Arrow Season 2 Review

  • Series: Arrow
  • Season: 2
  • Episodes: 23
  • Discs: 5
  • Cast: Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy, Caity Lotz, David Ramsey, Emily Bett Rickards, Willa Holland, Colton Haynes, Paul Blackthorne, David Nykl
  • Network:  CW (Warner Brothers Productions)
  • DVD Format: Color, Widescreen

This review includes Spoilers for Season 2 of Arrow.

“I have come home with only one goal … to save my city. But to do so I can’t be the killer I once was. To honor my friend’s memory, I must be someone else. I must be something else.” – Oliver Queen, the Arrow

Deeply affected by Tommy Merlyn’s death at the end of Season 1, Oliver leaves Starling City and returns to Lian Yu to think things through. Felicity and John Diggle fly a small plane to pick him up and convince him to return to Starling City. Once back in his home city, Oliver vows he will not kill to obtain his goal of saving his city.

In Starling City, a new female, blond woman in black leather and a mask is helping women by attacking would-be muggers and rapists. She’s friends with Roy’s friend, Sin (Cindy) a street kid. Oliver wonders about this new vigilante, and initially wants to stop her. That changes when he finds out she is actually Sara Lance, whom it was thought also died when the Gambit went down. Sara works with Oliver off and on throughout Season 2 (she will eventually spin off into her own series, Legends of Tomorrow).

The flashbacks in Season 2 follow Oliver’s experiences on the Island, taking place immediately after the flashbacks in Season 1. Oliver is taken prisoner by Professor Ivo on the freighter, Amazo, and Sara appears to be working with Ivo. Ivo is also keeping a motley crew of prisoners from multiple countries, people who have been shipwrecked and “rescued” by Ivo. Ivo is searching for the Mirakuru a World War II Era Japanese miracle drug that’s meant to turn men into super soldiers. Sara and Ollie become allies. One of the prisoners on the ship is Anatoly Knyazev.

Back in Starling City, Moira Queen is on trial for the murder of 503 people in the Glades – the total number of people killed by The Undertaking’s earthquake machine. With Malcolm Merlyn presumed dead, the new DA and the city want someone to blame and Moira is chosen, despite her eleventh-hour press conference to warn people. Moira eventually tells her lawyer she will take a plea deal to avoid court because she is afraid of what family secrets will come out. At this point, the audience doesn’t know her Big Secret – but having seen Season 2 and all of Arrow before during this re-watch it’s obvious: Moira doesn’t want anyone, especially Thea, to know that she had an affair with Malcolm Merlyn years ago and Thea is actually his daughter, not Robert’s. This secret and who knows about it and how they react when they find out becomes a major theme of Season 2. And this actually helps the season tremendously and keeps things interesting because it creates family drama and it creates an emotional stake for Oliver. Thea, especially, has trouble accepting her mother’s secrets, lies, and faults. Moira, however, is acquitted on all charges during her trial.

Sebastian Blood, supposedly an orphan who grew up on the city streets before eventually becoming an alderman from the Glades is publically running for mayor. Privately, he is “Brother Blood” – and wears a skull mask and leads a group of men who terrorize and harass the city. Brother Blood works as a bad guy at first, but it is obvious someone is pulling his strings. Blood also just really wants to be mayor and to re-make Starling City in his image to help the people. And, like last year’s Undertaking, and this year’s ultimate villain, Blood is willing to use extreme measures to get what he wants. At times Blood seems to be someone who will simply let the Ends Justify the Means because he really does want to just help the city. At other times, he’s just as much of a villain as any major bad guy on Arrow. So Sebastian is complicated, right to the end of the season, which also makes Season 2 very enjoyable and interesting to watch.

