REVIEW: ARROW – SUICIDE SQUAD

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MAIN CAST

Stephen Amell (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2)
Katie Cassidy (Black Xmas)
David Ramsey (Dexter)
Willa Holland (Legion)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Susanna Thompson (Star Trek: Voyager)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Michael Jai White (Unviersal Soldier 2)
Ben Browder (Stargate SG.1)
Caity Lotz (The Machine)
Celina Jade (Skin Trade)
Audrey Marie Anderson (The Unit)
Cynthia Addai-Robinson (The Accountant)
Sean Maher (Firefly)
Eugene Lipinski (Highlander: The Series)
Michael Rowe (Tomorrowland)
Tara Strong (Batman: TAS)
Cassidy Darling (Perfect High)

suicide_squadIn the middle of the night, Oliver Queen wakes up from a nightmare. He turns around to Sara Lance, who is sleeping next to him. As he touches her, he realizes there’s blood on his hand. In shock Oliver sees Shado lying in bed next to him. Oliver wakes up having had a nightmare within a nightmare. Without waking Sara he gets up to see Alexi Leonov and asks him to gather information on Slade Wilson. Alexi asked a favor in return but this time Oliver does not comply taking out and injuring his men in order to persuade Leonov at gunpoint to do this favor. Alexi obliges but informs Oliver he is no longer associated with the Solntsevskaya Bratva. In order to stop Slade from getting his revenge he is willing to break with the Brotherhood.Suicide Squad
Meanwhile, John Diggle observes Felicity Smoak at her house, trying to protect her from a possible attack. Felicity points out that Wilson could easily kill her if he wanted to and not even Diggle could prevent him from doing so. Diggle then receives a message from an anonymous source, that asks him for an immediate meeting at Ostrander Hotel, room 1141. Diggle arrives at the hotel only to find out, that message was sent by Lyla Michaels, who waited for him in lingerie after returning from a mission. When they leave the hotel room, they are met by Amanda Waller. She has a mission for both Lyla and John. They shall retrieve a nerve agent from an arms dealer named Gholem Qadir – a man, John Diggle saved during his time in Afghanistan. After the briefing, Waller introduces Diggle to his “team”, which consists of Ben Turner, Floyd Lawton and Mark Scheffer. While John Diggle and Lyla Michaels were arguing outside of A.R.G.U.S. holding cells, an unseen woman offered to help them through their problems, claiming she was a trained therapist. Amanda hit her door to shut her up. Down in the Arrowcave, Felicity informs Oliver about a crime in progress and after some hesitation, Oliver agrees to don his hood and stops the two criminals. From a roof top Slade Wilson in his full-body armor watches the action. Oliver feels spotted and enters the roof top. There he spots an old Deathstroke mask with an arrow driven through an eyehole. Meanwhile, John Diggle and the Suicide Squad have arrived at the Fine Art Auction in Markovburg, Markovia. As planned, Diggle bumps into Qadir, where they quickly conversed before Deadshot provided a fake assassination attempt. Ben Turner poses as John Diggle’s bodyguard and fakes getting shot by Deadshot in order to help Diggle gain Gholem Qadir’s trust. However, when Deadshot tries to leave location, his getaway driver Shrapnel speeds off without him. Shrapnel attempts to escape only to be blown up by Waller who implanted an explosive chip in his head.

