'Arrow' right on target


  • TV
  • Tuesday, 12 Nov 2013

Arrow has launched into its second season with breathtaking speed and precision.

NEVER losing the momentum it built in the last quarter of the first season, the second season of Arrow moves full speed ahead with its action quota and storyline.

Just four episodes into the new season, it has – so far – given its viewers more than a few jaw-dropping moments, with each episode ending with Ay Caramba-type cliffhangers.

The first season concluded with the unleashing of a man-made earthquake orchestrated by the first season’s baddie, The Dark Archer. This has left the poorer part of Starling City, The Glades, in ruins, and the occupants so angry that it’s only a matter of time before they retaliate against the rich and powerful. That is pretty much the theme for the second season.

But first, we have to deal with what’s happening with our hero, Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell). He is consumed by guilt because he was unable to stop the disaster, which led to the death of his close friend. So what does he do? Oliver decides to return to the island – probably to punish himself for failing his city.

Luckily, his pals who know about his dual life – Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) and Diggle (David Ramsey) – track him down and convince him to come back. So, you know, they can get started on healing the city.

Interestingly enough, this is handled in just 15 minutes of the second season premiere. There is no lingering on the island or Oliver brooding and contemplating where he went wrong. Seeing one DC Comics character on television (yes, you, young Clark Kent of Smallville) crippled by guilt is more than enough, thank you very much.

'A little advice, Oliver ... ease up on the eyeshadow before people start mistaking you for Rocket Raccoon.' 

In the second season, the secret lair beneath Oliver’s nightclub has gotten a facelift too, along with all his arrows. On a less superficial level, the hooded vigilante has decided to change his modus operandi and not kill every baddie he comes across. Instead, he lets the authorities deal with them in accordance with the law. This kind of control is obviously a positive development for the man who played judge, jury and executioner in the first season.

As a counterpoint to this development, the show’s flashback sequences show us Oliver committing his first kill during his initial time on the island. Back in Starling City, however, Oliver’s story sees yet another transformation; with his mother in prison (thanks to her role in engineering the earthquake) and his stepfather out of the picture, he takes on the role of CEO at Queen Consolidated.

There are undoubtedly similarities between Arrow and Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. There is even one episode dealing with vigilante copycats, like in The Dark Knight. But, since Arrow is “copying” from a good source and churning out good episodes, we are totally OK with that.

While Arrow is supposed to revolve around the main character, it has given us a couple of strong supporting characters also. Well, except for Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy); she is as boring as ever and still has zero chemistry with the rest of the cast. Actually she’s even less likeable now since she is now determined to capture Starling City’s vigilante and bring him to justice.

Her character is being developed to distract Oliver further as she now has a new problem – alcoholism. No disrespect to this real problem, but Laurel just makes it nonsensically dramatic.

Fortunately for the viewers, the strong female quota is filled up quite remarkably by Rickards (for the Starling City scenes) and Celina Jade (for the scenes on the island). Rickards’ character has been bumped up from being Oliver’s IT girl to his executive assistant. Felicity’s promotion has elicited a number of hilarious exchanges between her and Oliver – whoever is “funnying up” the script for their scenes together is doing a good job. That man is just too serious sometimes.

Another girl who is making heads turn is Black Canary (Caity Lotz). In the comics, Black Canary has been paired romantically and professionally with Green Arrow. Here, she is initially a stranger to Oliver. More importantly, her presence gives rise to an interesting storyline when it is revealed that she is somehow connected to Ra’s al Ghul, Bruce Wayne’s teacher-cum-enemy in Batman Begins. This allows the show to feature even more of its trademark cool action sequences.

Another girl that has piqued our interest is Isabel Rochev (Summer Glau), a calculative businesswoman who

is trying to take over Queen Consolidated from the Queen family. But there must be a reason for casting Glau, known for action-oriented roles, right?

There are other characters’ stories running concurrently too – Roy Harper finally realising his ambition (to be the vigilante’s assistant) and Thea Queen running her brother’s club and being a pillar of strength for her imprisoned mother.

Personally, I like what the series has done with Paul Blackthorne’s Detective Lance (who is now Officer Lance, after his demotion). He now seeks out the vigilante to help him bring down the bad guys.

This is the man who was vehemently against vigilantism and yet he now sees that it is not the worst idea out there if it stops the crooks. It’s a complete turnaround, leading you to wonder what the consequences could be here.

With so many balls in the air, Arrow is capably juggling everything like a pro right now. If the second season keeps at this pace, it will be a worthy inheritor of the (Nolan) Batman legacy.

*Arrow airs every Monday at 9pm on WarnerTV (HyppTV Ch 613).

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