Is it too early to write Season 4 off as a bad dream? The Recruits played out like a vintage episode of Arrow. Season 5 has gotten off to a great start and there were plenty of reasons to think the show is back on course again.
Green Arrow was on a casting call for Arrow’s Kookey Quartet. Evelyn (Madison McLaughlin) and Wild Dog (Rick Gonzalez) came in fresh, but Oliver didn’t give Curtis any leeway. Oliver being tough on the team made sense. He desperately doesn’t want to lose another sidekick/partner like Laurel.
While having Oliver train recruits, the show runners missed out on a chance to further emulate Batman by doing their take on A Lonely Place of Dying. In that story arc, Tim Drake notices Batman is becoming more reckless after Jason Todd’s death. While not intending to carry on the legacy of Robin, Tim is just concerned Batman will go over the edge.
Granted, Arrow probably couldn’t go that route since it would render Felicity useless. Felicity kept cutting Oliver off at the knees during his training, which dulled some of the impact of the team quitting on him. The writers still need to regain confidence that it’s OK to have Oliver accomplish anything without Felicity’s guiding hand.
The episode smartly gave Oliver time to take out crooks on his own. It’d been too long since it was Green Arrow out with no backup showing off his fighting skills. Plus from a visual standpoint, it’s much easier to follow one hooded character than four heroes
Beyond the new recruits, Ragman (Joe Dinicol) debuted. He was a resident of Monument Point and was only spared thanks to the magical cloak of rags his father gave him. While she’s been the happiest Mary Sue around, Felicity does seem to get rattled at the mention of her greatest failure. Just don’t blink or you’d miss her fleeting moments of remorse and she’s back cracking jokes.
Ragman’s effects were very well done. He’s a great fringe character that is more or less a blank slate so the writers can do whatever they need to with him. Connecting Oliver and Ragman’s origins to their fathers was a nice moment and Oliver’s continued realization he hasn’t fully honored his father.
Oliver’s induction into the Bratva always seemed like it had the potential for some exciting flashbacks. So far it hasn’t disappointed. The flashbacks haven’t been especially great since Season 2, but already they’ve improved upon the last two seasons. It helps that the flashbacks aren’t 30 second clips and these actually tie in to Oliver’s current status. One thing for certain is Bratva training > Team Arrow training.
I was glad to see Lance didn’t immediately jump back on the wagon after last week’s show. Partly because Paul Blackthorne is so great in these heavy drama moments, but it shouldn’t be that easy for him to get on track again. Losing his daughter, his job and girlfriend would take a toll on anyone and Lance needs to go through it this time. Still, it was pretty irresponsible for Thea to put Lance as the deputy mayor.
There were two parts that didn’t work with this episode. The first was Diggle’s subplot. It feels so far removed from the events going on in Star City and Green Arrow in particular that it’s hard to get all that invested. Besides, the most intriguing element with Diggle is seeing him with Diggle Jr. not fighting in a warehouse war zone.
Prometheus is being played all wrong. The Arrowverse is stacked full of ominous, voice distorted bad guys in black and Prometheus has done little to distinguish himself. Adapting the comics’ take on him where he’s more of a cocky show-off would have played better than yet another Boogeyman bad guy.
The Recruits is another strong exampled of a streamlined, more focused approach to Season 5. There’s still some work to be done, but this is a very good start to the season.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Photo Credit: The CW
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