The title of this week’s Arrow is very apropos as Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and crew become Starling City’s most hunted criminals.
Let’s bitch it out…
Let’s begin with a quick shout-out because this is easily the best episode of Arrow in a very long time. After what feels like an interminable string of simple OK episodes, ‘Public Enemy’ pays off the long simmering tension between the Arrow and Starling’s police force as Ra’s Al Ghul (Matt Nable) tightens his noose to force Oliver to bend to his will. Now I won’t deny that as good as the episode is, I definitely grit my teeth in frustration through a lot of it. I’ll give kudos to Paul Blackthorne for his portrayal of Detective Lance and committing to the character, flaws and all. Emphasis on the flaws. My notes for the episode are littered with exclamations of extreme aggravation (sample: “ARGH – Lance is being completely unreasonable!”)
Early in the episode, Laurel (Katie Cassidy) excuses her father’s behaviour to Team Arrow because her father is in a terrible amount of pain. That may be true, but that rationale hardly justifies the manhunt that Lance instigates against the Arrow. Later, once he learns the Arrow’s true identity from Ra’s Al Ghul, Lance seemingly becomes even more irresponsible, publicly naming Oliver as the Arrow on public television and freezing his financial assets in an effort to get Oliver to turn himself in.
Character-wise these developments make perfect sense. Lance has been unable to forgive both Laurel and the Arrow since Sara’s death and he rightfully believes that the parade of costumed-villains and vigilantes is at least partially Oliver Queen’s fault. At the same time, Lance is so clearly under the influence of his grief and pain that it’s almost silly that he goes to such lengths to put Oliver, a man who has done so much to protect the city, at the heart of a public manhunt. I kept waiting for someone to take Lance aside and tell him to take a few days off because the man is clearly hurting. Sure, pursuing the Arrow makes sense when you consider that he is a vigilante who has a history of killing, but it’s still frustrating to watch Lance, someone that we know is intelligent and logical, become so irrationally focused on bringing down a guy who has done good in the past.
Arrow wants to use this kind of issue to explore meaty concepts like moral responsibility and heroism. To a certain extent, it works, although at times ‘Public Enemy’ seems much more committed to delivering a suite of action set-pieces involving flashing blue lights and black & white cruisers. In fact, the developments that take place – especially the public declaration of Oliver as Arrow – lends this episode a season finale-vibe (arguably it would succeed as one since it maintains a satisfactory level of weight and OMG jaw-dropping moments).
Once Oliver turns himself in, shit gets real: Lance reminds Oliver that he’s not very good at saving people (the list of Oliver’s friends and family who have died under his purview is impressively awful). Lance also claims that the city hasn’t benefitted from Oliver’s efforts, that his friends have become complicit in his illegal activities and that Oliver himself is a true villain. It’s unclear how Oliver would have countered these arguments (a list of his good deeds perhaps?); before he can even respond Roy (Colton Haynes) – his protégé, the boy must in need of an opportunity to grow up – confesses to police that he is the Arrow. Ironically, by volunteering to take Oliver’s place, Roy may have just confirmed Lance’s argument: the sense of duty and near-religious allegiance to Oliver has just inspired another member of his team to pursue damaging and self-destructive activities.
The question that now remains is what this turn of events will cost Roy and, by extension, Oliver. After all, Ra’s, Maseo (Karl Yune) and the rest of the League are still waiting for Oliver’s response – and they’re only interested in the one that meets their needs.
- In the aftermath of last week’s cliffhanger, Ray (Brandon Routh) takes an arrow intended for Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) and winds up in a medical crisis. Naturally his nanotechnology saves the day, but I can’t help but wonder about the side effects of injecting tiny computers into your brain. One would think that Roy will suffer some complications.
- Donna Smoak (Charlotte Ross) arrives to tend to her daughter after hearing about Ray’s injury. Gotta say, her distraction technique leaves a lot to be desired, even if a low cut dress and fake back spasms does get the job done. Donna should probably stick to her day job.
- Confessions of true love countered with an offer to fetch hospital jello? Oh Felicity…that’s just cruel. She might as well have just left the arrow in Ray’s chest.
- Roy’s (Colton Haynes) residual mirakuru issues = I just don’t care. Ditto his relationship with Thea (Willa Holland)
- Finally, in flashbacks Oliver spends time with Shado’s sister, Mei (Celina Jade) and eventually provides her with the closure she needs to let go of her family three years after the fact. It’s a strange work-around to bring Jade back onto the show (seemingly for such a small, insignificant role) so I’ll be interested to see if this was indeed a one-off or if Mei will recur. Either way, Jade has only become more beautiful since we last saw her.
- Donna (regarding Ray’s stint in the hospital): “Hey, at least you finally have a boyfriend.”
- Felicity (when Ray asks if her mom will be okay): “I think she’ll make a miraculous recovery in about five minutes”
- Ray (when Felicity asks if she’ll ever stop speaking in double entendres): “I hope not. It’s one of your more admirable traits.”
- Donna (after Felicity runs out on Ray): “Did you just have hospital sex?!”
Your turn: were you frustrated at Detective Lance’s grief-infused declaration of war on the Arrow? Amused by Felicity’s reaction to Ray’s words of affection? Excited to see Nyssa (Katrina Law), however briefly? Dismayed by Roy’s decision to volunteer as the “real” Arrow? And how will the League try to control Oliver next? Sound off below!
Arrow takes a two week break and returns Wednesday, April 15 at 8pm EST on The CW. Here’s your “Roy in jail” preview: