Season four of Arrow comes back this Wednesday, October 7! So let’s catch up on the craziness that happened in season three before the new season premieres.
Season three consisted of a few plot lines but most of them revolved around the League of Assassins, which was catapulted from Sara’s violent murder in the beginning of the season and ended in Oliver facing and killing Ra’s al Ghul and giving the title to Malcolm Merlyn. The League storyline stretches across the season, and is slowly integrated with the flashbacks of Oliver’s time in Hong Kong alongside Maseo Yamashiro and his family, wife Tasu and son Akio.
Sara’s return to Starling was ordered by Ra’s, who heard that Malcolm Merlyn was alive, undoing the blood debt that Merlyn owed Ra’s. Merlyn drugs Thea and has her kill Sara, which he then records and shows to Oliver that blackmails Oliver to face off against Ra’s. Oliver fights Ra’s instead of turning over the truth of Sara’s killer to him, but is defeated and nearly killed by Ra’s (who assumes that he has finished the job). After being healed and brought back from near-death by Maseo and Tatsu, Oliver returns to Starling City.
In the present storyline, Maseo and his wife, Tatsu, are estranged. It’s heavily hinted that a tragedy occurred in the past to their son, Akio. It’s revealed that in their time in Hong Kong, Oliver and Maseo discover the creation of a virus called the Alpha/Omega. We find out that a General Shrieve plans to release the virus on Hong Kong. After successfully doing so, Maseo and Tatsu watch their son die, having been vaccinated themselves along with Oliver. This causes a rift between the couple and leads to Maseo joining the League, and the virus is later obtained by Ra’s.
After offering Oliver the role of his heir, Ra’s is rejected. In order to force Oliver’s compliance, he orders the League to assassinate people in the guise of the Arrow, then order Maseo to kill the mayor dressed as the Arrow, and finally Ra’s kills Thea. This is the final straw for Oliver, who, by this time is public enemy number one if he goes out in his Arrow suit. Ra’s offers the Lazarus Pit for Thea in exchange for Oliver, and he agrees.
Taking the title of Al Sah-him after joining the League, he is trained and broken by Ra’s. During this time, when he is acting as Ra’s heir, he destroys his relationship with Diggle after kidnapping Lyla and almost killing Diggle. Although Olive reveals that this was all a ruse set up by him and Malcolm in order to take down the League, his actions as Al Sah-him have permanently damaged his relationship with Diggle, or at the very least their trust.
Oliver is sent to kill Nyssa, but ends up marrying her instead. Ra’s then orders him to use the Alpha/Omega virus to “cleanse” Starling. With this order, he is forced to reveal his plan with Malcolm to his team. Oliver ends up foiling Ra’s plan for the virus along with the help of the team, and eventually kills Ra’s in Starling. He’s shot by a police sniper, but is saved from death by Felicity in Ray Palmer’s ATOM suit. He decides to hang up the cowl and gives his position as Ra’s al Ghul to Malcolm as payment, and literally heads off into the sunset with Felicity.
Alongside the story of the League is also the birth of the Black Canary. After Sara’s death, Laurel takes up her sister’s mantle and begins to protect the city along with the team. She trains with Ted Grant (aka Wildcat) and later with Nyssa. Despite disapproval from her father and initial disapproval from the entire team, she takes the task at hand seriously and eventually graduates to a full level vigilante alongside the rest of the team. Her story arc was one of the most interesting in the season, and it’s clear that she’ll have more to face with the coming of season four and the midseason spinoff show Legends of Tomorrow, which show Sara Lance alive once more.
She’s not the only superhero in the making, after Roy publicly takes the fall as the Arrow he fakes his own death in order to make the city believe that the Arrow is dead and leaves town. He leaves his mantle to Thea, who has been training with Malcolm Merlyn. After being told about her hand in Sara’s death, Thea becomes extremely estranged from Malcolm.
She is brought to Lian Yu to train alongside Oliver and learns about his identity and his past. After being killed by Ra’s as part of a lure to bring Oliver in as Ra’s heir, she is brought back to live from the Lazarus Pit. It’s still up in the air on the effects of the pit, but it undeniably messed with her mind. The second half of the season showed Oliver trying to keep the darkness from taking over Thea, especially in her desire to kill Malcolm. He wants her to have a relationship with her biological father. By the end of the season, she has adopted the role of Speedy, fighting crime alongside the team and taking Roy’s place.
During the season, Starling City itself also undergoes a massive amount of changes. After the arrival of Ray Palmer, who promptly takes over Queen Consolidated and renames it Palmer Technologies, he brings plans for a new city. With the Arrow team patrolling the streets, crime seems to be under control (for whatever brief amount of time). After Oliver leaves Starling and is nearly killed by Ra’s, the city is left defenseless and a thug named Brickwell plans to take over the Glades for himself. The rest of Team Arrow rally the people against him and they start a street war that ends with the citizens victorious and Oliver’s return. The police begin the season cooperating with the vigilantes. It changes once Ra’s orders the League to murder the mayor under the guise of the Arrow, prompting an all out manhunt.
The season was also used as a springboard for mini-arcs like the creation of the Suicide Squad by ARGUS and Amanda Waller, as well Ray Palmer’s character who creates his ATOM suit. Ray’s arc consists mainly of him facing off first as Oliver’s rival professionally, then romantically (having dated Felicity), and briefly fighting against Oliver, and then finally fighting alongside Oliver. The season ends with him discovering a way to miniaturize his ATOM suit, but causing his entire lab to explode. Inevitably we’ll see Ray again in Legends of Tomorrow. Arrow also had a crossover episode with The Flash in which Barry and Oliver got to team up in Starling City.
The season ends on a high note for Oliver. Although it seems like Damien Darhk is on the rise as the new villain, the team has proven that they can function without him and still protect the city. They still have a purpose even without the Arrow leading the team. It’s up in the air on how Oliver will return back to fight in Starling City, but it’s clear from the marketing that season four doesn’t just bring back the Arrow, but the Green Arrow.