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Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Sky one's hit US drama Arrow returns for Second Series.

Arrow returns to Sky1 with a series opener that scores a bullseye!  The episode, entitled City of Heroes, quickly catches viewers up on the devastating series one finale that left Team Arrow shaken and John Barrowman with one less television gig.  City of Heroes picks up three months after the earthquake and Starling City has need of heroes and heroines.  By the end of the episode, executive producers Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg have answered this question while raising new ones.


After failing to prevent the destruction of Starling City’s slums (known as The Glades) and the death of his friend Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell), Oliver (Stephen Amell) exiles himself to the island.  Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) and John Diggle (David Ramsey) parachute onto the island in order to convince Oliver to return home.  They need Oliver to avert a hostile takeover of Queen Consolidated.  After a brief interlude involving a land mine and Felicity ogling Oliver’s physique, Team Arrow is reunited and return to Starling City.  I was pleased with the speed at which the creators reassembled the trio.  Arrow accomplishes this task within the first ad break.  Clearly the writers have more pressing things for Oliver to do than wander around the island (save that for the flashback sequences).

Leading the takeover of Queen Consolidated is Isabel Rochev, played by science fiction television and nerd icon Summer Glau (Firefly/Serenity, Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles).  Individuals familiar with Glau’s previous roles will note the actress delivers her lines with a detached efficiency, her signature acting style.  Glau has traded in a character that relies upon automatic weapons for one that uses a fully-loaded spreadsheet.  Oliver and Glau’s initial boardroom scene is interrupted by the arrival of an armed group of vigilantes called The Hood gang.  This gang is inspired by Oliver’s actions in series one; they believe the Queen family must pay for what happened to The Glades.  Ironically The Hood gang has co-opted Oliver’s tagline, “You have failed this city.”

Prior to the assault on Queen Consolidated, The Hood gang assassinates Starling City’s mayor.  This event not only helps build the case for Oliver’s eventual intervention, but allows viewers to catch up with Starling City’s crusading lawyer Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy).  Throughout series one, Laurel was conflicted about The Hood.  Tommy’s death has solidified her view on The Hood; Laurel is now determined to bring the vigilante to justice.  However she is unaware The Hood is her on-again-off-again comic book soul mate Oliver.

Superhero shows such as Arrow are not complete without the antics of teen sidekicks.  Thea (Willa Holland) has graduated from hiding in her bedroom to running Verdant, Oliver’s club and secret Arrow Lair.  Assisting Thea at Verdant is her devoted boyfriend Roy Harper (Colton Haynes), who is also moonlighting as a red hoodie wearing vigilante.  Thea, who is naturally upset over Roy’s second occupation, is still harboring anger and resentment towards her mother Moria Queen (Susanna Thompson).   Unlike series one, viewers are not treated to numerous scenes of Thea whining.  Thea’s anger appears to have boiled over after being abducted by The Hood gang (the trigger that causes Oliver to start slinging arrows again).

Colin Salmon briefly reappears as Oliver’s step-father Walter Steele at the final hour.  He helps Oliver retain fifty percent of Queen Consolidated.  Steele was a calming presence during series one and helped ground Thea; I missed the character when he was off-screen during later episodes.  I was glad Salmon was able to get time away from the housing estate he resides on in BBC3’s Some Girls and check-in on his other family.
The producers emptied their quivers with this first episode.  They clearly want its audience to know the show has matured and are willing to have its characters evolve.  However the creators understand Arrow is a superhero television show first and foremost.  Viewers will be so engaged by the action sequences and character development; they will probably overlook the episode’s flaws.  The resolution to The Hood gang is too quick and does not feel earned.  Unfortunately this is bound to happen in plot heavy episodes that need to be tied up in less than forty-five minutes.  Thea, an underage drinker in America, managing a night club is a little absurd.  This is ironic because Arrow is a show about an individual performing death defying acrobatics while using a bow and arrows.  Though it is hard to imagine Thea authorizing deals with alcohol distributers, it does create some potential conflicts for Team Arrow.  I enjoyed the first series tremendously but I recognized its flaws.  Looking back I understand the first series was Green Arrow’s origin told over twenty-three episodes.  The second series is when his mission truly begins and I will enjoy watching it unfold!

Arrow continues Monday's at 8.00pm on Sky One.

Contributed by Mo Walker

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