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Arrow “My Name Is Oliver Queen” Review (3×23)

14 May

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“We won tonight because I wasn’t alone.”

One of the main questions this show has raised recently is: what is this series without the Arrow? This certainly ties into the idea of identity, of who you are when you put on a mask and when you take it off, of what you can become when you sever all ties to your past. The season as a whole has stumbled a bit when attempting to explore this theme and its ramifications, and although “My Name Is Oliver Queen” is certainly a very flawed finale, it’s still an enjoyable exploration of these characters and the bonds they share.

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Arrow “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak” Review (3×05)

6 Nov

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Well, it’s about time.

After two seasons of seeing Felicity develop into one of the most endearing characters on television, we finally delve into her backstory with “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak”, a flawed, yet thoroughly entertaining, episode that features an average script elevated by excellent performances from Emily Bett Rickards and Charlotte Ross.

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Arrow “The Magician” Review (3×04)

29 Oct

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“Apparently, we both handle grief differently.”

We saw this idea in “Sara” with regards to Felicity and Oliver, and we see it again–albeit in a different context–in “The Magician”. Oliver Queen is someone who always seems to be at a distance from those around him, someone who is intent on protecting those he loves, but also someone who dons a suit and plays the role of a vigilante. It may oftentimes place him on a different wavelength from the people populating his world, but it helps him just as much as it may hurt him.

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Arrow “Sara” Review (3×02)

16 Oct

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“I don’t want to die down here.”

“Sara” is an exploration of grief, of the various ways our characters cope with the loss of someone they cared deeply about. It’s also a turning point in the series, a transition period for characters like Laurel and Felicity and Oliver in response to Sara’s death. Death often reminds us of our own mortality, and here, that certainly is the case; death also reminds them of their seeming lack of identity, of the fact that they’ve spent all this time in a high-tech basement, that they’ve done good in the world, but that they’ve done so while they’ve been closed off emotionally from life in general.

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Arrow “The Calm” Review (3×01)

9 Oct

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“A man cannot live by two names.”

A dilemma many superheroes must deal with is the question of how to balance a personal and a professional life, how to, in this show’s case, balance Oliver Queen and The Arrow. Throughout the season three premiere, we see that dilemma being applied not only to Oliver, but also to those who’ve come into contact with him, to those who’ve structured much of their lives around him in one form or another.

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Arrow “Unthinkable” Review (2×23)

15 May

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“You helped me become a hero, Slade. Thank you.”

Oliver Queen is a hero, not necessarily because he saves countless lives by destroying his enemies, but because he sticks to his principles and allows himself to grow beyond who he was back on the island. The idea of murder runs rampant in this season, and questions of morality have plagued him ever since he donned the hood and picked up the bow.

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Arrow “The Promise” Review (2×15)

5 Mar

19296f999f954967c9ea8a0f082c343cThis is Arrow at the top of its game.

It’s thrilling, moving, and intense, and “The Promise” is one of the best episodes this show has ever produced. Featuring brilliant performances and fantastic action, this is a can’t-miss for any Arrow fan.

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Arrow “Three Ghosts” Review (2×09)

11 Dec

ar209a_0733b-jpg-56d2169b-t3-630x419Oliver Queen’s always been a moral guy; he’ll do what needs to be done, but he’d prefer to do it the right way. Yet, considering all the pain he’s suffered and all the tough decisions he’s had to make, it’s certainly understandable why that pent-up guilt would manifest itself in the three “ghosts” he sees here. Although the concept is a bit heavy-handed and clunky, it serves as an effective bridge between his past, present, and future; it’s only fitting that this episode brings Slade into the present day picture.

I do like the idea of Oliver facing his past here in the present, because although we see glimpses of it in his flashbacks, it’s always been something he can distance himself from; for him, fighting to save the city is a way of redeeming himself for his past mistakes. Now, though, he can’t convince himself that it’s all behind him–it’s a nice move to have Slade’s ghost appear during a time in which Oliver’s supposedly in his element: using his bow and arrows–because it isn’t; I thoroughly enjoyed the dynamic created by Bennett and Amell, and I’m looking forward to see it play out in the present day.

