Arrow – Season V – Ep. 2 “The Recruits”: A Review

Posted: 10/17/2016 in Uncategorized
Arrow -- "The Recruits" -- Image AR502a_0051b.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Echo Kellum as Curtis Holt, Rick Gonzales as Rene Ramirez/Wild Dog, Madison McLaughlin as Evelyn Sharp, Stephen Amell as Green Arrow and Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak -- Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Arrow — “The Recruits” — Image AR502a_0051b.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Echo Kellum as Curtis Holt, Rick Gonzales as Rene Ramirez/Wild Dog, Madison McLaughlin as Evelyn Sharp, Stephen Amell as Green Arrow and Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak — Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW — © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

“The Recruits” stays the course in restoring “Arrow” as the gritty, superior series it once was. Buttressed by the thus far edgy, violent and engaging Bratva arc, Season V seems poised to restore the faith of those who have kept the faith in this show and hung on. Is it too late, though?  Numbers are down for DC across the board from “Flash”, “Legends of Tomorrow” and of course the alpha  of it all, “Arrow.” Having delivered my first volley, I press on with my review.

Why aren’t more people watching this show? Honestly, this was easily the best show on tv this week. “On the line!” resonates throughout  the episode and the phrase quickly changes from a simple order or command to a powerful  survivalist mantra. Green Arrow’s training regimen is vicious and understandably so once the past is revealed. Star City is a war zone. Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) fights the war on two fronts, via attempts at social improvements as mayor and on a more physical front as Green Arrow. The episode was very much positing that he can no longer be a one man army as his foes are too numerous. The issue of trust both his and those of his new recruits is at the heart of the episode.

The Green Arrow reaching out to “Wild Dog”/Rene Ramirez (Rick Gonzalez) as with his previous meeting – is gold. GA saves Ramirez from a potential fatal fall and while he dangles from the same leg he previously wounded in their initial encounter, offers him a spot to become more than a man in a hockey mask. GA’s ‘handling’ of a fleeing drug dealer as an afterthought was flawless. The training sessions showcase exactly how dangerous Oliver Queen truly is as he charges his trio of recruits, which now includes inside man Curtis Holt (Echo Kellum) and Evelyn Sharp (Madison McLaughlin), with a simple task – getting past him and ringing a bell. After repeated trouncing and a demoralized trio, Oliver, fully masked tells the group that the point of the exercise is to “find out the point of the exercise”.

He and Felicity (Emily Bett-Rickards) lock horns throughout the episode as she charges him with being overly brutal. Flashbacks used absolutely effectively here illustrate GA’s mindset. When she charges him with not being a good leader he opens a bit about his Bratva past while she pushes him to trust in order to be trusted. The Bratva segment featuring Oliver’s initiation is perfect. The lesson learned is horrible and while Anatoli (David Nykl) is his friend, he is ultimately a criminal and a ruthless one.

There is a sub arc with John Diggle (David Ramsey) which is no less interesting as we see the results of his return to “the ‘stan…” He references “the clarity” of fear and service to a young, fearful recruit on his first mission. The moments that ensue allow Diggs to learn that the clarity he has now isn’t all that different from that which he obtained in his previous tour. His predicament is of course a well placed plot device to assure his return to Team Arrow.

Oliver partners up with Amertek CEO Janet Carroll (Suki Kaiser) in an effort to set up a medical outreach program. She agrees but after an attack on her fellow executive by a new threat, she will only keep her word if she can receive additional protection and indemnification. This attempt yields some pretty epic payoff.  After an incident at the event, we learn that a new threat is a meta human who targets Amertek CEOS, including Carroll, directly . Ramirez’s attempt to help is met with Oliver’s fury and not unexpectedly his nascent team quitting.

Thea’s (Willa Holland) discovery of Carroll’s secret “partnership” leads to the revelation that Felicity had some degree of responsibility in the creation of the current meta human threat. Thea scores mvp points for her actions with Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) still reeling from Laurel’s (Katie Cassidy) loss.

We learn a bit about the man called “Ragman” (Joe Dinicol) and his back story. His powers and origins have a hefty pile of potential and their presentation on the small screen again illustrates the less is more effective CGI wizardry of CW.  The issue of his ‘villainy’ is quickly eliminated when he intercedes on GA’s behalf. Upon R.M. revealing his identity as a sign of trust, GA invites him to join his team and mission. The after-effect of this meeting is Oliver’s taking a chance with his new team and preparing for the battles to come. An end sequence  features new villain Prometheus, this time providing a warning to Tobias Church (Chad L. Coleman) to leave the killing of the Green Arrow to him.

The street level battles have thus far been spectacular. The flashbacks are fluid and easily strengthen the main story line. The sub plots are without issue. Season V seems poised to re-establish the brand  presented with the first two seasons that made “Arrow” one of the best shows on tv. Ep. 2 “The Recruits” proves again that “Arrow” is simply outstanding and well worth your time. I recognize that there is a huge cross-over event coming up but part of me would like the show to eschew it as the path they are on is just so right…ah well, here’s hoping.

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