Category Archives: stephen amell

Arrow S02 E03: "Broken Dolls"

Before I start with the review proper, I wanted to mention what an amazing and tireless promoter and marketer of the show that star Stephen Amell is. If you’re looking for behind the scenes nuggets and goodies, insights and motivations, and especially what’s to come, you really should be following him on Facebook and Twitter. Just a tip, folks.

Last episode we had one hell of a cliffhanger. Our as yet unofficially named hero was visiting Laurel, who has developed a serious hate for him, at the police station. She doesn’t want to see him, so when he tries to pull his usual lights out getaway, he is set upon by cops. As they move in, Oliver is covered with red laser targeting sights. Cue credits. How will our hero get out of this one?

Shocker! How does he get away? A black leather clad blonde in a mask who moves just as fast, if not faster, as our ambushed archer, comes to his rescue. She smashes in through a window, disorients the cops with some sort of sonic device, then leads him outside to safety. Remember how I said sometimes the TV continuity is different from the comics? Well, whoever this Black Canary is, she ain’t Laurel… Thea, maybe? Hell, with the reveal this episode that Laurel’s father’s middle name is Larry, maybe the Canary is Mom?

This episode’s villain of the week is an intriguing one. The Dollmaker is another Batman foe, who many will recognize as the maniac who recently butchered, or caused the Joker to butcher, his own face. I don’t know the facts as I don’t like the more grisly Batman comics of the last two years. If I want a horror comic, I’ll buy a horror comic, not Batman. Just my two cents. Oddly enough, the villain’s origins may go back the old “Super Friends” cartoons where his more family friendly modus operandi was more similar the the Toyman, only with dolls.

The Dollmaker of the “Arrow” universe is more like the horror villain however. There’s no face cutting but he does make his victims like dolls. Same name, similar past, Barton Mathis is a serial killer who had messed with Quentin Lance earlier in his career, much like he has done with the young James Gordon in the comics. The most disturbing thing is that The Undertaking that leveled most of The Glades also broke open Iron Heights. The police are keeping that fact a secret, even from their own, like Lance. The Dollmaker is one of the escapees. Gee, I wonder who else got out…?

Forbidden to interfere, Quentin turns to our emerald archer for help with the Dollmaker. His demotion has made him, like Oliver, try another way. Do we have the start of a Gordon/Batman relationship here? If it wasn’t so convenient, I would like the idea. Speaking of new alliances, the former Hood is looking to Roy as almost a snitch, maybe an assistant. How mant steps up is sidekick?

Quentin Lance and Oliver make an interesting dynamic duo themselves as they hunt the Dollmaker. I’d rather see Oliver working with Diggle or Roy. I just wonder how the two of them can be so close without Quentin getting a look at Oliver’s face. And isn’t it dangerous him knowing that Felicity works for the Hood? And isn’t it silly Felicity continuing to make herself a target. Perhaps she has a death wish?

The island flashbacks continue. Deathstroke is still there. Shado is still there. But not much else is going on. Knowing who these two are in the present day DC Comics universe, I really want to see what has become of them now, and when will the Hood meet Shado and Deathstroke in the here and now? The mother of Green Arrow’s son, and one of his deadliest opponents are just too juicy to ignore. Unless… Shado is the Black Canary? The island might be getting interesting now however, but only because Oliver’s leaving it. On a boat called Amazo!?!

Speak of the devil, Roy’s search for the Black Canary leads him to a girl named Sin. For those following the Arrow digital comic, we know that Sin is the Canary’s sidekick, and was once being groomed to become the next Lady Shiva. This is important because in theory, the digital comic is supposed to be in continuity with the TV show. Are Lady Shiva and the League of Assassins lurking in the background here? There’s an awful lot of Bat in my Arrow lately. Also I liked that Roy’s chasing Sin led to a watchtower, The Watchtower being the headquarters of the Birds of Prey, and the Justice League, of which both had the Black Canary as a major player.

