Arrow Season 2×01 “City of Heroes”

I review the first episode of the second season of Arrow, entitled City of Heroes.

Arrow Season 2 Poster

And we’re back. Easily my most anticipated returning TV show for the Fall season outside of the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special, Arrow’s first episode of its new season kicks off with a bang as we’re reunited with a distraught Oliver Queen following last season’s jaw-dropping finale that gave us the death of Tommy, something that nobody saw coming – as well as the destruction of the Glades. Whilst Malcolm Merlyn may have been killed by the Hood however, the danger is still there, as Oliver looks set to lose his majority holdings in Queen Consolidated, thanks to the intervention of a new, ruthless businesswoman played wonderfully by Summer Glau (Firefly) who whilst not getting much to do in this episode, does look like she will be a recurring villain and foil to Oliver when he’s not dressing up as the Hood.

City of Heroes takes place a few months after Sacrifice, which was easily the best episode of the entire series aside from maybe Dead to Rights, and continues the fine form that Arrow picked up on following the latter half of the season. It opens with Felicity and Diggle dropping out of the sky by parachute to pay a visit to the Island, where they find Oliver Queen who has been in self-imposed exile since his best friend died and he failed to save the city. It’s not long before Oliver’s called back into action though, and with the intervention of copycat vigilantes, that’s when things really start to get interesting.

I found that all of the characters have undergone massive improvements (apart from Laurel, for reasons that we’ll get to later) since the finale and this episode really touches on how the death of Tommy and the destruction of the Glades has affected them. Moira Queen is in prison following her admittance of working with Malcolm Merlyn, and even Thea Queen gets an improvement in character this episode – something that is good to see as Willa Holland hasn’t always been the best actress on the series. We see her stepping into the spotlight as she takes over ownership of Ollie’s nightclub, working with Roy Harper – who has been uplifted to the rank of the select few who will appear in every episode. His character has a key role in this episode as like Ollie, he’s learning what it means to be a hero. However, he lacks direction and a mentor that Ollie had (first Yao Fei, now Shado and Slade), and it’s something that he needs to improve further I think.

Detective Lance on the other hand, now a Beat-Cop, has become a lot more interesting as well. He’s more tolerable than the previous season especially now as he seems to be working with the Hood rather than against him. The same cannot be said for Laurel however, whose character is the only one who I felt moved backwards rather than moved forwards. The turning against the Hood seemed very forced, and something that was brought up in an IGN review claimed that with her new position as Assistant District Attorney enforces the idea that she’s basically just Arrow’s version of Rachel Dawes – and it’s something that I have to agree with. She also happens to be the character who I don’t like the most on the show so far, but if her father and even Tommy can show signs of development to the point where they are no longer unlikeable, then so can Laurel.

One thing that the show has had a problem with ever since its start is its villains, and apart from Malcolm Merlyn, Fyers and Deathstroke they lacked the factor which really made them memorable and this week’s villains, copycat vigilantes that lack Oliver’s code and restraint, weren’t executed brilliantly and won’t become memorable anytime soon. It was just hard to sympathise with their goal, and it’s not as if the idea of a copycat vigilante is something that this show hasn’t done before (and more than once) so that’s one point that’s a notable flaw in this otherwise incredibly strong episode.

There’s plenty for fans of the Comics to rejoice about here to in the many references that are handled subtly and brilliantly. We get a brief reference to S.T.A.R. Labs, as well as an appearance from Black Canary – whose identity is still hidden, in one of the final scenes of the episode that happened a lot sooner than I expected and possibly allows for some interesting drama later on, especially when you consider that it was Roy Harper who witnessed her appearance first hand. When you consider that this season will also see the introduction of The Flash, League of Assassins and Amanda Waller (as well as possibly the Birds of Prey), things are looking great for a prospect of a shared DC Universe and it’s one that I’m really looking forward to seeing how it turns out, along with other shows featuring future DC adaptions in the form of Gotham and Constantine.

City of Heroes overall then, gets Arrow back off to a strong start and proves that DC are much better at handling live-action TV shows than Marvel, with it good to be back and kicking ass. I can’t wait to see where Arrow takes us from here.

And on that note, I’ll leave you with this – “I don’t want to be called the Hood anymore.”  … “OK… so what do you want to be called?

VERDICT: 4/5

ARROW SEASON 2 EPISODE GUIDE: S2x01: City of Heroes, S2x02: Identity, S2x03: Broken Dolls, S2x04: Crucible, S2x05: League of Assassins, S2x06: Keep Your Enemies Closer, S2x07: State vs. Queen

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