TV Recap: Arrow: “Penance”


If the writers aren’t trying anymore then neither am I.

After a decent episode last week, Arrow went right back to being borderline awful this week. So, instead of trotting out the same complaints for the fourth week in a row–like the show is with its storylines–here’s a list of all the dumbass things viewers were asked to believe this week.

Wild Dog (Rick Gonzalez) is a character deserving of screentime.

Just like the previous episodes, this week kicked off with Team Arrow’s most obnoxious new recruit going off book during a mission and nearly ruining everything. Despite supposedly learning their lessons the previous two times this happened, both he and Oliver (Stephen Amell) acted as if they aren’t trapped in an Edge of Tomorrow-esque time loop and proceeded with their usual peacocking routine. Why the writers are making us relive the Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) storyline with a new character is frustratingly  unclear, but it’s bizarre that they think viewers should like even though we have no reason to. Case in point: him getting kidnapped at the end of the episode. While I’m thankful Wild Dog sacrificed himself to save Curtis (Echo Kellum), the show would not suffer one bit if the villains tortured him to death next week.

Oliver claimed he had gout to take time off being mayor so he could break Diggle (David Ramsey) out of prison.

Honestly, wtf is this? Oliver is not Henry VIII and he’s got the body of Stephen Amell, there is no way he is eating enough rich foods to justify using this as an excuse. Maybe if he’d made something up about having some venereal disease–the press thinks of him as a notorious womanizer anyway–but Star City’s citizens actually have to be stupid to believe this. Speaking of Oliver’s lothario past, I’m going to make a prediction right now so that when it happens, you can all marvel at how well I know this show: Oliver is going to sleep with that journalist chick. I’m predicting that it could happen as soon as next week, but if not then, it’ll happen in whatever episode he finds out Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) is dating Detective Malone (Tyler Ritter).

Rory (Joe Dinicol) got over Felicity nuking his friends and family in one episode.

I don’t need to explain this one, but I will say that while the timeline is unbelievable, the character drama that went down between Felicity and Rory was the only good thing about this episode. Rather than act like a petty child about like these characters usually do, Rory wasn’t driven by hatred for Felicity. As he told Oliver, he fully understood why she made the decision she did, but working with her was too painful a reminder of everything he’d lost. Felicity was similarly mature about the situation (she usually is) and rather than give Rory some BS speech about vigilantism being the highest human calling like Oliver did, she made it clear that choosing to be a hero means learning to live with the consequences of that choice, both positive and negative. It was great stuff and some of the most complex emotion the show has ever dealt with.

Oliver is suddenly infallible.

One of the things I’ve always liked about Arrow is the way it lets its hero wear his flaws on his sleeve. He messed up constantly and the people he surrounded himself with challenged his go-it-alone attitude to make him a better hero. So, it was weird and infuriating to watch the show suddenly pretend his biggest weaknesses were actually strengths. In typical Oliver fashion, rather than let Diggle make his own decisions (however misguided) he agreed to Lyla’s (Audrey Marie Anderson) cockamamie scheme and broke his old bodyguard/partner out of prison. Though Diggle has literally spent the last four years criticizing Oliver for micromanaging people, he not only complimented it here, but encouraged him not to change it. That’s bad enough, but how are we supposed to believe Oliver convinced Diggle staying in prison was a bad idea after one speech when Diggle’s own young wife and child couldn’t sway him?

Equally infuriating was watching Oliver return to Star City afterward and act like Team Arrow’s savior and leader. Wild Dog wouldn’t even have been kidnapped if Oliver hadn’t left the city to assert his authority over Diggle in the first place. Sure, the plot point emphasized Felicity’s storyline about the tough decisions she’ll have to make if she continues to work with a bunch of vigilantes, but it was still aggravating to watch the show pretend that it might somehow have been a bad idea to send the team to save the DA in the first place. Maybe they would have been more prepared if Oliver had bothered training them. But whatever, this show clearly doesn’t care about logic or continuity anymore so there’s no point in getting angry. I don’t know what I did in a past life to make me deserve watching a show I love turn into garbage so quickly, but clearly I too am serving penance for something. I’ll see you next week.

Rating: 5/10

By day, Marisa Carpico stresses over America’s election system. By night, she becomes a pop culture obsessive. Whether it’s movies, TV or music, she watches and listens to it all so you don’t have to.