With the conclusion of the previous season, we had the syndicate and the members of the conspiracy actually being successful in their plans which was very unexpected!  With a significant portion of the city in ruins, Oliver felt that he’d not lived up to the promise he’d made himself and his father and ended up fleeing back to the island.

While he now considers the island something of a sanctuary vs. a prison, when Felicity arrives to get him to return back to the city, he reluctantly agrees.  Especially when she tells him that they don’t want him to come back as the Vigilante but rather as Oliver Queen as that’s who the city now needs.

As an aside, this does kind of make you wonder why no one else could find the island before when Felicity and Diggle seem to find it so easily, but let’s put that aside for now.

However, when Oliver does return to the city, he finds his company is now a takeover target and his family is literally considered to be the cause of the all the cities woes.  Oliver decides that he is the only one that can save the company and save all of the employees from the “evil” Summer Glau (let’s be honest, her character name doesn’t really matter does it?!) and her plans to decimate Queen Industries.

Meanwhile – Thea’s boyfriend is fighting to protect the glades similar to what Oliver did as the hood, however, he simply doesn’t have the same level of skill and while he is able to rescue someone, he also ends up beaten up quite nicely.

Thea has managed to take over the running of the bar but she has not gone to see her mother in prison and while she seems more mature than the first season she still obviously has some serious problems and demons in her own house that she needs to deal with.

Another group of vigelantes however have echoed Oliver’s mantra also and determined that they need to take on his job now that the Hood is no longer there.  They kill the mayor and capture the new district attorney who also happens to be Laurels new boss but she manages to fight them off and they depart empty-handed. We also find that in Oliver’s absence Detective Nance has now been demoted to a beat cop  is no longer able to question Laurel or anybody about what has happened

When the new vigilantes attack Oliver during the course of his board meeting he cannot act in the way he would like to and orders Diggle to keep him safe.  He does however jump out a window and swing down to another floor thereby saving Felicity’s life.

Oliver goes to prison to visit his mom in the effort to get some help and assistance and gaining the funds he needs to save the company from hostile takeover she manages to point him in the right direction.

When the vigilante’s attack the nightclub that Thea is managing, Roy (her boyfriend) manages to incapacitate several of them, but they are still able to capture Thea and escape.  This is the catalyst that Oliver needs to resume his activities as the true vigilante and the true Hood.

Oliver manages to track down the vigilantes to the church but they are unwilling to listen to reason and he is almost forced to kill them even though he does not want.  However he manages to stop them and himself and leaves them tied up so that officer Lance can find them.

Woo Boy … OK, lets finish the first season of Arrow off shall we?  As mentioned in my previous posts, I’m aiming to get the first season done this month and will then try to get all caught up prior to the launch of the new season in the fall.  If you’ve not seen the show or read my previous updates, I’d urge you to start there first as not only would you not understand who the characters are, you’d also not understand their motivations and reasons for their actions … of course, I’m also guessing though that if you’d not seen the previous episodes, you’d probably not be reading this post either! 🙂

The Huntress Returns

If you recall from the previous post, the Huntress wanted to kill her father whom she blamed for killing her fiance … while Oliver tried to rehabilitate her and get her to understand that murder wasn’t the way to redemption, she was unwilling to listen.  When Helena learns that her father is planning on striking a deal with the Feds though, she realizes she needs to do something now, or he will be able to get away scott-free as with the witness protection program in place, she’ll have a very hard time tracking him down.

Realizing that she’ll be unable to remove him from F.B.I custody by herself, Helena demands that Oliver help her.  When he initially refuses, she retaliates by kidnapping Tommy but is captured by the police who’ve set a trap for her.  Oliver manages to break her out to protect his secret, but when he demands that she leave Starling City, she refuses and instead grabs Felicity who’s able to tell her where her father is being held.  Oliver manages to track her down in time and stops her killing her father, but in the scuffle, Officer McKenna (Oliver’s love interest at the time) is shot.  In the hospital, McKenna reveals to Oliver that she plans to move to Coast City for her rehab, effectively ending their relationship. Meanwhile, Tommy struggles with his knowledge of Oliver’s secret, which in turn affects his relationship with Laurel.

