After being shipwrecked for five years, Oliver Queen returns home with revenge on his mind

By Nuzhat Naoreen
Updated October 11, 2012 at 05:00 AM EDT
The CW

Believe it or not, there’s actually more to Arrow than Stephen Amell’s abs (though they are glorious!).

Based on DC Comics’ Green Arrow (don’t worry, you don’t need to read up to enjoy the episode or this recap), the premiere episode of the buzzy new series has all the makings of a CW hit: action, mythology, love triangles, and of course, a young, hot and sometimes shirtless cast to move everything along. Not a bad combination, right? Now, let’s dig into the pilot:

I know I just said the series has a “young, hot cast” but when we first meet Arrow he’s anything but attractive. Dressed in tattered clothes and sporting long, haggard hair, our dirtied up hero — who has apparently been stranded on an island near North China named Purgatory for the past five years (fun!) — expertly leaps through mountainous terrain to try and catch the attention of some passing fisherman. It’s all very Tom Hanks in Cast Away, but with a bow & arrow instead of a volleyball. Luckily, the seclusion doesn’t last long. Shortly after setting off a makeshift flare, Arrow is on a ship headed home. He has reason to be relieved. Apparently, Purgatory isn’t the kind of place you’d want to be in for five minutes, let alone five years. In order to make it out alive, Arrow reveals he had to transform himself into a weapon. It’s something that will likely work to his benefit because Arrow, whose real and very not-intimidating name is Oliver Queen, has resolved to return home, “Not the boy who was shipwrecked but the man who will bring justice to those who have poisoned my city.” Ambitious!

Speaking of home, aka Starling City, the media is abuzz with news of Oliver’s rescue. As it turns out, Oliver wasn’t just any boy lost at sea. He was the son of a billionaire businessman (who died during the shipwreck), and a well-known playboy and club scene staple.

It’s certainly not long before he’s back to looking the part. At the hospital, a cleanly-shaven Oliver stoically stares out into the city, while his doctor gives his mom the medical rundown. Apparently, Oliver has 12 fractures that never fully healed and second degree burns on his back and arms. The doc also reveals that 20 percent of Oliver’s body is covered in scar tissue. Seriously, what happened on that island? The answer will have to wait, as Oliver’s mom decides to take him back home to their mansion, where he reunites with his maid, younger sister, and best-friend/fellow party-goer Tommy Merlyn. Later during dinner, Oliver surprises everyone by speaking Russian (wait, you can get Rosetta Stone in Purgatory?), and his mom surprises him by revealing she’s married to his father’s old work friend, Walter Steele. Needless to say, things get awkward very quickly.

NEXT: More awkwardness as Oliver meets up with his ex….

After finding out his mother has re-married, Oliver ditches dinner to spend some time alone in his room. But he doesn’t find much solace there. Instead, Oliver, who is clad only in a towel (ab alert!), finds himself thinking back to the night of the shipwreck. Apparently, Oliver wasn’t alone when the yacht he was on toppled over. In fact, he was hooking up with his girlfriend’s sister. Playboy, indeed. Her body was lost at sea but a distraught Oliver managed to make it on to a life raft with his father and an associate. Unfortunately for us, the trip down memory lane is interrupted by Oliver’s mother and Walter, who find him shaking uncontrollably on the ground. In his haze, Oliver confuses his mother for an attacker and instinctively levels her to the floor. Luckily, she manages to break through his trance before he causes any real damage.

The next day, a somewhat recuperated Oliver decides its time to try and make amends with his ex-girlfriend Laurel. Of course, Laurel, a lawyer who is in the throes of taking down a corrupt businessman, is less than thrilled to see her ex/sister’s lover alive and well. In one of the night’s best exchanges, she angrily tells Oliver, “I couldn’t be angry because she was dead. I couldn’t grieve because I was so angry. That’s what happens when your sister dies while screwing your boyfriend.” Ouch.

