Over the course of the past 8 months or so, I’ve really enjoyed this show. It seems like it just got better as it went on, culminating in the stellar season finale. There was a lot to love about this show, even when it wasn’t great. It has a strong central cast of interesting characters played by pretty good actors. The plot developed throughout the first season’s 23 episodes, and improved upon the weaker episode to episode plots from the beginning of the season.
From the start, I enjoyed Arrow. The first two episodes were entertaining, if nothing else. However, the island sequences were always the best part of the show, even early on. By the time the fifth episode rolled around, I was fully onboard with the show. By this point, the main cast had been set up, and the show was beginning to break away from the same plot of taking out one billionaire per episode.
Also, by the fifth episode, we were introduced to two awesome villains: Deadshot and Deathstroke, and Deathstroke was made even more interesting because Slade Wilson and Deathstroke are two different people. It seems odd, but it’s excellent, especially once Manu Bennet shows up in the role of Slade. Deadshot, despite nearly being killed in Lone Gunmen, comes back as a recurring villain, who becomes extremely interesting. This is mostly because of Diggle, who has a personal score to settle with Deadshot.
However, before we got into this, we had to get through a string of far weaker episodes. After Damaged, the show seemed incapable of replicating the quality I’d come to expect. Legacies, Muse of Fire, and Vendetta were all horrible episodes, and verged on feeling like a Disney show. Plus, they introduced the Huntress. Normally, I love that character, but in Arrow, she is so misportrayed that she’s hardly recognizable.
As if her misportrayal weren’t enough, the actress they chose to play her, Jessica DeGouw, was downright horrible. Luckily, after the two episode arc, she disappeared for a long while, only to reappear in Huntress Returns and destroy the momentum that the show had built by that point with episodes like Vertigo, Trust But Verify, Betrayal, and Dead to Rights. In the middle of that mix of episodes came the best episode of the show’s first season, The Odyssey.
There are two reasons that it’s the seasons best episode. First, it adds Felicity to the Oliver/Diggle duo, and that’s an interesting dynamic. The second is, of course, the fact that it takes place almost entirely in the past. By now, Oliver and Slade are allies, and the dynamic between them is awesome to watch. Plus, oddly enough, the action in the flashback sequences were far better than any in the present. Everything about the island parts feels better than the events in the present. This is only more true when Shado is introduced, and the trio destroys Fyers’ outpost.
Not to say that the events in the present are bad. No, in fact, with the introduction of Roy Harper and Count Vertigo and the return of Deadshot, the present becomes a lot more interesting to watch. It seems to me that the writers got increasingly better, because the rest of the cast seemed to get better as well. Felicity grew on me, Diggle, Thea, Laurel, Detective Lance, and Tommy all became more interesting, and Malcolm Merlyn bolstered the cast as well.
By the season finale, everything had been put into place, and was being done extraordinarily well. It was week after week of great character work, and the plot continued to develop on a week to week basis. By the time Sacrifice rolled around, everything that happened felt justified. Where the characters ended up made sense, and the show had earned all of the personal, character driven, emotion filled moments that defined the finale. Overall, the first season did a great job of creating an intriguing comic book TV show that I have every reason to stick with, even though it fell flat in a few areas.