REVIEW: TEEN TITANS: THE JUDAS CONTRACT

CAST (VOICES)

Stuart Allan (Rise of the Guardians)
Taissa Farmiga (The Nun)
Brandon Soo Hoo (Ender’s Game)
Jake T. Austin (The Fosters)
Kari Wahlgren (Wolverine & The X-Men)
Sean Maher (Firefly)
Christina Ricci (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Gregg Henry (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Meg Foster (Masters of The Universe)
Maria Canals-Barrera (Justice League Unlimited)
Crispin Freeman (Young Justice)
Masasa Moyo (Paris)
Kevin Smith (Clerks)
Jason Spisak (Piranha 3D)
David Zayas (Gotham)
David Kaye (Beast Wars)

Five years ago, the original Teen Titans (consisting of Dick Grayson as Robin, Speedy, Kid Flash, Beast Boy and Bumblebee) rescue Princess Starfire of planet Tamaran from her captors sent by her evil older sister Blackfire who had staged a coup and forcibly took the throne. As she is no longer able to return to her world, the Titans offer her a home on Earth as one of them.In the present, Dick Grayson (now called Nightwing) rejoins the Teen Titans to track down a terrorist cult led by Brother Blood who plans on capturing the team to absorb each of their unique abilities with a machine that he has tested on Jericho (whom his assistant and lover Mother Mayhem quickly shoots afterwards). Brother Blood hires the mercenary Deathstroke to deliver the Titans to him, which he obliges to do for both the money and get revenge on Damian Wayne for foiling his evil plans a few years ago and replacing him as Ra’s al Ghul’s heir before Damian turned against the League of Assassins. Deathstroke monitors the Titans through his double agent that joined the team a year prior named Terra whom he rescued after her parents turned their whole village against her and tortured her. When Damian grows suspicious of Terra’s behavior and starts tracking her, he is captured by her and Deathstroke, thus revealing herself as a spy to Damian.Terra acts cold and distant towards the other Titans despite their welcoming attitude, but eventually warms up to them over time. During the night celebrating her one year anniversary with the Titans, she shares a tender moment with Beast Boy and kisses him. The next day, Deathstroke kidnaps Blue Beetle at the soup kitchen he works at, Beast Boy at a convention where he thought he would do a podcast with filmmaker Kevin Smith, and Starfire at the apartment shared by her and Nightwing. Dick discovers what happened to the other Titans and is attacked by Deathstroke at his apartment. He manages to escape by faking his own death, while Terra captures Raven in Titans’ Tower.Deathstroke and Terra bring the Titans to Brother Blood, but since the machine cannot operate properly without a sixth Titan (as Slade had failed to capture Nightwing), Slade hesitantly offers him Terra instead. Brother Blood starts draining the Titans of their powers and ascends to godlike status, but they are rescued by Nightwing. Nightwing and Robin fight Deathstroke while the rest take on Brother Blood, who has absorbed all of their powers. The two villains are stopped by the intervention of Terra, who is thoroughly hurt and enraged at Slade for his betrayal. Brother Blood is depowered by Raven unleashing her inner fury as a demon, and killed by Mother Mayhem while Deathstroke is buried underneath multiple rocks thrown by Terra. Too ashamed to face her former allies after betraying their trust, Terra decides to bring down the entire area. Beast Boy attempts to assist Terra in escaping the crumbling fortress, but Terra pushes him back and is buried underneath multiple layers of rubble. Beast Boy digs her up and she dies in his arms.In the epilogue, Beast Boy goes on Kevin Smith’s podcast and talks about the Titans with the host. He mentions that the team has a “wonderful new member” and that he will always miss Terra. In a post-credits scene, Jericho is shown to have survived the bullet Mother Mayhem shot at him earlier.The action is exciting, the screenplay is very well written and the animation keeps a solid level; but what I liked the most was to feel the Teen Titans as an authentic team, well balanced and united despite their differences with each other. To sum up, I enjoyed Teen Titans: The Judas Contract very much, and I will now be expecting their next movie with enthusiasm.

