And we’re back for ‘Arrow’ season 5. A note to readers, this season we are shifting from doing full “recaps” to “reviews” of each episode, and while I know some of you might be disappointed to not have a massive recap posted every week (I’m looking at you Jasmine), the reviews will still briefly review the plot of every episode and give you the same insights into the show as before, only now I can share a little more of my opinion throughout (and not get early carpal tunnel syndrome from writing so much).
So this year the show is going to be all about legacy, and this episode in particular, seemed to be hitting the theme about letting go of the past and moving forward, especially in regards to Oliver’s hope that he would be able to reassemble his team from the past and reclaim their former glory. I personally also felt like it was the show’s answer to all the internet nay-sayers claiming the show lost its touch after Season 2 and needs to find the elements from that season that made it work, the show’s answering message basically being there is no going back, we can only move forward in the best way we can. And for Oliver, that means assembling a new team to replace Laurel, Thea, and Diggle, and though he did not agree with Felicity to start doing so until the end of the episode, you could tell throughout that he was going to agree eventually, as what other choice does he have?
Clearly being the mayor and the sole vigilante in the city is quite a burden, even if it was fun (and pretty amazing) watching Oliver work alone once more. Without having to service an entire team of heroes it seems like the show was really able to hit Oliver’s action scenes well. The fights were crisp and well-choreographed, and his new villain, Tobias Church, seemed far more menacing because Oliver was working alone against the man, who happened to have his own gang behind him as well as corrupt SCPD police officers on his side (apparently once Lance left the force everyone decided to give up).
The main set-piece for the episode is a new statue that had been erected to Laurel Lance/ The Black Canary. It is at this location that Oliver attempts to give a speech denouncing the SCPD for their corruption, which is interrupted when he and 3 others are taken hostage by Church, who is trying to lure out the Green Arrow. Eventually, Oliver manages to escape, killing his guard because “No one can know my secret” (which is an excellent call-back to the pilot episode of the series), and letting us know killing is back on the table for vigilantes. Thea regretfully re-dons her costume to help Oliver escape after much debate throughout the episode about it, but after she learns he is killing again, she realizes she is truly done with being a hero, and leaves Oliver to it alone. Fortunately, a recently returned Quentin Lance, inspired to stop drinking after Oliver’s stirring speech at Laurel’s statue, manages to recruit a small team of SCPD cops that he trusts to help Oliver save the rest of the hostages. With Overwatch and Lance directing the new temporary team of the Green Arrow and the good cops, they crash Church’s warehouse (I love that I saw another recap where they mention how if Star City really wanted to cut down on crime, they should bulldoze every abandoned warehouse in the city as they are always the hideouts of villains on this show) and free the hostages, but not before Church plants a bomb. Oliver barely escapes by clinging to Church’s helicopter, but the man overpowers our hero and knocks him off, where Oliver just manages to shoot a, get ready for it, PARACHUTE ARROW to save his life. As he returns to the ground, we realize Church may not just be a one-episode villain, especially as he ends the episode by taking control of all the gangs in Star City, killing the only gang leader who tries to stop him, Frank Bertanelli. Also, we meet a new villain (unnamed in the show) who shoots and kills one of the cops who helped Oliver save the hostages.
Other things we learned this episode, one of the vigilantes that Felicity wants to recruit is code-named Wild Dog, Curtis wants to join the team as a vigilante after having been beaten while looking for Wild Dog, and Anarchy was finally brought down by Oliver in the opening of the episode, and seemingly left for the cops to arrest. Diggle is still in the military, but he has time to Skype in with Oliver when his friend needs advice, and Oliver’s term of mayor has not been doing well because of how much time he spends crime-fighting, though starting the Anti-Crime Unit with the officers that helped him save the hostages apparently boosted his popularity in the polls.
Let’s talk flash-backs real quick. Once the banes of the my viewing experience with this show, I have to admit, I really loved the flashbacks in this episode. Maybe the writers finally heard our complaints about how dumb, boring and pointless the flashbacks have been in the past 2 seasons, but either way I love Oliver in Russia. Opening with his brawl with the Bratva fighter, to the torture and learning to break his thumbs to escape, all the way to the end where he is tasked with taking out 4 Bratva men, everything moved at a brisk pace, was entertaining to watch, and the whole Russian proverb thing meshed well with the current episode. Here’s to hoping they keep up the great flashbacks all season! And if not, at least we know this is the final season of flashbacks, so we just need to suffer through 20 more (or so) episodes with flashbacks until they are done!
- So we know the archer in Black seen at the end of the episode is named Prometheus, but we do not know much else about him yet aside from a statement where the show said he was someone from Oliver’s past coming back to haunt him? Any decent theories out there? I’ve heard Tommy Merlin thrown out as a possibility, but that seems unlikely to me. It would also be cool if it was Roy, but that also seems unlikely, as Prometheus seems more likely to be someone Oliver has wronged in the past.
- Frank Bertanelli is used twice in this episode. Once while the Russian is reading Oliver’s list of bad buys to take down in Star City, and again at the end of the episode as Church kills him for asking questions. Could this be set-up for a return (finally!) of the Huntress to the series, now that her father has been killed? Or was he just badly wounded when Church shot him? Either way, my money is on the fact that we will see Helena Bertanelli again this season.
- Is there still a chance that Oliver will be outed as the Green Arrow? I would really love that, and was hoping for it last season. But I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
- They changed the costume again and did not mention it. His sleeve are back, and he looks more like his original ‘Arrow’ persona. Is this a visual way of saying they are getting back to their Season 1 roots?
- I’m glad they finally told us what Laurel told Oliver before she died (basically to make sure she is not the last Black Canary), but I cannot be the only one who thought her statue in the episode was god-awful. Thoughts?
So for an ‘Arrow’ premiere, this was definitely up there as one of the good ones. I could not help but be impressed by the action, the pacing, and the writing of this episode, even until the end when we learned Felicity has a new boyfriend (I think) and he happens to be one of Oliver’s “trusted” new officers. The show has gone through a lot of changes over the past few years and heard a lot of criticism, and I would like to think they are finally, FINALLY getting things back on track, though I am a little worried about whether or not they will be able to keep the quality up once Oliver has a new team and they start attempting to service too many characters once again. I love the show as just Oliver with a few supporting cast members, and I kind of wish he would figure out how to be a hero on his own. Ah well, see you back here next week for the second episode!