Arrow: “The Recruits”

arrowseason5

Jim’s Thoughts

Arrow delivered another episode I’ll call “mostly watchable.” I’m trying to be positive here, and that’s pretty much what I’ve come up with. It’s nowhere close to the cringe-worthy show it was last season, but it’s been slow out of the gate.

Teamwork has been such a heavy theme in this series it’s beginning to make Arrow look like a corporate training seminar with occasional displays of gymnastics. That was the big deal with Ollie’s recruiting expedition, and while it wasn’t the worst thing the show has done, I grew impatient with the recruits’ inability to decipher what was pretty obvious the goal of the bell-ringing exercise.

Felicity’s new relationship is garbage piled on more garbage. It’s another example of how The CW’s insistence on cramming romance down our throats and it sends the writing to some bad places. If the timeline is to be taken seriously, she’s beginning to give Oliver a run for his money on the bed hopping. She loved Ollie, then Barry, then Ray, then Ollie again, and now this guy? Am I forgetting someone? Probably. It doesn’t matter.

Diggle’s storyline is wasted screen time. None of the characters there are developed, and even their mission is unclear. It’s just floating there in the middle of the narrative doing nothing for anyone.

Ollie’s flashbacks continue to be what they’ve been; sporadically entertaining, but baseless. There was some effort to tie into the current story with Ollie’s training methods, but we’ve seen enough of how Ollie became who he is. It’s not a point of curiosity anymore.

Ragman seems like he could make an interesting addition to the team, but as it stands, I don’t know why he needs the Green Arrow. If the show isn’t careful, they could end up adding an overpowered character that breaks all levels of believable things.

Prometheus has potential to be a compelling villain, at least more so than Church. It’ll be tough to maneuver in a way that won’t make Church’s buildup seem like completely wasted space, but it’s clear they’re going for Prometheus as the bigger baddie.

It’s been a slow start, but I can at least say watching the show doesn’t feel like a chore so far. Bad as it sounds, that’s a step in the right direction.

Kyle’s Take

Arrow may need Ragman to handle Prometheus. What is with Green Arrow battling villains who outclass him? Deathstroke has taken on the Titans by himself and Prometheus has done the same with the Justice League. Prometheus fighting Green Arrow should watch a lot like the internet cartoon Godzilla vs. Bambi. You see a minute and a half of Bambi eating greens, Godzilla stomps on him, and roll credits.

Don’t get me wrong, Prometheus can—and has been—a compelling villain in the comics and shows promise in “The Recruits,” but when Green Arrow faces off against Prometheus and Deathstroke, you have to suspend disbelief to a point where it gets to an unwanted level of silliness. I know that Arrow’s a comic book TV show, but its universe has rules. Marvel wouldn’t have Daredevil and Galactus battling each other; Galactus would eat him in one gulp. Green Arrow shouldn’t take on Prometheus.

I agree with Jim that Ragman can take Arrow to an unwanted place (magic and power-wise) and I don’t know why Ragman needs Green Arrow besides the flimsy dad connection. This played out better than Batman and Superman realizing their mothers had the same first name in Batman v Superman, but that’s not saying much and I’m going to need more to cement this relationship.

This season also benefits from how low the fourth season set the bar. The recruits’ idiocy, Ollie’s superfluous flashbacks, Diggle’s rudderless storyline, and Felicity’s obnoxious love life would be series lows if not for last season’s debacle. I’m still not a fan of Ollie moon-lighting as the mayor—it’s silly to think he’d have the time for fighting crime and mayoring—but Captain Lance’s descent into alcoholism could have some legs. My only worry with this thread is that Arrow will make Lance all better after one pep talk. That’s not how that illness works. It’s a constant struggle.

And we get back to conflict and the lack of rising tension. Arrow and Flash have dropped tension so fast that Jim’s right to be concerned about Church’s buildup as wasted time. Arrow dropping Lance’s alcoholism can’t be trusted either because we didn’t see him struggle with whether or not to buy a beer (or drink of his choice) when his other daughter died or when the same daughter was resurrected as a feral animal. I’m sure there are television rules Arrow doesn’t want to break (in terms of drinking alcohol), but the CW should show us small beats—they shouldn’t be episode long monologues or season hijacking story arcs, but small beats within episodes—that build up these characters.

All in all, “The Recruits” was for the most part watchable, which is more than I can say for half of last season, and Arrow is on an upward swing.

Conjecture

I started a conjecture section with Flash this week and I’ll do the same for Arrow. This section is where I look into the shows future, so you may see some potential spoilers. You’ve been warned.

I don’t have much in terms of Arrow tea leaf reading. Perhaps I’m not as interested in the show as I am FlashArrow did fall off a cliff last season—but it’s more likely that Arrow doesn’t have as much intrigue at the moment. Still, I do have a bit of news that some of you may have already heard.

Deathstroke will make another appearance. So we may get the madness of Prometheus and Deathstroke taking on Ollie at once. Or we could have a scene where Deathstroke and Prometheus battle each other (over who gets to off Ollie) and that’d be neat. Either way, it’s a positive step when Arrow adds Deathstroke to its cast.

That’s all we have this week. Thank you for reading.

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