As one of the longest-running CW shows, Arrow has a lot to live up to each season. It was the show that generated spin-offs of the DC Universe like The Flash, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow. Not only do people turn to it for its success, but people also turn to Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) time and time again, even if he is in prison.
At the end of the sixth season, there were a handful of significant shifts in the show. Ricardo Diaz (Kirk Acevedo) escaped being caught by Queen and therefore will be back this season. More importantly, Oliver was sentenced to prison because he revealed his identity as the Green Arrow to save his team members from coming forward about their identities. Just because he is behind bars does not mean his role stops.
Jumping five months forward, Oliver spends a significant portion of the first episode of Season 7 fighting the enemies (like Brick and Derek Sampson) of Green Arrow. He swiftly selects when and when not to use his fists, knowing that his ultimate goal is to be released early for good behavior.
Amell, the man behind Arrow’s mask, conveys the battle of fighting the urge to help those around him suffering in prison well, as he struggles not to be the vigilante he is when he’s Green Arrow. A specific moment troubles Oliver when Derek and Brick attack Stanley—an inmate Oliver befriended who’s, ironically, a big Green Arrow fan—in an attempt to coax Oliver into intervening and then helping them complete their messy business. We see Oliver walk away, and the absolute pain displayed on Amell’s face.
As Oliver struggles with his new identity, his wife and Team Arrow member Felicity Smoak creates her escape. In her attempt to hide who she is, she takes on the role of a pink-haired barista, and she and William must stay together since Diaz is still capable of hurting them. Oliver’s absence pains Felicity, which is something Emily Bett Rickards displays well. As she returns home to William, what she actually needs is evident. While the emotion here is visible on screen, the scene plays a bit awkwardly.
Perhaps the toughest part of the episode to get through is the related attacks on Oliver and Felicity. As Oliver is jumped by Diaz’s people while in a shower in prison, a scene that was incredibly hyped through the season’s trailers, simultaneously Diaz goes after Felicity inside her apartment. In the midst of Oliver’s fight, one of Diaz’s men says that Diaz has killed Felicity. The hype leading up to this scene was worth it—its content and importance made it compelling and interesting to watch.
By the end of the episode, we know Felicity has not been killed—and there could be no Arrow without her presence. She and William are safe after she fights back. Upon visiting Oliver in prison, Felicity confesses her plans post-attack. She sees that sending William to a boarding school would be best for everyone. It would allow her to leave the witness protection program and focus her energy on ensuring Diaz’s downfall. Although Oliver’s facial expressions and words express that this idea is not what he would have done himself, his prior decisions that led them to the current situation prohibits him from having much say. As Arrow begins its latest journey, Oliver’s motivations for success are still the same.
Many of the more awkward or campy parts of the episode can be forgiven. It’s very impressive that a superhero show like this, especially on the CW, has made it to seven seasons. Many other shows would have been reusing and recycling storylines over and over at this point— if they were not cancelled entirely. Fans who have made it this long are probably still very much on board in spite of the minor flaws.
Featured Image by The CW