‘Arrow’: “Penance” Spoiler Review

So far, season five of Arrow has been a bit of a hit or miss as it struggles to find its way with a mostly new cast. Considering last week’s fantastic entry to the series, it should come as no surprise that this episode was, unfortunately, mediocre, full of implausibility and conflict that didn’t add up to anything.

So far, season five of Arrow has been a bit of a hit or miss as it struggles to find its way with a mostly new cast. Considering last week’s fantastic entry to the series, it should come as no surprise that this episode was, unfortunately, mediocre, full of implausibility and conflict that didn’t add up to anything.

The episode opens with Team Arrow 2.0 in the midst of a training exercise as they attempt to stop petty criminal sporting a cheesy gold chain from committing a burglary. The scene does nothing but shows us that the trainees have not made any progress in their training from last week. At this point, the only members with a fighting chance are Wild Dog and Ragman. Evelyn and Curtis are going to get themselves killed if they don’t start improving fast. They are both sloppy and it’s impossible to buy them as formidable crime-fighting vigilantes.

While I’m not a big fan of Ragman’s look, Joe Dinicol’s performance at Rory is fantastic. Unfortunately, most of his scenes were bogged down by Emily Bett Rickard’s insipid performance. She just can’t play the emotion needed to bring the scene to life. Her acting feels contrived as she lacks conviction in almost all of her scenes. Even Rickard’s doesn’t seem to be on the side of her character when she’s arguing with Oliver for the sake of conflict. She really has no business telling Oliver or Lyla what decision to make and her attitude makes it extremely irritating. I used to be a huge fan of her character in the first and second season. I was even a fan of Olicity. But at this point, scenes with Felicity are tiresome and make me yearn for her exit from the show.

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Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak in Arrow. (The CW)

The flashbacks continue to slug along in Russia as we get four quick scenes dispersed sparingly throughout the episode. I would say that they were pointless and really amounted to nothing if it wasn’t for the fact that it was Oliver’s was finally accepted into the Bratva, something I thought actually happened when he passed the test last week. But no, we had to go through another few quick scenes to get us there. The problem with the flashbacks are consistent with the last two seasons. They feel generic and uninspired. You can tell it’s a chore for the producers to fit the flashback storyline into the script and the budget. They are just trying to skirt by with a serviceable storyline until it catches up to the first season and they are no more.

Tobias Church had the only clever storyline of the episode as he staged a burglary to smuggle in an explosive device into the evidence lock-up at the police station. Unfortunately, it all collapsed on itself as his motives were never clearly explained. I have no idea what he was trying to achieve. And did anyone see that goon in the sunglasses? Seriously, the costume design for criminals has always been whack on Arrow but this episode took it to all new heights. At least the ones who were wearing hats had hats that actually fit and weren’t cocked to the side like goofballs in previous seasons.

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Chadwick Boseman as Tobias Church in Arrow. (The CW)

Adrian Chase’s viewpoint that vigilantes are a superficial solution and that if it takes them to solve the city’s problems the criminal justice department isn’t doing their jobs well is accurate, however. His turning point felt organic after he was rescued by the rookie superheroes of Star City, making him realize the ones who wear a mask can be an effective force for good in a crime-ridden and corrupt city such as theirs. While I still can’t buy him as a future crime fighter, the motivations are most certainly falling into place.

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Joe Dinicol as Ragman, Echo Kellum as Mr. Terrific, Madison Mclaughlin as Artemis, and Rick Gonzalez as Wild Dog in Arrow. (The CW)

The prison break was fun but a bit underwhelming. There just wasn’t enough action and Oliver sneaking in through the laundry was totally silly. The immature and unprofessional prison guard didn’t help either. But it did bring us a fantastic scene between Oliver and Diggle that reminded me of the brotherhood that the two share that made this show so excellent in the first place. Diggle still has a lot of healing to do after murdering his brother, but it seems Oliver – as his new brother – got through to him, making him realize he can still find redemption resuming his crusade as Spartan. Unfortunately, the silliness reached an all-time high when Lyla flew a military cargo plane over the prison and extracted the two from the prison yard much like skyhook program used by Batman in The Dark Knight when Batman extracted Lao from China. Considering the show’s budget, I think they reached a little too far with that one.

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David Ramsey as John Diggle and Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen in Arrow. (The CW)

Ultimately, this episode got the job done breaking Diggle out of prison and getting him one step closer to returning to Team Arrow. His presence in the Arrow cave is sorely needed especially given all the new mentees Oliver has taken on in his struggle to keep Star City safe. Episodes like this only highlight why 23 episodes per season are far too many. As we see with shorter seasons, they allow for a tighter more compelling and engaging narrative that doesn’t feel like it wasted our time, which is exactly how this episode made me feel.

6.5 – WASTE OF TIME

‘Arrow’: “A Matter of Trust” Spoiler Review

A matter of trust is a return to form for the series. After last week I was starting to lose faith again but this episode is a step back in the right direction.

