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Arrow: Season 2 – 7 Things to Remember from the First Season

The first season of Arrow was recently added in its entirety to Netflix, mere weeks after its release on DVD/Blu-Ray.  Interestingly, as much as I have written about Arrow around here other than the season finale I’d never really re-watched any of the show’s episodes.  So, as part of the new, slightly unhealthy past time of multi-tasking by working on the computer while playing something familiar on the TV I binge-viewed the entire first season in two sittings over the past week.  This, honestly, might be the optimal viewing method for Arrow as I possibly enjoyed binge-watching the season more than I did watching it week to week last and earlier this year.  The cliffhanger episode endings come at you so fast and furious it is far too tempting to simply begin the next episode rather than wait to see what happens.  This viewing method does also highlight certain aspects of the first season’s progression, such as how Oliver’s early voice-overs explaining his actions completely went away once Diggle became his partner.

However, we are into the show’s second season now, two episodes in with a third airing tonight to be specific.  So, other than “OMG, it’s still so good!” what other type of reaction is there to a re-watch of the first season that can speak to what to expect in the current season?  Here are a couple that jumped out at me (I speculate on future season 2 storylines meaning there is the potential for spoilers on this list):

1. We Don’t Know Much About Felicity

Arrow Lone Gunman Felicity Headcock
Felicity’s first of many “I’m supposed to buy that?” expressions in reaction to Oliver’s lame cover stories for needing her help.
  • She has a nut allergy
  • Her middle name is Megan
  • She’s Jewish
  • She’s not a natural blonde
  • She’s been building computers from scratch since she was a pre-teen.
  • She was “not with anyone” during the season meaning she had no boyfriend.

So, basically, we know less than we would get if she were to fill out an online dating profile.  This is mostly due to the fact that Felicity did not become a full-time character until halfway through the season.  Plus, it is increasingly common in television for side characters to display the truth of their character through their actions but never really get a spotlight hovering over the details of their personal life.  Even an increasingly crazy-town bonkers serialized show like Fringe was guilty of this with the character of Astrid for most of its run before finally giving her a showcase episode.

Does that mean we can expect a Felicity-showcase episode this season?  Unlikely.  Arrow is simply not structured to ever have a Buffy the Vampire Slayer “Zeppo”-esque showcase for the weakest link in the hero’s entourage.  Even Moira’s showcase via flashbacks in “The Undertaking” is as much about Malcolm Merlyn and Oliver’s dad as it is her.  However, it does seem likely that we’ll continue to gradually learn more about Felicity, ala her recent reference to having gone to MIT and worked hard to get her job as an IT girl at Queen Consolidated.  A re-watch of the first season simply highlights how we came to understand and enjoy (some more so than others) Felicity as a socially awkward, principled character without ever learning much about her in the way of specifics (is she from Starling City?  where are her parents? does she have siblings? etc.)

2. Have We Now Met The Woman Who Hired the Mercenaries on the Island?

Arrow Darkness Edge Town Rochev
She’s got legs, and she presumably knows how to use them. Could those be Isabel Rochev’s legs, though?

Quite a few of the episode cliffhangers in the first season center around the latest double-cross or “who the hell is that new person?” reveal in the island flashbacks.  I honestly lost count of how many times Yao Fei appeared to have either been killed, turned evil, or turned good again.  However, the eventual reveal of the island storyline is that the apparent big bad, Fyers, is but a gun for hire with no agenda of his own.  His orders are to use a missile launcher to disrupt air traffic in and out of China as a way of destabilizing the country’s economy (those jerks), but we only ever get one shot of the person giving the orders.  In the season’s penultimate episode (“Darkness on the Edge of Town”), we see Fyer’s boss as a disembodied pair of legs with her upper torso out of frame as an underling updates her on Fyers’ status.

So much goes down in the season’s last two episodes that this reveal is easy to forget.  However, now that we have in the current season been introduced to business tycoon/general world class ice queen Isabel Rochev my immediate assumption is that the plan is to eventually reveal her as being the big bad responsible for the mercenaries on the island.  Of course, this would mean that technically Rochev will have been played by two different actresses since those aren’t Summer Glau’s legs we see in “Darkness on the Edge of Town” since she hadn’t even been cast on the show yet.

3. Remember When It Kind of Seemed Like Maybe Thea Suspected Oliver Might Be the Hood?

Arrow Identity

In an incredibly touching exchange at the end of the fifth episode (“Damage”), Diggle accurately nutshells the theme of the episode by describing how Oliver failed to anticipate the level of damage his return and subsequent secrets would exert upon his family.  This occurs over a montage of Moira’s marriage falling apart, Laurel escorting her depressed, inebriated father from a bar, and Thea pondering something while examining the arrowhead given to her by Oliver when he returned.  Earlier in the episode, as Oliver is on house arrest awaiting the trial over the charge that he is actually the Hood Thea observes that there is sufficient smoke (he’s always out late at night, lies to the family, gave her an arrowhead) coming from the potential “Oliver is the vigilante” fire.  Oliver manages to dissuade her of this opinion, but the ending montage would seem to indicate that perhaps she wasn’t entirely convinced, pondering the arrowhead and second guessing.  This, of course, is never again referenced through the rest of the season.

