WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS. READ ON AT YOUR OWN RISK.
Arrow continued where it left off, as everyone’s favourite vigilante returned to our screens. The episode mainly focused around Oliver’s readjusting to civilian life having returned to Lian Yu, along with his attempts to reaquire Queen Consolidated and the arguments with Diggle and Felicity as to whether he should continue to be the Starling City vigilante.
My first thought about the episode is how the opening minute mirrored that of the pilot, with Oliver running across the island. I found it a cool way to start, and it set the tone for the episode. Oliver was presented as a different person in the pilot, one that was changed while on the island. The same effect was given in this scene, and kept up throughout the episode. Having already been changed once, Oliver has been changed again, but this time, not into a killer. This time, he’d changed into a hero.
It felt like a very different episode to what we’re used to. Oliver had a lot more control over himself than before, despite continual arguments with his crime-fighting compadres Diggle and Felicity. His relationship with them hit bumps at times but the core connection between them is still there. Diggle continues to be the brilliant guy we’ve always known him to be and Felicity is still… well, Felicity. Her promotion as a series regular hasn’t diminshed her qualities as a fantastic character, with her untimely one-liners a quality that makes the show what it is.
None of the characters are where they were a year ago. Everyone has developed from the basic character that they were introduced as to the complexities that they all have now. A prime example of this is Thea. A spoiled brat with a drug problem, season 1 portrayed her as her brother’s sister. Here, although portrayed the in same respect, she has changed, much like Oliver did. No, she hasn’t become a crime-fighting vigilante killing machine (like Roy is trying to be), but she has become much more responsible for her own actions. Now in charge of Verdant, she is no longer the irresponsible brat that she was.
No longer in control of his club, Oliver is in need of a job. This comes in the form of Queen Consolidated, although that’s more by Diggle’s persuasion than of his own. Isabel Rochev’s (Summer Glau) hostile takeover of the company was something that Oliver wasn’t willing to let happen, and attempted to take control. Rochev’s insults towards Oliver during the boardroom confrontation was hilarious to watch, especially as it left Oliver speechless in rebuttal. Countless remarks at Oliver’s intelligence (or supposed lack of) wasn’t enough to prevent him enlisting the help of
stepfather Walter (Colin Salmon) in order to prevent Rochev from destroying Queen Consolidated and costing “one very blond IT expert her job”.
Like Oliver, Laurel was hit hard by the loss of Tommy. She also took time to get past it (although not quite in the same way as Oliver did), and it came with an epiphany. Not only was it the fault of BOTH archers, but that sleeping with Oliver was a mistake. The latter may be true, but the former showed a serious misplace of blame. Yes, Malcolm was behind the device. Yes, the vigilante failed to protect the Glades. But she seems to be forgetting the three warnings she recieved to stay out of the Glades. Had she not been there, Tommy wouldn’t have rushed to save her, therefore he wouldn’t have died. I do hope she realises that at some point. Anyway, she swore to take down the surviving archer, despite how much he’s helped the city.
The Hoods, a group of vigilantes attempting to exact
justice revenge on the people that let the Glades tragedy happen, were introduced, in quite a big way. Killing the mayor was a bold statement, one that was so bold that it.. didn’t even make the local news. What’s that about? Instead, they publicise Oliver’s return. Frustrated by this, the Hoods attempt to kill Oliver by intruding on his meeting with Rochev. Despite some incredible acrobatics to save Felicity, she and Diggle are unhappy at Oliver’s refusal to don the green hood again. Their attempt unsuccessful, the Hoods kidnap Thea as a substitute to Oliver, which was enough to convince Oliver that he needed to resume his position as the vigilante.
Felicity’s revamp of the lair was fantastic, with it now having a much nicer look than the basic set-up Oliver originally had. She had acquired a brand new bow for him (since Malcolm broke his), and Oliver loved it. Quite how she procured the money for this, or bought it without anyone making the connections is a mystery. Her friendship with him has progressed massively since we first met her, and it’s nice to see. Those ‘Olicity’ shippers may get their wish…
Thea’s impromptu kidnapping brought about doubt and remorse among the Hoods. References to her age left one member in denial as to why they took her, with personal connections being made to lost loved ones being just like her. Oliver’s perfect timing saved Thea, yet none of the kidnappers died in the process. Quentin’s query as to their continued living sparked Oliver to tell him that he’s trying another way. It’s strange to see Oliver showing some mercy, something seldom seen in previous episodes. Nonetheless, Oliver’s new approach could bring about revenge from his targets.
Thea’s near death experience coaxed her into visiting her mother. Despite her anger towards her, both Oliver and Roy (unsuccessfully) try to convice her to visit Moira. The realisation that Thea might have died knowing her mother thought she hated her was enough for Thea to try to make peace with her mother. It wasn’t entirely her fault – she was just trying to protect her children. When her trial arrives however, I doubt a jury will see it that way.
Last season, Quentin threw his detective job away in a failed attempt to save the city. Now. his demotion has left him with substantial frustration towards Lieutenant Pike. Unlike last season, Quentin seems to be hoping for the return of the vigilante. The look Felicity gave Oliver when asked about their “mutual friend” was a tell that Quentin failed to pick up on. Perhaps she needs to be less obvious next time.
Attempting to be like the vigilante, Roy continues to place himself in the jaws of danger, much to Thea’s dislike. These two have a complicated on-off relationship (which in all fairness is better than a love triangle), but they’re never really off for very long. I think the arguments between them need to either amount to something such as a complete break-up, or just do away with them completely. The relationship is a useful part to the show, but all these complications between the two isn’t helping anyone.
Introducing Black Canary at the end of the episode was interesting. Previously unheard of, it’ll be intriguing to find out who she is, and why she’s suddenly arrived in Starling City. Questions like these will probably be answered in episode four (in which she and Oliver work together).
Similarly to the present day, events on Lian Yu have also progressed five months on. This will probably become a reccuring theme, so the island is always roughly five months behind throughout the show. After Fyres’ death, new enemies are introduced. How much less complicated would things be if they WERE animals, eh Oliver?
As things were, a group of men kidnapped Shado, much to Oliver’s anger. Intent on looking for some sort of graves, they began to beat her, before Oliver attempted to be the hero. Instead, he performed the act of brutal murder of one of the kidnappers. It’s the first time he’s murdered someone – every other killing to this point was either accidental or necessary. This is going to affect him long into the season – this is perhaps the turning point for him becoming the pre-island Oliver to the vigilante we saw in season 1.
When a show has any episode as phenomenal as ‘Sacrifice’ was, it’s difficult to match it. This episode did so easily, coming very close to excelling it. If this level of brilliance is kept up, this could be a fantastic season.