Yesterday got us back in the swing of The Flash and, today, we are here where it all began: Arrow, the patient zero of the modern era of DC television. Last season was a bit rocky, but an improvement over season 3’s malaise. Could season five’s premiere continue the uptick started last season? Let’s see!
1. The old crew scattered
This episode sort of makes good on the idea presented at the end of last season: the team is splintering. Diggle is back in the Army somehow, Thea was leaving vigilantism (but not the mayor’s office), Detective Lance was going to give it a go with Felicity’s mom. Felicity said she would stick it out, and she has. Oliver is the mayor, but he’s still going around at night in kevlar and leather.
We get at least a brief check-in with each character, and some of them are more interesting than others. Diggle does what Diggle does, which is find a way to be dull even in a scene that should be anything but, Lance chews scenery with a ferocity usually saved for kaiju, and Thea shows that she means what she says – except when her brother is in danger.
2. A new team emerges
The biggest takeaway from this episode is the emergence of a new team supporting Ollie, made up of both non-crooked cops and new vigilantes. We get a taste of Wild Dog in the episode, and a reference to “ski goggles man,” aka Vigilante, and Curtis continues his slow build into becoming Mister Terrific. While the new team isn’t going to be mistaken for the Justice League anytime soon, I actually think it is a pretty fun team that could make great strides to give Arrow a continued sense of self in an otherwise crowded CW lineup.
Last season’s magic, and the prior season’s Ra’s al Ghul, took the show firmly out of its street level roots. With Supergirl joining the lineup, it makes it even more important that each show establish its own tone, and by giving a team of unpowered vigilantes the spotlight, the show helps achieve that without too much effort.
3. Oh, the fucking flashbacks
I know, we’ve been told that these “matter” more than the prior seasons’ and, yes, we did see one almost instant payoff (Ollie learns how to untie his hands when tied to a chair, and then he does it in 2016), but these still drag the show down so significantly. I honestly want to know: are there people who truly enjoy these? To me, they are the in-story equivalent of a commercial break. And, since I tend to watch the show live, I have enough opportunities to refill my drink or check my email with the actual commercials.
Please, readers, tell me why we need these flashbacks.
4. A new (no, really, actually new) Big Bad
Unlike just about every other major villain on the show, Tobias Church doesn’t appear to be rooted in any DC villain, and is a creation for the show itself. I’m of two minds about this; on one hand, I watch the show for the DC stuff – I don’t think I’d be a huge fan of the show if it was just a rando archer show. On the other, this means that they can craft a character that better works in this universe, instead of trying to shoehorn a ‘name’ into a square peg that may not fit it.
One funny element of this: after fighting a genetically modified soldier, an immortal with an army at his disposal, and an evil mage, this guy should be a piece of cake. Having Ollie go at this solo and with a new team to train is pretty much the only way to make Church not seem like a total overmatch for Team Arrow.
Also, it appears Malcolm Merlyn is back? Or was that another dark archer?
5. Same old Ollie
I have to give the show credit for not making Ollie this perfect character; this is a flawed dude. From his straight up murdering a cop to his backpedal on that, to his refusal to train a new team, to his backpedal on that…actually, maybe the show has made it too common for Oliver to buckle like a belt. It wouldn’t hurt to give him and Felicty a little more conflict from an ethical/practical standpoint instead of it being always arguments about their personal and professional lives intersecting. Especially because…gasp…she has a new boyfriend!Continued below
But I’m glad that Ollie, while growing and changing, is still fundamentally the guy from season one: a shitty boyfriend who wants to be better. With Laurel as his inspiration, he may actually get a little closer to being there. I look forward to watching him attempt to get there, week by week.