While Helena’s father is on the “list” this episode didn’t really serve to drive the underlying story forward too much and while the action was fast and furious it was more of a filler than anything else again.

Salvation

OK this one is definitely a doozy and makes up in a very significant manner for the filler episodes we’ve seen previously.  While the primary part of the episode is about another vigilante calling themselves the Savior, the underlying story arc advances significantly and really helps to move the story forward.

The Savior believes that he’s “helping” the citizens of Starling City and more specifically The Glades which is a very poor part of the city by targeting those individuals that take advantage of the weak.  His first target is a slum lord that he coerces into confessing his crimes on a live broadcast.  He follows this up by targeting the District Attorney and while Oliver attempts to stop him, he’s unable to catch him.  Felicity however realizes that he’s actually using an abandonded subway car and subway line to travel the underbelly of the city so when he next grabs Roy (Oliver’s sisters “friend”) he’s able to track him down and stop him.

Travelling in and through the Glades however Oliver realizes that this is actually the target of the secret organization, and while he doesn’t yet know what they’re planning on doing, he does know where!

Malcolm meanwhile has reached out to the Triad who have been surprisingly accommodating in providing information on who tried to assassinate him. Moira realizing that Malcolm would quickly come for her and her family throws Frank Chen at Malcolm as the actual conspirator and Malcolm in his archer attire removes Frank from the board.

On the island meanwhile, Oliver and Slade manage to rescue Yao Fei’s daugher from Fyers.

Unfinished Business

A bit of filler wrapping up some loose ends here as we don’t really get any further into the whole conspiracy and end up only rehashing old villains and stories.  However in a nutshell, Vertigo is back – this time in a new form and when it reappears on the streets, Oliver determines that the Count must be behind it.  Breaking into the psychiatric hospital where the Count is being kept, Oliver finds that he seems to have lost his mind from the drug overdose that he received months previously from Oliver and guesses that someone else must be behind the drugs reappearance.  When it is reported that the Count has escaped from prison however Oliver suspects that the Count was faking it the whole time and sets out to hunt him down.

Felicity however does some analysis of the new drug and discovers that there are some new chemicals present that have changed the formulation.  When she relays her findings to Oliver, he realizes that the Count’s psychiatrist is actually behind the resurgence of the drug and he was only using the Count as an unwitting patsy and dupe.  Oliver manages to stop the doctor and save the Count – unfortunately the Count really has lost his mind and was unaware of anything that was going on!

Home Invasion

Another action packed but filler episode here that doesn’t really advance the underlying story too much.  It seems (for obvious reasons) that whenever Laurel involves Oliver and the Vigilante in one of her cases there is only a peripheral tie in if any to the overall conspiracy & while I like her as a character, I regret spending time on these episodes as they don’t really do anything for me!  Anyways, long story short, Laurel is representing the Moore family that were bilked out of their life savings by a corrupt businessman.  When a hit is put out on the family, the only survivor is the couple’s young son, who is unfortunately a witness to the crime.

Laurel decides to take the boy home so that she can keep him safe, but the assassin knowing that he’s been identified decides to hunt him down there.  Oliver steps in and helps to rescue to Laurel and the boy and when Tommy who now knows Oliver’s secret identity declares that the safest place for Laurel and the boy is Oliver’s house, Laurel takes him there.  Once again however the assassin attempts to kill the boy but this time, Oliver is able to kill him before he can get to Laurel and the boy.  Unfortunately while Oliver might have done the right thing in saving the boy, he’s betrayed Diggle as he did not help him in his search for Deadshot which is what he promised to do.  Diggle decides to leave Oliver as he accuses him of always choosing Laurel over anything else (which I have to agree with!).

During a flashback to the island, Shado teaches Oliver to shoot a bow but before his skills can be used as their cover, Yao Fei brings Fyers’ men to their hideout to capture them all.

