‘Arrow’ (Season 4): Characters in Search of a Spin-Off

There’s been a marked improvement in quality on Arrow this season. Learning from the mistakes of season three, the show has quickly introduced the main villain of the season, kept the plot moving at a brisk pace, and provided an overall lighter tone that avoids letting the characters sink into angst and self-deprecation. However, for all the positives, the show has gotten a little caught up in laying the groundwork for the upcoming spin-off, Legends of Tomorrow.

This is actually a problem that’s affected The Flash as well, and while I’m excited for that time-travelling epic, it has the effect of making the other shows in the Arrowverse lose their way a bit. Now, truthfully, I think Arrow has fared pretty well so far. The two big characters that will be moving to the spin-off, Sara and Ray, have been used to good effect so far. With Ray, he provided a solid mystery for Felicity to be working on, and any excuse for her and Curtis to share screen time is a plus. On top of that, the episode where Ray is rescued does a good job of focusing on our main characters, with Felicity and Oliver’s relationship being examined last week.

A bit more problematic is Sara, whose arc hasn’t really given her much to do this season. Make no mistake, I’m ecstatic Sara is back; she’s my favorite character on the show, and her unceremonious fridging last year was a mistake in need of correcting. However, her return has only served to once again put Laurel in the position to be the absolute worst. Her decision to revive Sara was a selfish one, even if we want to see her back in action.

The bigger problem, however, is that neither of these characters – or the ones over on The Flash – are relevant to the show anymore, because their stories aren’t allowed to be told on Arrow. Whatever the outcome of Ray’s new worldview, or Sara’s growing bloodlust, viewers of Arrow won’t be privy to the answers; you’ll have to watch Legends of Tomorrow to find out. And while I absolutely plan to be watching that show, not every Arrow viewer will. As a result, it makes their presence less important to the overarching journey of season four.

Ultimately, though, this should be all cleared up now, with Sara and Ray both leaving town at the end of the most recent episode. Aside from the epic Arrow/Flash coming up in a few weeks, each show is now free to get back to telling its own unique story. It’s a positive move, and one that will allow one of the show’s best seasons to only get better.

Oh, and because crossovers are the name of the game this article, I’m going to take the chance to express my excitement for Matt Ryan’s Constantine appearing a few weeks back. As the guy who reviewed every episode of that show last season, I was super happy to see him back, and hope that some deal gets worked out to allow him to return some time down the road.