 

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REVIEW: TEEN TITANS GO! – SEASON 1-4

MAIN CAST (VOICES)

Scott Menville (Full House)
Hynden Walch (Justice League War)
Khary Payton (The Walking Dead)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Greg Cipes (Anger Management)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Lauren Tom (Bad Santa)
Ashley Johnson (Avengers Assemble)
Freddy Rodriguez (Planet Terror)
Wil Wheaton (Powers)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Will Friedle (Batman Beyond)
Weird Al Yankovic (Halloween II)

“Haters going Hate”(Starfire). The line said by Starfire in the episode Dog Hand, which sets up the general feeling amongst the viewers who have declared this show an abomination, due to not following the original’s compelling story and characters we cared about. Like many, I loved the original Teen Titans, which pretty much was up there with series like Static Shock, Batman Beyond, Justice League, and Batman TAS. The original Teen Titans will forever be a part of our childhood, and we as fans will go out in all lengths to defend the honor of the show, but many are missing the point to Teen Titans Go. In doing so, they are missing what seems to be a promising comedic spin on our Titans.Let’s start by stating that this revival of Teen Titans was never meant to follow or be like the original series. Those who thought otherwise did not read up enough on the show’s premise and details. Teen Titans Go takes our Titans and puts them in a skit. Teen Titans Go is a comedic take on the daily lives of our heroes, and has taken a break from all the serious action and storytelling that we all loved in the original. The mistake that fans do is that they take the show too serious and continue to compare it to the original, thus eliminating any chance for the show to strive. Once the public separates the original from the new, then the show’s genius will take off.
Now, you’re probably saying that there is nothing special or great about the show. It’s not funny or the animation is too grade school. That is all fair, perhaps the show is not your cup of tea, but here are some reasons why the show does excel. First reason; believe it or not, this show does a great job by paying tribute to its old counterpart. The episode Pie Bros highlights a familiar villain known as Mother Mae eye, which the old lady uses her customers as the secret ingredient to her delicious pies. Many Teen Titans Go episodes highlight concepts and villains that were present in the original, and put them into a comedic light. Raven’s daddy coming to visit, Jynx hanging out with Raven and Starfire or Speedy challenging Robin for Starfire’s love are but many episodes in which there are hints of our beloved series, but you have to have an open mind to see the hints to the original.
The argument of it being way too kiddy can be true at times, but many miss the wit that the show presents in subtle moments. The episode La Larva de Amor pokes fun at milk mustaches. At one point we have Cyborg look like Mr. T. Raven sports the Gandalf look from the LOR, and Beast boy does his Chewbacca impression. In the episode Tower Power, Cyborg references to VHS, Different Strokes, and The Pointer Sisters. Not to mention that stereotype on Mexicans in the episode La Larva de Armor. These jokes and pokes would fly over a child’s head. Teen Titans go has a little fun for all ages.Lastly, the characters on this show make it all worthwhile. The original voice cast is here and that authenticates the shows respect for the original. Robin is portrayed as being a control freak and has moments of rage and insecurities, sounds familiar. Raven is still emo and has her sarcastic wit that feels like Raven of old. Cyborg and Beast boy are still pals, and they have their fun. Starfire is still innocent at times and loves her Silky. You see, the Titans are still there, but they have transformed into Toon versions, and are put into a new world where doing laundry can be a great evil foe.Everyone has their tastes and by no means is this show perfect. However, the mistake is that going into a premiere with the expectations of a show being just like the original will set you up for disappointment. It’s happen to a lot of revivals that are good, but are ripped because it’s not the original. Teen Titans Go takes a step back from the original and focuses on lighter and wittier moments that make this show hilarious at times. The original will forever be superior, but this new take has its brilliance, you just need to let go for a moment and let the show take its course. Defiantly the show is worth a look or two.

REVIEW: TEEN TITANS – SEASON 1-5

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MAIN CAST (VOICES)

Scott Menville (Full House)
Hynden Walch (Justice League War)
Khary Payton (The Walking Dead)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Greg Cipes (Anger Management)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Lauren Tom (Futurama)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Tom Kenny (Superhero Squad)
Keith Szarabajka (Angel)
Tracey Walter (Conan The Destroyer)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Dave Coulier (Full House)
Wil Wheaton (Powers)
Malcolm McDowell (Heroes)
James Arnold Taylor (Batman: The Brave and The Bold)
Xander Berkeley (Kick-Ass 2)
Ashley Johnson (Dollhouse)
Keith David (Pitch Black)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Tress MacNeille (The Simpsons)
Thomas Haden Church (Sideways)
Will Friedle (Batman Beyond)
Tony Jay (Lois & Clark)
Henry Rollins (Wrong Turn 2)
James Hong (BLade Runner)
T’Keyah Crystal Keymáh (Cosby)
Freddy Rodriguez (Ugly Betty)
Michael Clarke Duncan (The Finder)
Jason Marsden (Return to The Batcave)
Glenn Shadix (Beetlejuice)
Judge Reinhold (Ruthless People)
Virginia Madsen (Highlander II)
Bumper Robinson (Sabrina: TTW)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)

