'Arrow' Premiere Recap: The Dark and Brilliant Saga Begins
'Arrow' Premiere Recap: The Dark and Brilliant Saga Begins
Laurel Brown
Laurel Brown
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
There's a new hero in town.

He is damaged. He is handsome. He is a ruthless killing machine in the name of justice. His name is Oliver Queen, and the Arrow premiere is the beginning of his story.

Not-a-Fantasy Island

Arrow begins on a remote, cold and rather harsh-looking island. And Oliver Queen is not having fun there. We don't know what Oliver is running from -- that is something we won't learn until later Arrow episodes -- but we soon know what he is running to. A boat. Oliver lights a monstrous bonfire with a flaming arrow and salvation arrives.

Apparently, this island is called "Purgatory" by the Chinese. Sounds about right.

Back from the Dead

Cold seas and dramatic voiceovers end for the moment, and we get to see a little bit of the media furor which must surround the return-from-the-dead of a billionaire playboy. Not that Oliver returned unscathed -- he is covered with scars and sexy tattoos.

The psychological wounds are there too. Off reactions to his loving family and pained (but beautiful) looks in his eyes betray the inner turmoil of this profoundly wounded man. At least Oliver can show some small affection for his thankful mother, loving sister and loyal maid.

Why Romance Is Dead

Enter Laurel Lance, a dedicated lawyer who is really, really into the David-and-Goliath form of justice. Alas, her self-righteousness is interrupted by some convenient plot exposition on television. The local newscaster announces that Oliver Queen has returned... And that someone named Sarah Lance died in the boating accident Oliver survived.

NOTE: Wait. Laurel hadn't heard about Oliver's return before? She works in an office that keeps the TV on, for Pete's sake! Oh whatever...

Minor inconsistencies aside, another flashback explains Oliver's old ways. Oliver had accompanied his father on a yachting expedition in the North Pacific. Where they were going and why are not important. What is important is that they were in a horrible storm and that Oliver was having sexy-times with Sarah Lance. That's Laurel's sister.


Tommy Merlyn

Tommy gets a section to himself. He's that awesome. Oliver's best friend from back in the pre-vigilante party days shows up to dinner and immediately catches Oliver up on the important news of the day.

Of course, he gets the explanation for Lost wrong, but we can forgive the charming Tommy Merlyn for that small flaw.

Oliver is less charmed. He just randomly catches dropped fruit, speaks Russian and confronts Walter and Moira about their previously unmentioned marriage. Then he leaves. More Tommy tomorrow!

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

Oliver isn't sleeping well. This may be due to the fact that he chooses to sleep semi-naked (yay!) on the floor in the rain. But at least these rough conditions spark another flashback -- Oliver and Sarah were about to have sex and champagne before the boat sinks.

Sarah dies. Oliver is pulled into a life raft by his father and by some other guy.

Mommy Moira unfortunately picks this moment to awaken her son. Oliver nearly kills her in return. And I thought I was cranky first thing in the morning...

Girl Problems

The next morning, Oliver has recovered enough from his PTSD to go be nice to his sister. Unfortunately, Thea and her delinquent friend are just about to snort painkillers when Oliver walks in. Oliver totally notices but just makes a joke about her old nickname, Speedy, still being appropriate.

NOTE: The name "Speedy" is important in the comic-book origins of 'Arrow.' But not particularly important in this pilot.

Thea is spared any anti-drug lectures by the arrival of Tommy. The two old friends go out on the town for light-hearted conversation about sex, partying and recent economic downturns.

Speaking of downturns, all Oliver wants to do is go see Laurel.

Laurel kind of hates Oliver. This is because Oliver cheated on her with her sister. Who then died. Thus, Laurel's response to Oliver is fair: "I'd hoped that you'd rot in hell a whole lot longer than five years."

And Then the Day Gets Worse

Smarting from his encounter with Laurel, Oliver follows Tommy into a random dark alley. This is where the kidnappers are waiting with tranquilizer darts.

This is unfortunate for Oliver and Tommy but fortunate for us. Oliver's unconscious state tells us that, back in the life raft, Oliver that Daddy Queen had done bad things. Very bad things.

