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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Arrow: Season 2 (Blu-ray)
Arrow: Season 2 (Blu-ray)
Warner Bros. // Unrated // September 16, 2014 // Region A
List Price: $69.97 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Kyle Mills | posted September 16, 2014 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
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P R I N T
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Content:
Arrow centers on Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), A spoiled playboy billionaire who was shipwrecked on an Island known as Lian Yu for 5 years. When he came back, he was a changed man with 20% of his body covered in scars. Upon his return, Oliver only has one thing he wants to do, to right the wrongs of his father by taking down those whom are poisoning Starling City. To do this though, he must become "The Vigilante" or "The Hood" to hide his secret from everyone he loves.

Spoilers for Season 1:

Season 2 picks up in a much darker place than our pervious season. The Glades of Starling City have been left in ruins by Malcolm Merlyn's (John Barrowman) master plan known as the Undertaking, a plan that involves destroying the city where his wife was murdered, and our characters are reaping the whirlwind from it's after effects. Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), the newfound savior of the city, feels he has in fact failed it, secluding himself from society and banishing himself back to Lian Yu (the island he was on for 5 years.) Diggle (David Ramsey) and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) are trying their hardest to track him down. Tommy's (Colin Donnell) death has caused Laurel to turn to abusing pills and alcohol, effecting her job performance. Detective Lance (Paul Blackthorne) has now been demoted to street cop level. Walter (Colin Salmon) has divorced Moira (Susanna Thompson), whom is now in prison for her conspiring with Malcolm. At the start of the season, it seems the only characters actually happy with their existence in life are Thea (Willa Holland) and Roy Harper (Colton Haynes), whom are happily together with Thea now running Verdant (Oliver's night club) and Roy as her bartender.

Season 2 starts out 5 months after the devastating quake that left the Glades in shambles and Tommy Merlyn dead. Oliver is now back on Lian Yu as penance for his failure, feeling it'd be safer if he were not around. Diggle and Felicity show up and convince him otherwise (after Oliver saves Felicity from a land mine in Tarzan fashion that is), asking him to return to the city on behalf of the Queen's company, Queen Consolidated, which is in threat of takeover and dissolution by a woman named Isabel Rochev (Summer Glau.) With the threat of his family's legacy being burned to the ground, Oliver decides to return to Starling.

It's not long before Oliver has to don "The Hood" again, as he learns of Thea's kidnapping at the hands of some vigilantes that are looking to take back the Glades. After defeating them without having to kill anyone, Oliver realizes there is a different path he can take. He reveals to Diggle and Felicity that Tommy had told him he was nothing but a murderer and that his friend died believing him to be a killer. While he considers it much easier to simply take a life in a kill or be killed situation, Oliver makes a promise to himself stating that from that day on he will honor his best friend's memory the only possible way he can, to not be the killer he once was and to become the hero that Tommy believed he could be. Oliver's crusade to become a hero without killing proves to become more and more daunting with each passing episode.

Oliver returns to Starling under scrutiny from the media thanks to a man known as Sebastian Blood (Kevin Alejandro), one of the primary antagonists for the season. A charismatic man, Sebastian wants to rebuild Starling into the city that he always envisioned it could be by running for office after the current Mayor was murdered by one of the so called vigilantes. By day, Sebastian is his captivating self, charming all of the citizens of Starling in his journey to become mayor. By night, Sebastian is Brother Blood, a Scarecrow-esque villain who seems to be creating an army of super soldiers by injecting them with a serum. While there are larger villains pulling the strings, Blood's arc was one of the stronger aspects of the season, and a lot of the thanks can rest on the hands of Kevin Alejandro. The man oozes charisma in the role, sometimes even to a disarming extent, showing how easy it is for Sebastian to charm even Oliver, but at the same time providing the menace needed for the Brother Blood persona, making him a viable threat. Blood became the villain who does the wrong things for the right reasons and it was a refreshing change of pace.

The strongest aspect of this season is something fans have been dying to see since he was first introduced in the middle of the first season... Deathstroke finally steps into the spotlight. With Oliver having to not only deal with his duties as CEO of the Queen's company, but also the increasing threat of Brother Blood and his super army, his biggest threat comes to light when he comes face to face with Slade Wilson who seems to be on a warpath to take everyone and everything away from Oliver. It raises the question as to what happened between these two close friends and how they became mortal enemies. Unsurprisingly, Manu Bennett steals the show as Slade, given the best material to work with and being able to stretch his acting chops as we watch him go from the cocky, smug mercenary we loved in season 1, to being wrecked in total despair, to being the biggest badass on the planet. Watching Manu in each of these stages of Slade's life is captivating to say the least, delivering a haunting, chilling and brilliant performance.

