REVIEW: ARROW – SEASON 6

Arrow_season_5_poster_-_His_fight,_His_city,_His_legacy

Main Cast

Stephen Amell (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: OOTS)
David Ramsey (Blue Bloods)
Willa Holland (Legion)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Echo Kellum (Girlfriend’s Day)
Rick Gonzalez (Reaper)
Juliana Harkavy (Last Shift)
Katie Cassidy (Black Christmas 2006)
Paul Blackthorne (The InBetween)

Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Manu Bennett (Spartacus)
Anna Hopkins (The Expanse)
Kathleen Gati (THe House Bunny)
Adrian Holmes (V-Wars)
Jack Moore (Republic of Sarah)
Kacey Rohl (Hannibal)
David Nykl (Stargate Atlantis)
Venus Terzo (Beast Wars)
Sydelle Noel (GLOW)
Chastity Dotson (Veronica Mars)
Michael Emerson (Lost)
Kris Holden-Ried (Vikings)
Johann Urb (Resident Evil: Retribution)
Laara Sadiq (2012)
Celina Jade (The Man with The Iron Fists)
Audrey Marie Anderson (The Unit)
Kirk Acevedo (War For The POTA)
Liam Hall (The Fault Line)
Pej Vahdat (Bones)
Teryl Rothery (Stargate SG.1)
Grant Gustin (Glee)
Victor Garber (The Orville)
Caity Lotz (The Pact)
Tom Cavanagh (Yogi Bear)
Chyler Leigh (Not Another Teen Movie)
Dominic Purcell (A Fighting Man)
Candice Patton (The Guest)
Franz Drameh (See)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Colin Donnell (Chicago MED)
Melissa Benoist (Whiplash)
Tom Amandes (Everwood)
Enid-Raye Adams (Good Boys)
Louis Ferreira (Stargate Universe)
Eliza Faria (American Conjuring)
Tina Huang (Drive)
Colton Haynes (Rough Night)
Kyra Zagorsky (Helix)
Josh Segarra (Trainwreck)
Wil Traval (Jessica Jones)
Catherien Dent (Terminator:TSCC)
Katrina Law (Spartacus)
Charlotte Ross (Drive Angry)