Other namedrops this episode include channel 52, that number being so important, for multiple reasons too numerous and complicated to explain, to the DC Comics universe, and the Metamorpho Chemical Company, Metamorpho being the freakish superhero who can change his form into various chemicals and elements. We’re getting Black Canary and the Flash… why not Metamorpho too?

So who is the Black Canary? The closing may offer more questions than answers. A man dressed as the Dark Archer meets with her, but we find it’s not Malcolm Merlyn, but an emissary of Ras al Ghul. What did I say about too much Bat in my Arrow? Comics readers will remember that not only does Ras lead the League of Assassins, but that Merlyn the Magician was one of his operatives. This Black Canary kills the emissary, just as she did the Dollmaker earlier in the episode. Who is this woman??

Arrow S02 E01: "City of Heroes"

We begin, as always, on the island, but much like how things are on Joss Whedon’s “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” nothing is what it seems. This isn’t a flashback, this is the present day. Oliver is on the island, yes, but Diggle and Felicity are coming to find him.

Some time has passed since last season. Well, obviously. Oliver ran away after failing Starling City and losing his best friend. His mom is now in prison, Iron Heights, and Queen Consolidated is ripe for hostile takeover by a company called Stellmoor International. So Diggle and Felicity have come to bring our hero home.

It’s worth noting that in the comics, the New 52 continuity specifically, Stellmoor International does in fact buy out Queen Industries. CEO Simon Lacroix, an enemy of Robert Queen, Oliver’s father, is also the super-villain called Komodo, one of Green Arrow’s rogues gallery. Notably in the comics, the evil archer known as Komodo also killed Robert Queen.

Speaking of comics parallels, there’s an opening for mayor of the city, a position Oliver Queen has held, and there’s a church and a guy named Blood in the Glades… it couldn’t be Brother Blood, and the Church of Blood, could it?

There are also more than a few name drops of Central City. I guess they are already prepping for the Flash two-parter in December and planned spin-off. Speaking of masked vigilantes, in the wake of the destruction of the Glades and the missing Hood, it seems others have taken up the slack. Roy Harper is one, a gang called the Hoods are others.

Genre and fan favorite Summer Glau plays Isobel Rochev, head of acquisitions for Stellmoor. As much as I like her, she’s unconvincing here, but I guess we’ll be seeing more of her. The returning cast is excellent as always, more comfortable in their roles, Emily Bett Rickards continues to be my breakout favorite, and Stephen Amell’s bare chest should still get its own credit.

“City of Heroes” is a very angsty episode. Thea won’t visit her mom in prison. Laurel won’t get back with Oliver because of Tommy. Oliver won’t become the Hood again. That last one is because of guilt, and Tommy’s calling him a murderer. It’s so good that they are finally facing up to that factor of this version of Green Arrow. I don’t like my heroes to be serial killers. This is a good thing.

Speaking of good things, the best part of the episode is in the last five minutes. It’s not just Oliver deciding on a new name for his non-vigilante hero identity. While Roy is out amateur vigilant-ing, he gets in over his head and is saved by a masked blonde in black leather. Could this be… the Black Canary?

Tune in next week, same Arrow time, same Arrow channel… for the return of China White, and rumor has it… the Bronze Tiger!

Arrow: Year One

Last night the CW aired an intriguing hour of television called “Arrow: Year One.” Narrated by Stephen Amell, the actor who portrays Oliver Queen, it tells the tale of the first season of “Arrow” somewhat chronologically, by storyline, by character, and by episode.

When I say intriguing, I mean odd for the medium. What we saw is essentially a clip show, with a voiceover telling us exactly what we’re seeing. Anything that wasn’t clear in viewing the last season, we’re told outright. For instance, things we viewers may have assumed, like names, are verified in this ‘special episode.’

