Monday, September 7, 2015

#CountdownToArrow #1 - A Great Big Kickoff Post

As we revealed on our Twitter, we decided that in honor of it being a month until Arrow (and the fact that there are so many lovely fans who follow the site, our Twitter and Tumblr pages), we thought we would spend the month doing special things for you guys because you've meant a lot to us and we know that the show means a lot to you guys (and to us as well). You can expect Chelsea, Lynnie, and other members of our team to debut Tumblr contests this week where there will be actual prizes given away to winners. And trust me, I've seen the prizes and you guys will want to be following us to participate. We know how long a month can feel until a show returns -- a show you get excited about and are passionate for. And we want to help the time pass.

Each week during the next month, we'll be doing something special. Tomorrow, for instance, is Felicity Smoak Appreciation Day where we'll be debuting a fashion-inspired post and a post containing some of our favorite moments from our lovely blonde hacker. In the weeks to come, you can expect posts for Laurel, Thea, Diggle, and Oliver, as well as some posts about our favorite (tragically deceased) characters, the Lance family, and we'll even count down some of our favorite moments from the series. Additionally, there will be two Twitter trends that'll happen in the next month and we'll be sure to let you all know when they launch so you can participate!

But before we get to any of that, we wanted to carve out some time and explain why we're doing this all in the first place. What is so special, to us, about Arrow that we would spend an entire month-long celebration on it? Well, we're about to tell you. Plus, we're going to break down our thoughts about that season four trailer too!

Why did you fall in love with Arrow and what's so special about it?

LYNNIE: Family often comes with drama. For Oliver Queen, family comes with drama, betrayal, heartbreak, loss of faith, anger, and the need to forgive a lot of sins. Found family often comes with the simple truth that beyond physical characteristics, backgrounds, faith, and age, the people involved know each other. They connect souls, forming alliances that, while not always easy to maintain, make sense given the core of who they are and who they will become.

Found families are everything to me.

I liked Arrow when Oliver Queen first snapped the zip ties and the necks of the men holding him captive in the premiere. The action junkie in me literally thought: “Cool,” because I’m profound like that. Admittedly, I didn’t love Arrow until the show made it clear that they were creating a family that would come to mean everything for John Diggle, Felicity Smoak, and Oliver Queen. That moment for me was season one’s "The Odyssey."

Though it is a flashback-heavy episode, every moment between Dig, Felicity, and Oliver had weight and meaning. I could see that Diggle and Felicity were bonding over the life and death experience; I knew in my heart that Felicity was around to stay. It was a beginning. It was a perfect leaping-off point – saving Oliver was a silent promise for both of them to stay, to look out for one another, a belief that lingered through tough times and good. And though shaken this past season, the bond between the three of them is still strong. They are the kind of family that always finds their way back to one another.

In "The Odyssey," Oliver came home, even if he hadn’t truly realized it yet, and he found a family that would carry him into his next incarnation as a legend and a hero.

JENN: Here’s the thing, y’all. I don’t read comics. I know, I know, I’m a failure. I never have. But I love Arrow. And I love The Flash. Logically, I shouldn’t -- I shouldn’t connect as much as I do with television shows based on comic book series if I don’t read the aforementioned series. … But I do. And the reason that I do is the primary reason that I love Arrow. Yes, the series is based on the Green Arrow comics. Yes, the characters are similar. Yes, the themes are similar and some of the villains are similar and there are nods and little winks to the comics peppered throughout. But you don’t have to love Green Arrow t fall in love with this CW series. You don’t. It’s a bonus, I guess, if you read the comics and can pick up on all the subtle references and homages but the point of Arrow isn’t that it is a 3D version of a 2D story. That would be boring and limited. The show is about taking the characters from the comic books and making them real and different in a way that speaks to viewers. I don’t love Oliver Queen because I read about his journey in comics. I love him because I watched him struggle and mess up and struggle some more and emerge victorious. I watched him grow. I watched him fail. I watched him fall in love. I watched him suffer immense pain.

