‘Arrow’: “The Recruits” Review

In the second episode of season five, Oliver begins to train his recruits for Team Arrow 2.0. The episode is a mixed bag but ultimately a step backwards for the series.

In the second episode of season five, Oliver begins to train the new recruits for Team Arrow 2.0. The episode is a mixed bag but ultimately a step backward for the series.

Things kick off with Rene Ramirez A.K.A. Wild Dog chasing down a clumsy goober of a criminal. Unfortunately, Rene proves himself to be just as clumsy as he trips over a ledge — falling off of a building himself and nearly dying. Lucky for him, Green Arrow was there to catch his fall. Maybe he should give his leg some more time to heal before he’s out traversing rooftops in Star City again.

He does deserve some credit though. He doesn’t give up and that’s exactly what gets him an invitation to train with the Green Arrow.

We get to see Oliver in action as the Mayor again. It’s good to see Oliver isn’t skipping out on important meetings like he did with Queen Consolidated, ultimately costing him the company. He still doesn’t like doing press but who can blame him? What matters here is that the writers aren’t breezing over this aspect of the show. The scene in which Oliver acquires the funding for his free medical event was thin but it still felt complete. Even if it did move at the break neck pace this show is notorious for.

The first training scene proved just how much Curtis, Rene, and Evelyn have to learn. None of them were taking it seriously. Oliver had to explain to them crime fighting isn’t a game and used Laurel as an example. It was a bit ironic as he expressed the same sentiment when Laurel hit the streets as the Black Canary in an attempt to honor the life of her sister, Sara.

Surprisingly, the flashbacks were actually decent this episode. Even though they didn’t cover much, they didn’t feel half baked like they normally do. Maybe it was because the point of them was actually relevant to the training taking place in the present day storyline. In the next step of his initiation into the Bratva, Oliver had to learn to work together with the rest of the Bratva’s tryouts in order to get past some baddies and ring a bell. Oliver used this same exercise with Curtis, Rene, and Evelyn in order to teach them the only way to win is through teamwork.

It was a good lesson to teach but Oliver didn’t go about it the right way. But the bigger issue was Felicity as she undermined his authority in front of the recruits rendering his leadership completely ineffective. Oliver needed her feedback but the way she approached the issue was inappropriate. Maybe Oliver should pull her aside and give her some feedback as well.

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The episode begins to lose itself once it gets to the free medical event. First Oliver enters dressed in a suit and tie and then moments later appears in full Green Arrow gear just as a Ragman crashes the event and goes WWE on the CEO of Amertek.

After Rene gets a piece of the cloth from Ragman’s costume, Felicity goes to the Star City police department where we discover her new boyfriend is actually working as a detective. Okay… no one cares. Moving on.

Ragman wants revenge for the nuclear missile that destroyed his city, killing his family on Genesis Day. While his motives were there, the problem was the exposition got muddled by the show’s breakneck pace along with the awful voice modulation used for Ragman. Oliver has a conversation with him about the choices he’s made. The writers tried to make it something meaningful as Oliver convinces Ragman to honor the legacy of his dead father just like Oliver wants to do for himself. He even extends his hand to Ragman, offering him a place on the new team. But god no, please no. I just couldn’t understand a damn thing he was saying and by the time it was over I didn’t care. For me, Ragman is nothing more than a throwaway villain I want to forget about by tomorrow.

Diggle’s storyline this week is a bit unremarkable. He is off on assignment to secure a nuclear weapon but instead he’s taken captive by his unit after he discovers they are corrupt when they try to steal the weapon for themselves. It’s understandable people would be afraid of metahumans or evil men with mystical powers but ultimately the storyline doesn’t deliver and is extraneous the to rest of the episode’s plot. Maybe next week Diggle will reach out to Oliver for help or the weapon they have will become part of the main plot.

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Overall, the episode was not satisfying. The villain was weak and his motives were unclear until it was too late and now we are supposed to accept him as a new member of Team Arrow? Last week things seemed like they were getting back on track but this episode indicates otherwise. If the writers want to make Arrow a hit show again they need to focus back on what made the show great to begin with. Long gone are the days of Arrow traversing the rooftops of Star City with his brother Diggle taking down drug dealers and crime bosses — and thwarting terrorist attacks. The show has unfortunately become a victim of its own success after it lost focus when it became a breeding ground for other superheroes. At this point I have little hope the Arrow we all came to know and love will ever return.

6.3 – OKAY

‘Arrow’: Season 5 Premiere “Legacy” Spoiler Review

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…

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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

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