A recap and brief review of Arrow.
Arrow marks the third attempt to bring the DC Universe to the small screen. The first was Smallville, the watered down Superman teen drama that managed to introduce its fanbase to most of DC’s characters before ending after its tenth season. The second was Birds of Prey, a mediocre adaptation of Gail Simone’s all-girl team that didn’t even survive a full season. Unlike the other two adaptations, Arrow is edgier and more violent. Also, it’s better. Much, much better.
WARNING: EXTENSIVE ARROW SPOILERS FOLLOW IN THIS ARROW RECAP
The show opens to Oliver Queen, played by Stephen Arnell, donning the fakest beard ever seen on television. He’s on a desert island called Purgatory (in Mandarin!) and sees a fishing boat sailing nearby. In order to attract its attention, he quickly lights an arrow and shoots it at a pile of wood sitting on a beach far away. It explodes. Violently.
Luckily for Oliver, the fishermen on the boat see the big ol’ explosion and investigate. As they pick Oliver up, the camera flashes at an orange and black mask resting on a pole on the beach. That mask belongs to Deathstroke, DC’s premiere assassin/mercenary/killer for hire. However, Ollie doesn’t mention exactly how it got there.
A news report tells viewers the basics about Oliver. He’s a rich boy from Starling City who supposedly died back in 2007, along with his father and seven others, but not before being acquitted on an assault charge stemming from a run-in with a paparazzi. His mother, Moira Queen, arrives at the hospital, where a doctor warns her that Oliver has scar tissue on 20% of his body (I guess most of it is on his legs), has second degree burn scars and a dozen improperly healed fractures.
Moira promptly takes Oliver home to their luxurious mansion, where he gets reacquainted with Walter Steele, a former business associate of his father, and Raiza, his maid. While Oliver doesn’t seem to take to Steele, he’s a lot more happy to see Raiza and his sister, Thea.
Someone who doesn’t seem too happy to find out about Oliver’s reappearance is Laurel Lance, a lawyer working for a non-profit, who discovers that Oliver’s still alive while trying to build a case against Adam Hunt, a shady sort of rich dude. Laurel discovers that Oliver is still alive from the news and she quickly turns it off, but not before it mentions that the yacht crash that stranded Oliver on purgatory claimed the life of her sister, Sarah.
Tommy Merlyn, Oliver’s best friend, arrives and starts to catch Oliver up on all the pop culture he missed over the last five years. Tommy covers Super Bowl winners, Barack Obama, and the ending of Lost, all of which are things I’d certainly like to know about should I get trapped on an island for a while. Oliver then makes the dinner really awkward by revealing that Walter’s been sleeping with his mom, to which his mom replies that they’re married so it’s okay.
Oliver doesn’t seem to be okay with this, so he excuses himself to go back up to his room to stare at his disgustingly toned chest and scars. After he broods at himself in the mirror, he curls up by the open window and allows the sound of rain falling on his skin to put him to sleep.
Oliver’s dreams takes him back to the night his yacht crashed and reveals that he brought along Sarah with him to wine, dine and spend special adult time with. Oliver’s dad tries to give him some advice about how sleeping with Sarah won’t end well. Oliver, of course, ignores him and uses a couple of cheesy pick-up lines on Sarah, including a line about him knowing biology that is so awful, it causes the boat to flip over. Sarah gets swept away into the ocean, although Oliver manages to make it to a lifeboat manned by his father and another crewmember.
Moira arrives at Oliver’s room and tries to wake him up, but instead gets flipped around by Oliver’s sleeping judo. Luckily Steele’s there to snap him out of it, causing Oliver to recoil back in shame.
The next morning, Oliver pulls a trunk out of his bed and checks up his sister, who’s doing lines with a friend. Oliver calls Thea “Speedy” and gives her a hosen, a Buddhist rock that symbolizes reconnecting. Tommy interrupts the tender moment and proceeds to take him on a tour of all the bad parts of Starling City and comments about how his dad sold a giant imposing factory at the right time. Oliver gives the factory a knowing look and then asks Tommy to take him to see Laurel.
It ends up that Laurel and Oliver have some history. Laurel and Oliver used to date before Oliver began to screw Sarah on the side. Of course, having your sister die on a yacht while screwing your boyfriend certainly complicates things, leading to Laurel to say some very choice things about Oliver before storming off. Tommy tries to console Oliver, but they’re confronted by some guys in red devil masks who promptly knock them out with tranquilizer darts, but not before shooting some poor bystander with an AK-47.
Oliver flashes back to after the yacht crash, where his father tells him that he has some sort of shame about his role in Starling City’s economic quality. According to Mr. Queen, he’s failed the city somehow. Oliver wakes up tied to a chair and is promptly tortured by one of his kidnappers. The kidnappers want to know if Oliver’s dad told him some sort of relevant information about the city. Oliver replies that his dad told him to kill his kidnappers, a claim that causes his kidnappers to chuckle. Of course, Oliver silences that laughter when he proceeds to slip out of his bonds and beat the everliving hell out of all the kidnappers. After one of them tries to escape, Oliver gives chase and proceeds to snap the guy’s back using his armpit, saying that no one can know that he knows parkour and stuff. Crazy.
