This episode wound up with fewer notes than the pilot, but that’s to be expected. The pilot sets things up; the second episode is the follow-up.
We start with some great stunt work this episode, showing Oliver starting to really get active as the Hood and how he handles business. Arrow continues to have excellent stunt work, so this is one thing that hasn’t changed very much.
Oliver being brought back to life legally was great for a few reasons. There was Oliver commenting on pop culture, which I kinda missed as the season went on. I think we lost that thread in the second season, but that might have been replaced by other funny things, like Felicity’s one-liners and Diggle’s zingers. Still, the small moments of Oliver being out of touch were very funny, but probably only work well in the first year.
The way they showed his PTSD was very clever. Yeah, Oliver is not okay, isn’t going to be okay probably for a while. Having people crowd around him while he struggles to remember where he is (sea full of people vs. actual water around the life raft) was a great juxtaposition and just shows how much attention they paid to detail. I’m not saying it was the last time they did that, but we don’t see too much of Oliver’s PTSD post-Season 1.
Laurel as a lawyer was always a great touch, though I admit that at the time I was still wondering why she wasn’t a florist, so that colored my perception of her. That being said, even if you include the ice cream scene, I was having trouble seeing them as some kind of endgame, even with their backround, because we keep hearing about how he slept with her sister. When it became obvious that Tommy was a viable option, I admit to shifting loyalty simply because he was willing to be a better man for her, but that’s something for another blog entry.
Thea, I think, never stops being important to Oliver. Love interests come and go this season, but she’s still in the forefront of her mind. After seeing his scars, I think she really starts to see how he’s changed, even if she still doesn’t like how not-forthcoming he is about his time away. I have to admit, she has great points. He’s not helping anything by keeping secrets, but he’s also in the right about keeping those secrets.
Speaking of, we get to the flashbacks, which are mostly about Oliver dealing with landing on Lian Yu and handling his father’s remains. He finds the book and buries Robert under a pile of rocks (lacking a shovel for a proper burial) and… gets shot and falls over. This was mostly set up for the rest of the season and nothing really to comment on except for how miserable Oliver is. Which, given what he’s lost, is understandable. But that’s about it.
Speaking of fathers, we have Lance. I understand where he’s coming from. So does Laurel. I can see where she doesn’t really appreciate the protection, but it’s not like he doesn’t have a point, either. Just more obvious family tension with the Lances. But I’ve always loved the chemistry between Katie and Paul, so this was (and still is) some great stuff. I’ve got issues with my natural father, too, so it’s relatable. 🙂
Diggle was great in this episode. He’s now refusing to drive Oliver, but he seems to understand him better than others in his life. “Home is a battlefield.” This episode was about expectations and the choice of whether or not to meet them, and Dig’s function at this point is obviously to explain what’s going on in Oliver’s head. This function does not change much in later seasons.
Oliver disappointing his family and establishing his persona as a playboy is necessary, but I felt for Moira. And it was yet another break with comic canon. I, more or less, decided at this point that I was right to think of this as an AU, which comes in handy in later eps as I see Oliver build his team. Far easier to accept Team Arrow if there’s already a precedent of honoring but not following canon.
I have to say, however, that I felt for Oliver once more as he apologizes to his father’s headstone for not being the good son in order to do what he has to do for Starling. “In order to keep my promise to you, I have to dishonor your memory.” I should start putting my heartstrings in a different place so they’re harder to find, like the nerve cluster in Mal’s back, per end of Serenity. They won’t get pulled as easily.
As a last note, the reveal that Moira knew the Gambit was sabotaged was a great moment for shock value. One of many little seeds planted throughout the season, ready to grow over time.
Wrap-Up: In short, this was a great episode that not only followed up and set up for more story, but also gave us clues of what to expect in later episodes, like the Lance family drama and Oliver’s team building. The layers in the story-telling are easier to see as we go forward, but are no less compelling. That’s how you know it’s a great show. 🙂