Welcome to the first Round Table of Arrow Season 2!
This week the panelists will discuss the premiere, "City of Heroes," as TV Fanatics Kate Brooks, Nick McHatton, Carla Day and Carissa Pavlica are joined by guest Hank Otero of Hank's Entertainment Site for a discussion of character changes, introductions and expectations for what's ahead. Pull up a seat and join in the debate below!
What most surprised you from the premiere?
Kate: This isn't really a "plot twist" or anything like that but what surprised me the most, was the amount of Felicity we had in the premiere. She wasn't just the tech girl, she was by Oliver's side when he needed it both as friend, sidekick, and co-worker. I really enjoyed it. Now that I think about it, it's not so surprising considering how well liked Felicity is. I feel like more of her was the natural progression.
Nick: I honestly did not miss Tommy. I thought I would, but with more Felicity and seeing that his death truly did have a meaningful impact on those around him l didn't miss him at all. A close second is Oliver back on the Island. It's rather surprising that he would go there to get away from his life back at Starling City.
Hank: Like Nick mentioned, I was really surprised that Oliver's retreat from Starling City turned out to be Lian Yu. What was he hoping to find there? Though I knew she would be appearing this season, I was also surprised by Black Canary's appearance at the end and why Roy? Is there a connection between them? I'm sure the writers will start unraveling the mystery of the Canary, but her appearance seemed a bit random this episode.
Carla: I was also surprised that Oliver hid out on the island. Though, I guess in all his pain it was a familiar location and almost like he wanted to rewind to before he returned home. If he had stayed on the island would Tommy have still died mindset.
Carissa: I was surprised that Oliver left the city. It seemed very strange to leave when the city needed him the most. He really hadn't learned as much as I thought he did while on the island, which was interesting to discover after an entire season. For him, it was about revenge and he wasn't heroic at all. While I saw him differently, he apparently saw otherwise.
Which character do you think showed the most growth since we last visited Starling City?
Kate: Oliver. It was a nice little twist that he went back to the island after Tommy died, I didn't really see that coming. His growth went from avenging his father by killing the men on his list to becoming a real hero by honoring Tommy. I feel like Tommy's death means something now.
Nick: Thea, she's nowhere near the girl that we met last season. She's not interested in petty drama. She's ashamed of Moira's actions and she attempts to distance herself from the Queen name a little bit. Thea has never been a favorite of mine, but she really grew on me during the premiere; to the point that I really loved her on my screen and want more.
Hank: Most of the characters have changed so much but I'm also going to go with Thea. In the first part of Season 1, she was probably the most annoying character of the entire series... and now? It's like Oliver told her... it's nice to see her, "together." I feel like I'm finally going to dig the Thea/Roy storyline much more. They've done a great job of developing Roy's story, glad Thea's getting a little love as well. Next up, Laurel writers PLEASE!
Carla: Definitely Thea. I didn't like her much in season 1, though I'm not sure we were supposed to. When Tommy first died, I thought why couldn't they have killed off Thea instead. She has a new purpose and focus which I really appreciated. I also enjoyed her relationship and banter with Roy more than last season as a result.
Carissa: We have a majority on Thea, and I think Roy has grown nicely, as well. As a couple they seem to have grown together. They have stepped up to the challenges that arose before them by accepting responsibility and acting appropriately. Thea is no longer a little girl, and Roy doesn't hold a grudge. They have a mature, loving relationship. I look forward to seeing more of them, especially as Roy becomes one of the city's heroes.
Did anything not meet your expectations?
Kate: Yes! We only had 1 scene of Stephen Amell shirtless. What the hell, I expect 2-4 scenes an episode. What a disappointment. (But swinging from a tree shirtless, oh my gosh. swoon)
Nick: At the moment, I'm not interested in Oliver's role as head of Queen Consolidated. Of course, part the character's canon is being a businessman, but at this point in time Oliver has a lot on his plate. At the end of the premiere, he's going to be running a company, keeping Rochev's hostile takeover in check (her name is in the book though, so I'm curious to see if Oliver will return to his "hood" roots over her), reinventing himself as a kinder, gentler hero, and he now has Laurel sniffing his old hood trail at the DA's office.
