In recent weeks, CW’s Arrow has taken a somewhat darker turn, and it all has to do with how the metaplot concerning the League of Assassins has developed and the large shadow that the season villain, Ra’s al Ghul, has begun to cast on the characters. He is a downright manipulative bastard and since Oliver has refused to take up his offer of becoming the next Ra’s al Ghul, the current incumbent has seen fit to take it upon himself to make sure that Oliver does what he wants, no matter who has to die for that, criminals or innocents or both.
Last week’s “Suicidal Tendencies“, while it involved the Suicide Squad for much of the episode’s running length, was pivotal in what it made Oliver confront when it came to the League. Maseo is wholly sworn over to the League and he is now on a mission to destroy the Arrow’s reputation in Starling, on orders of Ra’s al Ghul. And this creates problems, not the least of which is Ray confronting the Arrow while decked out in his brand-new ATOM suit. And on the other side of the world in Kaznia, the Suicide Squad team does a few really unexpected things, things that really made me love the likes of Deadshot and Cupid. Oh and there was a wedding involved, which was kind of fun amongst the darkness.
The Suicide Squad has actually been rather quiet this season, compared to the last year, when it did some pretty big things. Until now. When Waller calls up the Squad once again for a mission into Kaznia, you know things are about to hit the fan since we have two nutcases along for the ride with Diggle and Lyla. Deadshot is someone that Diggle has hated for the longest time since Deadshot is the one who killed his brother Andy some years ago and has been quite mocking of Diggle since his debut on the show. Cupid on the other hand is someone who is completely obsessed with the Arrow and imagines herself to be in a romantic relationship with him. Doesn’t help that with Diggle and Lyla having just married in the beginning of the episode, the two are the mark for some rather pointed comments by both the villains, which makes for some really entertaining moments on the show.
Sure, the show has gotten a bit darker in recent weeks thanks to everything that the League has been doing in Starling, but it is so nice to see an episode that at once honours both sides of the coin. We have positivity in the form of the wedding and the resolution of the Suicide Squad story in the episode. And we have negativity in terms of the flashbacks of Deadshot’s past before he became a mercenary for hire, and in the final moments of the show, when the League really steps up its efforts against the Arrow and his allies. Not to mention the particular ending to the Suicide Squad story that almost had me in tears because of what happened to one of the characters.
Every week the Arrow team raises the stakes in one way or another, and it is always fascinating to see what the end results of all the shake-ups are going to be. The best thing I think is that the team is struggling so much and that the villains are being well-positioned against the heroes, to give them the edge and provide a real solid challenge for the heroes. Because in addition to all the physical challenges, the team is being faced with emotional drama as well, and there are fractures all around in their relationships.
And no where is it clearer than when Ray Palmer suits himself up in ATOM and decides to be the vigilante himself to bring the Arrow to justice. Oh and yeah, he figures out who is under the hood too. That’s a major moment. Once again I’m struck by the feeling that the writing team is moving a bit too quickly with some of the concepts that are being pushed, but then again, it kind of feels nice too since this allows them to cram in much more material each week, and deliver on a lot of the promises of the season. This is fairly crucial since we are now going to be in the final six episodes of the season from this week, and things need to finally start coming together. And this episode was a great example of this thing.
However, when you put everything together, the most important thing to notice is how the characters have grown and improved since their initial offerings. For some, this has been a journey so far across three seasons, for others, barely a couple episodes, if that. So there’s a good mix to the meta-effort, and what I really like is that we are being given more and more reasons to get along with the heroes and villains alike. The lines are often blurred between the two, whether by their actions, or outside influences, and pretty much all the actors too have been giving it their all.
Ray’s sense of disbelief and betrayal when he finds out who the Arrow really is, that was a gold moment. The flashbacks of Floyd Lawton’s post-service life, with him suffering from PTSD and unable to reconnect with his family, those were jarring moments that rammed home the seriousness of his heel turn. Oliver’s attempts to negotiate with Ray and Maseo. Felicity’s own complicated feelings with regards to what all is happening. Almost all of it was on point as usual and the entire team deserves a big thumbs up for that. There’s some criticism to be had here, sure, but that lies more with the writers I think, with regards to some very specific pieces of dialogue that I think did not do the intended characters any favours, and the sooner we can break out of that particular direction, the better for the show.
Because thing is, the endgame of the season is beginning to unveil itself, and this is a pretty major time for everyone involved, especially with regards to the story, and the full effort should be on making that experience hell of a lot better than everything that’s come before, rather than going off in odd directions like the writers sometimes do.
Other than that, this was a pretty fantastic episode, especially when Ray and Oliver fight it out on the streets. Ray builds a really mean, kickass suit!
More Arrow (Season 2): Link.