*This review contains some spoilers*
So begins Season Two of Arrow. Season One's cliffhanger was massive and this premiere wastes no time showing that the earthquake device didn't only damage properties -- it destroyed and completely changed lives, too. Almost everyone's direction has been altered after Starling City was hit last season, opening the door for brand new characters to step into the limelight and for previously established characters to take a path which leads them closer to their comic counterparts.
A big gripe I had with the show at first was some stiff acting, but it's clear the chemistry has since grown by leaps and bounds between these actors. The relationships they share come off as far more believable and the end result allows for some really satisfying moments as these individuals are forced into a more than ample amount of drama and even resolutions. Much to my surprise, the most gripping and heartfelt one happens to be with Thea, a character who the creative team is clearly maturing a whole lot.
One thing everyone is sure to appreciate is the overwhelming amount of fan service packed into this episode. From new locations to new faces, it's more than transparent Season Two is making a strong effort to really dive into the source material and play around with as much as possible. I'm a sucker for good references and there's certainly a lot of promising concepts tossed around and teased in this episode. Seeing as new characters were previously revealed to help promote the show, there's A LOT to look forward to, especially if they keep moving at this pace.
While I do have some small gripes about how characters act when 'the Vigilante' goes on the offensive, there's no denying the stunts are done pretty darn well, and despite some moments that make me scratch my head, they really are a blast to watch. And speaking of 'the Vigilante,' it's awesome to see he FINALLY has a name! You'll never guess what it is! Okay, it's impossible to get wrong, but the name change is implemented well and is absolutely a logical decision after everything which goes down in this episode.
Also great to witness was the focus on Oliver's morals, seeing as they were all over the place last season. The finale definitely impacted Ollie for the better and has forced him to reevaluate what he's doing, allowing him to make the transition from an anti-hero/vigilante to a more "traditional" hero. The backstory had a moment to help further cement this point, but it came off as forced when they decided to hit us with the message yet again while Oliver's dealing with a member of the Hood gang. Dude, you may think he's a killer and rightfully so, but he's not a troll. He's not going to say, "take my hand!" and then pull it back at the last second and have a laugh while you fall to your demise. And while we're on the subject of the Hood gang, the premise behind them is strong but the actual amount of attention they were given was pretty lackluster (understandable considering the amount of content they had to tackle, though). Here's hoping the plethora of villains who will appear will be given more focus and love. I'm still hurt over how swiftly Constantine Drakon was removed from the picture...
As for complaints, there's a whole lot of exposition thrown in and it sometimes comes off as forced and unnatural. On the plus side, it's getting mandatory/basic facts out of the way for new viewers, but on the downside, it feels out of place, especially since the show kicks off with a detailed recap. Additionally, the final melee suffered from some super quick cuts and random shaky cam. The tension right before it was great, but then it's all kinds of hectic and over before you can really appreciate what just happened -- and I say this as someone who rarely has an issue with this method. It's too bad because it's not only another chance to let Roy shine (fingers crossed for his eventually transformation into Arsenal/Red Arrow), but it also throws a hugely anticipated character into the fray. Lastly, while the backstory had one moment to help the episode's narrative, the rest kind of felt glossed over. It would have been rad to see more with Slade and Shado, so hopefully that'll get more attention in the future.
The last finale wasn't just there for shock value -- it has instilled a lasting impact on operations in the city and has brought about some major changes in the cast. Arrow's universe continues to expand and, based on what they've already released, it looks like it's going to get even bigger and even better from here. I was pretty mixed on Season One, but this is a strong return for the show and did a thorough job presenting us with plenty of new and fitting storylines that are sure to be interesting. 'City of Heroes' is a solid episode and definitely left me more than interested enough to tune in again next week.
Oh, and if you're digging the show you should really check out the GREEN ARROW comic, too. The latest issue is a jumping on point and is seriously fantastic stuff. Anyway, what did you all think of Arrow's return? Let us know!