After the commercial break, Oliver is back at his house with a detective, who also doesn’t seem too thrilled to see him. Oliver claims that a man with a green hood saved him, a lie that Tommy reluctantly goes along with. The detective gives the Queens more ‘tude and leaves. After Oliver briefly talks with Raiza about how he wants to be the person she wanted him to be (the maid wanted him to be a badass killer?), Moira reveals that she’s hired an ex-military man named John Diggle to act as Oliver’s bodyguard. Unfortunately, Diggle’s military training didn’t prepare him for Oliver’s car escaping abilities, which allows Oliver to slip out of Diggle’s car during a drive through the city.
Oliver proceeds to make his way to that old abandoned factory, which he repurposes as his Arrowcave. He installs lighting, adds some computers and arrow-making equipment and proceeds to fully stock it over the course of an hour or two. After testing his arrows on some tennis balls, he mentions in his voiceover that he has a bone to pick with Adam Hunt, the scummy millionaire that Laurel’s trying to build a case against. It seems that Oliver brought back a little book from the island with a bunch of names in it, and Hunt’s on the list. Oliver confronts Hunt in a parking garage, taking out two bodyguards while wearing a distinctive green hoodie and facepaint. He tells Hunt to deposit $40,000,000 in a bank account by 10 PM the next night or he’ll take the money by force.
After the commercial break, Hunt talks to the detective about the assault, leading the detective to joke that Hunt had been attacked by Robin Hood. Hunt tells the detective to consult with Constantine Drakon, his new head of security, about protecting Hunt from the attack that’s sure to happen that evening.
That evening, Oliver and Tommy make their way to a humongous “Welcome Back” party. Humongous parties are a requirement in all CW shows, and Oliver seems to make the most of it, taking tequila shots and joking with Tommy about picking out a girl to end his five year dry spell with. Oliver notices his sister at the party purchasing some drugs. When Oliver confronts Speedy about the drug use, she gets all indignant with him and storms out, but not before Oliver discreetly steals the drugs and throws them away, much to Diggle’s amusement/approval.
Laurel unexpectedly arrives at the party and she apologizes for her earlier outburst. Oliver and Laurel seem to share a moment, but Oliver notices that it’s 10 PM, forcing him to act like a douchenozzle in order to push her away so that he can do his Arrow thing. As Oliver tries to slip away, Diggle confronts him, forcing Oliver to use his Armpit Nerve Grip move on the bodyguard. Hopefully, he only knocked Diggle out.
Back over at Adam Hunt’s place, the bad guy asks why the building next door is so noisy, to which thug #3 mentions that it’s a welcome back party for that rich kid who came back from the dead. As if on cue, Oliver arrives and proceeds to take down a dozen guards in a scene reminiscent of that one Hit-Girl scene from Kickass where she just walks through the hallway killing things left and right. Oliver’s a grown up male version of Kick-Ass Girl and he quickly confronts Hunt and shoots an arrow at him.
However, the arrow misses and Dracon pops up to fight Oliver in an intense one on one battle that ends with Dracon on the ground with a throwing knife in him and Oliver possibly taking a few rounds from an automatic rifle. As the police arrives to arrest Oliver, he shrugs off the bullets and dives out of the window and down a zipline he had set up earlier. The detectives realize that Oliver must be back at the party, so they confront Tommy and try to shut the party down. Oliver arrives just in time and blows the detective off, causing the detective to reveal that he’s actually….Sarah and Laurel’s dad! After Detective Lance storms off, Tommy reveals that he knows what’s up with Oliver and asks exactly what happened on that island.
The next morning, Hunt discovers that he’s lost the $40,000,000 and is baffled as to how Oliver stole the money. It ends up that the arrow Oliver shot at Hunt was actually a Wi-Fi Hacking Arrow that allowed Oliver to remotely access Hunt’s account, deposit into a trust and redistribute it to all the people that Hunt had screwed over, a fact Laurel learns after his clients start asking why $50,000 had just popped up into an account.
Oliver flashes back one final time to after the yacht crash, where his father implores him to survive before killing the other surviving crewmember and himself in order to give Oliver more supplies to survive. Immediately after, Oliver sees the island, thus proving that Oliver’s dad’s sacrifice was a bit of a waste. Oliver vows that there are other people who have been ruining Starling City and he’s planning to make all of them miserable with his parkour skills and wi-fi arrows.
The episode wraps up with Tommy popping in on Laurel and flirting with her in an alleyway, while revealing that Laurel’s first name is Dinah and that they’ve been having a casual relationship. Oliver’s lurking on a nearby fire escape, although he doesn’t seem to really react to the news that his best friend is sleeping with his ex. Oh, one more thing: the guys who tried to kidnap Oliver and got crushed by his armpits were hired by his mother. Apparently, Moira wants to find out exactly what her late husband told Oliver during their time on the island and isn’t above using nefarious means to find out this information.
So that’s the first episode of Arrow. While the episode had its flaws, I can honestly say it’s the best CW show I’ve ever watched. The acting’s less cheesy than other CW shows, and the more realistic take on Green Arrow keeps the show from relying to heavily upon cheesy CGI. Stephen Arnell also turns in a decent performance, although his Oliver Queen is lacking the charm usually shown by his comic book counterpart. The biggest downside is that Oliver’s mission isn’t exactly clear as the show doesn’t really give a real reason for Oliver to suddenly want to clean up his city after getting back from a desert island. Still, there’s 22 more episodes left, so hopefully they get to that part eventually.