REVIEW: ARROW – SEASON 2

Main Cast

Stephen Amell (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: OOTS)
Katie Cassidy (Black Christmas 2006)
David Ramsey (Blu 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 (Blu 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.

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: ARROW – IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES

Arrow_(TV_Series)_Logo_005.jpg

MAIN CAST

Stephen Amell (The Vampire Diaries)
David Ramsey (Con Air)
Willa Holland (Legion)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Echo Kellum (Ben and Kate)
Rick Gonzalez (Mr. Robot)
Juliana Harkavy (The Walking Dead)
Paul Blackthorne (A Christmas Carol)
Katie Cassidy (Black Xmas)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Kirk Acevedo (Dawn of The Planet of The Apes)
Charlotte Ross (Drive Angry)
David Nykl (Stargate Atlantis)
Tom Amandes (The Magicians)
Tobias Jelinek (American Woman)
Johann Urb (Resident Evil: Retribution)
Michael Emerson (Lost)

Oliver is his own worst enemy  in the mid-season finale of Arrow. This episode follows an unusual pattern for one containing a wedding – it’s dispensed with early on so that the real business of the episode can get underway, rather than being the moment of celebration and reflection at the end. The wedding is mostly useful for allowing characters to point out how weird it was for Ollie and Felicity to get married in the way. Thea and Felicity’s mother are deservedly upset, which is a reminder of the fact that only.The wedding is also a nice time to check in on what a mess everyone’s personal life is, and how many of them have had pasts with one another. Curtis gets drunk on champagne and memories of his marriage to Paul, Rene talks about his dead wife, they both learn that Dinah has been engaged multiple times, Thea misses Roy and I’m sad he is once again absent during a time that he would obviously be there for her. And of course Felicity’s criminal father is in attendance and flirting with her mother, who briefly reunites with Lance. I’d like to point out that while Oliver seems to have jumped to the conclusion that the witness is a current member of the team other than his best friend or his wife, there are many more contenders. The witness could theoretically be Roy, Ragman, vigilante, the Russians, Quentin, Lyla, or anyone named al-Ghul.   Of course Rene soon fesses up, but not before Oliver reveals that the original 3 have been spying on the new kids. With every new member of the team there has been some sort of transition period, but with this group (as well as the two members they have since lost) that seems to be a rougher and longer transition. Evelyn’s betrayal, mentioned frequently here, certainly contributed to that. But there’s also more distance between the original team and this crop of newbies because Roy, Thea, Sara, and Laurel all came and went. That makes them two generations removed, a gap Oliver has never fully closed, nor does he seem to want to.Oliver’s poor judgment, aided and abetted by Felicity and Diggle respectively, drives Dinah to quit the team and reunite with Vince. Rene is gone, and Curtis’s departure seems to hit hardest. That may be because he’s been with them the longest, but it could also be due to the level-headed way he notifies them. The original team can pretend they’re right with the other two, but there’s no justifying how they drove Curtis away. I can’t help but feel happy for Rene and Curtis, in particular. Curtis clearly needs some time to think over his priorities in life, and spending less time with Felicity might help him gain some perspective and stick up for himself more when she walks all over him. And Rene has a good job and his daughter back, and as we’ve seen with Dig and Ollie, having a kid makes a person question their place in the vigilante business.I doubt this break-up of the team is for long, but it honestly seems like a healthy choice for everyone except Dinah, who is spending time with her murderous ex. Watching Dinah and Oliver go toe to toe is some of the best chemistry this season, since they’re so similar in temperament. But it’s Diggle who usually spends time with her and therefore truly betrayed her, and that relationship won’t be easily repaired. I’m eagerly awaiting Lyla’s reaction when she finds out what her husband did, as well as the continued relationship between Quentin and Black Siren. Her dad was killed by a drunk driver (perhaps that world’s Quentin Lance?) on her 13th birthday, and Quentin forged just enough of a relationship with her to make her defy Cayden James’s orders to kill Lance. Those relationships are complicated, and will only become moreso in the New Year.This episode ends on a tough note. Oliver is without most of his team through his own actions, as Cayden James pointed out. And of course that happens when pretty much every living member of Oliver and the Green Arrow’s rogues gallery assembles to creepily watch Oliver in the lair via a hidden camera. It’s particularly frustrating to see Oliver regress after spending this season so far showing emotional maturity in a way that is really new for the character. He at least acknowledged that he would have (and has in the past) done the same thing as Rene, and I’m hoping he has the good sense to keep following Thea’s advice. If he doesn’t,  Team Arrow is going to have a hard time keeping their enemies in check, never mind taking them down.