The Undertaking

Walter’s back!!! Yay!!!

Ooops, sorry for letting the cat out of the bag, but this is a good one that ties up quite a few open loose ends and brings things together in a very tight, neat and organized fashion … you absolutely must watch this one as it answers lots of different questions.

In a bit of a comedic twist, Felicity finds details of a money transfer that ties back to Walter’s kidnapping … unfortunately when Oliver confronts the individual responsible, he claims that Walter was killed.  When Oliver informs his family of this detail, Moira immediately confronts Malcolm.  Malcolm shows her that Walter is still alive, but by doing so, he makes it clear to Oliver that he is the mastermind of the whole organization & he has Felicity hack his phone to determine Walter’s location.

Oliver then breaks into the facility where Walter is being held and in a very awesome fight sequence, manages to free him and return him to the family.

We also learn that Robert Queen while initially in agreement with Malcolm’s plans for the Glades, ends up disagreeing with what he intends to do.  Malcolm ever the man of action decides that continued conversation on this topic is not the solution, but rather it would be better to kill Robert so he has a bomb planted in the Queen’s Gambit just before Oliver and Robert set off.

Darkness on the Edge of Town

You can tell we’re getting to the end of the season now as the secrets and revelations are coming at us fast and furious!  Malcolm as the other archer goes to Unidac Industries and ties up the loose ends remaining there – namely killing the scientists responsible for building his device.  Oliver is unable to stop this but confronts Malcolm as the Vigilante himself, but is once again defeated by him.  This time Malcolm learns Oliver’s secret and in typical villain fashion expounds on his reasons for doing what he is doing.

Walter realizing that Moira was involved in his abduction and possibly in the death of Robert also, issues her with divorce papers and Tommy witnesses Oliver and Laurel “making up” prior to Oliver’s battle against Malcolm.

In a flashback, Fyers reveals that he plans to cripple the Chinese economy by blowing up aircraft going into China. Fyers then murders Yao Fei (gasp!!!) after forcing him to take credit for the attacks via video recording.  That was seriously unexpected!!

Sacrifice

Wow … definitely not the end that I envisioned as basically our hero fails!  Very, very unexpected and quite poignant.

In a nutshell Oliver manages to escape from the chains that Malcolm had left him in & after speaking to his mom about the Undertaking she holds a press conference to let the whole city know what’s about to happen.  Detective Lance with the help of Felicity manages to find and defuse one of the weapons targeting the Glades but after Oliver finds and defeats Malcolm he learns that there is still another one which he proceeds to set off in the process demolishing the East side of the Glades.

Tommy meanwhile has learned that his father is the other archer and also what his plans are for the city.  Rushing to save Laurel who is trapped in her office at CNRI, he arrives in time to rescue her, but in the process is caught and crushed by falling debris before Oliver can save him.

So to end this season, we have Yao Fei dead, Tommy dead and it looks like Malcolm is dead also!  While Deadshot came back from the dead, I fear that we might not be as fortunate with some of the others. 🙁

Overall a really good first season … it was engaging and the storytelling and action sequences were excellent.  I’d like there to be less filler episodes but I know all shows have them so I can’t complain too much.  Even the fillers had some good action!  Really looking forward to Season 2 and beyond.

I know you’re probably thinking its a little bit insane starting up another TV show when you’ve got so many currently on the go – Agents of Shield and Once Upon a Time are both in progress as you know, and we’ve just finished Agent Carter – but sitting on the couch watching The Flash (another show that will need some posts written) recently on TV I kind of wanted to see you where he came from and I knew that the linked show and where he first appeared was Arrow.

Now while I generally try to cover shows on an episode by episode basis even those that have been around for awhile – you can see what I mean with Supernatural (that Nia and I are both covering) and also with Once Upon a Time – I don’t think I can devote the same amount to Arrow even though I would definitely say it is worthy of that treatment. What I will do however is instead of giving you a full season recap, I will rather do a multiepisode recap / review instead so that over the course of a couple of posts we’ll both be on the same page with this show and we can then do an episode by episode review of the season that’s currently on. So without further ado let’s jump into the first couple of episodes from Arrow Season 1.

