I was not a comic book or comic book movie fan growing up. Sure, I’d watch Michael Keaton as Batman or read the graphic novel series The Preacher but I was not a fanboy of any degree. But, as I have moved from my twenties into my early thirties, I’ve evolved and I get the attraction and allure of the comic book genre. I still don’t read comic books but sign me up for any movie based on a comic book because in a word, they’re awesome. The advancements in special effects together with the inherent adrenaline pumping action that is synonymous with the movie genre makes these types of movies irresistible to anyone that likes fantastical worlds and over the top plot and drama combined with ass kicking sequences that make you wish you were a trained ninja (which, despite what I tell Lil’ TV Watcher, I am not).
So, when the comic book genre comes to TV, I have trepidations because, how can a broadcast TV show capture the fantastical world necessary to allow the viewer to enter and dwell among the superheroes? Shows like Terra Nova exemplified the cautionary tale that expensive budgeted shows made for a niche audience are doomed for failure … they’re not sustainable no matter how loyal the fan base. So, now (the not Green but he’s totally the Green) Arrow takes his place on the stage to show us what he can do and if he can make a wide enough audience believe in the magic that millions of comic book fans have believed in for years.
Before he even shows us his abs once, he’s got 2 things working for him: (i) he’s on The CW which has a much more liberal mindset in what it means to be a hit than its bigger network rivals and (ii) its acting as the lead in for the more than just cult favorite, Supernatural, and so it will start with an audience already inclined to enjoy it.
And with that, lets talk Arrow!
North China Sea. Brad Pitt from the middle parts of Legends of the Fall runs through a forest, scrabbles over rocks, jumps large distances and shoots flaming arrows at a pile of brush. Oh wait, this is Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell, Heartland; Private Practice) and he just got himself rescued from an island on which he was trapped for 5 long years. The Mandarin name of the Island translates to “Purgatory”. (millions of Supernatural Dean fans and LOSTies squee in unison. An Island! Purgatory!). Oliver would like you to know that he’s no longer the boy that was shipwrecked and he’s returning home to clean up those elements that have poisoned his city and BTW, he’ll be using his mad killer skillz honed on the island after 5 years of hard living. Peace out Island.
Starling City. We learn that Robert Queen (Jamey Sheridan, Homeland), Oliver’s dad, died in the same boat crash (“Queen’s Gambit” is a good boat name) that presumably killed Oliver … which means well see him at the end of Season1 and he’ll be a bad guy resurrected. Doctor tells Oliver’s mom (Susanna Thompson, Kings; NCIS) that 20% of his body is covered in scar tissue; he had 12 fractures that never healed; and second degree burns everywhere … yeah, Oliver Queen is a terminator at this point and probably a bit different that you remember him.
Wayne Queen Manor. Oliver is indifferent to the finer home furnishings and Walter Steele (Colin Salmon, Single Ladies), his father’s “friend from the Company”; he has warmth only for Raisa the maid (Kathleen Gati) and his sis, Thea (Willa Holland, Gossip Girl; The O.C.), who he says was with him everyday on the Island.
Legal Aid Office. We learn some more backstory when we are introduced to
Dinah Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy, Gossip Girl; Melrose Place), sister to Sarah Lance who died on Queen’s Gambit and was Oliver’s lady friend. On top of really not wanting to talk about her sister, Laurel is preparing a major class action suit against sure to be baddie, Adam Hunt (Brian Markinson).
Stately Queen Manor. We get our first Flashback (we know how I feel about shows with flashbacks!) to those last minutes on the Queen’s Gambit as a storm rages around the boat and “Ollie’s” father advises him that things will not end well with his
sexy time lady friend, Sarah (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood). Aww, seems Dad was a good one. Oliver’s memory is interrupted by the entrance of Oliver’s former life playboy friend, Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell, Pan Am). At the shortly turning to awkward dinner, Tommy catches Oliver up on pop culture and politics (Black President, that’s new” and “LOST! They were all dead … I think” HA!). Thea wants to know how it was on the island (“Cold.”) and we learn that Oliver has picked up Russian somewhere. Oliver wants to head to the office and Walter begs him off that Queen Consolidated isn’t going anywhere. Also, Oliver cringes things up when he says he’s getting the “Walter wants to bone my mom” vibe. On Twitter, the hashtag is #ThatMomentWhenYourBackFromtheDeadSonMakesItAwkward. Thea says she didn’t say anything and Oliver is like, duh, she didn’t ahve to. Moira comes clean that she and Walter are married. But its cool, they didn’t do anything to disrespect his father’s memory. Sure, ok.
