Tonight’s episode of “Arrow” featured two prison breaks — one in present day and one in the Russian flashbacks. The first prison break sent Oliver on a covert operation to rescue Diggle, despite Dig not wanting to get rescued. With Oliver away, both Team Arrow and the Mayor’s office had to handle things without him. Unfortunately, Tobias Church had the upper hand this week, which led to a robbed evidence locker and a hit on the Anti-Crime Unit. While Team Arrow’s newest recruits were able to rescue the ACU officers, one member of their crew — Wild Dog — was taken by Church and subsequently tortured. His rescue will be the focus of next week’s episode, “Human Target.” The theme of tonight’s episode was “Penance,” a fitting episode title for a cast of characters all dealing with guilt. Diggle was dealing with the guilt of killing his brother Andy, Oliver was still carrying guilt from the men he killed while working for the Bratva, and Felicity was still bearing the guilt of killing the citizens of Havenrock. While each character dealt with their guilt (and self-imposed penance) in their own way, they ultimately realized it was better to use their guilt as a motivation to do better, together.
Oliver & Diggle’s Prison Break
During every season of “Arrow,” Oliver takes a trip outside of Star City. In season two he went to Russia with Isabel Rochev. In season three he went to Corto Maltese to find Thea. During this episode, he paid Diggle a visit in jail. After Lyla spoke with Diggle in last week’s episode about break him out, Diggle said no — he wanted to pay for what he did to Andy. Lyla wouldn’t be the head of A.R.G.U.S. or a strong wife if she let Diggle stay in prison, so she recruited Oliver for a prison break. Felicity firmly disagreed with their plan and sent the new recruits to stop Oliver — they lasted about 30 seconds before he had them all beat. Lyla was able to smuggle Oliver into the prison and through some elaborate planning, Oliver got Dig alone and began the extraction. At first Diggle hesitated to leave, but Oliver convinced him that he could still pay his penance for killing Andy as a member of Team Arrow, and didn’t have to do so alone in jail. Oliver used a molecular compound to melt the prison floor and he and Diggle were valiantly rescued by Lyla via plane. In an awesome stunt sequence, Oliver and Diggle flew through the air on nothing but a harness. The prison scenes paralleled Oliver’s third Bratva initiation test back in Russia. Instead of breaking someone out of prison, like Diggle, he broke into a prison, to extract information from and kill one of Kovar’s men. Oliver was successful in accomplishing both tasks, which completed his Bratva training. It seems like every season Oliver is forced to kill at the command of others. In Hong Kong it was at the whims of Amanda Waller, in Russia it was on the orders of Anatoly.
Felicity & Rory Decide to Move Forward
While Oliver staged Diggle’s prison break, Felicity got to lead Team Arrow. This put her in the position of making hard decisions — again. After she told Rory about being responsible for Havenrock last week, Rory left the team. He told Felicity that he couldn’t look at her face knowing that she killed his family. In an intimate conversation with Rory later in the episode, Felicity profusely apologized and shared that his face reminds her of the death she caused. While this didn’t put their guilt or grief on the same playing field, Felicity said that it did give them something in common. She also reminded Rory of his family’s legacy as the Ragmen, and how he could live up their great works as a member of Team Arrow. Rory agreed to come back to the team just in time for them to intercept Tobias Church’s raid on the ACU. Felicity also echoed Lance’s words to Oliver in the first episode of the season, that it was time to “More Forward.” That is a strong theme this season.
The New Recruits Fly Solo
The new team had three opportunities to stop Tobias Church this week. The first was by apprehending one of Church’s men, who was stealing a Kord Industries hard drive. Unfortunately, the hard drive was actually a bomb, and when Deputy Mayor Lance and the new District Attorney Adrian Chase put it in evidence, Church blew a hole in the evidence base. The recruits could have thwarted Church here, but they were too busy trying to stop Oliver from breaking into prison. Their third opportunity to stop Church came when he put a hit on the ACU. Ragman, Artemis, Wild Dog, and Mr. Terrific all suited up and went in under Felicity’s leadership. They were successful in rescuing the ACU team, but not in stopping Church. Mr. Terrific took a knife to the back, and everyone had to drag themselves out, except of Wild Dog who was left behind.
Tobias Church Gets the Upper Hand
Church triumphed in all three of these scenarios this week — he planted evidence, he stole weapons from the evidence locker, and almost took down the entire ACU operations. He also apprehended Wild Dog, who took Church on alone. Wild Dog’s tendencies to shoot first and ask questions later landed him square in the crosshairs of Church, who went fisticuffs against him at the ACU. Wild Dog got in a few good punches, but he was not trained enough to take on a seasoned criminal like Church. Church kidnapped Wild Dog and began torturing him as the episode concluded. The promo for next week’s episode, “Human Target,” shows Church trying to break Wild Dog, to give up information on the Green Arrow. If this week’s episode was a prison break for Diggle, next week’s episode is sure to be a rescue mission for Wild Dog.
A New Father/Daughter Dynamic
The episode concluded with a very touching scene between Lance and Thea. Lance was put into two traumatic situations this week, as he was present at the evidence locker when it blew, and when he had to rescue Team Arrow at the ACU knowing he was leaving Wild Dog behind. This prompted Thea to ask if he was doing OK. Lance shirked the question, assuming she meant was he drinking again. He wasn’t — and Thea reminded him that she was the one who offered him the job in the first place. As this scene was playing, I could see Thea like Laurel, or Sara, looking up to Lance as a father figure. Her father — Robert Queen — has been dead for almost 10 years — her biological father, Malcolm Merlyn, is a psychopath — so she hasn’t had a real father in a long time. While Lance continues to grieve for Laurel this season, I hope he can find love and strength in Thea as a daughter. They both need each other right now.
Church Finds a Human Target
Next week on “Arrow,” Church sets his sights on Mayor Queen, as “Jessica Jones” star Wil Traval makes his debut as the Human Target.
DC COMICS’ CHRISTOPHER CHANCE AKA HUMAN TARGET TEAMS UP WITH OLIVER — When Tobias Church (guest star Chad L. Coleman) captures and tortures one of Oliver’s new recruits, Oliver must turn to an old friend, Christopher Chance (guest star Wil Traval) AKA the Human Target, for help. Meanwhile, Felicity’s (Emily Bett Rickards) worlds collide when Detective Malone (guest star Tyler Ritter) joins the ACU. Laura Belsey directed the episode written by Oscar Balderrama & Sarah Tarkoff.
Starring Stephen Amell as the Emerald Archer, “Arrow” airs Wednesdays at 8 pm ET/PT on The CW. The series also stars Emily Bett Rickards, David Ramsey, John Barrowman, Willa Holland and more.
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