"Arrow" season 2 has gotten off to an impressive start, and you could even argue that episode 2, "Identity," which aired Wednesday, Oct. 16, was better than "City of Heroes."
The second episode of "Arrow" season 2 opened with shirtless Oliver working out (how could you not love that?), brought back China White, introduced the Bronze Tiger, unofficially made Roy a member of Team Arrow, featured some really great lines from Felicity, gave Oliver a reality check, and brought in conflict for both Oliver (with Sebastian Blood) and the vigilante (with Laurel). Plus, the island flashbacks showed just how Oliver got that hosen and saw him dealing with the aftermath of killing the man who was going to kill Shado. And how could you not love Oliver's "I had a secret entrance installed when I ran the club" when Thea commented she hadn't seen him walk in?
Like the premiere, "Identity" was epic and action-packed, and it was a logical continuation of "City of Heroes," both with what we saw as Oliver settled into his roles in the present in Starling City as CEO and a vigilante with a new purpose and plan and as we learned more about his time on the island. So far, with just these two episodes, "Arrow" has been exactly what you want a show to be when you tune in each week after a thrilling first season.
Blood out for blood China White and her gang were hijacking FEMA shipments for Glades Memorial Hospital, making the conditions there even worse than usual. Sebastian Blood, the local alderman, was very vocal about how he felt, that the Glades had been abandoned, and he was quick to jump on Oliver when he saw him at the hospital, even as Oliver said he'd do everything he could to atone for what his family had done. But Blood didn't back down and instead incited the mob to go after him as Diggle got him out of there. After that, the news was all about what Oliver had done for the people lately, and he brought Blood in for a meeting to explain that he wanted to fix things.
The first step to doing that was to set up a benefit to make people see what needed to be done, but as happens almost all the time to Oliver, that same night, he had to change suits to take care of China White trying to hijack another shipment of drugs. So while he was taking her down, Blood was badmouthing him to the public, even as Laurel tried to defend her friend (and you had to love that this was right after she unknowingly ripped him apart as Arrow). "Crucifixion has such a bad reputation, but the Romans used it to punish people who acted against the public good," he explained to her before telling those in attendance at the benefit that Oliver wasn't there and was obviously not the person the city needed to breathe new hope into it. Oh, if they only knew.
The claws come out While trying to stop one of the hijackings, Oliver learned that China White had a new partner: the Bronze Tiger. And the Bronze Tiger could easily slice down his arrows. "No kill shots I was promised a fight," Bronze commented. "I hope you haven't lost your nerve." However, their fight was interrupted by Laurel and her vigilante task force, and what did it say about their city that the police were more interested in him than those stealing drugs from a hospital? Their next confrontation came the night of the benefit, but at least that time, Oliver didn't have to worry about the police interrupting since Felicity sent them on a wild goose chase thanks to year-old footage. Diggle dealt with China as he tried to drive the supplies away and Oliver faced off with Bronze Tiger again in an exciting action sequence. Oliver was able to take down Bronze with one of his electrifying arrows and to pin China to a pole using a net. "You've changed," she remarked. "You would've killed me by now if you hadn't." But she also knew that no matter how much he changed, it wouldn't matter to the police. "They still won't see you as anything more than the enemy. You'll never be anything but a criminal to them, which means you'll never be a hero."
Working out some kinks in Team Arrow Oliver decided that Felicity and Diggle needed secret identities as well, and, well, at least Dig seemed to find the humor in his. "It could be worse," he told Felicity as she let Oliver know how she felt about hers. "My secret identity is his black driver." No, Felicity was not happy to suddenly be Oliver's executive assistant, his girl Friday, and he couldn't just woo her with upgraded computers. "If I'm going to be Oliver Queen, CEO, then I can't very well travel down 18 floors every time you and I need to discuss how we spend our nights," he tried to explain, leading to another awesome line from Felicity, especially for the "Olicity" shippers: "And I love spending the night with you." But she didn't lose a step, instead giving herself three seconds to steady herself before continuing to argue that she didn't go to MIT and work as hard as she did to fetch him coffee. And just because she was his executive assistant didn't mean she was going to bring him coffee, not even as he met with Blood. "You know, I would, Mr. Queen, but it seems that someone's broken our coffeemaker," she told him. He did get one cup as the episode ended, but by that point, he had earned it.
Meanwhile, Oliver decided he wanted to be more involved in Diggle's life, which meant arranging a dinner for the three of them. "I'll get right on that, using the Internet, which you also happen to have access to," Felicity quipped when he asked her to make a reservation. She was also the one to finally spur Diggle into telling Oliver that he and Carly broke up, because he couldn't separate the part of himself that hated Deadshot and the part that loved her. "Couples break up. Not everything that happens in Starling City is your responsibility," Diggle told him as he left Oliver to get to the work he actually had to do as CEO. That was the trouble with secret identities. They could really encroach on your time as the vigilante, and the work could pile up if you're not careful.
A new opportunity Roy was still trying to play Vigilante Jr., and all that ended up doing was landing him in trouble with the police (and in interrogation with Laurel) and facing Thea's ultimatum: give up his second shift of "suicide by Chinese street thugs" and keep the hosen Oliver had given her and tear up the check of two week's severance from the club, or that was it for them. She didn't do well with seeing those she loved getting hurt. He did choose her, and with a line worthy of any love story—"If it's a choice between life with you or life without you, life with you will win every single time"—but he didn't tell her about the vigilante finding him and giving him a new "job" as his eyes and ears in the Glades.
Oh, it's personal, but Laurel didn't know how personal it was. She was determined to catch the vigilante, and as Oliver learned when he visited her at her office one night, it went back to the night Tommy died. She had seen him leaving CNRI and blamed him for being too focused on fighting with Malcolm to save those who needed protecting, like Tommy. She wanted to see him unmasked, prosecuted, and sent to prison, and when he returned even after she told him not to, she was ready. "I lost a friend that day too," he told her. "And I would gladly have given my life for his." "Well, don't worry," she replied. "Your life is over. Your life as a free man." She knew he wouldn't stay away, and with the press of a button, the police surrounded him. He was trapped.
One island mystery solved Shado helped Oliver get through killing the man who was going to kill her, and she had some sound advice to offer. "No island, no place can make you something you're not," she told him, explaining about the two sides of a person, the dark and the light, the killer and the hero. But they only had so much time to enjoy together before they had to move on once Slade figured out where the men were headed, and he too had some advice for Oliver: don't fall too hard. Shado was a distraction that could get him killed. "Look what this island ha already done to you," he said. They came across a cave, and inside were skeletons of soldiers of the Japanese Imperial Army. But Slade knew that they were missing something; you don't just go to an island for corpses. On one of them, Oliver found the hosen.
"Arrow" season 2 airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on CW. What did you think of episode 2, "Identity"?