The main villain of Season 2 is Deathstroke, Slade Wilson. By using both flashbacks to the Island and Ivo’s boat, and the story in modern-day Starling City, we see Slade Wilson’s entire journey – from jaded Australian Secret Intelligence Service officer, sent to Lian Yu to extract Yae Fei, to Mirakuru-enhanced super-assassin and supervillain. In a sense, it is Oliver and Sara who create Slade, by injecting him with Mirakuru to save his life. However, when Ivo challenges Oliver to choose who lives and who dies – Sara or Shado, and Oliver risks his own life to save Sara, Slade blames Oliver for Shado’s death. He also seems to be obsessed/in love with her (he says) despite never showing any interest in her before.

On the Island and Ivo’s boat, there is a lot of running around looking for the Mirakuru and then a lot of “who has it” and “who wants it”. Most of the Mirakuru is destroyed by the end of the season’s flashbacks, but since Slade was injected with it, he carries a sample with him. Ivo also developed a “cure” for the Mirakuru that counteracts the negative effects (hallucinations, paranoia, etc.), which is something Oliver spends some time towards the end of the season looking for in the flashbacks. Once the Mirakuru shows up in modern-day Starling City, it’s something Oliver and his associates are constantly looking for, especially after Roy is captured and injected with the Mirakuru serum.

Besides bringing in Sara Lance as the Canary, and explaining where she’s been for five years (working for the League of Assassins who trained her). Season 2 also brings in Barry Allen, a forensic scientist from Central City, who comes to Starling City after a strange robbery at Queen Consolidated. Barry and Felicity hit it off. Throughout the season news reports mention the Particle Accelerator that Dr. Harrison Wells, has built in Central City and that some people oppose out of fear. By the end of the episode, “The Scientist”, we see Barry being hit by lightning in his lab during the Particle Accelerator explosion. Throughout the season, we hear references to Barry being in a coma, as well as Felicity visiting a few times. Caitlyn Snow and Cisco Ramon also visit Felicity and Oliver to help with the production of the Marikuru cure. However, Barry does not wake-up from his coma yet.

Thea runs Verdant, formerly Oliver’s club, and she begins dating Roy Harper (the rough kid from The Glades who stole her purse). Nothing is mentioned of her own run-in with the law last year. At first, Thea is angry and hurt by her mother’s involvement in the Undertaking, but she eventually comes around and forgives her mother. Thea is also close to Oliver. But when Oliver finds out that Malcolm Merlyn is Thea’s father, he gets so angry at Moira that he cuts ties with her. He doesn’t tell Thea what he found out, thinking it would destroy her. This is a big mistake on Oliver’s part.

After her acquittal – Moira is approached by city businessmen, who convince her to run for mayor. The situation is difficult, and it leads to Thea being kidnapped. The kidnapper tells her the truth about Malcolm being her father – which causes Thea to be very angry at Oliver and Moira for lying to her. Moira seriously considers dropping out of the mayoral race but during a rally that she was going to use to make a concession speech, she gets caught up in the moment and decides to continue to run. It’s a fatal mistake. Deathstroke kidnaps Oliver, Thea, and Moira, and forces Oliver to choose between his sister and his mother. Moira sacrifices herself to save her children. Thea decides to leave Starling City. Oliver encourages her to go.

A woman named Isabel Rochev (Summer Glau) launches a hostile takeover of Queen Consolidated at the beginning of the season. With Walter Steele’s help, Oliver counters her bid, and Isabel and Oliver become uneasy partners. Oliver, however, doesn’t really have time to run his company, what with being the Arrow, and all his issues with his friends and family. Isabel thinks he should spend all his time at Queen Consolidated anyway. At the very end of the season, she is revealed to be working with Slade Wilson to get revenge on the Queen family because she was one of Robert Queen’s flings. She claims that Robert was going to leave his wife and family and marry her. She further claims that they were in the airport when he received a call from Moira that Thea was hurt – so he left. Isabel says she can’t understand it because she knew that Robert knew that Thea was Malcolm’s not his. When Slade creates his Marikuru army, Isabel also becomes a Marikuru soldier.

