Arrow’s refocused new direction and less emphasis on goofy humor has definitely paid off this season. Just by treating Green Arrow’s corner of the DC CW Universe more seriously has done wonders for the show. Penance might not be the season’s standout episode, but it was another solid effort that shows Arrow is trending back in the right direction.
The main storyline this week was Oliver deciding to bust Diggle out of prison. This put him at odds with the rest of Team Arrow, including Felicity. Typically, Felicity is Oliver’s little nagging conscience so it was great to see Oliver not cave in to her guilt trip. And it led to a great moment where Oliver trashed Team Arrow as they tried to stop him.
This tied in to a really sensational Bratva flashback where Oliver had to get put into prison to get information before killing said informant. Bratva Oliver isn’t the refined hero we’ve seen the past four seasons and is the closest the show has gone to making him full-on Jason Bourne.
A week after saying he deserved to be in prison didn’t seem like enough time for Diggle to have a change of heart. But there was little to be served keeping him locked away for an extended portion of the season either. A lengthy penance probably sounded good in theory, but Diggle needs to be in action with Green Arrow. If nothing else, he can be Team Arrow’s drill sergeant to whip the team in shape. And it was fun watching Oliver playing Splinter Cell running around the prison largely undetected.
Arrow definitely hasn’t been shy about borrowing ideas from the Batman comics. It probably wouldn’t be the worst idea to have Mr. Terrific, Artemis, Ragman and Wild Dog be the Arrow-verse’s Outsiders. With Arrow gone, Felicity sent the team in action against Tobias Church and his army.
Predictably, that didn’t turn out too well for the gang and Wild Dog gets captured. While I think it was a bad idea to rush the formation of the team, the writers have approached it smartly. The original Team Arrow gelled because they fought together and trusted each other. This new squad is strangers unaccustomed to teamwork and trust and that weakness continues to play out each week. And in Mr. Terrific’s case, Curtis hasn’t magically become this bada$$ fighter. Oliver is like the deadbeat dad that’s never around when his kids need him and gets annoyed when they screw up.
I was also glad to see the show spend time on Rory’s reaction to Felicity’s revelation that she was the one that bombed his hometown. This was overall a very strong showing for Felicity. Emily Bett Rickards isn’t a magician and can’t fix the dialogue she’s given. But given more to do than spouting off some one-liners and being cute quirky she’s able to make Felicity relatable and likeable again.
Penance was another essential step in restoring the faith of the increasingly disgruntled Arrow fanbase. Season 5 has consistently been hitting the mark. Arrow might not yet be great again, but it’s regained its focus and is well on its way.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Photo Credit: Dean Buscher/The CW