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Arrow - S5E4 - Penance

Previously on Arrow, “A Matter of Trust”

Arrow - S5E4 - “Penance” | Starring: Stephen Amell, David Ramsey, Willa Holland, Emily Bett Rickards, Paul Blackthorn, Echo Kellum

At what point does Oliver stop being the good guy? This question has been plaguing me all season. I have no qualms with Oliver using lethal force when necessary (in fact I spent all of last season wishing he’d just kill Darhk already), but his indiscriminate killing of low-level criminals leaves a bad taste in my mouth. On top of all of his murdering and torturing, this episode has him stealing from Palmer Tech to help him break Diggle out of prison against his will, whilst leaving his unprepared team to face Church alone. A couple of seasons ago, a grizzled vigilante fighting for the greater good while leaving a trail of bodies behind him would have been Oliver’s enemy of the week (see: Helena Bertinelli, Evelyn Sharpe, and Rory Regan, to name a few), and now we are expected to sit around and wait for his eventual return to the light. Possibly the worst part is that the narrative seems to support Oliver’s wanton killing, with the normal voices of reason, Felicity, Thea, Diggle, Lance, and Curtis, supporting him in his corrupted quest.

Images: The CW

The Good

It feels weird even typing this, but I think the flashbacks were the best part of the episode. I never thought this day would come, but I guess Donald Trump is running for president and evil clowns are roaming the streets, so if it were ever to happen, 2016 would be the year. The storyline wasn’t extraordinary, but Anatoli is fun and at least when Oliver snaps necks in the past I don’t cringe for his lost character development.

The Bad

Rory, nice fellow that he is, takes Felicity’s admission that she killed all of his loved ones remarkably well, telling her that he doesn’t blame her, but that being around her is too much of a reminder and that he has to quit the team. Unfortunately, this is Arrow, and Rory’s perfectly reasonable request for space from the woman who blew up his home, of course leads to a speech using his dead father to guilt him into rejoining the team. That said, it turns out that Rory is the kind of sensitive TV white boy who builds crappy sculptures out of trash, so I can’t feel that sorry for him.

Can someone please find Diggle some agency? I’m used to his life revolving around Oliver, but there’s got to be a line somewhere, and that line is well before turning him into a fugitive without his consent. And, if you really must break him out of prison and hide him away from the world, at the very least don’t set him up with a single bed. He’s a grown man with a wife for Pete’s sake!

Can we talk about how Oliver owns a perfectly usable full-face mask and yet chooses to run around breaking the law with his chiseled jaw out for all the world to see? My personal head canon is that the whole city knows that Oliver is the Green Arrow, and is just humoring him. On the subject of terrible superhero costuming, Curtis’ outfit can definitely be filed away in the ‘probably looked better in the comics’ box.

Quote of the Week

“If you were thinking about lying I admire your consistency” ~ Felicity to Oliver. Obviously.

Arrow S5E4
  • 5/10
    Plot - 5/10
  • 6/10
    Dialogue - 6/10
  • 7/10
    Performances - 7/10


A thoroughly mediocre episode of television. I watched it forty minutes ago and had to look at my notes to remember the plot. Beyond its other flaws, what Arrow really needs is a little bit of fun. Not every episode needs a dose of torture.

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About Alison Millward (103 Articles)
Alison is a big nerd living in Melbourne, Australia. She is a lover of all things television, particularly anything in the "hot young people in depressing sci-fi situations" genre. When not watching tv, Alison enjoys long walks on the beach, corrupting young minds, and actively avoiding thinking about her future.
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