David Ramsey and Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)It’s not always easy being a fan of Arrow, as the show’s sixth season frequently proved. The show was at its most uneven and frustrating this year. For a while it seemed as though Season 6 was doomed to go down in history as the show’s worst to date. And while it did finally turn things around in the last couple months, it may have been too little, too late for many viewers.Juliana Harkavy in Arrow (2012)The show’s sudden drop in quality is all the more surprising given the strong foundation Season 5 had put in place. Season 5 ended with the series best episode yet, wrapping up the conflict between Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and Adrian Chase (Josh Segarra) and leaving viewers with a cliffhanger wherein the fate of nearly every member of Team Arrow was in doubt. That’s how you end a season. The Season 6 premiere, “Fallout,” is not how you begin one. That episode squandered most of the potential from “Lian Yu.” Rather than delivering a dramatic overhaul of the status quo and showcasing a Team Arrow left reeling from Chase’s final attack, it showed that annoyingly little had changed in Star City during those missing three months. The impact of that attack was minimal, with almost zero casualties and a handful of easily reversible changes to the norm.
Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)The only truly compelling addition to the formula to arise in the premiere involved the increased focus on Oliver’s son William (Jack Moore), now mourning the loss of his mother and living with a father he barely knows. The resulting family drama often resulted in some of the strongest material in the first half of Season 6, with William both lashing out against and needing his father and Ollie struggling to figure out how to care for a boy whose existence he only discovered a couple years ago. That played into one of the larger themes of the season – Ollie’s struggle to figure out how to balance his job as mayor, his crusade as the Green Arrow and his responsibilities as a parent. That dovetailed with Felicity’s (Emily Bett Rickards) own struggles as she found herself being drawn deeper into the lives of both Queen men.Katie Cassidy in Arrow (2012)As a backbone for the season, that’s not bad. The problem is more the scattershot approach the writers took to crafting the story. It worked well early on as Ollie contemplated giving up his hood and focusing on being a better mayor and father. After five years of getting nowhere in his mission, that seemed to represent a positive step forward for the character. But it wasn’t long before that approach took a backseat to more traditional vigilante adventures. Only in the final third of the season did Ollie’s need to achieve balance in his life become paramount again.Manu Bennett in Arrow (2012)Season 6’s biggest problem, it quickly became clear, was one of focus. The series never seemed entirely sure of what direction to head or how to juggle the various members of Team Arrow. Each character had their respective struggles, whether it was Diggle (David Ramsey) dealing with the lingering fallout of Lian Yu, Curtis (Echo Kellum) becoming a small business owner or Rene (Rick Gonzalez) dealing with yet more problems surrounding custody of his daughter. Yet rarely did these subplots leave a particularly strong impression. Too often, the series begged the question of whether these supporting characters were truly necessary any longer.
Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)Two long-running story threads proved especially disappointing this season. The first involved the dynamic between Dinah (Juliana Harkavy) and Vigilante (Johann Urb). The latter’s identity was finally revealed early in Season 6, though the answer to that long-running mystery proved thoroughly unsatisfying. Nor did the ensuing drama between the two characters redeem Vigilante as a character. Instead, he felt like just one more unnecessary addition to an overcrowded cast. The other involved the relationship between Quentin (Paul Blackthorne) and the Earth-2 version of Laurel (Katie Cassidy). After so many years of seeing Quentin grapple with the death of one daughter or the other, more Lance family drama is not what the series needed. It didn’t help that Laurel’s redemption arc proved so repetitive. You can only see a character make apparent progress, only to pivot and back-stab everyone around her, so many times before the formula gets old.Rick Gonzalez, Stephen Amell, Juliana Harkavy, and Echo Kellum in Arrow (2012)Perhaps nothing weighed down the season more than its uninspired choice of main villain, hacker extraordinaire Cayden James (Michael Emerson). Emerson is a talented actor, but he frequently felt wasted in the role. James proved to be a bland, redundant villain whose motivations failed to set him apart from the crowd. Even at the series lowest points in Seasons 3 and 4, villains like Ra’s al Ghul and Damien Darhk elevated their respective conflicts. James merely dragged the series further down. It’s telling that the most enjoyable episodes in the first half of the season were generally those which took a break from the overarching Cayden James thread. For example, the series took a welcome two-part detour as Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett) resurfaced and Ollie joined him on a very personal mission overseas. Bennett’s return late in Season 5 was a reminder of how much he brought to the series back in the early years, and those two episodes made great use of the ever-changing relationship between Ollie and Slade. The “Crisis on Earth-X” crossover also proved entertaining, with Team Arrow joining forces with their superhero comrades against some pesky, wedding-ruining Nazis.David Ramsey and Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)The good news is that Season 6 did eventually find its footing, even if that didn’t happen until the final two months. March brought about a major status quo upheaval, one that finally began addressing the season’s problems in terms of poor pacing, lack of focus and underwhelming villain. Why that upheaval couldn’t have come sooner ) is a question worth asking, but better late than never, right?Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)The season’s saving grace came with the sudden death of Cayden James and the elevation of formerly minor villain Ricardo Diaz (Kirk Acevedo) to the season’s primary antagonist. Diaz proved to be everything James wasn’t – a compelling villain whose motivations and actions set him apart from the shows previous big baddies. He cared little for the sort of theatrics preferred by Deathstroke or Damien Darhk. His goal was money and control, not making a grand statement or destroying the city. Acevedo’s performance helped further elevate the character, with various episodes highlighting Diaz’s dark past and the inferiority complex that fuels his present actions.Stephen Amell and Jack Moore in Arrow (2012)Diaz’s rise to power coincided with a breaking point in Team Arrow’s tenuous dynamic. After suffering through a destructive civil war and seeing his political career crumble, Ollie finally decided to abandon everything but the mission. That shift in gears helped the series find the focus it had been struggling to achieve for months. It suggested that maybe the best thing Arrow can do is to abandon the ensemble format and become centered around Oliver Queen once again. On the other hand, the season managed to maintain that sense of focus even as Team Arrow grudgingly reformed and built a united front against Diaz.Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)It seems the problem is less the amount of characters than how the writers choose to balance them.Season 6 wasn’t entirely without problems in those final two months. “Docket No. 11-19-41-73” in particular proved a disappointing chapter with the melodramatic way it handled Ollie’s murder trial. The way the season ended, with Ollie winding up in prison anyway, makes that whole episode seem even more pointless in hindsight. But ultimately, Season 6 finished strong enough to restore much of the good will that had been lost early on. The feud between Diaz and Team Arrow ended on a satisfying note, while at the same time leaving plenty of room to grow in Season 7. And Ollie’s new status quo as an incarcerated felon promises a huge change in the fall. The only question is whether Season 7, with its new showrunner behind the scenes, can do a better job of utilizing the potential given to it.Stephen Amell and Jack Moore in Arrow (2012)Arrow’s sixth season may not qualify as the show’s worst, but only because it improved a great deal in its final two months. Prior to that, the season squandered most of the potential afforded by Season 5, failing to balance its many characters and languishing under a disappointingly bland villain. It’s good that the show eventually regained its footing, but there’s no reason things should have gone so far off the rails in the first place.

