“Arrow” was back tonight for another strong episode. Directed by James Bamford, “The Recruits” featured crisp fight sequences, emotional character developments, and three very significant plot developments. First, Oliver and Thea had to navigate the world of fundraising and mafia interference. Second, Felicity and the Green Arrow had to train up a new team. Third, Diggle, Felicity, and newcomer Ragman had to deal with the fallout of Damien Darhk’s Genesis weapons. Each of these storylines showcased unique kinds of heroism, like Diggle not taking a bribe from a commanding officer, Oliver learning to let his guard down and trust again, and Thea seeing Quentin Lance not as a drunk, but as a former Police Captain. The episode also continued to showcase Oliver’s time in Russia, and his initiation into the Bratva perfectly mirrored the training of new Team Arrow recruits Curtis, Evelyn, and Rene. Prometheus also made an appearance during the episode, this time to issue a threat to Tobias Church.
First up, Oliver began training his new recruits. After listening to Felicity’s plea in the Season 5 premiere, Oliver decided to train Curtis Holt — Felicity’s co-worker from Palmer Tech — Evelyn Sharp — the young woman who pretended to be the Black Canary after the death of Laurel Lance — and Rene Ramirez — the guy in the hockey mask that Oliver shot in the leg last week. Through some great moments of humor and dialogue (and the return of the Salmon Ladder,) Oliver threw out a challenge to them: get past him and ring a bell that was placed in the room. After what seemed like hours, no one could overcome Oliver. Felicity even told Oliver to take it easier on them, but that just made him think that they were even less ready. Oliver let them into the field later in the episode during the medical fundraiser, but when Rene/Wild Dog tried to tackle Ragman and was unsuccessful, Oliver pulled away from the new team and each member decided to leave. It wasn’t until Felicity convinced Oliver that only by showing him his true identity — Oliver Queen — and allowing them to trust him, would they ever be ready and willing to follow him into battle. Once he took off the hood and revealed himself to be Mayor Queen, all three new recruits agreed to join the team.
While the Green Arrow was training the new recruits back at the old HIVE office, Mayor Queen was working with Thea on an initiative to bring a medical clinic to Star City. The financial backer of the clinic was supposed to be AmerTech, who appeared to be sweeping in like a financial savior. As it turned out, AmerTech was in league with mafia baddie Tobias Church, who was planning to buy $100,000 worth of weapons from them to offset their debt. As it happened, AmerTech was responsible for creating the nuke that destroyed Havenrock last season. The destruction of Havenrock was a very personal event for both Felicity and newcomer Rory Regan/Ragman (“Blindspot’s” Joe Dinicol.) Felicity felt personally responsible for the destruction of Havenrock because it was the only nuke she couldn’t stop last season. Ragman was connected to Havenrock because he was last living survivor of the nuclear attack. His pursuit of AmerTech’s CEO brought him to Star City. As it would turn out, he and Oliver had something in common, their pursuit of justice for their fathers. After a very intimate conversation on the roof, Ragman agreed to work with Green Arrow. Ragman even took off his enchanted robes, explaining that they were ancient — from the time of Moses — and were what saved his life from the nuclear blast. I’m sure we’ll learn more about his powers in the coming weeks.
Beside Every Great Man
In addition to the training montages, the Russian flashbacks (with a murderous Anatoly,) and the surprising alliance between AmerTech and Tobias Church, there were also some very emotional, tender moments — all of which centered on the motivational speeches of Felicity and Thea. The phrase “Behind every great man is a great woman,” is extremely true for this season of “Arrow” — though I would argue these women are fighting beside Oliver and not behind him. Who is the great woman driving Team Arrow this season? Felicity. Who is the equally great woman running the Mayor’s office this season? Thea Queen. While “Arrow” has always been Oliver’s show, it has always been an ensemble show, and it feels right to watch both Thea and Felicity lead these realms of Oliver’s life. Oliver — while trying to emotionally isolate and distance himself from his new team — needed Felicity’s guidance and wisdom, in getting himself to open up to his new team. There can be no team without trust and no trust without leadership. Felicity reminded Oliver tonight that it was never the Green Arrow that Laurel or Dig or Roy were following, it was always Oliver Queen. Thea, while running an impeccable Mayorial campaign last season and making an easy transition to Chief of Staff this season, also needed to push Oliver to be the best version of himself for the people of Star City. She also got to give Quentin Lance another chance in this episode, which was one of the most heartbreaking and honest scenes of the season so far. Lance was broken, drinking, and grieving Laurel’s death, he didn’t feel worthy of any kind of responsibility, and yet Thea could see the honorable man inside, dying for a reason to live. She made Quentin Deputy Mayor, and while he didn’t feel worthy of the title, he finally accepted her offer. Oliver is trying to save Star City as both Mayor Queen and the Green Arrow, and while he’s doing the best that he can, he needs Felicity and Thea more than ever.
The episode also caught up with Diggle — Sergeant Diggle — who was on a mission to track down one of Darhk’s trigger nukes for the military. During the recovery mission, Diggle discovered that his commanding officer was actually stealing the device. Diggle refused to participate in the theft which got his partner killed and himself tied up and left for dead. It’s hard to say how Diggle is going to get out of that bind, but he is set to return to Team Arrow soon. Next week the new Team Arrow continues to develop the theme of trust, as the episode is aptly titled “A Matter of Trust.” Wild Dog will defy the Green Arrow’s orders and set out on his own after a new drug dealer, Derek Sampson (guest star Cody Rhodes), begins terrorizing Star City. Oliver will to go head to head with Sampson to save Wild Dog, which will be a reunion of sorts, as “Arrow” star Stephen Amell has previously fought Cody Rhodes in a WWE wrestling match in real life. Their reunion on the show should be a fun treat for both “Arrow” fans and WWE fans.
Starring Stephen Amell as the Emerald Archer, “Arrow” airs Wednesdays at 8 pm ET/PT on The CW. The series also stars Emily Bett Rickards, David Ramsey, John Barrowman, Willa Holland and more.
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