On the latest episode of Arrow, “The Recruits“, Oliver Queen has some tough choices to make in his immediate future. Speedy has just hung up her arrows (again), Laurel is dead, and John told Oliver that he would not be returning to help. It’s time to put together a new team. Unfortunately, the hero-potential list makes for slim pickings:
Curtis Holt — a genius with no definable muscle mass.
Rene Ramirez — can do parkour (badly) and wears a hockey mask.
From this bunch of outcasts and misfits, Green Arrow must assemble a new team.
Wild Dog is chasing a suspect only to trip over the edge of a building, forcing Oliver to save him. Despite their previous work history, Oliver leaves a note telling him where to meet. Curtis has taken advantage of their current relationship to get a few pull-ups in on the old bar-ladder. Oliver’s few seconds of practice puts Curtis to shame and Holt hears the fantastic news that the training will be even harder.
Mayor Queen is successful in obtaining funding for a new healthcare clinic from a company called AmerTek. Despite Thea telling Oliver he needs to be at the opening event, the new Team Arrow requires training. Oliver uses an old Bratva training technique — the team has to get past him and ring a bell while he tries to stop them.
A new villain rears his head when an AmerTek vice-president is attacked. In light of their involvement in the new business venture, AmerTek attempts to pull out, but Oliver convinces them to stay after offering ‘protection’ at the clinic and take all legal responsibility.
While Team Arrow attempts to hold Star City together, another member is trying to protect the rest of the world. Sergeant John Diggle is assigned with finding a warhead lost in the Genesis Day in Chechnya. Radio silence gives a dark feeling right before his team is ambushed. Only John and a young soldier under his wing survive as John drags them both to safety. Oliver might be an icon, but John’s simple act of bravery proves that anybody can be a hero.
During a less than fruitful training exercise comes sound Smoak advice — use the fledgling heroes as observers at the new clinic opening. Wild Dog isn’t particularly restrained after the new foe accidentally knocks down a young girl. A Net Arrow — because of course there has to be trick arrows — would have worked but Wild Dog’s tackle knocks him out of the way. This first outing is as messy as the Clarkson fiasco. Renee shouldn’t have reacted, but anybody would have done the same.
Green Arrow is furious at the interference and berates the team at their nightly training. When Felicity confronts him on being abusive, Oliver reveals the real reason — he spent five years getting ready and Laurel didn’t. Now she is dead, and he is trying not to let it happen to the next band of heroes. Wild Dog hands over a piece of the attacker’s outfit to Felicity who makes the unfortunate decision of not calling Cisco for a name. Ragman? Seriously? DC was clearly scraping the bottom of the barrel when naming this fellow.
Perks of a relationship usually means borrowing a friend’s car, but the new man in Felicity’s life is a cop who has access to the crime laboratories. Want to know the appalling cover story? “My friend’s cleaning lady is missing, but she left this rag behind. Maybe there is some evidence to track her down?” How — as a detective — did he not think to ask for something else. Like maybe a name or description?!
Oliver returns to his training ground to find out the new team has quit. Another heart-to-heart with Felicity reveals another layer of reasoning behind the training. Losing the former members of his family hurt enough that Green Arrow is unwilling to let Oliver Queen get close. Felicity reveals that nobody in Team Arrow has ever followed Arrow — they followed Oliver Queen.
After what can only be described as a catastrophe at the clinic, Thea attempts to mend bridges with AmerTek but is refused entry to the building. Plot convenience has her walking down the shady alleys instead of the street and allows her to see CEO Janet Carroll next to a suspicious SUV. Thea creeps onto a nearby roof and overhears a weapons deal between Carroll and Tobias Church. The entire situation is possible but who walks by bins instead of on the street?
Round 2. Fight!
Both Oliver and Thea cannot understand why AmerTek would be doing weapons deals with Church. Enter the ever-resourceful Felicity. Test results from the rag fragment dated back to two thousand years old and radioactive. The isotope on the rags is directly linkable to a Genesis missile related to AmerTek. Stock prices have put AmerTek into trouble, and now they need the money.
Church and Carroll manage to complete the deal, but Ragman arrives before Carroll can collect the money. At the same time that Oliver and Church face off, Ragman reveals the horrifying truth — he is the last survivor of Havenrock. When Darhk dropped the missile, it fell onto his home, and he is the only person left. A strong blow by Church gives him an opening, but Ragman manages to save the Emerald Archer.
The pair later reunites on a roof and Ragman reveals his origin. His father wrapped him in the ancient rags to protect him from the explosion. With their similar background comes a mutual respect, and Green Arrow and Ragman form an alliance.
Don’t Forget Diggle
Back in the war, Diggle is in bad shape. The ambush was planned by his corrupt General to put him above suspicion. But the buyers didn’t show, and the General executed the young soldier Diggle was taking care of. He now wants Diggle to take the fall. Despite making for a good story, the delivery mars the result. If the entire story were told by Diggle — who could be rescued or dying for some dramatic emphasis — over the duration of his own episode, then things would be much better. Instead, he’s been given one pep talk, an ambush and then his betrayal.
An embarrassed Quentin Lance meets up with Thea. After failing to secure the clinic and his continued drinking, he is ready to quit again. He is instead offered the Deputy Mayor position. Thea overrules his drunkenness as being a hurt former SCPD captain who is now honouring Laurel’s memory. It actually works, and Lance gives a tentative acceptance.
Despite their convenient meeting, Oliver actually took a fall against Church to force Ragman into a choice: be a hero or kill Carroll. It worked, and he now has one more ally in his team. That said, the team has gathered once again at Felicity’s request. Overcoming his professional fears, Green Arrow takes a big step forward and brings Oliver Queen into the fold.
As Church exits a nightclub, both bouncers are shot down with arrows. The same killer from last week now levels a threat against Church — he may not kill Green Arrow. That honour belongs to Prometheus.
There has not yet been a more difficult episode to follow than “The Recruits”. The flashbacks have been around since the beginning and always linked into the current story. But now we have three ongoing timelines — Star City, Flashbacks, and Soldier John. We barely seem to spend a few minutes in each place before getting dragged off to the next venue.
Despite the bumpy ride, Oliver is finally starting to voluntarily open up to what happened in his five years away. There is still nothing concrete to indicate who lurks under the Prometheus mask, but Green Arrow now has a slightly sadistic protection — somebody has claimed his head and is just waiting for the right moment.