Oh man, it’s been a minute. Remember back when I would occasionally talk about TV shows? I mean sure, I did wrap up Centaurworld after coming back from my hiatus, but it’s been a year since I last talked about Arrow. Similar to how my work schedule has made it hard to watch movies while giving me time to read comics on the clock, squeezing in a 42 minute TV episode isn’t too difficult. And so I’m continuing my coverage of the expansive Arrowverse! But first, a recap of season 1.
Six years ago, Oliver Queen was stranded on the remote island of Lian Yu after his family’s boat was sabotaged, killing his father, Robert Queen, and kinda girlfriend, Sara Lance. While on the island, Oliver allied with Slade Wilson (AKA Deathstroke), Shado, and Yao Fei while working to stop the terrorist Edward Fyers from basically starting a war with China. Fyers and Yao Fei died, leaving an awkward love triangle. But after five years on the island, Oliver made it back home to Starling City. He reunited with his family–mother Moira Queen, sister Thea Queen, and new step-father Walter Steele–as well as friends–best friend Tommy Merlyn, ex-girlfriend Laurel Lance (who Oliver cheated on with Sara), and Thea’s new boyfriend, Roy Harper. Laurel and Sara’s dad, Detective Quentin Lance, was also there and hated Oliver for fairly valid reasons. But Oliver brought back a secret: using skills he picked up on Lian Yu, he became a vigilante called the Hood, teaming up with bodyguard John Diggle and IT nerd Felicity Smoak while following his dying father’s last wish of hunting down the corrupt elite who have been preying on Starling City. One such elite was Malcolm Merlyn, Tommy’s dad and the architect of the Undertaking, a plan to “clean up” Starling by blowing up the poor part of the city and killing a bunch of people. Moira betrayed him by revealing his plans, but was arrested for being complicit up to that point. Merlyn seemingly died, but stopping his plan mostly failed, leading to the destruction of a large section of Starling City and the death of Tommy.
These synopses are only going to get more bloated as time goes on, so the plan right now is to recap the series for the first episode of each season, and then do a bit of a refresher after the mid-season break and during the finale. Sounds good? I sure hope so!
Season 2 opens up with “City of Heroes.” Oliver fled Starling after Tommy’s death and returned to Lian Yu, forcing Diggle and Felicity to venture to the remote island to bring him back, complete with parachutes and Felicity stepping on a landmine (she’s fine). Turns out all the disasters being connected to the CEO of Queen Consolidated has the company up for grabs via a hostile takeover from Isabel Rochev (Ms. Summer Glau), the ruthless VP of Stellmoor International. Both she and Oliver own 45% of the company, with the remaining 10% soon to be up for grabs. Too bad the Queen family has fallen on hard times and has no money! While that’s happening, a group of wannabe vigilantes called the Hoods are killing elites they believe failed this city, but don’t have the Hood’s restraint when it comes to collateral damage. Oliver doesn’t do a whole lot when he’s attacked by them at a board meeting, but is forced to put the hood back on when Thea is taken hostage. Feeling the weight of Tommy thinking Oliver was a killer, Ollie vows to not only no longer kill, but take a new name that… doesn’t show up in these first two episodes. Anyway, he also calls Walter for some financial help, so now both he and Isabel own 50% of Queen Consolidated, making them partners. Meanwhile, Thea–who now runs Oliver’s nightclub, Verdant–wants nothing to do with her mom, but getting kidnapped makes her reevaluate things and finally visit the prison. Laurel now works for the district attorney–who is very against vigilantes–and doesn’t want to pursue a relationship with Oliver so soon after Tommy’s death, Quentin got demoted to beat cop, and Roy still wants to be like the Hood. The young man tries to stop some thugs mugging a woman, but really it’s a mysterious female vigilante (Caity Lotz) who stops them. Oh, she’s going to be very important later.
