiana, forcing Queen to make a tough decision. His mission there ends and he promises to go to Russia to fulfill a promise he made to Taiana. The ending of the episode is a reverse of the Season Three ending, with Queen and Smoak left at Green Arrow’s base and the rest of the team going their separate ways.

The video is presented in 1080p High Definition 16x9 1.78:1 and looks great. Audio options include DTS-HD MA English 5.1 and Dolby Digital Francais and Espanol 2.0. In addition to unaired scenes and a gag reel, there are featurettes on the crossover with The Flash and Star-Crossed Hawks, Star-Crossed Hawks: The Hunt For Vandal Savage, Smooth Criminal: The Damien Darhk Story and the 2015 Arrow Comic-Con panel.

Season Four of Arrow offered many surprises and tested the loyalties of many of the characters. It neatly tied into The Flash and Legends Of Tomorrow, making for a cohesive TV universe. With Supergirl coming to the CW, one wonders if she will be brought into the mix as well. Arrow: The Complete Fourth Season is an exciting one for fans of the show.

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