Arrow: 7.02 The Longbow Hunters
Arguably, Inmate 4587 was the greatest season opener Arrow has ever had; it reinvigorated the series after a less than successful season six and generated some really interesting storylines. After only two episodes, motivations are clear, character arcs have been set and the main villains teased; what more could you ask for? The separate dynamics thus far are working well; Oliver in prison, Felicity trying to work with Diggle and ARGUS, and the remaining team Arrow doing their own things. While some are worse than others, they are all distinctive and entertaining in their own right.
As mentioned previously, the biggest issue this season has is with the shear amount of supporting characters. The stories involving the original crew of Oliver, Felicity, Diggle and Roy are all captivating. As each scene ends with them, the anticipation to learn more about the situation is superb. The same however cannot be said for the likes of Rene, Curtis, Dinah and Earth 2 Laurel. While their stories are by no means unwatchable, they crumble in comparison; the material just isn’t as interesting. Curtis simply fades into the background, Rene is just a man with a gun offering little and Dinah and Laurel’s forced reconciliation was a tough pill to swallow.
Introducing the main villains so quickly is proving to be an effective formula. We knew from last season that Diaz was a force to be reckoned with, but the addition of the Longbow Hunters was genius. The three hunters, currently unnamed, all immediately stand out as individuals and are a credible threat to our protagonists. This was impressive to watch, as not only did they not have a great deal of screen time, but one of them had zero lines and still made an impact. Enough was divulged while still keeping the mystery alive; it’s excellent writing, acting and execution.
Oliver’s continuing struggle in prison is becoming a much loved storyline; now he’s moved passed the idea of playing it safe and hoping for early parole, the tension has really amped up. His Green Arrow antics, playing by prison rules is cleverly written, and motivations to help his family from the inside give his actions purpose and meaning, helping the audience to connect better. The idea of him starting a new Team Arrow from within the prison is currently working, offering some subtle yet effective comedic relief. It’s a dangerous path to be taking as if the “team” gets too big it could become very one note and boring but, for the time being, it’s great. Stephen Amell is taking full advantage of the grittier Oliver and his performance is showing his new enthusiasm.
The flashbacks, or in this case flash-forwards, with an older William and far more, let’s say experienced Roy on the island is easily the strongest element, it has a healthy balance between story reveal and mystery. Not only are you curious about what the whole scenario is about, you’re curious about what’s happened to Oliver and Felicity, as William says he was practically abandoned. Above all else, where on earth is Thea? I look forward to seeing how the current story will meld with the future scenes. I worry that it will go down the same path that we have witnessed flashback scenes go before but, for now, it’s promising.
As far as developing the current season, The Longbow Hunters is a fantastic continuation. It may still have some teething problems with its overcrowded supporting cast but, so long as their scenes are kept small and the majority of effort is kept with the main cast, then I have faith for this season’s success. The villains have shown a lot of potential and already made a huge impression that will no doubt be capitalised on further. The script is opening up character arcs like John and Felicity beautifully, which is being elevated thanks to great performances. Nothing thus far feels forced or cheesy and the current formula is working well. Keep up the good work Team Arrow.