Slade succeeds in creating his Marikuru army, and proceeds to randomly attack the people of Starling City – he also hits major targets, killing the police commissioner, the DA, and several police officers. When Blood is appalled at the destruction in Starling City, and pulls his support from Slade, helping Oliver instead, including giving him the cure worked up by STAR Labs, Slade has Sebastion Blood killed. However, Oliver, Officer (formerly detective) Quentin Lance, Sara “Canary” Lance, Laurel Lance, John Diggle, and Felicity Smoak work together – and they succeed in bringing down Slade Wilson and capturing – not killing him. They also use the Marikuru crew to stop Slade’s army of soldiers without killing him.

I really liked Season 2 of Arrow. I think it may be my favorite season. Oliver’s determination to avoid killing people whenever possible is a good thing – and something he completely forgets later on. But I also like this season because of the new characters that are brought in. Sara Lance returns, now played by Caity Lotz, and she’s wonderful – and she and Oliver have real chemistry. Also, bringing in Sara means there are several meaningful plots with her family – including Laurel, Quentin, and her mother, Dinah (played by Alex Kingston). We also meet Nyssa al Ghul, Sara’s one-time lover who got her into the League of Assassins, something Sara is trying to leave. Oliver’s family in Season 2 is also an interesting plot complication. Thea is much more put together than the party girl she was in the previous season. Her boyfriend, Roy, and his friend Sin (whom I always liked) are important players in the season. Roy will continue to be part of Arrow throughout the 8-year run, though often as an off and on role. Sin, unfortunately, disappears. Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) shows-up a couple of times, basically trying to assert his “rights” as Thea’s father. Later on, he will bring her to Nanda Parbat to train her. We also meet Amanda Waller this season, and see more than just a cameo of Lyla Micheals, whom we find out is John’s ex-wife. John and Lyla renew their relationship and in one of the last episodes of the season, we find out Lyla is pregnant. (And actually, it’s Amanda who announces it with the line, “And that boy your carrying, or is it a girl, or did you want it to be a surprise?”) We also see one of the very first hints that Oliver really does love Felicity. Deathstroke is also a great villain, in part, because Oliver was on the Island with him for two years. And we see him both before he’s injected with the Marikuru and after. And hint – don’t inject an unstable spy with something that will make him even more unstable – just don’t. I also loved Oliver’s commitment to not killing and that he stuck with it even at the end of the season, finding a non-lethal way to take down the Marikuru soldiers and Deathstroke.

I highly, highly recommend Arrow Season 2. It really is my favorite. Though it is worth it to watch all of Arrow and the entire Arrowverse.

Read my Review of Arrow Season 1
Read my Review of Arrow Season 3
Read my Review of Arrow Season 4
Read my Review of Arrow Season 5
Read my Review of Arrow Season 6
Read my Review of Arrow Season 7
Read my Review of Arrow Season 8

L.A. Confidential

  • Title: L.A. Confidential
  • Director: Curtis Hanson
  • Date: 1997
  • Studio: Warner Brothers, Regency Entertainment
  • Genre: Drama, Mystery, Film Noir
  • Cast: Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kim Basinger, Danny DeVito, David Straithairn, Simon Baker (Credited as Simon Baker Denny)
  • Format: Widescreen, color
  • DVD Format:  R1, NTSC

“Come to Los Angeles… there are jobs a plenty and land is cheap…”— Sid Hudgens (Danny DeVito)

“I admire you as a policeman, particularly your adherance to violence as an adjunct to the job.” — Police Captain Dudley Smith to Lt. Bud White

“How’s it going to look in your report?” — Det. Lt. Exley
“It’ll look like justice. That’s what the man got, justice.”— Lt. Bud White