Teen Titans centers around the five main members of the superhero team: Robin (Scott Menville), the intelligent, capable leader of the Teen Titans; Starfire (Hynden Walch), a quirky, curious alien princess from the planet Tamaran; Cyborg (Khary Payton), a half-human/half-robot who is known for his strength and technological prowess; Raven (Tara Strong), a stoic girl from the parallel world Azarath, who draws upon dark energy and psionic abilities; and Beast Boy (Greg Cipes), a ditzy, good-natured joker who can transform into various animals. They are situated in Titans Tower, a large T-shaped structure featuring living quarters as well as a command center and variety of training facilities, on an island just offshore from the fictional West Coast city of Jump City.

The team deals with all manner of criminal activity and threats to the city, while dealing with their own struggles with adolescence, their mutual friendships, and their limitations. Slade, their main enemy, is a newly designed version of the DC villain Deathstroke. The team encounters several allies throughout the series; including Aqualad in the first season; Terra in the second season (who is integral to that season’s story arc), as well as Speedy, Hotspot, and Wildebeest; Bumblebee and Más y Menos in the third season (who join Aqualad, Speedy and bumblebee to form ‘Titans East’), and numerous other heroes adapted from the DC universe in the fifth season to aid in the battle against the Brotherhood of Evil.

I admit I wasn’t sure what to expect from Teen Titans. The show is nothing like the Teen Titans comic books, which it is based on. It ended up being more of a kids show. The characters are quite different than their comic book counterparts.


The animation is definitely inspired by Anime. It is borrowing elements from several children’s anime. There is a emphasis on exaggerated character facial expressions, that definitely add to the charm of the show. The show isn’t shy to admit its cultural inspirations by enlisting the Japanese pop band Puffy AmiYumi to perform the catchy theme song.
Teen Titans isn’t for everyone. Overall, I quite enjoy the show. It is worth giving it a try.

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: ARROW – THREE GHOSTS

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THREE GHOSTS
CAST
Stephen Amell (Screamer 2)
Katie Cassidy (Black Xmas)
David Ramsey (Dexter)
Willa Holland (Legion)
Paul Blackthorne (The Dresden Files)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Susanna Thompson (Cold Case)
Colton Haynes (Teen Wolf)
Manu Bennett (Spartacus)
GUEST CAST
Colin Donnell (Pan Am)
Grant Gustin (The Flash)
Kevin Alejandro (Ugly Betty)
Celina Jade (Skin Trade)
Caity Lotz (The Machine)
Roger R. Cross (Stargate SG.1)
Bex Taylor-Klaus (Scream: The Series)
Barry manages to save Oliver’s life, but Oliver is angry to find out that Felicity has revealed his secret when he regains consciousness. Back at Queen’s house Thea revealed Roy did not go to the hospital and needed aid, Oliver took out the arrow and called for John to come over with First Aid kit. Oliver starts to hallucinate, as well as a flash back with Slade dying, Oliver, Shado, Sara being held at gunpoint and led outside the sub. Ivo makes Oliver choose either Shado or Sara to choose to die in 30 seconds. Oliver went back to the Arrow’s hideout, and asked about side effects from Barry.
Barry and Felicity are able to identify and locate Oliver’s attacker, Cyrus Gold. While continuing to discover the truth behind the death of Sin’s friend Max, Roy is captured by Cyrus and brought before Sebastian who injects him with the Mirakuru serum. The serum fails to work and kills Roy. Oliver arrives but defeated by Cyrus, had another hallucination about Tommy. Tommy encourages him to keep on fighting and stop Cyrus, he then destroys the remaining serum. Oliver revives Roy, but later worries that the serum may affect him negatively. It is revealed the mastermind of this is Slade (alive and all), he states that new Mirakuru can be made with his blood and he will corrupt or kill “The hood’s” followers or the ones he loved before killing him himself because just killing him is too easy for him. Ordering Blood to leave the vigilante alone for his plans. In flashbacks, Ivo kills Shado, but flees when Slade turns up with super-human strength and kills his men. Oliver went back to the hideout. Barry leaves a green domino mask for Oliver, to better hide his identity, and returns to Central City. A malfunction with the new particle accelerator, coupled with a lightning storm, causes an explosion and Barry is caught in the blast. Felicity helps Oliver puts on his new mask.
Three Ghosts served as an excellent season 2 mid-season finale setting up Slades return. It also sets up the Flash TV series. Every year Arrow Christmas episodes get better and better and seeing Slade alive and off the island was one of the best cliffhangers done on Arrow, it made people wanna come back to how it all turns out.

