Review: ARROW S3E1 “The Calm” (2014)

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With crime in Starling City at an all-time low thanks to the Arrow and his team, Oliver thinks he can finally balance being both the Arrow and Oliver Queen and asks Felicity out on a date. However, when a new villain emerges, who has claimed the name Vertigo from the recently deceased Count, Oliver is caught off-guard and someone close to him is hurt. Oliver and a newly suited up Roy take on the Count. Meanwhile, Diggle becomes a father, Lance is promoted to Captain, Laurel joins Arrow’s inner circle and Felicity gets a part-time job at a tech store to make ends meet. Also, Oliver fights to regain his company, Queen Consolidated, but comes up against a very worthy opponent – the charming Ray Palmer.




Since its premiere in 2012, The CW’s Arrow has become a very successful series, particularly within the targeted comic book fan audience. The show has done a remarkable job portraying the DC Universe, featuring everyone from Amanda Waller and the Suicide Squad to Barry Allen and Deathstroke. In fact, Allen’s own series, The Flash, premiered this year. So, after two successful seasons and a strong debut for the spin-off, Arrow‘s third year has been very highly anticipated, with teases of more focus on Oliver and Felicity’s relationship among other things. So, how is the premiere episode?

Needless to say, Arrow is showing no signs of slowing down. Many new developments are established in “The Calm” right out of the gate, and it lays out the theme of the season: identity. Can Oliver Queen and The Arrow co-exist? The episode does a terrific job displaying the conflict between the two, going as far as to show them actually engaged in a thrilling fight. “Olicity” fans will also be extremely pleased with this season’s direction, and the kiss near the end of the episode will probably cause Tumblr to go haywire, if it hasn’t already. It’s also exciting to see Roy Harper’s evolution into Arsenal. He is now a more essential member of Team Arrow, with a killer costume to boot, and seeing his partnership with Oliver play out is a joy. Oh, and Oliver’s new bow is awesome.

As usual, the action in this episode of Arrow is top-notched, and the stuntwork couldn’t be better. The writing, cinematography and score have also improved from past episodes. Moving the flashback sequences to Hong Kong is an refreshing new direction, and it will be interesting to see how Oliver’s time there plays out. And as expected, “The Calm” features plenty of exciting twists and turns, with one at the very end regarding a key character bound to blow minds. (Don’t worry, I won’t spoil it for those who have not seen the episode yet.)

The acting in this episode is also solid. Stephen Amell continues to make the role of Arrow his own, and it’s hard to see another actor as Oliver Queen. David Ramsey, Emily Bett Rikards, Katie Cassidy, Colton Haynes and other returning players are all still very good in their respective roles. Peter Stormare makes his debut as Werner Zytle, aka the new Count Vertigo, in this episode, and he completely nails it. While his tweaking of the Vertigo drug made its effects seem too similar to Batman Begins‘ Scarecrow, it made sense within the story, and Ztyle is a far more physical and memorable villain than Seth Gabel’s Count. Also new to the series is Ray Palmer, played by Brandon Routh. The former Superman gives a surprisingly strong performance as the future Atom, and he is very charismatic in this role. The character’s direction for future episodes will be very intriguing to see.

Other noteworthy elements include the redesigned logo and the return of The Arrow’s “You have failed this city!” catchphrase. The latter was particularly exciting, since it was a fan-favorite in the first season and was noticeably absent from the second. Additionally, Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen makes a quick (no pun intended) cameo, setting up the conversation he has with Oliver in The Flash pilot. It’s a very cool moment, and it does a perfect job syncing the timelines between the two shows. It’s hard to point out any specific flaws in this episode, as it shows just how far the series has come. Aside from some unoriginality (specifically the Vertigo drug) and the ending arguably feeling a bit random and rushed, this episode is nearly perfect.

In conclusion, “The Calm” marks a triumphant return of the king of comic book television as Arrow kicks off its third season with a bang. It features all the best elements of the hit DC Comics adaptation, such as flawless action, character-driven storytelling and shocking twists. This episode is literally just the beginning, as in coming weeks, we will be seeing the likes of Komodo, Wildcat and the legendary Ra’s al Ghul. Even new shows such as Gotham and The Flash will have a hard time topping this series. Welcome back, Arrow.

Paul Romano
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Founder and Editor-in-Chief of WOBAM! Entertainment.