Arrow has returned to our screens, and it seems like a whole lot has happened in the story in the interim. I always find it funny when a TV show “takes the summer off,” as it were. Should they pick up immediately where they leave off? I don’t know. At any rate, our characters, in both the present and the past, are a significant amount of time removed from the tragic and/or triumphant events at which they ended Season 1. But, we all know status quo is something afforded to the dead and the boring in television drama, and whatever entropy there was quickly gets jump-started. And again, we start on the island.
It seems after Tommy’s death, and the Merlyn-made earthquake that cost hundreds of lives of people in the Glades, Oliver (Stephen Amell) has gone AWOL. Specifically, he went back to the island that was his home/prison/salvation for five years. That’s a real case of Stockholm Syndrome, right? He feels calm on a deserted island. Crazy. He doesn’t stay peaceful for long, though, as Diggle (David Ramsey) and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards), in the world’s oldest airplane, have found the island, and skydive down to the surface. Felicity is not a fan of skydiving, it turns out. They walk through the jungle when she steps on a landmine. Diggle tries to help, but they hear Oliver from a nearby tree. He shoots an arrow with a rope attached and swings down like Errol Flynn, grabs his friend, and swings away just as the mine explodes. Welcome back, program.
Oliver doesn’t want to go back to Starling City. He feels like he failed and has no interest in being “The Hood” again. However, the Queen Family needs him. His mother, Moira (Susanna Thompson), sits in prison awaiting her trial for her part in Malcolm Merlyn’s murderous plot. Thea (Willa Holland), meanwhile, wants nothing to do with her mother, and has taken over running Oliver’s nightclub, Verdant. She’s still hot and heavy with her boyfriend Roy Harper (Colton Haynes), though she’s a bit peeved, given his tendency to go out at night and get beaten up trying to be a vigilante.
Also causing trouble is the fact that Queen Consolidated is about to be hostilely taken over by a rival company whose vice president is the icy Isabel Rochev (Summer Glau). Oliver is forced to return simply to keep his family business in the family. And yet another thorn is the fact that a group of armed hoods, who call themselves “the Hoods,” are killing various people who have “failed this city.” we see them kill the mayor at a gala event, though Laurel (Katie Cassidy) throws a few punches to keep her new boss at the district attorney’s office (Dylan Bruce) safe. Her father Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) has been demoted back to beat cop for aiding the Vigilante. Poor guy.
The Hoods attack Queen Consolidated, as they feel Oliver is to blame for being rich and related to Moira, and Diggle and Felicity are more than a little disappointed that Oliver doesn’t fight them off. He doesn’t want to be a killer anymore and he knows that putting on the hood means “kill or be killed.” Evidently, he’s never heard of a stun gun or, like, a punch to the face. At any rate, he’s out of the Hood game. Even Officer Lance wants to see him return, though he obviously doesn’t know who he is.
After the failed attempt on Oliver’s life, the Four Hoods of the Whine-pocalypse, who all lost somebody in the earthquake, decide to try again and head to Verdant, not knowing that Oliver doesn’t go there anymore. They threaten to start shooting if Oliver doesn’t show, but Roy tries to fight them off, and even disarms one. However, they kidnap Thea and escape, and Roy doesn’t have it in him to shoot anyone. However, he did notice that one of the Hoods had a prosthetic hands. CLUE!
Oliver, one could say, is more than a little miffed at his sister being kidnapped and decides to take matters into his own hands. He returns to the Arrow Cave beneath the nightclub, much to Felicity and Diggle’s delight, and he sees that they’ve done some upgrading since he’s been gone. Very swanky upgrading. They figure out, based on some apparently very easy computer work, that the four bad men met at a church which held a survivors’ support group. Sure enough, that’s where they’re keeping Thea, and they very nearly decide to kill her when Oliver, back in his superhero garb, appears and takes them out non-lethally. What d’ya know?
After the experience, in which she was compelled to defend her mother’s honor against the four Hoods, Thea goes to see Moira in prison. Having made a bet with Roy, Thea now says that since she talked to her mom, Roy has to stop fighting crime. This lasts for all of zero seconds as Roy goes to help a girl being mugged. As he fights off the thugs, who should appear but… BLACK CANARY! Yes, blonde hair, fishnets, whoopin’ stick, the whole shebang. “But who could she be?,” asked someone who didn’t read any spoilers.
Oliver and Laurel visit Tommy’s grave. They’re both racked with guilt at having betrayed him and decide they’ll never be able to be together, but that they have to be in each other’s lives. Oh, and Laurel now has a hate-vendetta against the Hood because of Tommy’s death, vowing to use every resource available to her in the DA’s office to do it. It’s like Malcolm Merlyn never existed, guys! People hate Moira, people hate the Hood, nobody seems to care that it was all Jack Harkness’ fault. Anyway.
Oliver calls in backup to help him save Queen Consolidated – Walter Steele (Colin Salmon), his former stepfather and former CEO of QC. Between the two of them, Oliver and Walter own 50% of the company, which means ol’ River Tam’s going to have to learn to play nice, or at least not be quite such a Terminator. (How many references can I make to other shows in this? Quite a lot, it turns out.)
The present storyline ends with Oliver deciding the city might need a hero after all, but he doesn’t want to be called “The Hood” anymore, nor “The Vigilante.” Diggle asks him what he wants to be called and we cut to black as Oliver stairs at the tip of his green arrow… Hey, wait a minute! How about “The Bowman!” What, just me?
Five years ago on the island, Oliver and Slade (Manu Bennett) are training. The former whiny playboy is now pretty formidable but still not really a match for his pal, Deathstroke. Shado (Celina Jade) is also still here and she’s in some kind of a kissy-face relationship with Oliver, much, it seems to Slade’s displeasure. However, they aren’t alone on the island; some bad people arrive and kidnap Shado. As the boys try to get her back, Oliver charges ahead despite Slade’s warning and ends up beating one of the guy’s to death with a rock. Now they’ll never know who they were. The camera pulls back to reveal a ship with green lights in the estuary. Dun, dun, and, to coin a phrase, dun.
So, the first episode of Arrow sets up two very distinct storylines. As City Oliver learns to stop avenging his father’s death and start honoring Tommy’s life by being the man his friend always knew he could be, Island Oliver is giving in to his violent animalistic tendencies. I’m excited to get to see how these two paths cross and I’m especially excited to see how the Black Canary, and eventually the Flash (a news report mentions Central City and Star Labs), factor into the Arrow mythos. I’d really rather he be called Green Arrow, because I am a purist, but if he’s called Arrow, that’ll be okay too.