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Starling City has been torn apart by the Undertaking, so the need for the hooded vigilante archer - now known as The Arrow - is more urgent than ever in the explosive second season of the hit action series based on the DC Comics character.  After retreating to the island where he was once stranded, Oliver Queen returns to protect his mother, sister and besieged corporation - but comes to realize that allies and enemies have switched sides, and the stranglehold of evil on family, friends and city is diabolically linked to his fateful shipwreck.  A comrade-at-arms from the island and a mind-warping, strength-enhancing serum developed there may prove to be the mightiest adversaries that The Arrow has ever encountered.  Can justice find its target in this breathlessly-exciting 4-disc, 23-episode Season Two?  Or will all fall before the vengeance of Deathstroke? (From CW's official synopsis)

Arrow: Season Two
Arrow ups its game from the first season right out of the gate with an action-packed season premiere that proudly showcases the show's expanded budget and capabilities.  We pick up not long after the end of Season One's man-made catastrophe that rocked Starling City to its core.  While Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) managed to take down Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman), the damage left in the wake has devastated his home city, which is in need of a hero now more than ever.

Getting down to brass tacks, this is a pulp action show that is mostly episodic in nature.  If that's your thing, then Arrow might be up your alley more than you might think.  There is, of course, the season arc of Oliver dealing with the machinations of super-powered friend-turned-foe Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett) and a lot of fun to be had with that.  Thankfully, just as much of the entertainment comes from his interactions with not only the villains-of-the-week, but his allies and acquaintances as well this season...something the first season tended to drop the ball on (at least early on).

Arrow: Season Two
The show has also finally jumped headfirst into the more comic booky aspects of its source material and the wide array of colorful characters within.  In addition to the return of Shado, Deadshot, Count Vertigo, China White; this season has added an even greater assortment of characters into the mix...not to mention the addition of superhuman abilities.  Amanda Waller, Dollmaker, Nyssa al Ghul and the League of Assassins, Shrapnel, Dr. Ivo, KGBeast, and a pre-Solomon Grundy Cyrus Gold all make appearances, as well as the guest casting ante being upped with the addition of Brother Blood (Kevin Alejandro), Bronze Tiger (Michael Jai White), and The Clock King (Robert Knepper).  While Marvel's Agents of SHIELD has run away screaming from its source material, Arrow has given its own a big bear hug.  If only DC's films would do the same.

Season Two's storyline is far more focused that last year's and having a villain with a more personal connection to the hero only helps things.  Manu Bennett was one of the highlights of last season and absolutely steps up to the plate to shoulder his promotion from mentor to primary antagonist.  His Slade Wilson is perhaps the best character on the show to date and one that the series should hold onto for as long as (super)humanly possible.  Alejandro does a fine job as the secondary villain, Sebastian "Brother" Blood, and it was nice to see him take on a darker character than his rather positive (if not still demonic) True Blood role from a few years back.

Arrow: Season Two
In terms of the returnees, Amell continues to up his game with each passing episode and some of the weaker links of Season One (Willa Holland & Colton Haynes) have come into their own here.  David Ramsey, Emily Bett Rickards, Susanna Thompson, and Paul Blackthorne also continue to be the rocks upon which the foundation of the show stands.  If there is one character who feels adrift at see, however, it is Katie Cassidy's Laurel Lance.  Up until the last fourth of this season, it felt like the showrunners just had no idea what to do with her and Cassidy's performance was all over the damn place.

It probably didn't help that the show is given a better female lead this season in the form of The Canary (Caity Lotz).  Not only is Lotz given a more dynamic and better written part, but she is capable of virtually everything that the showrunners throw at her.  This effectively drowns out not only Cassidy's Laurel for a great majority of the episodes, but also unfortunately sidelines Ramsey's Diggle for small chunks of the season as well.  The juggling act improves as the run goes on, but if there's one glaring problem with Season Two, it is that there are a few too many friendlies in Oliver's life.  Something to work on in Season Three, I guess.

