Is it possible to overcome a devastating tragedy without being changed by it for better or worse? What happens with your future when things don’t always go according to plan? That’s part of the premise behind The CW’s drama “Arrow,” which started its second season answering those questions and creating a few twists along the way. The results may have been done before, but the show’s near flawless execution kept viewers interested each week.
“Arrow” followed reformed billionaire playboy Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) who became a masked vigilante named Arrow to right some of his family’s past wrongs. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to fix one a year ago that involved his mother Moira (Susanna Thompson) helping someone build a machine that destroyed part of Starling City known as The Glades. Her role in the tragedy led to the deaths of hundreds of people and had her going on trial that could lead to a lengthy prison sentence or the death penalty. Oliver fled Starling City over his guilt in failing to stop what happened and how it led to the death of his childhood best friend Tommy. Oliver’s cohorts John Diggle (David Ramsey) and Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) seeked out Oliver to help restore order to Starting City. Oliver managed to return with them, but he vowed that he would never kill anyone else again as Arrow in memory of his deceased friend. He also had to contend with seeing his true love Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) who felt guilty over what happened to Tommy. She also took a job at the DA’s office and was no longer eager to help Arrow. Laurel wanted him behind bars just like the rest of the office. She was also at odds with her father (Paul Blackthorne) who was demoted after the tragedy. As Oliver battled various threats in Starling City, he also harbored a few secrets of his own that could get him into some trouble. He was using his younger sister Thea’s (Willa Holland) boyfriend to be his eyes and ears in The Glades because he grew up there and had connections that he could never obtain. Oliver also knew that Laurel’s presumed dead sister Sara (Caity Lotz) didn’t die the way that he told everyone, especially her loved ones. He was especially shocked when he found out that she was the Black Canary; a vigilante that he was looking for. Will Oliver be able to rid Starling City of its newest villain or will his secrets be exposed before it happens?
In terms of questions, the show posed a few big ones, but the biggest one was whether Amell’s Oliver will continue to live a double while his family remained oblivious. Last season’s biggest twist was when Oliver revealed himself to Tommy when he was dressed as Arrow. Of course, if Oliver revealed his true identity to someone else that could seal their fate like it did Tommy. For the most, the show seemed to be working wonders when Oliver was dressed as Arrow or it showed key flashbacks that explained what happened to him during his five year stay on the island. Sadly, the show could use some work in improving the stories when Oliver wasn’t in superhero mode. The initial episodes worked as they showcased how Amell’s Oliver was having a hard time balancing being a CEO of a major company with his secret identity and what that meant for keeping up apperances. The supporting cast excelled for the most part when it was connected to Oliver’s secret identity. Cassidy’s Laurel worked when she was connected to Arrow, but it failed to work when she started working against him. Cassidy’s character had seemed to lose a sense of purpose that has separated her from the rest of the cast. The show really needed to resolve Laurel’s sense of guilt sooner rather than later before she became a much needed casualty. Holland’s Thea had the same problem last season where she didn’t seem to fit in with the landscape of the show, but she now had a purpose as the character was given a much needed day job and a long term relationship to keep viewers interested. New additions Rickards and Lotz also managed to provide the show with a sense of attitude and humor that made them fascinating to watch each week.
As for breakout performances, Amell and Lotz proved to lead the pack as two very different vigilantes who went through similiar experiences and became different because of them. Amell embodied Oliver with a sense of playful morality that made him humorous even when he should be just a little more serious about certain situations. He provided the character with the right amount of danger that gave him a near bad boy allure that drove each potential love interest closer to him and to danger. Amell had a strong rapport with both Ramsey and Rickards that allowed for moments of comedy and drama as the three characters worked together to stop bad guys before they harmed anyone else. Although he did have chemistry with Cassidy, Amell’s on-screen relationship with her was marred due to unclear writing as to what direction the relationship will go. The characters flirt between friendship and near romance on many different instances. Amell’s most memorable scene came when he was quietly revealing his no killing plans to Tommy’s tombstone. The scene was touching and sad that Amell’s Oliver didn’t get a chance to show his deceased friend that he could change for the better. Lotz, on the other hand, proved that she was the show’s best discovery this season. She embodied Sara with a sense of grit and sadness as she fought many different assailants with ease, but she was unable to confront her family with the truth that she was alive. She watched them in silent sadness as she wanted to reveal herself, but she was afraid to disappoint them. Lotz also had a strong rapport with Amell that could turn into something more down the line if the show’s writers were willing to go in that direction; depending how long her tenure would be on the show. Fingers crossed that Lotz will be made a series regular as soon possible, or at the very least give her a decent send-off.
“Arrow” premiered on October 9th and airs on Wednesdays at 8:00 pm on The CW.
Verdict: The show was gaining momentum by delving into the background of Amell’s Oliver and building up a decent supporting cast managed to strengthen the overall story rather than taking away from it.
TV Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)