This review contains spoilers.
1.2 Honor Thy Father
Last week’s premiere episode of The CW’s Arrow was one of the strongest debuts of the new season, and everyone was waiting to see if the quality could be maintained over an entire series. Judging by this excellent second episode, things are looking positive for one of the year’s biggest surprise hits, and leaves the audience wanting so much more after yet another entertaining forty-minute slice of of crime fighting, family tension and super-archery.
This week sees Oliver enter his mission to clean up the city in a more organised way, attempting to hide his alter-ego from his friends and family while protecting Laurel from the corrupt businessman she’s helping to bring down. We see Oliver target the background baddies over general criminals on the street, going through his father’s list of society’s dregs as a guide. These are the people who might go unpunished if it weren’t for vigilantes like Green Arrow, and that gives the show a sense of purpose above the weekly vengeance saga it could have been. We learn that Queen Industries has actually contributed to the problems back home, giving Oliver a personal interest.
The conflict of interest between various characters is interesting this week, too, since Oliver, Laurel and Quentin are all after the same man but going about it in vastly different ways. Quentin believes that there’s no need to go outside of the law to get justice, and his conviction is this idea casts doubt on whether Oliver’s methods are necessary. Each week we’re likely to see a cop, a lawyer and a masked vigilante clash over how to deal with problems, and it really separates the show from other, more narrowly targeted, series. Arrow isn’t afraid to question what Oliver is doing, and I like that a lot.
We get a new DC villain this week as China White briefly enters the frame. I assume she’ll pop up again throughout the series since she wasn’t really defeated here, and she sticks pretty closely to the comic book version of the character. Involved in the drug cartel that Martin Somers has been facilitating, her hyped appearance made much less of an impact than I had expected. In general, there wasn’t as much action in this second episode, but the brilliantly written character development and quieter moments more than made up for the slightly muted excitement level.
Everyone is having trouble with Oliver’s return to the living, and the episode begins with the slightly surreal sight of him legalising his own resurrection. This formality hasn’t made things easier for Moira or Thea, however, and the former’s shifty intentions are becoming more and more sinister. One of the final scenes of the episode reveals that she had something to do with the boat crash – and thus her husband’s untimely death – and the slow drip-feed of information is working brilliantly. Though there are many who hate long, drawn-out plots, I’m a sucker for a big mystery, and I’m hoping they keep things under wraps for a while.
In the same way, I can anticipate the flashbacks adding plenty of intrigue to each episode. This week, we only account for a few hours of Oliver’s experience and, considering they have five years to cover, it’s made as entertaining as possible. Admittedly, I was slightly worried we’d just be watching Oliver look for firewood and master archery, but this episode revealed that he wasn’t quite as alone as he’s made out since his return. Who is this Arrow-lookalike? Hopefully this is something that’s revealed next week. It’s a complete unknown to run alongside the weekly hunt for criminals, and I can’t wait to see more.
But the most entertaining thread for me this week was Oliver’s rejection of his father’s company, and the tug-of-war it caused between his head and his heart. The scene at his father’s grave, in which he tells him that in order to honour his wishes he must dishonour his memory, was perfect, and I’m really impressed with the depth these familial relationships are being given. Thea is still a highlight for me, too, telling her brother that she felt closer to his memory than she does to the real thing. Oliver’s bodyguard, Diggle, is actually the only character able to psychoanalyse his charge, and I foresee him becoming some kind of accomplice down the line.
All in all, this was another great episode of Arrow, with cliff-hangers and intrigue to spare and some genuinely engaging characters to boot. What was Moira’s involvement with the accident? How long with it take before someone discovers what Oliver’s up to?
Read Caroline’s review of the season premiere, here.
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