Mid-Season Recap: ARROW Season 5

Warning: This review contains mild spoilers.

Arrow season five has brought the show back to its roots. Oliver works alone (with Felicity as tech support), and he's doing everything he can to stop crime in Star City. This whole set up is similar to the show's first season. With Diggle out of the picture and Thea retired; Oliver needs all the help he can get. Felicity wants to build team Arrow from the ground up, and convinces Oliver to recruit new allies, but Oliver isn't to keen on the idea of having new partners - especially after losing Laurel. Oliver does listen to Felicity and recruits Rene Ramirez (Wild Dog), Curtis Holt (Mr. Terrific), Evelyn Crawford (now known as Artemis) and Rory Regan (Ragman). Green Arrow has a new team but there's a lot of work that needs to be done.
This is a side of Oliver we've haven't seen in years. Him having to train the young heroes and develop a relationship with them takes Oliver in a new direction. The Russian flashbacks also showed us why Oliver is rough on his students. Seeing Oliver  become apart of the Bratva is probably the best set of flashbacks we've since season two. Oliver is trying to climb up the Bratva ranks so he can take down Konstantin Kovar. The flashbacks don't drag as much as they did last season, and they also know when to cut back to present day.

Team Arrow 2.0 had a rough start early on, but they started to pull it together in later episodes. Curtis' humor almost always fell flat, Rene's temper was forced, Rory was just kinda there, and I still don't know what to make of Evelyn. The team took a turn for the better when Oliver broke Diggle out of prison. Yes, Diggle was locked up for a crime he didn't commit. Dig's presence was missed, and having him back brought new life to the team.

Now, being the Green Arrow and saving the city is just one of Oliver's many jobs. He's also the Mayor of Star City. He's trying to save the city in more ways then one. This is a natural progression to Oliver's story. He now can help Star City in broad daylight. Oliver being the mayor gives us a reason to keep Thea as a main character on the show. Thea being Oliver's is an interesting twist on their brother/sister dynamic; it also shows that she's more qualified to be mayor then he is. Thea's story arc this season is all about helping Quinton. Lance is still grieving the loss of Laurel and has become an alcoholic. Thea is trying to help him as best she can, but you can't help someone who doesn't want to be helped. Lance has lived a depressing life; losing Sara (twice), his wife leaving him, and now losing Laurel - It's understandable that he's gone down this road, but it needs to be resolved soon. It's dragging a bit, and Lance being hired as Deputy Mayor only made it more annoying. We want him to pull through, but it's probably the least interesting part of the show. 
Team Arrow is trying to take down Tobias Church. A villain from Blüdhaven who is working for Prometheus (this season's big bad). Church is just a thug but he did make a decent villain for the first few episodes. Church, Vigilante, and Prometheus all made great antagonist for our new team. Prometheus is someone who was affected by The Hood's killing rampage from season one. He had five years to train so he can get his revenge. This is the same amount of time Oliver when became the Hood. Prometheus knows all of Ollie's moves, the way he thinks, and the people he loves. The stakes are high and the fight is personal. When the team finds out that Oliver was killer in his early days they don't take it very well. This effects Evelyn the most. Oliver had a list of people he would kill, and that's pretty messed up when you think about it. Oliver has been trying to do the right thing ever since, but his past keeps coming back to bite him. This one of the strongest aspects of the season. Everything Oliver's ever done matters. It makes it that much more meaningful. The kills, the list, the people he's lost, it all comes to a head. This is evident the series 100th episode.
The CW had a huge four three night crossover. The Flash called aliens to earth because of Flashpoint (dangit Barry!), and needs all the help he can get. Oliver, Felicity, Diggle and Thea go to Central City to help. Oliver has been through hell over the last ten years, so of course he gets abducted by aliens - because why not? Arrow's 100th episode used the aliens as a way to make it a reunion episode. Oliver, Thea, Ray, and Sara are living their perfect life, while Diggle is the Arrow for some reason. Ray and Sara started off on Arrow so including them was a nice touch. This episode was very similar to the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Perchance to Dream", the Supergirl episode "For The Girl Who Has Everything" and The Flash episode "Flashpoint". A hero seeing their perfect life and having it taken away from them must be in the job description. Seeing characters like Robert, Moira, and Laurel return was amazing. It wasn't the best crossover episode (we really didn't focus on the other heroes), but it was a great Arrow episode. We'll see if Oliver will need help from his super friends later in the season. They left the door open for numerous possibilities.

While season has had its weak points; it has been a return to form. Oliver is challenged in new and entertaining ways, The new team has become more and more enjoyable as the show goes on, The villains have been great, and that mid-season finale made our jaws drop. Arrow has been able to go back to the basics and find its groove. I personally can't wait to see where the rest of this season takes us.

Arrow returns January 25th on The CW.

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