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REVIEW: Arrow 2×01 “City of Heroes”

Yes we are back folks: new season, new villains, new mystery on the island, Arrow has started very strong and seems to have taken many of the fans’ criticisms about the first season to heart. “City of Heroes” serves as a great jumping on point for new viewers, while providing just enough of the old frame work to not be annoying to old viewers. Yes after the events of the earthquake machine, which apparently everyone and their mother knows about thanks to Moria and what I can only assume are some very diligent journalists, The Glades are completely in shambles. Ollie has run back to the island to escape his failure, while Isabel Rochev (Summer Glau) is attempting a hostile takeover  of Queen Consolidated, also there are apparently Hood wannabes trying to get revenge on the one percenters. Really a jam packed forty two minutes of television and somehow it manages to all work effectively and not become too jumbled. So lets dive in and recap this.

A large part of the main plot of this episode centers around the idea that Oliver is struggling to find who he is as a hero. Is he the vigilante killer that Tommy believed him to be or does he have the ability to become something greater. What is so great about the Oliver centric plot is that it helps to play up the idea of his PTSD and Oliver coming to terms with the idea that he has failed not only the city, but the ones he cared about most. The scenes with Oliver explaining to Felicity and Diggle how he truly feels like a failure and a monster for being The Hood could have come across hammy or lackluster if not performed correctly. Luckily, Stephen Amell manages to bring the necessary gravitas to really get across the message and purpose of these scenes.

What really helped to elevate this performance and struggle between Oliver’s identity is how the action scene at the end was filmed. In season one Oliver would’ve just gone and killed all four of the bad guys without a second thought, but as Oliver is trying to develop his new method he realizes that he can’t just be indiscriminately killing everyone he deems to be evil. As he tells former Detective Lance, “I am trying a new way.” This is especially important given the fact that this weeks villains were supposedly inspired by The Hood. Although it was interesting to me that these wannabes decided to behave like the early season one Oliver in that they would only go after the rich and powerful. it seems to me that if you’re going to adopt someone’s ideals that you should go wholeheartedly and not just pick and choose the parts that suit you.

Of course it was not just Oliver who benefited from his time away from the city as many of the side character whom were previously weak in last season got some great development. The character who seemingly has benefited the most would be Thea who is now behaving a lot more like an adult by running her brother’s club and not shying away from responsibility. Willa Holland is really able to show Thea’s conflicted nature about her mother’s role in The Undertaking and how she is ashamed of her family. In this way she is very much like season one Oliver who resented his father for having worked with The Undertaking and was trying to make amends. The scene between Thea and Moria really managed to capture the raw emotion of Thea coming to terms with her mother’s decisions. The other character whom is continuing down their destined path is Roy, who in his off hours is apparently serving as the protector of The Glades from all of the hoodlums and drug dealers. I would just like to know where the hell he learned to handle an M4 like that because that was very well shot and showed some sort of tactical understanding of guns. Arsenal is coming indeed.

The only part that felt sort of weirdly out of left field was the island bits with Slade and Shado. Apparently since Fyers went down Oliver and Slade have been spending their free time just sparring and getting better trained, of course Slade makes a passing mention about wanting to get off the island when a mysterious ship (aren’t they always) shows up off the coast. Also, Oliver just randomly kills the guy after he attacks Shado, whether this is because the fodder attacked her or if Island Ollie is beginning to develop some sort of blood lust is yet to be seen, but it definitely would have been a smart move to leave one guy alive for some sort of interrogation.

The action was definitely very well handled for a large part of the episode with major highlights being Oliver and Felicity’s escape from The Hood’s and Oliver’s raid on the church. Each one was very well shot and was much brighter than some of the action we saw during season one. Hopefully, this trend will continue and we will get a lot more creative fights supposed to be one-on-one beat downs that we often saw the first season.

All in all it was a very welcome return for a great series and an excellent start to the season.

 

Final Grade A-

 

+A ton of great character development

+Great action all around

+Set up a lot of fun storylines

+Amell’s performance as Oliver

 

-Island stuff really did not fit in with the narrative

-Laurel still useless

-Villains kind of half assed

 

Extra Thoughts

-”Who’s Blood?” “Some guy running for councilmen in The Glades.” Pretty sure that is word for word what I said he would be doing in my Five Characters I Want to See in Season Two article.

-Black Canary makes a brief appearance to kick some ass. I have a feeling she will help train Roy at some point.

-Team Arrow finally has The Quiver!!! Think of it like Arrow’s Batcave.

-Walter showed up, you have no idea how happy that made me. I hope he continues to pop up once in a while.

About the author

Scott Swartz