REVIEW: ARROWVERSE: INVASION!

 

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Starring

Grant Gustin (Glee)
Candice Patton (The Guest)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Carlos Valdes (Vixen)
Keiynan Lonsdale (The Turning)
Tom Cavanagh (Scrubs)
Jesse L. Martin (Injustice)
Stephen Amell (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: OOTS)
David Ramsey (Blue Bloods)
Willa Holland (Legion)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Echo Kellum (Girlfriend’s Day)
Paul Blackthorne (The InBetween)
Victor Garber (Alias)
Brandon Routh (Superman Returns)
Arthur Darvill (Doctor Who)
Caity Lotz (The Pact)
Franz Drameh (See)
Maisie Richardson-Sellers (The Originals)
Amy Louise Pemberton (The Laundromat)
Nick Zano (2 Broke Girls)
Dominic Purcell (Prison Break)

Dominic Purcell, David Ramsey, Brandon Routh, Willa Holland, Caity Lotz, Melissa Benoist, and Franz Drameh in The Flash (2014)
Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Donnelly Rhodes (Battlestar Galactica)
Christina Brucato (Th Intern)
Audrey Marie Anderson (The Unit)
Jerry Wasserman (Paradox)
Lucia Walters (Stargate: Atlantis)
John Barrowman (Torchwood)
Neal McDonough (Van Helsing)
Katie Cassidy (Black Christmas 2006)
Susanna Thompson (Cold Case)
Rick Gonzalez (Reaper)
Joe Dinicol (Scott Pilgrim vs The World)
Jamey Sheridan (Homeland)
Erica Luttrell (Westworld)