We get to the end of the tale, and our season one cliffhanger. The Undertaking ultimately involved destroying The Glades with an earthquake device, and succeeded. Of course it all ends with a two-minute preview of season two. Here, however, is a juicy clip from season two they didn’t show. Don’t say I never gave you anything.

Yeah, baby. Be here next week for a review of the first new episode of “Arrow.”

Arrow Season Two Preview

In a season which also promises The Flash, and possibly Black Canary, Speedy, and Ras al Ghul, this looks like it’s going to be a good one!

“Arrow” season two starts Wednesday, October 9th.

Arrow: Sacrifice

Finally we’re at the season finale of “Arrow.” It’s been a long road, sometimes bumpy, sometimes kinda cool. We enter shortly after we last left our hero. Stephen Amell’s Oliver was unmasked and unconscious, and at the mercy of John Barrowman’s Malcolm Merlyn. Amell’s chest makes a welcome return as Barrowman plays Bond villain and gloats a bit before leaving our hero hanging chained and flashbacking.

After a pretty dynamic escape, wishy-washily aided by Diggle, Oliver jumps from character to character playing emotional catch up. There’s a real sense of finality to it all. Tommy to potential villain, Laurel to potential girlfriend, Quentin to potential ally, everything but Arrow to the rescue. There’s a nice bit while Felicity is taken in for questioning, and she channels “Smallville”‘s Chloe to Detective Lance, saying maybe The Hood is a hero.

As the gears begin to click together, it seems that Moira Queen is more of a hero than anyone else in the cast. She calls a press conference, revealing The Undertaking and naming Merlyn responsible. The problems? You can’t stop John Barrowman, and Thea goes to The Glades to get Roy. Meanwhile Oliver and Diggle go after Merlyn while Felicity and Quentin look for the Markov Device. Why do I get the feeling someone’s not making it out of this alive?

I have to say I was surprised who it was that wasn’t going to make it. I have to wonder if it was a last minute decision by the showrunners as well. In hindsight, it seems to be more tidying up than anything else. I liked Tommy a lot, and would have dug his young, hip, and vengeful Merlyn the Magician.

The one thing that really bothered me about this episode was the lack of resolution, both on the island, and in the present. While the thinking behind Merlyn’s redundancy plan is sound and logical, it’s very unsatisfying storywise. I don’t want to see the hero lose. Maybe that’s something they can work in next season…

Arrow: Salvation

Oliver may need to step aside. It seems there a new vigilante in Starling City who calls himself The Savior, and he’s got his own list he’s checking names off of. In a present day twist on the Joker’s old MO, he announces (and commits) his crimes via every cellphone (almost Sherlock-ian) in the city. Apparently, he’s a department of transportation worker by day, but has some fighting and computer skills as a vigilante at night. I wonder what island he was stranded on?

The catch? Roy Harper is on the Savior’s list, and he nabs him right in the middle of one of Roy and Thea’s annoying anti-flirtations. From what we’ve seen of Roy so far, and what we know of his possible future, I can’t imagine how the Savior got the drop on him. So of course we get to see Oliver in another race against time. Ho-hum.

Oliver does some crazy almost bionic style jumps in this episode, as well as some insane parkour. Man, Deathstroke must have taught him well. Stephen Amell’s chest also makes a return as a cast member. The huge gay audience that I recently learned “Arrow” has will be pleased by that news.

The subplots roll on. Moira and Frank (Chen, not Bertinelli) continue to plot against Malcolm, with mixed results. Laurel and her folks continue to search for the thought dead Sarah, though also not with the results expected. On the island, Shado and Yao Fei join Oliver and Slade’s resistance.

Alex Kingston as Dinah Lance has the best line of the episode, “Got to get going to airport, that red eye to Central City. I should be home in a flash.” Love it! More, please.

