"Arrow" Recap: Season Four Launches with "Green Arrow"

Domestic bliss is not something I thought I would ever see on "Arrow." Oliver doesn't exactly do anything domestic, let alone anything blissful. All that seems to have changed, now that Oliver and Felicity have retreated to a normal life in the 'burbs. Season four's premiere -- "Green Arrow" -- begins by telling three stories: Oliver and Felicity's quiet new life, Thea, Diggle and Laurel's quest to protect Star City (the rebranded former Starling City, bringing the locale closer to its DC Comics inspiration) and the hostile takeover of the city by villain Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough, seen in "Captain America: The First Avenger" and "Marvel's Agent Carter" in the considerably more heroic role of Dum Dum Dugan).

Oliver and Felicity seem happy, so happy in fact Oliver is planning to pop the question. Thea, Diggle, and Laurel have been fighting crime in Oliver's place, but are now facing a threat they can't seem to contain: the ominously named Damien Darhk. Darhk, after attacking the city from the shadows, decides to reveal himself to the police, proclaiming the impending death of Star City. Soon, these three stories converge, as the Oliver-less Team Arrow realizes they can take down Darhk themselves. They decide it's time to resurrect The Arrow.

Within minutes of tonight's episode, Star City is overrun with Darhk's men. The district attorney, city council members and most of Star City's leadership is dead. This is a strong deviation from prior season premieres, which typically start out quiet, tracking down a villain of the week. If Damien Darhk already controls Star City in the season premiere, what does that mean for the rest of this season? This dire situation forces Thea and Laurel to track down Oliver and ask for his help. Oliver, right as he is about to propose to Felicity, is forced to decide between his old life in the hood, and his new life with Felicity. The only reason Oliver concedes to going back is because Felicity says it's the right thing to do.

Back in Star City, Oliver reflects on his time as the vigilante, wondering if he ever really accomplished anything. Diggle is less than happy to see Oliver return, considering the last time Diggle saw Oliver he had kidnapped Lyla and endangered baby Sara. Lyla encourages Diggle to forgive Oliver, citing that in war, sometimes people do whatever it takes, and that Oliver was forced to do the unthinkable to beat Ra's. Diggle agrees to work with Oliver, but he won't let him run the show. While investigating Darhk's activities in Star City, Oliver discovers that Felicity has been helping the team the entire time she and Oliver were away. Felicity says that she loves her new life with Oliver, but that she wants her life to mean more than just table settings and conference calls -- she wants her life to have significance, and on Team Arrow, it does.

Felicity is able to track down the location of Darhk's base to an abandoned building in Star City. Oliver, Thea, Diggle and Laurel sneak into the building and eavesdrop on one of Darhk's speeches to his crew. Darhk, upset about Team Arrow's disruption their weapons heist, proceeds to kill one of his men using some kind of supernatural power. Oliver charges in to apprehend Darhk, but Darhk escapes, leaving Oliver and Team Arrow to flee from the SCPD. (The look on Captain Lance's face when he sees that Oliver is back is priceless.)

Once the team discovers the bomb target, they head to the Star City train station. They coordinate their bomb search with the SCPD, which gives Captain Lance the opportunity to confront Oliver, calling him the "prodigal arrow." Lance claims that Oliver brought the darkness back with him from Lian Yu, but Oliver doesn't want to be dark anymore. The team is unsuccessful in finding the bomb -- until they realize the bomb isn't at the train station, it's on a train. This forces them to suit up; including Oliver, surprised to discover there's a new Arrow suit waiting for him. The suit, designed by Cisco from "The Flash," comes with a few new features, including a new quiver, sleek storage for new arrows, and of course, the classic green hood. Oliver suits up to Blake Neely's awesome "Arrow" theme music, which makes it clear -- the Arrow is back.

The team is given little time to evacuate the station and board the train in time to disable the bomb. Thea and Laurel clear out the the people, Felicity hacks the train's systems, and Oliver confronts Darhk face to face. Oliver assumes that he can put an arrow in Darhk, but Darhk busts out some "Matrix"/Neo powers and halts each arrow fired at him. Oliver attempts to fight him hand-to-hand, but Darhk takes Oliver down with only a few punches. Darhk tries to kill Oliver with his life-sucking mystic powers -- but thankfully Diggle comes to the rescue. Oliver and Diggle decide to let the (evacuated) train blow up, in the hopes that Darhk would die while still on board, but things are never that easy this early into a season.

Back in the Arrow cave, Oliver and Felicity decide to stay in Star City until they can assure it's safe from Darhk's further destruction. Oliver and Diggle discuss Darhk's "HIVE," of which they know very little about, except that HIVE was the group responsible for Diggle's brother's death. Oliver, dressed as The Arrow, broadcasts a message to all of Star City: "Six months ago, The Arrow died, but what he stood for did not. I am declaring my intention to fight for this city. To be the symbol of hope The Arrow never was. I am the Green Arrow."

The last minutes of the episode are spent with Darhk, who offers a blood sacrifice to an ancient deity in his office. After dropping his blood upon the altar and reciting what sounds like a Latin phrase, gold writing appears on Darhk's skin, which seems to rejuvenate him. Darhk is interrupted by Captain Lance, who -- for the time being at least -- is working with Darhk. While this may come as a shock, Lance is probably working undercover and will hopefully let Oliver and the team know soon.

The other story happening in the background of this episode is the flashback. Every season of "Arrow" mirrors wherever Oliver was five years ago. In season one and two he was on the island. Last season he was in Hong Kong, working for Amanda Waller. This season Oliver is in Coast City, the home of fellow DC Comics superhero, Hal Jordan/Green Lantern. While in Coast City, Oliver makes a name for himself tracking down drug dealers, until he is again apprehended by Amanda Waller. There are some great Easter eggs in the Coast City scenes, including an air force jacket with the name "Jordan" on it in the bar. As we see later in the episode, Oliver doesn't stay in Coast City for long, as Waller sends him back to Lian Yu.

The biggest bomb dropped in this episode wasn't Oliver's return to Lian Yu, his potentially impending engagement to Felicity or even Captain Lance's apparent betrayal -- it was the flash forward to six months later. Oliver and Barry Allen (better known as The Flash) are seen standing over a grave. Barry says he missed the funeral because of Zoom, the villain mentioned in "The Flash" season two premiere. Oliver says he needs to finish "him" -- Darhk -- in what seems to be a battle that has lasted at least six months. Barry speeds off leaving Oliver kneeling at the grave, crying, touching whoever's name is on it. The episode ends with no indication of who is dead. Is it Felicity? Is it Thea? Is it Lance? Is it Laurel or Diggle? One thing is for certain, someone will die in this season of "Arrow," and based on comments from "Arrow" showrunners Marc Guggenheim and Wendy Mericle, it sounds like there's nothing Oliver can do to stop it.

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