“You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain” over its three-season run, Arrow has been accused by some of borrowing too heavily from Batman stories and villains. While there’s no doubt the show is drawing from such places for material and inspiration when the results are this good, who cares? This week is no exception as Harvey Dent’s infamous Dark Knight quote comes true for Oliver Queen. It may not take a nation of millions to hold him back, but this week, The Arrow is public enemy number one.... bring the noise!
Public Enemy – Following Maseo’s copycat killing of The Mayor, Captain Lance goes after the Arrow with a vengeance and the entire SCPD on-shoot-to-kill orders. This takes on a whole new dimension when Ra’s al Ghul intervenes further leaving neither Oliver Queen nor The Arrow everywhere to go. Meanwhile Ray Palmer is critically injured but forbidden from using his untested technology to save his life.
Starling City Mayors seem to have shorter careers than Spinal Tap drummers so the next election should be interesting (if even contested affair). Still, the high ranking death makes the perfect catalyst for the episodes events by giving Captain Lance the legal justification to exact his fury towards The Arrow overkeeping Sara’s death from him. More than any prior episode, Quentin is in fact the central character and gets a fantastic complicated emotional arc to work with. As the episode progresses, he clearly knows he’s blurring the lines between acting as a policeman and acting as a father but his grief for Sara is so strong that it keeps it from accepting the truth. It mirrors his alcoholism following Sara’s first disappearance with anger being new drug of choice. His relationship also forms a great middle ground even when he has The Canary cornered he can’t bring himself to apply the same justice. The pair has some terrific exchanges in Quentin’s office as Laurel calls him on his motives but Quentin’s new gifted information has changed everything in his mind.
For the second time, this season we get some great Dark Knight Rises parallels as Oliver observes that Ra’s al Ghul using a city as a weapon against its hero “He’s using this city as a weapon... my city” in a comparable fashion to Bane on Batman. Though mostly through the outstanding lengthy chase sequence, as Team arrow desperately flees from the police following The League’s setup. From the commencing three-way roof jump to the frantic foot and car pursuits, the action is a high-calibre onslaught of genuine character peril. The forced defense is explored effectively, particularly through Roy as his guilt in loosing even non-lethal shots pulls him straight back to his cop-murdering guilt. It provides good foreshadowing for his surprising end gameplay, putting a very different twist on next week’s “Broken Arrow” titled episode.
The Hong Kong scenes fair better this week. The confusing cliff-hanger of Shado’s reappearance is explained well as her unknowing twin sister, May. This allows us to enjoy the welcome return of Celina Jade rather than scratching our heads over death dodging. Just like in any more effective flashback episode, these scenes relate well to the present as Oliver’s decision to tell May the truth about her sister and father’s death link in nicely to Oliver’s last remaining move in Starling. From this alone, it looks like a single episode week guest star from Jade but if the writers can find a way to realistically work her back into the story, I doubt anyone would complain to see more of her. The Hong Kong story arc in general still feels too vague at the moment. For several weeks Oliver and the Yamahiro’s have just been running aimlessly. We do get the tit bit of Amanda Waller being behind their attacks but from the present day Oliver/Amanda relationship this immediately feels a week ploy. What’s more, what’s happening with General Shrieve? He showed up with the ominous pledge of importance 2 months back, and we haven’t seen or heard from him since. The series has a fair bit of work to do in the remaining 5 episodes to make this season long story arc feel relevant in retrospect. Right now it feels little more than a way of introducing Maseo and Katana for relevance to the present day story.
The Ray Palmer/Felicity scenes are funny and entertaining as ever (even more so when Mommy Smoak comes back in town) but can’t help feel like deliberate pushing of Palmer’s character away from a key relationship now that he’ll be spinning off this Autumn. While Felicity releasing her true feelings for Oliver when Ray’s drops the l-bomb was good, it feels a shame to cap their entertaining relationship so early for the needs of Olicity developments. The “teeny tiny robots” are a nice little ATOM shrinking powers Easter egg. Hopefully, we will see that wielded as weapon soon enough even if Palmer himself will be staying 6-ft something or other.
Public Enemy is a great action episode and a welcome dramatic spotlight for Captain Lance but loses focus in some smaller story areas. It does shift the season up a gear with an awesome feeling of escalation towards one hell of a finale to rival even last year; those in need to proof should check out the final episodes promo released with the episode. Above all else, it appears the offer will be accepted and Oliver Queen will live to see himself becoming the last villain he expected.