A Closer Look: Arrow – “The Recruits”

Like the first and second episode of this Season of The Flash, Arrow seems to be following a similar pattern of first episode serving to transition from one Season to another while the second serves to directly set up the season as a whole. Last time we saw that things weren’t going to “go back to normal” and this week was all about Oliver taking the new team under his wing and seeing what they’re made of – but at what risk?

The streets of Star City are getting more dangerous and trust seems to be at a minimum. Will Oliver be able to pull this new team together in time? What else can we expect this season with these new dynamics? Let’s find out on this Closer Look at Arrow “The Recruits”.

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Flashback Importance Explained – Oliver’s Lonely Crusade & Trust Issues:

As we began to notice last week, this season is making full use of its flashbacks as we are now in the final year of Oliver’s “5 years in Hell”. It will be this year more than any that have an impact on Season 1 Oliver as these are what he experienced immediately before being found on Lian Yu, and this episode showed us precisely that. This week we saw Oliver’s training to enter the Bratva, and how he learned that the only person you can trust is yourself and attachment is a liability. This might seem very opposed to the Team Arrow mentality we’ve seen since but in Season One Oliver was all about the lone crusade – and it seems like the death of Laurel has begun to push him back towards that way of thinking.

Though explaining the mentality of Season 1 Oliver isn’t the only purpose of this week’s flashbacks as we once again get modern day parallels and skill explanations. The skill one is self explanatory as the training method Oliver is using to train the new recruits is directly from Bratva training – minus the killing those who don’t ring the bell. Though the real significance of this flashback for this episode is how trust of others truly weights as a concern / anchor. We see Diggle get betrayed by his own commanding officers and framed for treason. Additionally, with Oliver we see how he opens up to the powerful Ragman and lets him in. Though will Oliver live to regret this choice as there is currently a secret being kept about Ragman’s tragic past?

Learning To Trust “The Recruits” – Future Assets Or Future Problems:

As we discussed in the last section, Oliver certainly has some trust issues to deal with – for the team and himself. He’s still burdened by the guilt of letting Laurel out there and her getting killed. All he sees in these newcomers is a chance for history to repeat itself, but as we see in the episode, everything works out …. Right?

Well each recruit has his or her pros and cons. Curtis might be the most untrained, but his tech expertise will make him “Terrific”. Mad Dog has the most street experience but is incredibly opinionated and locks horns with Oliver too much. Evelyn follows direction and has some street experience, but is still just a little girl. We know they were thinking of recruiting a 4th “Mr Ski Goggles” but he/ she has yet to reveal themselves. As the team stands by episode’s end, it’s a little ragtag but with trust being established, perhaps Oliver can pull this team of misfits into a team of heroes. Though there is still one major ace member and potential pitfall, Ragman.

The destruction of Havenrock was a critical point last season because it signified a point where Team Arrow failed miserably. Yes, they averted a larger crisis but still caused the deaths of countless people. Ragman is the result of that hellfire and as we saw this episode, he’s on a quest for revenge against all those involved. Darhk is already dead and Amber Tech is has been dealt with, but there is still someone left who can be to blame – or at least feel it: Felicity.

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The weight of her failure hit hard last season and we can see here that it still weighs heavy on her. And considering this is a show all about secrets and the consequences of sharing/ keeping them, you know that the revelation of her and Team Arrow’s involvement is going to come up. Since Ragman is a hero in the comics, I don’t think he’ll go full villain, but hearing that his new team were the ones who caused the death of everyone he knew will certainly lead to some major confrontation.

The final member of this “team” – in an albeit different capacity – is Quentin who still seems to be dealing with a drinking problem. He dropped the ball once this episode so is it a good idea to trust him again in regards to becoming Deputy Mayor? On one hand, it’s the appointment of a former police captain, but on the other it’s appointing a mourning drunk. Can this new position and purpose be what Quentin needs or will there be something else to spur him on – if anything? Whatever happens with these new positions and team members, many gambles of trust were taken this episode.

Rapid Fire – Easter Eggs, Quotes & Other Notables:

  • Favorite Quotes:
    • “It’s really hot… I mean not… it’s not” – Felicity on Oliver using the Salmon ladder
    • “He’s not going to kill you. I’m just here to make sure the horrible maiming stays at a minimum” – Felicity
    • “Well at least he’s not shooting them” – Felicity
    • “Some could say the same about you… I’ve been waiting five years to make that joke” – Felicity about Oliver thinking the new recruits are too green
    • “Don’t call me sir… don’t call me Oliver” – Oliver
    • “Is that what the brochure promised” – Oliver on vigilante orientation
    • “Aww, that’s really cute that you think I can be replaced” – Thea
    • “Or the vigilante moonlighting as mayor” – Thea calling Ollie out
  • Like I brought up last week, Oliver has a trend of putting arrows in people before he trains them. Roy, Wild Dog, and Barry – which I admit I forgot – in the Season 3/ Season 1 Crossover
  • Can we take a second to acknowledge how awesome / adorably sassy Thea was this episode? Willa Holland really brought it and shows that she truly can’t “be replaced”
  • Damn, Oliver has really master the art of “quick changes”
  • So Felicity’s boyfriend is a cop… anyone else still not trust him just yet? Things seem too easy and we’ve already heard how a lot of the force is corrupt.

Now that Prometheus has – somewhat – revealed himself and his intentions on killing the Green Arrow, what’s next? The team still has a long way to go and it’s unclear whether Diggle’s mess will tie into everything happening in Star City or simply serve to bring him back into the team. Season 5 of Arrow is in full swing and hasn’t lost any momentum. So check back next week our next Closer Look.

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