“Arrow” Recap 2.01: From the Ashes

Arrow returns with a quiver full of action, repercussions and drama.

Are you ready, my peeps? Have you steeled your hearts and girded your loins? The Arrow roller coaster is about to leave the station. Keep your hands and arms inside the car at all times. (And if you need a refresher, be sure to read over the season one primer.)

Season 2 openers can be tricky. A lot of shows stumble badly when trying to recapture the momentum they had at the end of their first season. In a way, it’s like trying to make a sequel. And as everyone knows, a lot of sequels stink.

Arrow put all my worries to rest. This episode was basically a message from the showrunners saying, “Season one was just the prologue. You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

We start off with Digg and Felicity skydiving into Magical Ninja Island. Why? Because that’s where Oliver has gone to lick his wounds and grieve the loss of his friend. There is something impossibly sad about the idea that the place where Oliver feels the most at peace is the island he was marooned on.

Digg and Felicity tell him it’s time for him to come home, which Oliver isn’t too keen on. He tells them that he failed completely which resulted in Tommy’s death and the destruction of the Glades. The worst thing is that he’s actually right.

But Queen Consolidated is the target of a hostile takeover and Moira is about to go to trial. So it’s time for Oliver to get over himself.


We’re back to Magic Ninja Island five years ago where Slade is slowly turning Oliver into a moderately competent combatant while Shado hunts and gathers. I have to say, this is one area where I have some issues with the show. It has this weird habit of making kick-ass women like Laurel and Shado and then turning them into the weak link.

Anyhoo, they discover that there are other people on the island, which is strange since they’re certain they killed all of their cohabitants. The Super Friends head off to investigate.

Back in modern day, Oliver arrives back in Starling City. We get our first look at the damage to The Glades and it’s just horrifying.

The terrible irony is that since Oliver failed to stop the Markov Device but did (apparently) kill Malcolm, he’s not only failed to protect the city but he robbed The Glades of the financial backing Malcolm had intended to provide to rebuild the place.

He heads to his club, Verdant, where a stomach-churning scene is taking place. Little sis Thea is trying to convince Bad Boy Roy that he’s straight. Silly Thea, this trick is not for girls.

In one of those plot twists that makes no sense but we will choose to ignore, eighteen-year-old Thea has taken over running the club. Because while she can’t buy a beer, she can apparently buy pallets of hard liquor.

We forgive this impossible plot device because it has turned Thea into a person, which is a welcome transformation. Her brat phase went on way too long. She’s now responsible and mature and, as Oliver puts it, “together.”

But she’s still holding a grudge against her mother for her part in leveling the glades. Okay, so she hasn’t completely left her brat phase behind.

“But Chris, where is the action? The danger?” you may ask.

“Settle down, you, it’s coming,” I tell you with a wagging of my finger.

The mayor of Starling City is hosting a gala where the local philanthropists are writing checks to help glue The Glades back together. His attempts to fix things aren’t good enough for a certain gang of vigilantes

“Mr. Mayor, you have failed this city.”

Yep, a bunch of angry lunatics have decided that instead of joining the Tea Party, they’re going to form a murderous gang called “The Hoods.” Oliver really should have invested in copyrighting his brand. These knock-offs will give him a bad name. I mean, they have no style at all.

The gang murders the mayor and a dozen or so police officers and then disappears into the night.

Former Detective Lance arrives on the scene and begins to question Laurel. His boss quickly puts the kibosh on that whole thing. He reminds Lance that he is now just a patrolman. Given what a crazy, bull-headed, incompetent detective he was, I refuse to feel bad for him.

Oliver shows up next and he and Laurel have a little chat about his bailing on her and their general confusion about where they stand as a couple. I know it’s wrong and certainly not what the writers want me to feel, but their scenes just make me laugh. Laurel puts on this bold, ferocious front and acts like she is totally in control of herself and the situation when it’s clear that all Oliver has to do is give her one soulful look to wreck her defenses.

