Serving "Penance" - Arrow S05E04 Review

I was so looking forward to watching Diggle get broken out of prison this week, because surely it was going to be an epic operation! I mean, this was a military prison, not Iron Heights that everyone seems to be able to get in and out of with no problems at all, right?

This episode needed more Wentworth Miller, because prison break, emirite?! 

Well spoilers, he wasn't in it. /sadface

(spoilers beyond the fold)

So last week, John told Lilah that he didn't want her to fight for him, because he had to do his penance for killing his brother. Lilah being the strong woman that she is and not taking anyone's shit, was having none of it. She enlists Oliver's help in busting her man out of prison, whether said man bloody wants to or not. 

Felicity thinks the fact that it's "or not" makes this prison break all kinds of terrible of an idea. She's not into it, so Oliver and Lilah are going to have to go at it alone. To that end, Oliver tells his mayoral office that he is taking a few days off for "medical reasons" and to not let Star City burn down in his absence. Boy, that wasn't foreshadowing or anything. Anyway, it's up to Quentin Lance, the new Deputy Mayor, to work with the new mildly handsome D.A. to keep it together. The thing to note about this guy is that he is not a fan of dudes with masks doing his job. I mean makes sense, right? Would you cover this face with a mask?

I mean, I'm not into it, but he IS, objectively, classically handsome
Anyway, Quentin and the DA try to escort some new evidence against Tobias Church personally so that it doesn't get "lost" due to dirty cops, and that turns out to be a trap that Church set. And then, Quentin and the DA try to interrogate a captured dude from Church's organization, and that ends up being a trap of sorts too, as Church shows up to rock the place.

Sidenote: my husband noted that it was a pretty interesting coincidence that at the same time Luke Cage was scheduled to come out, Arrow decided to go all blacksploitation with one of their new villains. Coincidence or not, as far as villainous thugs go, Tobias Church doesn't impress me. He could stand to take a few lessons on cool thug villainy from Cornell "Cottonmouth" Stokes, just sayin'.

Not a fan...
Anyway, Oliver has also decided that his fledgling team, which he grudgingly admits is getting better, is not, absolutely not, going to help with the prison break, and that they should take a chill while he's gone. Mama Felicity, in her infinite wisdom, tries to get the team to stop Oliver from going on his trip, which turns out to not be the best idea.

That moment when you realize that all the beatdown you've been taking from your teacher was actually him "going easy" on your ass...
So, Ollie is off to his prison break, leaving the kids and Felicity to deal with the crisis when the DA, Quentin, and a bunch of other peeps are trapped in a building with Tobias Church. Despite Ragman initially saying he couldn't work with Felicity anymore, he changes his mind after a heart-to-heart with her, and comes back to the team to help out while Ollie is away.

I'll admit, most of this sequence in an otherwise loooong and booooring episode, was actually pretty okay. It was nice to see the team get to do stuff without Oliver around as a safety net. I am really, really disappointed so far, though, in the show not giving Artemis more to do. Wild Dog even steals her thunder at the beginning of the episode, which earns him a shout from Oliver that "she had it." Come on, man! I really want Artemis/Evelyn to kick some ass, and nobody, from the writers to the fictional characters, will let her shine.

Curtis looked less stupid in his silly mask today, probably because he pulled his hair back. Rags was super cool in this episode and I'm glad he decided to come back to the team. He took some sneering from the DA about being a freak, but still saved the day by doing this:

Yeah but I bet you can't do this, pretty boy!
So because of this, and because Wild Dog sacrifices himself so that everyone else can get out, the DA is kind of changing his mind now about vigilantes. Just a little.

I'm not a fan of Wild Dog, tbh. I mean, having a Latinx street kid on the team is cool and I appreciate the inclusion, and his street upbringing is a nice foil to Oliver's "I grew up as a rich kid but got toughened up by this weird past" story. But I feel like the writers have just generally made Rene annoying, and, lately, just the team fuck-up. I think maybe they are trying to make him the one who has the longest way to go to learn to be an effective hero? But the craptastic characterization thus far made me shrug when the episode ended with Tobias Church torturing the crap out of him.

So we've covered a ton of ground and you might have noticed I haven't even gotten to the prison break yet. Yeah, because the writers decided to do all this other stuff, which I guess was necessary to give the team some growth time away from Oliver. But honestly, the prison break was what we were all tuning in for, right?!

Well Lilah and Oliver perfectly execute a pretty straight-forward break-in. In fact, it seemed super easy, for a freaking military prison. There was a slight snub, where John wasn't in his cell because the prisoners were out and about for a break, but Oliver was on a pretty tight timer. It was rather clever how he got the prison to bring the prisoners all back to their cells, so that he could drop in for a visit.

Y hallo thar, John! 
John tells him he doesn't want to be rescued, because not only did he kill his brother, but he didn't trust Oliver about his brother, so clearly his bad judgement makes it safer for everyone that he stay in prison.

Oliver is all like, whatevs, and melts the floor so they can escape. John doesn't put up too much of a fight, ultimately, mostly because Ollie guilts him into it.

I was pretty disappointed with what a clean and short sequence the whole prison break turned out to be in this episode, but the extraction slightly made up for it, if only because of its absurdity and how poorly filmed it was. I laughed. A lot.

John's body when he gets yanked off the ground shouldn't look that stiff...
So, John is now a fugitive in hiding, but Lilah has her husband back at least, and Oliver comes back to find that now he's got to break Wild Dog out of thug prison next week. Presumably this time he'll actually let the team help, and maybe even get some Spartan action too?

The Bratva flashbacks were straight-up filler and had little to do with the episode, and we didn't even get to meet John Diggle Jr, so I don't even have any Flashpoint shenanigans to report on. We haven't seen Prometheus, the black archer, in two or three episodes, but I get the feeling he'll be back soon enough.

Ivonne Martin is a writer, gamer, and avid consumer of all things geek—and is probably entirely too verbose for her own good.