In the interest of full disclosure, let’s just get this fact cleared up: even with the good news I heard about it and having some interest in the character, I had no interest in watching the CW’s Arrow. In all fairness, those reasons were pretty much image-based: mainly a CW show starring a hunky guy with a title that thought the usage of “Green” wasn’t edgy enough. On the other hand, the CW has managed to do some decent genre shows besides the usual sudsy teen/20-ish dramas the network has been known for, like Supernatural and Nikita, but my schedule was a bit heavy that I hadn’t been able to catch up until now. The show came back earlier this month, so I thought I should check it out.
What I like about the show so far is how they treat Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) as someone who isn’t trying to be a hero, but just a revenge seeking, hoodie wearing vigilante. He can barely reconnect with his mother, his younger sister Thea, with his friends and loved ones, and with the world at large. The way his time being stranded on the island is being doled out slowly, but its clear that time changed him, and not for the better. As much as it’s a series about a mans quest for vengeance, it’s also about Oliver Queen’s quest to rediscover his humanity.
To that level, the series has taken some interesting turns with that quest, with Ollie including his family-hired bodyguard Diggle as a helper in his outlaw mission. It’s a nice idea to have someone who can be a sounding board for Ollie as his mission gets more complicated, and also someone who can physically hold his own against him. This is a good thing, since his family and friends are just struggling to connect with him. This can be one of the more annoying parts of the show (seriously, the guy lost his dad, his girlfriend/sister of his actual girlfriend, and spent five years of his life getting beat up on an island, so cut him some slack, OK?), but a lot of that I put on a show’s growing pains in its early episodes more than anything else.
Also, what’s been refreshing about Arrow to this point in the evolution of how Ollie deals out his justice onto the people he’s hunting down. This is a guy not afraid to murder people who don’t heed his warning to stop there life of crime, but due to his vigilante exploits not related to the list, his approach has evolved and changed. This is not some pro jumping into the hero game, but someone learning the ropes and developing his own approach to fighting crime. Its certainly an edgier approach to comic book heroes than something than even Batman would be involved in.
And for comic book geeks like me, there’s just the fun ways the show inverts a lot of recognized comic book names and Green Arrow lore. Knowing about “Speedy” from the comics and that “Speedy” in the show are two different people is tantalizing enough, but when you see the variations on villains like Deadshot, Deathstroke (soon to be revealed as a certain ex-gladiator on Spartacus, hint hint), and the Royal Flush Gang, its clear the show’s paying respect to its origins while pursuing their own Chris Nolan/ Dark Knight inspired take on them. Even the Huntress, more a Batman family character than one who would associate with Green Arrow, turned out to a great addition into the show’s lore. Yes, it provides some CW young person angst and romance, but that volatile relationship between her and Ollie ended up fueling the best episodes of the show so far.
I will say the show is a bit of guilty pleasure for me, in that I can see how good the show can be and how bad it can get (really, I have to believe John Barrowman, aka Capt. Harkness from Torchwood fathered a kid now in his late 20’s? John Barrowman is not immortal in real life, you know.), but I like what is unfolding so far. The whole mystery of what happened to Ollie on the island, the mysterious plot involving Ollie’s Mom and Capt. Harkness, and the mystery list of Ollie’s will probably be dealt with eventually. Meanwhile, I’m just content to sit back and enjoy the ride.