I wasn’t going to watch Arrow. I really, really wasn’t. I mean, I have a weakness for CW shows, but still, superheroes really aren’t my thing. But then a fateful event came to pass at Motor City Comic Con: I looked into John Barrowman’s stunning eyes, and, weak of knees and of will, I obeyed when he commanded me to “Watch Arrow.”
Next thing I know, I’m absolutely devouring Arrow. Despite the fact that I’m not big on superheroes, because they tend to have too many explosions and too little actual storytelling, despite my worries that this show wouldn’t deal with those pesky questions of justice and right and wrong well, and despite my disinterest in anything comic-related in general, I devoured it.
I found that Arrow excelled in pretty much every single category: good plotting and stunning action sequences, which were mixed with interesting characters and a storyline centered around interpersonal relationships and emotional development. It seemed to mix the best of both worlds: not only did the protagonist’s fight against the evils of capitalist corruption seem both timely and relevant, but the focus on the emotional and interpersonal added another layer of relevance. Among all this, Arrow also manages to pass the Bechdel test, treat its female characters really well (and this is saying something considering that this is based on a comic book), and actually feel original despite the overwhelming amount of superheroes on screen these days.
That’s why I also proceeded to devour the second season – released on DVD in all its glory only days ago. The storyline picks up several months after Oliver Queen’s failure to save his city at the end of the first season, also shifts gears in a few ways: Oliver’s new antagonist, rather than Wall Street CEOs, is Slade Wilson, a former enemy come back to get revenge for the death of a woman he loved. Unfortunately, this manages to both check a few clichés of its list and fridge a female character for male character development. Plus, there’s a magical serum that gives people superpowers while driving them crazy, and when mixed with he storyline of an old enemy bent on revenge, it doesn’t quite make for the best seasonal arc.
Still, there’s plenty of other things in the second season to keep one’s attention even if the main storyline fails to impress. Even with the lack of the charismatic presence of former villain Malcom Merlyn (John Barrowman), there are plenty of other plot twists, family secrets, lies, and manipulations that keep the story going. Plus, the second season introduces a number of new (or newly important characters), including Barry Allen (who will be getting his own spin-off as the Flash in a few weeks) and a whole host of female characters. Yes, this might actually be a superhero show where the female characters are more numerous, versatile, and developed than the male characters, and the second season really brings that point home: there’s Isabel Roschev (Summer Glau), a brilliant and manipulative businesswoman who’s also deadly in heels, Sarah Lance (who’s pretty much the female version of the Arrow, and that’s actually pretty damn cool), Nyssa al Ghul, daughter to the head of the League of Assassins, and Laurel Lance (who’s still a killer attorney), and a couple of federal agents. And, of course, there’s Felicity Smoak, who continues to be hacker extraordinaire and still dress to kill every morning, as well as Thea Queen, with a will of steel and no patience for lies, which may very well drive her to be one of the next season’s Big Bads. Together, they help create a season full of unforgettable characters, emotional growth, and stunning action, which continue to deliver, and make this show worth not only watching, but rewatching.
The DVD packs all that into 23 episodes, and on top of that, adds a handful of special features. The deleted scenes (of which there are only two) and (short) gag real leave much to be desired, but three other features make up the DVD: the 2013 Arrow Comic Con panel (which feels a bit out of date given that it took place before the second season had even aired), and a couple of exclusives on the stunts and special features. As usual, the DVD set combines Blu-Ray, DVD, and Digital HD into one pretty, green package.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00GZP0MI4,B00KAFVFW2,B00BGI086Q,B00NGXCG14]