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After last season’s shocking ending – seriously, I’m not being sarcastic, I really didn’t see that coming – Arrow returned for its second season last night with a solid premiere. The Hood has been absent since an earthquake left a good chunk of Starling City in ruins. Coincidentally, Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) skipped town, too, though no one in town seems to find any correlation between these two events. Hey, they’re suffering, we can’t ask them to draw obvious conclusions right now.

Where did Ollie go? Back to the island he spent five, terrible years of his life trying to escape. I know, right? Other than to give us more reasons to love Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards), especially her bantering with Diggle (David Ramsey), and another ominous shot of Deathstroke’s mask with an arrow through its eye, I don’t know why he felt the need to travel back there. Perhaps it’s an exposition-laden move to prepare viewers for more island flashbacks, which is a possibility since there will likely be more of those. What with Manu Bennett now a series regular. (Yes! More Manu!)

But things move back to Starling City real quick, where the city is mired in chaos. Still healing from the wound The Undertaking ripped open – literally – in The Glades, the city is in worse condition than when Oliver left. And as for open wounds, Tommy’s death hangs heavily over Oliver, Laurel (Katie Cassidy), and whatever is the status of their relationship. Here we cue the CW’s trademarked melodrama. Laurel’s all, “Having sex with you, in full view of the window while my ex-boyfriend creepily watched from the street, was a mistake. Especially once he died.” To which Oliver’s like, “I get you. I felt like shit when I cheated on you with your sister on my dad’s yacht, which then sunk and killed her. We can take it slow.”

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And is Laurel looking blonder, or was this a trick in the lighting? Who goes blonde when in mourning?

Speaking of relationships, Thea (Willa Holland) and Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) are still going strong. Which is unfortunate because every time there on screen I want to jab myself in the eye. It’s not so much that I hate them as it’s these two have the slowest character development of any characters ever. Thea comes out the better of the two as her taking over the managing of Verdant gives her purpose beyond whiny teenager who parties too much turned whiny girlfriend who wants Roy to stop getting in fights. Not that she isn’t whiny in this episode, it’s just that now she’s whining about being unable to forgive her mother, Moira (Susanna Thompson), recently incarcerated, for playing a part in murdering hundreds of people. Far more reasonable of you, Thea.

Roy on the other hand is just as bland as I remember, and is no where closer to becoming The Hood’s sidekick; a role we’ve all been waiting to see him fill since the kid showed up wearing that red hoodie. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The threat this episode is a group of wannabe vigilantes, a whole gang of Hoods if you will, who are carrying on Oliver’s good work but with significantly less concern for innocents or the whole murdering thing. Not that Ollie was all too concerned with trying to not to kill people last season, and it’s his decision to honor Tommy’s memory by no longer killing anyone that’s keeping him from again becoming The Hood.

Something Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne), no longer a detective, is all too aware of. He even asks Felicity if she’s heard anything from their mutual friend after she and Ollie barely escape an attack by the Hoods at Queen Consolidated. To which she oh-so-subtlety tells him no while staring straight at Oliver!

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Really, Felicity!? Why not just let everyone know Oliver Queen is the vigilante. Smooth.

Oliver was only even at the office because the company is under threat of being bought out by Isabel Rochev (Summar Glau), a menacing and ruthless businesswoman, whom Glau plays wonderfully. Sure, she was only in a handful of scenes but I’m already anticipating more struggles and proverbial-dick-measuring between her and Ollie in the boardroom. Possibly the bedroom, too, considering Oliver Queen’s history with the ladies. Queen Consolidated doesn’t get taken over by Rochev thanks to a surprise, last minute rescue by Walter Steele (Colin Salmon). Remember him!? While he and Moira are no longer together – I guess conjugal visits weren’t his stlye – Walter’s still there to help Ollie out, and remain relevant in the series.

Rochev isn’t too upset she lost out on owning all of the company, though, see!

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Is that not the funniest yet creepiest smile you’ve ever seen? I mean, what is that, a nervous tick? This isn’t the only time she pulls it in the episode either, making me wonder how hard is was for anyone acting opposite her to keep a straight face.

The business dealings of major corporations is fun and all, and having Ollie take on the responsibility of being a C.E.O. will surely prove interesting down the road, but all we really want is for him to get back in that hood. Which he does… once Thea is kidnapped as the gang of Hoods, revealed to be poor dudes who lost loved ones during the earthquake and are now coping through vigilantism, continue their attack on who they believe are responsible for the whole Undertaking mess: the Queens.

Does no one remember Malcolm Merlyn at all? I mean, if I went through all the trouble of destroying a sizable chunk of a major city I’d be pretty pissed if no one remembered I was the one responsible. Just sayin’.

Taking on the mantle of The Hood is a big deal for Oliver as he still believes the only way to survive is by living by the motto, “Kill or be killed.” Which, as any comic book fan worth their bag and boards knows, just isn’t true. Batman’s been pretty damn successful with his whole non lethal methods for years, and–oh! what d’ya know? That’s the plan for The Hood; become Batman. He’s already got a fancier tricked out Arrow Cave, – still hidden beneath the nightclub, no idea how Thea didn’t notice – an Oracle in Felicity, an Alfred in Diggle, and look, even grappling hook arrows!

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Whee!

The Hood easily deals with the copycat vigilantes and ties them up like pretty packages with bows for Lance to discover, hoping this gesture in some way makes up for him sort of, kind of being responsible for Lance getting demoted to beat cop. Oliver isn’t all that keen on the moniker, The Hood, either, and broodingly stares at an arrow for the last few frames of the episode. I’ll bet, next week Ollie will have a whole new identity to go along with his cheerier, not-murdering-everyone-who-crosses-his-path vigilante lifestyle.

But wait, there’s more! I haven’t even come to my favorite part of the entire premiere! Enter Black Canary!

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Or at least, whatever the Arrow-verse version of her will be. Is it Laurel in disguise? Is it her sister back from the dead? Or someone completely new? Who knows!? (Actually, we do know.) I just know she’s the most exciting reveal of the episode and the number one reason I’ll be tuning in again next week. Her appearance makes the odds of seeing the Birds of Prey all the better, and I cannot wait to see her tangle with The Hood or whatever he’ll be calling himself.

Plus, I love that she comes in to save Roy’s ass. And with Nightwing’s escrima sticks no less! Seriously though, Roy–worst sidekick ever.

Arrow airs Wednesday nights on the CW at 8pm EST.

Category: Comics, Featured, reviews, TV

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