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Arrow “Pilot” 

Photo credit: Jack Rowand/The CW

Every fall season, there’s a show that catches a lot of buzz, which also means there is a companion show on the same network that is scapegoated. We’ve been hearing how supertacular awesome Arrow is since May. And how awful Beauty and the Beast is. Well, I forgot Arrow was until after it was halfway in last Wednesday, so I watched Beauty and the Beast first and I really liked it, so I apparently missed the memo on how bad it was supposed to be.  I watched Arrow when it reran on Friday, and I liked it, too, but I didn’t think it blew B&B out of the water. Arrow opened really, really strong, and B&B didn’t flop. I hope both shows do well.

Here’s what you need to know if you pick up Arrow with its second episode tonight.

First, this is not Smallville‘s version of Oliver Queen. This Oliver has been missing and presumed dead for five years since a storm capsized the family yacht. Also lost at sea–his dad, the ship’s captain, and his girlfriend’s sister, with whom he was having an affair (awkward).

We pick up with Oliver’s rescue from a remote island by a fishing vessel and his return to his home city, which has faltered in his tycoon father’s absence. He’s happily reunited with his (remarried) mother (the fabulous Susanna Thompson) and younger sister, who’s following in his wild child footsteps.

But Oliver’s carrying a secret about his time away, which is physically marked by scars all over his body. While he doesn’t verbally tip his hat to anyone on screen about his plans, he does tell us via a lot of narration and flashbacks that he’s a changed man from his party boy heir past, empowered by his father’s confession and suicide to right the wrongs inflicted on their city because of his father’s mistakes.

He’s working from a little black book that holds a list of names his father provided before he died.  Think of it as Emily Thorne, superhero. He’s not so much avenging a wrong inflicted on him personally as a wrong inflicted on a city.

He seeks his vengeance via archery, hence the title of the show, and per secret superhero guidelines, he sets himself up in an abandoned warehouse where he can monitor his targets and train to defeat them. There’s a lot of athleticism to the role, including parkour and martial arts. Series start Stephen Amell has thrown himself into it completely and he’s very convincing–as the party boy and the wounded warrior.

The other players in Queen’s world are Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy), his cuckolded girlfriend who’s anger at him for the affair and grief over losing him and her sister has comingled into a lawyer’s resolve to right the wrongs of the powerful against the weak. She initially reconciles with Queen on icy footing but softens a bit at the end. he of course then he goes Defcon 5 to convince her he’s still a dick before she surmises otherwise.

While he was away, she dallied with Queen’s best friend, Tommy. It seems more hook up than relationship on her side whereas Tommy’s view is probably the opposite, so that’ll get complicated soon enough. And Queen doesn’t trust his friend enough to show him what he’s doing (yet).

On the law side of the house we have Laurel’s dad, a detective played by Dresden Files‘ Paul Blackthorne. His partner is Roger Cross. In a neat nod to our friends who’ve seen Continuum, Cross is on the right side of the law here while Continuum‘s police captain, Brian Markinson, is a noxious Trump type and Queen’s first target on Arrow.

The show shoots in British Columbia and I’m 99% sure the exteriors of the Queen homestead were shot at Smalliville‘s Luther Manor (hee). In the pilot, they also use the city of Vancouver and the landscapes around it to great advantage. I like my Vancouver-based shows even better when they use everything the city has to offer. If Twitter is any indication, we’re also in for beaucoup guest start action. Already on tap are BSG‘s Tahmoh Penikett and Alphas‘ Warren Christie and tonight, Kelly Hu.

By the end of the pilot, Queen has stolen and disbursed $40 million from his first target and dodged a supposed kidnap attempt that was really a cover for an interrogation to find out what his dad had told him. And the dun dun DUN moment was that his dear mom was behind the whole thing.

So there’s your setup. I liked the episode. I didn’t run it back and watch it again but I can see it growing on me. This may be one that I bank on the DVR and marathon on a weekend. If you missed the pilot, you can catch it online at the CW.com.

Arrow airs at 8 pm/7c on Wednesdays on the CW (part of a hot boy twofer followed by Supernatural at 9 pm/8c).

–Heather M.

 

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