Arrow‘s second season was a confident, world-building success that capitalized on a strong lead-in with the back half of its freshman season. Not only did Season 2 introduce super-powers, it opened the doors to the larger DC Universe featuring numerous comic book villains (Vertigo, The Clock King, The Dollmaker) and even superhero icons like Barry Allen/The Flash. By the time the series finale aired, Arrow’s Season 2 went from being a cult hit with potential, to a full-fledged smash with rabid fans.
In a wise move, Season 2 focused on the transition from vigilante to hero using the death of Tommy in Season 1 as a catalyst for Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) to change his violent ways. While Oliver took steps to become the hero fans know he will become, his island mentor Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett) began his decent into darkness as the overall villain of the season – DC Comics fan favorite Deathstroke.
Season 2 had much less of the filler type episodes that plagued Season 1, and wisely spent that time on secondary characters like Roy Harper (Colton Haynes), while he began his own heroic path with a satisfying arc for fans. Oliver’s buddy and partner John Diggle (David Ramsey) also got a focus by temporarily joining the famed anti-hero team “The Suicide Squad.”
The women in Oliver’s life also got to take center stage as beloved superheroine The Black Canary (Caity Lotz) made her debut – in surprising fashion for fans of the character. Not all of the Canary stuff worked, but Lotz can kick some ass and her ties to the overall arc of the season and a larger DC legend made her a welcome addition.
The adorable Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) continued her tech support for Team Arrow, while possibly something more serious started to brew in her relationship with Oliver. Felicity is smart, funny, and extremely likable throughout the season, while providing some of the most quotable lines from the year.
By the time things build with a legitimately impressive string of final episodes to an epic showdown between Oliver and Slade – that had a two-season long build-up – the scale of the show went to new heights and ended with a superb showing.
Arrow: The Complete Second Season does an excellent job translating the beautifully shot series with all the crisp colors of the character’s outfits and extremely-high-quality-for-TV digital effects. Watching the season for the second time, I was impressed by how much better the show looked on Blu-Ray compared to broadcast.
Much like Arrow: The Complete First Season, this set covers all possibles bases of consumption by providing the episodes on Blu-Ray, DVD and Ultraviolet Digital HD. The packaging again is a simple plastic disc notebook container, while the discs themselves have a different pair of characters on each green-shaded disc.
The special features give some nice options, but fall short of being anything as impressive as the show itself. The most useful of which is a 41-minute recap episode called Arrow: Year One, narrated by the great John Barrowman (who also portrays Malcolm Merlyn) and is a great way to refresh before diving into Season 2 or even for newcomers just jumping onboard.
Additionally, the special features contain From Vigilante to Hero, which highlights just how far Oliver Queen has come since he snapped his first bad guy neck in Season 1. It’s a decent featurette that sees both the cast and the creative team dig into the evolution of the show, the character and legacy of Green Arrow.
How Did They Do That?! The Visual Effects of Arrow was probably my favorite, and showcases detailed breakdowns of how the digital effects team created dazzling sequences like the parachute jump in the premiere City of Heroes. I was truly amazed at how much in reality was just visual wizardry, in shots that felt heavier in practical effects.
Wirework: The Impossible Moves of Arrow shines the spotlight on the much more dangerous and exciting physical stunts of Season 2. Some of this short featurette gets a bit repetitive, but I was absolutely blown away by the practical stunt work in episodes like The Scientist, and really appreciated seeing the work that went into pulling off things like the truck stunt in that one.
Everybody loves a gag reel and this set has one, but it’s a bit lackluster. Much of the scenes were just cuts to actors laughing on set in montage with upbeat music in the background. I’ve heard the set has a lot of fun, so the lack of content there is a bit perplexing. Especially glaring, when you have someone as notoriously entertaining on the set like John Barrowman on your show.
The deleted scenes also don’t bring much to the table and mostly justify themselves being cut from the final airings. Episodes with deleted scenes include City of Heroes, Identity, Crucible, The Man Under the Hood, and Unthinkable. The shots mostly deal with Laurel (Katie Cassidy), but there is one of mild note involving Bronze Tiger (Michael Jai White) blowing off some steam with his metal claws, while China White (Kelly Hu) looks on and discusses the Arrow. The two are revealed to be a bit more than business partners and a bit more *ahem* frisky.
Arrow: The Complete Second Season provides some fun and interesting insights into the show with its special features, but a lack of commentaries or featurettes on major events like the debut of Barry Allen/The Flash seem like missed opportunities.
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