By Alex Intner, For the Daily
Published October 16, 2013
The goal of some series is to keep viewers interested by relying on an ongoing story arc. For others, the goal is to tell a single story each week. “Arrow” tries to mix the two, giving our hero a villain to beat each week while building a story arc over the course of the season. Its second season premiere struggles to mix these elements, and in the end, the episode-long storyline prevails while any attempt at establishing a longer arc falls by the wayside.
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Season one of “Arrow” ended on a huge cliffhanger, with the poor area of the city, the Glades, exploding and Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) escaping his role as The Hood. The season two premiere deals with the story of the week following the explosion. Those who lost loved ones take revenge on those who “simply let it happen,” while Amell focuses on doing a lot of character work with Queen. The episode shows the impact of his best friend Tommy’s death and his inability to stop the eruption of the Glades. Queen hates that his best friend died thinking of him as a murderer, leading him to question his identity as The Hood. His struggle is one of the more interesting elements of the premiere, even if there’s no doubt that Oliver doesn’t return to his vigilante life.
Some actors have the ability to take great material and elevate it to another level by inserting personality into their characters and bringing emotion beyond what’s written on the page. Amell is a capable actor, but he doesn’t elevate the material. He has started to inject some personality into his character, which is an improvement from where he was in the pilot, but his performance still lacks enough emotion.
Aesthetically, “Arrow” figured out how to use a CW-sized budget very well, creating action sequences that are not expensive but definitely have an impact. The creators rely on practical effect rather than using large amount of CGI. What results is a very gritty, realistic look for a superhero show, more in the style of “Batman Begins” than “The Avengers.”
The premiere fails to foreshadow what’s going to happen in the upcoming season. The episode ends with Oliver reclaiming his identity as The Hood, but that only gives closure to the premiere. As for right now, there isn’t a clear arc guiding the story from here. One of the things “Arrow” did very well last season was creating a great story arc that progresses week-to-week. The premiere does not appear to do that. It can always happen later, but in order to keep the interest of viewers, a premiere needs to set up the upcoming season.