Arrow – Season 7 Episodes 1 – 8 Review

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Arrow’s seventh season starts off in familiar fashion to previous Arrowverse storylines, though unlike when Flash put their lead behind bars at the start of the year, this time it actually felt like it matters (and it was for more than two episodes…) It created a more unique atmosphere, when combined with an interesting flashforward rather than the usual flashback, it makes this season at least get off to a more interesting start than a lot of previous efforts…

Synopsis:

Five months after being exposed as Green Arrow and into his prison sentence, Oliver tries to maintain a low profile in hopes of getting a reduction to his term, an effort which is complicated when he’s being stalked by Diaz’s associates…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

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I wonder if Vinnie Jones knows how typecast he is, and if he cares?

Oliver Queen / Green Arrow (Stephen Amell) – Oliver Queen has been stuck is prison for months now, deep down knowing this was the only way to stop Diaz, even if the fact that the criminal in question being still at large plays in the back of his head…

Felicity Smoak / Overwatch (Emily Rickards) – Felicity has been playing single mother to William while in protective custody, constantly aware that Diaz might make a grand return at any moment…

John Diggle / Spartan (David Ramsey) – John has been getting on with life as an ARGUS agent, worried about his good friend in prison, but knowing there wasn’t anything that could be done about it…

Curtis Holt (Echo Kellum) – Curtis has dropped his vigilante ways and started working in ARGUS’ tech department. A steady job, helping to stop crime but not having to get regularly beaten up? Sounds good!

Rene Ramirez / Wild Dog (Rick Gonzalez) – Rene has his daughter back, all because of his willingness to drop his “Wild Dog” days and give up the vigilante way of life… unless life makes that difficult, of course…

Dinah Drake / Black Canary (Julia Harkavy) – Dinah is the head of the SCPD and as such has no qualms with staying on the right side of the law… especially when the Mayor is keeping an eye on things…

Laurel Lance / Black Siren (Katie Cassidy) – Laurel, originally a nasty version from Earth-2, is starting to settle down on this Earth, even starting to mellow out and actually help some of her old enemies…

Ricardo Diaz (Kirk Acevedo) – Diaz may have escaped with his life, but his long-thought-up plans have been ruined. All that’s left is sweet revenge, and he’ll take his time doing so…

Danny “Brick” Brickwell (Vinnie Jones) – Brick works for Diaz, at least through several proxies of Diaz anyway, as he’s behind bars. He’s managed to amass a group of allies around him though, which is handy for tormenting the former Green Arrow…

Stanley Dover (Brendan Fletcher) – Stanley is a serial killer with a serious complex where he seemingly believes he’s truly innocent and just a vulnerable weak man incorrectly imprisoned… Unless pushed, of course…

Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) – In the future, Roy has been living on Lian Yu as a hermit, it’s only an adult William that says he’s on a mission for Felicity that makes him consider going back to society…

William Clayton (Ben Lewis) – Now a grown man, William is on a mission for Felicity, though he doesn’t know what that is. All he knows is it starts of Lian Yu, the Island that turned his father into the Green Arrow…

and many more!

The Good:

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Wow, the future looks a lot like today, but with holograms! … That’s actually probably accurate, to be fair…

While unoriginal (it’s not even been a year since Barry Allen was in prison!) I did enjoy the first seven episodes, featuring Oliver’s struggle behind bars, and the fact he’d been in there for five months previous and was shown to struggle adapting back into his normal life in Episode 8, means it wasn’t a story point for the hell of it. His struggle with prison life, especially not striking back at other prisoners to damage his chances of an early release, was a good change of pace… until he felt his family on the outside was threatened, then it was fun seeing him beat the crap out of one of the less pleasant inmates…

Oliver’s relationship with Stanley, who for most of the episodes you do believe he’s actually either been wrongly accused or just someone who made one mistake but isn’t cut out to be in prison, is great. Seeing him worship Oliver for being the Green Arrow, but eventually show his true colours during the big escape sequence in trying to kill him, then actually killing Brick for “picking on him” before escaping was good stuff, in an unsettling way. Brick, which was just Vinnie Jones playing Vinnie Jones again, was fun, for what he was, and Cody Rhodes returning as Sampson was a nice bit of continuity, even if he didn’t do much.

