ARROW [Mid-Season 2 P/review]: Born on a Monday, GREAT on a Wednesday.

Annnnd here we are again GHG faithful… The Deacon helped you wrap up Arrow’s debut season, and now he’s back to talk about the first half of Season 2 (and, needless to say, there are spoilers for the current mid-season ahead, so tread carefully).

The end of Season One found Starling “No-longer-Star” City’s rougher sections of town — better known as The Glades — destroyed, err half destroyed, at the hands of Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) aka The Dark Archer. He was also killed by “The Hood”, Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell).. kinda.. sorta.. so, more on that later. Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) lost her love interest and son of our big baddie, Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell), in the wreckage of the explosion the leveled The Glades…

Hey, ya know what? Just read my wrap-up of Season 1 to refresh yourself the details.

THE AFTERMATH

Diggles does comics.

While not much has been done to advance the characters this winter, there’s no doubt “Arrow” has done an admirable job expanding the universe around the characters. The first half of Season 2 is full of introductions and references to the larger DC Universe (something “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” hasn’t quite managed to get right).

Once again, we’re presented with two stories being told alongside each other: present day, and flashbacks to Oliver’s time stranded on the island. In the now, Oliver has actually exiled himself back to said island, believing he’s failed in his mission and that his vigilante persona is no longer needed. The season opens with friends and cohorts John Diggle (David Ramsey, whose character was recently introduced in the Green Arrow comic book) and Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) traveling to the island to find Ollie and bring him home. They convince him that regardless of Starling’s need for Da Hood, they still need Oliver Queen.

He’s not quite convinced, but agrees, and returns to a city much different from the way he left it.

Queen’s now forced into the role of reluctant CEO of Queen Consolidated under the threat of a hostile takeover by rival businesswoman Isabel Rochev (played by former “Firely” and “Sarah Connor Chronicles” star Summer Glau… yum! As if I needed another reason to watch this show), who seems to have motives other than just business and profit. If the name sounds familiar, you’re right… Ms Rochev is an old Green Arrow villain, who goes by the moniker of “The Queen” — and actually at one point became the CEO of Queen Industries.

Obviously Oliver cannot let his company fall into her hands, as his mother Moira (Susanna Thompson) tells him that Isabel simply can’t be trusted (vigilant fans will notice that her name was on the list from season 1). He ends up buying much of the remaining shares of the company and now he and Isabel are partners and co-CEO’s.. and bedtime buddies, as a later trip to Russia sees them share a bottle of vodka and spend the entire night playing Tetris.

Or something like that.

No wonder Moody lent her a book on the train.

SISTERS, DAUGHTERS, & “DEATHS”

If a hostile takeover wasn’t enough, Oliver finds that his club, which is also the upstairs cover for The Quiver (Better name for what’s essentially Ollie’s Batcave, or Arrow-cave, in this case?), has been run by sister Thea (Willa Holland). While we’re not sure of the legality of lil’ sis owning the joint now, I suppose we’ll have no choice but to run with it. Her boyfriend with a strange affinity for red hoodies, Roy Harper (Colton Haynes a.k.a. the future Arsenal a.k.a. the future Red Arrow a.k.a. the man the most controversial “minor” superhero in the history of DC Comics), works there now too. He also beats up street thugs in the Glades at night — with The Hood gone, somebody’s gotta do it. Oliver ends up recruiting Mr. Harper to help in his fight, and, of course thanks to the show’s brilliant writing, not at all in the way you’d expect. Roy becomes more the messenger-boy, alerting our hero to suspicious things that go on in the Glades.

Hope he has unlimited texts.

Of course, Oliver dons the emerald hood once again despite trying to shed his vigilante killer persona. Opting for a new alter ego, they wind up calling him “The Arrow” (ehh.. we’re getting there…). He also decides to honor Tommy’s memory by not killing his targets anymore. I wonder if Clark will do the same?

Karaoke Tuesdays: Beware.

