Alright! The first day of the Arrowverse retrospective is upon us! No need for some witty joke or discussion to start us off. Make sure to tell people “Happy Arrowverse Retrospective Day” and let’s dive right in!
Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot
The show begins with billionaire playboy Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) stranded on an island for five years after a shipwreck. Finally getting rescued, he reunites with his mother Moira (Susanna Thompson), new stepfather and current CEO of his father’s company Walter Steele (Colin Salmon), seventeen year-old sister Thea (Willa Holland), and best friend and fellow playboy Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell). All of them are very happy to see Oliver alive and well!…with exception of his ex-girlfriend and city legal aid Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy). She has every right to not be thrilled because Oliver brought her sister, Sarah, along with him on the boat. Not only did Oliver cheat on her with Sarah, but he was responsible for her death.
To sidetrack a little bit, Arrow follows two stories every episode: what’s happening in the present and what happened over the course of Oliver’s disappearance. It’s a smart move on the creator’s part because instead of leaving the audience in the dark, we get to see piece by piece how Oliver became the man that he is today.
Through this episode’s flashbacks, not only do we see Oliver on the ship along with his father (Jamey Sheridan) as it sank, we also discover Oliver’s motivation to become a vigilante. In his father’s last moments, he tells Oliver how he was involved in making their home, Starling City, corrupt as well as many other people. He gives Oliver a list of their names in order to take them down to save Starling City and then proceeds to shoot himself, leaving him with the message “survive”.
Things start to get interesting when masked men kidnap Oliver and Tommy. They try to torture Oliver into telling them information on his father, but fail miserably as Oliver effortlessly gets out of his bindings and proceeds to kill them all. It’s an EXCELLENT fight featuring martial arts and parkour, as well as establishing how much of a badass Oliver is.
After falsifying his escape story when questioned by a detective (Paul Blackthorne), who seems to hate Oliver for no good reason, Oliver is assigned a bodyguard, John Diggle (David Ramsey), who will be keeping a close eye on him. Naturally, Oliver is able to disappear from his watch in less then a minute.
From here, Oliver goes to his father’s old factory and sets up his “Arrow Cave” if you will. Once set up (and a little training montage), Oliver dons his hood for the first time as he goes after the first name on the list: Adam Hunt, who happens to be the target of the law firm Laurel works at. After two epic altercations against Hunt and his security details, Oliver succeeds in transferring money Hunt stole back to it’s rightful owners and the new vigilante is dubbed…“The Hood”…huh…I guess we’re not going to be hearing the words “Green Arrow” any time soon.
Before the episode ends we get three reveals: the detective is actually Laurel and Sarah’s father named Quinton, Laurel and Tommy are very close to becoming a couple, and the biggest reveal: Moira hired the gang to kidnap Oliver and find out the information about his deceased father. What a lovely way to greet your long lost son!
Character First Impressions
Moira is definitely the best acted of the cast. She comes across as a typical wealthy businesswoman and devoted mother but as the reveals suggests, she has her own secrets to keep. Which does serve as a nice parallel to Oliver and his new vigilante secret.
Quinton is the representation of what the police and law enforcement are going to think of this new vigilante. Factor that with Oliver being the reason he lost a daughter, then we can tell Quinton is not going to be a fan of Oliver no matter what costume he wears.
Diggle’s first scene with Oliver could easily get one to believe that he is a side character with his no-nonsense, military background. After Oliver escapes from his watch for the first time, he quickly wises up. He demonstrates his intelligence through things like sitting next to Oliver in the car so he can’t run off and being the only one to notice Oliver trying to leave his own party. He’s very much a “more then meets the eye” kind of guy.
Being twelve when she lost her father and brother, it’s very understandable as to how Thea became the way she is now. Without a father figure of any sort, she follows in Oliver’s old debauchery footsteps by sneaking into parties while underage and using drugs. Perhaps it started out as a way to connect to her lost brother. Now that he’s back and Oliver berates her for doing the things he once did, she considers her brother a hypocrite as she falls deeper and deeper into this lifestyle. We also get a nice piece of foreshadowing due to her nickname being “Speedy”, which just so happens to be the name of the Robin to the Green Arrow’s Batman. Hmm…interesting…
We don’t really get to see much of who Laurel is in the beginning. She wants to help people as seen with her job, but she doesn’t exactly do much except provide guilt to Oliver and serve as a potential love interest for him. Honestly though, that really doesn’t seem like a very good idea. How could ANYONE want to date someone who cheated on them with their sister and caused her death? It would take a miracle.
Tommy starts off as your standard comic relief best friend. The jokes he makes are fun, providing some fish out of water commentary for Oliver. He also serves as a reminder of who Oliver was. A lot of times this episode, he tries to get Oliver to participate in their old “shenanigans”. It isn’t until we learn that he wants to date Laurel that we get a better grasp of his character. Yes, he’s a playboy like how Oliver used to be, but he wants to be good enough for Laurel.
Finally, Oliver. A lot of people like to compare this version of the Green Arrow to everyone’s favorite dark knight, Batman. It’s understandable because there are a lot of similarities: their both billionaires turned vigilantes, both are dark and brooding, and they both utilize intimidation and fear tactics in combat. It’s more of an issue for most because the original iterations of the Green Arrow feature a more light-hearted character. To put it in perspective…
Yeah, that’s not a guy that would strike fear into the hearts of criminals, now is he? But I am not here to compare with the comics, I am judging the show on it’s own.
There is a TON of mystery surrounding this guy. From all of the scars and tattoos on his body to the fact that he has become an expert in martial arts, parkour, and archery, it’s very clear that he was not alone on that island. Mystery is a good thing for a pilot episode. It makes the viewer ask questions and become more engaged in the story. He’s very intelligent as he’s able to discern that Walter and Moira are romantically involved through watching them interact, evade the watch of a former military officer, and come up with the plan to hack into Hunt’s bank account. He also has a lot of weight on his shoulders: his father’s last words and crusade, being responsible for Sarah’s death, and his experience on the island. Even though his journey is to redeem his father’s sins, it can also be looked at as trying to make up for the person he was. He understands that the playboy version of himself was not a good person and he tries to rectify that through apologizing to Laurel and berating Thea for following in his footsteps.
Overall, Arrow’s pilot episode is a great start to the series. Every character is set up without revealing too much, we understand how each episode will work (flashbacks and the next name to take down on the list), and we get some pretty impressive fight scenes.
How will the rest of season fair? Well come back next week as we look into a couple filler episodes as someone discovers Oliver’s secret…
Until next time, this is Xander signing off.