REVIEW: Arrow: The Complete Second Season
It’s interesting to watch Green Arrow thrive on television in ways he could only envy in the comics. After being a second string character for much of his career, he seemed to work well first on Smallville, and now on his own series, Arrow. The problem, though, with being a B-lister for decades is that his rogues’ gallery is woefully weak and therefore the show’s producers have to dip into the rest of the DC mythos to fill out his world.
The show’s third season gets underway shortly and Warner Home Entertainment has recently released Arrow: The Complete Second Season in a nice box set. Here, we can review all 23 episodes to see how things have evolved as Oliver Queen goes from vigilante to hero while his allies grow in number.
One of the things that has been a struggle in comics for the last era or two is that a hero can’t realistically maintain a secret identity. Ollie (Stephen Amell) needs allies and with that comes trust. So, we went from Diggle (David Ramsey), in the first season to Diggle and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) by season’s end. This year, Roy Harper (Colton Haynes), Canary (Caity Lotz), and Laurel (Katie Cassidy) have come to know Ollie’s alter ego. Argus’ Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) somehow knows, too. Heck, even newcomer Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), visiting from Central City, knows the truth. So, it’s telling that as the season ended, the one who still doesn’t know, his sister Thea (Willa Holland), is the one to vanish, a thread left unknotted until this fall.
The show has also nicely plundered Batman’s resources as Huntress (Jessica De Gouw) returned and we met Nyssa al Ghul (Katrina Law), setting up this coming season’s arrival of Ra’s al Ghul himself. But first, old business needed addressing and much of the season’s meta arc dealt with Slade Wilson, Deathstroke (Manu Bennett), exacting revenge against Ollie, blaming him for Shado’s (Celina Jade) death and worked with Isabel Rochev (Summer Glau) to take down both Queen Consolidated and the Queen family, which climaxed with the death of Moira (Susanna Thompson), Ollie’s mom. As for Thea, her world was shattered when she learned her true father was Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman), who conveniently returned from the dead.
The episodes stir the pot with verve and alliances rise and fall with long-simmering threads spun out across the weeks and months. We’re even teased with the hint of an Ollie/Felicity romance even while he and Canary got nice and cozy. On the other hand, the cast has grown so large, supporting teams of players in the present and an almost separate collection in the flashbacks, that some shows feel overstuffed, losing focus. While I appreciate the need to spotlight Diggle now and then, bringing in his wife, her connection to Waller, and the formation of the Suicide Squad felt more of a distraction than a strong storyline on its own. Both Thea and Roy were underserved by the scripts this year.
That said, I do want to applaud the two-parter that acts as prelude to this month’s The Flash series, and the way they subtly continued those subplots through the final episode. Speaking of which, the finale was one of the best action episodes of prime time I’ve seen in a long time so kudos to the writers, cast, and stunt performers for making it exciting.
The four-disc set comes with some standard extras, most of which are diverting enough although none are Must See viewing either. We have From Vigilante to Hero (24:00), an examination of the season’s design; The Visual Effects of Arrow (11:00), exploring how the night scenes, explosions, and action is brought to life; and, Wirework: The Impossible Moves of Arrow (10:00), a companion feature focusing on the stunts. There are, of course, Deleted Scenes, culled from “City of Heroes,” “Identity,” “Crucible,” “Keep Your Enemies Closer,” “State v. Queen,” “Three Ghosts,” “Tremors,” “Heir to the Demon,” “Time of Death,” “The Promise,” “Suicide Squad,” “The Man Under the Hood” and “Unthinkable.” And we have the requisite Gag Reel (5:00). Finally, there is edited footage from Arrow: 2013 Comic-Con Panel (26:00).