Speaking of Tommy’s death! Laurel Lance, now a Starling City District Attorney, blames The Hood for Tommy dying for some reason, and is on a personal vendetta to bring the killer to justice. And that lasts for a cool minute. It’s not important, and the only reason your Deacon feels the need to bring it up is that she sets a trap for The Hood. He’s surrounded by a SWAT team in the DA’s office when another vigilante — with some sort of sonic screeching ability — comes out of the shadows and rescues him. Turns out that this woman goes by the name “The Canary”; strange, because Canary was always Dinah (Laurel’s actual first name) Lance… Taking liberties for this version of the “Green Arrow” story, it’s Sara Lance (Caity Lotz). Yeah, the one that died on The Queen’s Gambit.

I guess nobody in comics stays dead anymore…even if comic adaptations.

I’ll get to that. Turns out, she’s a member of the League of Assassins (and probably the League of Legends in her spare time, which I hear isn’t often)! *Nerdgasm* This eventually leads to a showdown with The Arrow and The Canary facing off against Al-Owal, the man who trained Merlyn, and his henchmen. After which, Sara decides to leave in order to keep her family out of harms way. Oh! We also get a mention of Ra’s al Ghul (Liam Neeson’s character in Batman Begins) and his daughter… not that daughter, the other daughter… yea, there’s another daughter. And to think we’re just gettin’ warmed up.

Liam’s GOT to know this is better than Taken 3.

STROKIN’ IT

Moira Queen spends the first few episodes in jail while she’s on trial for the murders that resulted from The Undertaking. She’s eventually acquitted, but soon after we learn that the acquittal was orchestrated by Malcolm Merlyn! Yea, not dead… are you surprised? The leader of his shadowy organization has access to the damn Lazarus Pit! He doesn’t say this, but alludes to it. “There are parts of the world where death is an illusion. I’ve been to one.” He also tells us that he is in fact Thea’s real father. We can only hope he tells her that with his mask on. And when he tries to force Moira to tell her, she calls Ra’s and tells him that Malcolm’s back… apparently this makes Ra’s mad because The Undertaking violated the order’s code of honor and now Ra’s wants to kill Malcolm.

Boom.

Wait! Hang on! How does Moira know how to get in touch with the leader of The League of Assassins? Does she have him on speed dial? Does he get good service in Nanda Parbat? If so, I need to switch to whatever carrier he uses. Maybe my iPhone wouldn’t drop so many damn calls.

Shifting our flashback gears, we find out that Shado (Celina Jade) is now in league with Ollie and Slade Wilson (played by The Hobbit‘s Manu Bennett), and that — surprise!! — she and Ollie and seemingly every other hot girl on the show are somewhat of an item.

We all have our moments of Fury.

At one point, Ollie is kidnapped by pirates being led by Edward Kenway. Don’t we wish. Rather, it’s some doctor named Anthony Ivo (Dylan Neal), who you may have heard of. He’s looking to change the human race. He’s looking for a miracle. No really, it’s a serum that the Japanese developed in WWII to make an army of super soldiers (Enter Joe Quesada impression: “Shields block arrows, just sayin'”). The serum’s hidden in a submarine that was run aground near the island. When Oliver finds out that this “juice” causes rapid cell regeneration, he wants to save a guy who will someday be called Deathstroke with it. If he only knew… They end up injecting him with the serum and it kills him. But then later, it doesn’t! Slade comes back and kills the men holding Ollie captive, arriving just in time to find Shado shot and killed by Ivo. What Sara and Ollie don’t tell ‘Stroke is that Ollie was given the chance to save one and chose Sara.

Oh, and Slade was in love with Shado, and vows that the person responsible will suffer (or watch a younger Bruce Wayne die a frustratingly 20+ times against him in Arkham: Origins).

BACK II THA FUTURE

Now onto the “White” Canary… After The Queen’s Gambit sunk, she floated in the wreckage for a while before the same pirates found her and brought her aboard Ivo’s ship, the Amazo. Ivo took a liking to her, and she was working with him for a spell… maybe, we don’t know for sure yet. This is before The League of Assassins took her in, trained her, and fed her multiple re-runs of “JAG”. Eventually she crosses paths with Ollie and they end up working together… again, maybe… there’s a lot of cliffhangers here.

You should see how quick my #2’s are.