And what Arrow does when it is at its very best is take a hero that only some of us have related to and mold him into a hero that all of us relate to. Marc Guggenheim and the rest of the writers and producers never intended this series to be a carbon copy of comic book canon. The show’s characters derive from there, but they’re not confined to canon. They’re free -- free to grow and develop organically, without the restraints of another medium placed upon them. That’s great. That allows us to have Felicity Smoak and John Diggle being awesome. It allows for growth in Roy and Thea and Laurel and Sara and Oliver. It’s what drew me to the show: the writing of these characters. And though the romance is great and the stunts are the best on television (in my opinion), it’s the characters and their stories who drew me in and they’re who keep me around.

(As a related aside: people told me before I binge-watched the show that I would fall in love with Felicity Smoak. I assumed they meant I would really enjoy her and honestly, since everyone had hyped her up so much, I thought I would be let down. Instead, the first time I truly felt completely engaged with the show was during "Lone Gunmen" and her appearance. It didn't take more than a few seconds for Felicity to become the most endearing, wonderfully and delightfully human aspects of this show. The writing kept me around and Felicity was the cherry atop that awesome sundae.)

MEREDITH: I’m not going to lie -- I fell in love with Arrow because one of the earliest scenes featured a shirtless Oliver Queen. But as I continued to watch, I found that the show contained compelling storylines, relatable and interesting characters (ahem, Felicity Smoak in "Lone Gunmen"), and fast-paced writing. Arrow is gritty and exciting, and I love being so drawn in by it week after week. And, of course, there’s a little-ship-that-could called Olicity. That doesn’t hurt either.

When watching a show, I look for a few things. I look for characters I connect with, I look for dialogue and interactions that are impactful and meaningful, and I look for an epic love story. Arrow -- well, Arrow has it all.

The thing about Arrow, though, that really sets it apart, is that it’s not just a show. It’s a community. The way the cast cultivates relationships with the fans, the way the fans interact with each other... this show has changed so many lives. When I started watching, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. But I’m so glad I did. Arrow isn’t just something we watch on TV. It’s a part of our lives that has meaning and impact. If you want an experience that is unlike any other, watch this show and engage in fandom. You won’t be disappointed. 

LIZZIE: Not so long ago (I only binge-watched Arrow at like, the end of season three), I was browsing through Netflix, trying to find a show to watch with my sister, when I caught a glimpse of the little icon for The CW series. Have you seen it? I mean, how could I click on anything other than Arrow when they had shirtless Stephen Amell as their icon? I’m only a woman, you know. But, as impressive as Stephen’s abs are (those abs could win all kinds of awards), I didn’t fall in love with Arrow right away. No, Oliver Queen was surly and misguided and though Diggle was kind of fun, the love only made its appearance when I watched episode the exact same episode that Lynnie mentioned above -- "The Odyssey." You know, obviously, the one where Felicity Smoak finally became part of Team Arrow

“I may be blonde, but I’m not that blonde,” she said, and I was a goner. The spark of... something that had been missing from the show in the first thirteen episodes was suddenly alive and well. And I’m not even talking about romantic spark between Oliver and Felicity. In fact, even from her conversation with Diggle, I could tell that the show with her as a regular was something I wanted to be a part of.

And, in a way, after watching three seasons, I can understand and appreciate the grumpy Oliver from the beginning a lot more. This show is a journey. We weren’t meant to get the hero from the get-go. We were meant to fall in love with the flawed man, watch him make one mistake after another; we were meant to be part of his journey toward becoming the Green Arrow. And I, for one, love journeys. I love watching my favorite characters change, evolve. The series took a risk by showing us Oliver at his most unlikable points, and the risks have paid off. Three seasons later, Oliver is so much more than the man we first met. And the journey isn’t even complete. We still get to see him evolve. We get to see him love. We get to see him finally live.

It’s just that this time, he won’t be alone.

I'm already swooning and I’m just talking about it. I can’t even imagine my response to the first episode of season four.

MADDIE: So it was the summer of  2012, and I had spent most of my summer watching The Avengers in theaters over and over, firmly cementing my love of comic book adaptations. I heard that The CW was premiering a new show based on a comic book in the fall, so I kept tabs on its coverage during SDCC that year. I discovered two important things: the shirtless Oliver season one poster and how utterly charming and pumped for his show Stephen Amell was. Of that season's debuting shows, the Arrow pilot was the one I was most curious about. 

