TV Recaps

'Arrow' Series Premiere Recap: "Pilot"

The CW premiered the pilot for its most buzzed about new series tonight, “Arrow,” starring Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen, a billionaire playboy, who was presumed dead for five years while he was stranded on an island after a boating accident that claimed the life of his father, his girlfriend’s sister (who Oliver was totally cheating with) and everyone else who was onboard. But the Oliver who disappeared is not the same one who comes back. Oliver is on a mission to bring justice to his city and to do so he will need to become Arrow.

We first meet Oliver when he is on the island and sees a boat coming in his direction. Oliver is like a wild animal and he uses his bow and arrow to start a fire and get the fishermen’s attention. As the scene unfolds, Oliver’s voiceover explains who he is and how he has had one goal all of this time – survival. The scene switches to a news report about Oliver being found on an island in the North China Sea while his doctor explains to his mother Moira (Susanna Thompson) that Oliver is covered in scar tissue and second degree burns. She’s just relieved to have her son back and she brings him home (“Smallville” fans will recognize the Luthor mansion). Oliver is distant and surprised to find Walter Steele (Colin Salmon) at the house. Moira reminds him that he was a business associate of his father’s, but Oliver seems more interested in reuniting with the housekeeper. He is excited to see his sister Thea (Willa Holland) and she insists that she knew he was alive.

Laurel (Katie Cassidy) is briefly introduced in a scene at the law office where she works as she watches a report about Oliver being found and the news mentions that her sister Sarah was killed in the accident. Laurel is working on bringing down a man named Adam Hunt on fraud charges, but her fellow attorney doesn’t think they have a chance. The scene switches and we’re given our first flashback to Oliver on the boat. There’s a bad storm and the captain wants to turn back. Oliver is with Sarah and Robert tells his son that’s not going to end well for anyone. Back in the present, Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell), Oliver’s best friend, arrives at the house to catch up with his friend. They share an awkward dinner and Oliver wants to go to the office, something Moira doesn’t think is a good idea. He makes a comment to Walter about sleeping with his mother and Moira explains that they’re married.

Flashback number two has Oliver and Sarah hooking up while the storm rages around them. Sarah is distracted by the storm and the guilt she feels for what she’s doing to her sister (as she should), but Oliver insists that Laurel will never find out. There’s a crash and Sarah is sucked into the water. Oliver ends up in the water too, but Robert and another man quickly pull him into a lifeboat. Back in the present, Oliver is sleeping on the floor in his room, having a nightmare and when Moira tries to wake him, Oliver reacts and takes her down. Walter intervenes, Oliver apologizes and Moira assures him that he’s home.

The next day, Oliver pulls out a locked box from under his bed that has a journal, an arrowhead and some other stuff in there. He goes to give Thea the arrowhead and finds her with her friend, getting high. Oliver calls her by her childhood nickname, “Speedy” and then makes a snide comment that it still applies. Tommy shows up to take Oliver out on the town and wants to throw him a party. As he tells him all the stuff he missed, Oliver wants to see Laurel. Tommy doesn’t think it’s a good idea, but he insists. Laurel is less than thrilled to see Oliver (but OMG, the chemistry between Amell and Cassidy is to die for. I am here for this) and she tells him that she couldn’t be angry because her sister was dead, but she couldn’t properly grieve because she was so angry. Then she tells Oliver that she wished he had died instead (ouch!). Tommy and Oliver go to get back in the car and masked men kidnap them.

Another flashback, this one has Oliver in the lifeboat with his dad and Robert telling him that he’s not the man he thinks he is. In the present, the masked men are asking Oliver if Robert survived and trying to torture the information out of him. They ask if Robert told Oliver anything and he says, yes. “He told me I’m going to kill you.” The men laugh since Oliver is handcuffed to a chair, but oh wait, he’s not anymore. Oliver takes out two of the guys and the third runs. After checking on Tommy, who is starting to wake up, Oliver chases down the third guy and when he begs for his life, Oliver tells him that no one can know his secret and he kills him (Yes, you read that right).

Oliver tells the police that a guy in a green hood saved them, but the police are not really buying it. Oliver is doing research on Adam Hunt and when he tries to leave the house, his mother insists he take his new bodyguard, John Diggle (David Ramsey). Oliver humors him for a bit and then jumps out of the car. He goes to an old Queen Industrial warehouse and begins to turn it into his own little Arrow-cave (the producers were not kidding when they said they borrowed from Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies). There’s a long sequence of Oliver getting the warehouse in order and making new arrows and working out. This is where the salmon ladder scene that everyone has watched repeatedly comes in and it is just as amazing on the *insert large number here* viewing.

