We realized we haven’t talked much about Arrow here on Comparative Geeks. And maybe it’s because Marvel seems to own so much of our time, or because we marathoned through much of season 1… or because we only just started getting caught up on season 2 (thanks, Hulu!). And I haven’t read any Green Arrow comics. Nothing to compare.
No, this show stands alone. Not tying in to the DC movies, not needing to rely on the comics. I don’t even think I watch another show on the CW. Yet, this show does not need these other things – because it’s one of the better shows on TV right now.
And as we started getting caught up on season 2, we’re finding that in many ways the show is getting better, not worse. The first season ended feeling like it might have worked through a lot of their direction, or like the feel might change… but they’ve kept things moving forward. Kept characters developing, started introducing new ones. So here are a few of my thoughts about Arrow season 2! With a few spoilers!
The Things That Make Arrow Unique
Part of what has been so great about Arrow is that it has approached the Super Hero TV show in a way others haven’t. It’s not campy. It doesn’t depend on knowledge of the comics or characters. It doesn’t serve as a vehicle for character cameos or even really villain cameos. It’s not even tied in to a movie universe, like Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD.
Instead, it starts from a place of realism…ish. A man trapped on an island. Returned home. With a mission. Simple enough. How’d he survive the island? He learned a whole lot of skills. And he puts them to use.
So it’s a pretty good origin story going on, and he is, in the end, a normal human. Fortune and training on top, like Batman. We could be him – but it’s more interesting, because we kind of don’t want to be him. He’s been through more than I would want to, anyway.
And then, from this origin story, they keep giving. The story is told through constant flashbacks, every episode. I thought these might end, eventually, or by the end of the first season at least. Not so – they’ve kept going. And increasingly, the things he went through show how he ended up as a vigilante badass.
I’ve talked about it before – Super Hero stories always reset back to the origin story, and Arrow was no exception. They keep going back to these because they can let people in who aren’t fans, and as you make changes, as long as they follow logically from that origin, you can have an ongoing plot fans and everyone can like.
But Arrow has found the way for the origin to be the gift that keeps giving. They keep tapping the origin. The origin keeps changing, updating. They can effectively retcon things in – which they’ve done in a big way in season 2.
Tying in to a Larger DC Universe?
Because what they’ve retconned in now was Black Canary. Not just her existence, since she could theoretically be anyone. No, they’ve worked her in as the supposedly dead major plot point from the first season. Sarah Lance, who caused so much guilt, so much anguish, so much pain and loss.
Except, we have found out that he knew she didn’t die in the boat crash, that stranded him on the island. No, she lived, and she ended up with some crazy training as well. So she has some elements of the same backstory. Which will be interesting to watch develop.
But even as Holly and I were guessing her identity, the show was working that way as well. Our heroes realized she was watching the Lance family, and they found her there. They didn’t treat us as stupid. Instead, the surprise seemed like it was going to be that Black Canary was Sarah – and instead, the surprise was that Arrow wasn’t surprised. Well played.
From here, they’re working in more characters from the DC universe, and I imagine they will work them in nicely, like they did Black Canary. For one thing, I think they’re already dropping hints about the creation of the Flash. Stories on the news, about a supercollider. Ripe for an accident, ripe to create a super-powered super hero.
And they’ve dropped the name Ra’s al Ghul, meaning we are going to be dealing with the League of Assassins or League of Shadows. For one thing, did they train Merlin? Seems like they might have, since they guy they sent to Black Canary was armored similarly. What was their involvement with the island?
And will this lead to being able to include a character like Batman? Trained by Ra’s al Ghul?
It’s a smart move. It banks on the knowledge people might have of these characters from the incredibly popular Christopher Nolan Batman movies, without needing to. Because these are also an incredibly human group of people – heavily-trained normal people, just like Arrow, just like Black Canary.
There are other villains they’re working in, ones I don’t know as well, but don’t feel like I’m missing much. Like, there’s a guy who is the local politician in the Glades – and after seeming like he should totally be a villain, hey look! He is. I don’t need to know which one he is, because the story that matters right now is the one they’re telling here.
And I’m excited to get there with them, excited for where this is going.