I enjoyed season 3 of Arrow for what it was, but it was the least impressive run of the three. The Ra's al Ghul storyline outstayed its welcome, the addition of billionaire Ray Palmer (in an ersatz Iron Man side-plot) proved to be more of a distraction and prolonged setup for Legends of Tomorrow, and then there was the ridiculousness of everyone now becoming highly-trained mask-wearing vigilantes.
Season 4's premiere could have been a big reset, but it didn't really go that far. As always with U.S network dramas, it wasn't long before Oliver and Felicity's 'happily ever after' as a suburban couple was cut short by a deadly new threat to the rechristened Star City: a group of skilled criminals known as 'The Ghosts', led by the mystical Damien Darhk (a blowhard who can kill people by touching them and stop arrows mid-flight, Matrix-style).
It was good to see Oliver officially announce rebrand himself "the Green Arrow", after dancing around the comic-book character's actual name for three years, but otherwise this episode felt like business as usual. More of the same, with minor tweaks. Darhk's no different to most other overconfident supervillains, and are brazen enough to interrupt police meetings to give a monologue. He has magical powers, which is apparently a new strand of the DC Comics TV universe that Arrow's introducing this year—which means they're on the same page as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, who're doing likewise with Scarlett Witch and Dr Strange now.
I am excited by news John Constantine (played by Matt Ryan from the axed NBC series) is going to be appearing this year, however. Hopefully that'll be more entertaining than Arrow's slightly tiresome insistence to mention events happening on The Flash, or whenever Barry Allen walks on for a random scene.
Ultimately: Arrow's back but it's unclear if it's a successfully course correct. On the one hand: it's a relief the Oliver/Felicity relationship's out in the open (but that brings its own issues of longevity once 'the guy gets the girl'), and that Oliver's buried the hatchet with Diggle over endangering his family in season 3's finale. But on the other hand: the exasperating flashbacks haven't been quietly dropped (and now we're even BACK on the island), and they effectively soak up half the season's storytelling. Let's hope they have a good way of making them elucidate and nourish what's happening in the present day this year.