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Season Review: Arrow
WARNING: MILD SPOILERS BELOW
Coming into this fall season when I first heard of this show and the fact that it was airing on CW, my initial thought was that it would be just as campy as Smallville years ago. Boy, was I wrong. Not only is Arrow much more entertaining then Smallville, albeit it did have some of the same set designs (newspaper office, and billionaire mansions), it shined in solid character development and continued improvement in the writing room. The model to success for a television series is consistency, which Arrow excels in. The writers of the series had previous success on television shows. It benefits from terrific, but relatively unknown, actors such as Stephen Amell. Amell has had success in previous recurring roles in popular television shows such as Hung, New Girl, The Vampire Diaries and Blue Mountain State. He is a rugged actor that has a tremendous presence on camera that translates perfectly to his character of Oliver Queen. He is able to portray the damaged man while also showing that he can come off as the billionaire playboy that the character commands. It is a difficult role to pull off but Amell does a terrific job.
The show follows Oliver Queen, who was believed to be dead after he and his father went out to sea on the Queen's Gambit. Five years later and having been stranded on a remote island for all that time, Oliver had been rescued and brought back to his city and the rest of his family. This brings some drama between his long lost love Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) and tension between the people who wanted to do harm to his father. Oliver is not the same playboy that he was when he left Starling City five years ago, instead he is driven to right the wrongs of his father and his vengeance fuels him to do so. He takes to the streets at night wearing a green hood to conceal his identity and jumping rooftops armed with a bow with terrific hand to hand combat skills. He uses these skills to eliminate the men and women that had wronged the city alongside his father. At first, we had no idea how his father and this big corrupt businessmen had done to harm the city other then a few shady business deals here and there. It was never revealed to be something horrible catastrophic up until the final few episodes of the season which came together very nicely. Over time, Oliver also had made a few friends that had seen his alter ego and felt it was best to help him make things right.
As for Oliver's love interest, Laurel, her story is of a woman who had her heart broken by the man that she loved five years ago. When things were getting very serious back then, Oliver ran on to the Queen's Gambit with his father but also decided to take Laurel's sister along with him. That along would be enough to make Laurel hate him when he showed up, alive, in Starling City but add in the fact that her sister died in the shipwreck then it makes it that much worse. Over the course of the first half of the season her hatred towards Oliver had softened but she still carried some resentment toward him. She also had a strong romantic bond with Oliver's best friend, Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell). The two of them decided to keep the romance hidden from Oliver, but considering how astute he is now, he was able to pick up on it almost immediately. Tommy is portrayed as being the same as Oliver, before the shipwreck, a billionaire playboy who never worked a day in his life however he was different because he still was a terrific guy. He provided the show a good foil once Oliver got back seeing how hardened Oliver had become, Tommy was the complete opposite in the fact that he was the ultimate good guy who did things for everyone.
Arrow also pulled a lot of characters from DC Comics lore, which is refreshing to see. Some fans will also be happy to know that some villains that figured more towards Batman were integrated into the world of Arrow. One of the characters that was introduced fairly early on in the season was that of Helena Bertinelli, aka The Huntress played by Jessica De Gouw. She appeared in a few episodes as a pseudo love interest to Oliver as he did not need to hide his alter ego to her as she had some similarities to him in that department. It is easy to make the comparison that Huntress is what Catwoman is to Batman in this series. It is a very good comparison to make as the Huntress comes from a mob family but also had shown that she is a petty thief. She has tremendous skills in combat, while also sharing a powerful attraction to Oliver.
Floyd Lawton, who is more widely known as Deadshot, made multiple appearances in the first season of the series and actually had a fairly strong plot for a one note character. Lawton in the show played a hired gun who never misses his target and has a penchant for writing the names of the people he kills on his body. In the third episode of the season he gets into a fight with Oliver and loses. In the fight, he suffers a severe injury by taking an arrow to the eye. He comes back with an upgrade you could say as his should be eye is replaced by a mechanical device of sorts that works as a scope of sorts. His story however is strong due to the hatred that Oliver's sidekick and close friend John Diggle has for the man. Diggle starts off the show as Oliver's bodyguard but slowly figures out who Oliver truely is. Diggle becomes a trusted sidekick, but when Lawton comes to town he is hell bent on killing him. Diggle has a vendetta for him as Lawton killed his brother. This creates drama between Diggle and Oliver as the two don't see eye to eye on how to handle Lawton at a point in time.
The biggest of all the villains, especially to the hierarchy of Green Arrow in the comics, would be that of Merlyn. At first everyone believed that "Merlyn" would have been Tommy, and that he would have grown into the Dark Archer. Little did we know that his father was a corrupt businessman who worked very closer to Oliver Queen's father and that he had taken up the same kind of hobbies as Oliver. Malcolm Merlyn had essentially gone insane following the death of his wife in the Glades, the corrupt under belly of the city where plenty of crime exists. This lead to his outrageous ideas of how to purify the city and his frequent confrontations with Oliver throughout the season. Their climatic fight at the end of the season did not disappoint either, his fate is left up in the air but it seems likely that he did bite the bullet (or in this case should i saw, Arrow?). Yet he did have a profound affect on changing the landscape of the series for season two. John Barrowman plays the part of the villain with great success. He has tremendous range and due to his charisma he can be a very likeable character but he still portrays just enough of a sinister plan underneath it all.
The show also did a good job of adding characters that we as comic book fans full well realize that they are destined for bigger things. This is the case for the character Roy Harper. Roy is a rebellious young kid who lives in the Glades and does what he can to make ends meet but still has a heart good enough that leads him to do the right thing in most cases. This attracts the attention of Thea Queen, Oliver's younger sister, and the two develop a relationship which is also one of the weakest elements of the show. It is no disrespect to their singular characters as apart I do believe they are strong but together they just do not seem right and the characters come off very weak. Colton Haynes plays the part of Roy fairly well, but he also does not have much to work with to this point. It helps that he looks identical to the part of Roy though.
This last character is a fan favorite already, and from the comics he was a beloved character. That of Slade Wilson, also known as Deathstroke. However, the character to this point is only shown in flashbacks that Oliver has to his time spent on the island. Slade helped train Oliver in hand to hand combat and in a way could become Oliver's "Ra's al Ghul" in a sense in this series. In these flashbacks, the two seem to have a close bond and creates a good contrast to his friendship to Tommy as his bond with Slade could just be one of the elements of the island that helped harden him into the man that he is now fighting for justice in Starling City. Slade is played by Manu Bennett who helps give the character an intimidation factor but also a strong presence. His rough exterior makes him come off as a guy you do not want to cross but Manu's charisma makes him a likeable character all in the same.
All in all this is a very solid show that really gained traction in the final half of the season. As I stated before the show benefits from a terrific lead actor in Stephen Amell and some strong supporting characters in Tommy, Malcolm, Diggle and Slade. Katie Cassidy's Laurel falls flat from time to time but that is because the writers have not given her much to go on yet. Her character is a bit to dependent on the men in her life at this point and when all of that changes we could possibly see her became the Black Canary. Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg and Mark Guggenheim have built a strong foundation with this first season and seeing how it ended makes me that much more anxious to see the next season.