LA Confidential is a brilliant modern film noir. The film weaves deep layered characters into a complex plot of police corruption, graft, drugs, and murder. All the actors give brilliant performances. Russell Crowe, in an very early role, is Lt. Bud White, police captain Smith’s “enforcer” with a soft spot for abused women. Watching his journey from tough guy and bruiser to someone who actually starts to figure out what’s going on and who stops just following orders and starts to think — even when solving the case leads right back to the police department — is a joy in this film. Guy Pearce is the college-educated “new cop” who isn’t afraid to testify against other dirty cops, as long as it allows him to get ahead. But he too has to make decisions — does he “do what he’s told, and reap his reward” or does he follow a more difficult path and expose the corruption he and Bud have uncovered? And brilliant as always Kevin Spacey as “Hollywood Jack” Vincennes, who’s a technical advisor on the TV cop drama “Badge of Honor” (think “Dragnet”) and partners with tabloid reporter Sid Hudgens (Danny Devito) accepting payments to pass along info about upcoming busts so the reporter can photograph them. Sid, a pioneer in bottom-feeding tabloid journalism, and publisher of the tabloid “Hush-Hush” regularly gives Vincennes gifts and bribes, as well as passing along information. In other words, their partnership is two-way.

The film weaves a complicated plot, starting with the beating, in the LA lock-up, of several Mexican-Americans, resulting in the expulsion of several bad cops and the meeting of our characters and seeing how they react. Vincennes is transferred between departments and temporarily taken off “Badge of Honor” as Technical Advisor. White refuses to roll on his partner, or become a snitch. Exley not only offers up info as a snitch, but gives advice on how to get to other cops, though this gets him a promotion – it doesn’t endear him to the other cops. After “Bloody Christmas” but before the trial even starts, there’s a mass shooting at the Nite Owl coffee shop, one of the victims is White’s disgraced partner. The hunt for the killers leads to three young black men, who are brought in, questioned, escape, and then are caught again and killed.

However, all three of our main characters soon realize that the three men, though guilty of kidnapping and raping a young Mexican girl, aren’t guilty of the Nite Owl killings. And, again, the investigation, though it also involves a millionaire who’s running a high-class call girl outfit of girls “cut to look like movie stars” and heroin, ultimately leads right back to the police department. I don’t want to spoil the ending for those of you reading this who haven’t seen this brilliant Noir film.

This film starts with a sarcastic voice-over, by Danny Devito, describing the bright, sunny, perfect California that’s being sold as an image — only to expose a dark, dirty, and very corrupt underbelly.  Irony underlies a lot of the picture (such as showing the ground-breaking ceremony for the Santa Monica freeway “LA to the beach in 20 minutes”). But the characters also present an opening image that changes throughout the film — Bud White starts as a tough, an enforcer, a brutal cop, albeit with a soft spot for battered women and kids, but he develops, putting together a lot of the clues leading to an explanation of what really is going on. Exley seems like the college-educated “new cop” who won’t be able to hack it in the field – yet, he also manages to prove his smarts and his investigative chops, as well as his ability to handle violence when needed. Vincennes, “Hollywood Jack” has somehow lost his way. Asked, “Why’d you become a cop?” He answers, “I can’t remember”. Jack is like the tough, hard-boiled, cynical protagonists of a lot of Classic Noir. Yet, like those protagonists, his journey in the film is to discover that he can’t turn a blind eye to the corruption around him any more, especially when he inadvertently causes a young male actor/hooker to get murdered. There’s more to Jack than the smoothness one first sees.

The film is set in the 1950s, but the historical detail, though there, is not at the forefront of the film. The score is fantastic from Jerry Goldsmith’s original instrument themes, to the use of period music by Johnny Mercer and Dean Martin. The film also gets physically darker, as the characters discover the true darkness around them.

I highly, highly recommend this film. It has brilliant acting, brilliant writing, a dense, complex plot, and the feel of a true Noir film, but made in a modern style. The film is very intelligent — both the writing and dialogue and the plot. And, though violent and bloody at times, it’s still quite, quite worth seeing.

Recommendation: See it!
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars