Arrow: “The Recruits” Season 5 Episode 2 Review

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The whole premise of season five so far is slightly problematic. When the end of season four saw Diggle and Thea retiring and Lance officially off the police force, it was the sort of character shifts you sort of just brush off and think will go back to normal when the next season starts. Considering David Ramsey, Willa Holland, and Paul Blackthorne are all still series regulars and the actors playing the new recruits are all recurring, I’m not entirely sold this won’t happen down the line. But for now, Arrow is sticking with its story that it needs a younger group of superheroes to take over as Green Arrow’s sidekicks. But therein lies the problem. The old dynamics of the team worked, it was just some of the plotting that didn’t.

“The Recruits” has Curtis, Evelyn Sharp (the Black Canary copycat that showed up after Laurel’s death last season), and new vigilante Wild Dog starting training under Oliver’s tutelage. But after Laurel’s death, he sees them as soldiers that are his responsibility and goes way too hard on them, as Felicity continually points out. It’s very much an Oliver arc, but what’s lacking is any growth whatsoever in this new potential superheroes. They all lack personality with the exception of Wild Dog, who mostly just disobeys rules and sasses Oliver about just about everything. But this episode does nothing with Curtis we haven’t seen before while Evelyn barely even gets a line to speak. Remember, these are supposed to be the replacements for Diggle, Thea, and Laurel. Those three may not have always worked well on the superhero team, but at least they had pre-established dynamics with the rest of the cast.

More exciting, however, is the appearance of a clearly experienced meta-human known as Ragman (terrible name, cool powers or whatever), who parters with Green Arrow to stop a weapons deal with Tobias Church. Their meeting on the roof about the duties their respective father bestowed upon them was the most genuine conversation between vigilantes in the episode. Hopefully we’ll be getting more of Ragman in the future, as he already has more character and pathos than the other recruits.

Meanwhile, Diggle is on a mission with the army that sees his superiors betray him and try to frame him for a weapons deal. We’re obviously setting up a storyline where Oliver has to clear Diggle’s name. But, more interestingly, I wonder how this arms deal is related to the one back in Star City. It may be some clumsy storytelling here, but at least there’s a clear avenue to get Diggle back into the main fold while tying it to the current storyline.

Still, “The Recruits” had a lot of problems selling season five’s main premise to us. The titular newbies don’t feel all that fleshed out, making it just plain hard not to miss the old team. At least we got some cool visuals and a decent enough backstory out of Ragman. But Arrow still needs to pull things together so this season can get a proper kick off. Grade: C+

Some Other Notes:

  • Thea names Quentin the Deputy Mayor, which will hopefully get the guy off the bottle and back to work.
  • Ragman shows up already powerful and capable of supporting himself as a superhero. The last time I remember that happening on Arrow was when Sara Lance showed up as the first Black Canary way back in season two.
  • Prometheus’ reveal was half corny and half intimidating. He’s already behind many of the show’s main season villains, even after two very brief appearances.
  • The flashbacks merely echoed the lesson Oliver learned in the present this week. Sometimes the writers forget that the flashbacks are really working toward the pilot and not the present.

By Matt Dougherty

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