REVIEW: ARROW – SEASON 1 & 2

CAST

Stephen Amell (The Vampire Diaries)
Katie Cassidy (Black Xmas)
Colin Donnell (Chicago Med)
David Ramsey (Pay It Forward)
Willa Holland (Legion)
Susanna Thompson (Dragonfly)
Paul Blackthorne (The Dresden Files)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Manu Bennett (Spartacus)
Colton Haynes (Teen Wolf)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Colin Salmon (Limitless TV)
Jamey Sheridan (The Ice Storm)
Annie Ilonzeh (Beauty and The Beast)
Brian Markinson (Izombie)
Derek Hamilton (Disturbing Behavior)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Kelly Hu (The Vampire Diaries)
Ty Olsson (X-Men 2)
Byron Mann (Dark Angel)
Roger Cross (First Wave)
Euegen Lipinski (Goosebumps)
Michael Rowe (Tomorrowland)
John Barrowman (Reign)
Currie Graham (Agent Carter)
Kyle Schmid (The Covenant)
Sarah-Jane Redmond (V)
Jessica De Gouw (Dracula)
Jeffrey Nordling (Tron: Legacy)
Tahmoh Penikett (Battlestar Galactica)
Sebastian Dunn (The Other Half)
Andrew Dunbar (Leprechaun: Origins)
Danny Nucci (Eraser)
Ben Browder (Stargate SG.1)
Christie Laing (Scary Movie 4)
Patrick Sabongui (The Flash)
David Anders (Izombie)
Ona Grauer (V)
Adrian Holmes (Smallville)
Agam Darshi (Sanctuary)
James Callis (Battlestar Galactica
Rekha Sharma (Dark Angel)
Chin Han (The Dark Knight)
Janina Gavankar (True Blood)
Alex Kingston (Flashforward)
Celina Jade (The Man with The Iron Fists)
Seth Gabel (Salem)
J. August Richards (Angel)
Summer Glau (Firefly)
Dylan Bruce (Heroes Reborn)
Caity Lotz (The Machine)
Michael Jai White (The Dark Knight)
Kevin Alejandro (Ugly Betty)
Bex Taylor-Klaus (Scream: The Series)
Teryl Rothery (Stargate SG.1)
Aubrey Marie Anderson (The Unit)
Jimmy Jean-Louis (Heroes)
Cle Bennett (Flashpoint)
Dylan Neal (Sabrina: TTW)
Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Spartacus)
David Nykl (Stargate: Atlantis)
Sean Maher (Firefly)
James Kidnie (Robocop: The Series)
Katrina Law (Chuck)
Nicholas Lea (V)
Robert Knepper (Cult)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Animated Series)
Lochlyn Munro (Little Man)
Jorge Vargas (Power Rangers Ninja Storm)
Carlos Valdes (The Flash)
Danielle Panabaker (Sky High)

Image result for arrow pilotAfter turning the story about Clark Kent’s evolution from humble teenager to world’s greatest hero into one of the most successful science fiction TV series of all time, what exactly do you do for an encore? The obvious answer would be a series about a young Bruce Wayne. Or maybe a crime procedural starring the men and women of the Gotham City Police Department. Instead, The CW gave us Arrow, a series that simultaneously explores Oliver Queen’s first months as a vigilante hero and the painful hero’s journey he undertook while stranded on a remote island. Even considering Green Arrow’s popularity in Smallville and Justice League Unlimited, it wasn’t the most obvious choice. Nor was it the choice many DC fans wanted. But ultimately, it was a choice that paid off.

