Currently, Oliver Queen, a.k.a. the Green Arrow, is having a hell of a rough time on The CW’s “Arrow.” Broken and bloodied, shaken and defeated, for the past five seasons, the Arrow has seen his fair share of emotional and physical ups and downs. He’s been beaten to a pulp, caged and even killed, but through all of it, he has come out of it a stronger hero. But no matter what happened to him, there was always one constant: Stephen Amell’s performance.
No matter how you may have felt during the show’s past history, no one can deny the fact that Stephen Amell has always brought his A-game to the role. From the first episode to the most recent, he has never taken things lightly, striving to prove just how dedicated he is to the role, to his fans and to his craft. After the Green Arrow suffered his most brutal defeat yet in a tour de force of a performance for Amell, CBR decided to take a look back at the entire series and list 15 of Stephen Amell’s best moments on “Arrow.”
WARNING: The following list contains spoilers for “Arrow” Seasons One through Five.
A few weeks ago, we got to witness a very special episode of Arrow, an episode where Oliver Queen was kept prisoner and tortured by Prometheus in the present day. For the bulk of those sequences, Amell only had one scene partner: Josh Segarra, who plays Adrian Chase. Under constant pain and trauma, Oliver was asked to reveal a secret, one he didn’t even know he kept inside. It was only after six days of torture that Oliver erupted out, screaming that he wanted to kill his victims and the he liked it!
There was a veritable mix of emotions on display here, from pain and anger to the horror of his own realization, and Amell conveyed it all perfectly. At the end of the hour, Oliver was left a broken man and the actor really made us believe it. We don’t yet know where this will go and we certainly hope that the Green Arrow will rise once again, but for right now, Amell’s performance was so earnest and believable that we are all inclined to believe that the hero really is done for.
As early as the first episode of the series, Amell arrived on the scene as a fully formed vigilante, one who was haunted by his traumatic time on an island. It was then that we got to see the full range of Amell’s acting ability. Where some actors might need a little bit of time to settle into their characters, he was thrown into the deep end rather quickly. He had to believably sell us that not only was he a very stoic yet damaged figure, but that he was also a ruthless killer.
And yet, his acting challenges didn’t stop there. He also had to portray a very different man in flashback sequences were he was nothing more than a spoiled brat with a surprisingly yet subtly higher-pitched voice that very nicely nuanced his distinct performances. And if all of that wasn’t enough, he also had a third role to play in the form of public Oliver Queen, the one that kept his public image intact, but who couldn’t help but bear a heavy burden on his shoulders. Amell set a very high bar for himself from the get go, and he only managed to push it higher.
Throughout the first season, Oliver Queen had gone through various ups and downs, from victories to defeats to broken hearts and new friendships. At the heart of all of this was his relationship with Tommy Merlyn, his best friend, both in the past and the present. It was a friendship that tumbled in the latter half of the season, but one that Oliver never tried to stop fixing. Tommy was like a brother to him and nothing was more important to Oliver than family.
Which is why it was so devastating to see Tommy die in Oliver’s arms in the season one finale “Sacrifice.” Oliver’s victory against the Dark Archer was short-lived when he failed to stop his earthquake device. This is one instance where a story ended with our hero losing against his villain and it was a loss as massive as it was personal. The absolute torment and sadness in Amell’s face as he cried over his dead friend said all that was needed to make us viewers beyond shocked at the end of this exciting first season of television.
12. “THREE GHOSTS”
In “Three Ghosts,” Barry Allen was visiting Starling City and, thanks to his presence, he was able to save Oliver Queen from certain death using some crafty treatment that involved rat poison. Once awake, Oliver was quick to run off furiously at the turn of events. Finding himself once again on the losing side of his battle with Cyrus Gold and Brother Blood, Oliver then began to hallucinate. First, he saw Shado in the Queen mansion. He knew she was dead and yet, Amell’s quiet sadness spoke volumes about what he felt for her and how good it was to see her again.
Then, the tears of loves past were traded for anger and betrayal when Oliver later hallucinated Slade Wilson in his bunker. Driven to fight someone who wasn’t really there, Oliver was tormented by Slade, who convinced him that he was weak. Amell aptly showed us that his character’s confidence was more than shaken and it would take an inspiring appearance by the last ghost – the ghost of Tommy Merlyn – to lift Oliver’s spirits up and urge him to fight on. Amell ran through a gamut of emotions in this episode and never once failed to honor his character’s journey.
