I’ve been watching Arrow since it premiered two years ago. Overall, I really enjoy the show, and have found that the parts I enjoy far outweigh those that make me cringe. It has its fair share of comic-book-ness that often relies on implausible events, deus ex machina hand waving, or just good old-fashioned fake science. However, it also has a lot of what makes comics great. It sticks relatively close to the Hero’s Journey, the action sequences tend towards pure adrenaline and the overall tone just feels like a good superhero story (which is hard to explain to a non-comics fan, but is sort of a universal feeling among lifelong readers). Granted, there are plenty of times where the plot seems like it was lifted wholesale from a Telenovela, *cough* Huntress *cough* but those moments seem to decrease exponentially with each episode. In general, I’ve found a few constants on Arrow: The show is unapologetically a show about Batman, particularly the Nolan-verse version. Although, to be fair, that is exactly how the character started in the comics as well. It wasn’t until much later that he really came into his own unique identity. Stephen Amell absolutely believes in the show and plays his character with so much sincerity that you can’t help but like him. This goes a long way toward making some of the cringe-worthy quasi-romantic moments slightly less painful to watch. Diggle (David Ramsey) and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) are the unsung heroes of this show. Period. If John Barrowman is on screen, scenery will be chewed. The flashback sequences are often the strongest parts of any episode. The only real issue I’ve had with any of them is Oliver’s hair. Steven Amell should never have long hair. Warner Brothers are doing some of their best work on the small-screen. While the animated shows were always strong, Arrow really set the precedent for the live action shows. See my earlier review of the show here. Here’s what you need to know about the Season 3 premiere of Arrow: Oliver was conscripted by Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) into ARGUS during his time in Hong Kong. Diggle is a Dad. Oliver and Felicity tried to date. It didn’t go well. Captain Lance (Paul Blackthorne) dismantles the Anti-Vigilante Squad and thanks The Arrow for his efforts to save the city. There is was a new Scarecrow Vertigo (Peter Stormare) in town. Roy (Colton Haynes) is Red Arrow, but sans the name. So, technically, he’s Vigilante Boy?? Superman Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) has arrived in Starling(?) City. Sarah/Black Canary (Caity Lotz) is dead(?). “The Calm” picks up shortly after the events of the Season 2 finale. Starling City is recovering from the onslaught of Deathstroke’s Mirakuru-Crazed monsters. Oliver, with Felicity’s help, is hoping to regain control of his family’s company. Unfortunately, Ray Palmer has arrived and, well, he’s exponentially more qualified than Oliver. As much as the status quo has been restored, it’s also been shifted significantly and not just with regards to the board of Queen Consolidated. Each season has tracked Oliver’s growth, starting with the deadly Vigilante and culminating with the ascendancy of the heroic Arrow. Unfortunately for Oliver, that growth comes at a great price. This season seems like the focus will be on Oliver finding a balance between his nighttime pursuits and his daytime responsibilities. It’s not an uncommon trope for superhero stories, and for good reason. At their core, superhero stories are about identity. From a Jungian perspective, Oliver was doing battle with his Shadow when he took down Deathstroke, his mentor turned nemesis. However, it’s not enough to simply conquer the Shadow. As Jung theorized, victory over the Shadow leaves a person in a precarious position, a type of uncomfortable calm (catch that?) where a person is locked in a standstill between the Ego and the Shadow. The process of individuation can only occur when a person successfully assimilates the Shadow. Per Jung, “assimilation of the shadow gives a man body, so to speak.” All of which, leads us back to Oliver and his encounter with Vertigo. Granted, the “what you fear the most” battle was about as subtle as a jackhammer. But, it sets the tone for the rest of the season. With Deathstroke locked away, Oliver’s biggest threat won’t be any of the myriad villains he faces this season, it will be his identity as The Arrow. His survival, and arguably the survival of his friends and family, hinges on his ability to find the precious balance between