To their credit, they succeeded. Even right off the bat, there were many notable elements that he writers introduced into the Green Arrow mythos. Generally a loner in the comics, here Ollie was given a full family and circle of allies. Some were inspired by characters from the comics, while others were entirely new creations. Probably the most successful new addition was John Diggle as Ollie’s personal bodyguard-turned-ally in his war on crime. Watching the dynamic between Ollie and Diggle morph from cold and hostile to warm camaraderie was a treat. And the two sequences featuring Diggle in the costume rather than Ollie suggested that this show could have a life beyond that of its lead character.Image result for arrow pilotAmell’s performance grew stronger over time, and the subtle ways in which he distinguished his performances during the present-day and flashback scenes stood out.With other characters, it was more a question of the scripts shedding light on motivation and relationships before they really came into their own. This was certainly the case with Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson), who was a bit of a hard sell as a sympathetic mother figure until viewers came to understand her role in “The Undertaking.” Similarly, Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell) came across as a fairly flat and unimportant character at first. But by the end of the season, Tommy had emerged as the emotional heart of the series and Donnell’s one of the strongest performances.

Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) was endearing, her instant charm made fans fall in love with her making her a regular was the best choice when they headed into season 2. As Laurel, Katie Cassidy was excellent as future Black Canary, dealing with her emotions of seeing her former boyfriend back from the dead and the lost of her sister.  Structurally, the season started out strong and finished even stronger. The writers managed to weave together an overarching narrative as Ollie slowly uncovered the truth of The Undertaking and his own parents’ involvement while contending with various smaller villains and conflicts.

Anchoring the series throughout were the frequent flashbacks to Ollie’s five years on the island. The pilot episode offered a tantalizing glimpse of what had transpired over the course of those five years with the Deathstroke mask discarded on the beach. Various plot twists revealed just how complicated that story is, teaming Ollie with Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett) and Shado (Celina Jade) in an ongoing guerrilla war against mercenary leader Edward Fyers (Sebastian Dunn). Particularly once Slade entered the picture and his bond with Ollie became a major focal point, the flashbacks emerged as one of the strongest elements of the show.

Everything in Season 1 culminated in two climactic episodes as Ollie fought for the survival of Starling City in the present and to stop Fyers from sparking an international incident in the past. These episodes offered a satisfying blend of big action scenes and emotional character showdowns. In particular, the final scene between Ollie and Tommy that closed out the season was perhaps the best the show has delivered so far.

Right off the bat, “City of Heroes” set the tone and direction for Season 2. We saw a despondent Ollie still crushed by the death of his best friend, Tommy, and having retreated to the island in a self-imposed exile. Though Colin Donnell only briefly reprised his role as Tommy this season, his character was very much a lingering presence driving the actions of Ollie and Laurel throughout the year. And his death formed the crux of Ollie’s renewed mission. It was right there in the revised opening sequence – “To honor my friend’s memory, I can’t be the killer I once was.” And that, more than Ollie’s battles with Slade Wilson or Sebastian Blood or Isabel Rochev, was the core conflict of the season. It’s easy enough to fight criminals by shooting them dead. But could Ollie muster the strength and the courage not to kill, even if it meant putting himself, his family, and his city in greater danger? It was a struggle, but the most satisfying element of the finale was the way Ollie definitively answered that question and established himself as a better class of vigilante.

Overall, Season 2 was a good showcase for Stephen Amell’s acting talents.  Ollie was haunted by demons and shouldering heavy burdens throughout the year. He suffered more often than he succeeded, and Amell conveyed that pain well. Most impressive was the way Amell was so capable at portraying Ollie at different periods in his life. We saw plenty more of Ollie’s life on the island in the various flashback scenes. Having already spent a year fighting for his life against men like Edward Fyers and Billy Wintergreen, flashback Ollie was closer to the man he is in the present, but not all the way there. And we even caught glimpses of a pre-island Ollie, most significantly in “Seeing Red.” More than the changes in hairstyle or fashion, it was Amell’s purposeful shifts in vocal intonation and body language that differentiated the different versions of Ollie.

