ARROW Season 2 review

27 May

arrow-00002

Welcome back, Arrow-heads! Covering this recent season of Arrow, I thought it would fun to go back and review the season as a whole.  To make it easier, I thought I’d follow the formula with the look back on season one, and point out the good and bad of season two.  So, let’s start with the good:

A Vigilante Becomes A Hero.  It was important to see the climax of season one change Oliver Queen in some way this season, and that was in his attempt to stop killing the bad guys.  It was a bumpy road getting from ruthless vigilante to ruthless hero, as that final encounter with season one villain Count Vertigo proved.  But it was important for the show to have Oliver evolve from just killing every single bad guy he fought into one who wouldn’t unless it was the last resort.  His handling of the events in the season finale is not the same way the Oliver Queen of season one would have handled it.  And that all ties back into the next plus of this season.

Slade: (muffled) "Hewo, kid."  Ollie: "What?"  "Hewo, kid!"  "What the hell did you just say?  I can't hear you trhough that mask!"  "HELLL WWWO KEDDDD!"  "Huh?"

Slade: (muffled) “Hewo, kid.” Ollie: “What?” “Hewo, kid!” “What the hell did you just say? I can’t hear you through that mask!” “HELLL WWWO KEDDDD!” “Huh?”

Better Big Bad This Season.  With apologies to season one baddie Malcolm Merlyn, but Malcolm and his Undertaking felt a bit distant from the arc Oliver was on until the very end of that season.  Whereas bringing Slade Wilson (pumped full of Mirakuru, and batstink crazy) to the present as the big bad of season two instead of leaving him stuck to flashbacks on the island worked very well dramatically (and more on that further in).  What worked about Slade Wilson’s insane plan of vengeance against Oliver and everyone around him was that it kept that threat personal.  You weren’t sure what Slade was going to do and when, which made those games he played with Oliver more impactful than a random villain of the week.  And tying this back into the previous plus this season, Oliver not killing Slade after the murder of Moira and all the chaos he caused makes Oliver a stronger hero, even with the possibility of Slade one day escaping the island prison he’s on now.  To paraphrase what Oliver said, “(Slade) made me a killer on the island, but made me a hero to Starling City”.

Better Handling of Flashbacks.  Thanks to Slade being the bad guy of season two, this allowed the flashbacks to be more important once the reveal of Slade in the present had dropped.  Now the flashbacks didn’t feel as detached like they did in season one, but integral to filling in the backstory behind how Slade turned from Oliver’s friend into his enemy.  They also helped explain Sara being brought back into the series as a key player in the past and present this season.  And now that we are off the island (at least for season three), how they’ll be plugged into next season is a big question I may dread getting the answer to.

Just hanging out...hanging out...hanging out in my skyscraper...having ourselves a party...

Just hanging out…hanging out…hanging out in my skyscraper…having ourselves a party…

An Expanded Universe.  Arrow dabbled in bringing in characters from the DC Comics earlier, but season two blew the hinges off that.  Besides bringing Black Canary in as the not-dead Sarah Lance, we got peripheral characters like Barry Allen and name drops of Ra’s al Ghul to tease us to the bigger world out there.  That led to some fun reveals like Amanda Waller, her Suicide Squad, and the connection to Diggle and Oliver.  Its funny to see a more cohesive superhero universe with the DCU being done here than in the attempts done on the big screen.

The Ladies. For the problems I noted in season one regarding the female characters on the show, season two fixed a lot of that.  Laurel and Thea had a lot more to do and actually made a significant impact on the show throughout, Felicity became the My Girl Friday of the show, and the addition of Sara certainly added some tension to an already overstuffed narrative.   And hey, I’m all for adding a former college student/ex-assassin into this pot already.

"Aw, you're gonna try punching things, Felicity.  That's cute."

“Aw, you’re gonna try punching things, Felicity. That’s cute.”

So let’s go into the bad parts of the season:

The Villain of the Week Problem.  The villains of season two were an improvement to be sure, but its also telling the ones that came back from season one (with the exception of Deadshot, who improved with each appearance) gave us the weakest episodes of this season.  On the other hand, you have characters like the Clock King and Shrapnel that were only interesting to a point before they got dealt with. But its still progress, as small as it is.

Underserving. There was a lot that happened this season, and that was for better and for worse.  As big as the cast was this season, this lead to a few characters introduced being gone for long periods of time.  Take Isabel, who seemed like a more corporate adversary for Oliver early on, only to find her arc turned into some deep Queen family beef and helper in Slade Wilson’s quest.  Instead of the controlled woman we met, she turned into the psycho ex-girlfriend who happened to die and get Mirakuru-powered up before dying off again in a pretty quick way.  And then there are some plotlines, like Diggle’s search for his brother’s killer that have gone by the wayside it seems until next season.

The Fate of The Salmon Ladder.  I wonder what happened to the salmon ladder after the season finale when the HQ got trashed.  What was its fate? It was one of the more integral characters on the show!  Dammit, Arrow producers, we need to know!

All I need is a Sarah McLachlan song underneath that image and maybe we'll get some results.

All I need is a Sarah McLachlan song underneath that image and maybe we’ll get some results.

Well, that’s it for season two of Arrow!  So your thoughts and opinions?  What are the highs, lows, and highlights of the season to you?  You mind me coming back to recap season three?  Sound off below, and I’ll see you in the fall for season three…

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