Barry Allen investigates a meteor crash outside Central City which is a spaceship from which aliens emerge. Lyla Michaels tells the team that the Dominators had landed during the 1950s, but mysteriously departed. Barry assembles the original members of Team Arrow, Thea Queen, the Legends, and Kara Danvers, Supergirl of Earth-38. The team begins training at a S.T.A.R. Labs facility, sparring with Supergirl to prepare for the aliens. Kara struggles to earn Oliver Queen’s trust. Cisco Ramon finds and reveals a message Barry’s future self sent to Rip Hunter, which exposes Barry’s manipulation of the timeline and its effect on other team members. As a result, only Oliver, Kara, Felicity Smoak, Martin Stein, Jefferson “Jax” Jackson, and Caitlin Snow still trust Barry.David Ramsey, Brandon Routh, Nick Zano, Stephen Amell, Melissa Benoist, Franz Drameh, Grant Gustin, and Maisie Richardson-Sellers in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)After the Dominators abduct the President of the United States, the team goes to rescue him; however, Barry remains behind since most of them distrust him with Oliver staying behind in support of Barry. Kara leads the group, but the Dominators kill the President and activate a mind control device to take over the group. The controlled heroes return and attack S.T.A.R. Labs, where Barry and Oliver confront them. While Oliver holds them off, Barry lures Kara to the device and manipulates her into destroying it, freeing everyone from the Dominators’ control. When the team regroups, Ray Palmer tells Barry that everyone forgives and trusts him. Sara Lance, Ray, John Diggle, Thea, and Oliver are then abducted by the Dominators.Nick Zano, Melissa Benoist, and Maisie Richardson-Sellers in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)They are held in pods on a Dominators’ ship, each one unconscious except for a shared hallucination of simulated reality. In the hallucination, Oliver is living at Queen Manor, having never gotten on the Queen’s Gambit, and is about to be married to Laurel Lance. His parents are alive, and Diggle is operating as the vigilante the Hood, instead of Oliver. The captives begin seeing flashes of their real lives, and realize what the Dominators have done to them. Their escape attempt is blocked by personifications of their enemies: Malcolm Merlyn, Deathstroke and two of his Mirakuru soldiers (who killed Ray’s fiancée Anna Loring), and Damien Darhk and two of his H.I.V.E. soldiers. The adversaries are defeated, and the five awaken in the Dominators’ ship and escape in a shuttle. Felicity, Curtis Holt, and Cisco try to hack into the Dominators’ mainframe. Aided by Barry and Kara, they recover a device to locate the captives, who are rescued by Nate Heywood in the time ship, Waverider. Aboard the Waverider, Ray deduces that the Dominators were gathering information about metahumans, using the hallucination as a distraction, to help them build a special “weapon”. Meanwhile, the Dominator mothership heads towards Earth.Victor Garber and Melissa Benoist in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)Nate says that the first Dominator invasion occurred in 1951 in Redmond, Oregon. He goes there with fellow Legends Mick Rory and Amaya Jiwe and Felicity and Cisco to kidnap a Dominator for information. Although they are successful, the three Legends and their alien captive are taken prisoner by N.S.A. agents. The Legends learn from the Dominator that the aliens have arrived to assess humanity’s threat, now that metahumans have appeared and formed the Justice Society of America. Felicity and Cisco rescue the Legends, and also set the Dominator free, carelessly altering history. In 2016 Central City, the team learns that the Dominators know about Barry’s manipulation of the timeline, deem him a threat, and are demanding his surrender in exchange for peace.Dominic Purcell, David Ramsey, Brandon Routh, Nick Zano, Stephen Amell, Caity Lotz, Melissa Benoist, Carlos Valdes, Emily Bett Rickards, and Maisie Richardson-Sellers in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)After the Legends return, the team discovers that the Dominators’ weapon is a bomb that will kill all metahumans on Earth, with millions of collateral human casualties. The teams dissuade Barry from surrendering, and he and Cisco reconcile. The team manage to destroy the bomb and force the Dominators to retreat with a pain-inflicting nano-weapon. As the heroes celebrate their victory, Oliver offers Kara his friendship; Cisco gives her a device which will enable her to interdimensional travel and communicate between Earth-1 and Earth-38. Martin persuades Jax not to tell the others that his daughter Lily’s existence is the result of a temporal paradox he inadvertently caused when the Legends were in 1987.

Victor Garber, Brandon Routh, Melissa Benoist, and Grant Gustin in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)The first major Arrowverse crossover brings together all 4 shows in one epic stpryline. It’s so nice to Supergirl implemented into arrowverse properly, the crossover really showcases her as a character and a show and gives her the ability to crossover more often as and when the universe needs to her to be. This crossover is a must see for all Arrowverse fans.

