There’ve been multiple TV series throughout the years that’ve highlighted on superhero fandom, but only a few that’ve made a dent in mainstream viewership. Arrow seems to have broken the floodgates on that front however. After the success of the show, we have news on more comic-based television than ever before. Just this television season alone we have more than a handful of shows, be it Flash, Gotham, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Constantine, Arrow, Agent Carter, etc. But without a doubt the best episode of anything to air on that front this season is The Calm, the season 3 premiere of Arrow. It’s so good I’ll wager it’s better than 95% of all Arrow eps to date. Beyond this point there be spoilers, arrr. (Dunno why I just turned into a pirate).
Five months after the events at the end of Season 2, things seem to be going very well for team Arrow. Diggle is prepping up to become a father. Felicity has a new job at a mock-Radio Shack that pays her rent whilst she doubles as Oliver’s eyes and ears. Roy has honed his skills and is fighting alongside the Arrow. Laurel appears to be doing well, and her friendship with Oliver is restored now that she knows his secret. Detective Lance, or Captain Lance rather, is still kicking, despite major heart problems (and what appears might be a drug addiction). And Oliver is just moving on, getting commended by the city for his deeds as the Arrow, taking Felicity on dates, trying to get his company back, etc. So many wonderful little moments that you want to see upon returning to one of your favorite series. The satisfaction level is turned up to eleven, and these bits are only just the tip of the iceberg.
But it’s not all fun and games in this episode. We do have a disturbance in the midst of the calm. A new threat rises, taking on the fallen monicker of Count Vertigo. This time the drug’s been altered to essentially have the same effects as Scarecrow’s experimental drug in Batman Begins – it causes you to hallucinate and sees your worst fears personified. He is actually a capable villain, for once, and appears to know how to fight well. Interestingly Oliver’s worst fears are himself, which doesn’t entirely make sense just yet, but we’ll see if that goes anywhere.
However short lived it may have been, it was incredibly nice seeing Oliver and Felicity together on a date at long last. The two seem to work and play excellently together, and I really feel that needs to breathe a bit more. But as is typical in this genre (and on this network particularly), their courtship ended far too prematurely. C’mon, really? Not even a full episode? Oliver’s reasons for breaking it off didn’t even make sense, and Felicity let go so quickly. I just didn’t buy it. Watch this space.
Will there be room for another love interest in Felicity’s life? I definitely think so. Introducing Ray Palmer, who DC Comics fans know quite well as the Atom (essentially DC Comics version of Ant-Man). Is he already the Atom, or will we see that origin play out? Guess we’ll see. Brandon Routh plays the part, and he does so with gusto. I’ve always been a fan of Routh’s acting, and I even gravitate towards his portrayal of Superman more so than Henry Cavill’s, so it’ll be nice to see what he brings to the role. Shame he’s gone from being DC’s biggest cinematic hero to DC’s smallest television hero (literally). I clapped out loud when Ray Palmer delivered his speech because at the end of it all he announces his plan to remarket the failing Starling City, as the new “Star City,” which is the true name of Green Arrow’s city in the comics. Major spoilers beyond this point.
We get a surprise reentry from Sarah Lance at the close of the episode. But more surprising is the fact that she gets shot with three arrows from a mysterious off-screen voice, and then falls off the building to her death in front of her sister Laurel. Like wow. This is how you start a season folks. Interestingly her mask falls symbolically to Laurel’s feet. Will she take the mantle? Short answer: she does in the comics…
I think the most surprising facet of this whole episode was just how well it was accomplished. I usually cringe at least a handful of times at some seriously dodgy lines whenever the CW is involved. But not only were the lines delivered firmly, we got some stunning choreography, beautiful videography, and Felicity is so hot. <- Don't mind that last bit. The flashbacks feel more like flashbacks, instead of extended side-plots and this is fantastic news for me. I was growing overly tired of the steadily growing ridiculousness of the island flashbacks, and look forward to what will happen in Hong Kong. Gives the series a different feel at the very least. And what's up with the new Arrow logo? That's pretty striking. We even get that lovely tie-in with the spinoff series, The Flash, firmly planting the fact that this is at last the CWverse. Overall, one of the best episodes of superhero television period. If you're not watching the show, you shouldn't have read this far, but let's move past that point so you can just go ahead and catch up.