Green Arrow
Green Arrow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Episode 1 – Pilot (Recap)

As in most superhero and movies and television shows the key criteria is to introduce the character as well as their motivations and reasons for acting the way that they do. In the pilot episode of arrow we are introduced to Oliver Queen who was shipwrecked on a remote Pacific island for 5 years.

After being rescued he is returned to Starling city where he is reunited with his mother (Moira) his younger sister (Thea) and his best friend (Tommy). Oliver informs them all that his father died when the ship went down along with a girl – Sarah – taken on the trip with him. Unfortunately Sarah’s sister – Laurel – was actually Oliver’s girlfriend at the time and she is less than pleased to see him return from the dead. In addition Laurel’s father – police detective Quentin Lance – also has a bone to pick with Oliver as blames him for the death of his daughter.

However what none of them really realize is that while they can see Oliver has changed during his time away they have no idea how much. Oliver has been given the mission by his father to “right the wrongs of his family; to fight the ills of society and to restore Starling city to its former glory”. Oliver similar to the Batman myths and legend takes it upon himself to right these wrongs by becoming a vigilante and using his skills to find and defeat the men on the list that his father provided.

Oliver’s first mission and his introduction to Starling city is an attack on Adam Hunt. Adam has scammed millions from the citizens of the city and it is up to the Arrow to get it back. The police chief detective obviously does not want vigilantes running around in his city and takes it upon himself to capture him.  We also find out that his mother has an ulterior objective as she organized a fake kidnapping of her son to find out if her husband and actually told him anything.

Episode 1 – Review

As introductions go its actually not bad as we get to see all the main characters, we get to understand the motivations and while I don’t know DC as well as I do Marvel so can’t really tell you whether or not this introduction is accurate to the comic, it’s got me interested and wanting to see more. I do know that the Green Arrow has been around for a while and that he’s a member of the DC equivalent of the Avengers (the Justice League), but his books are definitely not as popular as Superman and Batman.

Oliver Queen is a billionaire’s son. He’s a playboy. He’s neither a genius nor a philanthropist. While on a boat trip with his father and his girlfriend’s sister, the boat goes down and Oliver is left as the sole survivor, forced to try to survive on a remote island for another five years. Personally I would state that a bow and arrow seems a little bit old school in today’s world however that’s probably what makes it work. There are many, many similarities to Batman

  • the billionaire playboy with parent issues
  • a deep seated need to right the wrongs of the world etc…

but it still stands alone quite well as the constant flashbacks gradually give us an idea of how this boy became a man!

Well I know if I mentioned that I got into the show because of the Flash … I’m actually very curious to see if they have plans on doing another crossover in the future – perhaps this time with Gotham as I think that would be very interesting!  On to Episode 2!

Episode 2 – “Honor Thy Father

OK this is where other characters from the DC Universe also come into the picture so I’ll try to provide you with some detail on them also as I think I’ve mentioned previously I’m more of a Marvel geek vs. DC.

In this episode we’ve got another target – Martin Somers – that is also on the list (mentioned above) … Martin is being targeted for prosecution by Laurel as she is representing the daughter of a man that Martin Somers had killed.  Oliver confronts him as the Arrow and forces him to make a confession (not too sure how admissible this would be?) but is forced to fight China White, an assassin working for the Chinese Triads.

On the island we see Oliver attacked by a hooded figure (similar to his Arrow persona) wielding a bow and arrow.

China White

In the comics China White is a drug czar and has enslaved the inhabitants of an unnamed Pacific island.  She gets these people to work in her heroin fields and supplies the bulk of the drugs throughout the Pacific rim.  On the Arrow however she is the leader of the Chinese triads in Starling city although in her first appearance she seems to be more of a paid gun for hire.  She has a recurring role in the show however and I’ll provide more details in subsequent posts.

