Arrow Season 2 Episode 2 (TV Show Review)

After the intensely action-packed season 2 pilot, Arrow returned this week with what proved to be an excellent follow-up. The pilot introduced us, however briefly, to a lot of new characters and this episode began to trot them out one by one even as we still dealt with the consequences of the destruction of the Glades from season 1’s finale, even though a year has gone by in-universe. The show has always dealt with the humane consequences of the Vigilante’s actions really well and this episode was no different.

Where last season was all about establishing Green Arrow in his “Year Zero” phase within Starling City, this season appears to be going for a “Year One” vibe. We know who the major players in Starling City are by now, despite all the reversals from “last” year and we get to see the cast expanded to include some really interesting characters, even as some of the important not-so-major characters return for another whack at both Starling and the Vigilante.

Arrow Logo 0001As I said, in this episode Oliver Queen has to confront the fallout from his mother’s involvement and culpability in the destruction of the Glades from last year. The survivors are being brought together as constituents of Alderman Sebastian Blood, who has been giving them focus and the determination necessary to see them through these trying times. And Oliver ends up in a confrontation with the Alderman no less than two times in this episode, and a third where the conflict between them is immediate but off-screen.

Broadly speaking, this was a great second episode to what was an excellent season pilot. It ups the character conflicts significantly and it makes it clear that the personal stakes in this season are going to very much that, personal. From the pilot, we know that Laurel is now committed to bringing down the Vigilante and we know that this is because of Tommy’s death during the destruction of the Glades. In this episode, we get to see a lot more of why she hates the Hood (the Vigilante) so much, where before she used to champion him as a saviour of the city. It is almost a heartbreaking scene to watch because of its emotional impact on both Ollie and Laurel. Stephen Amell and Katie Cassidy really get into their characters for these scenes and they pretty much up the ante in that regard.

We also see Roy Harper going further along his drive to emulate the Hood and do his little bit to save Starling City from the worst that it has to offer. The Glades Memorial Hospital has been running short of supplies for a while since all the resources that FEMA allocates to it are stolen in transit by persons unknown and he decides to take a crack at it. Of course, Ollie ends up finding out about Roy’s adventures and the two relevant scenes where they talk about it prove to be some of the best scenes in the entire episode. In the first, its a warning. In the second, its an invitation. I’m actually surprised that Ollie makes that call so soon into the season, but I shouldn’t be surprised really since it has been a moment long in coming. We were seeing the opening acts of it last season itself and it was significant that Roy, aside from his customary red jacket that he wears every now and then, was driving a red car in the opening scenes this episode. Its all a reference to Roy Harper’s role as Red Arrow/Speedy, Green Arrow’s sidekick in the comics. Its nice to see that the show’s producers and writers are so committed to bringing him in fully as a major player for the series.

There’s so much more to the episode of course. Like the fact that Kelly Hu returns as China White, a major figure in the American branch of the Chinese mafia, the Triad. And she brings with her Bronze Tiger, played by Michael Jai White. Together, the two of them prove to be quite formidable foes for the Hood and the action scenes between the tree of them are some of the best choreographed such scenes in the entire series so far. From the get go, we are shown that the Bronze Tiger is equal to almost anything that the Hood can throw at him, and it makes for a nice change in focus on villains after Malcolm Merlyn’s Dark Archer from the previous season. If it ends up like I expect, then Bronze Tiger is going to be a very major villain in Starling this season, on par with Sebastian Blood, who is most definitely an antagonist from the comics.

Where the pilot was a little light on the scenes set on the island, this episode has some extensive scenes. We continue to see the romance between Shadow and Ollie being built up, but this time we see that Slade subtly steps in to deliver a word of caution to the latter. Last week, Ollie killed someone, the bashing in the head with stone variety of killing someone, and this week we see some of the mental consequences that Ollie has to face, and how Shadow helps him through it all. And the way that the island arc ends this week, there’s going to be an even bigger mystery in that god-forsaken place this season than there was in the last. The stakes definitely appear to be higher in all respects.

Arrow Cast 0001

Watching the flashbacks on the island, I keep wondering just how soon we are going to see Slade Wilson transform into Deathstroke. Manu Bennett has been playing the character extremely well thus far and he does a great job again this time, although he hasn’t had any major scenes as yet, which is unfortunate. Despite all the grimness of the island flashbacks, he definitely makes the viewing experience a lot better. He has perhaps been the one character in the entire series thus far who has proven himself to be dependable and fully honest. He tells it like it is, and he doesn’t muddle up things in any way, especially not physically.

If there was any real negative to this episode, it was that Summer Glau’s Isavel Rochev and the mysterious Black Canary-ish character were both missing. They were practically highlights of the last one, and its interesting that they are not being played up more. But we’ll see how that works out. After a full season of awesomeness, I have full faith in the creative team behind the series to do things at the right moment for maximum effect.

Overall, this was a pretty damn solid episode and I’m still extremely pumped for this series.

More Arrow: S2E01,

Posted on October 19, 2013, in Arrow, Review Central, TV Show Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

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