Starring: Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen, Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance, David Ramsey as John Diggle, Willa Holland as Thea Queen, Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak, Colton Haynes as Roy Harper, Susanna Thompson as Moira Queen, Paul Blackthorne as Quentin Lance
Series developed by: Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim & Andrew Kreisberg
Episode directed by: John Behring / Written by: Andrew Kreisberg & Marc Guggenheim (story by Greg Berlanti) / aired in the UK: 21/10/2013
What’s this episode about?
A year after Malcolm Merlin’s ‘undertaking’ devastated the Glades of Starling City, a self-exiled Oliver Queen must return home to prevent his family’s company from falling into the hands of a rival and soon finds himself reluctantly returning to action to stop a group of copycat hooded vigilantes…
By the end of its first season, Arrow had truly come into its own and secured widespread approval from comic book fans worldwide. Like most shows it had its creative rough patches but by that explosive first season finale it had managed to iron out most of those kinks, allowing the series to return with renewed confidence for its sophomore season.
With “City of Heroes” the writers of Arrow wisely decided to pick up a year after the devastating events arising from Malcolm Merlin’s plans for Starling City resulted in heavy casualties – not in the least Oliver’s best friend and Malcolm’s son, Tommy (Colin Donnell). A tragedy so painful that it has forced Oliver to return to the very island he spent five years trying to escape from. It’s an interesting notion to have Oliver return to the place where his alter ego was born given that the arc of this episode presents a rebirth of the ‘Vigilante’ (more on that in a moment).
Back in Starling City, Thea Queen now manages her brother’s bar and is once again angry at her mother, imprisoned after revealing her involvement in the undertaking, Roy Harper has took it upon himself to protect the innocent in the absence of the Vigilante/Hood (but he’s not the only one, a mysterious figure familiar to DC Comics fans is also stalking the streets at night) and Laurel is now serving as assistant to the District Attorney providing a switch in her ‘relationship’ with the Hood.
The introduction of business rival Isabel Rochev (geek goddess Summer Glau) and her plans to wrestle Queen Consolidated from the hands of the Queen family brings Oliver back home but it’s the emergence of copycat vigilantes that force him to once again don the emerald hood. Tommy’s death weighs heavy on Oliver’s soul and brings about change, a vow to no longer take a life and fight only for justice and to protect the innocent. This a welcome if not unexpected change to Oliver’s ‘mission’, the character’s brutal and lethal actions during the first season attracted some controversy but it seems clear now that this was all part of a plan to provide Queen with valid motivations to become the hero Starling City needs. Amell has grown comfortably into the role and with this change in moral dynamics, gives viewers someone to root for.
It’s always good to see the writers of a series shake up the status quo and hopefully these changes (and challenges) will allow Amell and the supporting actors of Arrow to grow along with the series itself.
Accompanying the main plot is more of Queen’s back story via flashbacks to the island and the events leading to his eventual escape. These flashbacks (more often than not) proved an at times inventive complement to the main story but I feel it may not be long before it becomes a laborious and stale element of the series – let’s see how it plays out this season.
One of the highlights of Arrow is that it has taken one of the lesser known (and generally less interesting) DC Comics characters and via some Batman influence (check out the souped-up ‘Arrow Cave’) and with hints toward a new name for the Hood, a hero rises…
The bottom line: Arrow is back with a new sense of direction and holds promise for what lies ahead – essential viewing.
Did you know?
Later on this season we’ll see the introduction of another key DC Comics character – Barry Allen aka The Flash, whose appearances in Arrow will set the stage for a (currently in development) spin-off Flash TV series.
Arrow season 2 airs in the UK Mondays at 8pm on Sky 1. US viewers can catch it Wednesday nights on The CW.
What did you think of Arrow’s second season opener? Share your thoughts below!
Also on Geek Blogger UK: Have you read… ‘Green Arrow: Year One’