REVIEW: ARROW – SEASON 3

Main Cast

Stephen Amell (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: OOTS)
Katie Cassidy (Black Christmas 2006)
David Ramsey (Blue Bloods)
Willa Holland (Legion)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Colton Haynes (Rough Night)
John Barrowman (Torchwood)
Paul Blackthorne (The InBetween)

Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Grant Gustin (Glee)
Caity Lotz (The Machine)
Audrey Marie Anderson (The Unit)
Brandon Routh (Superman Returns)
Cynthia Addai-Robinson (The Accountant)
Karl Yune (Real Steel)
Rila Fukushima (Ghost In The Shell)
Peter Stormare (The Brothers Grimm)
Michael Daingerfield (Smallville)
Jacqueline Samuda (Stargate SG.1)
Colin Donnell (Chicago Med)
Matt Nable (Riddick)
Katrina Law (Spartacus)
Michael Kopsa (Dark Angel)
J.R. Ramirez (Jessica Jones)
Charlotte Ross (Drive Angry)
Nolan Gerard Funk (Truth or Dare)
Amy Gumenick (Supernatral)
Austin Butler (Once Upon A Time In Hollywood)
Nick E. Tarabay (Pacific Rim: Uprising)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Carlos Valdes (The Flash)
Kelly Hu (X-Men 2)
Alex Kingston (Flashforward)
Yee Jee Tso (Felicity)
Peter Bryant (See)
Vinnie Jones (The Cape)
Christina Cox (Earth: Final Conflict)
Michael Cram (Flashpoint)
Bex Taylor-Klaus (13 Reason Why)
Douglas Arthurs (Stargate SG.1)
Susanna Thompson (Cold Case)
Jamey Sheridan (Homeland)
Manu Bennett (Spartacus)
Roger Cross (First Wave)
Eugene Byrd (Bones)
Marc Singer (V)
Adrian Glynn McMorran (Warcraft)
Celina Jade (The Man With The iron Fists)
Carmen Moore (Little Fish)
Steven Culp (Jason Goes To Hell)
Michael Rowe (Tomorrowland)
Doug Jones (Star Trek: Discovery)
Adrian Holmes (V-Wars)
Françoise Yip (The Predator)
Karin Konoval (War For The POTA)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Van Helsing)

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.Katrina Law and Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)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.Amy Gumenick in Arrow (2012)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.Stephen Amell and Grant Gustin in Arrow (2012)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.Stephen Amell and Matt Nable in Arrow (2012)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 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 2

Main Cast

Stephen Amell (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: OOTS)
Katie Cassidy (Black Christmas 2006)
David Ramsey (Blue Bloods)
Willa Holland (Legion)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Colton Haynes (Rough Night)
Manu Bennett (Spartacus)
Susanna Thompson (Timeless)
Paul Blackthorne (The InBetween)

Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Celina Jade (The Man With The Iron Fists)
Colin Salmon (Mortal Engines)
Summer Glau (Firefly)
Roger Cross (First Wave)
Dylan Bruce (Orphan Black)
Derek Hamilton (When Calls The Heart)
Adrian Holmes (V-Wars)
Caity Lotz (The Pact)
Michael Jai White (The Dark Knight)
Kelly Hu (The Scorpion King)
Kevin Alejandro (Lucifer)
Bex Taylor-Klaus (13 Reasons Why)
Michael Eklund (Van Helsing)
Colin Donnell (Chicago Med)
Teryl Rothery (Stargate SG.1)
Audrey Marie Anderson (The Unit)
Jimmy Jean-Louis (Heroes)
Clé Bennett (Jigsaw)
Jesse Hutch (Dark Angel)
John Barrowman (Torchwood)
David Nykl (Stargate: Atlantis)
Navid Negahban (Homeland)
Cynthia Addai-Robinson (The Accountant)
Mark Gibbon (Man of Steel)
Michael Rowe (Tomorrowland)
Dylan Neal (Fifty Shades of Gey)
Grant Gustin (Affluenza)
Jennifer Cheon Garcia (Van Helsing)
Sean Maher (Firefly)
Annie Ilonzeh (Chicago Fire)
Nicholas Lea (The X-Files)
James Kidnie (Robocop: The Series)
Shekhar Paleja (Sanctuary)
Katrina Law (Spartacus)
Alex Kingston (Flashforward)
Robert Knepper (Prison Break)
Tara Strong (Batman: TAS)
Jessica De Gouw (The Hunting)
Jeffrey Nordling (Big Little Lies)
Lochlyn Munro (Scary Movie)
Sean Rogerson (Bitten)
Jorge Vargas (Power Rangers Ninja Steel)
Carlos Valdes (The Flash)
Danielle Panabaker (Piranha 3DD)
Michael Daingerfield (Smallville)
Anna Hopkins (Shadowhunters)
Roark Critchlow (V)
Michael Adamthwaite (War For The Planet of The Apes)
Chelah Horsdal (Rise of The POTA)