11. “THE PROMISE”
As viewers, we knew halfway through season two that Slade Wilson was alive and well in the present and the big villain behind Brother Blood. But Oliver Queen and his team didn’t know that. So when he came home to see that a very-alive Slade Wilson had showed up unannounced at his home and was talking business with his mother, the mix of raw anger, terror, confusion and murderous rage were all palpable on Stephen Amell’s face. It was a look that he was forced to keep at bay, to push down, to keep his mother and sister safe.
It was also a look that he had to keep on for the bulk of the episode, as his family was taking Slade on a private tour of their home. Seeing Oliver being forced to walk alongside this man whom he knew was incredibly dangerous were all moments filled with tension. This episode was nerve-wracking and Amell sold it completely. You could feel the binds holding him back all the way to the end of Slade’s visit.
Arrow is a series that definitely sees its fair share of drama. Secrets, lies and betrayals are the norm in Star City and they have taught us to keep on our toes when it comes to characters learning truths about each other. At a time when Oliver had enough of lies and pain around him, he decided it was time to tell his sister Thea the whole truth about who he really was and how he was really spending his nights. Thea, his young, rash and unpredictable sister with quite the temper.
So it came as much as a surprise to the audience as to Oliver when Thea reacted in the warmest manner imaginable. With a thank you for everything he had done, for everyone he had saved, and a long hug between brother and sister. Knowing his sister, Oliver clearly expected Thea to be loudly abrasive, as evidenced by Amell’s brilliant reaction of warm surprise. Hesitant, he was so relieved that he responded to her hug with reprieve, thankful for his sister’s understanding.
In the fifth episode of the first season of the show, Oliver Queen was taken into custody and there, he was being interrogated about whether or not he was the hooded vigilante roaming the rooftops of Starling City. Taking a lie detector test to prove his innocence, Oliver relives a horrible time on the island when he was tortured by Billy Wintergreen. Never was the duality between past and present Oliver Queen more highlighted than when we saw him weak, feeble and tortured, compared to the man he now was; strong and burdened.
We also saw more of the playboy Oliver here when he decided to throw a prisoner-themed bash at his mansion while he was under house arrest and we saw even more of the cunning Oliver Queen when he revealed his plan to exonerate himself from his accusations. And as if all that weren’t enough, we saw the first glimpse of vulnerability in this new Oliver Queen when he showed Laurel his scars. At this point on, it seemed effortless for Amell to go from past to present.
8. “THE CLIMB”
With the death of Sara Lance at the start of season three, the hunt for her killer was on. But when the revelation came that Thea, thanks to Malcolm Merlyn’s manipulation, was the one responsible, Oliver was stuck between a rock and a very angry League of Assassins who demanded justice for their fallen member. Choosing to protect his sister and his city from an attack, Oliver somberly left his team to go fight Ra’s Al Ghul in a trial by combat.
Even with a strong confidence in his own abilities, there was a certain looming sense of dread in everything Oliver did and behind everything he said, something that Stephen Amell was able to show at every turn. Oliver knew he was going to face one of the world’s greatest fighters and there was little hope that he would emerge victorious. Even when he fought Ra’s in the snow, there was a fear in his eyes, one that only grew as he realized more and more that this was the end of the line for him. And that made it all the more shocking to see him actually fall to his (seeming) death.
7. “TIME OF DEATH”
Back in season two, Laurel Lance was going in a bit of an emotional downward spiral. With the loss of Tommy and the return to the land of the living of her sister Sara, Laurel was confused and most of all angry. In “Time of Death,” Oliver was invited to a Lance family reunion dinner with Quentin, his daughters and their visiting mother. With Sara and Oliver secretly now an item and Quentin looking to spark things up with his ex-wife again, there was plenty of awkwardness to go around.
But all of that boiled over when Laurel caught on to all of it and sped out of the room after berating everyone at the dinner table. Not one to take things lying down, Oliver followed her and proceded to tell Laurel what was on everyone’s minds. The characters were both hurting and both angry and Amell and Cassidy one-upped each other in a great scene that saw Oliver come out with the upper hand, saying he had enough of Laurel and that he was done caring about her.
As viewers, we had known for two seasons what Oliver Queen didn’t: that he had a son. In season four, that story came to the forefront and tore Oliver’s relationship with Felicity asunder and it all culminated with William, Oliver’s son, being taken hostage by Damian Darhk. With the help of his team and an old friend, the Arrow eventually managed to save his son from the clutches of the villain, but at a terrible cost.
