With many revelations coming to light and resulting twist and turns having taken place, the imminent return of Arrow to our screens would seem to warrant an overview of its second season. When I agreed to do so I did not appreciate the difficulty of the task, not at first that is. Not only is there allot going on but the two time lines for said allot to be going on. Even if we annex the island flashbacks, there are sub-plots for regarding Thea’s love life, Moira’s legal life (which hangs in the balance), then there’s Diggle’s bizarre blend of love life and fraternal vengeance and Oliver’s professional façade in the form of the family company and its dubious fiscal integrity. While it seems that the Arrow can shoot straight, the rest of his undertakings could not be more erratic. As this is an overview I must be necessarily selective, but how proceed without baring false witness?
First I will give a partial summary of the flashbacks and then the main story. We find Ollie, Wilson and Shado are living together in the remains of the plane. Ollie has come on in training by some measure. Yet the island is visited by yet another armed group who are in seeking a grave with the mangled human remains. Fire fight that leaves Wilson badly injured Ollie is captured and taken aboard boat seen earlier of the coast. There he finds Sara Lance, apparently not dead and a crew member. Eventually we meet the head of operations, a scientist. He is seeking a Japanese WW2 submarine and the Miracle drug that it carries. He believes the secrets of its location are hidden in the mangle corpse burial ground. To get Oliver to comply he tricks him into revealing the location of Shado and Wilson. However, Oliver and Sara escape the ship’s crew as a result of Shado’s cunning and Wilson’s resolve. However, Wilson has become progressively worse and so the four of the them set out for the sub to that he might be cured of his injuries. That’s enough for now, not on to present day story.
The Season opens with the impressive panorama of the island Lian Yu, where Felicity and Diggle have come in order to persuade their friend, to return, or re-return to Starling City. They manage it though it is not unconditional; Oliver forsakes the taking of life in light of Tommy’s death, the event that led to his return to island exile. Arriving home Oliver finds Laurel is determined to take down the Arrow, believing him responsible for the death of her ex-boyfriend Tommy Merlyn. There are two ironic strands in her aim. First, that she, until Oliver’s returns, has been chasing a ghost. Second, the Arrow vacancy has been filled. Nature abhors a vacuum and so Roy has stepped up as Starling’s replacement wrong-righter. Trouble with a friend (and ex) is compounded by troubles with the family. Ollie finds Queen Consolidated – the family firm – in disarray. A hostile takeover is being headed by a certain Isabel Rochev, an appropriately formidable executive-type. Meanwhile, mother Moira has been arrested and is facing the prospect of imprisonment for the rest of her life. In fact, it is a possibility that she faces with a combination of serenity and masochism. She wishes to atone, doing so calmly, placing complete faith in the legal system. Her greatest worry is Thea who, it turns out, refuses to visit her. Instead, she has thrown herself into her work an act again tempered with dramatic irony. Having taken over management of Oliver’s club means she has never been closer to uncovering his alter-ego (or at least his lair) while at the same time is immersed in the front he used to conceal said alter-ego.
And that is just the first episode!
Next episode sees Thea give Roy an ultimatum as the result of his being arrested (you’d think she was used to it by now). In short, it’s her or the vigilante escapades. Still, it is as a result of those escapades that Oliver set about preventing medicine intended for a hospital in the Glades being commandeered by China White. In so doing he encounters a shiny new villain she has partnered with, Bronze Tiger and comes to (painful) terms with his new no kill policy.
While we’re yet to see Bronze Tiger again, there are a spate of new villains in the next two episodes. Episode 3, Broken Dolls, introduces what might be Arrow’s creepiest villain yet: The Dollmaker. Simply put, this guy is a worshiper of beauty (but, in the immortal Star Trek parlance, not as we know it!) and sees himself as a preserver of it. He method: he asphyxiated his victims by pumping them full of liquid plastic and dressing them in the kitsch dresses (hence the name). He has a special relevance for Officer Lance who vowed to catch serial killer as testament to his dead daughter Sara, of whom the victims remind him. He asks the Arrow for help but Ollie falls short and Laurel is captured. Again the tribulation of friends seems in competition with family. The District Attorney reveals – in the court room no less – that he is not merely seeking Moira’s imprisonment, but the death penalty. The resulting showdown features the Black Canary, who, at the Arrow’s earlier behest, is tracked down by Roy through Sin, another mysterious Glades kid.
Episode 4 does not disappoint either, ushering in a crime lord that calls himself the Mayor. I’ll admit an apt name draws attention to the political corruption that runs through the series (officials conceal the release of both the Count and the Dollmaker). Still, social commentary does not alter the fact that he is flooding the streets of Starling City with firearms. Ollie won’t have this and so engineers a “Cash for Guns” scheme. Having secured his personal wealth via the health of his former step-father, he will use his resources to purchase weapons from citizens in the interest of his new bid to avoid bloodshed. He also hopes to use the event to help mother’s chances in the court room. However, the Mayor makes an entrance and claims the firearms that had been turned over. In the altercation Sin is hurt and her Black feathered friend is baying for blood (or would do were she a dog bay not bird). Once again Black and Green pair up… but not before the revelation that the Black Canary is in fact Sara Lance! The Mayor proved undone by his monopoly on guns, but so too is Ollie, who has not such monopoly in resurrection. Just over half way through and well over 1000 words…
Although he cannot convince her to announce herself to her family, Ollie is able to offer shelter to Sara at Queen Manor. Yet before they’ve even settled in an assassin makes an attempt on her life. It transpires in the years between their time on the island and the reunion in Starling City, Sara was taken in and trained by the League of Assassins. She left the league and they have sought her return. Now, the league’s footmen threaten that if she does not comply her family will suffer. She therefore approaches her father to get him out of town. Though a tentative reconciliation is reached she does not reveal her existence to her mother or sister. However, if one sister proves problematic for Ollie that it’s fair to say the other does too. Laurel, to his consternation will be assisting the prosecution of his mother. Worse still Moira is determined to plead guilty to the charges though apparently not because the death penalty is now sought after. There are still more skeletons that Moira would rather conceal.