Michael Jai White and Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)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.Graham Shiels in Arrow (2012)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.Manu Bennett in Arrow (2012)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.Manu Bennett in Arrow (2012)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.Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)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.Caity Lotz in Arrow (2012)Even now, super-strength gone and exiled back to the island, Slade is a clear and present danger to Ollie’s world.Three GhostsThe 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.Katrina Law and Caity Lotz in Arrow (2012)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.Manu Bennett in Arrow (2012)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.Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)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.

REVIEW: ARROW – SEASON 1

Main Cast

Stephen Amell (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: OOTS)
Katie Cassidy (Black Christmas 2006)
Colin Donnell (Chicago Med)
David Ramsey (Blue Bloods)
Willa Holland (Legion)
Susanna Thompson (Timeless)
Paul Blackthorne (The InBetween)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Colin Salmon (Mortal Engines)
Jamey Sheridan (Homeland)
Jacqueline MacInnes Wood (Final Destination 5)
Annie Ilonzeh (Chicago Fire)
Kathleen Gati (The Hosue Bunny)
Roger Cross (Continuum)
Brian Markinson (Sanctuary)
Ben Cotton (Slither)
Derek Hamilton (When Calls The HEart)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Kelly Hu (The Scorpion King)
Ty Olsson (X-Men 2)
Emma Bell (The Walking Dead)
Byron Mann (Skyscraper)
Eugene Lipinski (Outland)
Michael Rowe (Tomorrowland)
Kirby Morrow (Staragte: Atlantis)
John Barrowman (Torchwood)
Christie Laing (Izombie)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Sebastian Dunn (Downtown Abbey)
Eric Breker (Godzilla)
Chelah Horsdal (Hell on Wheels)
Steve Makaj (Travelers)
Shekhar Paleja (Sanctuary)
Valerie Tian (Izombie)
Currie Graham (Agent Carter)
Kyle Schmid (Six)
Sarah-Jane Redmond (The 100)
Jessica De Gouw (The Hunting)
Jeffrey Nordling (Big Little Lies)
Tahmoh Penikett (Dollhouse)
Alex Zahara (Horns)
David Milchard (Big Eyes)
Andrew Dunbar (Leprechaun: Origins)
Danny Nucci (Titanic)
Michael Daingerfield (Smallville)
Jacqueline Samuda (Stargate SG.1)
Ben Browder (Farscape)
Colin Lawrence (Riverdale)
Janina Gavankar (True Blood)
Eileen Pedde (Juno)
Seth Gabel (Genius)
Kurt Evans (Izombie)
Patrick Sabongui (Power Rangers)
Manu Bennett (Spartacus)
Agam Darshi (Sanctuary)
David Anders (Izombie)
Ona Grauer (House of The Dead)
Adrian Holmes (V-Wars)
Celina Jade (The Man With The Iron Fists)
James Callis (Battlestar Galactica)
Chin Han (The Dark Knight)
Rekha Sharma (V)
Colton Haynes (Rough Night)
Alex Kingston (Flashforward)
Anna Van Hooft (Flash Gordon)
Audrey Marie Anderson (The Unit)
J. August Richards (Angel)
Jessica Harmon (V-Wars)

Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)After 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.Seth Gabel and Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)Jessica De Gouw in Arrow (2012)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.Stephen Amell and Jessica De Gouw in Arrow (2012)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.