12:00 pm EDT, May 26, 2014

Top 10 moments from ‘Arrow’ season 2

After a strong first season, Arrow season 2 kicked things into high gear. We’ve picked 10 moments that stood out above the rest.

Arrow‘s first season introduced us to Oliver Queen, a billionaire playboy who, after five years on a remote island, undertook a quest to save his city. He gained allies in ex-soldier John Diggle and IT genius Felicity Smoak, and together they fought street criminals and the corrupt one percent alike.

But after Oliver’s best friend was killed in the crossfire, Oliver was forced to reassess his methods and take a different approach to honor his friend’s memory. With that in mind, Arrow season 2 saw raised emotional stakes and an ever-expanding universe, including an upcoming spinoff.

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Look back at the emerald archer’s second season with our top 10 moments below, listed in chronological order.

Sara Lance is Canary

Arrow season 2 top ten Black Canary

Oliver took Laurel’s younger sister, Sara, on the fateful trip on the Gambit, and it was thought she drowned when the ship went down. However, she survived and spent a chunk of time on the island with Oliver before being rescued from a second sinking ship and trained by the League of Assassins to become the Canary.

Sara’s presence came as a surprise, as her sister is the Black Canary of the comics, and indicated early on that the showrunners weren’t afraid to spin the source material. She also represented an interesting mirror to Oliver, as she struggled with much of the same baggage, particularly making the transition from killer to hero.

Malcolm Merlyn returns from the dead

Arrow season 2 top ten Malcolm Merlyn

It should probably come as no surprise that after playing Captain Jack Harkness, John Barrowman wouldn’t be easily killed. And indeed, after supposedly dying in the season 1 finale, Malcolm Merlyn returned in season 2, revealing that it was his influence that secured Moira’s acquittal for her role in the Undertaking and demanding contact with Thea, his biological daughter.

Though Moira temporarily held him off, her death brought him back to Starling and he eventually convinced Thea to join him in the season finale. Their father/daughter antics are set to be explored in season 3, as Barrowman has been promoted to series regular.

Introducing Barry Allen

Arrow season 2 top ten Barry Allen

The Arrow world expanded vastly with Barry Allen’s introduction. An assistant crime scene investigator, Barry arrived in Starling to investigate a strange robbery at Queen Consolidated and sparks flew between him and Felicity. The superhero fanboy was also brought in on Oliver’s secret and helped save his life.

Though the case didn’t give Barry any new leads on his mother’s murder, it set up the shared world the upcoming Flash spinoff will inhabit, as Barry was struck by lightning and thrown into a tower of chemicals after the S.T.A.R. Labs particle accelerator malfunctioned. He fell into a coma but was frequently mentioned through the rest of the season.

Oliver dons his mask for the first time

Arrow season 2 top ten domino mask

Oliver’s attempts to hide his identity as the vigilante were haphazard at best, as he wore a hood and spread green grease paint across his face. While this look may have been fine for your run of the mill vigilante, Oliver strove to be more in season 2. He finally got the heroic look when Barry left him a Christmas present: a traditional domino mask. The midseason finale closed with Oliver donning the mask, thus taking yet another step toward becoming a true hero.

The heir to the demon appears

Arrow season 2 top ten Nyssa al Ghul

The Arrow-verse expanded once again when Nyssa al Ghul, daughter of DC comics supervillain Ra’s al Ghul, appeared on the scene. Nyssa, it was revealed, was the one who rescued Sara when the Amazo sunk, and the two were lovers for a time. Both Sara and Malcolm Merlyn were trained by the League of Assassins and both were released, though Sara agreed to return in exchange for the League’s help against Slade’s Mirakuru army.

According to executive producer Andrew Kreisberg, “[N]ow that the Dark Knight movies are completed and [the Ra’s al Ghul] storyline has been wrapped, it’s allowed us to open it, and put it through the Arrow lens, and do it in a new way,” starting with his daughter.

Continue on to the next page to see the next five moments that made our list.

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