In the Arrow season premiere, Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) owned up to the fact that if he wants to keep saving Star City as the Green Arrow, he’s going to need help. The realization, however, was that that help wasn’t going to be in the form of the polished Team Arrow we had grown accustomed to over these past few seasons. Instead, he’d essentially have to play reluctant coach to a group of rag-tag aspiring superheroes, amateurs in a city that can’t get its act together (as this week’s episode has Oliver address how every other part of Star City is apparently just as bad as the Glades).
“The Recruits” marks day one of “Arrow: Vigilante School,” and on a scale of The Mighty Ducks to Bad News Bears, the team’s coaching can be said to be somewhere in the middle. The past four seasons of Arrow have proven that the Oliver Queen can barely even interact with his loved ones without either abusing them or shutting himself off emotionally. Should this guy be leading a team of barely competent warriors? Probably not.
While mocking and questioning Oliver Queen’s leadership is fun for fans, it doesn’t make for great television. When the complaints about Green Arrow are voiced by underdeveloped characters who have yet to prove themselves, they seem a bit thin. In fact, after this episode, I fail to see how Wild Dog planned to help Oliver defuse the bomb at the beginning of the season premiere. He doesn’t appear to have any especially exceptional skills. He definitely would have gotten them both blown up. He’s at the bottom of a class ranking that goes like this:
- 1) Rory Regan (Joe Dinicol), aka Ragman, is easily at the top of the class rankings this week, but there’s also a giant asterisk by his name. First of all, he’s technically the villain-of-the-week for the first 75% of the episode, so he never has to go through the same rigorous training (and failing) as the other three Team B-Team Arrow (TBTA?). That’s a cheap buy-in to the vigilante table, isn’t it? But the biggest red flag is the ticking time bomb of these new recruits: Ragman’s introduction has him going after the people he blames for the nuclear bomb (which gave him his magical rag powers, of course) that killed everyone in his town but him. That town would be Havenrock, the burg Felicity couldn’t stop from getting nuked. The tenuous peace will unravel.
- 2) Evelyn Sharp (Madison McLaughlin) was introduced last season as the bargain, child-brand version of Black Canary: Artemis. And she falls second in her class of four, mostly because she’s already dealt with Team Arrow and the way they operate. She leaves when Ramirez leaves in frustration, but in her defense: She’s a 16-year-old girl. In Green Arrow’s “tough hate” (there is no love) approach to training, he tells her she should be finding something better to do with her life than committing it to vigilantism. He’s actually not wrong. It’s just not fair to bump her down the list in hopes that it’ll make her change her mind about this whole savior of her city thing. Kids will be kids.
- 3) Curtis (Echo Kellum) lands at third only for his disastrous attempt at climbing the Salmon Ladder, which is made even more embarrassing by Oliver doing it immediately after him … while in a suit. While he doesn’t walk away from Green Arrow’s training camp, he apparently thinks he has any idea who Oliver truly is after about half a season of shadowing Team Arrow. The fact that Oliver even lets him enroll in Vigilante School is based on Curtis’s Olympian status, but as Oliver also points out in that pretty spot-on Green Arrow dressing down of all the recruits, Curtis has yet to really show much use outside of being able to use a computer. And theres already a Felicity for that. At least there’s not a chance he’ll tell anyone Oliver’s secret. But only because he was just lucky enough to bite his tongue about Oliver’s name during the “team’s” first mission.
- 4) Wild Dog gets points for really hating the Wild Dog codename, but he loses points with his constant questioning of Green Arrow’s authority and the fact that he only became a vigilante (at least that we know of) because Green Arrow killed Damien Darhk. He has the audacity to call out Green Arrow’s training exercises (which Oliver learned from his time in Bratva), bail, but then say that he’ll follow anyone to battle if he trusts them … without him showing any reason to believe he’s trustworthy himself. He’s basically the biggest argument for why Oliver shouldn’t reveal his identity to these new recruits — these complete strangers — not that Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) or Curtis (Echo Kellum) seem to have taken any of that into account when they dress him down for being a bad leader or untrustworthy.
So after the longest day ever, these are the heroes-in-training that Star City has in their corner. That doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. Things are crazy in the CW’s DC Universe right now and we’re not talking about the Avengers here. This B-Team Arrow better start working together soon or they’re all doomed.