I found the first season of Arrow a pleasant surprise. I hadn’t tried it on the CW, but I discovered it on disc, and watching several episodes at once allowed me to appreciate the character aspects of the superhero adventure series.
Last week, the second season came out on home video. Thankfully, the first episode is a refresher. “Year One” consists of character profiles and event summaries from the first season, reminding the less-than-devout viewer where things left off.
That leads into the season premiere, with Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) and Diggle (David Ramsey) journeying to the island to convince Oliver (Stephen Amell) to return to the city. The island flashbacks have become even more prevalent and substantial, with a parallel team of Slade (Manu Bennett) and Shado (Celina Jade) replacing the original mentor. I’d rather see more character work, less tropical suspense and conspiracy, but the latter is more true to current superhero trends.
Stephen Amell in Arrow
There were several changes in season two that I enjoyed even more, and a couple that really turned me off. I miss Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell); I thought he was an important character to keep Oliver grounded, as opposed to his fun but unrealistic heroing buddies. There were more of those this season, with Felicity joining the team of Queen and Diggle and Black Canary (Caity Lotz) appearing frequently. It was neat to see more women as substantial cast members (although I’m still disappointed by a late-season plot point with one of the female characters I won’t spoil).
However, I dislike hero shows where all or most of the cast are super or vigilantes. Having a good mix of regular people and the more extreme is more entertaining to me to watch, but this season has a lot of supergroups, from ARGUS and the Suicide Squad to the League of Assassins. Most everyone had abilities of some kind, with the only exceptions being Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) and Thea Queen (Willa Holland), who each got kidnapped and threatened. Even Felicity is a super-hacker, and Diggle ran around with an attack group for a bit.
Shouldn’t Felicity look a bit more worried about the sword at her neck?
If I had any advice for the show, it would be to rebalance the personal moments against the multitude of action scenes — more relationships instead of more explosions, more family moments instead of more island flashbacks. But there are plenty of other shows to watch for character work, and (until later this year) few with this kind of superhero adventure.
And now I’m going to contradict myself, since one of the high points of season two for me was the introduction of Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) in episodes 8 and 9, in preparation for the upcoming spin-off Flash TV show. He does a wonderful job bringing some lighter touches to the sometimes dour CW superhero world.
Special Features and Formats
Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) is a bad boyfriend to Thea (Willa Holland) when he’s on drugs
As in the previous set, most of the extras are deleted scenes from various episodes. Beyond that, disc three has 26 minutes of the “Arrow 2013 Comic-Con Panel” with executive producers Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg, Katie Cassidy, Colton Haynes (Roy Harper), Stephen Amell, Emily Bett Rickards, David Ramsey, and executive producer Greg Berlanti. At the time, they were promoting this season, so the entertainment comes from seeing how they were plugging items that the viewer now knows how they turned out. Plus, they tease the audience with relationship hints, and I liked the surprise guest.
Disc four has a small grouping of extras. “From Vigilante to Hero” (24 minutes) features mostly the producers discussing the Arrow’s anti-hero status. They summarize and show clips from what they see as key moments from the season, many of which deal with the decision whether or not to try and kill someone. It’s a difficult question, one that can inspire lots of discussion.
Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance and Stephen Amell as the Arrow
“How Did They Do That? The Visual Effects of Arrow” is about as generic as the title suggests. It’s only 11 minutes about the computer-generated effects involving the plane scene from the first episode.
“Wirework: The Impossible Moves of Arrow” is a 10-minute analysis of how they needed to start using wires as characters became more super-powered this season, so people hit would fly farther. The Gag Reel, five minutes, features people falling down, breaking up, or props going awry. Deathstroke doing the robot dance was pretty funny, and I felt for Black Canary trying to do the salmon ladder exercise.
The Blu-ray season set also comes with DVD and UltraViolet copies of the episodes; there’s also a DVD-only version. (The studio provided a review copy.)