Arrow – S3E1 “The Calm” Review

Arrow’s second season was a marked improvement over its hit or miss (pun intended) first season, showing that when done well, the series (and the universe it exists in) more than earn their prime time slot. Oliver and the rest of Team Arrow kicked Slade Wilson’s Mirakuruless ass in the finale, wrapping up essentially a two year long chapter in Oliver’s life. So, the question is, where do we go from here?

Season 3 kicks off with Starling City in a rare state of prosperity. Ever since the climactic final battle of season 2, people have come to embrace The Arrow as a hero and a savior rather than a murderous vigilante. Crime is down, and Captain Lance even goes so far as to call off the police’s hunt for The Arrow. Diggle’s having a baby. Roy is in full on Arsenal mode. Oliver and Felicity go on a date. Everything is looking up.

But, as the show loves to remind us, Oliver Queen cannot have an easy life. What happens when he finally (FINALLY) asks Felicity on a date? They get blown up. This is but the beginning of yet another downward spiral for our favorite archer.

Stephen Amell proves, once again, that he has far more than just the face and abs of a superhero. After two years, he’s settled into the role of Ollie so well that it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Amell ever playing him. He is not playing Oliver Queen simply for a paycheck; as one quick glance at his Facebook page will show you, Mr. Amell truly loves playing this role. And it shows.

Alright now you’re just showing off.

Our supporting cast is likewise back in top form. Diggle got some great moments as a father-to-be, Captain Lance is awesome working with The Arrow, and Roy could not be more of a badass as Arsenal. I personally would have liked to see a little bit more Roy in this episode, as the team dynamic at the beginning (and end, honestly) of the episode was one of the strongest aspects of “The Calm.” This is an extremely minor complaint, however, as I know there will be significantly more of Roy and Team Arrow in future episodes.

As far as the obligatory flashbacks go, as anyone who caught the end of season two already knows, Past Oliver is no longer on the island. Somehow, Amanda Waller has brought him to Hong Kong. While it may go against popular opinion, I’ve never actually been a huge fan of the flashbacks. I’ve always preferred the story taking place in the present. That’s not to say anything bad about them; they are very well done, and the juxtaposition to Oliver’s present day crises is cool (albeit sometimes a bit too on-the-nose). They’ve just never quite grabbed me as much as what is going on in the present has. That said, seeing Past Oliver simply give up on life stuck in a Chinese house has me intrigued.

Let’s get this out of the way, because it’s killing me inside… I am a red meat-eating, football-watching man, and yet I am shipping Olicity so hard that it actually bothers me. I have never wanted a fictional couple to get together so bad as I do them. So why must the writers insist on dangling Olicity in front of my face like a carrot in front of a horse?! Did that kiss mean nothing to them?!

More like OKISSity, am I right?

*ahem*

So… Yeah. That killing and blood and shit, right fellas?

As any good superhero TV show does in its season premiere, Arrow gave us no shortage of big new characters and plot twists in “The Calm.” Ex-Superman Brandon Routh made his debut as Ray Palmer, the future superhero Atom. While we probably won’t see him shrink to subatomic sizes on Arrow, he was extremely likeable as the deceptive-yet-funny corporate rival to Ollie. There was also a new Count Vertigo, who apparently was inspired by watching Scarecrow in Batman Begins.

As for plot twists, Sara Lance took a surprising tumble off a roof at the very end of the episode. I don’t care who you are, no one was expecting Canary to die in the first episode of the season. Sara obviously knew who it was, so who the hell was it? Why did they do it? Why do none of the character on the show other than cops and petty criminals use guns? My guess is that we’ll find out the answers to 2 out of the 3 of these questions later this season.

For avid Arrow fans, I am more than happy to say that the show is back and firing on all cylinders. There really wasn’t a weak aspect to this week’s episode (UNLESS YOU COUNT HAVING THE OLICITY RUG PULLED OUT FROM UNDER YOU YET AGAIN, WHICH I DO), as everything from Oliver’s disaster of a personal life to the excellently choreographed fight scenes to the intriguing flashbacks were all top notch. I still worry about the whole “Villain of the Week” thing, as that has been the one issue that the show has been unable to shake over the course of two years, but that is not a complaint about this episode so much as it is something in the back of my mind for the rest of the season. If the rest of season 3 is even half as good as “The Calm” was, we’re in for a treat.

Jordan Barbeau

A simple man with simple tastes. Games, comics and movies are all I need to be happy.

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