Last year, I talked about this freshman series in my review column, and told you it was one to watch. A lot of people did — it was one of the first shows renewed at the time. Now, Arrow is back for its sophomore session, and the question is: is it still great?
The answer? Hells to the yeah.
Oliver Queen and his band of good guy vigilante assistants are back, doing what they do best, which is try to save the day in the best ways they can. Note that I said “try”. In this show, the good guys don’t always win, which is, let’s face it, pretty awesome. Because you never know if they’re going to save the day or not. You don’t know if they’re going to make it out alive or not, either, because this show isn’t afraid to kill someone who’s name is in the credits.
If you didn’t catch the first season of Arrow, well, first off, race out and get it on DVD as soon as possible, because it’s great. I have to commend the CW for also doing a recap hour of Season 1 the week before Season 2 rolled. More series should do that, because even if you missed all of Season 1, if you caught that one hour, you’re caught up enough to follow what happens next. (And I believe the CW still has the episodes for viewing on their website.)
Last season, Oliver didn’t have an issue killing bad guys, which was honestly refreshing — finally a good guy who actually kills the bad guys. However, heroes are supposed to try to find other ways, if they can, to stop the baddies, so because of cataclysmic events in Season 1’s finale, Ollie’s trying to take a different path and merely wound and/or capture the baddies for the police, with varying degrees of success.
The cataclysm didn’t just affect our hero. Other characters have new jobs or different positions, some better, some worse. Some are in jail. Some who should be in jail are out. People thought dead are found alive. New alliances and new blood feuds are created. And we not only see more of Ollie’s time on The Island — which is where he was for 5 horrible years — but we’re discovering that he actually wasn’t there the entire time. Not that where he was looks like it was any better.
The Island and now the Ship scenes continue to be great — nail-bitingly tense, horrible, and incredibly reflective of what these characters went through to make them who they are. (Yes, there’s a reason for the plural.) Oh yeah, and I have one name for you that will make certain comics geeks (like me) happy: Ra’s al Ghul (though not in person… yet). And I have another: Black Canary (absolutely in person and awesome).
Last season I admit to really hating two of the female characters. This season, both of them are far better. Thea’s way more tolerable, acting like an actual adult and not whining much at all, and Laurel actually has a serious personal challenges arc going on that’s great for her character.
Felicity/IT Girl is now a series regular — and all the fans cheer. Roy/Someday the Sidekick is as well — and all the fans wait for him to also take off his shirt.
Wow, I’ve made it this far without mentioning one of Arrow’s best aspects — Oliver, and his sidekick/mentor/driver/bodyguard Diggle take their shirts off. Frequently. Not frequently enough, mind you, but a lot. And Oliver still does that salmon bar move that is hella impressive. The eye candy in this show is off the charts, which appears to be a CW hallmark, and something I totally approve of.
I do confess to missing some of the characters, especially Walter, Laurel’s best friend, and Diggle’s sis-in-law/girlfriend, in part because I liked their characters and in other part because they were people of color and this show had a ton of them at the start of Season 1 and has far less right now. In their place is Summer Glau, giving all SF geeks a reason to be happy. But I wanted Summer AND these other characters to be around. However, I trust the show runner and expect more color blind casting to happen along the way.
This show does have two overarching backstories — one that relates to why and how Oliver got onto the Island, and one that relates to all the shenanigans that various power players have been manipulating for years. Technically, we saw the end of that second backstory arc at the end of Season 1, but we’re still feeling repercussions. The Island and its related backstory will run through the entire show, though, and that’s a good thing. The time in Starling City is great, but the time on the Island made Ollie great, and that makes it incredibly interesting.
This series continues to do what I call rock star moves. And it does them pretty much every single episode — don’t get comfortable because something big is going to happen every week. Arrow is loaded with action, excitement, great chemistry between the stars, fun and many times whip-smart dialogue between the characters, pretty people doing awesome, exciting, and sometimes stupid things, with amazing martial arts and weapons usage, excellent fight choreography you can actually see, and a brooding, conflicted hero who still manages to have a sense of humor.
Want a fun, wild ride every week? Tune into Arrow and enjoy the rush.