Like all the CW Superhero shows, Arrow was off to as good as a start to any of them. After holding major disappointments during season 3 and 4, many feared that season 5 would be the nail in the coffin for Arrow. But after this episode, I think everything has changed. This show has hit the ground running with the opening three episodes doing more goodness than the past 2 season has. This third episode shows to me that Arrow is indeed back and I’m excited for it.
The concept of taking on a new team was something I thought I would struggle with. Although season 3 and 4 weren’t the best seasons every produced, it’s hard to argue that the team dynamic they had through all those 4 seasons was something special. There was part of me that was scared about them taking the show away from what we know, but it ended up being the masterclass of the year. This new team challenges Oliver more than we have ever seen him be challenged. In this episode we got to see how Oliver is struggling as a leader as both Mayor and the Green Arrow and it really circled the topic of trust, which is something very different to what we are use to. In previous seasons, Oliver never had to earn the trust of the other members, for the most part it was just always there.
The issue of trust flowed through to the flash backs. The flash backs have been outstanding. Not since season 1 and 2 have we had a storyline in the flash backs that is not only compelling but also plays really well into the themes of the present day storyline. Russia was always a story we were going to get and I have been holding out for it for so long that I’m glad that it hasn’t been a disappointment.
Something I thought this episode did really well was address issues that many fans had about the show during season 4. One of them was that Oliver seems to bring everyone into the Arrow Cave. While they didn’t completely acknowledge why Oliver did that, the line where Sharp questioned if the people who built this elevator knew about the Green Arrow, to me stood out as the writers owning up to that mistake and making a point of it not happening. As we saw, the new team trained in a difference facility until Oliver trusted them enough to enter the Arrow Cave, which is something that never happened with some like Roy.
The second thing they address was Felicity destroying Havenrock. Now with Ragman on the team, this issue that surfaced with Felicity being responsible with the death of his parents was something I hoped they played out properly. And they did. At the time it happened in season 4, many people complained that the emotional ramifications of the event were simply not realistic. With this scene we got to see an emotional Felicity owning up to her mistakes. This ties into the overall them that is being shared across both Arrow and Flash where the problems of this season are direct results from things they have previously done.
Diggle is my favourite character on Arrow and I think a large part of this is because they know how to write the voice of reason character well. In Arrow, Diggle plays that role and I think Ramsey plays it to near perfection each and every week. His scenes this episode were outstanding. First of all, I loved the return of Deadshot. Like many, it was believed Deadshot would never return to our small screens but he did for a special occasion. To begin with, I completely bought into the fact that he had survived, which made his reveal even more compelling. I loved how he was used as a plot device to make Diggle feel guilt for is actions, again tying into the overall theme of facing the results of what he has done.
Now onto the villain of the week. This episode was largely publicised around the villain as it was Cody Rhodes, also known as form WWE wrestler, Stardust. Of course, the name Stardust was then taken as the drug that was being sold which I saw as a piece of fan service to those who follow the WWE. With Rhodes onboard this episode, I thought the wrestling style action sequences were executed fantastic and were great to watch. Overall as a villain, he played his part. I don’t expect any of these villain’s of the week to carry through to the end but this format allowed us to see the formation of the team and get use to the big changes from last season.
Overall, this was my favourite episode of Arrow in a long time. I honestly don’t remember the last time I felt this way about an Arrow episode. On top of all the things I thought they executed well, we also got to see Mr Terrific in costume for the first time which was amazing and was a long time in the waiting. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I’m excited for Arrow again.