Arrow is back, and its first episode, “Green Arrow” is mashing all our emotional buttons! If you like sappy romance, it’s got you. If you like angsty bromance, it’s got you. If you like ladies being superheroes, it’s got you. And if you just want to figure out this season’s latest tragic mystery, it has got you.
I can’t say this was the best part of the episode, because there were a lot of good parts, but I can say I wish Ollie and Felicity had stayed in Ivytown longer. It’s been six months, and Ollie and Felicity are living in the kind of softly-lit suburban domestic bliss you only see in satirical horror movies, or commercials for dryer sheets. Every window is filled with gentle, neutral-colored light, every counter surface is clean, every sun dress is immaculate, and when Ollie goes tearing through the streets on his morning jog, every driveway has a friendly neighbor waving at him. And do they have brunch? You bet they have brunch. They have brunch outside.
This town immediately reads as Stepford because of the touch of horror that creeps around the edges of the situation. It’s in the over-friendliness of the town, the weird intrusiveness of the neighbors, and the slight (very funny) desperation we see in both Ollie and Felicity. The neighbors talk about getting Ollie and Felicity’s utterly theoretical kid on a wait list for pre-school, and Felicity giddily goes to get booze, while Ollie says, through clenched teeth, “Yeah, we haven’t talked about it.” Funny and unsettling in equal measure.
The town also reads as Stepford because Brain-washed Domestic Ollie is totally working for me. Suddenly I understand those Stepford husbands’ point of view. I’ve seen Ollie do salmon ladders shirtless, but watching him make an omelette... yes, thank you. There’s a moment, late in this sequence, when he hides the surprise engagement ring in Felicity’s soufflé. The rest of the Arrow Team calls them up before Felicity can find it, and you can tell Ollie is disappointed because of the ruined opportunity, but a part of him is also, like, “But. But my soufflé.” Yes. Thank you.
Ollie gets called in because the Arrow team is having a tough time handling “The Ghosts,” a gang of heavily-armed and well-organized thieves who, it is increasingly apparent, have a sinister purpose. But leave that aside for now. Thea is living and working with Laurel and they are suddenly both the funnest. Thea is saying things like, “This is so cool” and “This is awesome,” and smiling with her mouth like a human and also picking out dorky names for herself like, “Red Arrow.” (Dig refuses to call her that because “a red arrow just means you can’t make a left turn.” That’s fair. If there is one thing ground into the bones of the Green Arrow mythology, it’s Leftism.)
Of course Thea brings out the brat later, when Oliver catches her beating the hell out of an unconscious henchman, but do you think that spoils it? No, of course not. Thea has always been a brat, and it’s always been marvelous to watch. When she pulls stuff like this I am just a fish in an aquarium with a stream of bubbles tickling my belly. It’s divine. Good, Thea! Ask him to help you fight crime and then, when he gives you advice on fighting crime, tell him to stay out of your business! Scoff and flounce, Thea! Your hair is wonderful this season. Toss it all you want.
Laurel is also the best. I love her battle outfit, which looks good and severe. I love that when she was driving a motorcycle and Thea was crouched over her they reminded me of Master Blaster from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. I love, in the big action finale, when the heroes are clearing out a train station because the shiny new bullet train has been sabotaged by the Ghosts, she helps a child up, smiles at him and give him a wink with her huge, glorious, fakey-fake eyelashes. There’s the Black Canary charisma we’ve all been waiting for!
Arrow gets right into it with the villain this season. He’s Damien Darhk, and he’s not hiding. He walks into a meeting with the four remaining high city officials, and lets them know his plan. He’s going to kill Star City so something better can grow in its place, explaining, “Cities are like puppies . . . . you see them writhing in agony, you put them down.” Anyone think our heroes can track Damien by having Felicity search through veterinarians who have had their licenses revoked?
Damien is an interesting villain. In contrast to many others, he’s low-key, with an unthreatening, avuncular way of speaking. He can murder people from the inside out by putting his hands on their chests because the show is not dilly-dallying when it comes to introducing magic. Ollie makes this clear to everyone, after the team raid the Ghost’s HQ and see Damien pull his internal-melting trick. It’s magic, we’re all going to adjust to magic being in the world, and that’s the end of it.
Dig is not so happy to accept it. He’s especially not happy, because Ollie won’t reveal anything about the past events which make him so sure that magic is real. Mostly he’s not happy, because he still hates Ollie for kidnapping Lyla last season. He does save Ollie from Damien Darhk’s hand of doom at the end of the episode (And I’m sorry, I’m really sorry, but the fight between Damien and Ollie? That was a slap fight. I know Damien’s power involved an open palm against the chest, but . . . it was a slap fight, people.) but he makes it clear that he’s not willing to trust Ollie, because Ollie doesn’t trust him.
Dig, you see, figures that Ollie could only fool Ra’s and the League into believing he’s one of them because deep down inside he’s just like them-shut up Shut Up SHUUUUT UUUUUUP!
Oh my god! Seriously? This? We’ve seen nothing but Ollie averting mass murders and genocides and shoving arrows through his own chest to save his family and we’re still pretending he’s just as bad as the people who try to bomb entire cities? That’s still going to be a running plot thread? Again? AGAIN? This can’t be happening! It’s been three years! It’s going to be four years! That is the length of a college education! I have been watching a dissection of this dumb, dumb idea the whole length of the show and I swear to Christ, Arrow, if at the end of this season I have majored in Is Oliver Queen A Bad Person with a minor in Oh Noes, I am going to fucking lose it. Enough! End it! Kill it! Put this goddamn puppy down!
First, Oliver decides he’s going to try to embrace the light. He starts by suiting himself up, hacking into the emergency broadcast system and declaring that he’s the Green Arrow and he’ll fight for the city. Now, if I were watching tv and a masked man with a voice distorter suddenly declared himself a symbol of hope for my city, my bowels would turn to ice water. But I can allow, in theory, that it’s an inspirational speech.
Oh my god! Quentin Lance is working with Damien Darhk! But why? I’m betting it’s a way to raise Sara from the dead.
Ollie and Felicity rejoin the Arrow team and move back to the city. They’re staying in Thea’s apartment. (Most Delicious Line of the Episode: “Ra’s stabbed Thea right there. We can get a rug.”) They’re happy. They’re happy. They’re happy. Then suddenly it’s six months later—and Ollie is standing at a fresh grave, telling Barry that he doesn’t blame himself, but he’s going “kill him.” Ooooooh, Arrow. You do know how to intrigue a lady.
In the flashback sequence, Ollie is captured by Amanda Waller and dumped back on Lian Yu. I don’t think the wig is good, but I like it. It looks like Stephen Amell’s head is being made love to by a furry octopus.