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: LEGION (2010)

  CAST

Paul Bettany (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Lucas Black (Jarhead)
Tyrese Gibson (Transformers)
Adrianne Palicki (Agents of SHIELD)
Charles S. Dutton (Alien 3)
Jon Tenney (Green Lantern)
Kevin Durand (Dark Angel)
Willa Holland (Arrow)
Kate Walsh (Bad Judge)
Dennis Quaid (Vantage Point)
Doug Jones (Hellboy)

Adrianne Palicki in Legion (2010)Legion was incredibly entertaining! The action was wicked and intense, the characters were fun and intriguing, it was gory and action packed Paul Bettany is a great actor and very versatile. I think the film makers of Legion were lucky to have him. He is brooding, and strong and commanding as the rogue angel Michael. Even being a leading character they underuse him and we really don’t get to see enough of his action.Kevin Durand in Legion (2010)

Lucas Black is naive and simple Jeep Hanson. In a normal film he would likely become the hero but when you’ve got an Angel to contend with you take a backseat and unfortunately that is where his performance is pushed to. He does well but is overshadowed in a big from the other actors in the film. That includes Dennis Quaid as Black’s father. Its a small role but he takes it and makes it his own and really commands the screen. Adrianne Palicki is the lead female who is basically the cause of this angelic war. Palicki is very underused because I think she could have given a really strong performance if she had been given the chance but like Black she takes a back seat. The cast is also boosted by some amazing supporting performances by Charles S. Dutton and Kevin Durand who should have also been used more. Also worth mentioning is solid supporting roles from Kate Walsh, Jon Tenney, and Willa Holland.

Paul Bettany and Adrianne Palicki in Legion (2010)

Some might go into this movie figuring it to be an epic battle between good and evil, Angels and Demons, further proved by the name of film, Legion being a horde of demons that possess someone in the bible. Instead this is about a battle from Heaven between Angels not even fallen Angels. The special effects are solid and even breath taking at times. So all in all its a decent enough Sci-fi / Action film that passes the time.

Paul Bettany in Legion (2010)

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: ARROW – WHAT WE LEAVE BEHIND

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MAIN CAST

Stephen Amell (The Vampire Diaries)
David Ramsey (Con Air)
Willa Holland (Legion)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Echo Kellum (Ben and Kate)
Josh Segarra (Trainwreck)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Rick Gonzalez (Pulse)
Joe Dinicol (Scott Pilgrim vs The World)
Maddison McLaughlin (Chicago P.D.)
Tyler Ritter (The McCarthys)
Carly Pope (Popular)
Katie Cassidy (Black Xmas)
Audrey Marie Anderson (The Unit)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)

The Mid-Season finale of Arrow was a great way to cap off the first half of a season that’s been all about rebuilding, regrouping and looking to the past in order to shape the future. There was plenty of progress on the Prometheus front, all of which fueled a suitably dark and depressing ending that suggests things are going to get a lot worse before that light at the end of the tunnel appears for Team Arrow.
One of the few things the Arrow producers have revealed about this year’s big villain is that he has ties to Oliver Queen’s past. Those ties became much more clear in this episode, which featured one of the more memorable uses of flashbacks in the show’s history. In the last couple seasons, there’s been an odd obsession with drawing as many direct parallels between past and present, usually to the detriment of the flashback scenes. But here that approach made sense. In effect, the flashbacks were giving us a glimpse of a lost, early Season 1-era episode, one that also served as the beginning of Prometheus’ origin story.