Hank: I'm not thrilled with Laurel's flip-flopping on "The Hood." That's what really started to annoy me about Tommy last season. He became so wishy washy and couldn't seem to make up his mind half the time. Laurel's not a fool, she knows the vigilante has made a huge difference in Starling City. I just don't believe she should have turned on him and blame him for Tommy's death. I guess at some point, they will make her understand one of the Earthquake devices was disabled thanks to "The Hood." The episode did meet my expectations though, it's a pretty well oiled machine now. They didn't miss a beat, Season 1 flowed nicely into Season 2. Actually, it seems like this season might be even better than the last.
Carla: With Thea's transformation, I had hoped that Laurel would have been strengthened as well. There's still the possibility that it could happen, but instead she was just more of the same. Boring. Though, she did have the one kick-ass scene. I want more of that strong Laurel.
Carissa: I'm with Nick. I really couldn't care less about the business aspect of the story. I realize it's necessary to keep up his cover, provide for the family and keep the Queens in the Starling City spotlight, but Isabel Rochev stuff, in the words of James Franco, gotsta go.
What was your initial impression of the new superhero at the end?
Kate: "Oh girl, that wig has got to go!"
Nick: A total badass. Is this new superhero going to train Roy?
Hank: My initial impression was... "that's a lot of hair" LOL. She definitely kicked ass, though they need to differentiate her fighting style from China White's better. Her moves did feel a bit too familiar. A friend of mine even mentioned they mistook Black Canary for China White. As I already mentioned, her appearance felt a bit random but I'm glad they're getting to Black Canary this season. I hope it's done well, because as of right now, Laurel is the character I care least about on the show. Which is a shame, the writers should have made us fall in love with her since day one.
Carla: As Hank mentioned, several people I know thought it was China White at the end, so that took away some of the shock of the new character's appearance. I'm intrigued by her infiltration in Starling City and look forward to seeing how she interacts with Roy going forward. Plus, when/if she meets any of the Lance family members or Oliver.
Carissa: My brain was buzzing with... "Why is China White here...wait...is that Black Canary...Sarah...OMG look at that hair...could her boobs get any bigger...I guess her muscles need to be that large to support that rack...why does she look so odd...oh... she's gone." It was essentially a blur, but my first impression was that she was truly comical. Lady looked like a dude and I hope the second impression is better.
What are you most looking forward to this season?
Kate: The growth of Felicity, Oliver, and Diggle as a team as they grasp this new ideal of being a hero, not a vigilante. I also look forward to watching Oliver and Felicity grow closer because, I love these two. I really do. I don't even need them as a romantic pairing, I just really enjoy their on screen time. Also, I look forward to meeting more of the DC Comic characters, enemies and allys. And OF COURSE more shirtless Stephen Amell (I think I have a problem.).
Nick: I'm looking forward to Oliver really finding the essence of being the Green Arrow, and I want to see more teamwork with Felicity and Diggle.
Hank: Though I'm not thrilled by the casting, Episodes 8, 9 and 20 are what I'm looking forward to most. Those are the Barry Allen/The Flash episodes. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Grant Gustin nails the role and that the fans find the character as exceptional as we did Felicity. No pressure Grant, just a whole new television series riding on your shoulders here buddy.
Carla: I'm looking forward to Oliver's transition as CEO and as a hero. He's going to be very busy and it will be a challenge to balance his various roles. The moment I'm most excited to see -- when and how Malcolm will be seen again.
Carissa: The whole thing. The writers did not disappoint last season and masterfully drew together a fascinating arc that built off of each preceding episode. If they can continue to weave that kind of magic, I don't need to know or guess what's coming - I'm happy to sit back and enjoy the ride.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.