Arrow 5×02 Roundtable: Discussing 'The Recruits'

A new season of Arrow means a new season of roundtables where Fangirlish writers Alyssa, Lizzie, Lyra, Nora and Sarah discuss the hot topics from every Arrow episode.

In Arrow’s second episode of season 5, Oliver welcomed three new recruits to the team in order to make things a little easier for him. Well, that certainly backfired as Oliver struggled to open up with the recruits as he resorted to scary yelling and ass kicking.

What were your overall thoughts on “The Recruits?”

Alyssa: I thoroughly enjoyed the episode. While the season premiere wasn’t anything spectacular, the second episode really set up some storylines that we should expect this season. I can see where they’re going this season in some regards. I really loved the training of the new recruits and watching Oliver struggle it, and I loved the recruits themselves. It was great to get more Diggle in this episode, as well as see the beginning of his journey back to Star City. And of course it was wonderful to get a glimpse of Oliver and Felicity in their element: showcasing that electric chemistry, those emotional heart-to-hearts, and the subtle indication by the writers that Oliver and Felicity are far from done. The flashbacks once again intrigued me, the stunts were on point, and it had the heart that I’ve come to love with this show. Now, the challenge will be sustaining that throughout the season.
My main concern about this season is this whole “back to basics” thing. When they said “back to basics” I assumed it was in terms of the street fighting and returning to that grounded nature. But it’s almost as if they’re retconning the first four seasons – particularly the last two – in terms of bigger storylines and rewriting the show. The first three seasons weren’t the problem. The problem was in season 4B where the writers generated contrived drama and lost themselves in it. I’m praying the same doesn’t happen moving forward. But they’re going to have to earn my trust back.
Lizzie: I enjoyed the episode, much more than I thought I was going to, to be honest. I’m still not in love with the new people, but I could give them a chance. And I quite enjoy the Curtis/Felicity dynamics. Plus, I liked Felicity disregarding most of Oliver’s orders and/or rules. I also really appreciated Thea basically being the mayor, even though she wasn’t the one elected. And, I even enjoyed where they’re going with Quentin Lance’s storyline. All in all it was a good episode, with much better characterization than the first one, great action sequences – just as the first one, and an engaging storyline.
Lyra: Enjoyed it 10 times better than the premiere. Seemed more grounded and like things were actually moving forward for Oliver, Felicity, Diggle, the recruits, Willa, and even Quentin. You can finally start to see the building blocks appearing of what they want to do this season. Church is becoming a bigger problem, Felicity’s arc with Havenrock has been jump started, and Prometheus is jumping on unsuspecting criminals because he’s got a hard on for the Green Arrow. Even the flashbacks were interesting and that’s a miracle upon itself. They’re connecting both worlds and giving us a clearer picture on who Oliver Queen is.
Nora: I enjoyed this episode more than the season premiere actually. I loved that every storyline perfectly intersected in some way and fell under the category of “recruits.” We had Oliver recruiting and training Evelyn, Curtis and Wild Dog, we saw Oliver going through the recruiting process for the Bratva, Thea was recruiting people in the Mayor’s office and Diggle was taking a new army recruit under his wing. I just think the storytelling in this episode was very well done. All the storylines hit their marks and kept me engaged. Last season, some of the storylines just felt like filler, specifically the flashbacks, but so far I’m not getting that from this season.
I really enjoyed Oliver and Felicity training the recruits. I think it was some of the strongest work the two of them have done together since officially getting together. I was very impressed with this episode and actually enjoyed it more than the season opener.
Sarah: I thought it was a truly compelling episode on all fronts, if not hard to sit through when Oliver was pummeling the crap out of the new recruits. I enjoyed the switch up on the present day mayor story and how the flashbacks actually weaved in well with what Oliver was learning this week (even if it was reluctantly.) It really reminded me of an old school season one episode of Arrow and that’s nothing but awesome in my book.

To say Oliver struggled in training these new recruits would be an understatement. What did you think of Oliver’s struggle in this episode and his decision to eventually approach it from a more personal way? And what did you think about these new recruits?

