Arrow Season 2 Episode 4 (TV Show Review)

The sign of a good show, especially in its early seasons, is that it needs to have a season-long arc. It needs to have a plot thread seeded throughout that particular season that progresses the overall story and moves the characters forward so that viewers are rewarded for sticking through with things. Additionally, the execution matters a lot, obviously. Do it with a heavy hand and the individual episodes come off the worse for it. Do it in bits and pieces, and you risk alienating viewers since each episode becomes a “situation of the week”.

This is where Arrow season 2 succeeds so well. We knew from the get go that there was going to be a major arc in this season, particularly since there were going to be a lot more heroes around in Starling this time and thus the stakes were going to be higher. The finale of season 1 contributed to that as well. So its really great to see that the “situation of the week” and the season-long arc are melded so well with each episode, and we are barely into the season!

Note: This review contains spoilers for the identity of the masked vigilante who may/may not be Black Canary.

Arrow Logo 0001As with the previous three episodes, there is a lot going on in this one as well. There are several ongoing plot threads that are addressed this time, specifically the identity of the masked female vigilante who has been following Ollie around the city of late and has shown up at some of his crime scenes. Another significant one is the relationship between Ollie and Alderman Blood, someone who is most definitely not who he appears to be since we know that he is a villain in the comics. Given the way that the episode ends, its high time that we see that side of him, which offers a strong contrast to his more benevolent image.

The reveal about pseudo-Black Canary’s identity is done early on in the episode and it introduces a completely new conflict in Ollie’s life, on both a personal level as Oliver Queen and a professional level as the Hood/Arrow/Vigilante, since the new vigilante-on-the-black is none other than Sara Lance, sister to Laurel Lance and daughter to Officer Quentin Lance. When last we saw her, it was in the flashbacks to the crash of the Queen’s Gambit, with Sara drowning at sea. Turns out that she’s been through a journey of her own in the years that Ollie spent on the Island and the year he has spent as the Hood. She has become a completely different person now, someone who can handle herself in a fight and is a match for Ollie in almost every way, as her action scenes in this episode show.

Caity Lotz’s performance as Sara leaves something to be desired since she is somewhat stuck on a single expression throughout the episode, but I have to say that she fits into the fight scenes really well. I’m hoping for a much more expressive performance from her in the upcoming episodes since she is likely to stick around for a good while and it remains to be seen whether she does become Black Canary or whether that role will fall on her sister Laurel after all.

And that brings me to one of the best “blink-and-you-miss-it” moments of the episode, when a news reporter mentions the Star Labs particle accelerator. Last we heard of it was in the season premier IIRC and its great to see that Barry Allen aka Flash hasn’t been ignored by the writers. He is supposed to make his debut on the show sometime around Christmas in what is said to be a two-parter, so seeding these little hints early on did well to keep me hooked. Its the little things like this that make this show stand out this season.

Furthermore, we once again get some information on the League of Assassins, the group that is run by Ra’s al-Ghul, the antagonist of Christopher Nolan’s highly successful Batman Begins starring Liam Neeson and Christian Bale. Ra’s al-Ghul and his League of Assassins have been a mainstay of Batman comics for a good long while and given everything that has been happening this season, it stands to reason that they are going to be major antagonists later on. And the very next episode is titled League of Assassins and I’m really excited for it since it promises to be one hell of an episode.

But this is not all that is happening here of course. Carrying on from the reveal about Sara is the fact that Ollie knows she is alive and that he is torn between telling her family that she is alive and keeping her secret. As it happens, he did see her after the Queen’s Gambit sank, at the Island specifically, but all he said on his return was that she had gone down with the yacht. Officer Lance and Laurel already hated him last year because he caused her death, no matter how indirectly, and they would react strongly if they knew that she had survived, but had still gone missing.

The conflict that Ollie goes through in this episode rivals any of his other personal conflicts we’ve seen till now and its nice to see that the writers are not cutting him any slack in that department. The only question that remains by the end is whether Sara is going to tell her family herself and whether or not she is going join forces with Ollie. She already knows about his dual identity, as it happens.

And with the roles of Officer Lance and Laurel now reversed in their affection/hate for the Vigilante, not to mention that Laurel is developing an alcohol problem given all she’s been through lately, compared to Quentin who had already gone through it last year, the timing is certainly interesting on all fronts. I love the cyclical nature of this show. People switch around their hats a lot and we’ve see this with Ollie and his sister Thea as well. Its one of the best things about the show.

Arrow Cast 0001

What it all comes down to is that each character continues to grow in a lot of ways. Even the Ice Queen Isabel Rochev mellows down a little in this episode, in spite of the fact that I wish Summer Glau was getting more screen-time. But perhaps that’ll come later on in the season and I wonder if she is going to tie-in with the whole League of Assassins story. That’d be something, I bet.

If there was a negative to this episode, it was the antagonist, known as the Mayor. He wasn’t really compelling for me at all, and he seemed to serve the needed bad guy role for this episode, which I think was doing a disservice to his character. He should have been built up in an episode or two and then taken down. As such, he came across as no different than last season’s the Count or a bunch of other one-note villains that have come and gone.

I’m really having fun, and that’s what counts most of all.

More Arrow: S2E01, S2E02, S2E03.

Posted on November 1, 2013, in Arrow, Review Central, TV Show Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

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