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Warning: spoilers ahead for the the fourth episode of Arrow Season 5, "Penance."
The first few episodes of Arrow Season 5 saw the formation of yet another Team Arrow in Star City. Unlike previous iterations, the new team wasn't comprised of members who had fought tooth and nail for the right to wear a mask and fight crime. The new team was basically comprised of a handful of baby vigilantes that Oliver had to corral like a grouchy cat dealing with some especially unruly kittens, and it was destined to fall apart at some point. Judging by the ending of "Penance," the falling apart will happen sooner rather than later.
"Penance" was the first major trial for the newbies of Team Arrow 3.0. Oliver had left the city in their hands while he ran off to rescue Diggle from prison, and it fell to them to deal with Tobias Church's latest attempt to conquer the streets. Felicity was on hand to guide them, but the kids were so used to be knocked around by Oliver that they didn't respond as well to Felicity's logic and reasoning.
Ragman spent most of the episode uncertain as to whether or not he even wanted to remain on Team Arrow, which is understandable given his circumstances. Still, his failure to communicate early in the episode compromised the members of the team who expected him in the field. Wild Dog continued his habit of jumping into action rather than working with his teammates. Young Artemis showed her age throughout the episode, and Curtis proved yet again that it takes more than motivation and a mask to be adequately prepared to take on bad guys. Their grand stand against Tobias Church ended in Curtis injured, Artemis and Ragman in need of rescue to get him to safety, and Wild Dog captured.
The newbies didn't actually do a terrible job, all things considered. Wild Dog was very brave - although somewhat ridiculous for engaging the ginormous Tobias Church in hand-to-hand battle - in his attempt to buy time for his pals to escape, and the scenario could have ended much worse than it did in "Penance." Hopefully all of the characters will be able to use the fiasco as a lesson on how not to form a superhero group.
Considering that Wild Dog is currently unmasked and in the clutches of Tobias Church, they may be in for a world of pain before Oliver gets the chance to try and remedy his mistakes in creating the new Team Arrow. He may come to very much regret the facts that he gave up his secret identity and welcomed a bunch of novices into his lair now that one of them is in a position to possibly give him up.
Wild Dog just doesn't have the experience or training to necessarily hold up to whatever torture Church has in store for him, and Oliver has a lot to lose. If Wild Dog gives him up, Oliver's work as both mayor and Green Arrow would be seriously compromised. Oliver picked a bad season to suddenly give up his fierce protectiveness of his secret identity, and he may have to pay for it next week.
Of course, Oliver hasn't been quite as vigilant about vetting members of Team Arrow in recent seasons as he was back in the beginning. Diggle and Sara made sense as seasoned fighters, and Felicity had saved him a handful of times before she even knew he was the Emerald Archer. He didn't let Roy loose into the field until he had significant training. Thea even made a certain degree of sense thanks to her summer of League of Assassins boot camp with Malcolm Merlyn. It was with Laurel that Oliver seemed to stop drawing the line at letting inexperienced fighters risk their lives on the streets.
Laurel's origin story as the Black Canary consisted of wearing Sara's outfit, taking some boxing classes, and a spending a couple of episodes brandishing her billy clubs on the streets when Oliver was too busy being kinda sorta dead to stop her. The newbie vigilantes have much more in common with Laurel than any of the other members of any other version of Team Arrow, and that fact alone should have been enough to give Oliver pause. Laurel died. If anything, Oliver should have been more cautious in Season 5 about expanding Team Arrow in the wake of her death.
Team Arrow hasn't been working as well recently as it did in the earlier days. If we're lucky, the situation with Wild Dog's capture will be a wake-up call that leads to some serious Team Arrow reform. Tune in to The CW on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET to see what happens next for Oliver and Co. on Arrow.
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