Review: ‘Arrow’ Makes ‘Penance’ With the Recruits’ First Solo Mission
Warning – FULL SPOILERS for Tonight’s “Penance”:
If there’s one thing Arrow seems to have a better handle on this year, it’s keeping less consequential episodes like “Penance” humming outside the overall Season 5 framework. Season 4 frontloaded its run with Damien Darhk and murder-mystery, where as Season 5 has barely scratched the surface of “Prometheus,” and still hasn’t lost much step between training Oliver’s new recruits, or Chad Coleman’s simplistic, but effective Tobias Church. It’s the same kind of ascendant interim baddie we saw with Vinnie Jones’ Brick in Season 3, but just compelling enough to keep things moving in the early hours.
The concept of Oliver running a new team seems work out nicely for Season 5 as well, and while the notion of Wild Dog’s impatience putting the team at risk isn’t a new one, I like that “Penance” quickly pivoted to the team standing up against Oliver’s mission to rescue Dig, and later engaging on their first real mission without a safety net. Similarly, I wasn’t sold on Rory (Ragman)’s outsider vibe at first, but I’ve come to like what his more muted composure brings to the mix of eclectic personalities, as well that his shared Havenrock history gives Felicity a new kind of relationship to flesh out. As it is, Evelyn stands as the only member of the team we haven’t much gotten to know (outside of her appearances in Season 4), but I imagine Wild Dog’s immediate predicament will pull focus.
Of course, Oliver is largely busy working with Lyla to break Diggle out of military prison; itself kind of an iffy, if necessary story development. It isn’t just the recruits against Oliver committing multiple felonies; it’s Felicity as well, and “Penance” seemed to rush Oliver’s insistence that Diggle would come to see his way of thinking. We know the law is wrong to lock Diggle up in this case, but Season 5 never offered a sense of urgency to Diggle’s incarceration* that mandated Oliver breaking him out, rather than working to exonerate him through vigilante means. The show simply wants Dig back in the mix sooner rather than later, exactly the kind of cut corners that Ghost Deadshot felt like last week.
*There’s maybe something to be said of Oliver’s dehumanization, that he’d treat a fugitive Diggle working off his “Penance” on the streets as something more useful than a friend in prison, but the hour never directly made that point. In any case, that kind of thinking is perhaps too close to flashback Oliver, who again took some seriously dark turns killing one of Kovar’s men in lockup after threatening his family. Gotta get back to that Season 1 darkness somehow.
Not too much shaking up the board this week, other than perhaps Wild Dog’s capture. Josh Segarra’s Adrian Chase still seems like someone worth keeping an eye on, even as – spoiler alert – his comic alter-ego Vigilante has already been glimpsed in the field, making it difficult to read whatever revelation Chase seemed to have about vigilante justice after the team rescue.
AND ANOTHER THING …
- I have no memory of who, if anyone is running Palmer Tech these days, or if a Queen company will ever again be a thing. Seriously, who’s paying for any of this?
- The flashbacks are definitely at least some improvement this year, especially if you’re game for the buildup toward Kovar breaking Oliver.
- Quentin check-in: not drinking! Although having another vigilante brutalized like Laurel probably doesn’t help.
- I’d question the SCPD getting broken into yet again, if not for Gotham running two fewer seasons, and still having at least 20 more station shootouts.
- So, Wild Dog and Thea, then.
- Did I miss a purpose behind Oliver taking the guard’s ball?
- “We’re all gonna say ‘yes,’ Blondie!”
- Ragman’s voice is jarring when heard over comms, and not in an in-story way.
- I get the Dark Knight reference, but how exactly did the plane pull Oliver and Diggle up?
- I’m glad someone finally notices how often people appear in the bunker with the perfect entry line.
- Seriously, where is Curtis’ husband in all this?
Arrow Season 5 will return November 2 with “Human Target,” airing at 8:00 P.M. on The CW.
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