Then I got the screener for the pilot, and it exceeded all of my expectations. The scale was cinematic, the action was unparalleled and thrilling, the plot was compelling and already had twists in the first episode. Plus, I immediately fell in love with the majority of the characters. In that pilot, the show let us as an audience know the writers had an overarching story they wanted to tell and asked us to buckle up for an epic ride. Sure, there were a few issues, but there was an incredible amount of potential displayed in that first episode.

Then came "Lone Gunmen," and everything changed. Arrow was no longer just a show I liked but one I loved and quickly one that became one of my all-time favorites. The introduction of Felicity Smoak was the missing piece of the puzzle. I have yet to identify with and adore a fictional character as quickly as much as I did in Felicity’s first scene. Emily and Stephen’s chemistry is like none other on television, and Emily's character was exactly what the show needed. She gave Arrow heart, and spawned the most perfect of all OTPs. Arrow since has become a thrilling and moving hero’s journey that I love dearly. It is an epic, brilliantly written and directed story of redemption, family, love, and heroism. In short, I came for the Amell abs, stayed for the compelling characters and their stories, Olicity, genuinely mind-blowingly amazing action sequences…. and, okay, more Amell abs.

RAE: Arrow was always fun and easy to watch, but the reason it grabbed hold of my heart is because of the relationships between the characters. And I don’t just mean the romantic ones like Olicity — though I ship them so much it hurts. On this series, the friendships turn into families, and the families feel like they are also believably friends. I’ve always loved genre television, and Arrow is a smart, fun genre show that’s more about the human under the hood than any superhero mask.

HOPE: I didn’t know I would love Arrow. I watched the premiere because I thought it would be cool. I wanted to see what they did with the character and concept. And I really wanted to like it. And here I am, three full seasons later, still a fan of the series. Here’s the thing: I have never read comics. Ever. The only (few) things I’d previously known about the Green Arrow, I’d gleaned from Smallville. That’s it. I didn’t come into the show with any expectations of what it would be like, or whether or not I would like it. 

For me, it’s the character growth and dynamics that make this show so special. The stunts are awesome. The suspense – fantastic. The crime-fighting? Great. The way I can tell they weaved the comic storylines together in ingenious ways – brilliant. I love all of that stuff. It’s cool and it’s engaging. But it’s how they've shaped the character of Oliver Queen, contrasted him with the untrained, scared kid his was on the island, and generally made him such a layered character that sold the show for me. And what really, really took Arrow to the next level were the character dynamics they built for Team Arrow. That being said, in my opinion, “The Odyssey” was the episode that took Arrow from having a really great start to being one of the best shows on television. That was when I became permanently invested in it. The balance of humor and suspense was finally struck as Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity bantered around the computer screens. It’s not that the first part of season one wasn’t good, but in that episode particularly, the show finally felt complete -- like it had found its stride. The episodes leading up to the finale and the finale itself sealed that deal, and that was followed up by one of the best seasons of television I’ve ever seen.

Arrow also gave us The Flash, which is golden. Arrow gave us Felicity Smoak, a strong, awkward, babbling, smart, honest, and refreshingly-relatable character. Arrow gave us shocking twists, heartbreaking losses, hilarious dialogue, and plenty of moral debates. But most of all, it’s given viewers a team of flawed, layered, and lovable characters who have become integral to the show as we know it. Characters are ultimately the reason I watch a show, and these characters, their journeys, and their dynamics are what made me love Arrow.

And now, analysis of that trailer...

If you've been living under a rock for the past few days or somehow managed to avoid seeing the trailer for Arrow's fourth season, I would congratulate you except you're missing out on something pretty epic and awesome. Since Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr imploded with the release of the trailer, we thought we might take a little bit of time to analyze it.

Our lovely writer Lynnie is doing the honors for us! So check out her thoughts right below the video. And be sure to check out the trailer itself, obviously. We'll wait for you if you want to put it on loop a few (dozen) times. Promise.

