If anyone is a follower of the CW show Arrow, then you know that the end of season 2 was the pinnacle of action television. The end result of the conflict between Oliver and Slade was massively epic and showed that movie quality action can be done (and done very well) on TV. Season three saw the bar raised to an almost unreachable level; is there any way that Stephen Amell and company could possibly reach those lofty goals?
With a build up to the showdown with Deathstroke lasting two full seasons, it’s hard to imagine what the creative team for Arrow could do for an encore? After seeing Oliver lead to Hong Kong by Amanda Waller as a teaser to season three, we can only assume that Ra’s al Ghul will come into play (Ra’s being cast also helps with that theory). It also helps that Sara Lance, aka the Black Canary, was being chased by the League of Assassins off and on throughout season two and actually enlisting their help (with the aid of Nyssa al Ghul, Ra’s daughter) to defeat Slade’s army. Sara then has to abide by her vow and leave Starling City and head off with Nyssa to wherever. Also of note was the tease that the post Mirakuru Roy was being trained to use a bow…ushering in Red Arrow/Arsenal.
Season three opens with the new team (Oliver, Roy, Diggle and Felicity…and even Detective Lance joining the fray) taking down some gun runners and random thugs. The chemistry was spotless and was just like old times. I was licking my chops to see what villain the braintrust for Arrow would use to kickstart this season and get things revved up for the rest of the year. Enter Count Vertigo. Huh?!? Didn’t they kill this clown off before? I was sort of excited to see the casting of Peter Stormare (you know, the Russian bad guy in almost everything?) came through the grapevine; maybe they would use the death of that terrible acting hack to use Count Vertigo for what he really is: a terrifying, sadistic ruler of a country that uses his ability to disorient to fight his foes. Nope. He just uses a fear toxin version of the Vertigo drug, effectively turning it into Scarecrow’s deal. Lame.
I was actually upset with the pacing of the entire episode in general. Sure, the chemistry started off great and there were some good fight scenes throughout the show but when you toss in the fighting with Diggle on how much he should be involved with a child on the way and the on again off again aspect of Oliver and Felecity’s budding relationship and you have an uneven mess on your hands. I am also not a fan of the new Hong Kong flashbacks are heading. Oliver just trying to get away felt a bit forced and the henchman’s family being under duress is a poor motivator for Oliver doing Waller’s dirty work.
I will say that the addition of Brandon Routh’s Ray Palmer (DC fans should recognize that name as belonging to The Atom) was not only an excellent way to deliver this character into the Arrow canon but Routh absolutely sold his role as the lovable yet aloof Palmer. Also, expect some sparks between Palmer and Ms. Smoak…just sayin’. The real selling point of this episode, and what most people are claiming makes this whole episode great (which it doesn’t), is the ending. The last two minutes will set up the majority of what is to happen for the rest of this season and is just an example of how far this show will go in order to accomplish its goals of great television. Kudos to the showrunners and the CW. Well done.
I will say that overall I was not impressed with the season opener. Then again, I think that I may have some bias due to how near to perfect the end of last season, and the entire season for that matter, truly was. I also think that since the end of this show was so stunningly surprising, that the showrunners used a poor episode to highlight that. I can hope at least. I do have some high expectations for the rest of this season, however. Ra’s, the Atom, Arsenal and several of the new characters being introduced are all very exciting…not to mention all of the crossover stuff with the Flash. Good times to come but I was not impressed by the opener. We’ll see what is in store for Oliver and crew…at least until we see what Ra’s has in store.