Arrow: Season 2 review (Blu-ray)

The adventures of Oliver Queen continue in this second season, which really sees the show get into its stride and up its game.

Season 1 concluded with Queen (Amell) putting a stop to Malcolm Merlyn’s (Barrowman) plot to use an earthquake device to destroy the Glades, but he doesn't manage to save Merlyn's son, and his best mate, Tommy (Colin Donnell). Season 2 opens with Oliver back on the island, unable to cope with his failure. Diggle (Ramsey) and Felicity (Rickards) convince him to return to Starling City when a group of vigilantes starts killing people and the mysterious Isabel Rochev (Glau) tries to take control of Queen Consolidated.

The biggest change this season sees the evolution of the Arrow character, after Queen resolves to stop killing the bad guys, to honour the memory of his dead friend. It's a tough challenge, but it really sets up the Arrrow to become the hero we know him as ... the Green Arrow. The main threat this season comes from Queen's past, his island "friend" Slade Wilson (Bennett). Over the course of the season, Wilson gradually becomes Deathstroke, and plots his revenge against Queen for the death off Shado and the loss of his eye. And the big surprise for Queen this season is the return of a character everybody thought dead, in the guise a new vigilante, the Canary.

In among the battle for control of his company and his battles against the bad guys, Queen also has his family issues to deal with – his mother is in jail and his sister is in a relationship with a rather shady character. Yes, the show does have a bit off a soap-opera element to it (as it progenitor, Smallville, did too), but it balances that nicely with the dark tone – clearly inherited from Chris Nolan's Batman films – and the great action setpieces. And there's plenty of humour, most of it provided by the lovely Ms Smoak (and the will-they-won't-they storyline with Oliver continues) along with the introduction of more characters from the DC world ... including The Flash, who is soon to get his own spinoff series.

Superhero/comic book shows have come and gone on TV ever since television began, but Arrow is right up there with the best off them. Solid writing and a clear idea of where it is going and what it is doing help to make Arrow one of the best shows currently on TV, and long may it continue to ddo so.

EXTRAS ★★★½ A terrific episode-length recap of the show's first season, to bring new viewers up to speed and refresh the memories of the rest of us; deleted scenes; a gag reel; the Arrow 2013 ComicCon Panel; and three behind-the-scenes featurettes.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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