On one hand, it was fun just to go back and revisit that simpler time. All the details were recreated perfectly, from Ollie’s original, mask-less costume and lair to his goofy interplay with a pre-sidekick Felicity to Diggle being the nonplussed bodyguard. On another, these flashbacks really emphasized how much Ollie has changed as a person and a vigilante over the course of four years. He may flirt with killing now, but back then he was a veritable murder machine. It was chilling watching him mow down those guards with impunity. Enough so that you can’t help but empathize with Prometheus a bit. Maybe Ollie had all of this coming. The way in which this episode regularly bounced between past and present helped build the tension leading into Ollie’s final showdown with Prometheus.

But before getting to that, it’s worth discussing the lead-up to that final showdown. This episode built up an engaging mystery as Prometheus attacked Curtis and then sent Team Arrow on a quest to uncover his identity and motives. There’s still plenty we don’t know about this villain. The implication is that he’s the bastard son of Justin Clayborne (Get Carter’s Garwin Sanford), one of the Hood’s first victims, though even that can’t be taken for granted yet. But even if that is the case, Prometheus’ actual identity remains a mystery. What we do know is that he harbors a serious grudge, and not an entirely unwarranted one, at that. Whomever is under the mask, Prometheus is one who will force Ollie to atone for his mistakes he made when he was still a killer, not a hero.
So after much soul-searching and one early brawl with Prometheus, Ollie finally confronted his foe at the exact spot where he shot down Clayborne four years earlier. And that’s where Prometheus really upped his game. He delivered quite the blow by tricking Ollie into killing Billy. But again, you can see Ollie proving Prometheus point for him. If he wasn’t so reckless and so quick to pull the trigger, Ollie wouldn’t have fallen for that ruse. He tried the killing game again, and this is where it led him. All of this makes Prometheus a more compelling villain because it’s so easy to understand his point of view. He may not be the hero of this story, but he makes a strong case for the idea that Ollie isn’t either. That, more than anything, is what’s distinguishing Prometheus from the rest of the show’s major villains.

That dramatic twist led to a terrifically emotional scene as Ollie felt the crushing weight of his mistakes bearing down on him. To his credit, he didn’t try to hide the truth from Felicity, which is another sign of how much he’s matured in the past four years. But it was quite a depressing way to cap off the first half of the season. The montage where Ollie reflected on his knack for ruining lives while Curtis, Felicity and Diggle all dealt with their new tragedies was an extremely effective way of highlighting the darker turn the season is taking. Echo Kellum in particular gave a terrifically raw performance during Curtis’ breakup with his husband.  It’s funny to compare this episode to the mid season finale of Flash (Season 3). Both leaned pretty heavily on the Christmas motif towards the end, but where Flash tried to find room for hope and optimism in the midst of a dark new threat, Arrow just went all-in on the depressing darkness. But honestly, optimism probably would have felt forced given everything that happened tonight. The final scene was a shocking way to end the episode, seeing Laurel show up at the Arrowcave gives the episode one last WTF moment to see us into 2017.

Arrow has steadily been building steam over the course of Season 5, and that trend continued in the mid-season finale. This episode capped off 2016 on a fittingly dark and gloomy note. Viewers were given more insight into Prometheus’ background and motivations, while also getting the chance to revisit the show’s Season 1 status quo. Things are looking up for the series as it moves into the new year.