Episode 2 – Review

Overall not too much advancement here in terms of Oliver/Arrow.  Its good to see other characters from the DC universe included at such an early stage of the show as it indicates that they will be bringing more characters into the mix at a later stage.

To be honest due to my slowness in writing this, they’ve already had a cross over between Arrow and the Flash and I expect that we’ll see more secondary characters and shows introduced in the future.   I’d probably state that the best part of this episode is the end when Oliver is struck by an arrow by the unnamed bowman on the island.  It gives a clear indication of the trauma he went through and hopefully starts to explain how and why he became the person he now is.

Today’s millennial generation may have a hard time understanding that as recently as the early 2000’s comic book fans had to endure years between getting their comic book movie fix. Flash forward to 2015 and we are now on the cusp of a golden age for fans of the super hero genre. Since 2012, television has spawned weekly live actions series based on comic book properties such as Constantine, The Walking Dead, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Peggy Carter, Batman, The Flash and The Green Arrow with a plethora of shows including Daredevil and Powers just on the horizon. Although we are still in the infancy of seeing these beloved characters represented on the small screen, there have already been some fantastic high points. I recently “nerded” out after hearing that Jim Gordon and Bruce Wayne would make their way to television on Gotham. I sat on the edge of my couch in eager anticipation of the revelation of what brought Agent Coulson back from the dead on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Despite stiff competition from several of televisions recent “geektastic” highs, no single television event thrilled me as much as seeing The Flash and The Green Arrow side by side on my tv screen.

I do not feel like I am putting my reputation on the line when I assuredly claim that Stephen Amell or Grant Gustin will not be awarded the Emmy for best actor for their respective work on The CW’s Arrow and The Flash. I’m definitely not going out on a limb saying that either program isn’t on the precipice of earning a Golden Globe for storytelling or best ensemble. To be honest, both shows bring in miniscule ratings compared to what the major networks broadcast opposite them on any given night. The one thing that I can definitively say that Flash and Arrow do better than any show on the air right now is send hypnotic signals over the airwaves that travel straight into my brain and manipulate my mind by turning off the parts of it that I use to rationalize and make sense of the world. In other words, Flash and Arrow are The World’s Greatest shows at providing me with 40-minute intervals of pure, unadulterated joy and nonsensical excitement.

Finding out that Flash and Arrow would being sharing the screen in a two episode cross-over event (Flash vs Arrow and The Brave and the Bold) engulfed me in a nerd-gasmic rapture on par with finding out that Haley’s comet would not only be returning early, but passing through several double rainbows and leaving a trail of Cocoa Puffs in its wake. Leading up to Tuesday December 2 and Wednesday December 3, I manically scratched each passing day off on my calendar with the feverish desperation of a federal prisoner counting down the last few days of his 25-year jail sentence. As much as I looked forward to seeing colourfully dressed masked men, using punches and kicks to the face to keep villainy at bay, there happens to be one significant element of their team up that I can appreciate on a much deeper level. The Flash and Arrow cross over event acted a superhero coming out party with each show finally acknowledging that for series about a couple of guys that run around their cities in colorful, skin tight leather, the subject matter is often taken far too seriously.

As much as I appreciate that these live-action superhero movies and tv shows exist, I also must acknowledge that we are getting watered down versions of our favorite heroes and villains. I attribute the disconnect between what comic book fans want and what studios are prepared to give them to the antiquated notion that superheroes and comic books are not “cool”. As nerd culture continues rapidly permeating modern day pop culture, the once pervasive line of thinking that comic book subject matter is for children and lonely, dateless men no longer holds up. Even as Hollywood continues to suck the lucrative comic book source material well dry, they refuse fully embracing the subject matter’s core elements (superpowers, code names, colorful costumes). We live in an era where a Batman film that raked in over a billion dollars at the box office refused to refer to Selina Kyle as Catwoman. On the series Smallville, Clark Kent spent a decade running around Smallville and Metropolis forging an identity as “The Blur” rather than follow his natural evolution into Superman.  On Arrow, Oliver Queen spent most of his time in Starling (which should be Star City) being referred to as The Vigilante before the show almost gets it right by just calling him The Arrow.  Changing the bright colors of a character’s costume so that it translates better on television is an unfortunate but necessary alteration that needs to be made to make the jump from the comic’s inked pages, but what’s wrong with getting the characters name right? It’s these kinds of adjustments that tell comic book fans that their heroes are silly and must be altered so that non-fans can accept them.

