Buckle up because we’re in for a hell of a ride this season!
The premiere of Arrow hit the ground running this year, and it hasn’t stopped. In my honest opinion, “Inmate #4587” was the season premiere Arrow needed after what we’ve experienced in seasons 5 and 6. Infusing new blood into the series with showrunner Beth Schwartz has really elevated this season’s presence after only one episode.
While seasons 5 and 6 started out well, they seemed to have fizzled out toward the end and gone off the rails a bit, and that’s a fair assessment. But being the eternal optimist, I feel in season 7 that won’t be the case.
Why am I so optimistic? Because that element of mystery is back, something we haven’t seen since season 1. Arrow has gone back to its roots this year, and the potential Schwartz has to reframe Oliver Queen’s (Stephen Amell) journey is immense.
From what we’ve seen so far, Oliver’s state of mind is in a very fragile place right now. For the first 45 minutes of the episode, we saw him quiet and timid, but you knew there was going to be a tipping point where “keep your head down” Oliver finally cracked.
You can’t give Stephen Amell enough credit for his portrayal of Oliver Queen. The man possesses some serious acting chops which are often overlooked because of his abs. It’s a shame, but them abs tho!
For a while, I thought the prison storyline was going to be one of those overdone things in the Arrow-verse because we had just seen it done on The Flash last season. But within the first few minutes, I realized there was far more complexity to Oliver’s storyline than Barry Allen’s (Grant Gustin). There really can be no comparison between the two due to the fact that they’re so different.
From what I’ve seen so far, I’m pretty sure Oliver stint in prison is going to surpass Barry’s in just these first few episodes alone. The main reason: Stanley (Brendan Fletcher), the prisoner that has accosted Oliver looking for protection. With best bud John Diggle (David Ramsey) and wife Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) now on the other side of the prison glass, Oliver needs to stop isolating himself and find new allies.
Stanley is the perfect surrogate for Felicity and Diggle, providing much-needed friendship and support, something I can’t wait to see play out in future episodes.
Speaking of Felicity, her mental state is also quite fragile due to the fact that she has not only had to deal with being in witness protection but also has taken a barista job in order to pay the bills. Talk about a demotion!
She’s trying her best to be strong for William (Jack Moore), but being asked out by a customer really brings out the heartache she feels for losing Oliver to prison and being stuck where she doesn’t want to be.
But that’s not Felicity’s only problem. Unlike in seasons past, where the big bad isn’t revealed until later on in the season, Ricardo Diaz (Kirk Acevedo) returns suddenly in an effort to make Oliver suffer for what he did to him.
Embracing her inner badass, Felicity manages to not only get William to safety, but she beats off Diaz until A.R.G.U.S. arrives.
What I loved about this scene was that it paralleled the fight going on between Oliver and Diaz’s goons in the prison shower. (I mean, c’mon, naked Oliver! What’s not to love?) Both he and Felicity were in a fight for their lives, and both managed to survive.
This was, by far, one of the best sequences I’ve seen on television in a long time. I’ve watched it several time already and wouldn’t mind a rewatch, it’s that good.
Later on in the episode, Felicity and Oliver have a very emotional heart-to-heart. Seeing the love and relief in Oliver’s eyes when he spots his wife walking toward him is swoon-worthy.
But what I loved most about this scene was that it completely reaffirmed how strong their relationship is, and how much they truly love each other. Not only did Felicity display a myriad of emotions including anger and frustration at her husband’s decisions, it in no way affected the strength of their bond.
They are solid. Nothing can break them. But at the same time, Felicity is allowed to feel what she feels, and that’s something the show has been missing for quite some time. Schwartz has giving Felicity back her agency, and that’s a huge step in moving her character forward through this difficult time.
Meanwhile, in Star City, Dinah Drake (Juliana Harkavy) and Rene Ramirez (Rick Gonzalez) have been dealing with a new vigilante taking over the mantle as the Green Arrow.
And in a twist to end all twists, we flash forward this season to sometime in the future where William is a grown man looking for none other than Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) on Lian Yu. I think I speak for everyone when I say, “What the hell is up with that?” While I’m super excited to see where this goes, there is some trepidation as to why William is seeking out Roy. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
So what did I think of this episode overall? It was as solid of a premiere as you could get. Action packed and leaving you wanting more almost immediately after it ended, this is definitely one of Arrow’s finest premieres. The only thing I felt lacking in this episode was the presence of Diggle and Laurel. I guess we’re in a holding pattern for the time being where they’re concerned.
All in all, this episode scores a solid A. I can’t wait for more!
Photo Credit: The CW