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Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > Action > TV > Arrow: The Complete Second Season (2013 - 2014/DC Comics/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD Set)

Arrow: The Complete Second Season (2013 - 2014/DC Comics/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD Set)

Picture: B+/C+ Sound: B/C+ Extras: A Episodes: A-

Sometimes it's easier to create a sensational first season of a television show than it is to build on that success with a second one. Just ask the creators of the late lamented Heroes show. Great first season. All downhill from there. Arrow producers Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg faced just such a challenge going into Season Two of the CW's surprising hit superhero show. To recap, lead character and bon vivant Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) spends five years on a deserted island, only to return a changed man. Haunted, toughened, and bearing enough secrets to choke the NSA, Oliver begins a war on Starling City's corrupt power elite.

That war changes him. He gains allies and enemies. Clever flashback sequences to his life on the island slowly reveal how he survived and changed into the expert fighter and archer he is now. Oliver wears a hood to hide his identity and uses brutal methods to accomplish his goals. He kills for the cause of justice. The end of season one left him mourning the loss of one of his dearest friends and questioning his methods and his mission.

This sophomore season opens with staunch allies John Diggle (David Ramsey) and Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) traveling back to the mysterious island where it all started. Oliver has exiled himself there to lick his wounds and heal his soul. Convincing him he is still needed in Starling City, the trio returns home to face a raft of new threats, and a deadly menace from the Arrow's past.

It's no real spoiler to let folks know that Slade Wilson, aka Deathstroke (Manu Bennett) features as this season's primary villain. His grudge against Oliver/Arrow drives the action, but plenty of twists and surprises will keep viewers guessing as to how things will end. Much of the action centers around the Arrow's desire to change his killing ways and adopt non-lethal methods of taking down bad guys. He does this to honor fallen friend, Tommy Merlyn. As the character's ethos matures, his identity shifts from Season One's Vigilante or Hood to The Arrow.

Season Two features even more of the DC Universe characters fans will recognize and love. At the risk of revealing too much, we get to see a lot more of Deadshot and a certain Dirty Dozen style task force. Some other familiar faces return, and plenty of new ones emerge.

This Blu-ray/DVD combo set contains the full run of this season in both formats. The episodes (in their 1.78 X 1 framing) look great in both 1080p HD Blu-ray and 480p standard-definition DVD, but the many dark fight sequences show up better on the Blu-ray discs. Hints of color as intended by the look of the show beginning the previous season remain and really come through on the Blu-ray discs in ways the DVDs cannot capture. The lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 mixes on the Blu-rays easily outdo the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes on the DVDs in warmth alone, but they are also rich in detail and depth the Dolby cannot handle.

The extras on this set include a nice documentary on Oliver/Arrow's metamorphosis from vigilante killer to hero. Interviews with cast and crew add plenty of insight to the writers' decision to take the Arrow away from the path of vengeance to one of heroism. Another featurette highlights the computer graphics used for some of the special effect shots in the show. Also included is a segment on the wire work used to make some of the more spectacular stunts happen. Finally, a Comic Con 2013 interview panel with Stephen Amell and many of the other major cast members provides viewers a neat look into the cast and crew as people. The panel interview reveals them as a true working family, and a great bunch of people truly humbled by their show's success.

Arrow: Season Two delivers on the promise shown in Season One, and ratchets the action and drama up yet another notch. Season Three will have even more to live up to!

- Scott Pyle


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