‘Arrow’ (Season 5): The New Recruits

Arrow has taken a very back-to-basics approach so far in its fifth season. Instead of taking the Emerald Archer to increasingly fantastical corners of the DC universe better explored by his compatriots on The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow, the show has instead returned the focus to the sort of conflict found in its earliest seasons. Namely, Oliver Queen is back to fighting street-level conflicts against crime lords, drug dealers, and hit men. And while it’s impossible to fully put the genie back in the bottle – no, there’s not an actual genie, though last season came close – the show has done a good job of reminding viewers why they enjoyed Arrow in the first place.

A big part of this success comes from the way the show is returning to themes that were prominent in the early years. In particular, this means Oliver as a man living a double life – all but forgotten about last year – while he fights crime and develops a brand-new network of fellow vigilantes to battle alongside of. It’s in that latter element that the show has found the most success, with the new recruits to Team Arrow making the show feel fresh again.

Now, not every new team member has had a fully fleshed-out arc of their own yet, but the show’s wisely prioritizing who it needs to. While there are four new vigilantes on the streets of Star City, two of them – Curtis and Evelyn – have appeared on the show before in different capacities. Instead of spotlighting them, the show has instead focused in on new characters Rene and Rory.

Of the two, Rene has made the strongest impression, developing an antagonistic relationship with Oliver that will no doubt evolve into a grudging respect. Rory, meanwhile, mirrors Oliver in a lot of ways, seeking revenge for his dead family through the use of a magical outfit. He’s one of the show’s last links to the mystical, but Ragman’s power set isn’t so crazy as to not fit with the aesthetic. Plus, Rory just adds a sense of youth and innocence to the team that it’s never really had before.

With Curtis benefiting from an entire season as a recurring character, Evelyn is left as the most broadly drawn figure so far, though her guest spot as a Black Canary impersonator last season helps fill in some of the blanks. Again, though, the show’s only three episodes in, so I’m sure the writers are prepping a spotlight episode for the character. Laurel made Oliver promise there would always be a Canary, after all…

That said, who know where this season is really set to go. With so much new blood in the mix, there’s no telling how the team dynamic will develop, which characters will become breakout favorites, or how well the show will be able to maintain its quality level. The beginning of a television season is always exciting because there’s so much promise that it can deliver something special, or at least something fun and entertaining. The new cast members give Arrow a better chance than usual of delivering exactly that, and when you can say that about a show in its fifth season, is already an impressive feat.

What do you think of the new Team Arrow members? Let me know in the comments!