Arrow: Season Two
The show has enough going on both in the A & B plots (the latter being the flashbacks, once again used to great effect), as well as the multiple character-centric subplots, that the "filler" episodes rarely presented problems for me this time around.  This is something that could not be said of its inaugural season, which admittedly has at least 5 episodes in its earlier half that could be jettisoned with little damage made to the overall story.  This is a problem that many shows with a 20+ episode order run into (I'm looking at you again, SHIELD!), but it thankfully avoided in most instances here.  Arrow may not be among the best shows on television, but there was rarely an instance while watching this (both as it aired and as I revisited it here) where my interest wasn't held.  No watch checking, basically.

Arrow: Season Two
There's room for improvement, of course, but the show continues to better itself with time.  This fall season shows a wide assortment of competition hitting the digital airwaves, from the ridiculous (and not in a good way) Batman without Batman antics that is Fox's Gotham to the more interesting looking NBC's Constantine on the DC front.  Not to mention Arrow's own first spin-off, The Flash, whose titular character is actually introduced in this season within a two-episode arc that sets the stage for said series.
 
As for Marvel, while their feature films delight, Agents of SHIELD has not impressed much thus far (though this season's premiere was alright) and I remain skeptical of ABC pulling off Agent Carter as well.  I suspect we have until Daredevil premieres on Netflix in May before Arrow & The Flash have a true challenger knocking at their door.  Until then, I will proudly continue to proclaim this as my favorite superhero series around and urge all those with an affinity for this particular sub-genre to give it a go.

Arrow: Season Two
Video
Like the first season's home video release, Arrow: The Complete Second Season looks rather fantastic in high definition.  There's nary an issue to be found and what few there are have more to do with the occasional TV-budgeted visual effect than the presentation itself.  The show's look received a budgetary upgrade this season and it has never looked better than it does here.

Audio
Once again, a top notch presentation across the board here.  The mix is extremely well-balanced across all channels and isn't front-loaded like some television shows tend to be.  From the dialogue to the effects to the music, everything works in conjunction with one another to dish out an immersive experience.

Arrow: Season Two
Extras
If there is one area where the ball is dropped on this release, it is here.  The From Vigilante to Hero featurette is the best of the bunch, clocking in at around 24 minutes, and delving just a little deeper into the creation of the season's storyline and characters than most EPK-ish material.  There are two other featurettes detailing the visual effects and stunt work on the show, both rounding out around 10 minutes in length.  Beyond that we have last year's Comic-Con panel, some deleted scenes, a gag reel, and an entire "previously on" episode that covers last season's events.  Standard stuff, for the most part.  It would have been nice to get cast & crew commentaries for at least a few episodes and perhaps something dedicated to some of the source material and characters that were mined this season, but those are really the only nits that I have to pick here.

  • Bonus Recap Episode: Year One (HD, 41 minutes)
  • From Vigilante to Hero (HD, 24 minutes)
  • How Did They Do That? The Visual Effects of Arrow (HD, 11 minutes)
  • Wirework: The Impossible Moves of Arrow (HD, 10 minutes)
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 23 minutes)
  • Arrow: 2013 Comic-Con Panel (HD, 26 minutes)
  • Gag Reel (HD, 5 minutes)
  • The entire season on DVD disc and digital download

Arrow: Season Two
Overall
Arrow had a rough start, but continues to blossom into one of the better comic book shows to grace the small-screen.  That progression has continued at an even faster pace with this season and seems primed to retain its pace when it returns this fall alongside The Flash.  If you are in the mood for some smaller scale live action superhero shenanigans, you'd be hard pressed to find a better delivery system for it than this at the moment.

Arrow: Season Two
Arrow: Season Two
Arrow: Season Two
Arrow: Season Two

* Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray image quality. They have been taken from the included DVD copies.


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