Episode 2 is “Identity,” which is kind of funny since this is the debut of Bronze Tiger but he’s never actually named. Anyway, Roy nearly dies trying to stop some Triad members from attacking a FEMA truck, and gets arrested for his troubles. Chien Na Wei is back and stealing medicine meant to go to the Glades, and Team Arrow is not happy. Unfortunately Oliver has another issue with Sebastian Blood (Kevin Alejandro), an alderman running for mayor on a platform that takes an issue with the whole “the Queen family funded the partial destruction of our city” thing. After meeting with Sebastian and organizing a fundraiser for the Glades, Oliver of course has to ditch it at the last minute to stop China White and her new helper… some guy (Michael Jai White)! I recognize the claws and knew he was Bronze Tiger, but man, this show really doesn’t like naming people properly. Sebastian lambasts Oliver in front of the news, but the Triad is stopped. The Vigilante Formerly Known as The Hood asks Roy for help by gathering information, thinking that will both satiate his need to help but keep him out of trouble. Roy agrees, but lies about it to Thea, who temporarily broke up with him over it. Then the Hood meets up with Laurel–previously she told him she blamed him for Tommy’s death–but she thought he’d stop by again and ambushes him with dozens of cops. Oh no! A cliffhanger! In other storylines, Felicity is upset that her new job/cover is being Oliver’s secretary, to which Diggle comments, “Could be worse. My secret identity is his black driver.” I mean… he’s not wrong. We also find out that Dig and Carly broke up, and we’re never going to see her in the show again.
We also hear that nearby Central City is building a particle accelerator. That’s gonna be a huge thing soon enough.
Flashing back five years to Oliver’s second year on Lian Yu, the trio of him, Shado, and Slade continue living and training together. A not at all subtle love triangle is forming, which is interrupted by the appearance of a ship in the harbor and a bunch of new SWAT looking guys searching for some graves. Shado gets captured, and Oliver brutally murders one of the men for slapping her. Oliver and Shado sleep together as part of trying to make him feel better (it’s more implied than shown), but Slade warns the boy that attachments may distract him and get him killed. The three apparently find the graves these new guys were looking for, and it’s a cave full of misshapen and/or mutated skeletons of members of the Japanese Imperial Army, dead for 60 years.
Now that I’m running a comic blog on the side (here’s a shameless plug to Chwineka Reads), you know I’m gonna be all about the comic references. Isabel Rochev first appeared in Green Arrow #1 (2010), right after Star City was nearly destroyed (hey, that sounds familiar). She took control of Queen Industries after Oliver was outed as the Green Arrow and went to live in the woods, which happened to be in the middle of Star City due to mystic bullshit I don’t have time to explain. She wore a mask and called herself the Queen, in part because she met and fell in love with Robert Queen years before his death and viewed herself as his true heir, putting her at odds with his actual heir, Oliver. But after 6 issues she just sort of… disappears. That plot thread was over, I guess! The company she runs, Stellmoor International, also existed in comics, but was run by Simon Lacroix, who will show up next season.
I guess I gotta talk about Bronze Tiger. You know, I just went back and scanned through the scenes he was in, and he absolutely wasn’t named! Decisions were certainly made… Anyway, Ben Turner first appeared in Richard Dragon, Kung-Fu Fighter #1 (1975), a comic that also introduced the titular Richard Dragon, who Arrow will draw inspiration from in later seasons with Ricardo Diaz. Back with Turner, he was a martial artist who used metal claws, and sometimes wore a tiger head. Sure, why not. In the comics he’s generally more of a hero with anger issues than a villain, but has been with the Suicide Squad countless times.
And I’ll cover Sebastian Blood another time. All you need to know now is he debuted during the 1980’s Teen Titans run, and his last name is Blood. Bit of a red flag in the superhero world.
Honestly, the moment that best sets up the conflicts of this season is a tiny moment at the beginning of the first episode: Deathstroke’s mask propped up with an arrow going through the eyehole. Slade, Oliver, and Shado are involved in a rather unfortunate love triangle that’s not only not going to end well, but will lead to the final showdown of this season. But there’s a lot that happens before everything gets that bad, so see you next time for more episodes!
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