Much like Bruce Wayne in Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies, Oliver Queen’s journey on the series Arrow begins in a world that was so similar to our own that it appeared as though super powered heroes and villains could not exist. As the show progressed, it started to lean more heavily on comic book tropes like men with enhanced strength (Solomon Grundy), Oliver wearing a mask (instead of a smear of make-up) and meta-humans (Barry Allen).  It is no coincidence that as the series got more “comic booky” it got better. The CW only became comfortable giving fans a show like The Flash after Arrow slowly revealed that embracing Arrow’s comic book roots was not scaring the audience away.

The current television versions of The Flash and The Arrow characters perfectly represent the black and white decision making behind the way that movies and television prefer to represent the genre. The predominant line of thinking is that grim, humourless heroes will cater to mature audiences while light hearted, super powered, bright costumed heroes are juvenile. Lightning striking Barry Allen and leaving him with the ability to outrun bullets is ludicrous. And guess what? A man with a bow and arrow warding off a highly coordinated team of terrorists is ludicrous too. When television and movies pick and choose what elements of the characters are so geeky that they must be excluded they are missing the point. Spider-man is a story of a teenager who despite life knocking him down and kicking him in the teeth, carries on fighting and remaining optimistic. It shouldn’t matter how dark of a blue his costume is or if his web shooters are mechanical or organic. If a writer is charged with creating a Spider-man script and they think it’s silly that a teen-ager wears tights and can stick to walls, they shouldn’t rectify it by putting him in a gritty, humorless, realistic world. They should go and create another 90210 reboot.

Of the two programs, Flash is the truer to its origin and not coincidentally lighter in tone. The series Flash incorporates villains with names like Captain Boomerang and The Pied Piper and the team’s headquarters contains a secret underground super-villain prison. The show also happens to be a lot of fun. So far, The Flash is beating Arrow in the ratings. It’s also no coincidence that Arrow’s highest rated episode of the season by far was the Flash crossover (3.92 million viewers with the next closest episode bringing in 3.06 million). With Hollywood being what it is we all know what comes next. Over the top comic book based series are going to start popping up like the tiny critters in a game of whack-A-mole until market over saturation drives audiences away from the genre.

Although the intention of bringing the Flash and Arrow series together for a crossover event was initially just a blatant attempt to boost ratings through cross promotion, the true benefit of the amalgamation was that it took the shows out of their tonal comfort zones and redefined each of their narrative boundaries. Oliver represents the grim, humourless, brooding real world tales that studios have been feeding us with our comic book movies and Barry offers us the exuberant first steps into impossible fantasy worlds that ring true to their fantastic roots. By bringing these two series diametric worlds together the writers found a Meta way of saying to the fans that they know how silly each program becomes when they only embrace one end of a very wide emotional spectrum. In order to have a well rounded Arrow series, Oliver needs to fall in love, Diggle needs to crack wise and Felicity needs to…actually leave Felicity as she is, she’s great. The Flash series will be more compelling when the mood is not always so cheery, the stakes are raised and the Star Labs team treats their villains as more than impotent threats and silly punch lines.

Bringing the characters together extended the scope of both programs and created a narrative hybrid target that both series must continue to aim for. Somewhere between the 1960’s Batman and 2008’s The Dark Knight there exists a sweet spot for the perfect Batman iteration to exist. When the CW mashed together their two vigilante series, they overlapped The Flash’s exuberance and bombast with the grim machinations of Arrow and created the equivalent of a superhero television Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. For that brief 80-minutes of superhero television the stars aligned, the comic book gods were appeased and I enjoyed The Flash and Arrow more than ever because they did a better job at unabashedly recreating the elements that fuel my love of comics.