“Arrow” has been a show that refuses to stick to normal conventions. It regularly has jaw-dropping moments that other shows would delay for a mid-season finale, anniversary issue or season finale. This season marks a decidedly crowded field on the comic book based TV series front, including an impressive start to “The Flash,” but after tonight’s episode, “Arrow” firmly establishes itself as the show to beat and perhaps not just on the comic book front.
We don’t even have to wait until the first commercial break before the show sets up several big moments to leave us geeks smiling. Team Arrow is on the move taking down gun smugglers. While Felicity runs the operation from HQ, Arrow takes down the trailer, Diggle secures the guns and Roy (in full Speedy/Red Arrow gear) helps take down the drivers. And to cap it off, Arrow utters his now famous catchphrase “You have failed this city.” Not sure how they could top that opening. Oh wait, Oliver asks Felicity out so now Team Olicity fans can rejoice. Keep in mind, this is just the season premiere.
Capt. Lance isn’t ready to give up up field work, but his frequent chest pains require steady dosing of medicine. While his days on the streets may be numbered, he does take advantage of his new promotion to officially end the manhunt for Arrow. Starling City is now embracing its hero.
Meanwhile, a new (don’t call him Count) Vertigo (Peter Stormare) has arrived on the scene and he’s ready to unleash his new fear-laced Vertigo on an unsuspecting Starling City. The drug now makes its victims see what they fear most.
Oliver is prepping for a board meeting in efforts to resume control of his company, but a new bidder has emerged – Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh, “Superman Returns“). Palmer is a wildcard and Routh is not playing him as the timid, unassuming guy comic fans have been used to. With some shows, I’d wonder if we’ll see Palmer become Atom. With “Arrow,” it’s just a matter of time.
In his pitch, Palmer says Starling City is dying due to the attacks Merlyn and Deathstroke perpetrated, but he has a new vision – to rename Starling (wait for it) Star City. What’s your episode geek-out count as mine is about 50. From now on, I’m just gonna shut up and let the writers tackle all of my mini-gripes/complaints in their sweet time.
Oliver and Felicity’s date gets ruined when Vertigo tracks Arrow to a restaurant and launches a rocket into the restaurant. While they emerge relatively unscathed, Oliver is now shook and afraid to get close to Felicity and demotes Diggle to mission control. Diggle and Lyla are expecting and Oliver won’t let him risk his life for Oliver’s crusade.
Oliver tracks Vertigo to his base and not surprisingly, he finds what he fears most is himself. Now that they know what they’re dealing with, Team Arrow is able to track Vertigo to an arena for a big fight. This fight is brought to us by Ferris Air. You know, with the mention here and in “Flash,” I’m gonna need an appearance by Hal Jordan at some point.
While Roy tries to stop Vertigo’s bomb, Arrow faces off with Vertigo again, but he gets a surprise assist as Canary/Sara is back to help Arrow fight Vertigo’s goons! After they put down Vertigo, Sara advises Oliver “We’re not out masks and we need people in our lives who don’t wear one.” Good advice, but will Oliver take it?
Lyla and Diggle have their child and the gang (save Roy) is here. Diggle says Oliver is right. Everything has changed for him now that his daughter is born. It’s nice to see the characters make a sensible decision.
If the episode had one weak point it was the Hong Kong flashbacks. The show has firmly found its voice with current day Oliver and the flashbacks are now starting to feel like more of an obligation instead of an essential piece of the “Arrow” series now. Not a whole lot happened beyond establishing that Oliver continues to escape from Waller’s clutches, but why she wants him remains a mystery. Well, it can only get more interesting in future episodes.
Back in the present. Oliver wants to talk to Felicity and she knows what’s up. She tells him she’s tired of him dangling the hope of a relationship before her only to pull back at the last minute. He kisses her, but asks her not to say he doesn’t love her. Felicity storms off in a strong move to reiterate she won’t be Oliver’s girlfriend-in-waiting.
Just then, Barry Allen calls. He’s awake and needs Oliver’s advice in their rooftop scene where Oliver encourages Barry to be the hero he was born to be. My favorite bit of that was how much of a comic book crossover feel it had where in one comic you’d see an event play out and in that same month, we’d see it from the other character’s perspective.
Off to another rooftop, Sara and Laurel reconnect. Sara tells Laurel not to tell their dad she’s back in town yet as she needs to work out a few things. Before Laurel can convince her, Laurel’s boss calls her in. Sara starts to head out when a stranger calls her. She recognizes the stranger and questions why they’re here only to get shot Boromir-style off the roof, plummeting to her death in front of a shocked Laurel! Whoa. That my friends, is how you kick off a new season. Is it time for next Wednesday yet??