The CW has carved out a surprisingly compelling niche for superhero TV. At first DC/Warners’ mandate to keep the TV and cinematic universes separated felt stupid. But given how their movie universe still hasn’t gotten off the starting blocks, this ended up being a good thing.
Now we have two great shows in Arrow and the Flash at the foundation of an expanding universe, the latter show which branched off from Arrow with a fantastic first season. The question now is do the both shows continue building on that upward moment with their respective season premieres? Let’s find out!
This new incarnation of The Flash was the product of lessons learned from Smallville, Arrow, and various superhero shows preceding it. We as fans got a fun and enjoyable first season that was a great counterpoint to the dark and broody Arrow (which makes sense given the worlds both shows inhabit). The Flash introduced metahumans into DC’s TV universe in an exciting way, its main seasonal arcs driven by several questions; who was the Reverse-Flash, what were his motives, how will Barry clear his father’s name. The level of fandom this show built up was justly earned and seeing it capture TV fans’ attention was almost as enjoyable as the show itself.
That leads to the biggest question asked after a show has had such a stellar Season 1. Will they keep up the quality in their second season or will they hit the dreaded sophomore slump?
Six months have passed since the events of the Reverse-Flash’s defeat and the singularity that almost destroyed Central City. The events of that day have left Team Flash scattered and broken. Why? For starters, a guilt-ridden Barry has pushed away everyone he cares for to go solo so no one else dies. What’s that? Oh yes, it wasn’t just Eddie Thawne who died to save Flash and Central City that day.
While Barry was able to stabilize the wormhole from causing further damage, it was actually Firestorm whose abilities closed the portal at the expense of Ronnie’s life. Only Martin Stein survived the singularity. However, the public at large thinks that Flash did all the saving. Ronnie’s death emotionally destroys Caitlin and causes her to flee from everyone as well.
However, a new metahuman named Atom Smasher has come for The Flash’s head. And given his unique abilities, only a combined Team Flash can take him down.
The premiere did a good job establishing its new normal, like with The Flash now being embraced as Central City’s patron hero. But the premiere highlighted more than a few problems both old and new.
The show still has issues with Barry being written as an idiot in order to make certain villains a match for him. He made several boneheaded mistakes against Atom Smasher that didn’t make any sense given how long he’s been superhero-ing. Isn’t Barry Allen supposed to be genius-level smart? Let us see that every so often.
This also led me to another issue with Flash from last season. I more than anyone understand how it takes a village to raise a superhero. But despite his powers, Flash can’t get the job done on his own…at ALL. Against Reverse-Flash, I get him initially being outmatched during their first few encounters. But shouldn’t they have been evenly matched toward the end of Season 1? Reverse-Flash beating Flash to a pulp again felt redundant and made our titular hero look extremely weak.
Let’s have Barry actually win some fights on his own! Along with that, what happened to him masking his Flash voice via superspeed? Might be a good idea to keep doing that.
On a side note, does Barry have ANY other friends besides the Star Labs folks, Joe and Iris? Dude must have had a pretty lonely childhood.
Cisco is now helping out at the police station, which provides a great opportunity for him to play off the straight-laced police captain. Caitlin is now at Mercury Labs, still recovering from Ronnie’s death.
That being said, there was a lot of good in the premiere.
On a shallow note, Flash finally gets the new white symbol we saw on his future self, thanks to Cisco! That was cool.
Also cool, we meet Jay Garrick at the end of the premiere, who is the owner of that awesome hat from the Season 1 finale. His and Atom Smasher’s arrivals introduce the presence of Alternate Earths, as Jay Garrick is The Flash of his Earth.
Secondly, after Atom Smasher was defeated, we get the name of whoever sent him…Zoom. He is Season 2’s Big Bad, another super speedster out for Flash’s head. Given how great Reverse-Flash was (easily one of the best TV villains we’ve seen in years) I’m curious how Zoom will top or at least match him. Clearly he will be contracting out new ‘Metahumans of the week’ to try killing Flash. We’ll find out more about him and his motives in the next episode I gather.
Dr. Stein is also a great addition to Team Flash. With Wells gone, an older genius type is needed to fill the void he left behind. Cisco has found his villain-naming spirit animal, so their relationship is a joy to watch. Stein’s presence will also get fans familiar with him before Legends of Tomorrow premieres in 2016. But most importantly, Victor Garber seems to be having so much fun in this role. I’ve been a fan of his since Alias, always enjoy his work.
Joe West is rock solid as always. Jesse L. Martin never disappointing in this role, alternating between Barry’s resident father figure, friend and sometimes shrink.
Onto another note, the storyline about Barry’s father being in prison gets resolved in a rather unexpected and maybe overly convenient way. However, it made sense given the nature of Barry’s odd relationship with the characters involved. But with that resolution came a WTF moment that made absolutely no sense. You’ll know what I mean when you watch.
Season 2 looks promising. And since I’m an alternate universes geek, this Other Worlds arc is right up my alley.
Season 3 of Arrow was polarizing to say the least. After two awesome seasons each with their own compelling Big Bads, having Ra’s Al Ghul as Season 3’s main villain should have been a slamdunk.