Arrow’s first target is Adam Hunt and after taking out his security, he orders him to transfer $40 million into a bank account by 10 p.m. or he’s going to take it. Hunt calls the police and the detective is surprised to hear about the guy in the green hood again. He makes a sarcastic comment about putting out an APB for Robin Hood and his partner comments that Oliver was telling the truth. The detective says there’s a first time for everything (are you guys picking up on the foreshadowing here? The detective does not like Oliver).

In another scene straight out of “The Dark Knight,” everyone is gathered for a huge party thrown by Tommy and the guest of honor is distracted. But Oliver puts on his fake playboy smile, toasts the crowd and then prepares to slip out. However, he spots Thea getting more drugs and intervenes. She tells her brother that she’s not the same kid she used to be and five years changed her. Oliver manages to take the drugs away without her noticing and again tries to leave, but this time Laurel stops him and asks if they can talk. She apologizes for what she said earlier and tells him that she’ll be there if he needs to talk. She asks if Sarah suffered and Oliver lies and tells her no (more amazing chemistry). Oliver’s phone beeps and he sees that Hunt didn’t transfer the money. He tells Laurel that she always saw the best in him and he can tell she’s wondering if the island changed him. He tells her to stay away from him or he’ll just hurt her again. Laurel isn’t pleased. Diggle tries to stop Oliver from leaving, but Oliver puts him in a sleeper hold and slips out.

Hunt is waiting in his office, surrounded by guards and the cops are downstairs, but Arrow comes in through the window. He takes out the guards, but his arrow misses Hunt, lodging in the wall. Hunt taunts him and Arrow fights with more guards and ends up on the floor just as the cops show up. Once again, he goes out the window. The cops raid the party and the detective is giving Tommy grief and Oliver appears at his side and points out that it’s a private party. The detective asks if he knows anything about Hunt, but Oliver claims to have no idea who that is, pointing out that he’s, “been out of town.” Oliver offers two million dollars to anyone who can find a nutbar in a green hood. The detective snarls at him and asks if he even tried to save his daughter (See? Foreshadowing). After he leaves, Tommy comments on the coincidence of Oliver wanting to have his party at a place so close to Hunt’s office. Oliver tells him to be glad he’s alive. Tommy looks at his friend and asks what happened to him on the island. Oliver replies, “A lot.”

As Oliver crosses Hunt’s name off his list, Hunt is in his office freaking out that the money disappeared from his account and he doesn’t know how Arrow did it. Remember that arrow that missed? It had some kind of computer chip in it and it was draining the accounts. There’s one final flashback as Robert tells Oliver to make it home and right his wrongs. Robert shoots the man with them and then shoots himself in the head (WHOA. I did not see that one coming at all).

Laurel’s clients get their money back and someone tells her that her cute friend is there to see her. It’s Tommy and he wants to talk about them. Laurel says they were a lapse and he points out it was more like several lapses. Laurel reminds him that he’s not a one girl type of guy and he says that he could be. She says she has to go and Tommy says “Dinah” Laurel Lance is always trying to save the world. She walks away and Arrow was in the alley and overheard their entire conversation (awkward). There’s another voiceover from Oliver explaining there are many more names on his list and every last one of them is going to wish he’d died on that island. Finally, we see the man who was paid to kidnap Oliver talking to the person who hired him: Moira. She says there are other ways of finding out what her son knows (this revelation wasn’t too shocking).

Pretty amazing pilot, right? I have nothing but good things to say about the cast, the writing, the premise, you name it, I loved it. I can’t wait to see where this show goes and just how dark Oliver is going to get. Feel free to leave your comments and thoughts on “Arrow” below and I’ll see you next week.

About the author

Mandy Treccia

Mandy Treccia has served as TVSource Magazine’s Executive Editor since 2016, formerly as Editorial Director from 2012-2016. She is an avid TV watcher and card carrying fan girl prone to sudden bursts of emotion, ranging from extreme excitement to blind rage during her favorite shows and has on more than once occasion considered having a paper bag on hand to get her through some tough TV moments. Her taste in TV tends to rival that of a thirteen-year-old girl, but she’s okay with that. Follow her on Twitter at @SourceMandy.