After a solid, promising return last week, the second episode of Arrow’s second season is one of the most action-packed episodes in the show’s relatively short run. The basic premise of the episode is that the hospital in The Glades is having its medical supplies stolen by a group headed-up by Kelly Hu’s returning China White. After an early tussle with Roy Harper (Colton Haynes), the group come to the attention of Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and Diggle (David Ramsey). In amongst all of this, we get to see the show’s versions of DC’s Sebastian Blood (Kevin Alejandro) and Bronze Tiger (Michael Jai White). Blood is depicted as somebody that is representing the people of The Glades in their efforts to rebuild their neighbourhood, although he has a seemingly darker, political underbelly to his character. As for Bronze Tiger, he’s here to assist China White in taking down ‘The Hood.’
As mentioned, the episode is certainly crammed full of action. Particularly pleasing to see, we get a couple of traditional ‘hero vs villain’ scenes, as Oliver fights both China White and Bronze Tiger. Whilst the dust-ups are well-developed, it’s the character development that shines through equally as much. There’s the strain on Roy and Thea Queen’s (Willa Holland's) relationship, as Roy is pushing himself to his limits in order to step up and protect the city as best as he can. As well as this conflict, Laurel (Katie Cassidy) elaborates on her new-found hatred of ‘The Hood,’ swearing that she will unmask and imprison the vigilante.
The episode excels on various fronts, and the now-familiar island flashbacks also provide more revelations about the increasingly soulless Oliver Queen. Shown channelling his inner Lady Macbeth, Oliver has blood on his hands and no remorse in his heart as more of his innocence is stripped away as each day passes on the island. In these scenes, Manu Bennett’s Slade Wilson comes across as an almost brotherly figure to Oliver at times. Realising that this once arrogant, pompous playboy is becoming something far more troubled, Bennett emotes genuine sincerity and concern in his performance. Oh, and as ever, he snarls his way through each scene whilst doing so. He’s good now, but he’s going to be even better when we see him as Deathstroke…
On the brotherly note, there are also scenes of bonding, care and reflectiveness between Oliver and Diggle, and when ‘The Hood’ confronts Roy. Both pairings have a nice dynamic to them, and you can see that Roy is definitely on his ascension to the Red Arrow mantle. Just how far away that is, we don’t know. Personally, Roy’s rise to prominence does seem a tad rushed, but I guess the uncertainty of season renewals of episodic television can often cause some shows to rush certain elements. Regardless, I honestly don’t think we’ll be seeing Red Arrow, or whatever the show will end up calling him, really appear for a fair while yet.
All in all, this second episode of Arrow’s new season is a great watch. We get the political snake that is Sebastian Blood, we get to see Michael Jai White as Bronze Tiger, we get to see the badass good guys fight the badass bad guys, and we get some nice nods to what is to come and what has been – *cough* Deadshot *cough*.
As Oliver says to Roy, “The world doesn’t work any more…”, and he’s right. The Hood’s world is ever-changing, with his change in attitude – as in, no needless killing – regularly referred to. Still, as much as he may try and change public perception of him, as China White points out, the city will always see The Hood as a villain. Whether this is true or not, Oliver Queen looks like he’s going to do his best to dispel those that aren’t a fan of himself, of The Hood, and, judging by the first two episodes, those who aren’t a fan of the show.