mv5bmtaxmtmynzg4mdneqtjeqwpwz15bbwu4mdaynjewndex-_v1_In order to thank him for saving his life, Qadir invites Diggle to a Humanitarian Benefit he is holding. To bring Deadshot into the house as well, they copy Diggle’s fingerprints. That night, Diggle and Lyla arrive at the party, bypassing the finger scanner at the door by walking through with Qadir. Deadshot’s finger prints are checked. They match with John’s who is on the guest list. Thus Deadshot is granted access to the Benefit party, too. Lyla plants her purse in the house for Deadshot to pick up. Inside that purse are his eyepatch and one of his wrist guns. Armed he searches for the nerve agent. Thanks to the information of Alexi, Felicity was able to find Slade Wilson’s hideout. When Oliver enters the office he sees videos of Shado being projected onto the wall, and in the chair behind the desk he finds Alexi dead, with an arrow driven through his eye. Oliver realizes he cannot fight Slade without asking for help.
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In Markovia Deadshot finds the nerve agent. However the vessel is in no position to be transported unseen, due to its enormous size. Upon hearing this, Amanda tells him to stay put and orders Diggle, Lyla and Ben to gather at the rallying point as she calls in a drone strike. Diggle, in order to evacuate everybody, revealed the truth to everyone about him. Qadir suddenly recognized Lyla from Afghanistan and threatened to kill her. Bronze Tiger promptly stabbed him through the back, killing him. Diggle refuses to let Deadshot die and persuades him to leave the building for the sake of his daughter Zoey, whom he leaves money in a blind trust and tries to keep her life safe and easy by staying away from her.
Suicide SquadThey flee in a truck only to discover that the drone is locked onto the chip inside Deadshot. Lyla cuts the chip out allowing the missile to explode some distance from them. However, the Markovian government were annoyed at the drone detonation in a no-fly zone, and threatened retaliation against the American government. At A.R.G.U.S. headquarters, Amanda is visited by an “old friend” that turns out to be Oliver. She assumes that he’s still mad at her for an unknown past incident between them, though Oliver coldly assures her that she’s “been moved down the list.” When asked who he wants dead more than her, he reveals that Slade’s alive, which surprised Amanda, as she assumed that Oliver killed him. Instead she shows him some footage of a new player they’ve been tracking calling him “Deathstroke”.mv5bmtaxmtmynzg4mdneqtjeqwpwz15bbwu4mdaynjewndex-_v1_

It was a great vehicle for Diggle, once again proving how underutilized Ollie’s right-hand-man is on this show. And hopefully it’s the start of a recurring role for the Suicide Squad on this and DC’s other live-action shows.

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REVIEW: ARROW – SEASON 4

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MAIN CAST

Stephen Amell (Screamers 2)
Katie Cassidy (Black Xmas)
David Ramsey (Con Air)
Willa Holland (Legion)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
John Barrowman (Torchwood)
Paul Blackthorne (The River)
Image result for arrow season 4 green arrowRECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Neal McDonough (Minority Report)
Grant Gustin (Glee)
Audrey Marie Anderson (Lie To Me)
Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Spartacus)
Enid-Raye Adams (Final Destination 2)
Echo Kellum (Ben and Kate)
Jimmy Akingbola (Holby City)
Alexander Calvert (The Returned)
Elysia Rotaru (Supernatural)
Jeri Ryan (Star Trek: Voyager)
Katrina Law (Spartacus)
Ryan Robbins (Sanctuary)
JR Bourne (Stargate SG.1)
Rutina Wesley (Hannibal)
Matt Ryan (Constantine)
Parker Young (Suburgatory)
Brandon Routh (Superman Returns)
Charlotte Ross (NYPD Blue)
Eugene Byrd (Bones)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Carlos Valdes (The Flash)
Ciara Renee (Legends of Tomorrow)
Casper Crump (The Legend of Tarzan)
Falk Hentschel (Knight and Day)
Anna Hopkins (Defiance)
Peter Francis James (Oz)
Lynda Boyd (Power Rangers In Space)
Janet Kidder (Earth: Final Conflict)
James Kidnie (Robocop: The Series)
Colton Haynes (Scream Queens)
Celian Jade (Legendary Assassin)
Rila Fukushima (The Wolverine)
Tom Amandes (Brokedown Palace)
Daniel Cudmore (X-Men 2)
Rachel Luttrell (Stargate: Atlantis)
Megalyn Echikunwoke (That 70s Show)
Amy Gumenick (Greek)
Adrian Holmes (Smallville)
Jason Schombing (Mutant X)
Emily Kinney (The Walking Dead)
Madison McLaughlin (Major Crimes)
Alex Kingston (Flashforward)
Adrian Glynn McMorran (50/50)
Vinnie Jones (The Cape)
Nolan Gerard Funk (Riddick)

