Arrow returns with a strong second episode for season five, which easily holds up the premiere’s momentum. “The Recruits” offers great laughs as well as deep emotions, and, of course, a whole lot of (beautifully choreographed) action.
Assembling The Team
After agreeing to add to Team Arrow, Oliver is getting ready to train his newest recruits, René Ramirez, Evelyn Sharp and Curtis Holt. As to be expected, Oliver does not take even the most basic training lightly. Whether he illustrates his core strength by killing it on the salmon ladder in a suit, or demonstrates his dominance one-on-one, the trainees get really tired of it really quickly. The focus on this week’s training lands on one special task: get past the Green Arrow to ring a bell.
In addition to his harsh methods, Oliver refuses to trust the recruits, therefore only ever appears in full green leather suit and mask, which causes a rift between the team of newbies and their mentor-to-be. By the end of the episode Oliver takes off his mask, reveals his identity, and promises to trust his new team members.
Paralleling the Past
His training exercise functions as a direct parallel to his past experiences in Russia. In this episode’s flashbacks, Oliver and three other men are confronted with the same task: get past the big guy to ring a bell. Eventually Oliver is able to convince the other men to work together, and he is able to ring the bell.
What he didn’t know was that only one of them survive. As he watches the other Bratva candidates die Anatoli tells him that using a team to work together to solve a problem was his idea, and that kind of intelligence is what the Bratva is looking for. He also tells him not to trust anyone but himself, something that we are sure Oliver has taken to heart, considering his closed-off personality in the pilot.
The Lone Survivor
As the major, Oliver is trying to help the city by holding a medical event, sponsored by a company called AmerTek. He hopes to be able to provide health care to over a 1000 people that day who could normally not afford it. When a member of AmerTek is attacked, Oliver promises to double security and be personally responsible for keeping the people of Star City safe during the event.
However, Felicity is quick to make sure that Oliver uses his new team as support during the Free Clinic event, while Thea brings Quentin Lance into the mix. This causes trouble between her and Oliver, as she had not been aware Quentin was drinking again. When Quentin neglects to surveillance a particular entrance of the building, an attacker in rags manages to enter and shake up the event.
When Thea visits AmerTek to discuss the events of the Free Clinic event, she overhears the CEO of the company talking to Star City’s latest bad boy, Tobias Church. She had been selling weapons to Church and his gang to avoid bankruptcy. One of their subsidiaries had been involved in building the nukes that were set off during last season’s events and destroyed Havenrock.
Team Arrow continues to look into the man in rags, who turns out to be the only survivor of the Havenrock attack, and is now planning his revenge. Felicity especially seems noticeable shaken by that discovery, as she continues to blame herself for the death of all those people.
The man in rags ultimately saves the Green Arrow’s life, and Oliver reveals his identity to him. The two men have more in common than just a particularly interesting choice in attire. “Ragman”, as the team dubs him, had been saved by his father on Genesis day, the day that Havenrock was destroyed, and now he wants to honor his father’s memory. Sounds familiar?
Trust but Verify
Meanwhile we gain a little bit of insight into Diggle’s life on the other side of the world. He is back with the army as a sergeant, and we see him involved in the training and preparation of the youngest and newest members of their group. We also see Diggle helping them navigating their first days out in the field. During one of the missions Diggle and a fellow recruit run into trouble with their own people, who had been planning an attack on the army all along. Their plan: taking control over a nuclear bomb and set Diggle up to take the fall.
The second episode of season five feels just as energized as the premiere did. We cannot help but enjoy the dynamics between our established favorite characters (although we are missing John Diggle deeply). The relationship between the Queen siblings is at an all-time high. Oliver depends on Thea and she is one of the very few people he trusts blindly. Their scenes are entertaining as they combine the expected sibling-banter with heart-felt conversations.
Of course we also cannot help but enjoy the way that Oliver and Felicity are developing. They are back in (most of the) ways that truly count; they continue to work as partners-in-crime, fighting evil side by side. We are taken back to season one and two where their relationship was built on snarky remarks, subtle touches and less-than-platonic undertones. But having worked together for five years has given them a kind of intimacy that goes beyond being in a relationship. They can be honest with each other. And they truly trust each other, and they would go to the end of the world and beyond to protect and support each other.
Team Arrow 2.0 is born! But they are far from being ready to jump into action. Curtis, René, and Evelyn are sure to continue their hard training, while Oliver will have to work on letting people in. The new recruits will never be able to replace Thea, Diggle, Laurel or even Roy, but we will give them a fair chance to prove themselves.
The final scene of the episode gives us yet another glimpse at Prometheus. Who is he? What is his business with the Green Arrow? When will we learn more about him?
Oliver: “[The recruits] are too green!”
Felicity: “Some could say the same about you. I’ve been waiting 5 years to make that joke.”
Curtis: “I told them all about how you and Speedy and Spartan were a family, and even though you were tough and scary and even a little abusive, they clearly trusted you because they stood by you. But then it hit me. No, they didn’t. They left, and now I know why. You don’t respect people. You don’t know how to have partners. You don’t build people up. You tear them down. I thought I could trust you– we could trust you. I was wrong. And that’s why I’m out, too.”
Catch Arrow Wednesdays at 8/7ct on The CW.