Here Be Spoilers…
When Arrow premiered this year, I wanted to be optimistic, but I had my doubts, which I shared here. But something happened over Arrow’s mid-season break- they fixed the problems that had kept the show from being great.
Gone were the gratuitous shots of Stephen Amell’s abs (as nice as they are)
While Laurel’s role is still small (I’m still waiting for Black Canary) the fans were rewarded with an increased role for Felicity, that along with Diggle, served to balance Queen’s character.
The Huntress arc made only a brief appearance, it was quickly squashed/resolved
When they stopped having Oliver Queen mope all the time, Amell grew as an actor, and Oliver Queen grew as a character
I have no idea if the creative team paid attention to the criticisms of fans or whether they came to these decisions on their own, but the second half of the season not only corrected the mistakes and missteps of the beginning of the season, but they turned the lead character, and the show, into something we cared about.
They made me love the show.
Many fans commented that last week’s episode “Darkness on the Edge of Town” felt like a season finale- including leaving our title hero in jeopardy. But again, the Arrow creative team raised the bar- last night’s finale was bigger, both in story and scope, than we normally see in a television season finale. The threats were real, everyone was in jeopardy, and the stakes were high. Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg, who are credited with the teleplay, did a wonderful job of cramming a lot of story into the episode, without it feeling like a Hail Mary. The potentially interesting, but never quite there, Tommy Merlyn is killed off, but in a way that served to continue the tension between Laurel and Oliver in future seasons. John Barrowman was given some great scenes to scare the crap out of us, but is also killed off, leaving room for a new Big Bad with season 2 (marking a smart move, as fans can quickly tire of a Baddie who overstays their welcome). The wonderful (and underused) Paul Blackthorne, as Detective Lance, was also given some great scenes that opened the way for him to be useful, and interesting, in season 2 instead of just a flat antagonist.They also shuffled the ever increasingly whiny Moira Queen off into the hands of the police, and hopefully her part will be smaller in Season 2.
The loss of Tommy and (hopefully) the exit of Moira serve to address the biggest issue I, and many fans, had with this incarnation of the Green Arrow- Oliver Queen is partially driven because he has no one. He is alone. Because he has been orphaned at a young age, he has been shaped by this into what he becomes. On the show, the creators have had his experiences on the island serve instead as this motivating factor. And in many ways they’ve succeeded, but I think by weeding out these support characters, they come closer to whom Oliver Queen is, while also allowing him sidekicks to retain his humanity. The title, “Sacrifice” is apt- the people closest to Oliver sacrifice themselves for the cause, as the innocent (at least of this) people of the Glades are also sacrificed on the altar of Merlyn’s revenge.
There are still some issues that I hope the creative team resolves in season 2:
Oliver Queen is THE GREEN ARROW. Please stop calling him “The Hood”.
Please allow Laurel to become a real character. There have been glimpses of her growth this season, but it seems that for every episode where she’s allowed to hold her own, the next episode features her as some insipid damsel in distress. Bonus points if you actually allow her to be the Black Canary- think of the great scenes could you write if both Oliver and Laurel had to keep their secrets from each other!
Also, while the second half of the season built up Diggle and Felicity, we want more- allow them to develop, let us see them more on their own, and use them to shore up the entire Arrow team.
- Feel free to kill of Thea. She’s annoying. And useless.
- But feel free to keep Roy. And have him turn out to be Speedy. You can even make him taking that name be a memorial to the dead (and soon forgotten) Thea.
For now, the creative team, and the actors involved should be proud of the work they’ve done in season 1. They took a show that was just okay, and made it something that fans can love, and I for one, will be counting the days until season 2.