I was worried about this show during the first half because the episodes seemed to be hit or miss. There were some fantastic ones, then there were some that made me want to pull my hair out. That, however, was not the case for the second half of the season. We got more story, more character development and best of all, more time on the Island. They even dedicated and entire episode to it. Episode 14, “The Odyssey”, was probably my favorite episode of the season. Oliver is shot by his mother when he confronts her about her involvement with Malcom Merlyn, while being operated on by Diggle he flashes back to his time on the Island. From there on, most of the episode is on the Island, and I loved it. We are introduced to Slade Wilson, who is not the same man who tortured him earlier in the season. His partner Billy Wintergreen went rogue and joined the bad guys. Slade is one of my favorite characters on the show. He is an unmitigated badass who won’t take any guff from the still uptight playboy Oliver. Along with Slade, we are also introduced to several other DC universe characters such as: Shado, Firefly, Count Vertigo, the rogue Black Hawks operative Ted Gaynor and Dodger.
Throughout this half of the season, we are slowly given more and more information about the list, and why it was given to Oliver. We also learn more about Malcom Merlyn and what his true plans for the city are. What is great is that for the most part of the season both Oliver and Malcom have no idea that the other one is a costumed hero/villain. There is even a point where Oliver gives Malcom some of his own blood when he is almost taken down by Deadshot. However, as the season goes on Oliver learns more about the so called “Undertaking.” Years ago, when his son Tommy was younger, Malcolm’s wife was murdered in “The Galdes” Which is the rough side of Starling City. Malcolm saw the Glades as a lost cause and decided the only true way to ensure nothing else bad happened their was to destroy it completely. He bought two earthquake type machines and hid them under the glades. Once Oliver found out he rushed to stop him. This leads to the season finale, where his computer expert Felicity has to help the chief of police disarm the device. However, Oliver was unaware of the second device and Malcolm detonated it, when Oliver thought he had won, causing the complete and utter obliteration of the Glades, and probably one of the saddest moments in the show. The finale was shocking to say the least. It was completely unpredictable and I loved that. The creators of the show could have gone for the easy out and had Oliver save the day and then run off into the night or drive off into the sunset pleased with their victory. In this actions have consequences. Oliver could have stopped it sooner, but he was too blinded by his own love for his mother and being too trusting of Malcolm Merlyn to realize they were in on the secret the whole time. This coupled with his eagerness to find people who were only on the list his father gave him shows that he is more than just a cardboard cut out of a superhero, he is a real human being with flaws. He was focused on the past and how things used to be before he was on the Island. The finale also saw the death of Tommy Merlyn, who had become one of the deepest characters in the show, he had an entire character arc dedicated to becoming a better person for his girlfriend. In the end he sacrificed him self to save her.
The plot on the Island is even more intriguing than the main story. So much so that it is almost detrimental to the series in that I want an entire season based solely on the Island. Oliver begins training with him so he can defeat General Fyers who has a nefarious plot to cripple the Chinese econo,my by shooting down any airplanes that are trying to enter it, forcing America to stop trading with the Chinese, he would then swoop in and recover it himself, making him and his men rich. He plans to blame it on a rogue Chinese operative Yao Fei. We are introduced to Shado, Yao Fei’s daughter; who, in the comics, has a love affair with Oliver, and ultimately ends up raping him. I highly doubt that will be touched on.
All the actors are fantastic this go around, even the more annoying ones like Huntress (Jessica Degow) Who I berated in the previous half of the season for being the worst actress on the show. She returns for an episode and is much much better this go around. Stephen Amell is fantastic, once again tackling both sides of Oliver’s Personality. His dark brooding side that is dedicated to stopping this madman and avenging his father, as well as pre/on the Island Oliver who is a spoiled rich kid who jokes around because he still doesn’t realize the threat of not being able to get off the Island. David Ramsey, who plays Diggle is fantastic once again. Though he is not from the comic books he is becoming one of my favorite characters and I would not mind seeing him end up in the comics eventually. Emily Bett Rickards, who plays Felicity Smoak, is adorably awkward and her chemistry with Oliver makes it hard not to ship the characters. And last but not least John Barrowman’s performance in this half of the season was stunning, he lost himself in his role. I no longer looked at him as Captain Jack, he was the villainous Merlyn. He is good at being manipultive, nice and also very creepy all at once. It almost reminded me of Willem Dafoe from Spider-Man with a little more restraint.
Though, the season was not perfect. In the few episodes before the finale Oliver and Laurel hook up. This is after Tommy breaks up with her because he knows that if she found out about Oliver’s true Identity that she would choose Oliver over him. Laurel has been fairly strong throughout the entire season, not really taking any of Oliver or Tommy’s guff, not even her own fathers. However, she reverts back to a high school girl when Oliver asks her to take him back. It wouldn’t have bothered me as much, if they had been somewhat flirting throughout the season, and even though they dated a long time ago, he still cheated on her with her own sister, and ended up getting her killed. It just seems too forgiving, and it just looked like forced drama.
Overall this half of the season is far superior to the previous half. The acting was better, the plots were better and the action was amped up to the max. We give the second half of Arrow season one 9 longbows out of 10.