Alright, finally we have Diggle back and not a moment too soon. “Penance” continues this season’s trend of having just decent enough of an episode to make Arrow feel worthwhile, why still seeding this aspects that make me fear the show will somehow revert back to what it was in season four. I mean it’s not quite at dumpster fire levels but you can see the embers beginning to ignite unfortunately. However, what this episode manages to succeed at it manages to do with some of the best, making Oliver a likable badass while throwing the new team out there without a safety net. This could easily backfire on multiple accounts, but “Penance” manages to show that the team is somewhat capable while at the same time continue this season’s best surprise in allowing Oliver to actually be Oliver. Not to mention that we have some fun threads set up that could create conflict for both this new team and the original team moving forward.
So, let’s start with Stephen Amell and how great Oliver actually continues to be this year. Not only do we have present day Oliver who is back to being a competent badass and formidable fighter, but we also have flashback Oliver being a straight up villain. For the past couple of seasons I have been wondering how the Oliver we know was ever going to get to the point we see him at in the pilot. Now, finally we are beginning to get these hints that the dark, twisted, damaged version of Ollie we saw in the pilot was firmly rooted in this Bratva experience. This is both good and bad as it firmly shows why we should care so much about the Bratva and Olivers relationship to them, but it also makes me wonder what the hell we were doing for the past two years. I mean if each year was supposed to be important to Olivers development why does it feel like years one, two, and five are way more important than years three and four. There should be a solid balance and not this outstanding disparity.
As for present day Ollie, it is satisfying to see him take control and go after his best friend. I mean he could have been talked down by Felicity or stopped by the new team, but his actions helped to show just how dedicated he is to his friends and the lengths he is willing to go to. Also it was pretty great watching the entire prison break sequence be intercut with the new team rescuing the cops. It shows that while Oliver is basically a one man army, the team is able to slightly function without his guidance. Add on the fact that Oliver basically told diggle to “nut up or shut up” as he was breaking him out and you have a solid return to form for our fearless leader. It was just a good solid performance by Amell on both fronts.
As for the rest of the team there were some interesting developments in terms of the relationship between Ragman and Felicity. Honestly, one of the most surprising aspects of this entire season is how quickly all of the major conflicts are moving especially in terms of the actual drama. You can understand Rory’s hesitation to be around Felicity the person responsible for murdering everyone he ever knew, but for the two of them to realize they need each other in order to not drown away in the guilt of their mistakes was a smart move. I can easily see them developing an uneasy friendship, at least until Rory eventually snaps and aims to take revenge on her. I mean no one is that reasonable about having their entire town nuked and either Rory or his suit are going to try and attack Felicity at some point. Rules of vengeance and shit.
Similarly a nice development I am looking forward to seeing play out is how the team and more specifically Wild Dog react to the fact that Lance and Felicity abandoned one of them to Church. Lance was clearly beaten up by his decision and it seems Felicity felt some remorse as well, I just can’t wait to see how Wild Dog reacts and if he is the member of the team who will turn as he was left for dead after his noble sacrifice. There were just so many variables in play, but it is great to see the entire team feeling remorse about leaving Wild Dog behind. I don’t get why they didn’t send Ragman back in since he is basically indestructible, but i will let it slide for story reasons.
Last thing I want to talk about is how good the action was tonight. The nice intercutting of the prison break and the final fight aside, we also had Oliver showing the recruits just how dangerous he can be. The staging of all of these was solid enough, But I really want to see how Oliver reacts when faced with a decent opponent like Church or Prometheus. We know that this show can occasionally do quality fight scenes, it’s just a matter of showing what they are capable of.
Overall it was another solid episode. Now when is the shit going to hit the fan?
Final Grade B
+Ragman Felicity drama solved efficiently
+Great Oliver material past and present
+Felicity and Lance feeling remorse about leaving Wild Dog
-When did Diggle become such a wuss
-Curtis and Artemis still basically useless
-Confused about the DA’s purpose
-So, was the DA just about to beat the crap out of that one guy for funsies? Kind of a dick move.
-So did Lance know Ragman took a nuke and survived or was he just too much of a pansy to send the indestructible man back in?
-Skyhook was freaking rad. Ollie should use that more often.
-Seriously, Where the hell is Malcolm?