Image result for arrow RestorationMy name is Oliver Queen. For five years I was stranded on an island with only one goal: survive. Now I will fulfill my father’s dying wish. To use the list of names he left me and bring down those who are poisoning my city. To do this, I must become someone else, I must become … something else.” The quote that has started a journey of an era and for many of us introduced us to the “Emerald archer” . The Fourth Season sees our hero finally become Green Arrow as aposed to The Hood or just The Arrow.

Image result for arrow The season started was excellent we are introduced with change, the “relaunch” of Oliver’s identity and a brand new arrow cave. To top it all off we are finally introduced to Damien Darhk and the secret organization of HIVE. This all brings us one good big package of an extremely great season. The early part of the season was a build up to Legends and the huge two, night crossover event which introduced savage and the hawks. Then season gets back to the main story of Damien Darhk. With the Christmas episode of the Year being the mid season cliffhanger leaving Felicity Smoak at deaths door, Showing just how far Damien will go to get his way.Image result for arrow Legends of YesterdayHaving a Villain with magical powers was a nice twist for Arrow making him different from the villains that have come before. The theme of this season was tied in very good to be honest, through the main villain’s name and the character types of most characters on this show. Basically it was accepting the inner darkness within you, which was portrayed quite well throughout the episodes. On top of all this darkness, the main cast was trying to find hope in their struggles or the lack of hope more or so. Arrow was always a dark show even from season 1 it was pretty dark, so it was appropriate for season 4 to continue the trend. Towards the end you see other characters grow darkness inside of them, and team arrow slowly splitting apart during these dark times. Also we get to see more of the darkness that happened to Ollie back on the island which wasn’t great for the most part of it, but at least they got that dark message across.One of the biggest highlights this year was John Constantine played by Matt Ryan making an appearance. I was a huge fan of the short lived Constantine TV Show so it was to have him return on Arrow, which could lead to more appearances throughout the arrowverse.

Image result for arrow dark watersSara Lance’s resurrection is also a highlight, many were sad to see her killed off during the first episode of season 3. When Legends of Tomorrow was announced and the first teaser showed Sara Lance alive and well using the new hero identity White Canary, it left fans wondering how her resurrection would happen. Thankfully fans of the comics knew the powers of The Lazarus Pit, which was also used to help Thea (Speedy) during season 3. Having the pit destroyed was a good idea too. If it hadn’t been vanquished then you could use it as an easy to bring characters back.Image result for arrow Blood DebtsRay Palmer also gets a resurrection,. Although many knew he wasn’t dead and that he had most likely just shrunk, his return also led to his role on Legends of Tomorrow, which nice to see Brandon Routh getting a main role.

Image result for arrow takenDuring the first episode of the season we were shown a grave where Oliver and Barry are shown standing over it without giving away who was in it, then near the end of the season we find out. When it was revealed  that Black Canary aka Dinah Laurel Lance was the victim it sent shockwaves throughout the fandom, seeing as how They were regular lovers in the comics.  I see it as a nice change as not have to copy what the comics do. We know that Katie Cassidy will be appearing throughout the Arrowverse in the upcoming seasons of the various shows, so it will be interesting in what format she returns.

Image result for arrow SchismI’m a huge fan of the Arrowverse and love all the shows (Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl) Arrow Season was great it had great action, heartbreaking moments and a great villain. It will be interesting to see where season 5 takes the characters.

