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TV Review: Arrow - Season 5 Episode 4 "Penance"

10.27.2016

Join us each week as we review the latest episode of ARROW. Warning: the following review contains major spoilers for the newest episode of the show.

Episode 4: "Penance"

Synopsis: Oliver and Lyla team up on a secret mission for Diggle. Felicityfinds out and disapproves of the plan and opts to stay behind. When Tobias Church launches a deadly assault against the city, Felicity must decide if she wants to send the recruits out sans the Green Arrow.

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Review: Finally, a solid hour of Arrow! How long has it been since we have had an episode of this series that both lived up to the potential of the first season? Tonight's episode of Arrow manages to actually give the new team of vigilantes some worthwhile screen time while also allowing Oliver Queen to do what he does best and be a superhero. All of this comes with some direct development regarding the season long villains and some new developments for our favorite supporting players. Essentially, this was an episode of Arrow for those who have lost faith in the series; an hour that shows this is a series that can still engage and deliver as well as any drama on television.

Last week, Lyla Diggle came to request that Oliver break John out of prison. This week, Oliver takes that challenge, much to the dismay of Felicity, and leaves his new recruits on their own to battle any issues that come up in his absence. Within the Mayor's office, newly named deputy mayor Quentin Lance has to take over for Oliver. On all fronts, it should not bode well that our main character is leaving his job to his subordinates, but it works in the context of the story: Oliver can rescue John Diggle while everyone else gets to prove they have learned something about being a hero since they joined the squad. We also get, over the course of the episode, Rory/Ragman question whether he can be in the presence of Felicity now that he knows she is responsible for the death of his family. The answer is yes as Rory rejoins the team in the least dramatic "will he/won't he" plot I have seen on any series. But, that is not the point. This show has turned from being about Oliver Queen to being about the team and they all get to shine here.

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While a lot of focus has been put on Wilddog in recent weeks, this episode gives us a lot of Ragman and a good deal of Curtis Holt and his Mister Terrific persona. Curtis was never a logical choice to play vigilante, but he continues to prove himself a worthy addition to the team. When the team learns that Tobias Church is planning to break into an isolated police safe house, they have no choice but to act and defend the DA and the prisoner he hopes to turn witness against Church. What ensues is a fairly action packed hour that showcases every one of the new vigilantes and their tactics in the field. Once again, Ragman is the highlight as his mystical suit can do anything from absorb bomb blasts to stopping bullets in midair. This guy is awesome and needs to be more focal on this show!

As the team fights Church, Oliver finally gets into the secure military prison thanks to Lyla using some Mission: Impossible tricks. Diggle, of course, has accepted his sentence as a way to pay penance for killing his own brother. Oliver refuses to accept Diggle's decision and breaks him out for the goodness of the team and because he cares about his friend. Like last week, Diggle is the dramatic core of this hour as he weighs his crimes against his sentence. Oliver is given a backseat to the true drama here but manages to make for a daring escape as he and Diggle are whisked away by Lyla. There was no doubt in my mind that Diggle would be accepting of his rescue even though he now must hide out in a safe house until the team can find a way to clear his name. How much do you want to bet that the soldiers who stole the weapons and framed Diggle are connected to Church and this season's plot?

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In the fight against Church, Curtis takes a knife to the back which leaves Wilddog to fight the crime lord. Chirch, a massive figure, seems like he is way out the class of Wilddog, who is strong yet slight in build. The two duel with Church easily overpowering and knocking Renee out. The episode ends with everyone escaping safely thanks to the last minute heroics of Quentin Lance. But, Renee is kept prisoner by Church and beaten, likely a tactic to trade with Green Arrow in the next episode. In regards to the flashbacks, Oliver kills a guy in prison for being a rat and is fully indoctrinated into the Bratva. Yeah, not very exciting and the weakest part of this episode. Why couldn't we have had some more Ragman instead?

I will say this episode was very close to ranking a 9 out of 10 and probably would have if the flashbacks had just been excised completely. Man, I hate this stupid scenes more than anything on this show. But, I will say if this season can use this hour as a template for the next twenty episodes, we will be in good shape. This hour was dark, gritty, and action-packed while also managing to deliver a balance of dramatic character development with some humor. If not for the difference in cast, this episode would have fit right in with the first two seasons of the show and that is the highest praise I can think of. All we need now is to find a worthy Mayor to take Oliver's job so he can focus fully on being Green Arrow and this show will be right where it needs to be. Until then, I can tolerate the direction this season is going.

Next on ARROW: "Human Target" airs November 2nd - When Tobias Church captures and tortures one of Oliver's new recruits, Oliver must turn to an old friend, Christopher Chance AKA the Human Target, for help. Meanwhile, Felicity's worlds collide when Detective Malone joins the ACU

Source: JoBlo.com

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