Fraught with deadly assassins, romance after romance and appearances from beyond the grave, the second season of Arrow marks a first for comic book adapted TV shows; it’s actually a well done, multifaceted story of a lesser known hero. The solid storytelling and emotional investment the actors have in their characters is tellingly consistent throughout the season, paving the way for other comic book characters to make their (successful) way to the small screen.
Picking up after the destruction of the season one finale, rich kid turned hero Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) is coping with the tragic loss of a dear friend, while navigating the twists and turns being a ‘vigilante’ of a perilous city provides. But he isn’t alone, with ex-military man and would be driver Diggle (David Ramsey) and cute computer whiz Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) on deck to land a hand; this golden trio are seemingly unstoppable. This tranquillity is of course uprooted by the arrival of Slade (Manu Bennett), Oliver’s old island buddy who is now cracked out of his mind on the super drug Mirakuru, which is basically a super enhanced version of steroids, and is intent on destroying those Oliver loves most. Cue the rest of the Queen clan, with rebellious sister Thea (Willa Holland), now running club Verdant and still dating boy from the wrong side of the tracks Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) and matriarch Moira (Susanna Thompson), who is in hot water following her involvement with The Glades project. Also dealing with the fallout from The Glades is Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) who has lost his detective position at the force and is back to patrolling the streets as a uniformed officer. His daughter and Oliver’s main squeeze Laurel (Katie Cassidy) is working for the DA department while spiralling out of control. But things are looking up for the Lance clan by the arrival of the thought dead Sara (Caity Lotz), who has gained some serious martial arts skills while she’s been away, and joins Oliver’s crew as the Canary.
Most of the season is dedicated to Oliver’s relationships, with both loved ones and enemies. Throughout we get to see glimpses, past and present, of the constant duality he has to deal with, and sex on legs Stephen Amell is without a doubt the only guy who could play Oliver Queen so perfectly. I don’t want to stereotype male actors, but ‘generally’ speaking most that look a certain way don’t necessarily need to possess any great acting skill. But Amell brings an emotional complexity to the lead character that draws you in to not only his struggle as a hero, but also as an everyday person. And hey, if you don’t like looking at an emotionally complicated Adonis, then Emily Bett Rickards take on tech genius Felicity is one of the stronger depictions of current female characters on the screen. Her awkwardness is both hilarious and endearing to watch, and while we don’t really get much of a backstory to her character, Rickards manages to present Felicity in such a way that you feel like you’ve known her forever.
Normally in a season, there are a few standout episodes that are a cut above the rest, but in this 23 episode arc, Arrow proves that ‘consistency is key’ when making a successful series. Before you start thinking ‘how is every episode that good’, the whole point of a show is to keep audiences interested and entertained, while also having a plot that makes sense and is intriguing. Arrow does all this and more, and as an audience you know that yes while there are a few minor plot twists here and there to add variety, the story is heading in the right direction and is always the primary focus, in every episode. Granted, the last five episodes of the season are the best, because it is such a well thought out ending that concludes that particular story arc while leaving room to grow for the upcoming season.
There was one particular part of the story telling process that does get a little grating, which were the flashbacks. A lot of shows use this technique, some better than others, and while it does add some brevity and insight to Oliver and to a lesser degree Sara, at the end of the day I just wanted to get back to the current action. This is obviously my personal opinion and some of you guys may love the flashbacks, but wouldn’t it be easier if Oliver just TOLD everyone what went down instead of keeping things a secret and then revealing them one by one? This is probably detrimental to Oliver’s wounded status, but interrupting the story with endless flashbacks became overdone towards the end of the season.
Superheroes are becoming a big thing at the moment, with the supremacy of Marvel taking over the world, but Arrow, the little train that could, is much more purposeful and emotional than a two hour blockbuster, and has become a fixture on my endless TV roster. Season two has cemented this show as a definite fan favourite, and is a welcome change from the usual pickings.