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    Arrow’s second season kicks off this Wednesday, October 9 at 8pm on the CW, and “City of Heroes” is everything we’ve come to expect from this series. It delivers on every. Single. Front. I can’t wait to watch it again!

    One of the things that really sets this series apart from some others is the consistency, and that can be attributed in large part to the consistency behind the camera as well as in front of it. “City of Heroes” was directed by John Behring, who did several episodes last season, and was written by the creative team of Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, and Marc Guggenheim. Berlanti is arguably one of the busiest men in Hollywood right now, and I had worried that he might not play as big a role this season with Arrow. Of course, Kreisberg and Guggenheim have the show in good hands.

    The kickoff to the second season picks up some time after the events of the season one finale. Any break in the breakneck paced action of the show definitely took place over the hiatus and the season opener is jam-packed with action, fight scenes, and drama. There are also flashbacks to the Island – though even there, there has been a gap of five months. The characters are all in different places than when we last saw them, and most of them have taken on new roles of one kind or another. Thea (Willa Holland) has grown up and is still together with Roy (Colton Haynes). Oliver (Stephen Amell), Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards), and Diggle (David Ramsey) have some issues to iron out. Both Moira (Susanna Thompson) and Quentin (Paul Blackthorne) are still struggling to be good parents.

    There are several new characters who will, no doubt, become factors in the episodes to come. We are introduced to Laurel’s (Katie Cassidy) new boss and there’s a new masked crusader in Starling. There is also a mention of a new potential big bad running for office in the Glades, though we don’t meet him in the episode. We also meet Isabel Rochev (Summer Glau). I have to admit that I wasn’t completely sold on casting Glau, but I’m now looking forward to seeing more of this character!

    There are some great performances in the episode. There are also a lot of moments and lines that I think will have other fans as satisfied as I was. And then there’s one really great surprise at the end – I’m betting the really observant of you will have it figured out before it happens – I hoped it would happen and then squeed out loud when it did. I will tell you that it isn’t Tommy (Colin Donnell) coming back to life (though I would have loved that too!).

    Even amongst so much to love about this show, the thing that I always come back to in thinking about it is just how tight and well done the writing is. It isn’t just the great dialogue – that is natural, witty, and what we’d expect from a comic. It’s also how often the plots are paralleled with each other to bring a real depth to the overall story.

    And that’s really all I can tease about the season opener... for now! If you liked the first season you won’t be disappointed. If you missed the first season, you can easily jump in now and find out what is so great about this series! As an added bonus, I’m going to finish with some coverage of Stephen Amell’s panel from Fan Expo in Toronto this past August which I was lucky enough to attend. In what follows, SA stands for Stephen Amell and Q for question. This is not meant to be a word for word transcript but is a summary of my notes.

SA: I use the cons as sign posts. Last year fans told him they hoped the show “wouldn’t suck.” This year at Comic Con and Fan Expo the reception has been great and enthusiastic.

Q: What’s it like working with John Barrowman?

SA: We’d never worked together before. I now understand the breadth of his fandom. He’s a flamboyant character sometimes. We were filming one scene and I’m trying to talk to Paul Blackthorne and John pulls a dance move and just cracks me up.

Q: Is DC taking over season two?

SA: DC was like the fans. Last year they were “we hope the show doesn’t suck.” This year it’s like they gave us the keys to the car. I get to fight Spawn! I’m pumped!

Q: Would you take Oliver Queen to the big screen for Justice League?

SA: Yeah! Flash is one of the biggest DC characters. If we can introduce the Flash and do a good job and spin him off to a series it makes sense. We had to get approval for the casting for Flash all the way to Christopher Nolan for Barry Allen to appear in the show.

Q: 50 Shades of Grey? (Aside: before it was cast, obviously)

SA: I had a meeting with the company producing. I don’t foresee myself being involved in that project. Is Christian Grey killed eventually? I could see myself playing that character....

Q: Any villains you’d like to play?

SA: I’d like to play the Riddler.

Q: Have you changed from playing this character?

SA: My life has changed because I used to measure my success by how many days I worked in a year, and now I measure it by how many days I have off! I’ve become more direct. I like to get things done.

Q: Thanks for being so friendly and down to earth. The chemistry between Oliver and Felicity is off the charts – will they get together?

SA: There’s always hope! How they cut the show tells you where the showrunners and writers are going. Oliver and Laurel are taking a break when the show comes back.

Q: What do you want in season two?

SA: Last year Felicity brought out a lighter side to Oliver. I want more humor and heroism.

Q: What about a Justice League movie?

SA: My first priority and responsibility is the show. I’m going to keep focused.

Q: How do you deal with being a comic book hero or heart throb?

SA: Teenage girls are fickle! Long after they’re gone the comic book heroes will be there. John Barrowman said in the first season, people are inviting you into their homes and the second season they are expecting you to be there.

Q: You play two very different versions of the same character – how do you manage that?

SA: When I’m in the Arrow costume I’m awary of how I’m standing and talking. There’s no slouching. On the Island, I can be more of a kid, slouch, pitch my voice higher. Just as thing start to get better in Starling City, things on the Island go to crap. It’s like Lost. You know at the end of five years that I get off but how do we get there?

Q: What will happen with Roy?

SA: Some good scenes with Colton Haynes in the first and second episodes. One of our major things on the show is that you have to go through something to transform. This year is like Roy’s Island.

Q: What’s the relationship between Oliver and Thea?

SA: Thea is in a good place this year. She’s grown up and taken over one of my jobs. Moira is in prison and not doing well.
Stephen Amell with the author

A few final comments:

SA: Chinese is really hard.
I’m looking for the humor wherever I can. I try to play my parts without ego because that’s the easiest way to look stupid.
I’d be shocked if there wasn’t a boxing-glove-arrow reference at some point.
Oliver has respect for Moira holding the press conference and saving some lives and for having acted under duress.
We will definitely see Felicity in the field again.
My favorite episode from season one was 16.
This year I’m going yoga instead of a lot of weights and parkour.

The best part of Amell’s Fan Expo panel is when he told the moderators he was going to take three more fan questions instead of wrapping up his panel! He was genuinely happy to see the fans and took great pains to answer questions and be available to the fans – and it was most appreciated by everyone. In contrast to most of the panels, which ran 20 to 30 minutes, usually with multiple guests, Amell’s ran almost a full hour.

Are you excited for Arrow's season premiere? You should be!! Let me know your thoughts in the comments! And don’t forget to tune in for “City of Heroes” on Wednesday, October 9 at 8pm on the CW!

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