ARROW starts off with Oliver Queen (played by Stephen Amell), in the present day, in Lian Yu, the Island that he was previously trapped on for 5 years. This is considered to be his fortress of solitude to grieve over the death of his best friend, Tommy Meryln. The first episode consist mainly of the aftermath of the Undertaking, the seismic explosions that destroyed the slums of Starling City, the death of a main cast member,Tommy Meryln, and how the main characters have been coping with the after effects.
The first scene starts off with Felicity Smoak and John Diggle, played by Emily Bett Rickards and David Ramsey respectively, parachuting on the Lian Yu, the island known as 'Purgatory', as an attempt to find Oliver Queen who has disappeared since the funeral of Tommy. The death of his best friend plays a huge part in this episode and series as Oliver decides to quite being the vigilante known as 'The Hood'.
The death of Tommy Meryln could have been seen as an 'attention grabbing' stunt but is in fact the most crucial part in the season premier as it shows that Oliver Queen was a dark character and needed to become a much more likeable person in order for viewers to sympathise with him.
Oliver hangs up his hood with the belief that he caused Tommy to die and goes into exile for 5 months. Although this may seem to be a familiar superhero process where the death of a close friend results in the hero becoming depressed, Oliver Queen manages to give a dramatic view on why Starling City would be better without the vigilante who failed to stop a portion of the city from being destroyed.
The first half of Season 1 had its faults but when more secondary characters appeared on the show, there was chemistry between them that lit up the show. The Oliver / Felicity / Diggle combination is re-introduced in season 2 and it immediately becomes clear how important this trio of memorable characters are to the show.
The one thing that I find most interesting about these criminals are that they are normal people, people who's families have been killed or injured by the Undertaking. They were innocent men changed by the destruction around them. their inspiration was Oliver Queen's alter ego, The Hood, who is considered by many to be a murderer and a vigilante.
The death of Tommy Merlyn changes the views of killing of Oliver Queen as he mentions that his friend died believing that Oliver was a murderer. Instead of killing the criminals as Oliver would normally do, he shows compassion and refuses to have unnecessary blood on his hands. He hangs them up on the wall so that the Starling City Police Department can bring them to lawful justice.
As Oliver Queen struggles to cope with the after effects of his mother, Moira Queen, being arrested for her involvement in the Undertaking, he also has to deal with a business rival Isabel Rochev, played by Summer Glau, who is planning to take over Queen Consolidated. Another huge impact on Oliver is the fact that he was unable to stop the Dark Archer/Malcolm Meryln's plan to destroy the Glades and the death of his close friend.
I have saved the Island flashbacks until the end of the blog. It's been 5 months since the death of Edward Fyers, and Oliver is training with Slade Wilson and Shado, played by Manu Benett and Celina Jade. These flashbacks help us to understand how the defenceless teenage billionaire became a killing machine and I believe that this is the most important part of Oliver Queens' transformation.
Problems quickly arise, however, as the trio find themselves being tracked by pirates searching for graves of some kind. Splitting up and searching for heat signatures, Shado is kidnapped and Oliver and Slade have to find her before it's too late. They come across a base with a few people torturing Shado. Oliver is disgusted and quickly attempts to rescue her, much to Slade's disapproval.
Another huge thing that I was impressed with was the cameo appearance of Black Canary. I think it's amazing how The 'Hood' has inspired some people to fight evil in Starling City and I really do hope that Oliver does meet the Black Canary. 'City of Heroes' may just be the best ARROW episode yet.
Starling City is a City of Heroes, after all.
Rating: 10 out of 10