An Arrow Community
Thursday 9:00 PM on The CW (Returning October 12, 2017)
I confess to being somewhat skeptical of Arrow when it was announced a couple of years ago. In my mind, failures like The Cape were still fresh memories, and the CW's previous DC show Smallville was a bit too tween for me, its final efforts to create a DC Universe hindered by budgetary constraints and some bad writing.

So, when the first step of the Arrow creative team was to wipe the slate clean, and go for a new incarnation of the Green Arrow (no disrespect intended to Justin Hartley, but Amell makes for a better GA), my hopes got a little higher.

And they continued to rise with the first trailer, and then even more with the excellent action-packed pilot. I felt the show´s tone, both plotwise and visually, was on the spot, and it told a story I wanted to hear, not only as a comic book fan, but as a general TV viewer, as well.

The first season had its ups and downs, but delivered in spades on the drama, action and establishment of a credible universe, which always felt much larger, and more organic, than, for instance, Agents of Shield, who relies too much on inconsequential name dropping and movie references (I must point out that I'm more of a Marvel comic book fan than a DC one). Standouts would be the almost island exclusive episode "The Odyssey," one of the most fun and exiting hours of TV I've ever seen, and the season finale, which cleverly shook up the show's status quo, while setting up lots of plot lines.

The sophomore slump is an affliction that usually affects young TV shows that start out great, and descend into a fiery pit in their second year, like Heroes did. Even Lost suffered from that, its second season being the weakest of its run.

Not Arrow, no siree. The writing team came out full steam ahead, developing plots from the first season, and introducing us to a coerent universe that appeals to both comic book fans and general public: even someone who doesn't know what the hell is an "Amazo" is will be thrilled by the nefarious plans of Professor Ivo and his quest for the Mirakuru (or Miraclo) serum. The island flashbacks continue to be some of the best parts the show delivers, and I love how they are becoming increasingly relevant to the present storyline.

After several episodes that developed old characters like Thea, Roy, Felicity (that girl is the best!) and Diggle, while introducing a couple of new ones like Sara Lance/Black Canary, the show is pushing on a bold direction, kicking open the doors to a bigger canvas: discovering that the big bad from last season, the Dark Archer, is but a disavowed and unimportant member of the League of Assassins is an example of that expansion. Add that to the introduction of Slade Wilson to the present storyline as a main villain; the leader of the aforementioned League Ra's Al Ghul, with his connections to Batman, and the Mirakuru/Miraclo serum (which will undoubtedly connect to the proposed Hourman show), and you get a DC Universe with enough potential to crossover to the big screen.

Sure, there are some kinks to iron out, Laurel Lance being the most notable, but, as far as I can tell, Arrow could become the show that sets the template for superheroic TV.