That night, we see Oliver dreaming of his time on the boat (as he sleeps on the floor of his room under the open window with rain falling in) and we see the boat capsize and Sarah sucked into the water and that dad was able to pull him onto a life boat 9which looks like most people’s speedboat); sorry son, Sarah’s gone. By the way, seems that Sarah and Oliver were keeping a little secret from sister Laurel, I think you can guess what … Anyway, Moira and Walter wake up sleeping beauty what with the floor and the window and the rain and he rolls his mother into a death grip with a placement karate chop at her throat. NEVER WAKE A SLEEPING OLIVER! He backs away, realizing what he just exposed about himself. He apologizes but she just responds that its alright, he’s home. Safe. Sure. The next morning, a more composed Oliver retrieves a
Deserted Island Souvenir Buddhist artifact to give to his sister … who is maybe into recreational prescription drug taking with one of her prep school girlfriends. Tommy shows up to whisk him away but he just wants to visit with Laurel (“the one person not happy he’s alive’). Also, the exposition fairy tells us that Starling City has gone to pot in the 5 years he was absent and we see a former Queen Industrial factory, lying dormant, just calling out to be made into a liar … I’m just saying.
Legal Aid Office. Adam hunt has moved the trial to a judge who he has in back pocket but Laurel has bigger problems since Oliver just showed up. As you probably guessed by now, Laurel has some anger issues about Oliver boning s sister while dating her and then letting Sarah die on top of it. “I hoped you’d rot in hell a whole lot longer than 5 years.” Oooh Burn.
Moving on to their next reunion tour stop, Tommy and Oliver are ambushed by 3 guys in Darth Maul masks and tranqued. Before passing out, Oliver watches one of them gun down a passerby who comes out to see what the racket is about (why did Tommy park in the freaking alley?). Cue the Flashback! On the lifeboat, Robert Queen gives his son their only water and confesses that he’s not the man he thinks he is; he didn’t build their city, he failed it. Back in the present, Oliver is awoken zip tied to a chair while one of the Darth Mauls interrogates him about his father and whether he told Oliver anything before he died? Sure did, said I was going to kill you. Whaza? Yes, it seems that Oliver has used his many muscles to free himself from the zip ties and begins to ass kick all three kidnappers downing 2 quickly while giving (a very impressive and acrobatic) chase to the third, machine gun wielding baddie. He eventually tracks him down and snaps his neck, because, hey, no one can know his secret. Well, mom might have an idea after you rolled her and almost killed her for waking you and Tommy was totally awake when you started eliminating bad guys.
Back at Stately Queen Manor, Det. Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne!, The River) (Laurel’s dad by the way) questions the whole, “a hooded man came and saved you and took out three armed kidnappers” story but they’re sticking to it. Ah, that Paul Blackthorne wit; “they probably figured they’d pay a king’s, er, queen’s ransom to get your boy back.” Suffice to say that Det. Lance is no fan of the Queens in general and Oliver in particular. What with the dead daughter and all. Later, in his study, Oliver’s Revenge book (which has Adam Hunt listed) musings are interrupted by Raisa and they have a nice moment, at least she thought he was a nice boy before, well, had a good heart anyway.
Enter John Diggle (David Ramsey, Blue Bloods; Outlaw), Oliver’s new driver hired by Moira to protect Oliver. Call me Diggle, or Digg. Whatevs. He’s ex-military and fairly no nonsense. Before Digg can finish his request that he’ll keep Oliver safe at the expense of his comfort, Oliver has left the moving car and disappeared. Day One Job fail. Oliver ‘s got plans, yo and a babysitter would only cramp them. After a very impressive fence jumping into the abandoned Queen factory from earlier, cue up the lair building/physical training/arrow head producing/arrow shooting bouncing tennis balls montage; the Green Arrow ladies and gentlemen! He’s coming for you! Well, he’s coming for Adam Hunt anyway, who has just been handed a federal indictment courtesy of Laurel’s work.
Adam Hunt. As Adam and his flunkies return to his car, he’s not pleased about the indictment or Laurel and tells his lackeys to get things worked out. Cue the the lights being shot out and flunkies being dropped by arrows to the chest. Soon Adam is on the ground and Green Arrow informs him that he’s to transfer a cool $40 million in a Starling City bank account or else … or else he’ll take it and Mr. Hunt won’t like how. As Green Arrow walks away, Hunt has the balls to say he’ll kill him if he sees him again, the response to which is a well placed arrow through Hunt’s back window. Yeah, green Arrow is not scared of Adam Hunt. Bad Ass.
