Arrow Season 2 Review: More Consistent, More Superheroics, More Fun

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We got peaks of what Arrow could be last season, particularly towards the end. But Season 2 of the series delivered exactly what we wanted, giving us the best live-action superhero series ever.

Our second year following Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), a.k.a. the Arrow, took what worked in Season 1 and ran with it. With more superheroes and supervillains, Arrow felt like a weekly comic book in just about every way. The action rocked and the show’s sense of humor was significantly upped, but the drama, although occasionally drifting into soap territory, worked better than a lot of other network shows.

We start off the season with Oliver swearing off killing. He wants to be a hero this season, less of a vigilante. He struggles with his new rules (RIP Count Vertigo), but when it came time to fight Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett), he found the strength to spare him. It was a rewarding seasonal arc for our lead, but just a part of what made this season so appealing.

When we left off last season, Team Arrow was just Oliver, Diggle (David Ramsay), and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards). From the start of the season, Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) is doing what he can as a beat cop to help the Arrow. Soon after, Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) returns from the dead as the Canary. By mid-season, Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) is in the Arrow Cave on a regular basis. Finally, Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) learns Oliver’s identity and is prepared to fight to save the city. Team Arrow expanded this season, which gave the show an Avengers feel at times.

With the expansion of the team came the expansion of the universe. The Canary brought around the League of Assassins, with their leader, Ra’s al Ghul, remaining faceless. Diggle frequently dealt with A.R.G.U.S. and Amanda Waller throughout the season, eventually being a part of the Suicide Squad. Arrow wasn’t just a Green Arrow show anymore, it became a DC universe show.

And that meant more villains! Season 1 foes like China White, Deadshot, the Huntress, and even Malcolm Merlyn all made appearances this season. But new people for the Arrow and his team to fight included Bronze Tiger, Nyssa al Ghul, and Deathstroke.

That last one made for one hell of a season villain. With the island flashbacks almost entirely about Oliver and Slade’s relationship, Slade’s quest for revenge in the present was a perfect way to tie the flashbacks into the larger plot. But the flashbacks were still a problem occasionally this season though, sometimes interrupting the larger story with little inches toward the larger plot of the past. But they weren’t as much of a problem as last season.

Oliver’s family also had a larger role this season, Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson) being one of the strongest characters on the series. This made her shocking murder in Seeing Red one of the most devastating TV deaths of the year.

Thea, on the other hand, was a little less consistent. Actually, Thea and Laurel are the characters that leant the show its more soap opera-y moments. Arrow didn’t always know what to do with these two, but their character arcs both had moments of brilliance and eye-rolling throughout the season.

So while Arrow‘s second year wasn’t perfect, it certainly worked way more often than it didn’t. There were some rough episodes, but there were so many great ones. Arrow may seem like a guilty pleasure show to some, but with shocking moments like Moira’s death and an antagonist as strong as Slade, it’s hard not to get swept up in this great series. The finale, Unthinkable, hinted at many threads for Season 3 to pick up on, many of which I can’t wait to see next fall. Arrow is the top of its game, the best superhero series on TV right now and likely ever. Grade: A-

By Matt Dougherty

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