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Arrow S3x01 “The Calm”

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WARNING! MAJOR SPOILERS!

Okay, raise a hand if you didn’t see that ending coming? I’ll get to it in more detail, but wow. Arrow has proved to be capable of many twists in the past and that was just totally unpredictable and reinforced the element that nobody is safe. It was a major death sequence that was handled very well with a great shock impact. But first, let’s deal with the new cast additions, of which there were a lot to a series that’s already pretty packed.

Sara Lance may be back, but don't expect her to stick around for long...

Sara Lance may be back, but don’t expect her to stick around for long…

We got the new Count Vertigo, Peter Stormare, who is already a more preferable option to Seth Gabel’s Count, being his own character as opposed to just a Heath Ledger ripoff. He puts some fun charisma into the role with a much stronger casting choice. And he’s made even more terrifying by the manipulation of the Vertigo drug to show victims their worst fear, which adds another interesting layer of unpredictability that’s handled well by the writers and it was cool to see the Arrow fight off against his own fear, which was  essentially becoming Oliver Queen.

The most significant newcomer to the series however was Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer. Like Stormare, he puts a lot of effort into his role with some great chemistry and as he poses a business rival for Oliver it’s clear to see that he almost looks like the Sebastian Blood of this season, someone who Oliver will have to tackle outside of the costume. The high stakes premiere saw Palmer win over the Queen Consolidated Board, and there’s even a fun reference to “Star City”, the home of Oliver in the comics, which is what Starling could become.

Arrow proves that it can balance tragedy and the more light hearted elements well in this series with an excellent display. The majority of the episode features the team working together, Diggle, Roy (whose superhero identity is presumably Arsenal), Felicity and Oliver showcasing them at their very best, with an excellent display of them working together as a team. They believe they have the criminals on the run, until the emergence of a new Vertigo threatens to undo the balance of the relative peace brought to Starling City.

With any episode of Arrow, it’s important not to ignore the flashbacks. After two seasons on the Island a change in tone was needed, and it’s great to see more Amanda Waller showing that we may not quite be done with ARGUS just yet, be it in the past or present. The divergence to Hong Kong was handled very well and it was just the right change at the right time, exploiting a great new dynamic with several directions to go from here.

Now I think we can get to the ending. With the addition of Arsenal and the already packed cast, it’s quickly become apparent that the return of Sara felt unnecessary, but welcomed, given that her character is a personal favourite of mine from this series. As a result, I was annoyed to see her killed off so quickly, but the way it was done was handled pretty well indeed. The major cliffhanger ending will no doubt set the tone for the next few episodes and it proves that the series is going to pull out all the stops in creating something that becomes more and more unpredictable as the show progresses, especially with the fact that Malcolm Merlyn and Ra’s Al Ghul are out there in the shadows, waiting to strike.

There wasn’t really anything too negative about this episode as it balanced the light hearted stuff with the darker elements very well, even featuring a surprise cameo from Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen, to let viewers know where The Flash’s timeline fits in with Arrow. Going forward, it’ll be interesting to see how both series develop, and with an upcoming crossover featuring both characters quite early on, things could get pretty interesting indeed.

In conclusion then, The Calm was an excellent premiere that shows Arrow has continued the form that it’s been in since pretty much the latter stages of season one, demonstrating a great level of consistency. There should be plenty of more awesome stuff on the horizon and next week can’t come quickly enough.

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