Spoilers ahead for “Penance,” the latest episode of The CW’s Arrow!
The short version: Oliver heads off to help Lyla bust Diggle out of jail; Tobias Church declares war on the Star City Police; the new Team Arrow goes solo; Wild Dog is captured by Tobias Church.
The good: Ragman, Tobias Church and Bratva
Joe Dinicol’s take on Ragman, aka Rory Regan, continues to be one of the strongest additions to Team Arrow this season. His abilities make him a game changer, and this episode gave us a chance to explore the fallout from Felicity’s confession about making his hometown of Havenrock last week. After deciding he can’t work with Felicity, Rory leaves the team (on good terms), pushing Felicity to reach out to him and try to convince him to return. It’s a poignant moment, and watching these two characters try and help one another through their shared grief is a powerful story. Felicity hasn’t had a whole lot of stories that don’t involve Oliver over the past few years, but this burgeoning friendship is actually looking like something we want to see explored. There’s also the fact that Ragman’s powers continue to be way cooler than expected, and it’s always a treat when he’s on-screen (though it’s really hard to tell the difference in his costume and new archer baddie Prometheus).
Though Prometheus is waiting in the wings, Tobias Church took center stage as the Big Bad this week. Church staged an all-out assault on a police facility to steal weapons and all kinds of contraband, and nearly killed deputy mayor Lance and the new district attorney Adrian Chase in the process. Church is proving to be a formidable villain, and it’s just nice to see the team duking it out with someone who can’t call on magic or meta human powers in a pinch. Church is just an ambitious, bad dude. There’s something to admire about that. His fight with Wild Dog was a nice payoff, and it looks like it’s going to take some torture for the loose cannon to finally learn the consequences of leaping before he looks.
The Russia flashbacks are infinitely better than the past two seasons, and it’s so nice to not loathe those B-stories this season. Oliver continued his journey for revenue in Russia, and officially became a member of the Bratva this week. He got himself arrested to go undercover in a jail (symmetry!), and it’s long overdue for the show to finally answer these Russia questions that have been lingering since Season 1.
The bad: Diggle's dumb, too many new faces
What on Earth has happened to Diggle this season? Seriously. His decision to stay in prison last week was wildly out of character, because no matter how guilty he may feel about killing his brother (who literally threatened to murder his family if he didn’t pull the trigger), it’s hard to fathom that the Diggle we’ve gotten to know over the past four years would willfully choose to stay in prison and not be there for his wife and child. It just never felt true to the character, and what, it only took Oliver to sneak in and give him a 10-second pep talk to realize he was being an idiot? C’mon. It’s great to have him back on the streets — and hopefully he’ll suit back up as Spartan soon — but this entire story feels manufactured just to force Oliver into fielding a new team.
The cast has swelled considerably this season, and there’s nothing inherently bad about introducing new characters — but this year Arrow is trying to do a bit too much too soon (something Lance actually points out when he pops by the Arrow Cave). It’s hard to care about all these new people when we’ve barely had anytime to spend with them. The show should’ve taken its time filling the roster spots, instead of rolling all these folks out in just one episode. It’s not a bad story to tell, it’s just not really being told in the most effective way.
As comic fans know, the city’s new district attorney Adrian Chase is actually the vigilante The Vigilante (yes, that’s right) in the comic canon. He seemed to realize the usefulness for masked heroes this week, so could he be on the path toward suiting up?
Lance continued his transition into the role of deputy mayor, and hey, he’s been sober for a week. That’s progress! Lance has always been a great character, and we hope they’ll explore his recovery more in the coming episodes.
The episode ended with Wild Dog being tortured by Church, and you have to wonder just how long he’ll be able to hide all his secrets while taking that kind of abuse. Does he give up Oliver’s identity? Does he survive (we’re thinking probably, but still)?
Curits was stabbed! It’ll be interesting to see how that moment changes his approach to superhero-ing, as he finally realizes it really isn’t a game. It’s life or death out there — and it was almost death for Curtis.
Lines of the night:
“And if you're thinking about lying, I do admire our consistency.” - Felicity.
“Go! Do not die!” -Felicity.
Next week: The search for Wild Dog begins! Oh, and Oliver is assassinated (maybe)?!