A matter of trust is a return to form for the series. After last week I was starting to lose faith again but this episode is a step back in the right direction. Things get started with the Green Arrow back on the rooftops of Star City hunting down a drug dealer who sells “Stardust”— the latest designer drug in circulation on the streets which makes Vertigo look like child’s play. It was a good action scene that got the episode started in the right way to get us interested. I really appreciate when the score kicks in ramping up to the main title card.

The recruits are still in training and continue to prove they still have a long way to go. It’s good to see them getting some experience, even if they are making some pretty bad mistakes. Wild Dog is reckless and shortsighted but after his screw up when he killed (or so he thought he killed) the Stardust supplier, Derek Sampson (Cody Rhodes) — who the District Attorney was working on flipping — he was able to see the error in his ways and was better for it.

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Rick Gonzalez as Wild Dog in Arrow. (The CW)

Echo Kellum was hilarious this episode as Curtis Holt/Mr. Fantastic. We even got the backstory for the inspiration behind his super persona. Echo has really started to come into his own on the show. As far as I’m concerned he needs to put Felicity in the backseat and take over for the comic relief full time. He needs to toughen up quickly though otherwise, he’s going to get himself killed.

Ragman was a big surprise for me this week. I absolutely hated him in the previous episode. I think his costume looks like something he pulled out of the trash and I can’t understand a word he says with his mask on, but as Rory Regan, he was actually pretty good. Definitely one of the most reasonable personalities bouncing around the training facility. Felicity coming clean about her decision to redirect one of the missiles on Genesis day to Havenrock — sacrificing thousands in order to save millions — was a good surprise. It’s not often I find myself happy with Felicity these days but telling Rory the truth showed growth and maturity on her part. Let’s just hope she doesn’t scold Oliver in front of his subordinates again (so inappropriate).

It’s not all positive for the recruits, though. Evelyn Sharp wasn’t bad but she has a long, long way to go. While she had an awesome moment jumping off the wall onto the stairs and taking down a goon, most of her action was pretty sloppy. I just don’t buy her as a crime fighter yet. Her young age doesn’t help very much either.

Continuing with the negative, the flashbacks are still pretty half-baked. If the last we saw from them wasn’t what seemed to be the final test in Oliver’s initiation into the Bratva, they would have been totally worthless in this episode. But I guess anything is better than chopping up a scene and doling beat after beat in flashback after flashback throughout the episode like the past two seasons.

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Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen in Arrow. (The CW)

Diggles’s storyline was a major improvement from last week. He’s now in jail and working through his demons. Literally. When it was revealed his cellmate Deadshot was a figment of his own imagination I was shocked. I was really excited thinking Floyd Lawton was back after the big wigs at D.C. wrongly forced the producers to exit the character from the show because of the Suicide Squad film. Will Smith was an alright Deadshot but he wasn’t able to bring the depth to the character that makes you care about him while still being a really bad guy like Michael Rowe is able to.

Now for Stardust. Everybody give Cody Rhodes a round of applause. The former WWE superstar obviously cut his acting teeth in the ring over the last ten years but never has he been involved in a Hollywood production. I thought his performance in this episode bested Chadwick Boseman’s performance as Tobias Church in this season so far. The action was great and exceeded my expectations for the rematch I had hoped to see between Amell and Rhodes in the ring. It’s a shame the producers didn’t cast him as something more than a throwaway villain. But death isn’t enough to stop some people in the Arrowverse from returning so I have hope a couple of sliced tendons won’t be enough to keep Derek Sampson down.

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Cody Rhodes as Derek Sampson in Arrow. (The CW)

Overall, I think Gregory Smith did a fantastic job directing this episode. Smith directed season three’s episode titled “Nanda Parbat”, one of my favorite episodes in the series to date (just before things went completely off the rails). Smith fell in love with the show in it’s early days and was definitely the right guy to help steer it back to how great the show used to be. Arrow still has a long way to go but this episode had the style and tone that made the show great but also felt fresh as it balanced Oliver as the Mayor while he also continued to train the new recruits.

Quick Thoughts:

-The new D.A. is totally sketchy and I don’t trust him, however. I do appreciate his sense of urgency.

-Quentin is definitely still drinking.

-Shut up Felicity. Just shut up.

-Hey, wait. We didn’t actually see anyone under the effects of Stardust…

8.0 – GOOD

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‘Arrow’: “The Recruits” Clip

The CW has released a clip showing Oliver put the hurt on the new recruits as they fail their first test.

Team Arrow 2.0  is beginning to assemble but it looks like they have a long way to go. Ahead of tonight’s episode of Arrow, The CW has released a clip showing Oliver put the hurt on the new recruits as they fail their first test.

Star City is too crime ridden for one man to take it all on himself so Oliver has recruited Curtis Holt, Rene Ramirez and Evelyn Sharp to join his crusade.

Arrow has gotten a lot of flack for the last two seasons as it strayed away from its roots and took on a lighter tone but things seem to be getting back to normal as the style of season one was back in the premiere and seems to be so in tonights episode as well.

Arrow airs tonight at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.