'Arrow': Does Starling City Have a Hero Problem?

Stephen Amell in Arrow Broken Dolls

[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

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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