Channel: The CW
Recurring Cast: Stephen Amell, Emily Bett Rickards, David Ramsey, Katie Cassidy, Caity Lotz, Willa Holland, Colton Haynes, Manu Bennett, Susanna Thompson and Paul Blackthorne
Arrow is a first class lesson in how to turn a show around and upgrade it from a light-hearted flop into must-see TV. When this show first came out, I really struggled to get into it. The clichés were overbearing and Stephen Amell didn’t strike me as a strong enough actor to hold the show together. By the end of Season One, it had me intrigued enough to tune into the second season, but I was still a little sceptical. However, the second season of Arrow almost did everything perfectly, giving us the superhero series we always wanted.
The best thing about Arrow is that it is always moving forward. I have a friend that is always three episodes behind me and I am always surprised about how many twists she hadn’t seen yet. The show drops game-changing features almost three times an episode. Sometimes, it is hard to keep up with all of the surprises the show has in store, but for the most part, it keeps us hooked. Every time we tune into Arrow, we know that it is going to be worth our while, something that other shows like Almost Human and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D struggled with. The overall plot is really gripping and while it does re-tread the same ground at points (the ‘choose between two girls’ device, the ‘I am not strong enough to go on’ routine), we are always hooked on what we are seeing. However, this season the action was even more explosive. Arrow was one of those shows that kept making itself out to be a great action series, but the fight scenes were too smooth and choreographed. While there are still some steps to go before we truly connect with the punches, it is definitely getting there. When the Arrow takes on the big nemesis (don’t look at me! I am not going to spoil it), we are glued to our seats, squirming in fear for Oliver Queen.
The acting ensemble is great as well. Boy, was I wrong about Amell? Maybe it is the fact he has grown into the character since last time, but perhaps it is more myself that needed to grow into the tone, but sometimes the show just blew me away by letting the man act. At times, he would just step back and let the action do the talking for him, but when he needed to step up and deliver a performance, he knocked it out of the park. One episode sees him deliver a speech about his mother, and we can see every pained expression on his face, as he addresses the crowds. Sometimes, he just has to deliver a superhero monologue that verges on cheesy, but Amell’s gravelly voice makes it work. The supporting cast deliver as well. Caity Lotz is the superhero on the woman’s team, finally bringing Black Canary to the show. She represents Oliver’s dark side and it is interesting to see how the two heroes interact. Susanna Thompson was one of the characters I could have done without last time, but this season she is given a meaty chunk of character to wrestle with and she becomes one of the dark horses of the season. Other characters that deserve a mention are Manu Bennett, whose character takes a dramatically unexpected direction, Kevin Alejandro, as the mayor trying to save a dying city, and Emily Bett Rickard’s Felicity Smoke, who is always a reliable source of comedy when the tension threatens to be raised too high.
The show does often threaten to crumble in on itself. There are so many layers of story and characters that you begin to wish for a little more focus. This season seems to enjoy juggling as many characters as possible, not realising that the viewer is getting lost. Certain characters are introduced, dropped through the mid-season break and then picked up again nearer the finale, when they need to be important. Summer Glau’s character is a major part of the story, but she isn’t mentioned enough, so when she comes into play, our connection with the character isn’t as strong as it should have been. The same could be said for Alejandro’s character, who shines when he is given the chance to, but is often forgotten, the moment more exciting characters come along. While Katie Cassidy has an interesting story, no one really cares enough for her arc to justify getting in the way of the bigger picture. Thankfully, Thea Queen, officially the most annoying character on TV, is almost dropped from the main thread of story entirely. The show never quite lets the over-abundance of plotlines become a serious issue, but it must be said that when great characters aren’t allowed to have enough time in the spotlight, you begin to wish that Arrow sat down and figured out its priorities.
Final Verdict: The best thing about Arrow is that it is always improving. Shocking, action-packed and, above all else, fun, the second season demands a viewing.