With The CW’s Arrow returning for a second season, there’s been the promise of much change and many new faces in Starling City, and the first episode doesn’t fail to give both. After the climax of the first season brought a whole bucket-load of destruction on Starling City, particularly The Glades district, the chaos proved too much for Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell). Here we pick up several months after the carnage, and Oliver has sought refuge with an old friend: the island.
Struggling to cope with ‘the undertaking,’ as it became known, Ollie returned to the island that he was marooned on for 5 years. Tracked down by Diggle (David Ramsey) and Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards), Oliver is persuaded to return to Starling City to save his family’s floundering company, Queen Enterprises, from being bought and wiped out. There’s also the small fact that the city needs its hero. Considering Ollie went to such extreme lengths to escape the city, he seems to get persuaded a tad too easily to return. Meanwhile, in The Hood’s absence, Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) is doing his best to follow in the Emerald Archer’s footsteps, protecting the city as best he can and slowly gravitating towards the Red Arrow hero that the character becomes in the comic-book world.
With Queen Industries being attacked by newcomer Isabel Rochev (Summer Glau) of Stellmoor International, Oliver’s Hood persona has itself a new villain: former love-interest Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy). After on-off boyfriend Tommy Merlyn was killed during the climax of Season 1, Laurel blames The Hood. Now working in the DA’s office, she intends to bring down Oliver Queen’s vigilante alter-ego.
This first episode of the new season is somewhat of a slow-burner. The first half of the episode drags a little, and there’s the usual nods, winks, and nudges to what’s gone on in the first season, which is always the case in order to get new viewers up to speed. That said, the second half of the episode really flies by. Realising that The Hood and his murderous ways have become a symbol for some misguided souls, Oliver looks to change his ways. In order to strive away from his reputation for bloodshed, Ollie decides that a new outlook, not to mention a new name, are needed for the apparent ‘vigilante.’ In arguably the episode’s greatest moment, Oliver leaves the audience guessing at his new mantle, all whilst gazing at the tip of one of his arrows. We also get a miniscule nod to The Flash – he’s coming later, folks – and we get a fantastically kick-ass, if not far too brief, look at Caity Lotz as the debuting Black Canary.
A solid start to the new season, this episode is a great launching point for some new stories. We’ve got the threat of Rochev and Stellmoor to Queen Industries, we’ve got the start of Laurel’s mission to bring down The Hood, we’ve got the infant steps in Roy’s ascension to Red Arrow, we’ve got Black freakin’ Canary, and we’ve got a seemingly new version of the lead-character. Oliver’s back from the island, but with a stronger moral code, and looking to rebuild his company and his family, plus we still get flashbacks to his time on the island as we get to survey how he came to be so ruthlessly efficient.
All in all, things are looking very promising for the new season of Arrow.