Faced with the realization that he was now a father, Oliver was thrust into the position his own father once had, back when he decided to kill himself on their life raft so that his son might survive. While it may not be the same situation, Oliver still saw himself as a danger to his son and thought it better for his safety that they be far away from each other. And so, with a heavy heart, Oliver recorded a message for his boy, revealing all about himself and why he had to be separated from him in a heartbreaking scene that saw Amell interact with nothing more than a computer screen.
5. “AL SAH-HIM”
In order to save his dying sister’s life, Oliver was forced to accept Ra’s Al Ghul’s offer to join the League of Assassins as his heir. Alone in Nanda Parbat, Oliver endured a gruesome training and re-conditioning that changed him for the worst. He became a shell of his former self, a killer with no remorse, no love and no soul. His own worst enemy. A true villain. As Al Sah-Him, Amell showed us what he was truly capable of in becoming a villain to fear.
As a member of the League, Oliver was quiet and calm yet constantly threatening. He went about terrorizing everyone we knew and even went so far as to kidnap Diggle’s wife, Lyla. He raised his sword to kill his best friend and partner and he did so again to kill Nyssa Al Ghul. Both times he was stopped and both times, it really looked like he would do it. Amell’s turn was so convincing that it made us all wonder if Oliver Queen was still in there playing a long game, or if he had really turned to the dark side for good.
4. “HEIR TO THE DEMON”
When Moira Queen decided to run for mayor of Starling City, her campaign was launched at an event where Oliver was expected to present her to journalists. But just a few moments prior, Felicity told him world-shattering news: that Malcolm Merlyn was Thea’s real father, a fact that her mother had kept secret all this time. There, up on stage, Oliver wrestled with the full weight of the revelation, the real truth about what her mother was capable of and telling the people of this city how great she was.
Ultimately, after a palpable internal debate that made us wonder what he would do, Oliver made the speech he was supposed to. It was, however, later on that he made his feelings abundantly clear towards his mother. Angry and betrayed, Oliver now had no choice but to keep his mother’s secret and it tore him up to see that she was not who he hoped she was. In a superbly acted scene, Oliver disowned his mother and left us reeling from this turn of events.
3. “BEYOND REDEMPTION”
In the early days of season four, Quentin Lance was reluctantly working alongside Damian Darhk to keep his daughter Laurel safe. It was only a matter of time before Oliver found out and, when he did, he certainly didn’t go easy on the detective. Sitting in his home, he waited for Lance to show up. Quietly, trying his best to hold his anger down, Oliver wondered if he had the look on his face that Lance used to have in the earliest days of the series, back when he hated Oliver.
Paul Blackthorne proved himself a strong scene partner many times before, but here he and Stephen Amell brought the best out of each other in a fight that quickly escalated. Lance tried to defend why he was working for Darhk, but it didn’t matter to Oliver. The man he looked to with the highest regard, the one he considered an incorruptible inspiration, had proven himself no better than he was and Oliver scolded him for it in a scene that was a clear highlight of the fourth season.
When the Earth was under attack by aliens known as the Dominators, Oliver was taken aboard their ship and plunged into a dream world that showed him a perfect life, a life in his mansion, with Laurel and his parents alive and well. However, it didn’t take long for him to realize that this life was a lie and that he had to get out of it and back in the real world where he was needed to help save the planet. But leaving this perfect life was no easy task.
The unbelievably real gut-punch came when Oliver was trying to find and save his sister from this false reality only to came face-to-face with is parents. It was in that instant that Oliver found a moment he had always wanted, a moment to say goodbye to his parents and to apologize for all that had happened to them. Amell’s intense sorrow and gripping hugs were so convincing, so real, that it left us in tears and emotionally wrecked.
1. “SEEING RED”
“Seeing Red” was an episode that focused on the hunt for a Mirakuru-infected Roy Harper. But the last minutes of the episode turned the entire series upside down and it would never be the same after that. Slade Wilson was looming large as the main villain of the season and in those final minutes he made his full presence known when he viciously rammed Oliver, Thea and Moira’s limousine off of the road. When Oliver regained consciousness, it was to the horrible sight of his mother and sister held prisoner, like Shado and Sara had in the flashbacks.
Slade instructed him to choose which one would live and which would die and the predicament was simply too much for Oliver. He begged and pleaded, screamed and cried for Slade to stop. To the shock of everyone watching, Moira made the choice for him. When Slade killed her, Oliver collapsed beyond despair. This scene was not only one of the best of season two and the show itself, it was also Amell at his greatest. He made us feel his loss and his anger… And that made us hate Slade Wilson like never before.
What do you think were Stephen Amell’s best “Arrow” moments? Let us know in the comments!
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