While this season is more focused on it's major plot lines with Slade, Sebastian and Oliver's journey to becoming a hero, the writers still make time for episodic stories and bad guys of the week. While not a bad guy, we have a two parter that introduces us to Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), a forensic scientist from Central City. All of your favorite trademark quirks of Allen's are present in Gustin's portrayal, and while I was a little hesitant at the casting choice, he actually does a great job in the role. Count Vertigo (Seth Gabel) is back to slinging his drug on the streets of Starling, but this time taking things to a whole other level. Deadshot (Michael Rowe) is back, forming an unlikely partnership with Diggle. Of the new villains, my two personal favorites were the creepy Barton Mathis/The Doll Maker (Michael Eklund), he's a one off villain that was entertaining from start to finish and one I'd love to see back again instead of someone like China White (Ugh.) Thesecond was Nyssa Al Ghul (Katrina Law), whom is in Starling per the request of her father, Ra's Al Ghul!! Some other notable guest stars for me were Bronze Tiger (Michael Jai White) and Shrapnel (Sean Maher.) At the same time, there were many that fell totally flat, again, China White (she's the worst.) The Clock King (Robert Knepper) is completely wasted. The Huntress is back yet again in the worst episode of the season, forming the Birds of Prey.

There are several subplots sprinkled throughout the season to pad the running time and keep things interesting, some that are continuing from Season 1 like Moira trying to get out of prison which takes up quite a bit of time in the first quarter of the season, while Diggle's rivalry with Floyd Lawton/Deadshot continues on. Colton Haynes gets a lot more material to work with this season as we follow Roy's journey to become the Red Arrow. There are some new subplots that involve Oliver trying to save Queen Consolidated from Isabel, Laurel's life on the downward spiral due to Tommy's death, Quentin handling his daily activities as a beat cop while helping The Vigilante, and a character once thought dead returning as another vigilante, rocking everyone to the core as our heroes find out whose behind the mask.

The flashbacks are back this year as well. After the demise of Fyers' (Sebastian Dunn), Oliver, Slade (Manu Bennett) and Shado (Celina Jade) are living in a more content setting now that their problems are behind them, that is until they find a freighter just off shore and cross paths with the ruthless Anthony Ivo (Dylan Neal) and his mercenary's. The flashbacks this year serve two separate storylines, the first connects with the current timeline as Ivo reveals that he came to the island to find a secret serum that would give soldiers superhuman strength and regenerative capabilities, thus evolving the human race. The second is watching the growing bond between Slade and Oliver as we inch closer to finding out exactly what happened between these two.

- Positives:

+ Unlike in Season 1, Oliver is given a clear story arc that anchors the entire season.

+ Manu Bennett is a perfect Slade Wilson/Deathstroke.

+ Season 2 improves on the first season in nearly every single way.

+ Action sequences are better than ever.

+ Excellent guest performances. Kevin Alejandro gives one of the best performances in the series to date, pulling off both sides of the Blood persona quite well. Summer Glau, although underutilized, is great with the material she's given.

+ Roy Harper was a nuisance in Season 1, here in season 2 he has a terrific storyline and was one of the bright spots.

+ Fun guest characters like the Suicide Squad, Barton Mathis/DollMaker, the League of Assassins and Nyssa Al Ghul. Past villains from season 1 return as well, including The Count (Seth Gabel) and Deadshot (Michael Rowe.)

+ Just like season 1, the flashbacks were a highlight each week.

+ Barry Allen's two episode stint.

+ Some great cameos and future teases!

- Negatives:

- Easily the most glaring problem with season 2 was Summer Glau. I don't know if they just couldn't afford her for more or what, but a half dozen episode just weren't enough for how important her character was. She's literally in like episodes 1 & 6 and then disappears for over a dozen episodes before making he reappearance and revealing her intentions. It was really weak.

- Diggle could have been used better. While he got a lot of focus in the first season, he only gets 2 or 3 episodes of being front and center here.

- Laurel was all over the map this season.

Video and Audio:
For both Video and Audio, if you own the first season, it's more or less the same. The video is presented in 1.78:1 broadcast ratio that looks absolutely beautiful.

The audio is presented in a 5.1 DTS-HD Master track and it is a terrific mix. The only problems I ever had with it were the fact that any scene that involved gunshots, they drowned out pretty much any dialogue taking place. Besides that, there were no signs of dropouts or distortions.

Extras: - Year One - A bonus full length episode that catches those up to speed on the evnts in season one.

- From Vigilante to Hero - A 24 minute documentary with the cast and crew discussing the differences and similarities between a vigilante and a hero, and which side Oliver lands on.

- How did they do that? The visual effects of Arrow. The production crew discussing how they come up with the visual effects and how they're completed.

-Wirework: The impossible moves of Arrow. A 10 minute segment discussing the stunts on the series and how they're executed.

- 2013 Comic Con panel - The panel lasts approximately 26 minutes and has Executive Producers Marc Guggenheim, Andy Kreisberg, and Greg Berlanti. Along with actors Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy, David Ramsey, Colton Haynes, Emily Bett Rickards, and John Barrowman. They're fielded questions like what guest stars would be on, each actor is asked about their characters futures and what they'd like to see, if Malcolm would be back, their reactions to the first script, and what's more taxing between the emotional and the physical scenes.

- 19 Deleted scenes that lasts 23 minutes.

- A five minute Gag Reel.

- A booklet with episode summaries.

- Digital HD download leaflet.

Overall:
Season 2 raises the bar for Arrow to an entire new playing field. While I thought Season 1 was very solid, It wasn't an exceptional show that deserved to be called one of the best shows on TV, season 2 however, I believe earned them that achievement. With fantastic character development, gripping storylines that never let go, some wonderful performances, and probably the best action sequences on all of television, Arrow is highly recommended.

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