It’s often easier to create a sensational first season of a television show than it is to build on that success with a solid second one. Just ask the creators of the late lamented Heroes. Great first season. All downhill from there. Arrow producers Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg faced just such a challenge going into season two of the CW’s surprising hit superhero show. To recap, lead character and bon vivant Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) spends five years on a deserted island, only to return a changed man. Haunted, toughened, and bearing enough secrets to choke the NSA, Oliver begins a war on Starling City’s corrupt power elite.
That war changes him. He gains allies and enemies. Clever flashback sequences to his life on the island slowly reveal how he survived and changed into the expert fighter and archer he is now. Oliver wears a hood to hide his identity and uses brutal methods to accomplish his goals. He kills for the cause of justice, but ultimately fails to prevent a calamity that costs his city dearly. The end of season one left him mourning the loss of one of his dearest friends and questioning his methods and his mission.
Staunch Arrow allies John Diggle (David Ramsey) and Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) open season two by traveling back to the mysterious island where it all started. Oliver has exiled himself there to lick his wounds and heal his soul. Convincing him he is still needed in Starling City, the trio returns home to face a raft of new threats, and a deadly menace from the Arrow’s past. Season two explores the identity of Oliver’s alter-ego and his progression from “the Vigilante,” to the “the Hood,” to “the Arrow” by the first few episodes. We see this progression most starkly through the eyes of tough cop Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne). Season one is all about him hating the Vigilante or the Hood. Just as the island changed Oliver, the disastrous events in Starling City change Lance. The Arrow’s many shifting relationships create lots of dramatic tension.
Season two features even more of the DC Universe characters fans will recognize and love. At the risk of revealing too much, we get to see a lot more of Deadshot and a certain “Dirty-Dozen” style task force. Some other familiar faces return, and plenty of new ones emerge. It delivers on the promise shown in season one, and ratchets the action and drama up yet another notch on the salmon ladder. Of course now season three will have even more to live up to, and I will return next year to blog about it!