That said, bring on more episodes starting January the 15th!!
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Dec 16, 2013
Wait...Slade is Ra's Al'Gul? Too or instead of Deathstroke?
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Dec 16, 2013
Slade isn´t Ra´s Al Ghul in the show. Well, at least, not that we know of: The writers could be saving that twist for later! :) . In the comics, Ra´s and Slade are two different guys.
Rereading the text after your comment, I saw how the sentence could be misinterpreted, so I made the necessary changes to make it more clear. Sorry for the trouble, and thanks for reading and commenting.
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Dec 16, 2013
Thanks..I saw Bat man Begins so I know who and what Ra's al Ghul is and the timeline would be totally off since Malcolm was trained by him and that was when Tommy and Oliver were eight.
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Dec 16, 2013
Be mindful that Batman Begins doesn´t belong in the same "timeline" as Arrow. They both feature the League of Assassins and Ra´s, but in different incarnations. Given that the writing staff of the show likes to play with the audience expectations about established DC characters, like they did with Black Canary, we should expect some twist as to who Ra´s Al Ghul really is.
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Dec 16, 2013
I know, but they won't totally play with the timeline of this actual show. Slade is at most ten years older than Oliver, so he likely didn't train Malcolm who, while we know is not as old as they want us to believe, trained almost twenty years before since Oliver does seem to have been a year or two older than Tommy (based on grave stones). Slade was likely fifteen at the time Malcolm went.
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Dec 14, 2013
I agree with almost every point here, except that LOST's second season was the weakest. Season 3 was a complete disaster.
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Dec 14, 2013
Well, yes, but the season 2 and 3 finales were both top 5 episodes in the series, which helped redeem them a bit. I took a crack at ranking the finales in our Lost Community.
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Dec 14, 2013
Endings are important, but the journey there is just as important. The muddled mess that was the first 2/3rds of LOST season 3 make the finale an afterthought, or serves to anger you all the more because you see how good the show can be.
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Dec 14, 2013
I am not thrilled with the fact that Roy was "miracled"
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Dec 14, 2013
I'm not too keen on that either but we have seen almost nothing of Roy post injection so I'm taking a wait and see atitude on how they deal with Roy and the outcome. Anything now is pure assumption.
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Dec 14, 2013
P.S. to PedroP: I live in Japan and speak "Janglish" so Mirakuru is how the Japanese would pronounce Miracle. So typing it as "Miraclo" may be a mistake/typo unless that is how it is represented in the comic book.
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Dec 14, 2013
Thanks for the remark, but it wasn´t a typo. It is stated in the show that mirakuru is japanese for miracle. Miraclo is, in fact, the comic book name for the serum that grants Hourman his powers. I used it intentionally in the text to point out the comic book reference, and its possible connection to the upcoming CW DC show "Hourman".
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Dec 14, 2013
Thanks for setting me straight since I don't have any comic book background,
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Dec 14, 2013
I'm no Arrow fanboy from the comics--only came into the show with a very shallow knowledge of the Arrow-verse--but man, I'm really enjoying this superhero show! You're absolutely correct that (thus far anyway) the writing team has done well to steer away from a sophomore slump. I'll be forlorn for the next 5 weeks awaiting the latest installment.

I did have a few (extremely) minor gripes with the latest episode: Roy shown visibly limping during his break-in to recover the file of his friend but then tearing out as if his arrow-wounded knee was nothing more than a paper cut, then Roy re-emerging in the Queen mansion after being MIA and no question as to how he got there, and the Felicity-Ollie-Barry triangle.

In regards to the last gripe, I can go either way with whether or not an Ollie-Felicity relationship develops. Certainly it's been previously portrayed that she is at least smitten with Ollie and crushes on him. But it has not been reciprocated thus far so that when Barry Allen was introduced last episode she sees great potential there and gets all googly-eyed over the future Flash--almost (but not quite) throwing Ollie under the bus. Yet this latest episode she seems to revert back to an open crush on Ollie while largely ignoring Barry other than to get him jealous by her affectionate displays toward Ollie. Felicity playing school girl games doesn't quite strike me as her style.

Enough said! Looking forward to a second half of the season that is holds up as well as the first half has so far.
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Dec 14, 2013
We still have half a season to go before we can fully compare season 1 to season 2, but so far I would agree with you. I have become much more invested in the show than I was in season 1. You've mentioned some of the reasons; I'll briefly expand, if I may.

Thea and Roy have finally become relevant to the plot. For a long time, Thea seemed to primarily exist to cause friction in Oliver's life and complicate it further. Similarly, Roy seemed mostly to exist to make things more troublesome for Thea (and thereby for Oliver). It was hard to empathise with these two, or care much about their storyline. Now it is finally getting tied into the main plot and they are relevant.

Laurel is still a slightly weak point for the show (and this in no way is a criticism on Katie Cassidy; I put this squarely on the writers' shoulders. Anybody who speaks ill of an actress simply because they dislike the character does not deserve an internet connection; stop infesting the fandom with this behaviour). But her character's presence seems more balanced so far. We have episodes without Laurel or with only a few scenes, which I think is preferable to forcing her into the episodes. We have had a few where she plays an important part (like the Dollmaker episode), but most importantly: her connection to Sebastian Blood means she will be relevant to the overall storyline with Slade's revenge.

