“City of Heroes” – Arrow

Screen Shot 2013-10-13 at 1.29.04 PMQuite simply, this was one of the most satisfying returns of the season. It’s like the writers didn’t even miss a step. Right from the opening moments, we launched back in. There was no need to ramp back up. It was action, tension, drama and danger right from the first moments. We loved it.

As the episode opens, we see Dig and Felicity parachuting onto Liànyù to find Oliver. Apparently, when things are going badly, there’s no place like the island that tried to kill you over and over again. When they get him back to Starling City (by telling him that Thea and Queen Consolidated need him), we see how far the city has fallen. The Glades are still an inhospitable hellhole and there are copy-cat vigilantes roaming the streets. Thea is running Verdant, Roy is still running around trying to be a hero, Moira is in prison awaiting trial (and Thea won’t see her) and Queen Consolidated is about to go to Stelmore International in a hostile takeover. Laurel is working for the DA and Detective Lance is now a plain old beat cop. A bleak picture, sure.

So the episode focused on getting Oliver back on track. Since Tommy’s death, he has been determined not to be the Hood. He can’t reconcile himself to the fact that Tommy died thinking he was a murderer. And yet, in spite of his heroic impotence, “City of Heroes” did not lack for action. Some of that action was corporate – Isabel Rochev (Summer Glau, Firefly, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Dollhouse), VP of Acquisitions at Stelmore, is ruthless and fantastic – and some literal. The copy-cat vigilantes, while lacking all of Oliver’s restraint, did at least give us some of the excitement we’ve come to expect from the show, even before they kidnapped Thea and inspired Ollie to un-retire the Hood.

Island flashbacks were few and far between, but enough to keep us interested. After a few months of total quiet on the island, Oliver, Slade and Shado discovered that they were no longer alone. Cue a kidnapping (of Shado, Ollie’s giiirrrrlfriend), a vicious beating and a lot of questions. Who are these new mercenaries? Why are they there? And whose graves are they looking for?

And, with this episode, we just realized the beauty of these flashback scenes (and it’s so blatant we’re amazed we didn’t see it sooner) – these flashbacks are potential plot fodder for at least five seasons. As long as they keep saying ‘five years ago’, it’s all good. Five years on an island = five seasons of island flashbacks (or more). Genius!

So what can we expect from this season of Arrow? Quite a lot, actually. First and foremost, we can expect a whole new Hood. Haunted by Tommy’s opinion of him, Oliver is determined to be a humane vigilante. No more killing just because it’s the easy thing to do. Welcome to a new era. We’re calling it the ‘Bruce Wayne period’. The similarities between these two just keep appearing. This season will also see us provided with a better name than ‘the Hood’. Could this, perhaps, be the season in which … *shock* *horror* … we start calling him Green Arrow?

Shippers everywhere will be pleased to note that Felicity and Ollie’s simmering tension has not dissipated one whit since last season. With Laurel now more of a no-go area than ever before – she feels as though she betrayed Tommy by hooking up with Ollie, and is determined to find the vigilante and bring him to justice for Tommy’s death (meaning that she and her father have, essentially, traded places [he has a new-found respect for the Hood after last season’s final episodes]) – Felicity might actually have a chance. We doubt that will go anywhere, though. At least, not yet. An illicit dalliance with Isabel Rochev is far more likely.

And while we’re on the subject, the appearance of Stelmore International and Rochev as corporate rivals seems far too simple. Too simple for that to be all that there is to it, anyway. We found ourselves wondering if Rochev and Stelmore were, somehow, behind activities on the island. A company so fond of hostile takeovers and financial trickery would surely have no qualms about cutting China off from the rest of the world, and we kept having flashbacks to that pair of fantastic legs in last season’s “Darkness on the Edge of Town”. If this is what we think it is, then Oliver’s going to be kept busy by far more than a 50/50 split in his family business over the coming season. Though that will, certainly, be a big part of the ongoing narrative.

We’re not sure what to expect from Moira – in prison or out of it, she’s likely to just be a figure on the edge of things. We can’t imagine there are too many secrets left for her to reveal (at least, nothing of the magnitude of the Undertaking), so she will probably be reserved for giving advice in times of need. That may be more often than one could imagine, particularly now that Thea has forgiven her. We anticipate a number of chats about how Roy just won’t stop getting himself beaten up every night (though, if Thea has even an ounce of her brother’s secretive nature, maybe not).

And it’s Roy’s arc that gave us the most exciting vignette. In one of the episode’s final sequences, Roy attempted to stop a rape. On the verge of getting roundly trounced by the girl’s attackers, he himself was rescued. By a mysterious blonde in a leather cat suit and an eye mask, fighting with sticks. She’s a little bit of a badass. And we’re excited to find out more about her.

So there’s a lot to look forward to going forward. And this episode’s quality showed us that we can expect it all to be of a fairly high standard. All in all, that means that Arrow is definitely something we can still get excited about. Glad to see it hasn’t lost its touch. – K

Quoteworthy: “Since you majored in dropping out of college, let me put his in terms that are easy for you to understand…” – Isabel Rochev

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