When Season Three ended, Ra's al Ghul's threat over Starling City was also over and the world believed The Arrow dead. With the apparent threats to his home-city gone, Oliver (Stephen Amell), decides to drive off into the sunset with Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards). As this new season starts off, the two seem to be living the quiet, suburban life in Coast City. Unfortunately, that quiet life comes to an abrupt end when Season Four starts. It seems that a new criminal organization, dubbed The Ghosts, has been on the rise in the newly renamed Star City. While Diggle (David Ramsey), Thea (Willa Holland) and Laurel (Katie Cassidy) have been doing their best to keep the group at bay, the reveal of the organization's leader forces the trio to call Oliver and Felicity back into action.
It seems that the shaky leadership of Star City is being attacked and assassinated one-by-one, and the man claiming responsibility is Damien Darhk, a former member of the League of Assassins and rival for the top position of the recently deposed Ra's al Ghul. While Darhk's army is a force to be reckoned with, Damien himself has magical abilities that will pose problems for Team Arrow over and over again.
In this season's flashbacks, Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) sends the younger Oliver Queen back to Lian Yu. It seems there is a new threat on the island, and Oliver's extensive knowledge of the land makes him the perfect asset to assess and remove the new threat. In the same vein as previous seasons, the story taking place five years before the main storyline has very strong ties to the current events. While there end up being few direct connections, Darhk's power and what Oliver experienced back on Lian Yu share enough commonalities that Oliver has a good idea of exactly what he is facing. Unfortunately, that means he knows just how much trouble faces Star City and Team Arrow.
While the previous season's use of the Lazarus Pit is the Arrowverse's first real introduction to magic, Darhk's abilities and all of the plot points surrounding it really drive magic's existence home. This also allows the show to set-up the newest Arrowverse series, DC's Legends of Tomorrow. The main reason magic is required for the new series is because of several new characters that are introduced, namely Hawkman, Hawkgirl and Vandal Savage.
Back in ancient Egypt, Prince Khufu (Falk Hentschel) and Priestess Chay-Ara (Ciara Renee) were murdered by a vizier named Vandal Savage (Casper Crump). The circumstances of the murder not only left Savage as an immortal, but it also cursed Khufu and Chay-Ara to be reborn over and over again. Each lifetime, they would find each other, remember who they were and fall in love, but each lifetime would also end with Savage finding them and killing them in order to maintain his immortality. Sure they can defend themselves, as each one is imbued with hawk-like abilities, but in none of the 200+ lifetimes the pair have lived were they able to stop Savage from killing them.
In the present day, the current incarnation of Chay-Ara is a barista by the name of Kendra. She starts to regain her memories when the current version of Khufu, Carter, finds her and helps her awaken. Some of these events actually happen in The Flash: Season Two, but a lot of it comes to a head in the Arrow/Flash crossover event where Savage rears his head and tries to hunt down Hawkman and Hawkgirl. This crossover event, plus the re-appearance of several key characters from past seasons of Arrow, sets up the team that will hop into a time-ship and track down Savage throughout the ages to stop him from destroying the world several hundred years in the future. While this is a big event in the Arrowverse, once DC's Legends of Tomorrow kicks off, it ends up having very little effect on Arrow: The Complete Fourth Season. If you want more details on that show's first season, follow the link below to our review.
As for the main Arrow storyline, we get a glimpse at the end of the first episode that someone is going to die. We see Oliver over someone's grave, and we learn that Darhk is to blame. Much of this season is about watching the pieces fall into place and trying to determine who it is that Darhk will take out. There are a few red herrings along the way, but when the event does finally happen, it will be a devastating blow to Team Arrow.
Besides Darhk himself, this season throws a few new characters into the mix. Characters like Anarky (Alexander Calvert), The Calculator (Tom Amandes, Everwood) and Demolition Team make their debut this season, while Cupid (Amy Gumenick) and Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) make appearances as well. There is also an episode devoted to an enemy introduced in last season's The Flash, Brie Larvan/Bug-Eyed Bandit (Emily Kinney, The Walking Dead), and she is after some interesting tech found at Palmer Technologies. Speaking of Palmer Tech, when Felicity decides to take a more direct hand as CEO of the corporation, she meets a talented and brilliant engineer that will help Team Arrow, both directly and indirectly. While he doesn't take up the mantle of Mr. Terrific this season, Curtis Holt (Echo Kellum, Sean Saves the World) is expected to fill those shoes at some point.
Besides the setup for Legends of Tomorrow and the crossovers with The Flash, Season Four also has a couple of other minor crossovers. There are a couple of times when Team Arrow needs some extra help against magic. At one point, Arrow calls on the help of John Constantine (Matt Ryan), the same character from the one-season-long NBC series, Constantine (thus neatly pulling that show into the Arrowverse). In another episode, Oliver gets help from Vixen (Megalyn Echikunwoke, CSI: Miami, The 4400), a character introduced in an Arrowverse Web-series.
A lot happens this season. Not only will the team lose someone close to them, but Oliver decides that fighting in the shadows isn't the only way he can help. While making an announcement on TV that the Green Arrow is present to protect the streets, Oliver himself decides to make a play for the Mayor's Office. Viewers might remember that Starling/Star City has gone through more than a couple of mayors in the last few seasons, but Oliver hopes that his secret skills will be enough to keep him from being the next victim.
Arrow: The Complete Fourth Season's special features include three featurettes. Two of them focus on Hawkman and Hawkgirl and how the show uses them to kick off DC's Legends of Tomorrow. The third featurette is all about Damien Darhk and how Arrow adds more depth into a fairly unknown DC character. The last few extras on this release includes a slew of deleted scenes, a Gag Reel and the always enjoyable Comic-Con Panel, this time from the 2015 show.
It is nice to see a series that has gone on for four seasons and still manages to bring new elements to the table. What's great is that these new elements don't feel out of place in this universe. Arrow has always done a great job at giving small clues about the troubles to come, and typically you don't realize those clues were given until the next season is in full swing. The introduction of Damien Darhk and the threat that he poses was hinted at before, just like Ra's al Ghul and Deathstroke before him. It's this steady and constant evolution of the series and characters that makes Arrow such a great show to follow, and The Complete Fourth Season is no different.