I have to commend Arrow in this season two. Yes, we’re only four episodes in, but not only have they hit the ground running, each week they manage to mix things up while keeping an overall consistency in tone. It’s the exact fine tuning that was missing in season one.
Yes, “Crucible” was a bit action light, which never goes over well for the fan boys, but I really loved seeing the emotional side of the story come through. This is a show with plenty of deep trauma and it isn’t plausible not to look at the emotional scars that happen with characters, and even Starling City itself, after their ordeals. Arrow has the benefit of Stephen Amell as their lead and his gift for telling us with mere somber expressions just how damaged Oliver’s past encounters have left him. This week’s big reveal was the perfect vehicle for opening up all those old wounds, and I felt every second of his agony.
I really commend myself, because I stayed relatively unspoiled about the reveal of the Black Canary. Was it a big bombshell that it turned out to be Sarah Lance? No, since that was foreshadowed with the whole “Sarah is alive” plot last season (BTW, when does Alex Kingston get to come back?). How it played out though was nothing short of fantastic. It was a deeply emotional reunion, two lonely and damaged heroes in the night on the rooftop sharing secrets. Oliver was truly stunned to see her, and that made the surprise all that more wonderful.
Also wonderful, was Oliver afterward sharing the news with Diggle and Felicity. Digg especially can read Ollie like a book, and the surprise that he knew Sarah didn’t die on that boat got me. The comment I made last week about Oliver being on the boat – “This is important for later” – comes true. How the Hell did Sarah turn up as a torturer for the captors? Ollie was truly shaken by the knowledge that Sarah was alive, and his reluctance to share the entire ordeal with Diggle and Felicity accents something that I thought has always been lacking every time we go into flashback mode. What happened on that island was pure agony, and it’s good to see for once Oliver play the traumatized victim when recalling those events. Major kudos again Mr. Amell.
BTW, who loved it was Felicity that figured out that the mystery woman was following Laurel, not Oliver. That certainly made it much easier for Sarah to get caught by Oliver. I also love that she knew it was Oliver the second she heard about the Starling City vigilante. Ollie better hope she’s the only one that has that keen sense out there.
Since trauma was the main theme this week, it’s only natural that the very broken Lance family get some spotlight time as well. I guess almost being turned into a toy was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Laurel. She’s now drinking and popping pills? Although that’s probably not a stretch considering all she’s been through, it seemed like a rather abrupt turn as well. I’m not sure why Laurel’s pain didn’t connect as well as everyone else’s, maybe it’s her denial, maybe it’s the acting, but her situation seemed more contrived than heartbreaking. If any good came out of that mess its Quentin’s concern. Paul Blackthorne is on fire as well this season. He sold the heartbreak of watching a loved one fall apart far better than Laurel doing the falling apart. Even Sarah, listening to her father’s plea to Oliver over Laurel at the club, showed way better emotional range. I felt her devastation for her family and her struggle that even though she wanted to help, she couldn’t. She’s not the little sister anymore.
So now, the question remains, how did Sarah end up being a torturer on a ship in a remote Chinese island after being swept off on a luxury yacht? Many have connected the dots that she’s part of the League of Assassins, which probably also spawned the Dark Archer, aka Malcom Merlyn. I’m dying to know how that all plays out, and hopefully this means the flashbacks will finally start opening up some very important backstory. Also, did you all catch that Sarah asked about Slade? While we didn’t get an answer, that tells us he’ll be around for a while. Just not this week.
On top of the trouble with our lead characters, Starling City continues to have it pretty bad too. The villain again wasn’t so bad, even if he was easily found and taken out after his ambush on Ollie’s cash for guns program. “The mayor” was as ruthless as they come, but in the end, as so often happens, he was victim in a vicious game of a higher villain. I know all of us saw it coming that the Alderman, Sebastian Blood, is behind it all. He was too good to be true. No one cares about the city like that and isn’t in it for a power play. This is a comic after all!
I even liked the Roy/Thea subplot this week. They both found a friend with Sin, and while I’m not sure where this is going, I always enjoy when time is taken to show the small, unsung heroes of Starling City. Those that have to live on the street, who have had it rough, but they care anyway. She and Sarah have certainly found a kinship. I know most consider since things a waste of time, but when the character is likable, it’s good to have.
- Nice of Summer Glau to make another brief yet cold hearted bitch appearance. Who knows, maybe she’ll eventually get to do something.
- There was a background news segment about some sort of particle accelerator. Make note everyone, because this again will be important for later.
- I’ll tell you what has been missing so far this season. When does Diggle get a meaty plot? I’ll even go with shirtless workout right now.
- Why are all these CW shows (minus Supernatural thankfully) insistent upon the opener being a narrative by a main character of what the season premise is and what’s been going on lately? There’s honestly nothing wrong with a “previously” reel. It takes less time. The whole thing comes off as cheesy when all these shows are doing it every week. Although, at least in Arrow’s case, the shirtless workout clips make it better.
Congratulations Arrow for making enough of an impact these first four weeks where I can’t wait to see what happens next. You’re one of the few shows on The CW (and The Originals) that I can say that about right now. More Black Canary drama next week! Count me in.