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REVIEW: Arrow 5×02 “The Recruits”

You know something is off when Arrow ends up having a better episode than The Flash. In fact, Arrow has been pretty great this season so far. I was impressed with last week’s season premiere, but I immediately pawned it off as just a fluke. Then this week hit us with yet another entertaining episode. Seriously, where has this show been the past year and a half? If the rest of the season is as good as the recent episode, “The Recruits”, then it’s possible that Arrow could return to its former glory.

As you can guess from the title, Oliver has decided to start recruiting others into his crusade now that the original Team Arrow has disbanded. Joining his new squad are Curtis Holt, Evelyn Sharp, and Rene Ramirez. Quite a band of misfits, if I say so myself. But that’s what makes Arrow so great. We’re not just following a group of expendable soldiers with expert military training. We’re watching a computer whiz/Olympian, a sassy and determined teenager, and a gruff yet likable hockey-mask-wearing rogue training to become true heroes. We’re getting some personality to Team Arrow this season!

A good chunk of the episode is dedicated to Oliver training the recruits; and by training, I mean kicking the crap out of them and yelling at them to fight their way past him and ring a bell. Coincidentally, this exercise is exactly the same thing that Oliver went through during his fifth year away from Starling City. Arrow has been doing this since the beginning – each season correlates with a year when he was supposedly stranded on the island. It’s a unique method of storytelling, and I’m digging the Russian flashbacks this season, but how is everything so freakin’ parallel? What are the chances that the second season’s Deathstroke-centric plot would just so happen to line up with Oliver’s second year on the island when Slade Wilson became his enemy? What are the odds that he would meet Constantine in his fourth year on the island and then call him in the fourth season for help? Now Oliver is using the bell exercise that he went through in the fifth year in the show’s fifth season. I’m willing to suspend my disbelief only so far…

The plot of this episode isn’t solely about the Green Arrow abusing his new recruits. There’s also the matter of Mayor Queen trying to organize a free health clinic with the support of conglomerate AmerTek. During the health clinic, the CEO of AmerTek is assaulted by a man wearing rags with supposed magical abilities. Oliver somehow manages to change into the Green Arrow in record time and tries to stop this Ragman, but Rene’s interference allows him to get away.

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Ragman seems like he’ll be a major villain at first, but as the episode unfolds, you realize that he’s actually a good guy. We learn how AmerTek is involved with Tobias Church, and that they’re partially responsible for Genesis last season. Ragman is just trying to seek justice, except he’s doing it in a more bad-ass way than Team Arrow. Seriously, Rags is a pretty kick-ass character. Even his theme music is awesome. The only criticism I have is that it’s hard to understand him when he talks with his mask on. They either need to improve his communication, give him subtitles, or just keep him quiet. Let him be a silent enforcer for Team Arrow. Honestly, he could probably handle all of the criminals in Star City on his own.

One thing I really didn’t like this episode was the Diggle side story. This week, Diggle leads his team of soldiers on a mission to stop a bomb in Chechnya, but he soon discovers that his team is actually going to set him up to take the fall while they take the bomb themselves. It’s a very generic, predictable storyline that doesn’t have an emotional impact. There’s a moment when a new recruit who looked up to Diggle is shot in cold blood, and I didn’t even bat an eye. I’m fine with the show keeping Diggle away from Team Arrow for a while; in fact, I’m glad he’s not rejoining the team right away. But his subplot is way too weak to hold my interest. I really don’t care what happens to him (Sorry, Digs!).

The conclusion of the episode revolves around Oliver recruiting Ragman after finding out his true intentions and the rest of the recruits finding out the Green Arrow’s identity. Is it just me, or are their reactions way too calm? You just learned your mayor is a vigilante who’s been taking on terrorists and meta-humans for the past five years, and you’re just going to be like “oh, cool.” Only Evelyn seemed the least bit surprised.

At the end of the episode, Church is stepping out of his nightclub when he’s assaulted by the dark archer from last week’s conclusion. He threatens Church and tells him that the Green Arrow should not be harmed because he wants him for himself; he also reveals his name as Prometheus. End episode.

We’ve got a great villain with Church this season, but it seems that Prometheus will be the big bad, much like how Doctor Alchemy is the real villain behind the Rival over on The Flash. Now we get to spend the season wondering about the identity of Prometheus. Whoever it is, I hope it’s someone with an actual tie to Oliver and not some random person they’ll introduce halfway through the season.

Final Grade: A –

+ Ragman is awesome.

+ Terrific action sequences.

+ Felicity is finally bearable!

– I’m not really feeling the Diggle side story.

– We were told that The Flash‘s Flashpoint would have some drastic changes on Arrow as well. Well, where are those changes? Besides Diggle having a son, I don’t see anything else yet.

– Are they really double-dipping into the “alcoholic Lance” bucket again?

Extra Thoughts:

– Calling it now – Prometheus is either Tommy Merlyn or Shado.

Do you think Arrow is off to a good start? What are your thoughts on Prometheus, Ragman, or any of the other recruits? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!

About the author

Alex Reale

From a young age, Alex knew he was destined to be a writer. He also harbored a deep infatuation with superheroes and comics. Luckily, he was able to combine these two passions through his role with A Place to Hang Your Cape, where he works as Junior Sidekick and Social Media Hero.

When he’s not writing for AP2HYC or working full-time as a content manager for a small business website, Alex is diligently at work on other creative projects including a fantasy novel collection and an independent comic series.

You can find Alex's first book, Dodger's Doorway, on Amazon!