Next episode, Count Verti-, ahem, I mean The Count returns. Same Arrow time, same Arrow channel…

Arrow: Vendetta

When last we left our CW prime time drama loosely based on the comic book superhero Green Arrow – Oliver and Helena had find each other kindred spirits in revenge, justice, and romance; Walter had returned home to care for Moira; Tommy was making time with Laurel, and had been financially cut off by his dad – finally revealed as the mystery character played by John Barrowman. Up to speed? Good, here we go with “Vendetta.”

I have to confess I was a bit taken aback when I saw that Arrow was going to try to take the Huntress (never named thus in the previous “Muse of Fire” by the way) on as a sidekick/partner to train. It’s not something that had occurred to me. He teaches her archery in a rather clever scene. She of course opts for a crossbow. At first, at least.

Arrow and the still unnamed Huntress make their debut against a warehouse full of drug dealers. Nice little fight scene. While Jessica DeGouw’s acting has not improved, she does look good in costume, purple and black with a crossbow and cross motif. I would have questioned it if it had a cape, but I gotta say I would have liked a cape a whole lot more than this long coat. Sorry, it’s an accepted conceit – superheroes wear capes. Deal with it. And the similarity to Hit-Girl’s costume is unsettling.

Whereas last week Diggle was doing too much Alfred to Oliver’s Batman, this week, he does a decent Lucius Fox, as played by Morgan Freeman in The Dark Knight. Although, unlike Fox, Diggle is a sensible voice of reason. Stephen Amell’s naked torso and Felicity Smoak both return in this episode, but we get enough of neither.

Last episode I was entranced by the bits with Oliver and Helena, and Tommy and Laurel. But here, where all four meet for dinner, I was bored and completely taken out of the show for the first time in a while. This was “Melrose Place,” not a superhero drama. Zzzzzzz…

Ultimately the Melrose incident leads to China White and Frank Bertinelli going to war as well as Arrow vs the still as yet unnamed Huntress. It is a very unsatisfying conclusion, and she remains unnamed. I think that irks me more than anything.

This was not the best episode so far. The superheroics and the island flashbacks have vanished. The soap opera aspects have creeped in. I’m not happy. Hopefully things will get better for this week’s mid-season finale. We’ll see.

Arrow: Muse of Fire

After a Thanksgiving break, “Arrow” is back, with the Huntress.

In the first part of this special Huntress double feature on “Arrow” we see the debut of a DC Comics super-heroine with a decidedly special pedigree.

History lesson time. Originally the Huntress was Helena Wayne, the adult daughter of the Batman and Catwoman of a parallel universe called Earth-Two. She was an extremely popular character, representing a next generation of crimefighters on that world.

When DC Comics decided to clean house in the 1980s, they effectively erased Earth-Two from continuity and rebooted the Huntress as Helena Bertinelli, the vigilante daughter of a crime boss. Notably this version lacked the charm of the original and was subsequently less popular.

When the CW (of was it the WB then?) decided to bring the comic Birds of Prey to the small screen about a decade ago, they featured the Huntress as once again the daughter of Batman and Catwoman. The show only lasted one season and was, while sometimes fun, mostly bad, and a mish-mash of comic continuity. It’s interesting that the show came up at dinner with friends the other night, and it was remembered with only contempt. You can read my thoughts from the time on the “Birds of Prey” series here.

Interestingly enough, DC Comics has returned to the Earth 2 concept and brought the Huntress back to her first origins. It’s a shame that “Arrow” has decided to use the Helena Bertinelli version for their show. Maybe they thought the Batman reference would be confusing? Well, then they’d better stop referencing Bludhaven is all I have to say.

I think it’s worth noting up front that in the comics, the Huntress and Green Arrow are two characters that have had very little interaction, despite their choice in common weaponry. The Huntress is an odd selection to show up here, just saying.

As “Muse of Fire” opens, Oliver’s mom is caught in the crossfire of a mob hit. She was having lunch at the time with the mobster. And the hitter turns out to be our lovely Huntress, as played by Australian Jessica DeGouw, not the most charming or likable or even talented actress. Disappointingly her character turns out to be simply a female version of Arrow, working through her own list. I could think of more interesting ideas than that.

