At least Oliver's school of leadership doesn't have horrible consequences when he continues to fail... oh, wait.
I thought the parallels in this episode were a touch too on the nose, involving choice and those around you taking that choice away. For John, it was his choice to stay in prison to atone for killing his brother, which I can understand because that is a really heavy thing to try and reconcile, even though Andy was evil and planning to help destroy the world. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your point of view, when Oliver and Lyla took it upon themselves to break John out of prison, they invalidated John's choice.
The entire sequence involving Oliver in a mask walking through empty corridors and tricking guards was fun but totally improbable. The mad dash through the sewers with the spray that eats through anything (why didn't Felicity steal that one a long time ago?) was okay, but the airplane rescue, a la the Dark Knight, was a bit much. Cool action doesn't always equal good story, and in this case I felt the prison stuff, while plot-necessary, was not all that well thought out.
Oliver's choice left poor Quentin, recovering alcoholic and newly appointed deputy mayor, to deal with the fallout from Tobias Church's new scheme to get the weapons he tried to get in a previous episode that were in police evidence lock up. Which of course left our new Team Arrow recruits in a situation where they had to try and save the day. It was very clear that none of them were up to the task of going it alone, let alone work in a coordinated way as a team.
Wild Dog is clearly still too wild and unable to play well with others. He is heroic, but often doesn't fully trust those around him, leading to issues with coordination. Evelyn Sharp is probably the physically weakest team member, but is probably the furthest along in the whole working with a team department. Curtis Holt needs some major hand-to-hand combat training. Finally Rory, well, I think he pretty much did what he was supposed to do, so good for him.
In the end, poor Wild Dog was taken hostage by Church, and John was given a new room in the other secret hideout. Oliver returned, but his absence was a major reason things turned out they way they did. I just don't think he actually learned anything from this debacle. Instead he's just going to try and rescue another imprisoned team member, and pretend that nothing's actually wrong with his leadership style.
In the most obvious flashback parallel in a very long time, Oliver goes to prison in the past on purpose while he breaks into a prison in the present. Yeah, while I love Anatoly, and for the most part these flashbacks have felt more substantial than in previous years, this one felt kind of hollow. The third and final test for Oliver to join the Bratva was to go into a local holding cell, gain information from an accountant working for the big bad, and then kill him. Which Oliver did successfully, and I'm kind of failing to see how that was hard for him, since he has pretty much done that exact kind of thing before in previous flashbacks. Except for maybe the fact that the guy was innocent. Mostly. He was an accountant for a major crime boss.
So again, why didn't Thea take charge when it was obvious the team needed a leader?
Ragman is kind of amazing, able to act as a literal shield for the team. He might be too useful in some ways. We'll see if the writers feel he is too much of an obstacle to drama down the line.
The mask Oliver used to break John out of prison was kind of cool.
Church continued to be a surprisingly decent villain, able to think a few steps ahead of our team and coming up with creative ways to implement his plans. I'm hoping he doesn't hurt Wild Dog too much. But then again, maybe Wild Dog could use a dose of humility.
Anatoly: "Second test over. Do not make any worse by pulling out suture."
Oliver: "Anatoly, if this is how the Bratva treat their new members, I'd hate to see how they treat their enemies."
Oliver: "I should probably just start prerecording apologies for being late."
Diggle: "Can't believe you broke me out of prison."
Lyla: "For better or worse, Johnny."
Diggle: "Told you I wanted to stay."
Lyla: "And I figured if you wanted to make your own decisions, then you wouldn't have gotten married."
(While I didn't like them taking John's choices away, this was a nice exchange.)
Evelyn: "Things have really fallen apart without Oliver, haven't they?"
Oliver: (coming in) "It's a good thing I'm back then."
Rory: "Was he waiting for an entrance line?"
Curtis: "Nope. He's just that cool."
This entire episode was yet another example of why Oliver Queen shouldn't be in charge. While I get his reasons, when Oliver left his city and vigilante team to go rescue his best friend from federal prison, he put them all in danger. You know, out of context that sounds like a really bad crime drama plot involving the Mafia. Maybe he learned a few too many lessons from the Bratva after all.
2 out of 4 Prisoner escapees
J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.