Arrow: 5.04 Penance
Just how much of a good guy is Oliver Queen? That was the question on my mind as I watched this week's episode of Arrow. In the past he was virtually a villain, killing an informant on behalf of the Bratva; In the present he beat his entire team down when they tried to stop him from committing a crime. The Green Arrow has always been much more of a grey character (double use of colour intended), particularly compared to heroes like Supergirl and the Flash, but there was some dark stuff here, particularly in the past. I can only imagine his quest to find Konstantin Kovar will lead him to a place he regrets, sending him back to the island to become the bearded hobo we saw in the pilot by the season's end.
I'm not sure his tough love training in the present day is working quite so well either. I'm still finding it hard to love the new team, who are no Black Canary, Spartan, Speedy or Arsenal. Evelyn Sharp / Artemis doesn't have the presence to be a believable vigilante hero, Curtis Holt still feels more suited to helping Felicity at a computer screen rather than patrolling the streets as Mr. Terrific and frankly Rene Ramirez / Wild Dog is starting to irritate me. He seemed to learn nothing from accidentally creating a supervillain last week, charging in and nearly ruining a mission at the start of Penance and then trying to go head to head with Tobias Church. It might be cold of me, but I would rather Church kills him; it would prove to the others just how dangerous this all is.
Church feels like a decent foe of the B list villain variety. It is nothing to do with Chad L. Coleman, who delivers a fun, OTT aggressive performance, or even Rick Gonzalez and Rick Gonzalez as Ramirez and Sharp. Echo Kellum has always been immensely watchable as Curtis Holt; it's just the direction his character is taking that feels odd.
On the flip side, I find Joe Dinicol's performance as Rory Regan a little wet at times and his conflict with Felicity over the destruction of his home was resolved a little too quickly. Yes its sensible that he understood she had no choice, but he seemed fairly chipper by the episode's end. However, his hero Ragman is a brilliant vigilante and I'm glad for that reason he didn't leave Star City altogether. The rescue of DA Adrian Chase (Josh Segarra) was made infinitely better by Ragman sweeping through the enemy and shielding everyone from the various explosions and gunfire. And talking of chase, he is an intriguing addition to the show, a DA who respects the vigilantes but recognises that it should be the police force that fight crime; I wonder where his role in Arrow will go this season.
As for Diggle, thank God Oliver and Lyla broke him out of prison; his acceptance of his fate in punishment for killing Andy was a tiresome turn of events for him and I am glad he has been reunited with his family. Hopefully know he'll suck it up and rejoin Green Arrow as Spartan, showing the recruits how things are really done.
Penance had some great moments; the thrilling jailbreak (though how was Lyla not a suspect?), Church's assault on the weapons in the police lock up and the subsequent rescue of the DA from Church's men as the heroes went into action without Oliver. It ended with the first real cliffhanger as Ramirez faced a lengthy spell of torture. If he doesn't die, hopefully this will finally knock some sense into him. Because while Arrow is feeling more a more confident this season, for me the focus on Wild Dog as a prominent character can quickly make it all come crashing down.