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"Oliver Queen! You failed this city!"
Even though there hasn't been an episode of Arrow in months, there has been plenty of action behind the scenes. Since the "Sacrifice," The CW superhero show has been busy in the off-season making several moves to earn calling itself "super." But how will introducing powers affect the 'Nolan-esque' universe that Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg have created? That's going to be a major factor at some point in the second season, but "City of Heroes" (despite the suggestive title) doesn't stray too far from the gritty, realistic formula that has worked so well for the series thus far. That's not to say that the premiere wasn't still a game-changer of sorts with our hero's return to the fight the good fight dependent on some new rules. Like no more killing people.
"It has been a very difficult year for Starling City..."
After Colin Donnell's Tommy sacrificed himself to save Laurel at the end of the first season finale, Oliver had the pleasure of watching his best friend die, and that obviously had a profound affect on the hero. And the fact that the Merlyn heir went to the grave thinking his lifelong pal was not much more than a 'serial killer' (his words) didn't help either. So how did Ollie deal with the Earth-shattering events? He took a vacation to Lian Yu! Nothing to clear your head like a trip back to the place where you were marooned and then trained by mercenaries to become an assassin. I actually loved the choice to send Oliver back to the island as a sort of sell-imposed exile, and having Dig and Felicity go there to retrieve him was a great way to open the episode. These are the three characters that fans would want to catch up with immediately and the Tarzan-like land-mine rescue was ridiculous but fun, especially since it put the Smoak under the sweaty hero. I like their chemistry. Her (Freudian) slips and his, well, pretending nothing slipped.
"You aren't at all what people say about you."
Dig and Felicity can't convince him to come back to Starling City to be the vigilante, but mention of both the family and family business being in trouble was enough to get him home. His drive through the Glades upon his return shows the devastation and has the first bit of character foreshadowing with a piece of graffiti telling people to 'Vote Blood.' Shortly after hinting at Kevin Alejandro's upcoming appearance, Ollie meets one of the other off-season additions in Summer Glau's Isabel Rochev. Rochev is a character from the DCU but it's unclear how she will work her way into the action and not just the business dealings. You don't cast Summer Glau and not have her kick some ass, right? Right?! At the moment, she's just a hostile executive at Stellmoor International trying to takeover controlling interest in Queen Industries.
"We are the 'Hoods.' And what was taken from us, we will take back."
The business woes weren't exactly thrilling, with the dispute playing out exactly how you'd except, but it did allow for an efficient introduction of Glau's Rochev. She's a mysterious character. I mean, who reacts to a group of men with machine guns interrupting a business meeting by reasserting an intent to 'win' the race for Queen Industries stock? Someone who has seen their share of guns and isn't afraid to mix it up in that world. There was also a bit of a spark between her and Ollie at episode's end, I wonder if the partnership will go from the professional to the personal? The troubles at Queen Industries also allowed for the scene between Ollie his mom in prison to have a little more punch than simply being a melodramatic reunion scene (like the one between Moira and Thea a little later) as well as re-introduce 'White Knight' Walter Steele. Speaking of 'White Knights,' this is probably a good time to mention how Arrow continues to be the small-screen version of The Dark Knight.
"Well someone has to do something. And stand up for what's right, like he did."
That's not an insult. Who doesn't want to watch a Batman TV show? And Oliver Queen's Green Arrow has always been cut from the same cloth as Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego, the main difference being the former's 'Occupy Wall Street' mentality as well as, until now, his willingness to kill to get the job done. Cue the copycats who straight-up murder people to get their message across and provide the contrast that puts Ollie's conundrum into perspective. If you are committing heinous crimes to stop criminals, does that make you a hero? No, it makes you a vigilante, a distinction that Arrow's second season will undoubtedly explore as they continue to introduce more and more heroes, villains and anti-heroes. The Hoods' extreme measures aren't enough to rattle Oliver out of retirement until they make it personal by targeting him and his family. Actually, even when they target him at the office (and Ollie pulls the Die Hard-like manoeuvre to save Felicity), he remains determined to stay out of the suit but attacking Thea is a different story.
"Where the hell did you come from?"
It's time to hood up, but the hero is going to do things another way. Sans killing. It's time to become a symbol that people can look up to and not dismiss as a violent vigilante. That being said, not all of the citizens of Starling City inspired by the Hood are using unnecessary violence to defend the weak with Roy Harper out there cleaning up the Glades without murdering anyone even though it's driving a wedge between him and Thea. They are still 'hot and heavy' but she would like him to stop fighting in the streets and he would like her to pay mom a prison visit. The first doesn't happen (his bravery actually puts Thea in danger) and yet the youngest Queen does take a trip to the big house. Roy's exploits also led to the big Black Canary reveal near the end of "City of Heroes." There's not much to say about her appearance at this point since it was the exact same footage that was shown at Comic-Con but it is exciting none the less. It does raise the question of whether Laurel will eventually don the suit since she's the DCU Black Canary? Pretty sure she will, you saw her moves.
"Okay. So what do you want to be called?"
Arrow returns with Episode 2, "Identity," next Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on The CW. Created by Marc Guggenheim, Andrew Kreisberg and Greg Berlanti, the DC Comics inspired series stars Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy, David Ramsey, Emily Bett Rickards, Willa Holland, Colton Haynes, Manu Bennett, Paul Blackthorne and Susanna Thompson.
Oh, and did anyone else catch the TV talk about Central City and the S.T.A.R. Labs' particle accelerator due to be completed by Christmas? Someone's appearance is quickly approaching.