EXPeriencing ‘Arrow’

Cover image via.

I probably never would have started watching Arrow without having become addicted to The Flash first. Considering The Flash is a spin-off of Arrow, and considering The Flash is so well-written and engrossing, it stands to reason that Arrow should be about as good, too, right?

I would say yes, but it’s a slower build up than The Flash. When Arrow started, I had no idea what it was about other than a billionaire playboy-turned-vigilante-who-isn’t-Batman. I didn’t know it would be about Oliver Queen having been marooned on an island for five years and coming back to Starling City an expert archer with a vendetta. I wasn’t expecting the many flashbacks to Oliver’s time on the island, but they came to be one of the best things about Season One. You obviously have to go through some pretty heavy stuff to come back ready to kill dozens of one-percenters, so I appreciated the slow burn of learning what happened on the island.

And of course there are Oliver’s partners in vigilantism, John Diggle and Felicity Smoak. Having met both of them and getting to know Felicity in The Flash, I was just plain happy every time they showed up on screen. Oliver, Dig, and Felicity make a good team, and even as the team grows in Season Two to add a few other bad-asses with semi-tragic-to-tragic backstories, the core group of three remains solid and intact.

Out of all that I like about Arrow, what I appreciate most are the twists and turns of the plot. Each season has 23 episodes, which is actually kind of a lot nowadays. The Walking Dead has about 16 episodes per season and all the Netflix original series–House of CardsOrange Is the New Black, Daredevil, Jessica Jones–run 13 episodes per season. Having been without cable for so long and not watching TV shows in a weekly format, I got used to shorter seasons as the norm.

That means since one season of Arrow is about the same length as two seasons of a Netflix show, there’s the capacity for it to get stale or ridiculous pretty quickly. Plot twists are necessary to keep interest up for 23 hours. Arrow rose to that challenge. While some of the dialogue writing is predictable, the plot twists never are. When all your characters are working in secrecy or have pasts they don’t want revealed, it provides a good vehicle for shocking new developments. That may make the show sound off-the-wall crazy, but all the plot twists make sense within the story. Nothing seems completely out of line, even when the twist blindsides you.

I’m glad I’ve started watching Arrow, but I’m really glad I started with The Flash first. I eased backward into Arrow’s characters and have been waiting in anticipation for The Flash’s characters to show up in Starling City (which they already have, of course). Terry and I finished Season Two of Arrow and started Season Three tonight. Barry Allen just called Oliver, and I’m looking forward to some more crossover action.

And more shirtless Stephen Amell. That’s never bad.

StephenAmell

Scars and all, baby. Via.

EXPeriencing ‘The Flash’: Season One

Cover photo via MoviePilot.

I typically think of myself as a Marvel Universe fan. I immersed myself in Marvel in the early 2000s when I saw X-Men and Spider-Man in theaters. They were fun, had intriguing characters, and everyone was full of powers that I craved as a teenager. (To the point that I was writing X-Men fanfic before bed…) While I do love Christopher Nolan’s Batman, I’ve never really cared for Superman and my knowledge of the rest of the DC Universe is zilch.

I was looking for a new show to binge on Netflix late in December, mostly because I knew Terry was sick of being drawn into Worst Cooks in America. After scrolling through every TV show available on Netflix, and having heard good things about The Flash, that’s what we turned on. The pilot was very good. It was entertaining, and I liked Barry, Cisco, Caitlin, Iris, and Joe’s characters. All were interesting and layered and well-acted. Despite Terry telling me decades’ worth of backstory about Barry Allen and all the various Flashes, Reverse-Flashes, and the Justice League, I know so little about DC and The Flash I was able to watch the show with an open mind and let this be my first interaction with a new superhero.

I enjoyed the show at first. But man, it grew on me fast. To the point where it may be one of the best shows I’ve seen in the past couple years, right up there with Daredevil and Jessica Jones. (I like superhero shows, okay?) I think the reason it grew on me so quickly is because the pacing was spot on. It starts with the particle reactor explosion that causes a freak storm turning Barry into “the Streak” (thankfully that name doesn’t stick), and turns many other people in Central City–mostly criminals, of course–into “metahumans.” But the first season isn’t just about Barry growing as The Flash and catching metahumans. It swiftly evolves into that and his renewed quest to discover who killed is mom 11 years ago and set his dad free from prison. Now that Barry is a “speedster” (the dumbest name for an ability ever, sorry), he’s noticed some similarities between his abilities and those of the mysterious Man in Yellow who killed Nora Allen.

These two plots–catching criminals and investigating Barry’s mom’s murder–tie together nicely as you get more and more hints into who dun’ it. The viewers know much sooner than Barry himself does. Along with the pacing, this definitely helped keep me intrigued. When is Barry going to figure it out?  When is he going to go back in time to try and stop it? Oh yeah, did I mention there’s time travel? There’s time travel. And it’s a good kind of time travel–the kind where one changed decision creates a new future, the kind that changes everything…

For instance, the finale. I won’t get into the finale, but ho. ly. shit. That was Walking Dead levels of emotions I felt at the end of The Flash. Time travel is no joke, my friends, and when a dead parent is involved, well, let’s just say it gets you right in the heart.

The one downside to The Flash and it being my first foray into DC TV shows is that I completely skipped Arrow. I’ve heard good things about Arrow, too, of course, but Terry was vehemently against watching the show. His point of reference for the Green Arrow is “a poncy, goateed Robin Hood who shoots arrows with punching bags on the end of them.” I don’t blame him, that does sound pretty lame. But, there is a lot of crossover with Arrow where references flew right over my head and I had very little knowledge of who this random new character was. Not to the point where I didn’t understand the plot, but I knew I would have appreciated what was going on far more if I knew what had happened on Arrow that week.

Possibly needless to say, and after that intense finale, Terry and I started watching Arrow this week to get caught up before watching Season Two of The Flash. I’m looking forward to learning more about the characters in Starling City, especially Resident Bad Ass Felicity Smoak. And when Barry Allen shows up on Arrow, as he inevitably will, I will be a happy camper.