Det. Lance interviews Adam Hunt about “Robin Hood” and Adam doesn’t think its very funny at all. He insists that he moves to the front of the grievance list and be there at 10pm to stop the madman. Lance and his partner walk away saying they’ll be waiting for the hooded man.
Oliver’s Homecoming Party. Which is a rave (is that what the kids still call it? I’m old) at a club. Diggle sits in the backseat with Oliver this time. Ha! Oliver likes him! Oliver plays the fratboy role that he’s meant to, “I missed tequila!” While Tommy tries to get Oliver laid, he is more interested in the drug drop that he just witnessed Thea engage in. He intervenes about her underage-ness in da club and she unloads that he can’t judge after what she’s been through, blah blah. She bounces but he’s already purloined the drugs. So, mission accomplished. Diggle watches. Diggle approves. Hey Laurel, thanks for coming; sure, we can talk. Oliver tells Laurel that he wishes he could trade places with Sarah and no, she didn’t suffer. They reconnect over Sarah’s memory and Laurel says she’s there for him if he needs to talk. Their nice moment is interrupted by a calendar reminder telling Oliver that the money was not deposited into the account by 10pm. Uh oh. Laurel sees a changed look in Oliver’s face when he tells her that he told someone to do something and they didn’t. He warns her that he’ll just hurt again and goes off saying he’s got debauchery to catch up on. As he tries to sneak off, Diggle waits for him and tells him he’s not getting away from him again. In response, Oliver sleeper holds Diggle. Nice.
Conveniently, Oliver arranged for his party across the street from Adam Hunt’s offices … which are currently under super lock down from Det. Lance. Sure, he might not get in but they didn’t take care of grapple hook outside the building. Somehow, Oliver makes his way into the elevator and once it reaches the penthouse, all hell breaks loose and it looks like the scene in the Matrix when they tear up the lobby with gun fire? Lots of gunfire, Island Fu and arrow shooting winds up with Adam seemingly to get away, Green Arrow unconscious on the floor and everyone else dead on the floor. All units converge, all units converge is the order from Det. Lance down on the street. Green Arrow revives just in time to bust through a window, down on to the zip line and away from danger. The detectives bust up the party across the street to search the building. With the quick change skills of Superman, Oliver is back in his party suit to talk with Det. Lance. To mock the Detective, he announces a $2 million reward to anyone who can find the nut in a green hood and sufficiently incensed, Lance anger whispers if he even tried to save his daughter … then storms away. Alone, Tommy shows an amazing amount of awareness when he puts together the curious coincidence of Oliver picking a party right next to Adam Hunt’s office who was attacked by the same guy in a green hood that saved them. Oliver tells Tommy to be thankful he’s alive and whoa, what happened to you on that island? “A lot.”
The next morning, Adam Hunt is yelling about $40 million being mysteriously disappeared from his account and we see the “missed” arrow from the night before with a USB looking gizmo on the end. Cut to the lair where Oliver is watching the funds transfer to a lot of names and pleased, crosses out Adam Hunt ‘s name in the Revenge Book. In another flashback, we see the next morning on the life raft which is not a speedboat like I thought but still, a really nice life raft. Anyway, Robert tells his son to right his wrongs at home and to survive. He then shoots their other companion (who was that guy) and then puts a bullet in his head. So, maybe he won’t be back at the end of Season 1. Survive, yo.
Legal Aid Office. Laurel is getting calls from happy plaintiffs about magic money showing up and advising them to keep quiet. Ethics are hard! Tommy shows up and to recap the night before and she tells him the party wasn’t her scene. Oooh, seems that Tommy was “Olivering” Laurel while Oliver was away. The plot curdles (in homage to Revenge). As Laurel returns to work, we see that Green Arrow was watching the whole time; someone
Tommy is going to have some explaining to do, I think.
“There are many more names on the list. Those who rule my city through intimidation and fear. Every last one of them will wish I had died on that Island.”
In the last scene we learn that Moira was the one that arranged for Oliver’s kidnapping. “There are other ways to find out what my son knows.” Oh, Snap!
Alright, so this is a no brainer for anyone looking for a guilty pleasure come awesome action show. Arrow is the best parts of Person of interest, Revenge, Batman, Spiderman and its own brand of justice mixed in. Tied together with beautiful creatures from The CW actor farm.
Keep or Delete? Keep, 1000 times keep.
What do you say America? Keep or Delete?