After this, Oliver goes into one of his Epic Sulks™. He tells Digg that he won’t be played and he didn’t come back to be a vigilante and he doesn’t care about The Hoods and then he gets in the limo and holds his breath. I have missed his pouting, and Diggle’s patient tolerance of said behavior.

No, Oliver has no time for gun-toting maniacs. He has to face off with Isabel Rochev (played by Summer Glau) who wants to corporate raid the crap out of Queen Consolidated. I love Summer (the person, not the season. The season is the bane of my existence.) and she has proven she can be scary as hell. But as the clear successor to Malcolm Merlyn, she has mighty big evil shoes to fill. We will have to see how this works.

The initial threats negotiations break down as The Hoods bust in and shoot the place up. Seriously, in the middle of the day? What kind of Hood groupies are they? It’s like they’re not even trying.

Diggle makes another try at getting Oliver to deal with the punks. Oliver responds by putting his hands over his ears and going, “lalalala!”

Flashback! Again!

Shado is heading off to get a good shot at their visitors when she gets captured. Remember what I said about the way this show treats its bad-ass women? I mean, I guess there was a reason it had to be Shado, but this is the third time she’s been used as a hostage, and I really think it’s Slade or Oliver’s turn.

Anyway, the point of this little scene is so Oliver can snap and kill people. This is either to show his growing attachment to Shado, or his growing trauma from all of the crazy-ass sh** he’s been through, or maybe both.

The new mystery for Magical Ninja Island is, “who are the new visitors and did they bring fresh toothbrushes?” Or something.

Back to the things we care about.

Oliver goes to visit mommy, who has discovered that orange is the new black. (Oh come on, I had to. The reference was just begging to be used.)

I’ve never entirely trusted or even understood Moira, but I have always loved her. It’s a genre show which means the Emmys will never wise up, but Susanna Thompson deserves an award for this role. She is equal parts caring mother, ruthless survivor and cold-as-ice business woman.

She councils Oliver on his new career as head of imploding Queen Consolidated and warns him to be wary of Isabel. I think he knew that already. And with luck, Oliver will never again underestimate a privileged, overpaid, high-powered executive. And while I don’t know if Isabel can beat up Oliver, I’m pretty sure Summer Glau can kick Stephan Amell’s ass.

The Hoods make a major miscalculation in their next War on the Queens. They kidnap Thea. Roy implores Oliver to forgive him for not protecting her, and if you read that scene a certain way, certain ideas and appealing images may follow.

The reason Oliver doesn’t want to be the Hood anymore is because Tommy died thinking he was a serial killer. And sure, he killed a specific sort of individual in a specific way and he did it repeatedly, but serial killer just makes it sound bad.

Anyway, he doesn’t want to kill folk anymore. I’m willing to see where the show goes with this because it has earned that much credit from me. But I swear on Thor’s hammer, if they put a boxing glove on the end of an arrow, I will not be forgiving.

However, while he doesn’t want to kill people, The Hoods took his sister and, well, that just can’t be allowed. And as anyone who has dieted knows, it’s hard to go cold turkey on all the things you enjoy. So, this will be just be Oliver’s one splurge.

Only, to my shock (and, yes, disappointment) he doesn’t kill the little psychos. He beats them up and delivers them, gift-wrapped, to Pointless Patrolman Lance. I don’t think Lance’s boss will all that happy. I mean, this just basically proves that Lance and The Hood are in cahoots.

Thea makes up with mom, which is sweet, but we’ll see how long it lasts. I mean, we’ve been down this road before with her.

Roy is off being heroic, but he doesn’t seem to quite have the knack for it yet. Last season, Thea had to save his bacon. This year, it’s a mysterious (unless you’ve been following the spoilers and you know it’s Black Canary) woman who rescues him.

How long before Black Canary is taken hostage? We’ll have to wait and see.

Oliver decides to get back in the vigilante business, only he doesn’t want to be a killer. He wants to be a hero.

Yes, ladies and gents, we’re still in the origin story.

I don’t know about you guys, but I loved it. I think the show picked right up and it’s building on the first season beautifully. We’ll have to see how Isabel works out and how everything evolves from here, but I think we’re off to a great start.

What did you guys think?