Arrow 1.02 "Honor Thy Father" TV REVIEW
Writers: Marc Guggenheim, Greg Berlanti & Andrew Kreisberg
Director: David Barrett
THE ONE WHERE: Oliver targets tycoon Martin Somers, whose role in a drug deal with the Chinese Triads leads to the murder of a dockside worker. There’s increased pressure on him to inherit his father’s position at Queen Industries, but Oliver has more pressing matters on his mind in the form of Triad assassin China White…
THE VERDICT: A striking improvement on the underwhelming pilot episode – sharper, pacier, altogether more emotionally engaging and with some intriguing hints at a wider backstory. He’s still not quite the Green Arrow of the comics – if anything there are echoes of the Punisher in his remorseless vigilantism (he presses a man’s face against an electrified grid in the opening scene, which feels deeply Frank Castle) and there’s more than a touch of Nolan’s Batman in the way he growls at the crims. Stephen Amell gives a considerably more confident performance, too. There are flashes of something dark and saturnine when Oliver’s in playboy mode, but he also captures a vulnerability: “Before the island I was a jerk. Now I’m just a damaged jerk.” There are strong emotional beats here, from Oliver’s harrowing discovery of his father’s body on the beach to Thea’s confession “I felt closer to you when you were dead” – and his mother’s role in the conspiracy that claimed his father’s life promises a really interesting dynamic for the future. The action sequences are also an improvement on the so-so thrills of the pilot – the assault on Laurel’s apartment is well staged and the dockside climax impresses, with some nicely fluid camerawork and effective use of Oliver as a hooded silhouette, striking from rain and shadows. Good to see Kelly Hu as China White, too – she brings a dose of comic book colour and flamboyance to shake up the drab businessman villains we’ve experienced so far. She’s almost a lethal Lady Gaga.
STAR TURN: A word of praise for David Ramsey as Oliver’s valet/bodyguard John Diggle, who’s quietly emerging as the soul of the show – and clearly shaping up to fulfil the Alfred role. Given that in real life Ramsey’s a black belt in Jeet Kune Do you imagine he might prove to be pretty tasty in the action scenes, too.
DID YOU SPOT?: Another nod to a Green Arrow comic book creator in the name Nocenti, a tip of the hood to writer Ann Nocenti.
TRIVIA: The creation of Brit comic creators Andy Diggle and Jock, China White debuted in the DC universe in Green Arrow: Year One Vol 1 issue 3 in 2007.
Oliver: “Sorry to give you so much grief.”
Diggle: “I served three tours in Afghanistan, Mr Queen. You don’t even come close to my definition of grief.”
Read all our Arrow reviews.
Arrow begins airing in the UK on Sky1 on 22 October.