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 3

 

CAST

Stephen Amell (The Vampire Diaries)
Katie Cassidy (Black Xmas)
Colin Donnell (Chicago Med)
David Ramsey (Pay It Forward)
Willa Holland (Legion)
Paul Blackthorne (The Dresden Files)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Colton Haynes (Teen Wolf)
John Barrowman (Reign)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Grant Gustin (The Flash)
Brandon Routh (Superman Returns)
Manu Bennett (Spartacus)
Caity Lotz (The Machine)
Audrey Marie Anderson (The Unit)
Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Spartacus)
Karl Yune (Real Steel)
Rila Fukushima (The Wolverine)
Peter Stormare (American Gods)
J.R. Ramirez (Power)
Katrina Law (Chuck)
Matt Nable (Riddick)
Charlotte Ross (Drive Angry)
Christina Cox (Defying Gravity)
Noland Gerard Funk (Glee)
Amy Gumenick (Supernatural)
Nick E. Tarabay (Spartacus)
Jill Teed (Highlander: The Series)
Carlos Valdes (The Flash)
Danielle Panabaker (Sky High)
Kelly Hu (The Scopion King)
Alex Kingston (Flashforward)
Vinnie Jones (The Cape)
Peter bryant (Dark Angel)
Austin Butler (The Carrie Diaries)
Bex Taylor-Klaus (Scream: The Series)
Eugene Byrd (Bones)
Marc Singer (V)
Michael Rowe (Tomorrowland)
Steven Culp (Jason Goes To Hell)
Doug Jones (Hellboy)
Adrian Holmes (Smallville)
Francoise Yip (Andromeda)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Sanctuary)

Season 3 certainly started off on a strong note with the premiere episode, “The Calm.” That episode laid out the general status quo for team Arrow post-Slade uprising. Ollie had saved his city but found himself struggling to find meaning in his existence outside of putting on a costume and shooting criminals full of arrows. That struggle was complicated with the addition of a new recurring player in the form of Ray Palmer, a charismatic businessman who managed to steal both Ollie’s company and the affections of Felicity. Coupled with the debut of Peter Stormare as a much superior new version of Count Vertigo and the cliffhanger murder of Sara Lance.

Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Assassins emerged as the villains of the season, when we get to episode 8 & 9 we the one-two punch of “The Brave and the Bold” and “The Climb” had great momentum . The former offered the first extended crossover between Team Arrow and Team Flash, and the results were as fun as fans of the two shows could have hoped. The latter, meanwhile, saw Ollie journey to Nanda Parbat and confront Ra’s al Ghul in the flesh. Their clifftop duel easily ranks among the best action scenes in the show’s three-year history. The choreography was solid. being a mid season cliffhanger left fans hanging over christmas.

Ollie’s friends believed him to be dead and found themselves defending Starling City from the seemingly invulnerable crime lord Brick (played with gusto by Vinnie Jones). The three-part Brick storyline was another highlight for the season.

Ray Palmer was a great addition to the show. He brought a charm and a sense of humor. Even when Ray’s ongoing story arc seemed tenuously linked with the rest of Team Arrow, the character’s sheer entertainment value and his dynamic with Felicity justified his presence. The fact that we got to see Ray evolve from billionaire industrialist to full-fledged superhero in his own right was a bonus.  Arrow continues to serve as prime breeding ground for other DC heroes to emerge.

The show also deserves credit for the overall quality of its special effects and action choreography. That’s an area where Arrow has consistently improved over time as the budget has grown and the cast and crew have grown more experienced. A number of action scenes really stood out this season, whether it was the first glimpses of the A.T.O.M. suit in action, the epic street riot in “Uprising,” or the fateful duel between Ollie and Ra’s in “The Climb.” Looking back, the one action sequence that stood out more than anything this year was the shot of Roy running through a pipe while gunfire exploded behind him in “Left Behind.” There’s a growing cinematic flair to this show that never gets old.

The season led to the showdown between Arrow and Ra’s Al Ghul, the resolve brought new dimensions to the character which will lead into the upcoming 4th Season. John Barrowman was also a great return addition to this season being a full time player, changing from villain to anti-hero. Katrina Law was always great to see again, every time she shows up you know it will be a great episode.

Arrow continues to become a a shining beacon of the DC Universe and with season 4 on its way, it’s here to stay for a while.

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.