Sometimes I try to do things and it just doesn't work out the way I wanted to. I get real frustrated and I try hard to do it and I take my time and it doesn't work out the way I wanted to. It's like I concentrate real hard, and it doesn't work out. Everything I do and everything I try never turns out. It's like I need time to figure these things out. But there's always someone there going...... no, Oliver Queen is not being institutionalized, but this week on Arrow, there’s some definite Suicidal Tendencies as everyone’s favourite squad is back in action.
Suicidal Tendencies – As Diggle and Lyla finally re-tie the knot, Amanda Waller interrupts the celebrations for an urgent Suicide Squad mission. Meanwhile, The League of Assassins continues to murder criminals dressed as The Arrow. This causes Ray Palmer to seek out justice against The Arrow, one way or the other.
Last season’s Suicide Squad episode was both great fun and a good exploration of the ever complex relationship between Diggle and the Squad’s mainstay character, Deadshot. This season’s episode delivers again on both fronts, and in itself, is brilliant but gets dampened slightly by what feels like a clear intervention from the film branch of DC (seriously, why can’t those two just get along?). Someone’s in David Ayer camp has strutted into Greg Berlanti’s office, given him a bunch of character names and a bigger brother “you’re not playing with my toys” speech, causing a squad roster change. Her craziness is just as wonderful as in her feature episode. Her new infatuation with Deadshot after he takes a bullet for her, plays out hilariously as he immediately wishes he’d been hit in the head. Though the big subtraction is the very definitive writing out of Deadshot (hopefully not permanently), to avoid confusion of Will Smith’s movie portrayal. This is such a shame because the show has put so much work into developing the character since appearing in only Arrow’s 3rd ever episode. From forming a vengeance story for Diggle over the killing of his brother, before evolving further into a full blown anti-hero with both the revelation of his daughter and assisting with the ARGUS coup in last year’s finale. The showrunners hand has sadly been forced but fortunately, it seems they were holding a royal flush as Floyd Lawton departs with a style bulls eye that befits the contributions Michael Rowe has made across his 8 episode appearances. He even takes centre stage for the episodes' flashbacks as we witness his transition from a traumatised returning soldier and father to being recruited by HIVE as a master assassin (curiously Andrew Diggle was his first target). The way his recruitment instils his own ideals about family and kids not mixing with the ultra-dangerous lifestyles (“love is a bullet in the brain” form great parallels to Lyla and Dig’s own worries. Yet the way he sacrifices himself so that Lyla and Dig can live to contradict those values completes a great circle of redemption on his relationship with the Diggle family, from brother killer to family saviour.
The episode also brings Ray Palmer and the Atom into their first real significance in Starling’s world of heroes and villains. Although the Arrow Vs Atom effects driven showdown may get all the glamour, it’s the ordinary suited Ray Palmer that proves the real formidable opponent. This season has seen a heavy focus of the merits of fighting skills or physical prowess so it’s nice to see the show take the time to establish Palmer’s intelligence as his real super weapon. His scene with Laurel is ace, as having unmasked Oliver, he quickly names Laurel as Black Canary from her efforts to defend The Arrow and a few simple observations in fashion Sherlock would almost applaud (something tells us he’ll already know Barry is The Flash when he visits Central). The conflict between Oliver and Ray also provides the most legitimate grounds for flexing an ever controversial love triangle of this season when Felicity’s caught between their disputes. It’s great to see her experiencing some fall out of two timing their alter egos as she’s quite literally stuck on both sides. Also in how the episode marries Palmer’s accepting of The Arrow’s innocence with the accepting Olicity history between the pair. Yes, these are everyone’s least favourite triangles for good reasons, but this is a fine example of incorporating them with actual relevance. The resolution between them is a satisfying mutual trust rather than a full-blown masked bro down. We certainly want more conflict from them in the future even if Ray’s destined for a spin off exit. We’ll miss his humour when he goes though, as he delivers again this week, especially in his surprise wedding duties.
The continuation of The League’s persuasion plans is progressing nicely. Having their members in town also yields some good fight sequences and The Battle of the Five Arrows definitely ticks that box. Maseo’s role is becoming ever more curious now he’s firmly siding with Ra’s al Gul. Was he even secretly ordered to save Oliver by Ra’s himself in order to facilitate the offer of leadership? If things continue could Oliver find himself having to kill the man that saved his life? The ending most definitely sets up next week’s Public Enemy entitled episode as The Arrow becomes the wrong kind of people’s no. 1. From a story perspective it’s excellent that what’s been presented as the main story of the reaming season can be reduced to a smaller focus without feeling less relevant. The idea the League’s reputation intervention very effectively allows them to be present in each week’s story as the cause without requiring a significant presence and preventing them from becoming overused.
It’s an awesome episode that even a frustrating movie agenda couldn’t kill, providing awesome action, good laughs, and a lot of character development. Laurel’s subtle drop in of Nyssa’s (apparently quite brutal) training is a good reminder of things to come between them and interesting that she hasn’t told Oliver. It will be intriguing to see how different she fights when back in the field next week. Save a wedding background appearance, Thea and Merlyn take an opportune week off to avoid overcrowding. Diggle and Lyla’s wedding makes for a lovely spectacle of a set piece with many of the cast looking rather gorgeous in their attire (not to mention having a feel of the classic Green Arrow/Black Canary wedding comic). The further mention of HIVE in Deadshot’s flashback feels significant and hopefully, (as previously speculated) will lead to them forming a big villain presence in season 4. This maybe Arrow’s last Suicide Squad outing for a while, but as you’d expect, they’ve gone out with a bang.