Arrow 7x01 "Inmate #4587" Review
Arrow Season 7 has somehow come full circle. After a rather disappointing sixth season my hopes weren’t very high, especially when I considered that I’d just watched another CW hero go to jail and all the struggles that meant his family would have to deal with (see The Flash Season 4), but the network’s flagship superhero show has performed a reset that works. While Oliver may be in prison, there’s still a hooded man slinging arrows in Starling City who apparently has a list of people who have “failed this city”. The Glades are still as bad as they’ve ever been, and criminals are being dealt with harshly once more; but perhaps most importantly, Oliver is incapable of making decisions for others as he has in the past.
In fact, it seems like everyone who Oliver left behind is doing much better. Dinah is police captain and seems to be performing admirably, Curtis is working for a tech company, although Diggle has a few issues with his Argus superiors he’s still gainfully employed, and Rene is finally living with and training his daughter and other kids in the Glades — the equipment isn’t the best, but he’s determined to teach them how to defend themselves in a city without vigilantes. I’ve always believed Rene’s turn to vigilantism more than Oliver’s (a man on a mission to kill people simply because his father had a list vs. a man who legitimately wants to make life better for the people in his neighborhood? There’s no real contest there) and it’s nice to see him channeling that same desire into enacting legal change. While Felicity is woefully unemployed as a waitress, she and William have made a home for themselves is a small apartment.
Interestingly, it seems like this season of Arrow might explore some political issues (something the show has a tendency to avoid) with the villain being a wealthy white man going by the name Stent who, although he’s been involved in criminal acts before, has no record because he’s paid to avoid charges. It’s nice to get some type of commentary somewhere in the show, and I’m hoping that later on Oliver and Diggle will get the opportunity to discuss their differing experiences in prison and how Oliver’s experience might have been better than Diggle’s due to things like race and/or class.
Season 7 of Arrow also gives us one of the things the show has always been good at: great fight scenes. Rene fighting off a group of weapons dealers by himself was amazing, Oliver getting into prison fights was expected but choreographed extremely well, and even Felicity had an opportunity to get into the (literal) swing of things, fighting off Ricardo Diaz alone in an attempt to save herself and William from the unpredictable villain.
The episode ends with us back on Lian Yu following a young man arriving on the island by boat and clearly searching for something. I admit this was the piece of the premiere that made me nervous. When the flashbacks that plagued us for 5 seasons started in Season 1, they were necessary to the ongoing plot of the show but as we moved away from the Green Arrow origin story it seemed as if the mysterious island was just going to continue to serve as a MacGuffin of sorts, the place where everything that takes place in Oliver’s current day started. I began to dread those flashbacks because often, they weren’t contributing anything to the structure of the show and I fear that this will happen with the flash forwards that are going to follow us this season.
I also dislike when shows ruin what could have been huge surprise moments and Arrow definitely did that by telling us immediately after Roy and Thea’s Season 6 departure that Roy would be coming back in a big way in Season 7. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to see Roy Harper again, and I love the way Colton Haynes portrays him, but I would have appreciated the entire final scene more if I didn’t know that he was coming. It also came as no surprised that the young man taking a boat ride out to Lian Yu turned out to be a much older William, looking for Roy for reasons as yet unknown (and hinting that Oliver might be deceased in this future). Maybe my thoughts about this are just a combination of overall weariness from myriad shows attempting to pull off a big twist that doesn’t really work because viewing audiences aren’t simpletons. Hopefully as the season goes on, I can get more excited about the flash forwards. However I choose to look at the end of the episode, this premiere was solid and if it’s any indication of how the rest of the season will go, I look forward to what new showrunner, Beth Schwartz, is going to put on my screen every Monday.
Arrow airs on Monday nights at 8/7c on The CW.