Five months after the death of Laurel Lance—A.K.A. Black Canary—Oliver, Felicity, and the former members of Team Arrow are still mourning the loss of their friend. The theme of the episode is moving forward as it deals mostly with the team coming to terms with how things have changed and the fact that they will never go back to the way they were.
The premiere kicks off with Oliver disarming four bombs rigged together by Anarchy. It’s a great scene that has the flavor of season one and two flowing through it. The action, tone, and music is all there. Complete with Blake Neely’s rhythmically building strings and that awesome synth as the music ramps up to the series’ main title card.
Cuddy is back on the streets. Chadwick Boseman (The Walking Dead, The Wire) makes his debut as the villainous Tobias Church. Boseman is an incredibly talented actor and he should make an excellent addition to the series, however. His performance in the episode is unremarkable. He wasn’t bad, he just wasn’t that good…
As far as we know, his goal is a bit generic. He wants to kill the Green Arrow and he’s putting together all of Star City’s major criminal organizations to do so.
Little does he know the Green Arrow is about to give them a run for their money as he puts together not only an anti-crime unit, but Team Arrow 2.0 as well. It’s kind of weird that the anti-crime unit is only comprised of four officers though. I mean what is this, Baltimore?
The promise Laurel asked Oliver to make just before she died was revealed in this episode and it didn’t disappoint. It actually got me on board with Evelyn Sharp when she was sprinting the streets of Star City last season, calling herself Black Canary. The Black Canary is a symbol of hope that drives fear into the criminals of Star City and it needs to live on. I would imagine Oliver will say something similar later on to the son of John Diggle, Connor Hawke, who will become the next Green Arrow.
It’s nice to see Oliver actually being the Mayor. The show has tended to breeze over the politics in past seasons with Oliver and his mother, Moira, in their political campaigns. At least they are dealing with it now even if the the plots main source of conflict is being the Mayor itself.
But then comes Oliver using Laurel’s death to rationalize killing. Thea was right. Putting killing back on the table is a huge step backwards and it dishonors Laurels memory. Team Arrow stood for something better than that. Hopefully Oliver will stop guilt tripping himself and move on. Not everything is his fault. Laurel knew what the consequences of being a vigilante were when she joined the team back in season three.
The flashbacks were… the flashbacks. We finally get to see Anatoli again and even Oliver’s book which contains the infamous list from season one but other than that, there really wasn’t much to it. All we know is that Oliver is beginning his initiation into the Bratva and he wants to kill Kovler. Okay, cool…
The season five premiere is the third episode directed by series stunt choreographer James Bamford. Arrow has always had fantastic fight choreography so you expect an episode directed by Bamford to push the envelope and it did. This show is produced very fast so they try to move the camera a lot to limit the amount of setups they have to edit together. The episode featured some impressive camera operation but what was most impressive was—you guessed it—the action. The stunt choreography was great and we even got some zip line arrow action, however. It was visual effects supervisor Armen Kevorkian who took things to the next level when Oliver jumped out of a window and fired a cable arrow, attaching himself to Church’s helicopter and going along for the ride. The parachute arrow was a nice trick as well.
Overall, the episode did an okay job laying the ground work for the season. It featured a powerful exchange between Oliver and Lance at Laurel’s statue—even if the Russian proverb was just another excuse to rationalize killing— it was well written and well performed and would have gotten me to buy in to Oliver being a killer again if it wasn’t for the fact he was still being a baby, making it about himself. While Thea stepped up to the plate as she donned the Speedy suit again, it was only temporary. She won’t be returning to Team Arrow… yet. Diggle—who is off on assignment in eastern Europe—had a small but impactful scene as he skyped with Oliver helping convince him to form a new team. Unfortunately Wild Dog only made a brief appearance and Evelyn Sharp was completely absent. If Team Arrow 2.0 is going to be such an important component for the season, the beginning of its formation should have closed out this episode. Instead we got to learn that Felicity already has a new man in her life (Seriously, who cares?) as we went into the ominous closing tease for Prometheus, the main antagonist for the season but like Team Arrow 2.0, we’ll have to wait until the next episode to learn more about him.
7.5 – GOOD