They are willing to tackle some of the more ethical issues of being a vigilante. Oliver's code not to kill, the situations where he must make an exception and do so nonetheless (particularly against the Count as well as Gold - it is significant that Quentin Lance outright tells Oliver he has to kill Gold), this is what a superhero show needs. Not just action and explosions and heroes saving the day, but actually considering the consequences of having a hero operate outside the law etc. In fact, I think the show could go much further in this vein; I think that could mature this show to its full potential.

Saving best for last, Felicity is working out great. I think the writers recognised that they had a good, unique character on their hands that resonates with much of the fandom. Having Felicity promoted to Oliver's assistant was a smart move in my opinion. Not only does it make good sense story-wise for Oliver to have both Diggle and Felicity close by; they can help protect his cover and they are always nearby to aid him in his activities. More than that, however, it is a great way to show overlap between Oliver's dual lives. We saw it in the excellent episode 2x06 "Keep Your Enemies Closer". Not only does using the corporate jet cause entanglements with Oliver's business partner, but the show actually verbalised what everybody on the outside would assume: that Felicity is promoted to assistant because of her looks, not her talents. This is the correct way to create friction between characters and force them to make choices or accept unfavourable situations - because unlike with Thea (who simply caused friction because that was what her character was supposed to do), the dilemma with Felicity working directly for Oliver has an explanation tied to the plot.

Alright, so I lied when I said briefly expand. I regret nothing.
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Dec 14, 2013
I liked Arrow because of the great action scenes. Season 1 the focus was on Arrow on a mission to honor his father. This season it is all about Arrow finding his identity and instead of vengeance for his father, he wants to honor the memory of his friend Tommy. Oliver has had to play many roles running the family business, brother and son, and crusader for justice. Laurel has been relegated to a part-time status, which doesn't upset a lot of fans. Green arrow has upgraded his bow and disguise but I miss those action sequences. I myself prefer Justin Hartley in the role of Arrow because even though he is not as adept in the physical stunts as Stephen Amell, I prefer his portrayal of the role.
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Dec 14, 2013
It´s not that I don´t like Hartley´s GA. I just prefer this tougher, more focused GA. But it´s a diferent show, so I think each one adopted the character in the way best suited for them.
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Dec 14, 2013
True. Justin Hartley played a more mature version of Green Arrow and Amell's Arrow is still finding his identity.
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Dec 14, 2013
I agree with your assessment. Every show is going to have some duds or even a string of dud episodes. It's just the way it is. However Arrow has just been consistently great and the momentum and rhythm just grows and grows.

I think one of the things that makes Arrow stand out is the slow builds it does with the characters. They don't rush things and they really don't take any longer than necessary to pay it off. Last season the build to Felicity joining Team Arrow, the back and forth and ultimate failure of Ollie and Merlyn and his undertaking.

This season the reveal of Slade as the man behind the curtain was just fantastic. That could not have been as good had they not built all that angst and relationship over the course of a season and a half. Other shows I think would have pulled Felicity in sooner, pulled Roy in sooner, and would have produced a fully costumed two dimensional Deathstroke sometime last season. The slow burn can be excruciating at times but the pay off is so sweet.

My hope is they are able to pull off the same rythm with the Flash series and really practice over on that show what they have executed so well on Arrow. They will have a serious one two punch of a TV universe, one that is exceptionally worthy of belonging to the same universe being built in the movies by Man of Steel and its followups. I've waited a long time to see the DC universe realized in live action. Marvel may be winning the box office but if DC can replicate the Arrow playbook, and keep it building season after season. They will win in the long run.
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Dec 14, 2013
dang, great review PedroPacheco2! Do you review for a living? Cos that was a great write up :)
Im an Arrow fan, not into the comics but do know a small amount about both marvel & dc characters (follow all the movies!), Stephen does a fantastic job in this role, hes also amazing on his own Facebook page, lots of genuine fan interaction - never seen so much of it from anyone famous before!
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Dec 14, 2013
Thanks for the compliment. Unfortunately, for now, writing for me is only a labor of love. Who knows what the future holds?
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Dec 14, 2013
Great post! We've promoted it to the homepage.
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Dec 14, 2013
Thank you!
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