Oliver and Green Arrow. Interestingly, this is perhaps where Arrow deviates most significantly from the Batman mythology. Batman is normally in a state of total darkness, he hasn’t battled his Shadow so much as it has subsumed him. In many of the strongest takes on the character Batman’s personality is splintered. Bruce Wayne is merely a ruse to misdirect the public at large while he pursues his mission of vengeance. Starting with this episode, Oliver is clearly not splintered. He’s stuck in the middle of a mental tug-of-war. On the island he was forced to become a killer in order to survive. In Hong Kong it appears that he’s being forced to become a killer-for-hire or risk being indirectly responsible for killing the family of his handler. He’s faced with the illusion of choice and his freedom carries a heavy price. Fast forward to today and he’s faced with a similar Catch-22. He can no longer be just Oliver; the legacy of The Arrow and the sense of responsibility that entails is inescapable. Vertigo says as much when he talks about the role heroes play in the creation of villains. Forgoing his duties as The Arrow puts too many people at risk, but how far can he travel down that road before Oliver Queen becomes just a facade? Seeing Lance in the hospital, a victim of his inability to give up active duty, is a foreboding omen. The juxtaposition of an old father, Lance, with a new father, Diggle, only adds to the weight of the decision and struggle facing Oliver this season. Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the apparent murder of Sarah Lance. Rumor has it that Greg Berlanti has all but confirmed that yes, Sarah is dead. Admittedly, I’m not a fan of “fridging,” but I can see how it might make sense in this instance. After all, we’ve known from the first season that it would be Laurel who would become Black Canary. Unfortunately, I have my doubts about Katie Cassidy’s ability to make Laurel’s journey to carry the mantle of her sister a convincing one. Here’s to hoping I’m wrong. Here’s my breakdown for Season 3, Episode 1 “The Calm”: The Good: Ray Palmer is already a great addition to the show. Admittedly, I have bias in favor of Brandon Routh (I was one of the few people who enjoyed Superman Returns). His introduction felt relatively natural, as opposed to “Hey, look what we did!” bit of stunt casting. Diggle and Felicity remain the best thing about the show. Period. I’m glad we just jumped right into Roy already being Red Arrow. So much of Roy’s story last season seemed to drag on. Hopefully this means we get less Moody Aggro Roy and more Parkour Roy. Of course, Thea was persona non grata this episode, so there’s probably plenty of Aggro Roy left to come. Hong Kong looks to be every bit as interesting as Lian Yu. Amanda Waller, true to her reputation, has put Oliver in an impossible situation. What do I have to do to get Peter Stormare on my television every week? Seth Gabel’s Jokerized version of The Count was so over the top that it bordered on parody. Stormare’s Vertigo, in spite of the fact he was basically just Scarecrow, felt like it struck the right balance of crazy. Although, I think that’s pretty much just Peter Stormare being Peter Stormare, which is never a bad thing. The Might-Be-Good: Everything about “Olicity” seems great, particularly in comparison to Olaurel (Lauriver?). Although, you can have too much of a good thing. This could easily go bad fast. The Bad: I would have preferred a longer storyline with Vertigo. I feel like this version of the character would have made for a much more interesting story arc. It’s a shame that it appears that he was just a Villain of the Week. Amanda Waller is still not played by CCH Pounder. This should be a crime. In my head canon CCH Pounder will appear halfway through the season and we’ll learn that Cynthia Addai-Robinson is actually Amanda Waller’s proxy while the real Waller has been running things from behind the scenes. Nothing against Addai-Robinson, but CCH Pounder is, and always will be, my version of The Wall. Black Canary’s death. Despite the god-awful, and highly impractical, costume, I really felt like Caity Lotz’s Black Canary had quickly become one of the high spots on the show. Her presence always equaled that of Arrow, they made a formidable team. Which leads me to… Katie Cassidy. I actually think this might be a permanent spot. In my opinion, Laurel Lance is the weakest part of this show. I’m really not looking forward to her taking over the mantle of Black Canary. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.