‘Arrow’: Does Starling City Have a Hero Problem?

Published 2 years ago by

Stephen Amell in Arrow Broken Dolls Arrow: Does Starling City Have a Hero Problem?

[This is a review for Arrow season 2, episode 3. There will be SPOILERS.]


It seems like wannabe heroes are leaping out of the woodwork (or “woodword” for you Jake Johnson fans) all over Starling City, as it has become clear Oliver Queen set and unlikely example and deadly precedent with his extracurricular justice seeking before the fall of the Glades and the death of Tommy Merlyn. But as Arrow has worked to show how Oliver’s approach toward the city’s criminal base (not just the wicked one percent) has changed, the show’s creators have brought in the helpful Roy Harper, deadly copycats and now a mysterious woman who not only appears to be Black Canary, but she also doesn’t have any of Oliver’s newfound codes of conduct – i.e., she likes justice to be meted out more like an act of vengeance.

Whereas the Hoods were a group operating on a misguided assumption they were carrying on the real Hood’s (or Arrow, as Office Lance stressed several times in ‘Broken Dolls’) legacy, they were also working without any of Oliver’s extensive training. And while they certainly knew how to make an entrance, they lacked Arrow’s finesse and, more importantly, his ability to properly scrutinize his targets. Granted, if the Hoods had Oliver’s list, maybe their targets wouldn’t have felt so random and erroneous, and ultimately lead to their downfall when they chose to kill the mayor on the basis of Arrow’s old catchphrase, “you have failed this city,” and kidnap Thea due to guilt by association.

But what Arrow has successfully been able to point out in season 2 is: Perhaps Oliver’s initial approach to the problems plaguing Starling City was itself as misguided as the crusade of those who chose to kill while evoking his name. The effort to demonstrate real progression in a character, through his ability to recognize his own failures, not only makes what lies ahead feel like it’s full of promising storylines, but it also acts as a constant reminder just how powerful and lasting a moment the destruction of the Glades is in the series’ overall storyline – especially since it continues to have ramifications for Oliver in his civilian persona.

Katie Cassidy and Stephen Amell in Arrow Broken Dolls Arrow: Does Starling City Have a Hero Problem?

That makes the appearance of Black Canary (at least a version of Black Canary) in Starling City carry a little more weight than if the writers had simply decided to bring the character in a la the Huntress during season 1. Rather than act as foreshadowing to the kind of “hero” Oliver might become if he doesn’t deviate from his path of vengeance, Black Canary is more or less a reminder of everything Arrow is trying to leave behind. It seems hard to imagine anyone – even the anti-Arrow task force Laurel’s helped set up in the SCPD – is too broken up about the death of the Dollmaker (Michael Eklund), but it does serve as another lasting reminder that since Arrow’s arrival, Starling City has been irrevocably changed.

And with Arrow continuing to weave elements of the DC Universe like Ra’s al Ghul into it’s narrative, it seems like the larger world of the series is changing right along with the city Oliver’s sworn to protect.


Arrow continues next Wednesday with ‘Crucible’ @8pm on The CW. Check out a preview below:

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  1. the only issue i’m having with the show is ollies disguise. too much eyeliner is not a mask. he looks like he should be at a rave. how lance didn’t recognize him is beyond me. Plus diggle being there. i know they [lance/diggle] didnt interact, but he was right there in the car.
    one smaller issue is ollie’s voice on the island. too high pitched, like he hasnt hit puberty yet or something. all minor things. over all this is must see tv for me. cant wait for the flash now

    • Yeah, what is with the face paint? How the hell does he apply that and clean it off in a moment’s notice??

  2. The best episode up to date!

  3. That’s an episode review…. really, more like a critique on the series so far and an assessment of the character development and motivations going forward.

    Accurate and concise but episode review it aint.

    Guess I’m gonna have to wait till Monday to find out how Oli get’s out of Laura (man, she’s got irritating and sanctimonious REALLY quickly) little trap.

  4. im alitlle confused on the Slade character, i know his character is Deathstroke, then who was the guy in the Deathstroke looking mask with that Fryers guy?

    • That was his old partner, I believe. It may be that Slade is not Deathstroke yet while he is on the island. He may just change like Oliver once he gets back to the real world.

  5. I nearly messed my pants when they namedropped Ra’s Al Ghul. The ‘soldier’ of the League of Shadows certainly looked similar to Merlyn Sr.’s ‘Dark Archer,’ suggesting where the guy learnt his tricks. I also liked the non-super version of the Canary Cry.

    Basically, I’m loving Season 2 of Arrow.

  6. One question, how come Oliver wasn’t incapacitated by the ‘sonic’ device?

    Also, it’s funny how people like the guy who played Dollmaker get typecast. He’ll never play anything other than a serial killer/pedophile. It must be hard.

  7. Anyone catch Officer Lance buying a hot dog. He insists on paying for his hot dog citing he would have to book himself for robbery. Then he gets a radio call, and throws his hot dog away. He would have to fine himself for littering.

    • It’s ridiculously petty but that part kind of annoyed me. He’s gone through all the trouble of paying for the hotdog, he gets the call, tosses the hot dog only to realise he’s no longer needed. What a waste! Seriously he could have just taken the hotdog with him, saved it for later, I don’t know.

      Perhaps they cut the scene where he picks up the hotdog and dusts it off.

  8. Really liked this episode, except for Black Canary’s stupid sonic thing. All I’m saying is that, when Laurel becomes BC she better swallow that sonic thing, so she can be the true Canary. Without the cry, BC isn’t BC, she just becomes one of pretty much any other DC female hero/villain.

  9. The Hood’s new determination not to kill placed the lives of the Lances in jeopardy by failing to dispatch the Dollmaker when he had a chance.

    I think the change in Oliver’s modus operandus wimpifies the character, as does changing him from “The Hood” to “The Arrow”.

    I have just watched the first part of tonight’s episode (10/30/2013) and the unveiling that Sara Lance is still alive. This totally destroys suspension-of-belief for me and has killed the series for me. I quit watching the episode immediately after that. A dramatic show has become a cartoon, whereas last season it actually remained a dramatic show.

    Well, at least I get back an hour of my life each week. But it’s pity that a good show, with a decent premise, had to succumb to probable executive meddling to bring in a younger audience.

    • Suspension-of-DISbelief. Sheesh.

    • I didn’t know refusing to murder people was a wimpification of one’s character.

      You can accept a man running around at night in green leather shooting men with arrows and never getting hit by a bullet fired from machine guns, once; but when it comes to a character whose death was never seen returning to the present, that’s pushing suspension of disbelief to the point that the show is now a cartoon? And I think the executives interfered back in season 1 when Stephen Amell was shirtless in nearly every episode. And everyone is ridiculously good-looking – quite the attempt to bring in a younger audience.