After a successful first season, The CW had another superhero hit in Arrow following Smallville’s conclusion in 2011. For the second season, the Green Arrow drama wasn’t holding back as it had big plans for not just Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), but also the beginning of a shared superhero TV universe. The summer leading up to the season two premiere, the creators behind Arrow revealed that they were developing their first spin-off series: The Flash.
The second season would introduce superpowers to the grounded DC world that Arrow had initially setup. But besides setting up Barry Allen’s solo series, this allowed the world of Arrow to be more fleshed out, particularly for this season’s big bad. With that being said, it’s time to go through the best and worst episodes of Arrow season two.
10 WORST: Crucible (Episode 4)
One of Arrow's biggest mysteries was the female vigilante who turned out to be Laurel’s (Katie Cassidy) sister Sara (Caity Lotz), who didn’t die after all. As Oliver finds out that it’s Sara (aka The Canary), he's thrown off big time.
For an episode that should have focused more on Oliver’s emotional response, it became more about a forgettable villain of the week named “The Mayor” (Clé Bennett) who tries to rule the Glades. There was simply too much going on in this episode. This is also the beginning of Laurel’s downward spiral as she starts developing a drinking problem.
9 BEST: Suicide Squad (Episode 16)
After a season of introducing various members of the iconic DC team, the sixteenth episode finally brought the Suicide Squad together. The team consisted of Deadshot (Michael Rowe), Bronze Tiger (Michael Jai White), Shrapnel (Sean Maher), led by Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson.)
This is also what gets Diggle (David Ramsey) more involved with Lyla’s (Audrey Marie Anderson) work at A.R.G.U.S. We can’t forget to mention Tara Strong’s amazing surprise voice cameo as Harley Quinn who was briefly seen in the shadows.
8 WORST: Birds of Prey (Episode 17)
Arrow occasionally named an episode that feels incredibly misnamed. The seventeenth episode did this, as it wasn’t a proper Birds of Prey episode. Here, Helena Bertinelli a.k.a. the Huntress (Jessica de Gouw) returns to Starling City to kill her father.
Aside from a very powerful moment or two for Laurel, it’s a shame that they wasted the title on an episode that didn’t even feel like it had anything to do with the eponymous team. "Birds of Prey" should have been saved for the big Canary episode that happened in the seventh season, as that would be more fitting.
7 BEST: The Promise (Episode 15)
For the second time in a row, we get a deep flashback episode set in Lian Yu that connects to the present. When Slade (Manu Bennett) reveals himself to Oliver, he takes the opportunity to know Oliver’s family who has no idea about his history with Slade.
In the past, Slade finally learns that Oliver was the reason Shado (Celina Jade) was killed by Ivo (Dylan Neal.) This sparks Slade’s hatred toward Oliver, setting up the rest of the flashback for the season. Meanwhile, all the scenes in the present are some of Arrow’s most intense of all time.
6 WORST: Time of Death (Episode 14)
This fourteenth episode is one of Arrow’s most drama-filled hours ever, which focuses on the Lance family's drama. Laurel isn’t taking Sara’s return well, which is understandable since Sara dated Oliver while Laurel was still with him.
Their betrayal is also why Sara ended up on the Queen gambit, hence her years-long absence. Not only are Sara and Oliver dating again, but they try to hide it from Laurel which causes heated friction between her and Oliver. In the end, Oliver declares that he's done chasing Laurel, which convinces her to heal her sisterhood with Sara.
5 BEST: The Scientist (Episode 8)
This two-part winter finale was something fans eagerly anticipated as it would be a game-changer for Arrow moving forward as it introduces Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) before he becomes the fastest man alive. As the episode deals with a super-problem, Barry gets involved with our heroes, beginning his connection to the Starling City gang.
Not only do Barry’s scenes leave you wanting more, but you could tell that Gustin could carry his own series. “The Scientist” also pits Oliver against Solomon Grundy, which was a lot of fun to see as it set-up the second half of the mid-season finale.
4 WORST: Seeing Red (Episode 20)
One of the last episodes of the season is a mixed bag for a number of reasons. The primary reason is that it focuses heavily on a Mirakuru-driven Roy (Colton Haynes) completely losing control.
But because of how much focus it takes up, it makes Moira’s (Susanna Thompson) death even that more devastating as Slade kills her in front of Oliver and Thea (Willa Holland.) It’s still up for debate whether it was too soon to kill Moira off after barely two seasons.
3 BEST: Three Ghosts (Episode 9)
The ninth episode formally brings Barry into Team Arrow after he miraculously saves Oliver from Cyrus Gold, thus starting their seasons-long friendship. Not only does Oliver take Gold down, but it’s thanks to a pep talk from Tommy (Colin Donnell), who he hallucinates.
The three big takeaways start with Barry giving Oliver a new mask. The second is the moment a lot of Flash fans were waiting for, as Barry returns to Central City only to be struck by lightning. Then we learn that this whole time, Sebastian Blood (Kevin Alejandro) has been working for none other than Slade Wilson.
2 WORST: Broken Dolls (Episode 3)
Before the third episode of this season, Arrow had already hit some dark territory in its first season. But “Broken Dolls” dialed it up to an eleven, making it the show’s most disturbing episode at that point.
Here, the psychotic serial killer Dollmaker (Michael Eklund) is introduced, although his preferred methods in killing victims were simply too disgusting to see on broadcast television. Even though he was, thankfully, stopped in the end, it still was a bit too gruesome of Arrow to pull in a villain like this.
1 BEST: Unthinkable (Episode 23)
After a long run, season two wrapped everything up in a nice bow and then some in its finale. The finale features some of the show’s greatest action scenes as Team Arrow, with the help of the League of Assassins, take down Slade’s Mirakuru soldiers. There is also the showdown between the Emerald Archer and Deathstroke, which is a blast to watch.
The season-long story with Slade, both in the present and past, comes to a satisfying conclusion which is one of the many reasons why season two is considered as one of the best seasons of the series.