Episode 7 as a whole was a good episode, it focused solely on Diaz breaking into the prison and riling up the inmates to try to finally kill Oliver after his plans to off Felicity and William first had failed. Some good fight scenes and a satisfying ending to Diaz… until the next episode… was well done. It ends with Oliver getting his release, which felt earned this time, again, unlike a similar storyline in a certain spin-off…

Oh and the episode before that, which saw Oliver nearly escape with Talia al Ghul but deciding to stay behind and stop the corrupt therapist from hurting any more inmates, was good too. That whole subplot was a nice way of extending his stay in prison without recycling the same old prison drama stuff.

I’m not sure what to make of the flashforward just yet. William as a 20-something flying all over the place with an older, grizzled Roy is an interesting idea, then throw in an older version of Dinah and a grown up version of Rene’s daughter Zoe all looking into the disappearance of Felicity and how she apparently became some sort of villain in the end is a lot of plot threads, but they’re interesting ones. The only thing is that I’m pretty certain this future doesn’t happen by the end of the season, unless it’s revealed to be on one of the alternate Earths…

There are some other non-Oliver-in-prison bits to enjoy as well. Rene’s constant struggle not to don the hockey mask and be “Wild Dog” again, his relationship with the new Green Arrow (more on that in a sec) and how he is constantly at odds with Dinah, who wishes to keep her job by not doing any more vigilantism, are all good. Diggle and Curtis being ARGUS agents has been fine, it’s a good excuse to have good surveillance and stuff without the old bunker, anyway… An episode where Curtis had to go undercover but really didn’t want to back out on the field was good too.

As for the new Green Arrow, revealed at the end of Episode 8 as a previously unknown daughter of Oliver’s father, is… interesting, I guess. How she ended up getting very similar training to her, I’m assuming half-brother, is a bit convenient, but I’ll let them tell the story first, before judging too harshly…

The Bad:

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Felicity: doing paper work like a new bad ass!

I didn’t like the direction they’re going with Felicity. After a close encounter with Diaz that nearly left her and William dead, she sends William away to a private school and goes all “bad ass” and does some morally questionable things, including putting Diggle at risk and nearly getting Anatoly killed, before eventually pointing a gun at Diaz’ face, moments away from pulling the trigger… I just don’t buy it, and when Oliver is attacked in their home during episode 8 she shoots a guy! Oliver’s baffled expression says it all, and when Felicity kept insisting it was the “new her”, I… yeah, as I said, just don’t buy it. I mean, she was legitimately paralyzed by an attack in the past and didn’t resort to this, what’s so different this time, other than the writers have run out of ideas of how to muddy the waters of Oliver and Felicity’s relationship…

It took a season or two, but Laurel of Earth-2 is now pretty much just Laurel, which cheapens the original’s death a bit more. Seeing her read up on law practice and hang out with everyone is just… out of character, even if thankfully most people are still weary at her at least.

The Longbow Hunters, a group of well-trained thugs with special equipment Diaz hires, are fine. I didn’t get in any way invested in them because they had no screen time that wasn’t attacking somewhere and fighting, but in that role they were fine. Speaking of Diaz again, I could have done without him being the lead villain straight after half a season of it, but that seems to be over for now… even if Diggle went up to a captured Diaz and asked for his help in the final episode of the bunch…

Overall Thoughts:

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After all he went through on Lian Yu, I’m sure his stay in prison was nothing special really…

Overall, the first eight episodes of this season had a different feel to them. The fighting in prison was often close-up and brutal, and Oliver’s time behind bars was actually a good story told, rather than a waste of time. While it wasn’t perfect, several dangling plot threads have me interested in seeing the rest of the season, too, which is what the beginning of  a story is supposed to do! So, off to a good start, anyway…

4 Star Watch

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