Who says nothing nice ever happens on Arrow? John Diggle (David Ramsey) is married (again)! Too bad it’s a honeymoon from hell.
Let’s bitch it out…
As Arrow heads into its final batch of episodes, we’re starting to explore the fall-out from Oliver’s (Stephen Amell) decision to say no to Ra’s al Ghul. On other shows that might be enough plot to dedicate the remainder of the season to, but since this is Arrow there are several other balls in the air. As a result the action this week is divided in two: the Suicide Squad’s mission to retrieve Senator Cray (Steven Culp) in the fictional Republic of Kasnia and both the League of Assassins and Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) coming after Oliver.
1) It seems that approximately once or twice a season, the writers remember that David Ramsey is a talented actor who is capable of doing more than providing back-up in other people’s action scenes. That’s usually when we get these kinds of semi-stand alone episodes (ex: the Russian prison adventure, the mission to grab Thea). Unfortunately because the conflict in these episodes has little to no bearing on the ongoing action, the episodes have a tendency to feel superfluous.
While ‘Suicidal Tendencies’ definitely still suffers from this problem, it’s far and away the best of the “Diggle on the mainstage” episodes yet – mostly because the stakes for Diggle and Lyla (Audrey Marie Anderson) have been dramatically raised since the birth of their cutie-pie daughter Sara.
The much-hyped wedding provides the jumping off point for an investigation of the risks of hired guns investing in family and love. For those individuals hoping to see the Arrow crew get down and enjoy themselves at the wedding, this must have been disappointing as the wedding takes all of four minutes before we’re whisked away to the fictional republic of Kasnia with Deadshot / Floyd Lawton’s (Michael Rowe) and Cupid (Amy Gumenick), last seen in ‘Draw Back Your Bow’. Over the course of the mission, we learn about Lawton’s origins via flashback: he is a PTSD father who can’t reacclimatize back into civilian life and winds up being recruited for HIVE to kill Diggle. (Side Note: I’m sure that this latest acronym will play an important role somewhere down the line, so let’s not forget about the upteenth mysterious organization the show has introduced)
The mission itself isn’t particularly interesting, aside from watching crazy Cupid swap her affection for Arrow to Deadshot. Senator Cray is the most disappointing aspect: Culp’s time on Desperate Housewives proved that he was a very funny, multi-faceted actor, but his Cray is little more than a thinly drawn politician with run of the mill motivations.
No, the reason that this episode is more tolerable than previous Diggle-centric episodes is because it ties directly into the theme of balancing a “normal” life with the life of a vigilante/crime fighter. Although Diggle and Lyla don’t have the same issues as Lawton bogging them down, over the course of the mission it becomes crystal clear to them that they need to start living for their daughter. It’s a little obvious and, at times, saccharine, but the conflict is one that Arrow has spent the better part of S3 exploring – principally in relation to Oliver and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards). The debate is worth raising here for the final scene alone when Lyla and Diggle decide that they must change their lifestyle for Sara. Initially Diggle suggests that he will leave Team Arrow (which is laughably unlikely), then Lyla reveals that she has already left ARGUS. Side Note: There’s no word on how Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) handles the news, but I’m surprised that she’s willing to simply let Lyla walk away. It will be interesting to see if this is the end of the discussion.
2) Meanwhile back in Starling, Ollie is under attack from not one, but two sides. The League continues to make life difficult for the Arrow, murdering several gangs and bringing a swarm of media attention down onto him. The increased public visibility prompts Ray to spring into action as Atom, but his plan is thrown into disarray when he learns the Arrow’s true identity…and feels betrayed by Felicity. What struck me most about this development is how differently I reacted to this compared to a similar plot point in the most recent episode of The Flash: whereas Iris and Barry’s romantic issues are frustrating and annoyingly repetitive, the romantic triangle on Arrow features a couple that the audience has an investment in and a new character that has really resonated this season. My tolerance for emotional scenes featuring Oliver and Felicity’s tortured love affair is significantly higher than anything we’ve seen so far on The Flash.
Ray’s anger and mistrust at Felicity doesn’t fully resonate because we still don’t know that much about him. As Felicity reminds us after Ray discovers Oliver’s true identity, this is a guy who has a similar tortured/vengeance-driven backstory and who has the money and ability (140 IQ!) to get into the crime fighting business. What helps to sell Ray’s anger is that he’s also responding to an inherent fracture in his relationship with Felicity, namely that she and Oliver are still totally in love with each other. I have no doubt that Ray believes the Arrow is a threat (who wouldn’t if they’re just reading the papers?), but the sense of betrayal he feels when he learns that the Arrow is Felicity’s ex-love interest is what’s really driving this conflict.
The resulting fight scene between Oliver, Roy (Colton Haynes) and Ray is enjoyable. We finally get to see the Atom suit in action and Ray does a decent job holding his own (my favourite moment = watching Roy go down in about 5 seconds. You suck, Roy). After witnessing Ray slowly develop his superhero persona over the last dozen episodes, seeing him go full Atom is exciting. Watching Oliver school him with relative ease is similarly pleasurable. This is also an important moment for the character and Ray learns his first superhero lesson hard: he thinks that his suit provides him the means to fight crime unconditionally, but Oliver knows better. It’s not just about having the ability or the gizmos; it’s about experience and – most importantly – not being driven by your emotions.
Taken as a whole, ‘Suicidal Tendencies’ is a solid B episode that helpfully draws parallels between its two main storylines: the life of a vigilante / crime fighter is difficult to balance with a normal life. As the conflict the League heats up (the mayor is dead! Felicity may be arrow’d next!) we may find that simply being a crime fighter is an impossible task.
- Felicity brings Ray to the wedding as her date. Notice the hair is down. Remember what that means? (Hint: good sex).
- Side Bar: Was Routh punched in the eye or does he just have pink eye / syphilis?
- Critiquing the wedding fashion: Laurel’s (Katie Cassidy) peach dress = beachy (minus the cast). Sure she looks good, but the wedding isn’t taking place on a resort with tikis and mini umbrellas in the drinks.
- I know the vows are supposed to be represent of Diggle and Lyla’s no-nonsense approach to love/marriage/life, buuuut they kinda suck. Baby Sara, however, is slumpy slouchy throughout and very cute.
- Just so that we’re clear: no one is falling for Deadshot’s “death” in the really fake looking hospital explosion, right? No body = no death.
- The Oliver vs multiple Arrows fight is fun, albeit brief. The stunt choreography on the show continues to impress so let’s hope that as Ra’s and the League continue to bear down on Starling, these kinds of hand-to-hand fight scenes culminate into something truly memorable.
- Cupid (discussing Lyla’s flower arrangements): “Didn’t that cost a fortune?!”
- Felicity (whimpering, when Oliver yells at her about Roy’s vigilantism): “I have been getting a lot of this today.”
Your turn: what did you think of the wedding? Were you on board with another ARGUS/Suicide Squad mission? Did you buy Ray’s anger at Felicity? Were you pleased with how things went down when Oliver and Ray finally battled? Excited to see the result of Laurel’s “excitable” training? And will Felicity end up with an arrow in her when the show airs next week? Sound off below.
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8pm EST on The CW. Next week Lance (Paul Blackthorne) makes Arrow the titular ‘Public Enemy’. Here’s a look: