Arrow 5×02 Review: Oliver Can't Do This Alone

When it comes to Oliver Queen we all know that he’s not one who’s actively in touch with his emotions. He’ll do anything and everything to obscure them when he feels like they’re compromising him. And he can’t help it, really. His past has shaped him to be this way.
One thing Oliver Queen doesn’t do often is admit when he’s wrong. Unless he’s admitting it to Felicity Smoak because we know girl’s got him whipped. But admit he’s wrong is exactly what Oliver did in this episode – both to Felicity and his new band of recruits – after an hour of resisting the formation of this new team.
While Oliver has taken the first step at the end of last week’s premiere by agreeing to recruit new members, that was by far the easiest part. The hardest part was in this second hour of season five where Oliver had to actually act on his decision. And, as we all know, it didn’t go well for most of the hour.

But after an important talk with his most trusted blonde partner, Oliver was able to come to one simple conclusion that he had also come to in season one:

“I can’t do this alone.”

With Diggle overseas fighting a war and battling corruption – please, Diggle, come back to us – and Thea stepping away from the crime fighting game, Oliver had to recruit some new members to help him out in the field as Felicity manned the Arrow cave.
Those new members: Curtis Holt, our lovable genius who decided to make the transition from tech to combat after he was jumped by thugs; Evelyn Sharp, who was struggling with emotional trauma of her own after Damien Darhk killed her parents; and Wild Dog, who is nearly as stubborn as Oliver and has a burning passion to save this city.
The training montage was everything I could’ve hoped for – with some serious impressive action sequences – as Oliver tried to get them to understand the importance of teamwork. The only thing is, Oliver was missing that, as well. He wanted the three of them to be a team, but he forgot that he’s supposed to be its leader. So coming across the way he did – as scary and just downright mean – wasn’t as successful a tactic as you and me know.
Eventually the new band of recruits had finally had enough of Oliver’s bitching and left before they had truly even gotten started. Leave it to Curtis to deliver one hell of a truth bomb about Oliver’s lack of trust and belief that left Oliver speechless and me slow clapping from my couch.

Leave it to Felicity to talk some sense into Oliver. But give Oliver some credit, too, as he let his guard down with Felicity and revealed more about his Bratva past, which shone a light on the man he’s become. (More on that scene below)
Oliver took a leap of faith and an ever-important step when he revealed his true identity to the recruits – well, Curtis already knew, but Evelyn and Wild Dog, you get it. He was basically asking them to rejoin the team.

Would You Look at That, Olicity is Slowly Rebuilding

While Oliver and Felicity aren’t exactly where we’d like them to be at present, that doesn’t mean that their final destination isn’t each other. I’m aware of the discouraging interviews and the over-stayed welcome of a temporary, generic-looking boyfriend, but it’s all just part of the journey.
Something that Arrow is managing to do under the watchful eyes of fans is rebuild Oliver and Felicity’s relationship for the better. While I agree there was no need to tear them apart in the first place, the thing is we can’t ignore that the baby mama drama and the breakup happened. It happened. We’ve got to move past it.
So that brings us to the present where Oliver and Felicity are just partners who consistently get in each other’s personal space and flirt like teenagers. It’s almost like the beginning of their story.

But in these first two episodes we’ve seen Oliver and Felicity slowing redeveloping that trusting foundation that has been the cornerstone of their relationship. In the season premiere we saw Oliver and Felicity voice their disagreement in a healthy, adult way, as they really showed how their communication has grown. In “The Recruits,” we watched as Oliver opened up to Felicity about his past and how she was there to listen and offer the encouragement that he needs to keep trudging forward.
That scene of Oliver and Felicity in the lair together was a scene reminiscent of some of their strongest moments. Oliver, who isn’t mayor of opening up, actually let his guard down and let Felicity in as he revealed information about his past that continues to show us how he’s become this man we know today.

While I’ve been noticeably critical of the flashbacks in recent seasons, one of the things that they’ve done really well is showcase why Oliver is the man he is today. A man with trust issues; a man that has been both physically and emotionally abused; a man that has fought through hell and back; a man that has survived; a man that needs people in his life that care about him.
Just like she always does, Felicity was able to get through to Oliver as she reminded him of the reason she chose to stand by him. The trust and respect she had – and that they all had – wasn’t for the Green Arrow, it was for Oliver Queen. It wasn’t because he was a hero in a mask. It was because of who he was as Oliver Queen.

“Oliver is the one who makes a good leader. He is the one that runs a good team. He is the one that I chose to stand by and that I continue to choose to stand by.”

As Oliver struggled with how to get through to these new recruits, Felicity reminded him that the way to do that was to open up to them the way he did to her and Diggle.
It was this kind of scene between Oliver and Felicity, where Oliver was trusting her with his emotions and where Felicity was open and accepting to them, that reminded me that this couple will always pull through in the end. They might not be together right now, but it’s reminders like this where two characters can make each other so remarkably better that you just know things will work out in the end.

So while things aren’t exactly how we’d like them to be right now – temporary, generic-looking boyfriend included – just remember that it doesn’t discount Oliver and Felicity’s journey or their connection.
Also I’d like to leave you with one final thought: I urge you to stop reading interviews with producers and just watch the show. The interviews serve to do exactly what they’re doing – rile you up and keep you talking, sweating, and watching. So please, just watch and ignore the noise.

The Beginning of Felicity’s Arc

One of the things I’m most excited about this season on Arrow is Felicity Smoak’s storyline involving the fallout from the Havenrock tragedy. While I love Felicity and her relationship with Oliver, I love Felicity as an individual first. Most of her storylines have either been brief or involved the propping up of other characters, so you see why I’m more than excited for Felicity to get an emotional arc of her own where we’re going to see her struggle and rise above.
While this episode was just the setup, it was the little things like Felicity lying to Oliver and lying to her temporary, generic-looking boyfriend that goes to show just how not okay she is. It’s ironic, really, that a hero like Felicity, who doesn’t wear a mask when she works, is actually wearing a mask now as she’s still struggling with that gut-wrenching tragedy. She’s using the temporary, generic-looking boyfriend as a distraction, obviously, but it’s not going to be enough to keep that pain at bay.
Up until this point it’s been relatively easy for her to distract herself: she’s got the temporary, generic-looking boyfriend and her crusade with Oliver. But Star City’s newest arrival was enough to shake that up.

Having Ragman, who is the sole survivor of the Havenrock tragedy, not only make his way to Star City but it’s looking like making his way onto the team is not going to be easy for Felicity. It’s taking those feelings that she’s been bottling deep inside and bringing them to the surface. It’s going to come to a point – episode five, I believe – where she’s going to break. And this time she’s going to need Oliver to help put her back together.

Past vs. Present (The Ringing of the Bell)

Arrow’s final season of island flashbacks continues to impress me as we delved deeper into Oliver’s initiation into the Bratva. This episode presented us with an interesting parallel as Oliver played recruit in the past and was the one recruiting in the present. But more than that it was the actual purpose of the “bell” exercise that proved interesting.
When Oliver gave his new recruits the exercise of merely ringing the bell, they were left shaking their heads as to the real purpose. In the flashbacks, we watched as Oliver experienced the same emotion as he and his fellow recruits tried and failed repeatedly to accomplish their task. When Curtis asked Oliver about the purpose of the task, he told him that it was to understand that they have to work together as a team. Naturally we assumed that something similar was at play in the flashbacks. We then watched as Oliver used that same strategy to ring the bell. He was shocked, as were we, when his fellow recruits were shot and killed as a result. Anatoli’s response? They didn’t ring the bell, you did.
This year’s flashbacks are really serving the purpose of illustrating just how different Oliver Queen is in the present compared to the past. In the past, he was trained to be a certain way. To survive. In the present, he’s become someone worthy to be called a hero. It was really interesting to watch Oliver use a training tactic that was used for an entirely different purpose and use it for the better.

Diggle is Coming Home?

While Thea is no longer a part of Team Arrow, she remains is Star City as Oliver’s mayoral assistant. John Diggle, on the other hand, reenlisted in the military to try and find himself again after he killed his brother in what was an emotionally traumatic season.
In “The Recruits,” we got a look at what Diggle has been up to in the Middle East. And it wasn’t pretty. Turns out there was corruption within the military that looks to be the reason Diggle comes home. We always knew Diggle wasn’t going to remain in the military for too long before returning to the team, but now we know why.
But while Diggle will soon be returning home to Star City — and eventually the team — his struggle is just beginning. We still don’t know how Diggle is doing emotionally after everything that happened with his brother — the betrayal, the killing. That’s no doubt going to be something that Diggle will continue to work through when he returns. And he can’t return soon enough.

Quentin Finds a Reason to Stay Sober

When we last left Quentin, he was still struggling with Laurel’s death as he tried to find a reason to remain sober. After his breakup with Donna Smoak, it became difficult. We saw last week that he had hit the bottle once more. Because he didn’t have anyone there to stay sober for. But Thea provided Quentin with a very good reason.
Don’t look now, but one of my favorite new relationships this season is Thea and Quentin. Thea, who loved Laurel, as well, sees just how much Quentin is struggling, and she wants to help him. Not only does she probably feels she’s doing right by Laurel by protecting her father, but a part of her wants to help him. She wants to save him. She’s a hero. It’s what she does.
While Thea was initially concerned with Quentin’s lack of sobriety, she decided to give Quentin something worth staying sober for. Thea decided to appoint Quentin as Deputy Mayor. Not because she felt sorry for him. Because she knows the hero that he is, that he’s always been. He just needed a little reminder.

Could Prometheus Be…?

In a move similar to that of Arrow’s first season, this year’s big bad is someone whose true identity remains a mystery. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to start guessing and praying that my guess comes to fruition. Because if it did…oh shit!
Prometheus is a villain that is strangely obsessed with the Green Arrow. He’s made it a point that he’s the one who’s going to take the Green Arrow out of the picture, and he’s not going to let anyone get in his way, including Tobias Church, who got quite the surprise this episode.

Given Prometheus is the direct result of Oliver Queen’s actions – and that he’s had years to stew – I’m officially backing my theory and hope that Prometheus is actually Tommy Merlyn, as in Oliver’s deceased best friend. As in if that were to actually happen I would drop dead. Not literally, of course. I mean, I hope not.
Given the personal connection with the villain, the fact that Tommy Merlyn was actually supposed to be Oliver’s enemy, and the fact that Prometheus is motivated by Oliver’s actions, this makes the most sense. Logistically it’d be difficult to accomplish give Colin Donnell’s obligation to Chicago Med (good show), but they could definitely make it work.
Since Prometheus is a masked villain, the unmasking won’t happen for quite some time. I could actually see us learning his true identity the moment Olive does, which would be deeper into the season, and dear God if it’s Tommy. That would be the greatest thing to ever happen on this show (that’s not Olicity or OTA, of course). You want emotion? You want real emotion? You want a real villain? You want a big bad that punches you in the teeth? This is how you do it.
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.

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