Alyssa: While Oliver made an important step in the premiere in agreeing to accept new recruits to the team, the most difficult challenge came in actually training them and accepting them. Because while Oliver agreed to have new members fight with him in the field, he didn’t approach it in the way that showed that he really cared about them or their presence on Team Arrow. He immediately approached it in as far of a personal way as possible – choosing to mentor them as Green Arrow – a scary, yelling dude in a mask. And obviously it didn’t work.
But after a heart-to-heart with Felicity, where she laid it all out on the table for him, he finally understood why that wasn’t working: The original team worked well because they believed in Oliver Queen. Oliver Queen was the leader; Oliver Queen was the one they chose to stand by. Not the Green Arrow. Oliver could never approach this from a strictly business stance – it was personal. Granted Oliver was trying to protect himself from the pain and the guilt should something happen to these new recruits, but that’s not his decision to make. They all signed up for this life. Just like Laurel did.
As far as the new recruits, I really enjoyed what I saw. While I’ve already loved Curtis, getting to see him slowly working from a tech role to a combat role was entertaining (yes, salmon ladder, I’m looking at you). I was also a proud mama when Curtis stood up to Oliver and called him out for not trusting them or believing in them. Wild Dog was perhaps my favorite because I wasn’t expecting to take to him the way I did. In many ways he’s like Roy but with more sass. He’s passionate about protecting this city, he’s a badass, he’s stubborn as hell, and this whole thing with him not liking his codename is adorable to say the least. From the little we got to see of Evelyn, I’m starting to see the beginning of who she’s going to be. She’s a young woman who is driven by darkness after Damien Darhk killed her parents. She wants to deliver justice. She’s a fiery little badass. I can’t wait to see more.
Lizzie: I’m in with Curtis. Team Curtis, all the way. I’m even in with Ragman. I just need a little hint and I’m good at getting attached to people, I really am. Not so sure about Evelyn or Wild Dog yet, but I’m pretty sure their time will come. I do, however, have to say that, as harsh as Oliver was being, and as much as that probably wasn’t the right approach, I felt like they were all little whiny babies as they complained about how hard Oliver was training them. What exactly did they expect? A walk in the park? This is life or death and Oliver was trying to make them stronger. I get that connection is important, but Oliver also has a point. Soft won’t do out there on the streets. It’ll get them killed.
Lyra: Oliver’s training left something to be desired. They really weren’t learning anything and it took Oliver working through some of his own insecurities for him to realize what his real problem was. He was scared. Scared of what would happen if he let more people join his crusade. Scared that they would die. Scared that they would get hurt. Scared that they would get too deep. It’s a real fear and it makes me like season 5 Oliver even more. Oliver taking off his mask and entrusting them with his secret was the bridge they needed to solidify the bond between them. It’s the right step in starting to build his legacy.

As for the recruits, they’re alright. They’re newbies and I can’t judge them by one episode. That takes at least two. Sure Wild Dog needs to listen, but it’s just the beginning. Have to give him the benefit of the doubt that he’ll straighten up. Overall, I’m just happy that Oliver gave them a chance. He’s stretching himself thin and you know it. He needs help and that’s ok…as long as they respect OTA and what got Arrow to season 5 in the first place, a core cast of wonderful characters who want to do good in Star City.

Nora: I enjoyed Oliver’s struggle and I think it was definitely something I expected. I never thought Oliver was simply going to accept these new recruits, so I’m glad that’s how it played out. His struggle was very personal and I think that’s what made it all the more compelling. Although I think Oliver’s personal growth is taking a bit of a step backwards by putting killing back on the table, I think this storyline is perfectly in sync with his character development. He’s afraid to lose people and he understands he can’t go it alone. I liked the personal aspect to the training and how it linked to the Bratva storyline because I think it’s a side we rarely see to Oliver. He rarely lets his personal life affect his life as Green Arrow, but I think it worked really well for training the recruits.
I really, really love the new recruits. First and foremost, I’ll always be a fan of OTA, but I think the new recruits are going to bring out sides of Felicity and Oliver that we haven’t seen. My favorite part of the new recruits is the three of them really echo OTA. Curtis has the same qualities of Felicity. He’s the tech nerd that isn’t so much in this for a personal reason, but really to do some good for Star City as a whole. Much like Felicity, he’s kind of an “unlikely” hero. Wild Dog definitely reminds me of a young Oliver. He’s strong willed and will do anything to protect those he cares about. Meanwhile, although we haven’t see much of Evelyn yet, I think she will be the Diggle of the group. Willing to put herself first to protect the team. I’m really excited to see Oliver and Felicity impart their wisdom into these new recruits. I’m going to enjoy the teaching aspect of it all.
Sarah: I liked the new recruits a lot. Their distinctive personalities and fighting styles were a highlight personally. The “inexperience” aside they were clearly ready to put it on the line to fight and help people in the city. It just took a knock upside the head (from Felicity as per usual) for Oliver to figure out trying to train them at arm’s length was never going to work to build the kind of team he had in the past. I understand why he’d try to protect himself after everyone left, but trusting people and letting them in is a risk worth taking for him. Especially with the mission he’s trying to accomplish. The fact that he listened made the difference and I’m glad that they all the new recruits know who they are *really* working with.

While Oliver and Felicity aren’t together in a romantic sense, we got some pretty fantastic scenes between them that really showcase their strong friendship, connection, and bond. What were your thoughts on Olicity in this episode? Are you more convinced they’re slowly rebuilding?

Alyssa: There’s no denying that there’s a sense of concern surrounding Oliver and Felicity’s relationship as the writers have seemingly forgotten that these two were engaged and almost married before they decided to break them up for contrived drama. But with that said, I do think the writers are slowly managing to rebuild Oliver and Felicity’s relationship this season. They might not be where we want them to be, but that doesn’t mean that their final destination isn’t each other. In fact, it’s been made even more obvious that end game is the final destination in just the first two episodes.
“The Recruits” was an episode that showed just how connected Oliver and Felicity are and no breakup or writers retconning is going to affect that. Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards know their characters too well; even better than the writers. And that showed in this episode. These first two episodes really showcased how Oliver and Felicity are rebuilding that trusting foundation that is the cornerstone of their relationship. In the premiere we saw them talking through a disagreement; in episode two we saw Oliver opening up and Felicity guiding him.
Of course one of my favorite scenes in this episode came when Oliver had once again retreated into himself as he battled with the conflict with training the recruits. But leave it to Felicity, his guiding light, to talk some sense into him and inspire him to do better; to be better. Felicity reminded Oliver that it wasn’t the Green Arrow that the original team stood behind it. It was Oliver Queen. It wasn’t the Green Arrow that they believed in. It was Oliver Queen. Just like Oliver Queen was the one Felicity chose to stand by and continues to stand by. A mask is just a mask. It’s what the person underneath that mask does that truly inspires his team and his city. That scene was reminiscent of those emotionally charged scenes we’ve come to know between Oliver and Felicity. So while we might have to wait a little for them to be reunited romantically, that doesn’t mean we’re not going to get moments like this that remind us why we love them in the first place.
Lizzie: I’m convinced Flashpoint affected them and this version of them has never even been engaged. Nothing else makes sense. Because these two aren’t acting like two people who just broke up. And I appreciate the friendship, I do – if last season had never happened, I would have probably loved the banter and their interactions, as they’re reminiscent of Season 2, and I loved Season 2. But, and this is a big but, Season 4 did happen, and this feels like regression for their characters. And I can’t be on board with that. If these two are going to be friends, I’m gonna need the show to take some time to explain to me how they got over what happened last year. If these two are ever gonna go back to being a couple (and I assume that’s the endgame, nothing else makes sense), then I’m gonna need the writers to do something other than sweep all the bad stuff from last year under the rug. That just won’t do.
Lyra: I mean…my mind keeps going back to the fact that somehow Barry’s stupid adventures changed Diggle’s sperm and now Sara’s gone. Does that mean that the hospital kiss that jump started Olicity never happened? If so, are they slowly rebuilding? Did Barry mess stuff up and they were never together? I need to catch up on this week’s Flash asap!

Despite interview after interview, that I shall be ignoring from now, Olicity was stronger than ever. In many ways I feel like they had a greater intimacy than before. They know that they can trust each other completely and are acting like best friends. And you know what they say about the best relationships, they’re rooted in friendship. Maybe settling back and rebuilding is what they need to get to a place where they can fall back into each other’s arms. There’s still love there people. You’d be blind not to see it.

Nora: I really enjoyed Olicity in this episode. It was very reminiscent of season two Olicity where the sexual tension was at an all-time high. I really liked seeing Felicity back to dishing out some her signature quips. I really missed that last season. I think the essence of both Oliver and Felicity’s characters were lost within their relationship last year so I’m glad to see them rebuilding their friendship first before they get back into a relationship. I think that will ultimately allow them to have a stronger relationship when they eventually get back together. I like they are back to having a friendship first and foremost, which will lead them back to one another. I’m really excited about it.
Sarah: The trust they had before all the lies (mainly on Oliver’s part) blew everything up is what’s rebuilding and I’m really glad to see it. They are slowly getting to the place where trust isn’t just a discussion they are having in regards to the new team, it’s remembering how they got to the point in the first place where they fell in love. I liked that, together or not, Oliver still trusts and respects Felicity’s opinion more than anything and after everything that happened won’t keep anything from her. I do believe they’ll reunite if things keep going at this slow steady pace (detective boyfriend or not sorry (not sorry) Felicity)

The introduction of Ragman essentially jump-starts Felicity’s arc this season in terms of the fallout from the Havenrock tragedy. What are your thoughts on giving the tragedy a face? And how do you think Felicity will handle this?

Alyssa: This was one of those moments in this episode that really caused me to sit up. While we’ve known since SDCC that Felicity would eventually be confronting the Havenrock tragedy, it’s a fantastic move to have her confront it head-on and giving this tragedy a face in Ragman. While Felicity has been able to mask her emotions pretty well so far – including entertaining herself with her temporary, generic-looking boyfriend – introducing Ragman is going to force her to confront this. She won’t be able to hide from it. There’s no way. We already saw how Ragman’s introduction brought back those feelings and that guilt. Oliver knows something is up. I don’t if he knows exactly who Ragman is, but he knows that something is wrong with Felicity. And I’m really forward to this storyline because now it’ll be Oliver’s turn to comfort her and bring her back from this struggle. She’s going to need to lean on him, and she’s going to need to confront the reality that Havenrock wasn’t her fault.
Also praise the fandom Gods that Felicity is finally getting a storyline that’s all about her. It’s not about Oliver; it’s not about her family; it’s not about propping up other superheroes. Havenrock is all about Felicity struggling with the guilt from that horrific day and eventually understanding that, while it was a tragedy, it wasn’t her fault. It’s going to give Emily Bett Rickards some terrific acting moments to showcase those emotions, that struggle, and that fight. I am so ready.
Lizzie: I love it. I think it’s basically the only way they can tell this story properly. When care about the movie Titanic not just because it was a huge tragedy and a lot of people die, no, we care because of Jack and Rose. This is a common storytelling technique. Give a face to the tragedy and the tragedy becomes more real. In this sense, I think Felicity will struggle much more with a face, a person she has to see day in and day out, and it’ll probably result in much meatier material for Emily Bett Rickards. And in that respect, I’m glad. They didn’t really do her paralysis storyline justice, so I hope they’re taking this one more seriously.
Lyra: I think Ragman was a bit of a let down. I was hoping that his vengeance would drive him to do terrible things and really jump start Felicity’s arc. Right now it’s just a little spark that will spiral out of control in no time. Felicity is known for avoiding things when it comes to herself. (I can relate. I do it all the time.) It’s hard for her to face what worries her and admit that she needs any help at all. It’s going to be interesting watching her peel back the layers of the Havenrock fallout and who she reaches out to.
Nora: Felicity’s Havenrock storyline is something I’ve been really excited to explore since it happened in season four. Throughout Arrow, Felicity has often been attached to other characters’ storylines so I’m really, really happy that she’s finally getting her own, separate storyline. It will be a storyline that no other character will really be able to understand first hand. I think this storyline is also important because it shows that their actions do indeed have consequences. Felicity made the ultimate hero sacrifice and now it’s time to deal with the ramifications.
The fact that Ragman ended up being the lone survivor of Havenrock was something I hadn’t thought of, but I really enjoy. I think giving a face to this tragedy will ultimately make it even harder to swallow, especially for Felicity. More so than any other member of Team Arrow, Felicity always has strong bonds with people. She does what she does in order to protect people and make this world a little better. I think by making Ragman the face to the Havenrock tragedy will make it harder for Felicity. It’s something we already began to see in this episode when Ragman reveals himself. I think this is going to be a massive defining moment for Felicity. She’s always been a secondary character to the tragedy caused by Team Arrow, but these deaths are directly on her. I can’t wait to see how Emily Bett Rickards will explore this storyline and I just think it’s going to be amazing.
Sarah: I like that they decided to make it more personal, even if it’s going to be harder on Felicity. She’s spent much of the last five years behind a computer. While I know that’s where her skills have been finely honed she’s never seen much of the collateral damage up close that Oliver and the rest of the team out on the field have. I know whatever she does she’s going to feel compelled to help Ragman in whatever way she can to make up for her part in what happened to Havenrock, but in the end she might learn it won’t be that simple. However, she chooses to deal with it or learns from meeting and working with Ragman, I know she won’t be alone in figuring it out.

We finally got a glimpse into what these past five months have been like for Diggle in the military. And it turns out Diggle couldn’t escape the corruption. Do you think this is what drives Diggle back to Star City? And where do you think he’s at emotionally?

Alyssa: Watching Diggle fighting this war I immediately suspected that something was going to happen that would drive Diggle’s return to Star City. I’m not even surprised that there was corruption involved – you can’t escape it even in the military – because I always assumed that something like that would have to happen to return Diggle to the team in such a short period of time. There’s no doubt that this is the beginning of his return. And praise the lord for it. Obviously Diggle is under the control of this corrupt military group, and it sounds like he’s going to need some help getting home.
The reason Diggle left to reenlist in the first place was so that he could rediscover himself. It’s what worked after his brother died, and he hoped the same would be true after his brother’s betrayal and having to kill Andy. But I still don’t think that Diggle has truly dealt with the emotions that come with that situation. You can’t run away from your emotions and expect them to disappear. It might push them below the surface, but they’re always right there waiting to reawaken. Diggle’s situation isn’t too different than Felicity’s. They’ve both bottled up their guilt and emotions and tried to distract themselves with work. But that’s not going to help them get past this. They’re both going to have to confront this head-on. I’d love to see Diggle and Felicity really bond over this – mostly because I need there to be an excuse for the writers to give them more scenes together, since those scenes have been severely lacking these past two seasons.
Lizzie: I think Diggle needed to come to the realization that being part of Team Arrow wasn’t only something good, it was the best thing he could be doing. I think a part of him always felt he’d be more useful somewhere, and that’s why he went back to the military. And yet, even in the military, there are bad guys. Diggle should have known this, but, in a way, he needed this rude awakening to maybe realize that the path he was following before was the right one.
I’m pretty sure he’ll be back in Star City soon, and he’s probably going to need help from his family – all his family. Not just emotionally, but to get out of this trouble he seems to have found himself in. I’d say I’m not happy about this, because I don’t like to see Diggle suffering, but if it’s going to give David Ramsey more chances to portray the side of Diggle we rarely get to see, then count me in.
Lyra: Absolutely. He left Star City for peace of mind and as an escape from the corruption and mayhem of his home. But he’s going to realize soon enough that trouble follows heroes everywhere. It’s not exclusive to a town or place. And when times get hard you need people who love you and care for you to have your back when things get tough. Right now he doesn’t have that. As for where he is emotionally *shrug*. I’ve got no idea! I do like that he’s a mentor of a sort. Maybe Oliver could use a person like that in his corner?
Nora: The one flaw in this episode for me was actually how fast Diggle’s storyline progressed. In this single episode we see his rank amongst his battalion, he takes a new recruit under his wing, the recruit dies and Diggle is now being charged with friendly fire and stealing a military weapon. I just thought it moved very fast, especially because it’s the first episode we see Diggle really in. I kind of wish this storyline was stretched out over 3 episodes or so in order for us to feel more attachment to some of the military character and the betray from his commanding officer would’ve been even more brutal. That being said, I definitely think this is what will ultimately send Diggle back to Star City. He left Team Arrow because of all the corruption within Star City and now it has followed him. Emotionally, I think he’s at a pretty low point. I don’t think he’s still recovered from losing Andy and Laurel last season and this just continues the crushing blows for Diggle. He came to the military because it was his “safe haven,” he thought it would put him back on track and it failed him.
Sarah: I think if corruption is even in the place he believed honor could be found again, it’s no wonder he’d eventually choose to come back to Star City. Emotionally I’m afraid he’s just tired on all fronts. He’s spent years fighting for one cause to another and it doesn’t strike me that he’s found the peace he really craves, for him and for his family. If that search leads him back to Star City then I’m hoping he’ll be able to find a place to fight where he won’t be threatened by corruption by the people he trusts.

Our Big Bad this season is very much obsessed with taking the Green Arrow down himself. It’s very personal, which should make for an interesting reveal. Who would you like Prometheus to be?

Alyssa: From the very little that we’ve actually seen of Prometheus, I’m actually very intrigued by this big bad. The last time that I truly loved a big bad was in season 2 with Slade Wilson. That was because there was a person element to it. Anytime something is personal it allows for a deeper story and allows emotion to carry it. Prometheus is the creation of Oliver’s actions in the past. Not just last season but the previous seasons, as well. That means that whoever this person is, he probably knows Oliver Queen. Well.
As for who I’d like Prometheus to be, Tommy Merlyn, no doubt. I know that Tommy is dead and that Colin Donnell is on Chicago Med, but that’s not stopping me from hoping, praying, believing that Prometheus is Tommy. With Prometheus being the direct result of Oliver’s actions in the past, this would not only make the most sense but it would make for some insane emotional trauma for the characters and audience alike. Stephen Amell has said that this is a villain they couldn’t have done until season five. Perhaps Laurel’s death was what pushed Tommy over the edge? Perhaps this is me reaching? I don’t care. But this would be an amazing story. Please give it to me. Or someone write it for me in a fic.
Lizzie: Tommy is probably too much to ask, right? Right? Because that’s who I really want it to be – even if it doesn’t make much sense in the grand scheme of things. It needs to be someone familiar to the audience, though, if not, what’s the point of keeping his face hidden? So, Tommy it is. Even if it probably isn’t. You did ask what I wanted, after all.
Lyra: Tommy Merlyn. Hands down. Let’s just pretend that somehow dying made him a couple inches taller and he’s spent his time exercising since his death. Imagine the kind of emotional turmoil and angst coming for Oliver! Maybe even Merlyn. We all know that man is creeping about somewhere just waiting for his moment to return. Tommy’s return as Prometheus would be that moment.
Nora: My highest hope would be that Prometheus is Tommy. If we could somehow bring Tommy back and work around Colin Donnell’s shooting schedule for Chicago Med, that would be epic for me. I just think that would be the hardest pill to swallow for every character on the show. I also think it would be the biggest blow for Oliver. Although Oliver and Diggle are brothers, no one has really replaced Tommy and that loss for Oliver. I would really like it to be him. In general though, I really hope it’s someone we have come across before because I think that will hit harder for both the audience and Oliver. I’m really curious to find out who it is.
Sarah: Whoever he is, my only wish is that he is a *complete* surprise. I do want it to be someone Oliver truly did know and trust personally in the past (or even in the present), but I don’t want to be able to guess his identity. These kind of mysteries are my favorite when the man under the mask is a shock when he takes it off. Only time will tell, but either way I’m really excited to see his story play out.

Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW. Stay tuned for another Arrow Roundtable next Tuesday!

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