ARROW, In Retrospect
Half way through the first season of Arrow, I decided to give the show a shot. I kept hearing great things about it but I had reservation. All kinds of people had loved Smallville but it hadn’t been my cup of tea and all of the people recommending Arrow were fans of that.
I think it would be a bit harsh to say that I hated the show to begin with, but it’s something pretty close to hate. The casting choices were mostly spot-on and the actors that they chose executed their roles well. But they performed based on what they were given and what they were given wasn’t my idea of what a superhero show should be. My problems with Arrow were similar to what my problems with Man of Steel were: superheroes not acting like superheroes.
Even though “With great power comes great responsibility” is Spider-Man’s creed, it applies to all superheroes in every universe. Those heroes, even though they’re fictional, have made a vow to fight the good fight and in Man of Steel and Arrow, they were fighting the good fight but without any thought for the people around them, except those closest to them. That behavior is not the behavior of my superheroes. The ones that I relate to are the ones that fight the good fight and maybe sometimes lose the battle because the people around them, whether they know them or not, are what’s important.
The first season of Arrow basically has billionaire playboy Oliver Queen return to Starling City to become the Green Arrow after being stranded on an island following a terrible accident. He returns and starts fighting crime, something that I don’t have a problem with. I don’t expect all heroes to take on Batman’s no death policy since casualties happen in the crossfire, but the hero that they give us isn’t a hero at all. He’s an angel of death serial killer (thanks Criminal Minds! …and my mom told me that I’d never learn anything from TV…) and there’s no justification for what he does. Not only can he not justify his actions to those around him, but he can barely justify his actions to himself because he literally has no idea why these people are his targets other than they’ve done some baaaaaad stuff.
Sure, there are fun DC Easter Eggs for us to find in the show and that keeps it interesting, but it wasn’t enough and I quickly got fed up with the show and the way it chose to present itself to us. People insisted that the show got better as time went on and truthfully, it did improve but Ollie never changed his ways. Not to mention the irrational behaviors of all of his family members (Thea and Moira, I’m looking at you) and one insufferable wet-blanket named Laurel Lance.
I got through all of the first season and had no real desire to watch the second. But then people started making claims that this was even better than the first season and my curiosity got the best of me. I tuned into the show and was pleasantly surprised. It did a complete turnaround and most of my gripes with the show were addressed as it returned to air, excluding the resident wet-blanket. My problems with Thea and Moira seemed to be clearing up, there were more Easter Eggs to be found (and even better ones!) and the most important thing for me: Ollie changed his ways and turned into the hero he should’ve always been.
I don’t know if it was because Warner thought that no one would watch a show that didn’t end in violent deaths or what, but I think due to the overwhelming success of the show, they tried to give Oliver the story he should’ve had right from the start. Finally Arrow had become the comic book show that I had always wanted. Character cameos, subtle hints, references and more. No one had to tell me to tune into the show because I was now making sure that no one else forgot to watch it.
I’ve been doing a bit of name-calling when it comes to Laurel Lance, so let me take a second to break this all down. I think the problem with this character is that the writers had no idea what to do with her. There are a few things that happen in the second season that undermine what they did in the first and a few things that show that the writers had never planned on doing a few things. I realize that’s kind of cryptic but for comic book fans or anyone with knowledge of Green Arrow or Black Canary, it was hard to miss.
Once a certain character shows up in the second season, Laurel becomes a sidelining character, but that doesn’t stop her from showing up and using her buzzkill powers every chance she gets. The writers started out with the right idea by making a headstrong, smart female character who knows how to defend herself because what daughter of a cop wouldn’t at least have some sort of basic self-defense training? But everything unravels when push comes to shove because all of the qualities bestowed on her fall apart when tested. I’m sorry to go back to the Man of Steel comparisons but Laurel’s character suffers from Lois Lane Syndrome (a fictional illness that I have literally just come up with). LLS, as it’s abbreviated, is what happens when instead of being shown that our strong, smart female character is strong and smart, we need to be told that this character is strong and smart. Lois Lane in Man of Steel was an accessory to Clark Kent. An unnecessary plot device that was not given the justice that her character deserves. We don’t see Lois Lane acting smart and being the plucky reporter we know and love. We’re just told over and over again that she won a Pulitzer Prize instead of being shown why the character won that prize.
As I said, in the second season, Laurel more or less got benched and only popped up to serve as the show’s episode filler. As mentioned, she’s supposed to be this strong and smart character but we only ever see her on screen to complain or whine or talk about how unfair her life is. The writers still need to solve the problem surrounding this character in order for the show to progress but what they’ve done outside of that has been nearly perfect (still looking at you Thea and Moira). The writers have done a great job of incorporating ways to make the comic book fans happy while not confusing the fans of the show who’ve never read the comics. The next season might need a couple of big villains since this arc with a certain baddie in this season has dragged on a bit too long for my liking, but it’s really edge-of-your-seat stuff at times. Arrow isn’t at the level of BBC shows or HBO shows in the sense that those networks know the value of killing off a character and therefor you’re almost always taught that no one is safe but still, Arrow sets up genuinely tense moments and that’s just good writing whether you think certain characters are safe or not.
Arrow has redeemed itself this season, and some of the episodes have basically punched me in the feelings. Going into this show, I wouldn’t have thought that I would become as big a fan of Arrow as I have, but here I am, a convert… a believer… a Green Arrowist. There’s gotta be a better name for fans that I’ll have to consult Tumblr for, but in the meantime, you get the idea.
Stephen Amell, Emily Bett Rickards, Caity Lotz, David Ramsey, Manu Bennett, and Marc Guggenheim – thank you for not failing this city, err, TV series.