This week’s season premiere of Arrow was probably the best of the season for me. It was a great comeback, and the episode ended with a sense that great things will happen this season.
The title of the episode was “City of Heroes,” but I feel like it was more about the characters slowly learning how to become heroes. Several characters showed the potential of being heroic, especially compared to last season. Last season introduced the characters and provided an opportunity to develop they each character in situations with lower stakes. This season shows the promise of who they can become.
Oliver Queen started taking the first steps toward becoming a hero and leaving behind his vigilante ways. Some of that has to do with Team Arrow, but the majority is because he wants to be a better man to honor Tommy’s memory.
It is interesting to see how Oliver, a man who seemed to be all alone in the world, almost always ends up in some team. First there was him and Tommy during their adolescent years, and they would probably have continued being a team if Oliver had never been shipwrecked. This leads to Oliver slowly becoming a team with Slade Wilson, Shado, and, for a brief period, Yao Fei. Under their guidance, Oliver learns how to fight. They became a team in order to survive, and slowly camaraderie built. It is the relationship shown briefly before Shado is taken by the new visitors.
From the friendship Oliver has with Shado and Slade in this episode, it makes me wonder even more what happened to them. What made Oliver feel shut off from everyone else? It would be easy to read the comics, but as this show has proven, it adds twists of its own. It’s one of the reasons why I enjoy the show so much. It never stays strictly to the story in the comic. If that was the case, we would never have Felicity.
Felicity is part of the new team Oliver belongs to, Team Arrow. She and Diggle went to Lian Yu to search for Oliver in order to bring him back. They let him have his space after The Undertaking, but they also knew when it was time for Oliver to come home. This team is the best one out of the series because of the way they have each other’s backs. Felicity went with Diggle to the island, even though she hated the idea of flying in the rickety old plane. Diggle, for his part, knows Felicity would have a harder time parachuting out of the plane, so he doesn’t tell her until it is time to jump.
I always enjoy when there are parallels between the island stories and present day. This episode showed a parallel with both Shado and Thea being captured. The first appearance of Oliver’s brutality is shown in this episode, when he viciously kills one of Shado’s captors. This was the appearance of the murderer Tommy saw in Oliver. There was no remorse in Oliver killing the man, only ruthlessness. This is why he doesn’t think he will be able to stop from killing the men who took Thea. He has been in this situation before, and wasn’t able to control himself. The Island taught him to kill or be killed, protect the ones closest to you.
The episode did a great job with Thea’s story. Thea has grown up over the past months. One of the biggest problems for Thea in this episode is facing her mother. Everyone lost something during The Undertaking, and Thea is one of the characters who lost the most. Her world was torn apart, first with Walter’s abduction, rescue, and subsequent departure. She then lost Tommy, her teenage crush and someone she relied on, especially after both her father and brother died.
There was also the revelation that her own mother was part of The Undertaking, as well as Tommy’s father. Season one showed Thea and Moira become closer, and for Thea to discover her mother was part of a plot which killed so many people was tragic. For Thea, Oliver, and Walter, they learned the woman they loved was actually not who they thought she was. This is why Thea has built a wall around herself when it comes to her mother.
Finally, there was Oliver’s second disappearance. This time Thea knows he is alive, but, from the way they were talking, he hadn’t been in contact, which means she lost her brother a second time. This time she really needed him to be there for her because he is the only family she has left.
Roy is Thea’s pillar right now. He was the constant in Thea’s life when everyone else had left it. Thea needs Roy. He is the one who keeps pushing her to visit her mother. She does finally see her mother, after defending her mother to The Hoods, saying it was Malcolm Merlyn’s fault. Roy helped her with confronting the issues she has with her mother. However, Roy is also hurting Thea a little by trying become like the vigilante who saved him. She can see the bruises, and reckless attitude Roy has while fighting the bad guys. She knows how easily she can lose him. So as Roy tries to become a hero, he is sort of pushing Thea away.
One of the most interesting parts was Walter coming back. I am a huge fan of Walter Steele, and was ecstatic when he graced my TV screen again. What I enjoyed most about it was the way he was introduced. Moira mentioned family to Oliver, and Oliver also mentioned him as family. It was a beautiful thing to hear, especially after Walter separated from Moira. This also leads me to wonder if Walter and Moira have found a way to be on better terms; not ‘I forgive you, now let’s kiss and make up’ terms, but a point where they can have an actual conversation. The little greeting Walter and Felicity exchanged helped make my night even better. I love that these two still show signs of a connection with each other.
Finally, the episode introduced us to new female characters I’m interested in seeing where the story will go with them. First, we were introduced to Summer Glau’s character, Isabel Rochev. For the people who were observant, or have been trying to catch all the news about Arrow they possibly can (*holds hand up), they know that her name appeared in Oliver’s book last year. I have been a big fan of Glau’s ever since Firefly, and I’m glad she is on my TV screen again. It will be nice to see Isabel versus Oliver Queen, instead of Isabel versus his alter-ego.
Then we were introduced to the Black Canary for a few seconds, with her saving Roy’s butt as he tried to play hero again. The girl can fight, and it will be interesting seeing what the writers do with the character. I’d also like to thank them with not automatically making Laurel the Black Canary. I feel Laurel still has a long way to go, if she is ever going to be the Black Canary.
The episode filled so many of my fangirl needs, and made a mediocre TV week all the better by shining through. So I praise this episode, and I thank Felicity for keeping the salmon ladder.