Instead, after an amazing cliffhanger in the 9th episode (where Oliver gets thrashed by Ra’s and falls to his alleged death) much of Season 3 came across as inconsistently paced. Matt Nable did the best he could with what he got, but his version of Ra’s came across rather boring, not very intimidating and with unclear motivations. In a very stupid decision that clearly came from DC-Warners’ ‘braintrust’, they kill off Deadshot and the Suicide Squad (one of the highlights from Seasons 1 and 2 respectively) so to interfere with the forthcoming Suicide Squad film. The Olicity angsty drama dominated way too much screen time. Felicity went from quirky, quippy and smart to an angst-ridden and constantly sobbing mess who had to be told what to do with her feelings for Oliver. Laurel, despite having a fairly interesting arc with losing her sister and becoming Black Canary, kept doubting and second-guessing EVERYTHING Oliver did. And can I say how much I hated Captain Lance? Best not, or it will ruin my good mood.
So despite Olicity finally getting together and driving off into the sunset, Season 3 left lots of Arrow fans unsatisfied. Will the Season 4 Premiere be a step in the right direction, or another misstep entirely?
Season 4 takes the well-worn six-month time jump. Ollie and Felicity are living in domestic bliss somewhere in the burbs. Ollie is actually loving his new life as a civilian, cooking omelets and making friends with his neighbors while Felicity is now CEO of Palmer Technologies. Its also been established that Ray Palmer has been declared dead. Wonder how he’ll return for the new Legends of Tomorrow show.
The now re-branded ‘Star City’ isn’t doing so well. With a third mayor killed, Star City is being run by a committee desperate to save their city. Diggle (finally wearing a damn mask), Speedy (Thea) and Black Canary (Laurel) are protecting the streets at night, Team Arrow 3.0 if you will. Both Laurel and Thea have noticeably improved at superhero-ing. However, the trio have repeatedly run against a cadre of highly trained operatives labeled ‘ghosts’ led by Damien Darhk. Yes, that Damien Darhk whom Ra’s Al Ghul mentioned last season. This guy is Evil with a capital E and not afraid to let the world know it. Darhk wants Star City destroyed, just like Merlyn, Ra’s and Deathstroke before him. Why? Who knows.
Not only is Damien Darhk a League-trained bad-ass, his abilities include a mystical element that makes him more deadly than your average villain. Overwhelmed and out of options, Laurel and Thea call Oliver for help. And as much as he wants to stay in the light, Ollie suits up once again with Felicity’s urging in a brand new costume. But with ‘The Arrow’ now dead as far as the public knows, who will Oliver be now? As noted by the episode’s title, the answer is obvious and long overdue…
This was a very good premiere, and much stronger than The Flash premiere. It sets up the main bad guy right away, which is a huge departure for Arrow. We usually don’t meet the Big Bad until at least 5 or more episodes into the season. There’s a twist regarding the Big Bad’s associations in Star City. I won’t spoil, but it definitely had me picking my jaw off the ground.
I like how they acknowledged Star City is dying and people are fleeing in droves. After three major terrorist attacks, who in their right mind would move to Star City on purpose??
Oliver and Felicity as a happy couple just works. Neither of them got personality transplants despite being in love. Their onscreen PDA is not too cutesy or in your face, thanks to Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickard’s effortless chemistry. Plus, it was not surprising to find out that Felicity has still been helping Team Arrow 3.0 despite being in coupled bliss with Ollie. She found purpose and excitement as the power behind the power. It was what she was made for, just like Ollie was made to be the Green Arrow (even though he kind of forgot).
It was cool seeing Laurel, Diggle and Thea working as a team. I love how they are not dropping the effects on Thea of being dipped in a Lazarus Pit, as she goes into a berserker rage and almost guts one of Darhk’s henchmen. Curious to see where that story goes. Oliver finds that his relationships with the various Team Arrow members have changed and not really for the better. Arrow no longer is the head honcho ordering everyone around. He has to find his new place amongst the group, especially with Thea getting annoyed by his concerns and Diggle hating on him. Superhero drama, folks!
Speaking of Diggle, he lied to Oliver about having any knowledge of HIVE (remember how Deadshot was hired by HIVE to kill Dig’s brother). Oliver knew he was lying but didn’t push due to the fragility of their current relationship. Of course secrety secrets have a way or biting people in the ass on this show.
Lance is still being an asshole to Oliver. That’s going to get really old really quick. Laurel, who usually irks me, worked well this episode. While she has gotten much better as Black Canary, she still has much to learn. Oliver’s return to the fold should help her reach that important milestone. But just like with The Flash, Laurel wasn’t even bothering to mask her Canary voice out in public or watch her words around a police station. Dudette! That’s rule #1 in vigilantism 101! Button your shit up!
Oliver’s flashbacks are still ongoing, featuring Oliver’s beginnings as a vigilante before returning to Star City. Let’s just say he was as bad as Laurel in the beginning, to the point that Amanda Waller has to step in and nudge him in the right direction.
Back to the present or should I say future, the premiere ends with a six month flash-forward. Apparently someone major died (of course we don’t know who yet) but its enough for Oliver to want to kill possibly Damien Darhk. But who knows since Oliver never mentions Darhk by name.
I can’t wait to see where Arrow goes with Team Arrow, Darhk and now HIVE!