Somehow, someway, without me expecting it, the CW’s Arrow became one of my favorite debuts of the 2012-2013 television season. I was so uninterested in it during all the Comic Con promotion, which I’m kind of regretting right now. In this post, I list what I like and don’t like, and try to pinpoint why I’ve become so invested in this little show.
What I Like:
Workouts! Just getting that out of the way right off the bat. If you think I’m not a warm blooded woman who appreciates Ollie’s abs, then you’re crazy. Also, I’m always in awe of how Stephen Amell is genuinely crazy amazing when it comes to the training sequences and does everything himself. Because come on, one look at the salmon ladder and you know it could only have come from the deepest pits of hell.
Oliver Queen. I’ve never been a big Green Arrow fan (my heart belongs to archers in purple), so I have no real basis for who Oliver Queen is in the comics. This left me with no real expectations, so I really like Ollie. Yes, CW goes off the rails with the drama sometimes, but I like the way Ollie teeters between trying to be the bright, family man he used to be, and the ruthless vigilante-slash-hero he’s become. And I love when it bleeds over and his family (finally, Thea, god) gets the sense that he isn’t the same Ollie. It’s very interesting to watch, and I’m invested in where Ollie goes as a character.
Plus, I love it when Ollie gets a chance to smile and be upbeat (even when he’s acting it for his family’s benefit). Stephen Amell’s got a boyish quality in those scenes that make me smile.
The Vigilante vs. The Hero. Some of the last few episodes have really focused on just how moral Ollie’s work as the vigilante is. Even the entire Helena Bertinelli arc was based on trying to figure out why her version of revenge was any less ethical than Ollie’s was, and why. I love thinking about this stuff, and when the show is written well, it’s engaging and fascinating to watch Ollie figure it out for himself. This is the meat of the show right now, and it’s great.
The Queen family. Thea had a rocky start as the ever present annoying teen, but once the writers smoothed her out and made her a little more believable, I’ve loved her. She’s the annoying teen when she needs to be, but mostly she’s a girl who lost her father and brother, and when she got her brother back, he was changed. Seeing her grow and deal with that (maturely) has been lovely to watch. Moira and her strange choices have been so fascinating as well. Trying to figure out what makes her tick – because it’s obvious how much she loves her family despite whatever hold Merlyn has on her – has been great to watch. And Walter! I LOVE YOU, WALTER.
Diggle and Ollie’s friendship. I think the show took a turn for the good when Ollie let Diggle in on the vigilante secret so early on in the game. Now Diggle is there not only as an ally, but a conscience, cheerleader, and most importantly for Ollie, a friend who knows his deepest secret. Being on that island made Ollie a one man show, but seeing him open up to Diggle has been so great for his character progression.
Also, they get shirtless and train together. Just…just let me have it.
What I’m So-So On:
DC character portrayal. Arrow has had some pretty interesting choices in DC villains and heroes show up so far. It’s hard to reconcile such colorful characters on a show grounded in realism, but Arrow tries, and tries hard. They very rarely hit the mark, is the problem. Deadshot was a complete let down. Helena Bertinelli was interesting, especially in how she impacted the way Ollie sees his own work and his own loneliness, but as her own character and a whole story arc, she didn’t live up. (And she got two episodes!) Deathstroke is probably the only plus right now, especially because he’s still shrouded in the mystery of Ollie’s island past. Hearing that Manu Bennett was cast to continue his role will be very interesting indeed. Arrow has nowhere to go but up in this sense, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how they treat Roy Harper when he shows up.
Tommy Merlyn. This only goes in the so-so category because I found him incredibly annoying at first. That annoyance turned to eye rolling when he started getting serious about Laurel, but now I out and out love him. He’s the bright eyes of the show for me, and it’s sad that he’s relegated to a plot line that’s mostly about his romance with Laurel. I think there’s so much more they can do with the character, especially after the dad reveal, and I just love him, okay? I LOVE TOMMY.
What I Dislike:
(Dinah) Laurel Lance. What are they doing to her?! I can’t even put into words what I dislike about Laurel because it’s EVERYTHING. From Katie Cassidy’s acting and my irrational dislike of her eyebrows to the yo-yo treatment the writers give her, it’s hard to like Laurel at all. They kind of sidelined her into a romance with Tommy, so that whenever she’s inserted into the main plot with Ollie, it feels off, forced.
Let’s make that the whole Lance family. I can’t even get into Paul Blackthorne’s campy acting and his ever present forest of chest hair. Just…just look at the picture. It haunts me.
Ollie’s idea of secrecy. I think Diggle needs to sit Ollie down and talk to him about what a secret identity is, and how to keep it secret when all you wear under your hood is A STRIPE OF FACE PAINT OVER YOUR EYES. OLLIE, WTF. That, and inserting himself into the investigation as Ollie in front of Laurel in the Firebug episode? It drives me nuts. You can buy all kinds of high tech shit, Ollie, buy yourself a domino mask, at least! Something!
In the End…
Ultimately, I think I know what Arrow comes down to for me. When it’s a show about Oliver Queen’s emotional ties, moral questioning, and family moments, it’s great and I’m all for it one hundred percent. When it’s a show about superheroes and villains, it’s still limping along. The growing pains would usually put me off a show by now, but I think there is so much more to the show than its bad parts.
And with the addition of Manu Bennett as Deathstroke (!), Colton Haynes as Roy Harper (!!), and Alex Kingston as Laurel’s mother (!!!!), there is so much potential.
Bring it on, Arrow. I know you have it in you.