Warning – FULL SPOILERS for Tonight’s, “The Recruits”:

I didn’t get a chance to talk about last week’s Arrow premiere, but it’s worth stating for the record that “Legacy” hit very much in the same vein as “Flashpoint,” working to re-pilot the series into something more in line with its early days. It’s a pretty low bar for Arrow to clear after these last few seasons, but one it met successfully, leaving “The Recruits” to carry on the new team dynamic pretty well.

There’s a lot of talk floating around tonight on the success of the original team; specifically whether Oliver can make that lightning strike twice. It’s difficult to ignore that Arrow itself only started coalescing when the core characters became active agents in Oliver’s crusade, rather than soap opera mannequins impeding it, but with the series regularity to do so. I’m not sure how Season 5 intends to recreate that dynamic, when the majority of “Recruits” are guest stars we barely know, but I do think Oliver fits well in the role of grizzled mentor.

It gets rightly tiring to have Oliver barking orders in a recreation of his Bratva initiation (what, no bowl of slapping water?), but it makes for a reasonably strong episodic arc, and feels that much more earned when Oliver admits to concern his new friends will end up leaving as well. The decision to unmask and fully trust one another also has the added benefit of keeping future bunker scenes less stagnant, as “The Recruits” becomes the third CW episode in a week to lean on either Flash or Arrow using Felicity as little more than a superhero-whispering soundboard.

The absence of a team dynamic is probably the biggest consequence of Diggle’s return to the military, and where last week I appreciated that he and Oliver could keep their brotherhood from afar, I still don’t have any inroad with this estrangement just yet. It made a brief sort of sense this week, to have Diggle mentor a young soldier and meditate on teamwork as a parallel to Oliver’s challenges, but whatever Meta-Magic-Panic* intimated by Diggle’s superior isn’t hiding the functionality of Dig’s absence. A court martial either keeps Diggle occupied for another few weeks or facilitates his return as a fugitive. Get on with it, really.

"I'm going to that boy murdered by the end of the week."

*It seems almost crazy to remember that Arrow actually depicted a nuclear strike on American soil last year, something Felicity herself seems only to react to it when Ragman recounts his origins in Havenrock. Was that not clear by the irradiated cloak, and the nuclear missiles from AmerTek?

I also meant to mention last week that where Oliver himself more or less acknowledges his Mayoral standing as a means to an end, it does lend a certain sense of balance to Season 5, especially around Oliver having a life outside the suit. Both the premiere and “Recruits” also make a better case for Thea wanting to stay out of costume, moreso than Oliver not wanting anyone else to join in, and I’ll take anything that keeps Quentin Lance in the mix, really. Knock on wood, but it is astonishing of Arrow to keep a grown-up in the mix for five seasons.

Definitely a few items that could still use work, as I don’t think “The Recruits” clarified Oliver’s regrettable backslide into killing, and whomever Felicity’s new boyfriend is, the character is so blank and untethered, I can’t begin to care. At least the flashbacks are on a stronger track, as the parallel use of the Bratva’s bell exercise did well to flesh out how far Oliver has come in five years. Succeeding in the past got his fellow Bratva applicants killed, where the present team’s failure brought them all together, and Season 5 will need clear divisions like that to stay relevant.

Still not terribly certain about “Prometheus,” either, and this is the second week in a row with characters problematically resembling one another (the ACU member and Felicity’s boyfriend last week, now Prometheus and Ragman). It doesn’t help that Prometheus essentially repeated his introduction from last week, either, only this time with a relevant character.

AND ANOTHER THING …

  • Wild Dog’s up and running, after an arrow to the leg?
  • They didn’t even try to hide that Diggle would get that poor newbie soldier killed.
  • What IS it with wardrobe refusing to cover more than 60% of Willa Holland in regular clothes?
  • Was … no one at the medical function unnerved by three members of the Queen staff covered in bruises and cuts?
  • Olicity Watch: “He’s the one I continue to choose to stand by.”
  • I mistakenly thought Tyler Ritter’s Billy Malone (Felicity’s guy) was our inevitable “Vigilante,” but that’s a different generic-looking actor. So … what, Prometheus? Probably makes more sense than my first guess, Tommy Merlyn.
  • Seriously, is Oliver killing these people, or what?

Arrow Season 5 will return October 19 with “A Matter of Trust,” airing at 8:00 P.M. on The CW.

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