For a guy who dresses in green leather on a nightly basis, Oliver Queen can be a real dick sometimes. In the second episode of the season, “The Recruits,” Ollie and Felicity decide that it’s time to bring some new blood into Team Arrow, but not without Ollie exorcising some of his personal flashback demons in the process.
As telegraphed in the season debut, Wild Dog (Rick Gonzalez), Evelyn (Madison McLaughlin) and Curtis Holt (Echo Callum) have been targeted by the remaining members of the archery squad to join them in their not-so-merry quest against new threat. In the case of Ollie, that means beating them senseless until they get the point. Yes, it’s another episode about trust or the lack thereof, with Felicity the ever-present Jiminy Cricket in Ollie’s war.
With the old team scattered to the wind, there’s no singular story tying some of the disparate threads together. This is actually a breath of fresh air for the show. Diggle is off doing ill-defined military things, and being set up for a fall, and there’s something compelling about the mystery of how that will actually tie into the main story. Frankly, it’s just refreshing that Diggle has anything to do at all, and some absence from the main team may just make our fan hearts grow fonder. Thea is somewhat problematic, with the show somewhat diminishing her to mayoral assistant now that she’s out of costume. Yet there’s some nice moments with her and Quentin Lance, struggling to overcome his addiction, and this episode telegraphs bigger things for her.
Of the newbies, and to some extent that includes Holt, only Wild Dog really stands out as an interesting character. His rebelliousness will get tiresome if not eventually tempered by the writing team, but for now he is a de facto Roy Harper. The most talked about new character will undoubtedly be Ragman (Joe Dinicol), a direct lift from DC Comics that pulls ARROW back into the realms of mysticism again. Whether he plays on the side of angels or demons this year is yet to be seen.
ARROW can get lost in its moving parts sometimes, including the infamous flashbacks, but this is one of those rare episodes that doesn’t so much soar as just work. This is also incredibly comforting, and with a massive year ahead for the entire Arrowverse, it’s nice to know that all the wheels are on the road for the trip ahead.
Questions to ponder
This following is filled with geekery and Easter eggs, and thus contains spoilers
- Who is this version of Ragman? The episode tells us he’s a survivor of the explosive events of last season that nuked a whole town. What is he capable of? Like many of the other ARROW villains, he is originally a Batman bad guy.
- Prometheus is named in the final moments of the episode, proving to be a threat to even Tobias Church (Chad L. Coleman). Will Ollie continue down his path of killing with this adaptation?
- Felicity’s boyfriend is SCPD detective Billy Malone (Tyler Ritter). Do we know him? Is it a reach to think he’s connected to Matches Malone? Too much of a stretch? Is this one of the indications of an alternate timeline? After all, Felicity turned up in this week’s The Flash to establish her world has been impacted by Flash’s unwarranted time travel.
- How long will we tolerate the violent delights of Ollie? On a network that now includes a grinning Supergirl, a winking Superman and an apple pie Flash, does a dude who shoots arrows into the chest of enemies really fit? We can’t accept this and complain about Snyder’s cinematic Murderverse.
- Will Holt fill the role of tech genius Ray Palmer by creating his own costume soon? That horrible Ollie this week pretty much called him out for being useless, but he’s not wrong.
Flashbacks: Recommended Reading
Intrigued by Ragman? Christos N. Gage and Stephen Segovia’s 2010 one-shot explores the nature of alter ego Rory Regan, and the souls that he confines to his rags. The Golem inspired character harvests the souls for redemption, so he really needs to get together with Katana’s sword for a chat. While not one of DC’s most famous characters, he’s certainly one of the strangest.