So, now that we know about the serum, let’s jump back to the present. Brother Blood (Kevin Alejandro) is using that serum to create an army of super strong minions. The first of which is Cyrus Gold (Graham Shiels)… another familiar name. He breaks into Queen Consolidated to steal a heavy piece of equipment. And yet another familiar face comes to town to help investigate, some guy named Barry Allen (Grant Gustin of “Glee”). He always shows up late, but he always shows up. Cyrus almost kills The Arrow, but Barry helps bring him back. When Ollie finally does manage to kill Gold, he does it in a way that could lead to a realistic take on Cyrus Gold’s other comic book persona.

We also have another little sort of band of heroes. Roy, Thea, and Roy’s friend Sin (Bex Taylor-Klaus, who would make a pretty damn good Harper Row…see Scott Snyder’s recent run on Batman), have their own thing going on; but when The Arrow tells Roy to back off the hunt for Brother Blood (who he believes killed his friend), and Roy refuses saying that Ollie can’t stop him, Arrow slows him down to keep Thea out of the line of fire. And let’s face it… who hasn’t wanted to shoot their sister’s boyfriend in the leg with an arrow at one point or another? This may lead to a bit of a rift between Roy and The Arrow, but hopefully nowhere to the extent of those piss-poor Justice League comics from a few years back. Roy ends up going back out to investigate, gets kidnapped by Blood and injected with the serum. Queen saves the day, resuscitating Roy in the process, yet when Thea’s boy-toy Roy wakes up, he finds the arrow wound completely healed.

“Good. I was starting to break out from all that eyeliner.”

WHEN LIGHTNING STRIKES

The end of the midseason finale has a couple more big reveals. Barry Allen has some sort of accident in Central City when a particle accelerator malfunctions, and he gets hit with some sort of red bolt of lightning. If only he were able to get places quicker… Before Barry left for Central City, he left Ollie a gift: a mask. The “Not yet Green” Arrow finally has a mask, and it doesn’t look as silly as you’d think a domino mask would look in live action. Personally, I would have preferred the goggles GA wears in the New 52, but, almighty Nightwing, this works too.

There was one more tiny reveal… Slade Wilson! He’s in Starling City and it turns out, he’s the mastermind behind Brother Blood and his operation. The merc’s now sporting some gray streaks, an eye patch, and a killer grudge against Oliver.

So, whether you don’t mind or absolutely despise the recently more-popular-than-ever term “midseason finale,” you better get used to it. Like they say, there’s no business like show business. Thankfully, the last episode of “Arrow” went beyond the hype, and has steadily improved to one of the best shows on TV. More importantly, diehard comic fans will finally get the chance to see Slade kick ass in his current DC persona, as well as interacting with the newer version of Oliver and not the rich boy from the island. I’m counting the days until we get an Arrow/Deathstroke showdown.

And that’s no Injustice.

Season 2 of “Arrow” thus far = 4.5 (out of 5) Arrows.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • The other story the Deacon is dying to see is that of Roy Harper. There ares so many ways that his character could go, especially now that he has the Mirakuru (i.e. miracle serum) in him. I don’t see him becoming Speedy (which could be Thea), or even really Red Arrow, but more likely we’ll see Harper going off on thugs all very super powered-like, of course thinking even less about the consequences. This could lead to Ollie trying to take him under his wing and train him. But, unlike your traditional Robin, this Roy is more like a “Damian Wayne”: cocky, anti-sidekick, and ultimately independent. This leads to a showdown between the two… Roy might even lose an arm in the fight. He’ll end up returning as Arsenal, trying to fight the same fight as Arrow, but in a different, more volatile way that puts them at odds with each other… two rival heroes in the same city.
  • But wait! Roy’s friend Sin. In the comics, Sin was a young girl destined to become the next Lady Shiva, and was adopted by Dinah Lance and Oliver Queen.
GRUNDY…SMASH?
  • We see another reference to Ted Kord, the second Blue Beatle. Nice.
  • Cyrus Gold, in case you aren’t familiar with the name, eventually becomes Solomon Grundy. Will that happen here? Looks like it could… they did read the poem on the show!
  • It has been hinted that Isabel Rochev is Edward Fyer’s benefactor on the island in Season 1. My theory is that they’re gonna pull a Dark Knight Rises on us and make her Talia al Ghul.

Arrow returns to the CW network on Wednesday, January 15 at 8./7c.

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