Arrow has quickly become a huge hit for the CW. Not only is it appealing to us comic fans with its massive world-building, but it's also luring in the general audience with its legitimately enjoyable drama and action. Okay, maybe Stephen Amell being shirtless at least once per episode contributes a bit to keeping casual viewers tuned in, too. The show is now well into its second season and, if you're way behind or haven't even given the show an honest chance yet, we're going to tell you why you should consider catching up. If you have Netflix, this shouldn't be too difficult because the entire first season is currently streaming.
Doesn't shy away from the source material
First and foremost, Arrow isn't embarrassed by its source material. Yes, it's somewhat duplicating Christopher Nolan's "more realistic than your usual comic book material" approach, but it has still managed to implement a ton of aspects and people from the comic books. Many of the characters aren't just there simply for the sake of pleasing comic fans, either. The writers aren't just tossing names our way -- they're doing some serious mythos building with this show. They've introduced the League of Assassins, the Suicide Squad is slowly being formed, the Flash has been effectively teased, and there's a whole lot more. Even if a character is reduced to a bit role or only appears as a villain for just one episode, there's almost always a handful of easter eggs for us to catch and it's possible the character will reappear.
While the series initially felt like it would avoid stronger "comic bookish" elements (nothing wrong with that if it fits the tone, after all), Arrow has recently made it plenty clear that powers and enhanced abilities will play a big role in the show's future. Thanks to a talented team working on the stunts, they've proven they can handle the new kinds of physical challenges these super-human abilities will present. For example, the brief action bits with Solomon Grundy were absolutely a blast and watching Deathstroke take out people in the blink of an eye (so not an intentional pun) was surreal.
Moves forward while also looking back
As Arrow continues to establish its "current" timeline, it never forgets to reveal important bits and pieces of Oliver Queen's history. As the modern era gives us new developments to get all kinds of excited about, the flashbacks can often feel especially compelling and engrossing. Sure, we know what the eventual outcome will be with main individuals, yet these scenes still manage to feel engaging and that's a real testament to how well they're handled.
Not only do these jumps into the past give us a better look at Slade Wilson's downward spiral and Sara Lance's transformation, but they also continue to reveal how Oliver's time on the island has drastically altered who he is. Slowly but surely they justify how an irresponsible and spoiled playboy could be molded into a focused and determined hero. Even if an episode is feeling somewhat lackluster with its modern era plot, odds are the flashback scenes are doing a commendable job instilling key changes in Starling City's hero.
Strong supporting cast
The show aims to develop and focus on Oliver, but it has also created some solid supporting characters. Diggle -- Oliver's bodyguard turned sidekick -- has a great dynamic with the emerald archer. In fact, he's so cool that writer Jeff Lemire decided to bring the big guy into the comic book universe as well. Felicity's full name may have appeared in the pages of older comics, but this take on the character is completely different. Her lovable personality makes her a great addition to the cast and, to top it off, she often keeps Oliver honest. You can't help but root for these two sidekicks, and this isn't even taking into account other characters like Roy (they're doing something completely new with him), Quentin Lance, Moira Queen, and Sara.
You've heard of Slade Wilson aka Deathstroke, right? If not, all you need to know is he's a seriously badass and formidable mercenary in the DC universe. In the pages of the comics, he has some history with Oliver, and Arrow has decided to turn this very awesome villain into one of the show's big bads. While Slade has technically been appearing for quite some time, seeing the version of Deathstroke that we know and love is a relatively recently development. They've been giving the foe a slow burn, but it looks like the bad guy is finally going to step into the spotlight and play a major role in Oliver's world. If that doesn't get you to tune in, we just don't know what will.
A new episode of Arrow will air February 26 at 8/7c on CW. We'll definitely have a review posted later that night, so be sure to check back then.