One show was a huge surprise last year – the rare kind of self-assured show that jumps out of the box relatively fully-formed, with a distinctive tone and well-defined (albeit work-in-progress) characters. That show was Arrow and it’s finally back for S2. Is the magic still here?
Let’s bitch it out…
After the events of last season’s finale – during which the Glades were completely destroyed in a Batman Begins-esque plot by eccentric millionaire Malcolm Merlyn – Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) has taken a self-imposed exile back to Skull Island. Once he’s brought back to civilization by Diggle (David Ramsey) and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards), Arrow hits the reboot switch: Ollie doesn’t want to be the Hood anymore, criminals are running rampant and Starling City needs a hero (preferably someone who doesn’t suck like Colton Haynes’ Roy Harper).
While it’s easy to understand the choices that Arrow makes in ‘City Of Heroes’, the slow start feels designed to accommodate newcomers. Maybe this works for those who came late to the party, but to the fans, this isn’t overly satisfying. Watching Oliver mope is kind of its own meme by now, but his staunch refusal to play the hero is deadly dull because we know he’ll pick up his new custom-made bow and arrow set before the end of the hour. That it takes the kidnapping of kid sister Thea (Willa Holland) is all the more annoying because there are no stakes – this is little more than an exercise to get a certain square-jawed someone back into his form fitting green leather outfit.
Those poor copycat Hoods never really stood a chance.
The other false conflict is the corporate take-over of Queen Consolidated. Clearly the business was never going to be lost, so it’s no big surprise when Walter (Colin Salmon) steps in to bail out Oliver when corporate shark Isabel Rochev (Summer Glau) tries to strong-arm her way in. Naturally this is all set-up for forthcoming stories since Oliver and Isabel are now partners, although the thought of suffering through corporate conflict makes me weary (my therapist has advised me to avoid shows that bear a resemblance to S2 of Revenge).
As for new-to-Arrow actress Glau, I’m unsure how to feel about her ice-queen portrayal of Rochev. She’s definitely giving off a Terminatrix vibe (a holdover from her days as Cameron in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles perhaps?). Unfortunately this mostly just makes me wonder what her T:SCC co-star Shirley Manson might have done with the role. As it stands Isabel isn’t one of my favourite roles for Glau’s sci-fi postergirl, but I’ll temper reservations until she’s given more to do than insult Ollie’s intelligence.
That’s more or less my feeling about the entire episode: wait and see. The boring bits all feel like a necessary evil of starting the storytelling machine up again. Hopefully things will be back to normal next week. As it stands, this isn’t quite the edge of your seat, “hells yeah!” episode I was hoping for, but as a re-entry point, it more or less gets the job done. Plus: at least now Ollie has ditched the lame moniker from S1 and gone with the show’s namesake. Baby steps, people, baby steps.
- Adam Donner (Dylan Bruce) is the mysterious Alderman seeking to fix the Glades under the banner “Vote For Blood” (umm…catchy?). As played by Hot Paul from Orphan Black, this guy is clearly intended to be a new love interest for Laurel (Katie Cassidy) since she and Ollie are (once again) dunso
- P.S. Why did Laurel wear the hooch dress and set the make-up gun to whore for her visit to Tommy’s gravesite?
- Detective Lance (Paul Blackthorne) is no more. Now he’s a mere lowly beat-cop who looks silly in a uniform. I…don’t care
- Low-thread count prison clothes do not become Moira (Susanna Thompson), who despite the less than glamourous clothes is rocking a pretty jacked look (her type-A personality = lots of time in the gym?). Not sure about the prison visitation set, though – it definitely looks a basement married with a parking garage and they adopted a mesh fence from what remains of the Glades. Even Orange Is The New Black isn’t this depressing
- So how are we feeling about Thea’s sudden ability to manage a bar? Willa Holland is problematically baby-faced, so lines about bitching out a liquor vendor seem hilariously misplaced, but if it keeps her out of the driver’s seat and off of Vertigo, then by all means, let her play grown-up this season
- The tight pants and make-up are not helping Colton Haynes put those gay rumours to rest, amirite?
- Finally, there’s some kind of effort to reinvigorate the island flashbacks from five years ago by introducing a new threat to Ollie, Shado (Celina Jade) and Slade (Manu Bennett), but this just feels like a recycled plot. Again, perhaps it’ll turn out to be something more interesting, but for now it’s firmly in “meh” territory
- Oh yeah, Cathy Lotz makes her debut as Black Canary (though she goes unnamed and really might as well say “meow” and do a series of backflips). So far, so enticing…
- Felicity (after Ollie saves her): “You’re really sweaty”
- Ollie (when Thea suggests the vigilante isn’t coming back):“I’m back”
- Felicity (looking at the salmon ladder): “I liked watching you do that.” I missed her silly flirtations
What did you think of Arrow‘s return? Are you pro-Summer Glau or will she kill the show (as she so often does)? Will you be happy if Tommy is never spoken of again? Did Black Canary grab your attention? Any thoughts on the new island threat? Sound off below
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8pm EST on The CW