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: ARROW – DARK WATERS

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DARK WATERS
CAST
Stephen Amell (Screamer 2)
Katie Cassidy (Black Xmas)
David Ramsey (Dexter)
Willa Holland (Legion)
Paul Blackthorne (The Dresden Files)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
John Barrowman (Torchwood)
GUEST CAST

Neal McDonough (Agent Carter)
Eugene Byrd (Bones)
Charlotte Ross (Drive Angry)
Echo Kellum (Dead People)
Ryan Robbins (Sanctuary)
Parker Young (Enlisted)
Elysia Rotaru (Mortal Kombat Legacy)
Lynda Boyd (Power Rangers In Space)
Janet Kidder (Bride of Chucky)
James Kidnie (Smallville)

Oliver encourages citizens to clean up the bay, prompting Darhk to send a drone attack. Felicity takes it down, but many are injured. In retaliation, Oliver reveals Darhk’s photo, declaring him the leader of the Ghosts, on television and sets up a hotline for anyone who has any information about him. Darhk, watching on television with other HIVE members, is visibly enraged and breaks the television with his magic. Milo Armitage makes a sarcastic remark. Reluctantly, they go through with a Christmas party to show they are not afraid.

Andy Diggle continues to be uncooperative with his brother Meanwhile, Felicity’s mother discover’s Oliver’s engagement ring and shows her daughter. At the Christmas party, Felicity learns that her mother is dating Quentin Lance. Later, she and Oliver meet Curtis’s husband. During their discussion, Felicity realizes Oliver was going to propose the night Laurel and Thea came to get their help. Felicity asks Oliver why and he says that everything changed and he wasn’t sure he could anymore. Darhk breaks in despite high security, knocks out Oliver, and kidnaps Diggle, Thea and Felicity. Oliver and Laurel go out to beat on the Ghosts to get a location, but come up with nothing.Malcolm arrives in the Arrowcave, surprising Quentin, and provides a communicator that the Ghosts use. Oliver offers himself up to Darhk, who takes him back to HIVE HQ. Laurel and Malcolm, who is dressed as the Green Arrow, follow, using a nanotracker in Oliver’s bloodstream. Darhk demonstrates algae that HIVE is growing in the bay, which they are trying to adapt to make breathable. They test it on humans, who they put in a gas chamber. He lets Oliver have one last conversation with Felicity who says she would have agreed to marry him. Darhk decides that, although Oliver is agreeing to work with him now, it is easier to remove all motivation for resistance and kill Thea, Diggle, and Felicity in the gas chamber. Laurel and Malcolm arrive, with Laurel’s Canary Cry breaking the glass and freeing the captives. The other members of HIVE escape, while Malcolm and Oliver go after Darhk. After a fight, Malcolm leaves Damien pinned to the ground with arrows and right next to an exploding arrow. Quentin and a squad of cops help the others escape from the many HIVE pledges and later Oliver holds another tree lighting where he proposes. As the new fiances return home, their limo is attacked by Ghosts. The driver is killed and Oliver leaves Felicity in the back as he drives them to safety.Meanwhile, Damien enjoys decorating his Christmas tree with his wife and young daughter. Oliver opens the door to the limo and finds an unresponsive Felicity with blood coming out of her mouth.Image result for ARROW dark watersAnother classic Christmas outing for Arrow and one that leaves the viewer without a dry eye. Having to wait till January to find out Felicity’s fate is heart wrenching. The not knowing is what will keep viewers hooked. hopefully wont be long before we see some hurt on the big bad this season for what he did to Felicity.

 

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: ARROW – THE CLIMB

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THE CLIMB

CAST
Stephen Amell (Screamer 2)
Katie Cassidy (Black Xmas)
David Ramsey (Dexter)
Willa Holland (Legion)
Paul Blackthorne (The Dresden Files)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
John Barrowman (Torchwood)
Colton Haynes (Teen Wolf)

GUEST CAST

Brandon Routh (Superman Returns)
Kelly Hu (X-Men 2)
Matt Nable (Riddick)
Katrina Law (Spartacus)
Karl Yune (Reel Steel)
Rila Fukushima (The Wolverine)
Alex Kingston (Flashforward)

