Review: Arrow Season Two and The Tomorrow People

It's like an Amell Family Reunion on The CW tonight. Stephen Amell makes his return as Oliver Queen in the second season premiere of Arrow, DC and Warner Brothers' newest adaptation of a comic book character. Meanwhile, his cousin, Robbie, makes his debut in the newest sci-fi drama on The CW, The Tomorrow People.

When it comes to Arrow, I really wish I caught up on the last season before the new one aired. I missed probably the last two or three episodes, episodes in which a lot of shit went down. So to find out what happened to a few of the main characters was a bit of a shock to me.

That aside, I loved the opening of the new episode. Dig and Felicity (David Ramsey & Emily Bett Rickards) go back to the island where Oliver regressed after the events of last season. He's been there for a year, contemplating his place and how his quest for justice lead to the fall of Starling City.

One thing I noticed about this episode is that it provides a complete turn around in many of the characters. Oliver's sister, Thea, takes over running Oliver's club, Verdant, showing that she is capable of being a responsible adult as opposed to the spoiled child we saw during season one. Roy Harper, Thea's friend who once got by on petty theft and pickpocketing, shows herself as a selfless hero. Though we were given a few glimpses of his heroism in the first season, this episode really shines a light on who he is. And Oliver himself, who all throughout the show up until now, refused to have any part in running his father's company, Queen Consolidated. But by twenty minutes into the Season 2 premiere, he's stepping in to save the company from a hostile takeover. It's a stark difference from what we saw in the first season, but at least they are making changes with the characters, not leaving them to wallow in their own stagnancy.

But what I really loved about the episode is how much it reminded me of the classic Batman story, The Dark Knight Returns. I know it's a little odd for me to be comparing a Green Arrow story to Batman but to be quite honest, they did kind of turn Oliver Queen into Bruce Wayne. A billionaire industrialist with a tragic past vows to save his city from the depths of depravity and corruption. Queen and Wayne both employ some high-tech equipment in their nighttime forays to crime-fighting, have taken their bodies to the peak of physical perfection and mask their secret identities by pretending to be drunken, useless louts.

However, Season 2 of Arrow shows Starling City left fractured after the earthquake in the Narrows. Most of the city tries to go on with their lives but a group of vigilantes crops up, basing their form of justice on the Hood. They are overzealous and unafraid to kill innocent people. This forces our hero to come out of "retirement" and prompts him into action. Very much like how Frank Miller envisioned Batman in The Dark Knight Returns.

Given everything that's happened in this episode, I am so excited for this season. It maintained the excitement of the first season but promises so much more. According to internet reports, this season will see the introduction of both Black Canary and The Flash, an idea that they set up nicely with the hell that has become Starling City. The fall premieres of 2013 have given us a glut of super hero-themed shows but so far, Arrow has been the best of them.

Tomorrow People is a new show on the CW, airing right after Arrow. In traditional CW style, the show features a number of beautiful teenagers and young adults, many of them without shirts. Tomorrow People takes a twist and focuses on super powered people. However, that twist seems to have been taken straight out of the pages of X-Men.

According to the show, the Tomorrow People are the next stage of human evolution, blessed with the extraordinary powers of the "Three Ts", teleportation, telepathy, and telekinesis. These powers make them much more than "homo sapiens". They are "homo superior". yes, they actually say that in the show.

Part of being "homo superior", however, means that the Tomorrow People are unable to kill using their powers. We witness this during a moment when Steven Jameson, our lead super hero, gets into an altercation with a school bully and does his best Darth Vader impression. (This was right after he did his best impression of Ryu from Street Fighter, mind you.)

There were a lot of things that I liked about The Tomorrow People. One line in particular, a somewhat throw away line from the second male lead, John (Luke Mitchell). "I am not getting caught by him again." That one word at the end implies so much possible backstory, making him seem more mysterious. They didn't need to cloud him in questions and shove misinformation down the audience's throat. All they did was slide an innocuous line of dialogue into an otherwise tense scene and they've opened up a number of pathways for the future.

What I didn't like was all of the super hero tropes they tossed into the story, like the entire concept, for example. An unsuspecting teenager thinks he's weird, different, an outcast because of the changes he's going through. Come to find out that he's gained super powers and there are a number of people just like him, that can do the things he can do. Suddenly he's not so weird any more. Unfortunately, there's an evil corporation/entity/man who hunts down and capture these super powered beings for some nefarious reasons. Oh, and it only took 40 minutes to reveal that the main character is the strongest character in the show, possessing powers no one else ever has.

Even up to the end, we have no idea what Ultra really wants with these people. We are told that some of these "homo superior" are willing to steal and trade state secrets like missile launch codes. Is this about protecting the government from internal threats or is there really something more going on? Yes, even the government can be evil, I can buy that. But unless they are turning these people inside out to study a way to destroy them, I really can't find them very scary. I get that they want to hold back as much information as they can to entice people to keep watching to learn the truth, but there in some ways holding too much back is just as detrimental.

I will say, though, that I was very impressed with the way the episode ended. Even though it's filled with a bunch of "super hero" tropes, at least the ending wasn't trite. It fell in line with the information we were given in the first episode and felt true to the characters as we know them. It will be interesting to see how the show handles the topic from this angle as opposed to the others that came before it. It's intrigued me enough to want to watch the next one, though I can't really say that I was blown away by the premiere.

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