As if that wasn’t enough of emotional turmoil for one day, soon after the encounter, Oliver and Tommy are ambushed by a bunch of masked men. The goons tie Oliver down and demand to know if his father survived the shipwreck. In the midst of the kidnapping, Oliver remembers his father telling him that he didn’t build their city but “failed it,” and he “wasn’t the only one.” Damaging intel much? The men continue to taunt Oliver but he manages to turn the tables on them pretty quickly. When one of the attackers nearly escapes, Oliver chases him down and snaps his neck.

Later, Oliver tells an especially grumpy detective that a man in a green hood single-handily saved him from the kidnappers. (And so the legend begins!). The detective doesn’t buy it, though his reluctance might stem from the fact that he’s Laurel’s father. Again, awkward.

After successfully throwing off the detectives (and his newly hired bodygaurd), Oliver heads to his father’s now shutdown factory, Queen Industrial. There, he sets up his version of the Bat Cave, prepping his uniform and his body. (Can we all take a moment to appreciate the crazy work-out scene? And here I thought monkey bars were a challenge!). His plan? To take revenge on the city’s corrupt businessmen.

First up on the list is Adam Hunt, a real-estate mogul, who Laurel has also been working to take down. Arrow ambushes him in a parking lot and tells him to transfer 40 million to a bank account by 10 p.m. the following evening. Hunt, obviously, isn’t interested in parting with his fortune, so he beefs up his security and calls in the cops to help take Arrow down.

The following night, Oliver heads to his lavish welcome home party, which is coincidentally situated across the street from Hunt’s office. At the soiree, he collides with his sister, whose apparently been doing drugs in his absence. He also runs into Laurel, who offers him support. But, instead of embracing her, Oliver harshly warns her not to get too close as he’ll only end up hurting her again. Cue the angst.

NEXT: Oliver gets his Revenge on…

After ditching Laurel, Oliver, err, Arrow checks-in on Hunt. Since the businessman failed to transfer his 40 mil, Arrow takes down his security force and robs him dry. The money ends up being divided amongst clients who, with the help of Laurel, had filed a suit against Hunt. Laurel is obviously thrilled to hear her clients have been mysteriously compensated, though she doesn’t know Arrow is to credit. Who else thinks she’s going to develop feelings for the cloaked hero as the season progresses? (Side note: I actually hope she doesn’t because this would be way too predictable to be interesting). But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, after all, first Laurel has to deal with her feelings for Oliver and Tommy. Yes, Tommy. Though the two barely interact throughout the pilot, in the final few minutes, we learn that they actually have a friends with benefits relationship, and Tommy is ready to take things to the next level. Laurel, however, doesn’t believe he’s ready to give up being a ladies man just yet.

Meanwhile, after taking down Hunt, Arrow heads back to his hideaway, where he crosses the businessman’s name off a list that his father had left him. (Someone’s been watching Revenge!). He also has another flashback that reveals that, on the night of the shipwreck, his father killed himself and the other associate on the raft to give Oliver a better chance of survival. It’s a revelation that helps shed some light on Arrow’s motivation for justice.

Then comes the night’s biggest twist: Those goons that kidnapped Oliver? They weren’t hired by a corrupt businessman or his father’s old colleagues. Nope. They were hired by Oliver’s mom. Apparently, she’s desperate to find out just how much her son knows. Join the club, lady.

Now, for some stray observations/questions…

— I’m already rooting for Laurel and Oliver to get together, but does anyone else think she actually has more chemistry with Tommy?

—Speaking of Tommy, he points out that Oliver’s sister has gotten really hot, which in TV land means they’re definitely going to get together in the near future. As a Willa Holland fan, I totally support this.

— I like how we were led to believe Walter Steele was the bad guy, when in fact it was Oliver’s mom pulling the strings. That being said, I’m still not convinced Walter is a good guy.

— I’m looking forward to finding out more about what exactly went down on that island. Though, I’m curious to see how it will tie into Oliver’s life in Starling City.

— There’s no way that shipwreck was an accident right?

— I’m a fan of Arrow’s hero get-up. What about you?

Ok, now it’s your turn. What did you think about the premiere episode? Will you be tuning in to Arrow weekly?