On the D/L – Arrow
Season 3 Episode 1 – “The Calm”
Some time after the ending of season 2 and the defeat of Slade Wilson things are going really well for team Arrow in Starling City. Quentin Lance is the Captain of the police force and has the authority to stop the manhunt for The Arrow, crime is at an all time low, Diggle and Lyla are very close to having their baby and Oliver is getting used to the idea of settling down a little bit.
It’s clear early on that there’s a fledgling romance between Oliver and Felicity that is just bursting to be acted on. Amell and Rickards have always had great chemistry but the sexual tension they’re playing brings that to a new level. I think an Oliver and Felicity relationship would be a good thing for the show and would introduce an interesting dynamic to these characters. It does seem that they will be dragging this out for a while longer which is kind of frustrating but one of Oliver’s main arcs this season looks to be figuring out how to balance the two identities so I imagine the relationship with Felicity will be a big part of that.
This relative peace can only last so long when a new Count Vertigo arrives on the scene (played by the always fantastic Peter Stormare) and has messed around with the drug to make it even more of a threat. From minute one Stormare steals the show as the new Count Vertigo and takes advantage of the complacency Oliver is feeling at this point. The opening action scene makes taking down criminals look easy as Oliver’s team is well oiled and effective in bringing people down so it’s only natural that they would feel somewhat unstoppable and might be unprepared for a formidable challenge.
Stormare’s Vertigo certainly supplies this and outlines a weakness in Oliver he almost didn’t know he had. It becomes clear to him that he’s afraid of embracing the Oliver Queen side of his identity but has been reluctant to admit it. It’s made worse when allowing himself to relax makes him careless enough for a criminal to plant an unnoticed tracker on him resulting in an attack that almost gets Felicity killed. This event is the slap in the face Oliver feels that he needed -whether he actually does or not is up for debate- and he retreats into full Arrow mode. He tells Felicity that it’s too dangerous to be close to someone else because the life he leads will always make him a target therefore endangering her by extension. This isn’t something I necessarily agree with in the case of Felicity as she knows his secret and has been in danger multiple times as a direct result so I don’t see how being in a relationship with Oliver would really be any more detrimental to her safety than her current position.
I really like what they’re doing with Quentin Lance so far. Last time we saw him he was very badly injured and it turns out that he has a heart condition so really shouldn’t be running around trying to help The Arrow. Naturally he can’t take this advice and winds up in the hospital as a result. His frustration is made abundantly clear as he has always felt like a simple field cop who is in the center of the action rather than coordinating it from an office far away. He has always felt like he can do most good in the field so it’s easy to see how his inability to do so must be killing him. If only there was some leftover Mirakuru eh? Laurel is around not helping this situation by adding the layer of guilt over how worried she is for him.
Oliver’s financial situation comes into play a little in this episode with a mention of the lack of funds that he has but a desire to buy back his own company and run it. He seems to be beaten by the charismatic speech of Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) who has sound plans and a fancy powerpoint presentation to back him up.
Brandon Routh as many of you will know was once Superman in Brian Singer’s 2006 movie Superman Returns but he joins the Arrow cast as Dr. Ray Palmer (DC comics hero The Atom), a charismatic and intelligent businessman who wants to buy Oliver’s company. Routh is absolutely fantastic in this role delivering his lines with fast paced charm and charisma. The scenes he shares with Felicity are great as they are two characters who speak the same language and have a lot of chemistry together despite Felicity’s apparent dislike of him after she feels betrayed. Having not seen Routh in much beyond Superman Returns and Scott Pilgrim vs the World I had no idea he could be so charismatic but he was a joy to watch here and is a very welcome member of the cast.
Roy is given more to do now as he is fully trained as Oliver’s partner in the field under the guise of the red hooded Arsenal. He is a lot more focused than he was last season and follows Oliver’s orders unquestionably. He’s not given much to do in this episode beyond backing Oliver up and general sidekick stuff but it’s a good place for this character to be in. Thea and Malcolm Merlin are missing from this episode but that’s fine as there was enough going on without risking overloading the plot with too many catch up introductions.
The flashbacks return as always but the location has changed to Hong Kong. So far these don’t seem as interesting as the writers probably want them to be as not all that much happens this week. Of course it’s only the start of the story arc but I’m not all that enthusiastic about these at this point. It will be interesting to see what Amanda Waller has him do when the story really does get going but for now the present is where all the interesting stories are.
A great start to the season that picks up from the momentum of season 2 nicely. All of the characters feel as if they have progressed in some way and there’s a definite hint of optimism in the air. The budding romance between Oliver and Felicity is done really well but I’m not too crazy about the forced slowing down it seems to be heading towards at this point. Peter Stormare gives a fantastic turn as the new Count Vertigo and I hope he will return in subsequent episodes. Brandon Routh’s addition to the cast as Dr. Ray Palmer is excellent and I think he’ll be a superb foil for Oliver and Felicity as time goes on. The episode was nicely paced and enjoyable with a shock ending that will have some great repercussions. Season 3 is off to a great start so far and as always I’m excited to see more.