LYNNIE: Season four’s trailer just dropped in all its glory – teasing, tantalizing, and giving me all the Dhark feelings I can stand. It’s a good way to start Just About Write’s month of Arrow, and has a lot of exciting elements to look out for and celebrate.
Here’s a breakdown. I’m sure I won’t catch everything, but these are the things that stood out to me. 
If the writers were mathematicians, they would be incredibly in to geometry, because they love parallels in all their glory. In what we can assume is episode one, Oliver is running home – to Felicity and they house they have built up together. My prediction is that they will spend the season exploring the push and pull, mostly push, of these two having differing opinions, falling apart and together, and ultimately either Felicity or Oliver committing to an all-in situation. (My guess is Felicity.) 
Also how awesome were all those gentle smiles, open, loving glances, and that happy, sweet kiss they shared? Angst is fine and well for a little while, but this is the Oliver Queen that I like to see more of. My stomach actually dropped when I saw how happy he was. It was perfect. 
Thea is going to have her epic descent this season. Oliver had one, Laurel had one, Diggle had an unseen one after he got out of the military. Spirals are necessary and tragic, and this one will bring angst back to Oliver’s face more than once over twenty-odd episodes, I'm sure. Willa Holland plays conflicted Thea really well, and the trailer makes me eager to see where the madness takes her. I trust Willa will make it interesting and fun to watch. My guess is that the League plotline is going to be Malcolm trying to save her from herself as much as scrambling to protect himself from the Dharkness. 
(I can pun all day, people.) 
Malcolm will control Nyssa through Sara somehow. I already hate everything about it -- unless she kicks his duplicitous, crazy butt, of course. I live to see the day Nyssa is in charge of the League. Perhaps that’s the endgame of the League arc. I sure hope so. 
Diggle and Oliver’s struggle to trust will mirror whatever we find out about Andy Diggle. My belief is that Andy was involved with HIVE heavily, either undercover or coerced, and Damian Dhark will be quick to point this out. Diggle will struggle to believe in his brother even as Oliver is testing his limits. He will eventually come back to Oliver as his faith in his brother crumbles. 
Season four will be Felicity’s season. A Dhark shadow passes over her and she fights – that machine gun scene was perfection, by the way! – to keep her head above water, much like Oliver has in the past. Maybe this will mirror his journey toward being a hero and the Green Arrow somewhat, and will bring us full circle to her committing to him at the end of the season. I had no doubt that Neal Mcdonough would be awesome as Damian Dhark when I heard the casting news initially. I have been in love with him since Tin Man. I was not prepared for just how awesome he would be in the role, though. He’s creepy, cultured, with just the right hint of smirk and condescension to be terrifying. Neal’s great in anything, but he’s captured all of the things that makes me interested in a villain. I’m still not convinced he’s the season’s big bad though. I feel like it’s all a misdirect. Either that or the fact that they are presenting him so early is a misdirect to make us think he’s not the main baddie. I guess we’ll see. I’m excited for the journey regardless, and would love it if Damien was in every scene, even if he’s just quietly sitting and judging everyone. 
Sara has been through a lot. I want to give her a hug.  Also, she’s still both gorgeous and a badass post-death. I’m sure I would have aged somewhat. Must be magic... or exceptional genes. Either way, welcome back Caity Lotz! 
Last, but certainly not least, I don’t know if I can handle Echo Kellum and Emily Bett Rickards together this season. Two scenes together and I am already in love with them separately and as a pairing. The adorableness, quips, and nerdy banter may very well kill me.  But it will probably kill Mr. Terrific first. Seriously. Prepare your hearts, people. 
Also, I am terribly disappointed the trailer didn’t begin with the words “A Dharkness is coming.” 
Those are my predictions. Why do you guys think? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below!

This is the kickoff post for our #CountdownToArrow special month-long event! If you're not following us on Twitter, be sure to do so as we'll be tweeting out reminders of events, posts, contests, and Twitter trends as they draw close. Additionally, you'll REALLY need to be following us on Tumblr as we have a few Tumblr-only contests that will be taking place over there, as well as three polls throughout the month you can vote in.

Finally, be sure to come back to the site TOMORROW on Felicity Smoak Appreciation Day when we'll have two dedicated posts to our lovely blonde heroine. (You can subscribe to us so you won't miss any updates! Or obsessively stalk our Twitter feed/the site itself. Either works.) And if you REALLY want to keep the conversation going, follow along with our Twitter hashtag #CountdownToArrow and meet other fans while we journey through the month-long hiatus (of fun) together!

Until then, folks. Keep calm, keep having fun, and keep a lot of mint chocolate chip ice cream handy. ;)


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