[Arrow] Recap • 504 Penance

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By Sara Netzley for Entertainment Weekly

Episode Pics

Flashback: Five years ago

Oliver’s got one more Bratva test to pass: Talk to Kovar money-launderer Pyotr Friedkin, who’s in jail and about to be arraigned. Anatoly douses him with liquor and kicks him out to pass as a day drunk. With that flashback hair, it’s an easy task, and Oliver’s soon tossed into a cell with Friedkin.

In conversation, Oliver refers to himself as a once-upon-a-time American who’s enjoying everything Russia has to offer. Then he chops Friedkin’s windpipe and threatens his wife and daughter if he doesn’t give up Kovar’s location.

Friedkin quickly spills the IP of the dark-web digital dead-drops they make, then asks, “How does an American become this Bratva devil?”

“I don’t know,” Oliver says, then snaps Friedkin’s neck. Woof. When the guards ask, Oliver blames it on a drunken fall. Apparently, Russian jails are tough, because the guards still release him a short time later.

Back in the car with Anatoly, Oliver argues Friedkin didn’t deserve to die. Au contraire, Anatoly says. Friedkin would’ve warned Kovar, and because Oliver trusted the Bratva and followed orders, the third test is over.

“You are Bratva now. Family,” he says, and they both celebrate with a nip from Anatoly’s flask. I’m guessing the secret fourth test was whether Oliver can down that Russian liquor without batting an eyelash, which he does — welcome to Bratva, Oliver and Oliver’s stringy hair!

The present:

The team hits the town in full costume, pursuing a thief. Can I just say how fun it is to see science-geek Curtis in action mode? It’s easy to underestimate his physical presence when he’s punching the clock in the lab while wearing floral shirts that button to his chin, but he’s got quite the wingspan when roundhouse kicking.

Yet again, Wild Dog goes off book, opening fire (and missing) and generally screwing up the plans. They still manage to nab the guy, but Oliver’s not pleased.

He’s also not pleased Rory and his rags didn’t show up, despite Felicity’s 20 texts. To be fair, Rory did just learn she made the decision that wiped out everyone in his town; the guy’s allowed to take some time to process.

But said processing led him to a decision: He’s quitting the team. He realizes it wasn’t Felicity’s fault, but when he looks at her, all he sees is his dead family. Vowing he’ll find another way to honor his father, he shakes Oliver’s hand and sincerely thanks him for everything. I’m calling a change of heart in three…two…

Back in the Arrow Cave, Lyla shows up to plan the promised prison break, which is news to Felicity. She does not approve, and this is before she finds out Diggle isn’t on board. “Not only do you want to commit multiple felonies and make John a wanted man for the rest of his life, he doesn’t actually want you to?”

Oliver and Lyla leave Felicity to stew and make their own plans. They’re particularly interested in a new anti-molecular compound that might be just what they need.

Mayor Handsome time. New D.A. Adrian Chase is waiting with Thea and Lance for Oliver to show up. When he does, Chase says Thea explained Oliver was tardy because of his gout. Ha! I hope Thea’s excuses for Ollie’s lateness get more elaborate and embarrassing every week.

Chase informs Oliver a team of vigilantes caught Sergio Espinosa and delivered him to the anticrime unit, and he’s not pleased. “Vigilantes are a superficial solution. If we need their help to get our streets clean…”

“It means we haven’t done our job right,” Lance finishes for him. Hey, now that’s the start of a beautiful working relationship — except for one small thing: I do not trust D.A. Chase or his smirky face. If he truly isn’t up to something, he’s going to have to work overtime to prove it to me.

After Chase and his air of untrustworthiness leave, Oliver tells Thea and Lance he’s headed out of town, but declines to provide details.

“Please make sure that no one destroys the city while I’m away,” he says. No promises, OQ. The good news is Lance has been sober for a week. Day by day, friend!

Back in the Arrow Cave, Felicity and Curtis can’t figure out why Espinosa bothered to steal a plain ol’ computer chip, then find out about another robbery in progress at Palmer Tech. Felicity calls it in to Oliver, who says he might be able to help.

Of course he can help, because he is the intruder, there to swipe the compound he needs to commit multiple felonies in a military prison. When Felicity finds out, she strongly encourages Oliver not to lie to her about it (you’ll recall that didn’t go over so well last time), then points out Roy probably wouldn’t recommend life on the lam.

She argues that Diggle’s choosing to go to prison for a crime he didn’t commit to atone for one he did. Oliver argues he’s going to make the decision for Digg because John will regret it someday, and furthermore, Felicity should do the same thing with Rory.

But when Oliver tries to leave town on his sweet motorcycle, his new team is there, suited up and ready to stop him after Felicity told them about his plans.

“And you’ve got the nerve to call me Wild Dog?” Rene asks. Evelyn wants to know what happens to them if he’s caught, and Oliver’s offended she thinks that’ll happen. Curtis says they won’t let him do it, which just prompts Oliver to beat them all down and race out of town. I mean, that’s one way to manage team conflict.

On the right side of the law, Chase and Lance are personally walking Espinosa’s stolen computer chip into police custody to preserve the chain of evidence, but of course, Church’s gang is one step ahead. They put an explosive in the chip that promptly blows up, letting them stroll into the evidence room to reclaim the weapons and RPGs taken from them after the AmerTek fiasco.

Back in the Cave, the Arrowlettes marvel over the fact that during their training sessions, Oliver was actually taking it easy on them. Evelyn remarks she wants to stay on his good side. “I think that would imply that he has a good side,” Curtis says.

Felicity thought their unified front would cause Oliver to reconsider, but Curtis — who’s quickly becoming my favorite — scoffs, “Because Oliver Queen is known for thinking things through and taking input from others?”

When they get word Church’s gang has liberated their weapons, they decide to take action themselves, Oliver having forfeited an opinion when he left town to, you know, break someone out of prison.

Speaking of, we’re treated to a scene of Lyla faking her way into the prison with a delivery truck containing one handsome mayor concealed in a laundry cart. A black-masked Oliver shoots two guards with tranquilizer darts and synchronizes his watch; he’s got 25 minutes until extraction. Unfortunately, Digg’s in gen pop, which means there’s no way to get him out. Lyla tells him to abort.

In another seemingly hopeless mission, Felicity tracks Rory to where he’s welding reclaimed objects into spiky modernist art.

“You spend enough time with other people’s castoffs, you find ways to make something useful out of them,” he says, explaining that his dad owned a pawnshop. But Felicity already knows that, just like she knows his dad was a Gulf War veteran and both he and his own father wore the rags before Rory did. It’s Rory’s legacy, just like hers is knowing she can’t fix Havenrock. Felicity urges them both to move forward, but Rory says he’s not ready.

The rest of the team is, though. Felicity — who objects the multiple times Rene calls her “blondie,” and rightfully so — uses a projection algorithm to track Church and finds him at the Anti-Crime Unit.

Said unit is also where Chase and Lance are (fruitlessly) interrogating Espinosa, until the lights flicker and machine guns start rattling outside.

When the Arrowlettes get word of the attack, Curtis looks at the bright side: “At least we definitely know where Church is now.”

They want to suit up. Felicity warns them it’s not a drill; somebody could die. And then Rory strolls in and says that’s something they should decide for themselves. “I didn’t join this team to stay safe.”

In the prison, Oliver’s incapacitated a guard and triggered a lockdown, so Diggle’s escorted back to his cell, where Oliver silently drops from the ceiling. Hilariously, John isn’t even that surprised to see him. Oliver tells him if he won’t escape, the guards will discover Oliver in his cell. Digg chafes at this blatant blackmail and makes another pitch for his self-imposed atonement: Not only did Diggle kill his brother, but he trusted him, which ended in Laurel’s death.

Oliver tells him he can do his penance outside of a prison cell, just like Oliver himself might need to reflect on how little he’s actually changed over the years, what with his going against Diggle’s wishes on the whole “don’t rescue me” thing.

Then he busts out the anti-molecular compound that’s rumored to eat through anything… And okay, I have questions. How does it stay in the bottle if it eats through everything? How does it not eat through their lungs when they breathe? Do they know how far it spreads? Wasn’t Oliver worried about keeping it in a bag he carried on his back? So many questions!

Anyway, it eats through the floor and they Shawshank their way through the pipes as the alarms sound and guards chase them with guns. More anti-molecular action takes out a ladder after they’ve climbed to the surface, where Diggle slips on a harness and Lyla, flying overhead — in what my household, after much debate, deemed a Lockheed C-130 Hercules-style plane — drops a line that clips to Oliver, who’s clipped to Diggle, and they’re airlifted out of the prison yard.

Back in Star City, Diggle and Lyla kiss, and she tells him, “I figured if you wanted to make your own decisions, then you wouldn’t have gotten married.” They’re setting him up at the old Hive headquarters to lie low. And really, it’s got a cool minimalist loft vibe, so there are worse places to hole up as a fugitive for a while. I just hope it gets cable.

Elsewhere, Chase and Lance have been surrounded by ACU personnel, trying to hold off Church’s gang, when Rory shows up in his Ragman gear. I honestly don’t know why every cop in the place doesn’t unload their clips into him — he’s so friggin’ terrifying in that getup. Anyway, he plants a bomb on the exterior wall, absorbing the blast so everyone inside is protected and the rest of the team waiting outside can storm in.

As everyone flees, Ragman’s rags dance around to stop the bullets. It’s… Well, it’s goofy-looking, honestly. But hey, it’s effective.

The rags do not stop the knife Church flings into Curtis’ back, though. Artemis helps him out while Church quickly beats down Wild Dog with his brass knuckles.

Outside, Lance pulls up with a van, and he and Felicity order the young’uns to leave Rene behind and save themselves. Afterward, Rory commiserates with Felicity that she faced another impossible decision on whether to rescue Rene, saying they shouldn’t let guilt swallow them.

As the rest of the team limps in, Oliver storms in and promises they’ll find Rene and get him back, wherever he is.

So, where is he? Currently, he’s chained to a ceiling, bleeding on his mask but still trash-talking. Church promises to break his spirit and his soul, and assuming he’s still alive at the end, “There’s going to be very little of you left for the Green Arrow to work with.”

So. This week a prison break, next week Rene’s rescue. Let’s do it.

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