This episode also features the return of Kelly Hu as China White, as the Triad is revealed to be a rival of Helena’s dad, crime boss Frank Bertinelli. The latter, scared, starts to rattle the cages toward a mob war. One incident leads to the first confrontation between Arrow and the Huntress. Great exchange between Diggle and Oliver follows as they try to figure her motives. I love Diggle more and more every episode. I just wish he wasn’t so ‘Alfred’ in this one.

Anyone else ever notice that Tommy Merlyn is always around? At the Queen house, at their job, at Laurel’s job, but he’s never there to see his best friend Oliver. It’s just odd. Did he just take his place with the family in a very creepy way while Oliver was on that island thought dead?

Tommy goes to dinner with Laurel, and Oliver goes to dinner with Helena. There is clever well written dialogue for both, and Stephen Amell does his best, acting against the cardboard wall that is DeGouw. Meanwhile Captain Jack Harkness visits Oliver’s Mom’s sickbed. It has been frustrating but I have admire how well the writers have concealed the identity of the character John Barrowman plays on “Arrow.”

Spoiler alert for those who have seen it yet, but the secret comes out here. He’s not Maxwell Lord, or John Deleon, or Count Vertigo. He’s someone rather boring, at least for the comics fans. John Barrowman is Malcolm Merlyn, Tommy’s dad. Of course, wouldn’t it be cool if Barrowman turned out to be Merlyn the Magician?

There’s a nice shout out to the co-creator of the comic book Huntress, Joe Staton, in the name of Helena’s late fiancé. Nice touch. He also gave her the cross she wears around her neck – as much a symbol for the second comics Huntress as the bat was for the first.

The episode ends with Oliver and Helena entwined in a kiss, kindred souls in justice, revenge, and an understanding of one another. What happens next? Be here tomorrow, same Arrow time, same Arrow channel.

Arrow: An Innocent Man

Right off the bat, I have a problem. Perhaps it’s been in the first three episodes as well, but this is the first time I’ve noticed it. In the pre-credit, pre-opening intro sequence, Oliver refers to his father’s ‘dying wish.’ The dude took his own life, how it that a dying wish?? Oliver must have some psychological damage if that’s how he’s remembering that incident. Creepy.

Anyway, when last we left our anti-hero he had saved bodyguard Diggle from poison and brought him to his underground hideout. Oh, screw it, let’s call a spade a spade – it’s the Arrowcave, and we all know it. There he revealed he was Arrow. Diggle appears to be less than cooperative.

Curious. In the previous episode I was almost positive Diggle knew this already, and Oliver must have as well. Miscommunication. Between the writers? Or mischaracterization for Diggle? I find it makes him seem not as bright as I thought him, troubling. And disappointing. For most of an episode at least.

When Oliver meets with him later in the episode at Big Belly Burger, he offers up the explanation that he believes his father shot himself to atone for his crimes. This boy needs a therapist. In the comics, there has always been the joke that Green Arrow was a wannabe Batman with a bow. Now, psychologically, the show has made him Batman. Not happy.

The Big Belly Burger chat also connects Deadshot to Diggle’s brother’s shooting, and in another nice nod to the comics, the brother is Andy, Andy Diggle being a former Green Arrow writer. Well, John Diggle has made a decision. We’ll see how that works out. One thing is for sure, he’s no Speedy.

The Monument Point, Iron Heights, and Bludhaven name drops were also nice. But I have to say, much like the home city’s name change, I don’t care for the newspaper’s either. Although, really, who reads newspapers any more? But still, the Daily Star has a lot more pizazz than the Starling City Star. Awkward, and silly. What was so wrong with the name Star City?

