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Arrow – S5E2 – The Recruits

Previously on Arrow, “Legacy”

Episodes of Arrow tend to go one of two ways: either Oliver is unpleasant to his team members and then proven right, or he is unpleasant to his team members and then proven wrong (it is entirely possible that he has gotten through an episode before without being a dick to someone, but certainly not in recent memory). This episode was, thankfully, the latter. There is nothing inherently wrong with having an unpleasant protagonist, in fact, a disproportionate number of the best shows of all time centre around difficult white men. The problem comes when shows frame these characters’ actions as right, and that is a common pitfall on Arrow.

Last week Oliver shot Wild Dog in the leg for no reason, but this week all is forgiven and he is running around rooftops without even limping. Last season, Oliver tortured Andy, but it’s okay because he turned out to be working for Darhk. Every other episode, Oliver lies to his loved ones, but it’s always for their protection, or for the greater good, or quickly forgotten. The show so frequently twists itself in knots to excuse Oliver’s actions that watching Curtis and Felicity lay into Oliver for his abusive behavior this episode was incredibly cathartic, and certainly made for more entertaining viewing than last week’s slog.

Images: The CW

The Good

After how repetitive last week’s episode felt it was great to get some fresh blood in to liven things up. Wild Dog didn’t get a whole lot to do apart from being surly, and Evelyn had even less to do, but both are already more interesting than Ray Palmer ever was (on this show at least, I can’t speak for his role on Legends of Tomorrow). We were also given another new recruit, the initially vengeful Ragman, who decides to join Team Arrow after one of Oliver’s classic speeches. As the last living resident of Havenrock (a.k.a. the city Felicity nuked) he is sure to bring some drama Felicity’s way.

Curtis, as always, was excellent, showing off his (subpar) skills on the salmon ladder and acting as leader for the new recruits. Watching him telling off Oliver for being abusive was damn near therapeutic (possibly because he said everything that I had been yelling at my TV screen all episode).

I have always thought of myself as being pro-Olicity, but I’ve gotta admit that I am enjoying them as a pair a lot more now that they are no longer bumping uglies. They work so well as a team that romance is unnecessary. On the subject of unnecessary romances, the writers really aren’t expecting me to care about Felicity and Detective Prettyface, right?

The Bad

Must this show always give us a colored filter for every change in location? The context is enough to know that Diggle is off on his deployment; we don’t need everything to be blue. Lighting aside, as much as I miss Diggle, watching the scenes of him in Chechnya felt as though I was sitting through another lot of flashbacks. It disrupted the flow of an otherwise pretty good episode, and wasn’t entertaining enough to get away with it. Given that 90 percent of the military storylines that Diggle has had have involved corrupt soldiers stealing weapons, maybe they could have tried something new.

I know that the only way Oliver knows to impart knowledge is with his fists, but couldn’t he have at least lain out some mats for his training sessions with the recruits?

Also, is the idiom ‘behind every great man is a great woman’ ever more apt than when you see Oliver shirking his mayoral responsibilities and lumping everything on Thea?

Thea and Quentin are probably the two characters on Arrow who feel the most developed (whether that is down to the actors or the writers is debatable), and always make for an enjoyable pairing. That said, making Quentin the deputy mayor is an objectively terrible idea. Has adding a high-stress job into the mix ever helped anyone recover from alcoholism?

Quotes of the week

Felicity lists all of the members of Team Arrow that Oliver has shot. Curtis: “I’m starting to sense a pattern”

Felicity: “There’s having no bedside manner and then there is being physically and emotionally abusive”

Arrow S5E2
  • 7/10
    Plot - 7/10
  • 8/10
    Dialogue - 8/10
  • 7/10
    Performances - 7/10
7.3/10

Summary

I don’t think I’ve said this in a long time, but this was a genuinely enjoyable episode of Arrow. It wasn’t perfect, with the flashbacks and Diggle’s Chechen adventure taking far too much time away from the far more interesting A story, but it was a solid episode that bodes well for future episodes.

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About Alison Millward (103 Articles)
Alison is a big nerd living in Melbourne, Australia. She is a lover of all things television, particularly anything in the "hot young people in depressing sci-fi situations" genre. When not watching tv, Alison enjoys long walks on the beach, corrupting young minds, and actively avoiding thinking about her future.
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