But the kidnapper wakes up Oliver before we can get the details. Oliver has to endure some taunting and some questioning about whether or not the elder Queen talked before dying.

Oliver's answer? Killing. Lots and lots of killing. It's quite impressive. And ruthless. Wow.

Detectives and Diggle

When the police come to investigate, Oliver credits a hooded man with his salvation from the kidnapping. The main detective -- who obviously knows and despises Oliver -- doesn't buy it. But since the only other witness, Tommy, didn't see much of anything, there isn't much choice.

Moira Queen isn't taking any more chances with her son though. She hires an ex-military commando type amusingly named Diggle to be the boy's chauffeur and bodyguard. Diggle may be a serious badass, but Oliver still manages to slip away.


Oliver's escape lets him break into his father's old factory. Why? Oliver needs a secret lair. He creates it in a montage of building, exercising (shirtless!) and shooting arrows.

It's beautiful.

The List

Vigilante time!

Oliver has a list of names in a worn notebook. One of those names is Adam Hunt, the same greedy scumbag that Laurel is fighting in a lawsuit. He must be destroyed.

We meet said greedy scumbag in a parking garage, surrounded by henchmen. But then the henchmen begin to die, pierced with arrows. A hooded Oliver confronts Hunt, demanding the transfer of $40 million by the next night.

Or else...

Hunt of course responds with threats, a new security detail and calling the police. Not that the cops are all that interested in helping a greedy scumbag. But the law is the law, and they like to catch vigilantes. A trap is set for the next night.

It's His Party and He'll Kill If He Wants To...

The Arrow's plans for justice may take a little creative time management. Tommy Merlyn's "You're Not Dead!" party is also on for the next evening, although it is conveniently next-door to Hunt's offices. Oliver seems really into the party scene too, shouting thanks and downing tequila shots.

Or is he? Entrance completed, Oliver's only other party activities involve stealing Thea's drug stash and then warning off a conciliatory Laurel with lies about what a jerk he is.

Then Oliver leaves. Diggle tries to stop the boy again but just ends up knocked out.

NOTE: This is a dead giveaway to Diggle about what Oliver can do. Oh well. That's next week's problem.

Or Else

Hunt has missed his deadline to transfer funds, so the Arrow is forced to attack. Although the greedy scumbag thinks himself safe, he has not taken into account a badass vigilante like the Arrow.

A rather stunning fight scene ensues. Oliver's arrows are easily sufficient to beat machine guns and hordes of trained henchmen. In fact, most of the henchmen are soon dead. Oliver does get knocked out briefly, but he comes to and escapes out the window (zip line!) just as the stunned police arrive.


The police raid the party, looking for the Arrow. But they just find a party. Oliver even turns up -- totally clean, uninjured and suave -- to offer a reward to anyone who could find that masked man. The detective isn't impressed.

But this detective is Detective Lance, the father of Laurel and the deceased Sarah. He may be entitled to think poorly of Oliver Queen.

Having saved the day, Oliver needs to complete one more step to get complete justice. A specialized arrow in the wall at Hunt's office is used to drain the man's bank account. Oliver then transfers the money to every member of Laurel's class-action lawsuit.

This makes her job a lot easier than usual.

But Then Come the Twists

Right at the end of the Arrow premiere, we learn three important and twisty things.

1) Oliver only made it to Purgatory Island after his father killed the other survivor and then himself. Oliver was left as a legacy for justice.

2) Tommy shows up at Laurel's office. And we learn that the two have slept together -- at least three times. Laurel laughs it off as a fling, but Tommy's expression suggests otherwise. LOVE TRIANGLE!!!

3) A shady man reports that the police could not identify Oliver's kidnappers. Should they try again? No, says Moira Queen... Oliver was kidnapped by his own mother!

And thus the Arrow series premiere comes to an end.

Is Oliver's mother evil? How will the love triangle resolve? Can Oliver keep his secret? And how did the boy get quite so kickass anyway? Share your theories below!

(Images courtesy of The CW)