Despite the subplots continuing to move along the ongoing storyline, this episode has the icky feeling of a fill-in issue in the comics. The main plot of this episode seems much less important than those subplots. This isn’t a lawyer show with a vigilante in it, this is a vigilante with a lawyer in it, ya know? I don’t like being strung along.

Hopefully next week’s episode with possibly Deathstroke will be a step in a better direction. Of course that’s if Oliver gets out of jail… ah, that would be telling. Maybe we’ll also find out what’s up Tempest. See you next week, same Arrow time, same Arrow channel. Hmmm… Scratch that, I just got carried away after that Arrowcave comment. 😉

Arrow: Honor Thy Father

The initial excitement is over. Last time I was just thrilled that the show was as good as it was. I was expecting a train wreck. This week, I have questions, and observations.

Before seeing the show, and basing my opinions on just the previews, it seemed to me that Oliver Queen was a killer at least, and a serial killer at worse. From the opening of “Honor Thy Father,” my fears may have been true. Ever get shot through the chest with an arrow? I haven’t, but an easy guess says it’s a kill shot. There’s a couple on this rooftop. I also wonder if Oliver retrieves his arrows? How hard could it be for police to track down a guy buying lots of arrows in the city recently? Detective Lance already has several in his possession, what’s the hold up?

As far as the serial killer angle, there is ritual, there is method, I can’t help but wonder if Oliver is taking trophies. Was he disturbed a along or did Dad’s suicide in front of him push him over the edge? Was it the island, or something that happened on the island? Did Deathstroke teach him to be a killer? Yeah, I went there. We all saw his mask in the first episode.

And then there’s the problem with motivation. Sure, I understand trying to right his father’s wrongs, but didn’t Dad blow his brains out in front of him? That is an act of both cowardice and spiteful revenge. Obviously Dad didn’t think much of Oliver to do that to me, so why is he trying to clean up Dad’s mess for him? Something is just not clicking for me there.

Stephen Amell’s scarred and tattooed body continues to be the star of the show. That’s just based on the opinions of the straight women and gay men I know who are watching. And also by the serious amount of screen time Amell’s bare torso gets. I’m also starting to warm to him as an actor. Amell is almost a likable and talented Matt Damon. He’s no Justin Hartley, but really, who is?

I am continuing to enjoy the comics creator name drops in the scripts. Last week we had Judge Grell and Oliver’s bodyguard Diggle, and this week we’re introduced to one of Laurel’s clients, a Miss Nocenti. For the record, Ann Nocenti is the current writer on DC Comics’ Green Arrow ongoing title.

And I’m still loving Oliver’s Batman-like disappearing act he keeps pulling on Diggle. And yeah, I am digging David Ramsey’s Diggle. Good to finally see him in action this episode. Another thing I like is Oliver’s internal dialogue. It’s a comic book device which is fitting, but it’s also pretty unique in the world of television. Nice. More, please.

Arrow’s tagline of “You have failed this city.” will get old quickly, and is already starting to in the second episode. The plot point that follows the line could get old real quick as well, much like the meteor freak of the week on “Smallville.” I hope Dad’s list of names is a short one.

This episode introduces Kelly Hu as China White from the comics. China White is the first villainess Green Arrow ever encounters, as she is running heroin from the island where Queen was shipwrecked. Here she’s a Chinese Triad assassin, and a formidable adversary. The fight between her and Arrow is awesome.

I am also warming to Katie Cassidy as Laurel even though she’s no Black Canary (or would that be just Canary?) yet, and Paul Blackthorne as her dad. His blame game act could get old quickly too though. But I am starting to like them both. And I am waiting patiently to see what turns Colin Donnell’s Tommy Merlyn into Merlyn the Magician.

Okay, two episodes in and I’m hooked. Despite questions, fears, and reservations, I want more and can’t wait ’til next week. Rumor is, next time, we get Deadshot. And speaking of villains from the comics, based on the symbol on Dad’s notebook, could the mystery character John Barrowman will be playing be… Count Vertigo?