Instead, they brought it back up in the most recent episode of the second season when Thea gave the arrowhead to Roy as an exercise of trust and faith in their relationship.  The arrowhead is used as a symbol of connection between characters, thus indicating perhaps the intent back in “Damage” was for Thea’s holding of the arrowhead during the montage to merely indicate Oliver’s lack of ability to connect with her due to his lies.  So, maybe there’s nothing more to it than that.

4. Oliver’s Rejection of Shado Didn’t Last Long

Arrow Home Invasion Shado Kiss

The island flashbacks generally function to parallel the activities occurring in the present, e.g., juxtaposing Oliver’s hesistance to kill a chicken on the island with his remorseless killing of bad guys in Starling City.  They have an internal logic and narrative all their own, but the flashbacks exist to provide thematic resonance for the present.  As such, in “Home Invasion” they had Oliver and Shado share a kiss before he backs away, professing his undying love for Laurel as a way of establishing her as the great love of his love at a time when that aspect was being foregrounded in the present day.

Then they wasted no time turning Oliver and Shado into a romantic couple this season.  It seems likely that his relationship with her on the island will now be used to provide parallel to his relationship in the coming episodes with Canary and (maybe) Isabel Rochev, Slade having warned him of the potential for disaster with Shado (a character who, like Slade, is actually a villain in the comics).  There is nothing about the Oliver/Shado pairing that rings particularly false to me.  Instead, a re-watch of season 1 reminded me of how Oliver had once rejected Shado but it is now totally cool on the island with moving on from Laurel.  It speaks to the manner in which the flashbacks function on the show.  There is no need to uphold the great Oliver/Laurel relationship in the present so the need to do so in the past is diminished ergo guilt-free lovemaking for Oliver and Shado.

5. It Was Sara, Not Laurel, Who Had a Black Canary for a Pet

Arrow Dead to Rights Canary Reference

As discussed by McKenna Hall and Laurel while looking at an old Lance family photo in “Dead to Rights,” they dropped an easter egg for there being a connection between Black Canary and Sara, not just Laurel (e.g., references to her fishnet stockings from a Halloween costume).  Could this be significant?  Maybe.  

6. Deadshot is Still Around

Arrow deadshot-v-diggle_567x378

As discussed by the producers over the summer, the feud between Diggle and Deadshot, aka the bastard that killed Diggle’s brother, was left a dangling plot thread on purpose to carry over into the current season.  Last week’s episode re-established Diggle’s feud with Deadshot as being a cause of the dissolution of his relationship with his girlfriend, and although there is a lot on Arrow‘s plate this season Deadshot should return at some point.  The odd thing is that if they kill him unless they do so in a “no-coming-back-from-that” way I won’t totally believe it since when Oliver shot him through the eye at the end of “The Lone Gunman” it sure as heck seemed like he was dead.

7. We Don’t Know Much About How Malcolm Gained the Skills to Become the Dark Archer

barrowman_arrow_split_a_l

This was another dangling plot thread, with Malcolm providing some explanation to Tommy about having encountered a man who helped transform him.  However, we lack concrete details, and with John Barrowman reportedly returning this season the smart money is on there at least being flashback scenes explaining the identity of the mysterious man, most likely a leader in the League of Assassins.

But, I guess mostly, a re-watch of the first season of Arrow revealed exactly what I had joked about earlier: OMG, you guys, it’s still crazy good, Christopher Nolan mimicry and all.

What about you?  Has a re-watch of Arrow revealed any surprises?  Or was once more than enough?  Let us know in the comments.

4 comments

  1. I’ve been thinking about your second point. Now that we’ve had more information crop up in this season, is it possible those legs belong to Talia Al Ghul? Destabilizing a country’s economy seems a bit much for Rochev’s character at this point but seems like your typical Al Ghul family outting.

    Just a theory!

    1. I guess that depends on how much of the League of Assassins D.C./W.B. is allowing Arrow to use. As far as I know, it has not been confirmed that R’as Al Guhl will actually be used on the show, although that might be a creative decision/they haven’t made up their minds/keep him in their backpocket to pull out much later as opposed to a “the publisher won’t let us.” If character usage rights is not an issue, though, then those could totally be Talia’s legs. Heck, they could completely surprise everyone and violate comic book continuity entirely and reveal Isabel Rochev to actually be Talia as an opener to finally giving us some Summer Glau fight scenes.

      You are right – there is definite wiggle room here; it’s not a lock those legs belong to Rochev. Heck, considering Moira’s vague references to there being more secrets about her alliance with Merlyn she dare not speak of for risk of losing her children’s affections those legs could be her’s (although that is highly, highly, highly unlikely).

      I think after 4 episodes now there is a bit of re-evaluation of pre-season expectations for the character of Isabel Rochev. She’s barely been around, and has no defining characteristics other than an icy exterior and dressing like any upstanding calculating business woman would. From interviews Emily Bett Rickards and Summer Glau have done, we know that at least as far ahead as episode 10 (as far as they have filmed to this point) we can expect more of Felicity and Isabel budding heads a little. Also, they keep hinting that Oliver and Isabel may gradually grow closer to one another (however Glau maintained she truthfully has no idea what’s going to happen because they haven’t told her yet; she could be lying, though). I still think it is a slow burn much as Malcolm kind of was last season, and that if Sebastian Blood is being foregrounded as the big bad in the first half of the season Isabel will in the second half. However, I will admit it’s not playing out quite like I thought it would back when I first heard about Glau being cast on the show.

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