“Penance,” opens with Team Arrow on the streets. Green Arrow is giving them a chance to show what they can do, and they fail pretty spectacularly. They are after Sergio, one of the higher-ups in Church’s organization. Artemis, who finally has a codename and is using a bow for absolutely no reason (aside from maybe the character from the Young Justice cartoon using one?) misses her shot when Wild Dog gets impatient and disobeys orders (again) and then Mr. Terrific rushes in and gets beaten to a pulp. In the comics, Mr. Terrific is a black belt in several different disciplines. That’s something Curtis might want to look into. Green Arrow eventually steps in to take over and finish with the thug. The team is told to bring him and the box he was carrying to the Anti-Crime Unit. Curtis, ever the rational one, wonders how to do this. “Do we call an Uber?”
Returning to the Lair through the abandoned office that used to be Oliver’s campaign headquarters (they really need a better way in), Oliver meets up with Rory/Ragman who tells Oliver he’s quitting the team. They talk for a bit, but Oliver can’t persuade him otherwise. It’s a touching scene in the midst of the action. Rory just can’t get past what he’s learned about Felicity’s role in the destruction of Havenrock.
Once Oliver gets inside, he has a talk with Lyla. They are both determined to break Diggle out of prison. Felicity is increasingly against this, especially when she hears that Diggle doesn’t want the escape either. She invokes Roy’s memory for life on the run, which brings up a point I’ve been meaning to mention for a while. Why is his costume not one of the ones on the wall with the others?
Continuing his trend of being late (something he used to scold Barry for), Oliver gets to his office for a meeting with Thea, Quentin Lance, and DA Adrian Chase. Chase comments that vigilantes are a surface solution. This is a bit odd, unless he’s really covering for his other job. Adrian Chase is the Vigilante in DC Comics, and Felicity already had a sketch of his costume when she was tracking new people operating in the city. So Chase is already acting as Vigilante, or someone is running around in his costume. After Chase leaves, Oliver tells the other two he’ll be away for a while, and asks of them, “Don’t let anyone destroy the city while I’m away.”
Curtis is in the lair, trying to figure out what the device Sergio had is for. In keeping with their trend, all stolen gadgets come from KORD Industries. KORD is the company owned by Ted Kord, AKA the Blue Beetle, a fan favorite they were once trying to have appear on the show until rights issues got in the way. Curtis notices how quiet Felicity is, and she tells him about her talk with Rory.
There are several back and forth scene shifts here. Church and his men have a nasty surprise for the police. Felicity tries again to talk Oliver out of going ahead with his plan. Chase and Lance move the KORD gadget into Evidence. The team, stupidly in costume but without their masks, try to physically stop Oliver, which is short and badly done. Church’s men attack Evidence, putting Chase and Lance in a lot of trouble. The scenes somewhat merge when Lance and Thea go to the Lair after both fights are over, and the new team meets some of the old. They so shorthanded that Curtis pushes Felicity to try and reach out to Rory again, although, “I just don’t want to do this anymore,” Thea gets a free pass.
Oliver and Lyla manage to get into the prison where John is. This prison was apparently designed by the set designer for the obscure 80’s action movie Gymakata, since Oliver has lots of places to swing around and hide in the ceiling. That’s just what you want in a high-security prison, right? Places to hide and ambush your enemy from that make no architectural sense? After a lot of tension, sneaking, and showcasing Oliver’s cool new black outfit, he and John have an argument about the whole idea. Oliver finally pressures him into going with it, and they escape through a convenient tunnel just below the prison, another wonderful security feature. Lyla’s extraction is very dramatic and makes me wonder how she was both driving the van and then behind this part. She also used Oliver’s actual name on coms in the operation, which isn’t good security and the head of a big agency should know better.
Amid scenes of the Not-So Great Escape, Felicity does actually visit Rory and talk with him about their pasts and her guilt. She leaves with no real help there, and meets the others back at the Lair. Wild Dog starts calling her Blondie, which is amusing since he hates his own codename so much. The team figures out that, after hitting Evidence and re-arming themselves, Church’s gang is going after the Anit-Crime Unit. Man, those guys have targets painted on their backs.
Chase is trying to get information out of Sergio, and getting nowhere. It actually looks like he’s going to start bending the rules about interrogations when the lights go out. Church and company are there. Team Arrow votes to go into action and charges to the rescue, reinforced by the returned Ragman. In this version, he really is closer to Image Comics’ Spawn than DC’s hero.
Felicity tells them to “Go. Do not die,” which is a rousing battle cry.
The rescue doesn’t go well. They do get Chase and the rest of the cops out. But the team leaves behind one of their own, left to the non-existent mercies of Church. The abandoned hero fights decently, but Church is apparently much better. Lance drove the getaway van for the heroes, and Thea worries about him after the stress of leaving one behind. Chase, happily rescued, begins to reconsider his attitude about masked men. Or fake it, as I argue above.
What’s left of the team reunites at the Lair, with Felicity frustrated that she can’t find the missing hero. Oliver finally gets back and says he’ll find them. John is hiding out at the abandoned HIVE base Oliver was recently training his team at. Church gloats over his prisoner and commences some ugly torture.
In Flash Bratva Theater, Oliver has a new assignment from Anatoli. He has to get to an associate of Kovar’s who is in jail. Well, there’s an easy enough way to end up in jail in Russia… Oliver manages to get arrested and interrogates the man, then gets really vicious afterwards. This younger Oliver is really not particularly heroic. There are some parallels between what Oliver says here and what Chase says in the “present.”
What I liked: Felicity is getting a lot better at running the team, which is good since Oliver keeps wandering off. I’m glad Felicity reached out to Rory. Lance being somewhat active with the team is good, especially with them short handed. Church is a nasty villain, but a well acted and smart one. The hero who stayed behind acted nobly.
What I didn’t: A lot, really. The largely pointless flashbacks are getting increasingly intrusive. The prison escape was ridiculous. The entire team seems to be highly ineffective with the exceptions of Green Arrow and Ragman. Why is Artemis using a bow? What happened to her modified Canary Cry, which was much more effective? Why is the whole team so horribly ineffective? Especially since Evenlyn/Artemis/Black Canary III gave the whole team a run for their money at the end of last season? While it was nice to see Felicity and Rory reconciled, that seemed a bit quick.
There was a lot wrong with this episode. I’m going a 2 out of 5 for it. I really hope this gets better soon.