You can draw a lot of parallels between season 1’s Flash mid season finale and Arrow season 3’s. Both served as mid-season finales. Both prominently featured a major villain who had only appeared briefly in the past. There were many similarities, but the overall impact in this episode was stronger. Arrow needed a bigger, bolder villain this season, and it got one in Ra’s al Ghul. Even the opening of “The Climb” paralleled “The Man in the Yellow Suit,” as we were treated to a brief flash-forward of Ollie surmounting a cliff before the episode flashed back 48 hours earlier. This framing device was repeated several times throughout the episode, always serving to heighten the tension and the build-up to the final showdown between the Arrow and the Demon’s Head.
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There was a definite sense of increased momentum this week. The mystery behind Sara Lance’s murder again became the focus, with Ollie and the gang now given a strict 48-hour ultimatum to either turn over her killer or face the League’s wrath. After two months of build-up, we finally learned the killer’s identity. I can’t say I was surprised to learn it was Thea, between the DNA almost matching Ollie’s and the footage of her accompanying Malcolm Merlyn. But that wasn’t really the point. The conflict quickly became more about Ollie trying to understand why Thea could have committed such an act, and choosing how far he would go to defend his last living family member. This became a much more emotionally stirring conflict than a mere whodunit.
I was almost disappointed that Thea’s actions were explained away by the magical brainwashing root. It would be far more interesting if she had fired the arrows of her own free will and was forced to be held accountable for her actions. Though maybe Thea needed that level of sympathy to her actions given how much Ollie gave up for her in the end. In any case, it was cool to see Ollie and Thea briefly battle it out in their apartment. His stunned reaction upon realizing that his sister had become a martial arts whiz was pretty great. This conflict culminated on a great note as Ollie decided that he would rather throw himself to the wolves and be devoured rather than risk turning the League’s wrath on Thea. He definitely played right into Merlyn’s hand, but he didn’t have much choice. Any chance that Merlyn might have softened since his defeat two years ago is clearly gone. Having already manipulated Ollie and wormed his way out of the League’s crosshairs, Merlyn is free to carry out whatever the next stage of his plan might be. You have to wonder if he’ll prove to be the true villain of the season rather than Ra’s.
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Ollie bidding farewell to his friends was easily one of the most emotionally stirring moments of the season. It was pretty clear that he knew he was going to his death and acted accordingly. His goodbye to Felicity was powerful stuff. The confrontation with Ra’s didn’t disappoint either. In a lot of ways, Matt Nable is an odd choice to play the iconic villain. He’s more rugged and scruffy than you’d expect of the character, and even his accent is less refined than what we’ve seen in the past. But Nable does bring charisma and danger to the part. He also has the physicality to pull off a shirtless sword fight with a guy who spends 90% of his free time on a salmon ladder. Nable doesn’t look or sound much like Ra’s, but he manages to be Ra’s all the same. The sword duel was definitely a highlight of the episode. From Ra’s story about his first kill (“I replaced great evil with death.”) to his choice to fight without a blade of his own, it was clear how badly outmatched Ollie was. And even though our hero nearly got the drop on Ra’s at the end, death finally came him, as promised.
Now, obviously the writers aren’t going to kill off the show’s main character halfway into the third season. Ra’s offhand remark about Ollie being the first person in 67 years to challenge him was full with meaning. It all but confirms that Lazarus Pits exist in this universe and that Ra’s uses them. The writers also found time for several subplots in between all the League business. Laurel continued to mourn her sister’s death, with the added complication that her mother briefly returned to town. Laurel’s confession was nonetheless another key emotional moment in an already emotional episode. Arrow never disappoints when it comes to finales (mid-season or otherwise). This episode offered a steady stream of tension and emotional drama as Ollie learned the truth about his sister and chose to confront his own death. Both Ra’s al Ghul and Malcolm Merlyn emerged as clear and present threats to Starling City.