This post contains spoilers for last night’s season finale of Arrow. You have been warned!
Last night’s season finale of Arrow delivered on all the promises the show made in its sophomore year, and saw Oliver Queen finally outsmart his archenemy Slade Wilson with the help of his friends (and a few of his foes). The most satisfying thing about “Unthinkable”, however, was that it gave every member of the show’s principal cast, as well well as its recurring cast members, a moment to shine — offering laughs, romance, and more of its signature action sequences (the finest of any current network series) than we’ve ever seen in one episode.
It also gave us a taste of what’s in store for Ollie and co. in Season 3 — Dig’s gonna be a dad, Roy’s now an official masked member of Team Arrow, Thea’s run off with new-found father Malcolm Merlyn, and Detective Lance has some serious health problems. Meanwhile, in Flashback Land, Oliver has arrived in Hong Kong, under the auspices of the nefarious Amanda Waller… It would be easy to list the top ten things I loved about this episode alone, but since the episode served as not only the end of a sterling season in Starling City, but also a celebration of all that’s great about TV’s best live-action superhero show, I thought I’d join the party. Here are the ten best things about Arrow‘s second season.
The chemistry between actors Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards was electric from the moment Oliver swung out of the trees to rescue Felicity from a land mine on Lian Yu in the season opener, to that unforgettable exchange – in which the two reveal everything and nothing – on the beach of the very same island in the finale.
Summer Glau’s Business Suits
Our River Tam is all grown up! It’s been a pleasure to watch Glau’s acting skills reach the level of her always kick ass moves. Her corporate tycoon Isabel Rochev was threatening before she delivered a single kick. She’s one of several cast members who will most certainly be missed next year.
The Canary Cry
When Caity Lotz was announced as Dinah’s sister Sara, I cheered. I’d seen Caity’s work on MTV’s Death Valley and was thrilled by the idea that an actress capable of doing her own stunts and martial arts moves would be playing the show’s first Black Canary. I wasn’t disappointed. Producers Andrew Kreisberg and Marc Guggenheim – bless their hearts – even found a way to make her trademark comic-book superpower work within the show’s relatively realistic context.
I could write an essay on the many things I love about Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen, and after the fan response to the Flash trailer the CW unveiled last night, I’m sure I’ll have plenty of opportunities to do just that. But for now, let me offer this… I had an opportunity to interview Silver Age Flash co-creator Carmine Infantino before he passed away, and the man who designed the Scarlet Speedster’s iconic suit told me two things about it: 1.) No matter how many times DC Comics tried to change Barry’s costume over the decades, they couldn’t. Because there’s just no better design. Minor details aside, costume maestro Colleen Atwood would seem to agree. 2.) The suit was designed for a runner, a lean man – not a weightlifter. Thank you, Warner Brothers for understanding this, and for casting an actor whose body doesn’t fit CW’s musclebound mold.
Nyssa al Ghul
Arrow has always been generous in its use of DC Universe characters (unlike a certain other prime-time comic-book adaptation I could name). But the show reached such a high level of storytelling this year that even when Nyssa – a lesser member of the DCU (at least when compared to her sister and father) – was introduced, it was done so skillfully that even the most critical of fans applauded. Kudos to actress Katrina Law. Don’t stay away from Starling too long, okay?
The Suicide Squad
If any Season 2 episode of Arrow could serve as a backdoor pilot for a spin-off series (with the obvious exception of the Barry Allen two-parter, designed as such), it’s the glorious romp that featured Dig, his ex-wife, and his titular foes on their secret mission for A.R.G.U.S. If we can get at least one Suicide Squad episode per year, I’ll be a happy camper. Even if Harley Quinn must remain a disembodied voice.
Admit it – you were expecting Sara to bite it, weren’t you? I know I was. Which is just one of the reasons why Moira’s end was so shocking. In her two years on Arrow, actress Susanna Thompson and the writers took a role that, at first, sounded like an unwelcome return to the parent-child dynamics of Smallville, and made it into one of the most interesting elements in the show. But Moira’s death made perfect sense, since it was the final step in Oliver’s journey from adolescence to manhood.
The Return of the Dark Archer
Welcome back, John Barrowman! The Season 1 Big Bad returned, still oozing madness and charisma in equal measure. Now that Malcolm Merlyn has taken Thea under his wing, we can expect even greater things from the former League of Assassins member in Season 3.
Actor Colton Haynes is burdened with the face of a J. Crew model, so on a network chock-full of pretty boys he was easy to overlook in the show’s first season. This year saw Roy Harper take his rightful place within Team Arrow, as symbolized by the gift Ollie gave him in the finale, in which Haynes delivered a steady understated performance. Hopefully, it’s a sign of things to come. With the Mirakuru out of his system and Thea gone for the foreseeable future, the former street urchin is at long last free to be his own man.
The Final Fight
Yes, the flashback sequences in the latter half of Season 2 were at times less involving than those in the front half, simply because we knew Ollie and Sara would survive the island. But the climactic duel between Slade and Oliver on board the Amazo revealed the writers’ master plan. Illustrating Oliver’s growth from killer to hero, the finale cuts seamlessly between two expertly choreographed fights with the two men – in the past and present. With the flashbacks now possessing an added resonance, I’m looking forward to watching all of year 2’s storylines unfold again on Blu-ray.
What were your favorite moments from Arrow Season 2? Let us know in the comments below.