Having established himself as one of the better supporting players in Season 1, it was very gratifying to see Manu Bennett step fully into the spotlight and become the big antagonist of Season 2. That’s despite him not even being revealed as the secret mastermind of Brother Blood’s uprising until the mid-season finale, “Three Ghosts.” But it was crucial that the show spend so much time, both this season and last, in building up the brotherly bond between Ollie and Slade and the island. We needed to feel the pain of seeing them broken apart and Slade become a vengeful villain hellbent on tearing his former friend’s life down. And it wasn’t until much later still that we saw how that rift occurred and Slade turn his wrath against Ollie. It’s a testament to both the writing and Bennett’s acting that the character never quite lost his aura of sympathy even as he murdered Ollie’s mother and tried to do the same to Felicity. This was a man driven half-mad by the loss of the woman he loved and an injection of a super-steroid. But conversely, I appreciated how the finale took pains to establish that it wasn’t just the Mirakuru fueling Slade’s anger. Even now, super-strength gone and exiled back to the island, Slade is a clear and present danger to Ollie’s world.

The show introduced Sebastian Blood and Isabel Rochev as Slade’s subordinates, with Blood serving as the most visible villain for much of the season. I really enjoyed Kevin Alejandro’s portrayal of Blood. Alejandro’s Blood was so disarmingly charming that it was often difficult to reconcile him with the masked man kidnapping drug addicts and turning street thugs into super-soldiers. Ultimately, Blood became the sort of villain who does the wrong things for the right reasons. He had an honest desire to make Starling City a better place. And when it became clear to him that Slade Wilson wouldn’t leave a city left for him to rule, Blood did the right thing and aided Team Arrow.

Most of the increasingly large supporting cast were given their moments to shine in Season 2. I was often disappointed that Diggle wasn’t given more to do, but at least he was able to take a starring role in “Suicide Squad.” Diggle’s backseat status was mainly the result of Sara Lance stepping into the limelight early on and eventually becoming the fourth member of Ollie’s vigilante crew. The Arrow had his Canary finally. Sara’s own struggles with the desire for lethal force and reuniting with her family often made for good drama. But among Team Arrow, it was often Felicity Smoak who often had the best material.  Emily Bett Rickards had much better material to work with this year, whether it was her unrequited love for Ollie, her burgeoning relationship with Barry Allen, or her desire to pull her weight alongside her more physically capable allies. The final three episodes all featured some standout moments for Felicity as she established herself as a force to be reckoned with.

Elsewhere, Roy Harper was often a focus as he transitioned from troubled street punk to superhero sidekick. Roy’s temporary super-strength powers were a welcome story swerve and a fitting physical manifestation of his inner rage. His character arc received a satisfying conclusion in the finale when he proved himself worthy and received his own red domino mask, but lost Thea as a result.

As for the various women in Ollie’s life, Felicity and Sara aside, Season 2 was a little more uneven. Moira definitely had an interesting ride. She started out Season 2 fighting for her life while on trial for her role in the Undertaking. Then, in an unlikely turn of events, she was spurred to run for mayor. And finally, her life did end when she became a pawn in Slade’s cruel game. It was a terrific finish for Moira, proving once and for all that, whatever wrongs she committed, she was only ever trying to ensure her children’s survival. Thea was more up and down throughout the season. She was often underutilized, but received a boost late in the season when she learned the truth about her parentage. Laurel’s character  had her own crucible this season, spiraling into into drug and alcohol addiction and losing her job before hitting bottom, rebounding, and playing her part in saving Starling City.

The Mirakuru drug served as a plausible, pseudo-scientific way of introducing super-strength and allowing Slade to transform into Deathstroke. And even when it came time to introduce the Flash midway through the season, Barry Allen never felt too out of place alongside the more grounded characters.

Season 2 really opened the floodgates as far as drawing in characters and elements from other DC properties. Barry Allen’s debut was the most high-profile, but we also saw plenty more of Amanda Waller and A.R.G.U.S. “Professor Ivo became a recurring villain, along with a very different take on Amazo. And in a welcome twist, it turned out that even the Batman franchise is fair game with this show. Early on we learned of Sara Lance and Malcolm Merlyn’s connection to the League of Assassins. Nyssa al Ghul appeared in a couple of episodes, and we know her father is out there in the world, leading his shadowy organization in the hidden city of Nanda Parbat. Even Harley Quinn had a brief cameo.

And beyond the introduction of all these new elements, the scope of Arrow really opened up in Season 2. The action was bigger and better choreographed. The scale of the conflicts was bigger. The producers simply seemed to have more money to throw around. And whether that was actually the case or just the result of experience and planning, the end result was the same. Arrow became a bigger, more cinematic TV series this season.