Arrow Season 1 – Season Review
Never leave me, CW.
And much like my life, Arrow has a lot of darkness.
And strobe lights.
TL;DR Heavy on the action and light on the soap suds, Arrow is the kind of show I never thought the CW could pull off. It’s like the first 2 seasons of The Vampire Diaries, but with more explosions.
And strobe lights.
The plot is an adaptation of the Green Arrow DC Comics character (with which I have had no prior exposure. So am therefore not adaptation biased. Objectivity, bitches). Oliver Queen is a rich bratty douche who gets marooned on an island for 5 years when his yacht sinks. He returns to his home of Starling City to become a vigilante, honouring his father’s dying wish of cleaning up the city by fucking up the corrupt, elite citizenry. Subplots include his romance with Laurel “Katie fucking Cassidy, bitch” Lance (whose sister he was cheating on her with and who drowned in the yacht sinking. Kids these days); Oliver’s gradually expanding group of allies and the struggles they face; Thea “Willa Holland. I’m Agnes from Gossip Girl. Please pretend you remember me” Queen fluctuating between being reasonable and retarded; Jack Harkness from Torchwood turning up as a major villain; and flashbacks to Oliver’s time on the island, where he and a ‘Straya Cunt military dude faced off against something something conspiracy.
Jack Harkness also has a conspiracy to destroy Starling City. Because what would a superhero story be without a flood of conspiracies?
I gotta admit, it took a while to warm up to. I couldn’t shake the CW-ness of the whole ordeal, woefully dreading the inevitable slump into pointless melodrama.
But then, it never came. The Laurel romance stuff is refreshingly shoved off to the side for most of the season, and the show instead focuses on Oliver actually being a vigilante. And not, you know, a leading man in a soap opera. Huh.
A lesson the characters in Cult should have learned much quicker.
Why I hate this season:
Arrow’s impressive budget almost certainly stole any hope of Cult succeeding. Truly a shame.
While I loved Oliver’s lack of aversion to murdering bitches (which I will bring up later. It’s cool, yo), I think he edges into a “too blasé” attitude to it a bit often. I started feeling bad for Faceless Goon #183 getting his ass killed. We don’t know why he was there. Oliver was supposed to be going after the nasty businessman/assassin/Kelly Hu. Not mowing down the help.
Arrow also makes the mistake of bringing up the question of its morality (frequently. Once Tommy finds out about Oliver, it’s pretty much all he says for the rest of the season) and then failing to answer or even address it. Every time Tommy mentions it (which, as I said, is a lot), Oliver just puts on his broody face and gives essentially a “Whatevs lol” response. Yeah, I like that Oliver’s got some teeth (suck it, Batman), but don’t raise a moral quandary and then slap it aside when you realise you don’t know what to say.
Thea and Roy Harper (the impossibly chiselled Colton Haynes. I don’t watch Teen Wolf, but I kinda want to now) get into a shallow-as-fuck romantic subplot on the back end of the season. Obviously Arrow didn’t know what to do with Thea anymore, so they swept her into a Beta Couple plot with Roy, who is equally aimless. He worships the Vigilante/wants to be a vigilante, but we only get his true motive near the end of the finale. I only put up with him eating screentime because he’s so pretty.
John Barrowman (Harkness. You know this) is too pot-bellied to be a supervillain in top shape. Someone had to say it. Each series of Torchwood got more and more awkward as nobody seemed to realise his sex appeal was long gone.
I couldn’t decide if Quentin Lance was attractive or not. He has, like, bulges above his eyebrows. Is this normal? What is your percentage body fat, you bumpy, bumpy man?
Helena (Huntress) quickfires her crossbow in one episode to shoot multiple goons within milliseconds of each other. Is that possible?
Oh, and Tommy doesn’t really do anything except get in the way of Oliver/Laurel taking off.
Reasons to watch:
On the plus side, though, Tommy’s cockblocking actually pushes Laurel and Oliver to have plots that aren’t in servitude to their obligatory romance. It’s miraculous.
Arrow’s greatest strength is its focus on the actual plot and not pandering to the soap elements. Most of Oliver’s time in Starling City is spent doing his Vigilante shit. Even on the several occasions when he comes to Laurel’s rescue, he resists doing the whole Spiderman kiss thing. Such restraint from a CW show is unheard of. Here’s hoping it doesn’t pull a TVD and completely lose its shit by the end of the second season.
Oliver’s ragtag group of sidekicks is awesome. He first pulls in his bodyguard, who acts as an alibi and occasionally poses as the Vigilante when Oliver can’t. Later, he recruits Queen Consolidated’s IT chick, who proves useful at computers and in the field. Equality, people.
Katie Cassidy is here (I’ve still got my CW bingo card at the ready). Willa Holland joins her as a fellow refugee from Gossip Girl. Dat casting. Katie Cassidy has been dear to me ever since Harper’s Island and Black Xmas. Her turn in GG and the fabulicioustastic Melrose Place reboot just make her perfect. Laurel is also a half-decent female lead. She can kick some butt when she has to, and only leans on the Vigilante for help with things she can’t do herself. Again, equality (I’d say “feminism,” but I wouldn’t want to be confused with Anita Sarkeesian).
Kelly Hu plays a white-haired Asian assassin. Old TVD cast represent. And she’s a total machine. Cool.
Colin Salmon is Oliver’s cool stepfather. Old (and recent) Resident Evil cast represent.
The flashback stuff has the potential to stray into bullshit territory, but has kept fairly sane so far. The villain’s plan was simple and executed logically. And Oliver doesn’t magically foil him because he’s the main character (he has help from that Aussie guy and some Chinese badasses). Yeah, Oliver’s survival is a foregone conclusion, but I’m pretty keen to see what else happened to him on that island. Just don’t turn into Lost, plz.
Like I was saying earlier, Oliver isn’t above straight-up murdering people. As morally problematic as it is (and, again, Arrow doesn’t really get there with the discussion), it certainly is effective. I don’t care how proud Batman is of his pacifism: not killing the Joker is the stupidest thing ever. And he keeps fucking doing it.
Oh, and Arrow doesn’t pull its punches in the finale. John Barrowman has rigged an earthquake-inducing device to level the slums of Starling City (blah blah retribution for his murdered wife). Oliver and the gang scramble to disable it, but Barrowman has a surprise second device. And it goes off. Damn, Revenge. You ain’t got nothin’.