Season One of Arrow started off strong and ended with a bang. And this jaded, cynical, “you can’t pull off comics on teevee” guy was glued to the tube, more than happy to go along for the ride. Arrow is a far better show than it has any right to be: Hunky, oft-wooden Joe-Six-Pack lead, soap opera scale histrionics, and flimsier plot angles than you can shake a quiver of arrows at. It’s all there. But it also has a ton of heart, understands its audience, and isn’t afraid of the source material.

When we left Oliver Queen last season, he had just watched his best friend Tommy die, buried in rubble after the Big Bad blew up the slums of Starling City. Ollie’s girlfriend Laurel blames the “Hood” (Oliver’s arrow-flinging vigilante alter-ego)  for Tommy’s death. Being as how the last episode left us with Oliver failing his city, the opening of season 2 has a lot to live up too.

The Hood Selects a New Target

“City of Heroes” opens with Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity returning to the island that Ollie was stranded on for 5 years. Oliver has gone back into hiding after Malcolm Merlyn blew up the Glades. Diggle and Felicity are trying to get Ollie to come home and make things right. After a quick flashback, we get to see why the Hood is needed so badly: Starling City is a wasteland, with drug dealers and street gangs prowling the streets. In the Hood’s absence, a few other enterprising vigilante types have tried to stem the flow of crime.

Laurel Lance has joined the District Attorney’s office after her law practice was destroyed. She is attending a fundraising party when the Mayor is murdered by a couple of thugs calling themselves “the Hoods”. Laurel kicks one of them to the curb before having a gun held to her face. I love it when Laurel kicks some ass; this bodes well if she does indeed become the Black Canary later on this season!

The Hoods have been targeting wealthy One Percenters in Starling City, trying to make the wealthy pay for what has been done to the poor part of town. Seeing Oliver all over the news after his return, the Hoods decide that they need to take the revenge business straight to Oliver, since Queen’s family business built the device that leveled half the city.

Things aren’t going so well at Queen Consolodated, either. A hostile takeover is in effect, spearheaded by Isabel Rochev. Oliver explains that he’s not giving up when the Hoods bust in, shouting Ollie’s trademark “YOU HAVE FAILED THIS CITY” line before opening fire on the boardroom.  Oliver saves Felicity, then heads back to assess the damage. Diggle and Felicity are pissed because Oliver won’t put the Hood back on, but Oliver has a very valid reason; he killed quite a few bad guys before the bombs went off, and he doesn’t want to be a killer anymore.

Meanwhile, Ollie’s sister Thea is running his bar, with her boyfriend, Roy Harper. Roy has been sneaking out at night to try and keep Starling City safe in the Hood’s absence. Thea’s none too happy about this, but things look a little different when the Hoods bust in and start shooting the joint up. Roy takes a couple of the thugs down before one of them puts a gun on Thea, and they haul her off to force Oliver out in the open.

Bad move. Ollie heads to the basement of the bar, which serves as the Hood’s base of operations. From there, the show shifts into high gear. I realize I’ve gone into some detail here, so I’ll leave off the recap and let you find out the rest for yourself.

Season Two of Arrow is already off to a great start, and with hinted appearances from Black Canary, Speedy, and the Flash coming up, consider me signed on for the long haul. Sure, it gets a little soap opera-ish at times, but that is more than made up for with the rest of the show’s strengths. Stephen Amell in particular has been the biggest surprise Arrow has served up: At the beginning of the series, it seemed like he had two tricks in his acting arsenal: brooding, and working out. Now, he’s branched out a bit, and is showing a little more range in his acting. Throw in Summer Glau as Isabel Rochev, and things could get downright awesome!

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Tags: Green Arrow , CW , Arrow , DC Comics