Arrow S2x02 “Identity”

I review the second episode of the second season of Arrow, entitled “Identity”.

Arrow Season 2 Poster

I caught the second episode of Arrow’s second season earlier today and ended up really enjoying it. Whilst it’s not as powerful as City of Heroes or indeed the season finale, it certainly proves that this series is not going to go downhill like it did in Season 1 following its pilot, delivering some entertaining action as well as introducing a comics character that not many people will have expected to make an appearance in the show – and it’s Sebastian Blood, an alderman who has risen in power following the disaster at the Glades and is intent on seeing justice done for the city. Elsewhere, Laurel still maintains that she wants to catch the Hood, whilst Ollie deals with his double life when a chance to stop the returning villain China White and the newcomer mercenary known as the Bronze Tiger clashes with a fundraising meeting designed to put Oliver Queen as the public face behind the support for the glades. Oh, and Thea makes an ultimatum to Roy – either he peruse his life as being a hero, or she leaves.

It’s great to have Arrow back, with lots more stuff going on already than the majority of the early episodes of the season, with the team behind the show having to deal with several recurring characters and allow for the improved addition to the cast as well as develop the old ones. Like before though, this can lead to some problems, Laurel is still the weakest character in Arrow and this episode hasn’t changed a bit. The other characters are all interesting and well developed, and it was nice to see a comics character make the transition from the page to the screen, even if he isn’t like his comic counterpart. However, this offers an interesting threat for Oliver to tackle as Oliver rather than the vigilante, meaning that rather than his struggles with the police and the criminals that plagued season one, he’s now up against business rivals, the criminals and the police, meaning that each episode of this season is going to be a lot more packed than before, and if I had one complaint about Identity, it felt that it was trying to cram a bit too much in for my liking, as some parts didn’t always work.

However, when they worked, they worked really well. Identity proves that Arrow can be consistent and engaging with the series continuing its stellar form that it has had since the last few episodes of Season 1, and with the prospect of the introduction of the Flash and a Black Canary heavy next episode, things look only set to get more interesting proving that this show is one of the ones that merely gets better as they go on, rather than starting with a bang and ending with a whimper (Heroes), or starting poor, getting better before being brilliant and then going back  to poor quality again with the very next season (Torchwood). However, it may be too early to judge that based on just the two episodes that we’ve seen so far.

A continuing problem that this show also has is its villains. The Bronze Tiger comes across as a poor man’s Wolverine only evil in this episode, and he, like China White, doesn’t boast much personality – which is a shame as I think if Arrow had been able to explore them in more depth then this episode would have had the potential to become even better than City of Heroes. Also, isn’t it a lot more convenient for the show now that Ollie has a ‘no kill’ rule? It means we’ll see a lot more returning villains, so there is the chance to see bad guys fleshed out in more detail.

However, whilst the more physical villains aren’t interesting, we get to see Kevin Alejandro as Sebastian Blood shine in one of the better performances this week. I hope his character, along with Summer Glau’s, pops up more often in future episodes as they have been highlights of the series so far.

However, this episode still couldn’t shake off the similarities that Arrow has with The Dark Knight Trilogy. Not only does China White’s ending speech to Ollie feel like the Joker’s in the interrogation scene to Batman in The Dark Knight, but when Roy makes headway with the Hood it seems as though that’s mimicking the John Blake/Batman plot thread in The Dark Knight Rises.

Also, just how awesome was that cliffhanger? It looks like Ollie’s really in trouble with a last minute surprise ending being really pulled off well. I certainly can’t wait for next Wednesday now I’ve seen this though, and I’m glad that we’ve got nine episodes to go through before we take a break as Sleepy Hollow is already on a break after five, which sucks as that show is a lot of fun even though it might not quite be at Arrow’s quality yet.

In conclusion then, Identity is a fun but flawed episode that’s not as good as City of Heroes, but is far from bad and continues the strong form that this series has been in since towards the end of Season 2. I’m going to be eagerly anticipating the next episode of the series, and as always you can expect me to share my thoughts on it. Top notch stuff.

VERDICT: 4/5

ARROW SEASON 2 EPISODE GUIDE: S2x01: City of HeroesS2x02: Identity, S2x03: Broken Dolls, S2x04: Crucible, S2x05: League of Assassins, S2x06: Keep Your Enemies Closer,S2x07: State vs. Queen

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