While this leaves one feeling suitably ambivalent about Moira, in Episode 6 can’t help but win her back again, if only for momentarily. When her attorney suggests that Thea break up with Roy because it may harm her mother’s defence, Thea seriously considers it. When Moira gets wind of it though, any inkling of romantic separation expunged. Before the trial though, the season takes a detour to Russia. Diggle is approached to perform a rescue in Moscow; Lyla has disappeared while perusing a lead on Deadshot. Bother Ollie and Felicity insist on accompanying there guilt-ridden friend but matters are complicated when Isabel – following Ollie’s spate of boardroom tardiness – insists on coming too. They are further complicated by her an Ollie sleeping together and Felicity finding out. Never mind a love triangle, by the time this is over we’ll have an octagon! Using Oliver’s contacts Dig breaks into prison where he finds not Lyla but Deadshot. But in order to find Lyla and get out alive they have to work together. Digs promises not to kill him immediately thereafter and is a good as his word. Prior to their parting however he tells Diggle that though he does not lament killing his brother he was just the hired hand, and a tauntingly asks if he has any idea as to the one who hired him.
Episode 7 Queen vs. State sees Moira finally go to trial with Laurel leading the charge when the DA, like Diggle, is taken ill. The city wide illness proved to be caused by the Count who has engineered a virus whose symptoms the Vertigo alleviates. All explained in a sadistic POV video featuring the DA. It must be said that while not condoning his actions one could not say the DA’s suffering is not without a sense of poetic justice. Back at the trial, or just before, the skeleton Moira wanted securely closet bound comes dancing out: she had an affair with Malcolm Merlyn. Needless to say this does not look good. Meanwhile, Felicity is captured by the Count who she discovers has used the buses for the city Blood Drive to introduce Vertigo into the general population. Awaiting his mother’s verdict Ollie receive a phone call and suits up to confront the anarchic aristocrat criminal. In the ensuing fight he breaks his new rule. Returning to the courthouse he finds his mother acquitted. He does not accompany her however. When driven to a quiet spot her driver is shot by a black arrow. Resurrection is something of a motif this season and so Malcolm Merlyn makes his entrance. He fixed the trial in order that he could deliver some news: Thea is his biological daughter. I know that this series does cliff-hangers like few others, but that was quite a feat.
We see Malcolm return to the Queen Mansion to coerce Moira into revealing the truth to her daughter. But Moira is underestimated. Guessing that Malcolm was a member of thLeague of Assassin she alerts their leader to Malcolm’s resurgence. Merlyn makes his exit. Elsewhere Sin enlists Roy to help track a missing person a certain Max. When brought to the attention of the Arrow Oliver attempts to dissuade Roy from perusing the matter. When Roy is obstinate Ollie puts an Arrow in his leg. Meanwhile, there is a break in at Queen Consolidated. Barry Allen a police scientist arrives in Starling City shortly thereafter with some strange notions as to how the robbery from the Applied Science Division was conducted. This is what we have been building to all Season. The infamous Brother Blood has been testing formulas out on subjects all this time an in the hulking form of Cyrus Gold he has success. Cyrus singled-handily steals a centrifuge, which, with Barry’s help, the team deduce will be used to create more of the insidious serum. When we find that Barry is not in fact there on official business, but there to track the vigilante, he is sent packing. However, in a bout with Cyrus Oliver is poisoned and in a moment of desperation Barry is called back to save the day.
Although the triumvirate of Arrow support staff save Oliver, the compound in his blood causes intense hallucinations of figures from his past. Undeterred by the arrow induced limp he was given, Roy continues to chase a lead on Max that will drive him into the arms of Brother Blood. With Barry’s help Felicity tracks Cyrus’ movement but not before he butchers a police surveillance team before Lance’s eyes. All the while we witness flashbacks to the island and the marooned submarine where Wilson is injected with the Miracle drug and is seen to die painfully without a sedative. The scientist tracks the submarine and the drug and forces Ollie to choose between Sara’s life and Shado’s. It is never clear who he chooses but he summarily executes Shado. In his final confrontation Ollie sees the ghost of dead friend Tommy. Having been tortured by the preceding ghosts of Shado and Slade, the hallucinatory spectre of Tommy gives him the strength to kill Cyrus and save Roy, though not before the latter is infected with the miracle drug. Latter we see Sebastian present himself to his benefactor who is Slade Wilson alive and well (as resurrections go that’s a hattrick). Blood knows he is on a short leash now. In the final flash back we see the corpse of Wilson gasp for breath. He runs out into the Glade were he kills the several crew members in a blind rage, having confesses his love for Shado moments before his injection.
Needless to say, the success of this series is bound up in the questions that it leaves unanswered about stint on the island and the fate of Starling City. Like many of you, I will be compelled to my screen and watch how the plot unfolds.