Season 2 had the same idea by raising the stakes even more and keeping the drama to a minimum. One of things I enjoyed most was seeing the universe get expanded with the mention and addition of several new stories and characters: Ra's & Talia Al Ghul, the Flash, Amanda Waller/ARGUS, Doctor Ivo, the Clock King, Red Arrow/Speedy, etc. However, this is also where the Arrow seemed to stumble. It failed to really develop some of these ideas. The League of Shadows felt half-baked, especially Sarah/the Canary's connection to it. It was never fully explained, and we were never given a plausible reason why Sarah decided to return to them.
Another strong point of the season was the Island flashbacks. While I'm wary of how long they can keep it going, the flashbacks did well to explain what was going on in the present. We learned more about Sarah, Ollie's Russian connection, Slade's fate, and Ollie's connection to ARGUS. My biggest and only gripe about the flashbacks was that Ollie blamed himself for Ivo's ridiculous dilemma. I got very very tired of hearing him say, "It's my fault. My choice. Blah blah blah."
Character wise, we saw some interesting things happen: the secrets kept from Thea came home to roost, Roy made his choice between Thea and Ollie, we finally got rid of Mrs. Queen (FINALLY!) and she even went out a solid note, and Ollie continues to evolve in his crime fighting. I find it interesting that he struggles to define where his line is that he won't cross: kill, don't kill, kill ... I don't want to see that struggle go on forever, but I hope the evolution of his decisions continues. Diggle came to see Deadshot as a person, and not just a mindless criminal. And of course we saw Laurel struggle with drug/alcohol abuse, a semi-interesting, semi-grating character arc. It's fun watching Ollie try to juggle all the women in his life. Some of these character choices didn't quite add up, however:
1. Why did Thea choose to go with Malcolm? I get that she felt betrayed by her family and Roy, but why go to her father? I never felt the writing/story justified that decision.
2. How on earth has Laurel's dad never figured out that Ollie is the Arrow? They did write in a scene where he says he doesn't care and doesn't want to know, so maybe he really DOES know, and that's his answer, but ... it's still odd.
3. Why did Sarah go back to the League after fighting them for so long? Again, it didn't make sense. There was no real development there to justify that choice.
Other minor quibbles:
1. There seemed to be a lack of consistency with the strength of Mirakuru victims. If they can punch through solid stone, they can snap a person's head clean off. People got tossed around and punched with no lasting damage. That stuff bugs me.
2. All the kidnappings. Can we stop with all the kidnappings? EVERY major character has now been kidnapped and saved. Can we please move onto something else? It's to the point where people aren't even really that upset anymore when it happens (see Det. Lance in the final episode where Slade takes Laurel). It's gotta stop.
Things I'm excited to see more of:
1. The HIVE
2. Robert Knepper's Clock King
3. Cyrus = Solomon Grundy?
4. The Flash/Arrow crossover in Season 3
5. Red Arrow/Arsenal
6. Thea becoming Speedy or Artemis
7. Ra's Al Ghul
Prediction for which major character will die next: