Arrow: ‘Penance’ Review
Bring Diggle home.
Warning: This review has SPOILERS.
Ya know, it’s kind of funny how just yesterday I wrote my weekly Agents of SHIELD review in which the plot revolved around a prison break. Now, for today’s Arrow review, I write about an episode concerning Diggle’s prison break. Quite the coincidence, huh?
So John Diggle is now a free man. Well, at least he’s free from his cell. He is now a fugitive of the law. I’ve been mentioning that there has not been much to work with for the character in this season so far. I’ve been quite frustrated seeing the decline of one of my favorite characters. I’ve been upset that he quit the team, I felt it sucked his superiors in the military framed him for murder, and I was quite annoyed with the idea that all they can do now is turn the guy into a fugitive. Imagine my surprise when Felicity even acknowledged that’s what he’d become when Oliver and Lyla where discussing breaking him out. Yup, that’s what’s become of Diggle. He should have just stayed with the damn team in the first place. When I hear him talk about how he feels he needs to serve his penance for killing Andy, his evil brother, and he tried to find out who he really was in the Army, is bugs me. Diggle is a good character but they give him so really misguided logic sometimes. It’s like when he held a grudge against Oliver at the end of season three and the beginning of season four. When Oliver was undercover in the League of Assassins, and in order to gain their trust, he had to kidnap Diggle’s wife, Lyla. She understood what he was doing but Diggle, being a soldier, knowing the rules of war, wouldn’t let it go. That’s the problem with Diggle. He doesn’t let sh*t go. Anyway, at least he’s back in Star City and can now resume his role as Spartan. Ollie even told him, that’s how he could serve his penance, as Spartan. Well, yeah. Duh, Diggle.
The new team still has much to learn, including something they should have learned by now: Don’t get in the Green Arrow’s way. I mean, did they really think they were going to stop him from breaking out Diggle? And then to hear that Felicity instigated the intervention, really? Wild Dog continues to be a defiant little douchebag by not following orders. Now look where he’s at. He’s now Tobias Church’s prisoner. You know what, I wish I could care more. Yes, Team Arrow is going to try to save him, but I personally want Church to mess him up a bit. Teach him some humility, perhaps. I certainly hope the writers don’t expect us to be worried for the kid, because they have not given us any reason to care for Rene/Wild Dog, or to even like him for that matter.
Curtis is still not so terrific as Mr. Terrific. It’s funny that Rene asked him if he got beaten up in grade school, and Curtis replies with: “And junior high”. Man, the dude is still getting his ass kicked. Again, I feel like making Curtis, who was doing just fine as a nerdy companion to Felicity, was a bad choice to make into a superhero. And poor Evelyn still has yet to prove herself completely. It didn’t help when Rene stole her thunder as they were pursuing a criminal in the opening scene. She’s got heart, I’ll give her that
Rory aka Ragman seems to be the only truly useful member of the team so far. Well, at least his ancient, magical wardrobe is useful, I should say. I do like the character though. When he initially quit the team before coming back, I wasn’t mad at him. It made sense for him to say it was hard to work with Felicity because even though he didn’t blame her for sending the nuke into his hometown, looking at her just reminded him of what happened. I’m glad his reasons were out of hurt and not anger. Thankfully, he and Felicity came to an understanding. So even though their conflict was short lived, I think this outcome was appropriate. Obviously, we all knew he was going to suit up and help with the mission anyway.
It may seem like I’m being hard on the new team, but in fact, I must admit, I appreciate the lack of perfection in their crime fighting tactics at this point. It’s still too early in the season for them to be pros, and each week they make progress while still making human errors. Them going on a mission without Oliver took bravery and heart. Even though it resulted in Rene’s capture and a knife in Curtis’ back. Now that Diggle is out of prison, maybe he can help Oliver train them further. The progression is slow, but it’s better and more realistic that way. Hopefully when they do finally get to their full potential, the payoff will be great.
It may also seem like I didn’t enjoy this episode with all the criticisms I’m giving it. In truth, I enjoyed it a lot. Watching Oliver and Lyla breaking Diggle out of prison was very entertaining. It had a very heist-like tone to it. It also felt great seeing Oliver on a mostly solo mission again. He’s been so busy training a new team and running Star City, so it was nice to be reminded how great Oliver can handle things on his own. I even liked their exit strategy. Felt like a nod to the Hong Kong scene in The Dark Knight.
The flashback scenes were quite good too. Oliver’s tests are now complete. He is now getting closer to his objective. As someone who has grown tired of the flashback aspect of the show due to the boredom I had with season four’s flashbacks, I must commend the writer’s for thus far giving us well paced, intriguing flashbacks that do not ruin the momentum of each episode’s pace.
As always, the action was great. No surprise there. Seeing Tobias Church be menacing again was fun. His fight with Wild Dog was brutal. Seeing him taunt Wild Dog as his prisoner was also a thrill. There was yet another touching moment between Thea and Lance. I love those two together. Adrian Chase is turning out to be a tougher character than I expected, so that’s cool. Most importantly, I feel this episode, while still having problems of its own, attempted to right a few wrongs this season already had. Then again, maybe what we thought was wrong was all intended. Either way, I think the season is sharpening up.