This review contains spoilers.
2.1 City Of Heroes
The first season of Arrow definitely went out on a high and, with so many casting announcements and spoilers surfacing over the summer, fans are more than ready to jump right back into Oliver Queen’s story. It returns with a lot of backing from The CW, who like it so much they’re giving it a bigger budget and a spin-off to air next year, as well as a loyal fanbase who, a year ago, were entirely unconvinced that a gritty superhero show could work on television at all. It should be bigger and better than ever this year and, judging from this episode, it just might be.
If you were expecting them to skate over the ramifications of the Glades disaster last year, then you’re underestimating the show. Not only has Oliver returned to the island over the summer, but the effects of over five hundred deaths at the hands of a collection of rich and powerful people looks to be the central underlying plot of the season. A lot of shows would have forgotten about it and moved on, and I’m very excited that hasn’t happened here. The threat in this premiere relates directly to the themes of the show while also making Oliver reevaluate his moral code, and I’m betting they’re not the only former Glades residents who fancy exacting a little vigilante justice right now.
Since the finale, Oliver has run away to the island for some alone time, Diggle and Felicity are in standby, Laurel is now working at the DAs office, Quentin has been demoted to beat cop and Thea is running the club in between make out sessions with Roy. Moira is in prison and has become the target of most of the hatred surrounding the Glades disaster – probably because her confession of guilt was on TV and everyone thinks Malcolm is dead – and Thea’s been cultivating a serious grudge while Ollie’s been away. Why she’s running the club I can’t figure out and, after the events of this episode, I struggle to predict what the writers are going to do with her this season.
Oliver is back in business by the end of the episode, however, with a newly refurbished base of operations, a new moral code and a new name. It takes him almost the full hour to get there, of course, but the moment when Felicity and Diggle jumped into action at the call of “I need to check something downstairs” was simply glorious. If we weren’t convinced at the end of last season, the trio feels very comfortable. All three of them have individual, interesting relationships with each other and, unlike many ensemble hero teams, they each have a distinct function and established cover story. It’s easy without being boring, and that’s exactly what you want from your core cast.
It’s also the reason all the other characters have struggled to find their place, however. Lauren’s new job should make it easier for her to be involved in the weekly cases, but the off-limits romance between her and Oliver is going to get tedious. I guess she’ll get stuff to do when Black Canary (glimpsed at the end of this episode) arrives, but it’s a shame she won’t put on the mask herself. Roy is a different matter, as he’s already on his way to becoming Red Arrow, spending his nights helping people and stopping criminals. I hope we follow him at some point, as his story has the potential to be just as interesting as Oliver’s.
We also met Summer Glau’s Isabel Rochev, who wants to take over Queen Consolidated now it’s become associated with such public negativity. Oliver enlists Walter’s help before she can do this, and they’re now partners so we can look forward to a little more of her over the next few weeks. We all like Summer Glau and, as the first of many new villains coming to Star City in season two, Rochev should make an intriguing addition to the cast. Where we go from here will involve Oliver using new tactics that don’t involve killing his targets – a proper superhero in other words – but we’ll see how long it takes for that resolution to be tested.
Read Caroline’s review of the season one finale, Sacrifice, here.
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