I’m also looking forward to the Barry Allen/Flash transformation; like I said last week, I’m genuinely surprised at how endearing Gustin’s become in this role. It helps that he has a strong supporting cast–in particular, he has Felicity to play off of–around him, but he’s also brought the right amount of charisma, charm, and general personality needed for a role like this. In fact, we start to see shades of a more emotionally and intellectually sound person in this episode; although he’s still starstruck by Oliver, he’ll still stand up for Felicity and do what he thinks is right. It’s a nice parallel to Oliver’s personality, and it’s going to be mighty interesting to see the tension and grudging respect between the two develop further.

Elsewhere, we get some Detective Lance-Laurel stuff, as well as a continuation of the Thea-Roy-Sin team up. I like that the show’s trying to integrate everyone into the overarching storyline; it’s not always successful–I still can’t bring myself to care about Laurel–but it’s emblematic of an ensemble show that doesn’t feel overstuffed.

All in all, it’s an exciting finish to a surprisingly wonderful half-season; Arrow has become one of my most anticipated shows each week, and it has a clear grasp on all its characters and the places they occupy in the grand scheme of things. I’m looking forward to where we go next.

GRADE: B+

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-Slade, acting all badass up in here. Manu Bennett was channeling from his Crixus days when he ripped out that heart.

-It’s nice to see Tommy back; both actors do some great work in their hallucination scene, able to make it a poignant and meaningful reunion.

-So Oliver essentially chooses Sara; it makes sense, although it’s absolutely devastating when Shado’s killed.

-There are still problems with Blood’s character; revealing that he’s just a pawn in Slade’s game doesn’t erase the nebulousness of his motivations and plan.

-See you on January 15th.

Credit to The CW and Arrow for all pictures; I own nothing.

Arrow “The Scientist” Review (2×08)

4 Dec

xdefeating-the-acolyte.jpg.pagespeed.ic.J_m555ivznArrow wasn’t a show about superheroes back in season 1, and it’s a credit to the writers that even with the introduction of “superpowers” here, the tone still feels grounded and decidedly Arrow. In fact, the show gives us a fairly reasonable explanation for the shift in content: the serum. You know what? I’ll buy it; the challenge will be maintaining that sense of realism throughout the rest of the show’s run and not falling into the Superhero Cliche Pit.

Obviously, the main focus will be on The Flash. Barry Allen is introduced in this episode, and while I wasn’t too happy about the casting at first, I think we get a nice sense of who he is and what his motivations are; the exposition is a bit heavy, as expected, but Gustin is charming enough and fits in smoothly with the rest of the cast (he serves as a nice foil to Amell’s Oliver Queen). The most obvious pairing is what we get: Felicity and Barry make for a pretty nice couple–this show really is fantastic for making Roy-Thea and Felicity-Barry endearing–here, and I’m looking forward to how the show handles the relationships from now on. Also, kudos to the writers for all the little Flash jokes.

Usually when we’re introduced to a character, it’s in a place-setting episode, and “The Scientist” is no different. The show’s taking a step back before whatever fireworks they have in store for us next week, and while it does make for a less exciting episode, it’s still entertaining. Take, for example, Malcolm Merlyn; we would expect that after last week’s cliffhanger, he’d take a more prominent role here, but that’s not the case. The sidelining feels a bit awkward, but I do like how his character is being used to draw out the fight in Moira Queen; she’s always been an independent woman locked in both a literal and a metaphorical jail, and it’s nice to see her fight back. She’ll do what she needs to do to keep her family safe, and the League of Assassins reveal is a nice moment; it lends some more complexity to Malcolm’s storyline, aside from the “Evil Bad Dude” aspect of his character.

Finally, that brings us to the island; although I would like to see some more flashbacks, this week’s do a great job of showcasing Manu Bennett’s acting and drawing deeper emotional connections between him and Shado. In addition, it ties in very smoothly to the present day action; it all leads into a cliffhanger ending that is just begging to be resolved.

GRADE: B

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-Best Flash joke: the nod to the lightning origin story.

-I would like to see more complexity to Brother Blood’s storyline: for example, more of his motivations are needed.

-There’s some fantastic action in this episode; the show’s really improved the camera work in this season.

-No Laurel. This is good.

-“Maybe he feels like he penetrates just fine.”

-“I’m not too good on my feet.”

-I don’t think Slade is dead. The sedative probably is the reason for his transformation.

-Hey, show, give Summer Glau some more to do, please.

-Oliver shooting Roy in the knee was really funny and surprising. I’m not sure it’s in character, but whatever.

-Emily Bett Rickards is looking really good, as always.

Credit to The CW and Arrow for all pictures. I own nothing.

 

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