‘Arrow’ season 5, episode 1 review: Turning the page

Arrow -

It may not have been a nice day for a white wedding, but it was a nice day to start again on “Arrow” and its season 5 premiere on Wednesday night. New beginnings was really the theme of the entire episode, and by and large, we would consider this a worthy effort and probably the most consistent premiere episode since maybe the start of season.

The biggest thing that the show did right is ironically establish itself more as the “Arrow” from early seasons, and we say that knowing that Diggle was overseas and Oliver and Felicity are no longer together. To us, “Arrow” is not a romance show; really, Oliver’s a fairly terrible boyfriend and hasn’t treated too many of his love interest well when they’ve been in a relationship with him. That doesn’t make him a bad person, but he has to be selfish and focused on other things. The end of the relationship with Felicity may not be permanent, but they need some distance to get back to the relationship they had in season 2, when matters between them were a little more subtle and fun.

As for having Oliver become the Mayor, to us it actually worked out brilliantly given that for the first time in two years, Oliver has something legitimate to do now as Oliver. Ever since Ray Palmer took over Queen Consolidated, we’ve had utterly no clue what he really does during the day. Thea is now his Chief of Staff, trying to steer clear of being Speedy and enjoying a normal life, while Felicity is still doing her part to help on his missions as the Green Arrow.

Here’s the problem: To continue to quote extremely-dated songs in this review, Oliver gets by with a little help from his friends … and his friends are all gone. He decided instead that he would try to go into battle with gang leader Tobias Church (Chad Coleman) with only the help of some select police officers, and he didn’t end up taking him down. This, plus the dying words of one Laurel Lance to not let her be the last Canary, were the reasons behind Oliver eventually taking Felicity up on the offer to recruit Wild Dog — and for him to agree to allow Curtis join the team in the streets, as well.

We should backtrack here slightly and hand out a round of kudos to Coleman, who was outstanding in this episode and has a nice little psycho edge to this character that is reminiscent of Seth Gabel’s The Count from the first season of the show. Also, another remarkable performance in here from Paul Blackthorne as Quentin Lance, who spent most of the episode dwelling in the past and succumbing to the bottle once more before realizing that he actually should try to honor Laurel’s wishes and move forward. His help with some good police officers gives both Arrow Oliver and Mayor Oliver some more assets.

From start to finish, James Bamford (who does many of the stunts for the show) really created here a heck of a solid episode, one that was relentless as well as entertaining — even the Russia flashbacks were entertaining in their own right, even if they didn’t match necessarily what we saw in the present. So long as “Arrow” continues down this road, we’re in for a very satisfying fifth season of the show. Grade: A-.

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